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I thought I’d close out the week with a little linkaround, sharing some liturgical thoughts and reading that you might find interesting.

First off, on November 23, the fifth and final installment in the series by theologians John Cavadini, Mary Healy, Thomas Weinandy on the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, entitled, “The Way Forward from the Theological Concerns with the TLM Movement,” was published in Notre Dame’s Church Life Journal (CLJ). Yesterday, they published the whole thing as one full article. So if you haven’t read it yet—or want to read it again—you can read it in its entirety there.

Additionally, I wrote two posts responding to issues raised in the series, “Does the Reformed Mass betray Vatican II?” and “Traditionalism and Catholicism often don’t mix.” The first article deals with responding to critics of the Vatican II liturgy, who argue that the reformed Roman Rite is unfaithful to the Vatican II Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium. I write about the role German theologian Klaus Gamber played in developing the revisionist anti-reform narrative, especially through his disciple Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI. The second piece digs deeper into Gamber’s work and how many of his ahistorical and non-traditional claims are still being used by traditionalists today, including in the Mass of the Ages series of films.

(I responded to Mass of the Ages with a film review in June. Another noteworthy response to the film was produced by the Conventual Sisters of St Dominic in Australia, and is well worth watching.)

The fifth installment of the CLJ series was very strong, it highlighted many of the dangers that made Traditionis Custodes necessary. It also offers some suggestions for carrying out and enriching the liturgical renewal of Vatican II. But I want to highlight one passage offering advice that I hope the US bishops will heed as they carry out the Eucharistic Revival (emphasis added):

The faithful need to be reawakened to the eschatological orientation of the liturgy itself and of the Christian life—to the fact that we are not at home in this world but are only sojourners, eagerly awaiting the coming of our King and the transformation of the whole cosmos. On that day we will be fully in communion with him, and so share perfectly in his risen glory, and thus be conformed into his true likeness as the Father’s Spirit-transformed children. The Eucharistic Revival promoted by the bishops will have limited success if it focuses too narrowly on getting the faithful to believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, without grounding it in the liturgy as a whole and in the all-encompassing divine mystery into which the liturgy leads us. Sufficient time and theological preparation are needed for such mystagogical catechesis to be fruitful. We suggest that adult classes be offered in parishes and that Sunday homilies attend to this for a designated period of time each year, in conjunction with the Eucharistic Revival.

The Liturgy, according to Sacrosanctum Concilium, is that “’through which the work of our redemption is accomplished,’ most of all in the Divine Sacrifice of the Eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church” (SC 2) The real presence is a sacred mystery, but it is through the sacred liturgy that the people of God receive Christ, it is where they are “instructed by God’s Word and be nourished at the table of the Lord’s Body; they should give thanks to God; by offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also with him, they should learn also to offer themselves; through Christ the Mediator38, they should be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other, so that finally God may be all in all” (48).

[For the sake of providing a full range of perspectives, here is a link to Peter Kwasniewski’s response to the CLJ series which he describes as “a no-holds-barred, knockout refutation of one of the (more ridiculous) claims of Cavadini-Healy-Weinandy.” He adds, “And, to reward the patient reader, I have added cheeky captions to some of the images.” Enjoy. –ML]

Here are a couple other good re-reads on the liturgical reform from WPI, in case you missed them:

Deacon Bill Ditewig’s “Personal Reflections on Traditionis Custodes,” revisiting his time as an altar server and seminarian in the years before during and after the Council. Excerpt:

When I started the seminary, in September 1963, the Second Vatican Council was entering its second session and, by the time we went home for Christmas vacation that December, Sacrosanctum Concilium had been promulgated by an overwhelming vote by the world’s bishops of 2,147 placet to 4 non placet. By the end of that school year, we were beginning to feel the effects of the changes to come. We were following events in Rome closely. Some of the priests on our faculty had friends and classmates studying and working in Rome, and they would share their insights about the Council and the discussions taking place among the bishops. The Council was as real to us as if we were actually there.

One poignant memory remains with me. During that school year of 1963-64, one of our religion teachers in the seminary was an elderly priest. One day we were talking about the liturgical changes being debated in Rome. Father began to talk about his time as a parish priest, and how special it was to celebrate the Mass for his people. “You know, gentlemen, I am so excited about the possibilities being discussed. For years, I have dreamed of turning around to face my people and say — in English! — ‘The Lord be with you.’ How many times I have turned toward them and said ‘Dominus vobiscum’ to a church of people who had no idea what was going on at the altar.” He continued, “I know that I will never live to see that day, gentlemen, but if — God willing — you become priests, you’ll be able to do just that!”

Fortunately, he was wrong. Before the end of that school year, we had received permission from the bishops to implement ad experimentum some of the liturgical changes. There was Father, turning to us with tears in his eyes, greeting us with “The Lord be with you!”

“Purgatory is a roomful of people arguing about the Latin Mass” by Stephen Staten. Excerpt:

It began with parishioners mentioning their liturgical gripes off-hand. Disappointment with the removal of altar rails, or with receiving Communion by hand, or even distaste for modern architecture and “wreckovation” of churches. This was followed by disparaging the Second Vatican Council—the Church’s most recent ecumenical council—and especially its liturgical reforms. I, being sympathetic to historic restoration and preservation, was deeply affected by stories of beautiful glorious things now long gone. I began to become disappointed with the current place of the Church in public society. The traditionalist community I encountered laid the blame for what they perceived as an ecclesial fall from grace at the feet of Vatican II. It was only a matter of time before I too looked at the Council with suspicion.

Three by Malcolm Schluenderfritz on the liturgy. His work is fascinating because he has been exploring and discovering the liturgical reform from the perspective of someone who grew up attending the Tridentine Mass, and has been studying the reforms as a part of his own journey of faith.

“Is the ‘new Mass’ too much like a meal?” Excerpt:

Traditionalists claim that the symbolism of the “TLM” is intuitively obvious and that this supposedly intuitive symbolism makes it superior to the Vatican II liturgy. At the same time, however, the traditionalist movement publishes a vast amount of explanatory literature about the symbolism of their preferred liturgical form. Many of these explanations are far from obvious. For instance, I doubt anyone would realize without being told that the maniple symbolizes the burdens and toils of the priesthood. Why are traditionalists accusing the liturgy of Vatican II of being symbolically opaque when the Tridentine rite needs so much explanation?

“Is the Liturgy God’s Work?” Excerpt:

As a traditionalist, I remember being shocked whenever I heard about a Catholic who was not interested in the liturgy. How could somebody not care passionately about the central aspect of the Faith? Traditionalists express this mindset in sayings such as “Save the Liturgy, Save the World.”

“United to the Past through the ‘Latin Mass?'” Excerpt:

The traditionalist speaks of a “Church of the Past” and of the saints and heroes of times gone by and attempts to find a connection with them through his liturgical and devotional practices. In reality, however, the only way to find unity with the Church of the past is through the Church of the present. Christ is not in the past. He is eternally present in his Church. Nor do Christ’s saints belong to the past. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

You can read more from Malcolm at his author page, and you can scan through our articles in our Liturgy section for more interesting articles by our contributors.


Image: Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash


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Mike Lewis is the founding managing editor of Where Peter Is. He and Jeannie Gaffigan co-host Field Hospital, a U.S. Catholic podcast.

Understanding the liturgical reform
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