Maybe the Liturgical Extremists Have a Point?

Update 4/6/16: It appears that Rorate Caeli has taken down the post linked below. A cached version can be found here.

Rorate Caeli has a fresh post up detailing the small, but growing, number of Latin Mass communities which celebrate Holy Week according to the pre-Pius XII rite. Numerous other parishes could probably be added to that list, and it is generally well-known that an increasing number of communities freely incorporate at least some elements of the older Holy Week ritual. In calling attention to this reality, Rorate felt compelled to write the following:

The liturgical reforms that were implemented in the Roman Rite from 1951 to the end of 1962 remain a subject of much contention among Catholic Traditionalists and their friends, and for this reason this blog has tended to strike a “middle way” in discussing these reforms. It should be acknowledged that the vast majority of Catholic Traditionalist communities — whether with the SSPX or under Diocesan / “Ecclesia Dei” authority — continue to faithfully celebrate the Mass, Office and Sacraments according to the liturgical books and regulations in force as of the end of the year 1962. Furthermore this blog’s record in promoting liturgical celebrations according to the 1962 Missal speaks for itself. In its official stance (as distinct from individual contributors’ opinions) this blog has never had any problem with the liturgical reforms of Pius XII and John XXIII.

That’s a troubling position to take since there are many problems with the reforms of both Pius XII and John XXIII. So why not just come out and say so? (That doesn’t mean, however, that the “1962 books” are the summum malum as the sedevacantists and liturgical extremists opine.) It seems that blind fealty to “the authorities” has clouded some traditionalists’ better judgment when it comes to things liturgical, or perhaps the climate of fear in the Church is so strong that not even the more vocal traditionalists want to “rock the boat” lest they lose access to the old Mass altogether.

If this sort of complacent attitude were present among the Greek Catholics of the last century, we’d still be celebrating the Divine Liturgy with eviscerated service books and a calendar bereft of Slavic saints. It was only through the tireless — and critical — efforts of churchmen such as Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky, Blessed Leonid Feodorov, and the members of both the Recensio Ruthena and Recensio Vulgata commissions that the Eastern Catholicism’s Byzantine liturgical heritage was restored (even if only on the level of theory). It would be a shame if Latin Catholics failed to take a more proactive approach to reestablishing their authentic patrimony out of either misplaced obedience to ill-conceived liturgical changes or useless fear. There should be little doubt by now that the Holy Week reforms of 1955 lack either firm historical or theological footing and that continued celebration of the 1962 rite will only serve to normalize an inferior liturgy in the hearts and minds of the faithful. What a shame that would be.

2 comments

    1. Too bad. There must be more discussion than just reinstating 1962 in every church! The ’62 missal and breviary are flawed, even if they are still recognizable from the Novus Ordo.

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