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Some good reading on how the liturgy reform occurred February 13, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, episcopate, error, General Catholic, Latin Mass, Liturgy, Sacraments, sadness, scandals, self-serving, the return.

And it’s not a book, this time!

Commenter Woody pointed out that Dom Alcuin Reid has been interviewed in two long posts at New Liturgical Movement.  He discusses how the post-Vatican II liturgical reform – or revolution – went down.  He discuses quite a bit about the “Consilium” group headed by confirmed mason Bishop Anibale Bugnini and how they orchestrated the total reconstitution of the Roman Rite. Consilium was started up by Paul VI, outside the normal hierarchy and deliberately staffed primarily with leading progressives, deliberately to escape the normal Curia and their “conservatism” (I would say orthodoxy) to allow for a more radical implementation of the conciliar decrees.

It’s all very interesting, although I’ve seen quite a bit of it before in Reid’s books.   Since Consilium got started up 50 years ago, Dom Reid is giving a sort of historical appraisal.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 here.

I guess one disagreement I might have with Reid right off the top is his claim that Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, called for only very modest changes to the Roman Rite – if any.  I’d love to say yes, that’s absolutely the case, but Sacrosanctum Concilium, like all conciliar documents, is a document at war with itself.  Yes, it says “there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them,” but that’s just it – the “good” of the Church is a very nebulous thing and Pope Paul VI pretty quickly made clear he thought the good required not only minor tweaks, but a wholesale recasting of the form of the Mass.

In addition, in other places in Sacrosanctum Concilium, there is verbiage that seems to almost demand radical changes.  Then you have statements like the famous #19 – Latin in the Mass shall be preserved, BUT vernacular shall be increased.  You and I might say, OK, that means maybe the common parts in Latin, and the propers in the vernacular, but the wording was fuzzy enough that progressives could legitimately argue that the entire Mass HAD to be in the vernacular, and, again, Paul VI had pretty much backed this position by 1964.

But there is no question Reid is also right regarding how Consilium quickly took on a life of its own and manufactured a product few of the conciliar fathers would have foreseen or endorsed. It went way, way beyond what even the most liberal interpretations of Sacrosanctum Concilium could have provided – but all, I must add, with the approval of Pope Paul VI.

When we consider that the glorious Proper prayers of the Traditional Mass gradually coalesced over a period of centuries (4th-7th centuries), and that most of the common parts from well before that, the fact that Consilium, never consisting of more than a couple dozen members, manufactured not only a new Mass but an entirely new Breviary, all in the space of about 5 years, is incredible.  Reid highlights the rushed nature of its efforts below in a quote from a contemporary participant:

[The Consilium] is merely an assembly of people, many of them incompetent, and others of them well advanced on the road to novelty. The discussions are extremely hurried. Discussions are based on impressions and the voting is chaotic. What is most displeasing is that the expositive Promemorias and the relative questions are drawn up in advanced terms and often in a very suggestive form. The direction is weak……. [This is true. In Pristas’ The Collects of the Roman Missals, the author reviews various questions framed by the Consilium leadership to determine how the liturgical reform should advance.  These questions were always highly leading, in order to arrive at a particular, invariably progressive, conclusion. Amazingly, it appears that as time went on, consultation with liturgical experts went on less and less, and more and more changes to the Mass were simply authoritarian impositions of the Consilium leadership (Bugnini, Auge, Maerttens, etc)]

…….That which is sad…however, is a fundamental datum, a mutual attitude, a pre-established position, namely, many of those who have influenced the reform…and others, have no love, and no veneration of that which has been handed down to us. They begin by despising everything that is actually there. This negative mentality is unjust and pernicious, and unfortunately, Paul VI tends a little to this side. [Fr. Antonelli is being diplomatic]  They have all the best intentions, but with this mentality they have only been able to demolish and not to restore

It’s been said, those who like sausage don’t want to see it being made.  And that’s true.  The idea is that all production processes for something as complicated as the Mass or Breviary are necessarily messy, even off-putting. I think in this case, however, there was something more than just sausage making going on.  I would also say, that when it came to the traditional Mass, since it was never “made,” but was handed down by the Apostles in major part and then the remaining details gradually accrued over the space of centuries, we’re talking about something entirely different. I would say, inspired.  Not made.

I highly recommend both part of the Reid interview.  Thanks to Woody for pointing them out.

Oh, and make sure to read the first comment in the post on the 2nd part of the interview – from Dan Hunter.  He gives a quick run down on the bio of Anibale Bugnini, and it is not a pretty picture.



1. Woody - February 14, 2014

I find it amazing that all this information on how the NO came about is there for all to read and yet no one can see a problem? Oh, it must be too late to do anything. Well, gosh, if only. Anyway, let’s just go on and be pastoral. It may not be working as well as we thought it would but let’s give it another 50 years. It’s as if both sides are waiting for the “biological solution” to take place…last one alive wins! I am not sure how I’m gong to feel this Sunday when I attend the NO Mass. I am going to have to figure out how to get to Mater Dei. I can’t do this anymore, valid or not.

Brian - February 14, 2014


I’ve run into a few different viewpoints concerning the Novus Ordo Mass that make me cringe.

1. Those who see absolutely no problem at all. You could give them Davies, Gamber and the Ottaviani Intervention and they still wouldn’t admit there could be a problem.

2. Those who know its caused a collapse of the faith but they are so liberal (not talking politically) that they continue the modernist march. Any gnostic influence here?

3. Those who think the post-conciliar Popes are “infallible” in everything they do and say. For them, the Catholic Church was born from the Second Vatican Council. No need to reconcile anything with the previous 2,000 years of Tradition and Magisterial teaching.

Prior to attending the TLM almost exclusively in the fall of 2013, I had written my Bishop about the blatant abuses that occur in every parish I had attended. I had the “reform of the reform” mentality until I realized that this wasn’t enough.

LaGallina - February 14, 2014

A couple of months ago our new asst, pastor from India realized his long, dull homilies would be better received if they ended with a joke. Now the joke has become his trademark. I sat and wept the first time as he told a “joke” about a dog being given a Catholic funeral because its owner was rich.

I ask myself every Sunday if the N. O. Mass is truly valid. Is it? I have to believe that it is because I don’t think God would leave us without the sacraments. But sitting through N.O. Mass is so painful. We go to Traditional Mass once a month, but that means getting 7 children up at 5:30 a.m. I just can’t do it every week. My teenage son and husband are the hardest to wake up.

It did occur to me recently that we Traditionalists are in an absolutely unprecedented situation, and that it is a special type of suffering that we can use to grow in holiness. It just feels so hard to be holy when your mind is being filled with stupid jokes at Mass.

Brian - February 14, 2014


May God bless you in your suffering. I commend you for going to a Traditional Latin Mass and all the logistics that come along with it. I also share your pain with priest who tell jokes during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It’s worse during football season – how many times do I have to hear about the New Orleans Saints?

As to the question of validity, let us always remember what we are being critical about. In this case, the priest telling jokes (insert any number of problems…horrible music, adlibbing, EMHC etc.).

The question of validity doesn’t pertain to any of these. Validity requires a validity ordained priest, the correct matter and form, and the intention of the priest to do what the Church ask, that is, to make present the Real Presence of Jesus Christ (Transubstantiation).

Hopefully we can presume we have a validly ordained priest. Hopefully we have the correct matter – in the Roman Rite – unleavened bread and grape wine. The question of intent of the priest is tricky and we can’t really get into their mind and heart. If everything indicates that he might not have the right intent it’s probably best to find another parish.

With that said, there are serious abuses which can make a Mass illicit. They detract from the holiness and reverence of the Mass. Maybe this is where the Mass you attend fits in? Maybe its not illicit but what’s being done is of horrible taste. I’m not sure.

I offer this insight because we all need the proper perspective (not that mines always right!). When dealing with the shortcomings of the Novus Ordo Mass (and priest) we aren’t questing whether the Rite itself is valid (unless we have good reason to question the validity of a particular Mass because it doesn’t contain that which is required for validity.)

2. LaGallina - February 14, 2014

What is the difference between licit and valid, regarding the Mass?

My Mass is a typical N. O. Mass. Not extremely conservative or liberal. Lots of alter girls, and ladies handing out Communion. A few males mixed into the bunch. Guitars and tambourines. The music is mostly either Spanish pop (I go to Spanish Mass) or missionary protestan happy clappy songs. Some people are very devout. Some are not.

My wondering about the sacraments being valid comes more from reading the old rites and the new rites side-by-side. The new Mass just feels emaciated. There’s nothing there. And the prayers that were not entirely removed are so changed. Shorter and less powerful-sounding. You can’t help but wonder who would want to change the prayers so profoundly, and why? Do the prayers still do what they always did? Is this bread still becoming the true body of Christ? I think it is, but I’m not sure. If so, we are trampling on Jesus all over the place.

Anyway, I’ve just had these thoughts rattling around in my mind. In a way my discovery of Tradition has made my N. O. Mass easier to handle. I don’t sit and fume at all the irreverence as much because now I think, “What do you expect? It’s the new Mass.” I’m not waiting for the priest to announce he’s doing g away with Eucharistic ministers and he’s planning to incorporate Gregorian chant into the mass. Now I realize that the beauty, truth, and real reverence are only found at the Traditional Mass.

Brian - February 14, 2014

Validity has to do with consecration. The transubstantiation (the change) of bread and wine into the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. The accidents remain (it looks like bread, it smells like bread, it taste like bread) but the bread is no longer. After a valid consecration the substance of bread has been changed into the Real Presence – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity!

When we talk about a Mass (or other Sacrament) being licit or illicit we are talking about its legality – is it done according to the rules and laws of the Church.

A Mass can be illicit but valid. Therefore against the rules/laws of the Church but transubstantiation still occurs. A blatant case would be a priest who has been excommunicated who celebrates a public Mass.

The words of consecration can’t be confused with other prayers that are found in the various rites – Novus Ordo and TLM. I agree that the prayers have be substantially changed for the worse.

LaGallina - February 15, 2014

Thanks. One more thing. I was reading your comments on the other post — what is a validly ordained priest? Or maybe I should ask — which priests are NOT validly ordained?

skeinster - February 15, 2014

Again, and perhaps Brian can answer this better, as he did so well above, there can be issues of validity and illicitness.

This is not something I would add to my plate to worry about- the Church does its best to insure that priests are validly ordained. If we don’t start out with that assumption, then we are going to make ourselves crazy.

Now- this doesn’t mean that a validly ordained priest cannot
offer an invalid Mass- see above.

But even a validly ordained priest who had lost his faith, yet still intends to do what the Church intends, can say a valid Mass. Nor does his personal sanctity enter into it- there is a specific heresy that deals with this whose name I can’t recall right now- as far as validity goes.

I would be leery of anyone who sets himself up in an “independent” Traditional chapel. There are several “lines” of ordination among radical Trads that are pretty shady.
But not the SSPX- they are valid, but at the present time, illicit.

skeinster - February 15, 2014

It’s called Donatism.
This looks pretty good: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0536.html

3. Good review of how the Novus Ordo Mass came about | A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics - February 18, 2014

[…] are very big subjects, and I’ve done dozens of blog posts on both over the years, most recently last week.  I just stumbled across another good resource today, in the form of a post done by […]

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