On excisions from the Psalter and Lectionary July 30, 2015Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, different religion, disconcerting, Ecumenism, General Catholic, Latin Mass, Liturgy, secularism, self-serving, Society, the struggle for the Church.
Rorate, as happens so often, has a valuable post examining how the post-conciliar liturgical changes, which allegedly promised to open up so much of the “riches of Scripture” to benighted, bead-counting Catholic hearts, actually have had the effect of removing from mass Catholic thought certain ideas deemed too controversial or dangerous. I don’t want to go into all the details – read the whole post at Rorate (as I’m sure most of you have) – but I wanted to add a bit more from my own experience.
The principle ideas it was judged necessary by modernizing reformers to excise focus on topics like sin, judgment, damnation, et. al. As such the four last things tend to get very short shrift in both the new Mass and in the Liturgy of the Hours. Of course, I used to know nothing but the post-conciliar product, and thought I was being very holy by praying the Liturgy of the Hours in its garish four color, four volume format. Over time, I found both Mass and Hours to be so problematic as to be best avoided entirely. In addition to its great reduction in the concentration of Psalms prayed – from 150 a week to ~145 a month – we learned via Rorate that whole Psalms are missing from the post-conciliar Liturgy of the Hours, as opposed to their constant presence in the Roman Breviary dating back to the very origins of the Church.
That’s significant, and what is even more significant, is that while some three Psalms, containing the inspired and inerrant Word of God (the literal conveyance of the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity), have been eliminated entirely from the Liturgy of the Hours (LoH), a score of others had their content and meaning brutalized by men who apparently know better than God. That is, all the unpopular bits were cut out like trimming the the fat from a bone.
Even more, left out of this critical analysis of the LoH was the fact that so many of the prayers contained therein were written by protestants and reflect all the banalities of an indifferent ecumenical product-of-committee approach. More than anything else, the frequently atrocious prayers in the LoH turned me off and had me fleeing to the immensely richer Breviarium Romanum. I also found so many of the new hymns in the LoH hackneyed and trite; a virtual time capsule of late 60s folk music.
This is part and parcel with the elimination from the readings in the Novus Ordo Mass of certain “problematic” bits of Scripture, such as 1 Cor XI:27-29, St. Paul’s revelation that those who eat and drink the Body and Blood of the Lord unworthily are committing the gravest sacrilege. That particularly important element of Sacred Scripture is found NOWHERE in the readings of the Novus Ordo Mass. There are other “offending” writings from St. Paul – such as his call for women to obey their husbands, and the ban on women preaching – which are similarly excluded or relegated to rare daily Masses. And of course, large sections of the Apocalypse and “scary” prophesies from the Old Testament are also missing from the Novus Ordo.
So, with all this supposed “opening” of Scripture, critically important ideas are almost totally missing from the Mass, which is the primary means by which the vast majority of Catholics experience the Faith (and for most, the ONLY means). While it is theoretically nice to have more Scripture readings, since they are only heard once very 3 years, it is questionable whether they have the impact as the single yearly “rotation” of readings in the TLM, which, because they are heard every year, become very familiar and really begin to sink in. From my own experience, I know I now recall and appreciate many of the Mass readings, especially the Gospels, much more now in hearing them more often, rather than less.
I do take issue with one claim made in the Rorate post. I think the matter is more than mere semantics. It has to do with this paragraph:
This scandal (for let us not mince words: it is a scandal of the first order) was brought to you by the Liturgical Reform, signed, sealed, and delivered by Pope Paul VI—the very same reform that deliberately omitted from the oversized new lectionary spiritually demanding verses in the New Testament, in order to avoid offending the sensibilities of the modern faithful.
I think that right, insofar as it goes. But I’ve read serious students of liturgy claim that there was perhaps more to it than simply wanting to avoid offending modern sensibilities. Certainly, we know for certain that the prime architect of the liturgical revolution, Anibale Bugnini, pushed very hard for many very controversial changes out of an excessive ecumenical concern. He stated in his own history of the liturgical revolution that he wanted to jettison anything from the Mass that a protestant could find objectionable.
Even more, however, there is a good deal of information out there that points towards a deliberate revolution against the Faith going beyond even ecumenical concerns. This revolution was based in rationalist/humanist philosophies that saw man, and not God, at the center of the Church. I’d say, yes avoiding offending modern sensibilities was certainly a major driver in the revolution, but there were other, perhaps even more important drives, ones that are even more distressing.
It should also be noted that Fr. Anthony Cekada (yes, I know he is a sede vacantist) claims in Work of Human Hands that Pope Paul VI’s handwriting is all over the developmental work for the Novus Ordo. Some have tried to claim that Bugnini pulled a fast one on both Paul VI and the bishops by reporting to each that the other kept insisting on the most radical changes, but Cekada says the notes make clear that Paul VI was very aware of the course of the liturgical “renewal” from ’64-’70 and personally pushed for some of most radical novelties. Whether that is true or not I really cannot say, Fr. Cekada claimed to have somehow gotten hold of some of the earliest preparatory documents and they all, according to him, featured Paul VI’s copious notes.
I mention this because it goes to the heart of whether the liturgical reform-cum-revolution was just a kind of very strange “renewal” that has had as many ups as downs due to bad implementation, as many post-conciliar apologists maintain, or was a willful attempt to change the most sacred elements of the Faith in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass through introduction of gross novelties radically at odds with centuries of prior practice. That is, it cuts to the very heart of why, and how, the “renewal” occurred.