Monday, February 24, 2014

The Novus Ordo doesn’t work

From an e-mail group:
The NLM article is very interesting, summing up very recent writings on the liturgy. I must say, I am surprised at all of this erupting just now. It's like watching a geyser insistently spouting; you've got to acknowledge the pressure that has been there all along.

I heartily agree, and have always agreed, that the
Novus Ordo doesn't work. The whole premise -- that you can take a rite older than Gregory the Great, submit it to the tender mercies of an editorial board and publish the new product with great fanfare as Our Daily Bread from now on -- is dopey beyond belief.

What's truly revealing is the institutional psychosis. We enter the Conciliar period having been prepared by the Liturgical Movement of the 1940s-50s to expect that the Church will be renewed once we have, well renewed the Liturgy. We proceed to completely ignore the sonorous document produced by the Council Fathers on the subject (the stuff about tambourines and mood synthesizers was in a footnote). We lose
sixty percent of our worshipping congregation over the next thirty years, all the while prattling on complacently about Renewal. It took FORTY YEARS before the liturgical establishment started to mumble, "Hmmm... didn't quite go as we had hoped..." And there are still people who insist that it was all to be expected, society went mad in the 1960s, you can't blame it all on liturgical reform.

Grrr. Ours is a sacramental faith. That means that signs and symbols affect us profoundly, more than we realize. Once there was a central symbol, one that affected virtually every Catholic -- the Sacred Liturgy. It was celebrated as something which we had received and should treasure. When violent hands were laid on that (the "winged monkey treatment" -- "Well, they took my stomach and threw it HERE, and my legs are over THERE..."), even that most sacred thing... everything was up for grabs. If you could do what you wished with the Liturgy, convert it into a vehicle for self-expression, then you could do what you wished with anything -- Religious Life, seminary formation, marriage, sexual morality, medical ethics, you name it.

It is all of a piece. And then we blame "The World." How could we expect that we wouldn't be affected by The World? Well, within living memory we took it for granted that the Church was supposed to be the salt of the earth, a leaven for the world, that the Church should affect the world. It's highly convenient as well as significant that we seem to have forgotten that.

Father Kocik and these other authors are attacking a forty-five-year-old logjam.
What I call the legitimate liturgical movement worked with the traditional Mass, teaching people about it, and wanted more of what is technically the norm in the rite, High Mass. Their ideal was a congregationally chanted High Mass, maybe with parts in the vernacular. You ended up getting the opposite. The low-church Irish-Americans described by Thomas Day were happy to have an even lower Low Mass and junked it up with a different kind of devotional hymns (pseudo-folk instead of 1890s pop), and the High Mass disappeared.

Without the council, the church still would have taken a hit from the Sixties but it would have been smaller. We had the clout to ride it out. My guess is eventually — in the ’70s? — we would have had a vernacular version of the traditional Mass, just like what the OCA, some other American Orthodox, and some American Eastern Catholics did. Pope Benedict the Great’s correction of English Novus was a big step in that direction.

Meanwhile, low-church Pope Francis gets on the cover of Rolling Stone and the UN tries to tell the church what to do. Let’s see; did he get that honor because of the teachings of the church and will it promote them? No?

7 comments:

  1. 'What's truly revealing is the institutional psychosis... We lose sixty percent of our worshipping congregation over the next thirty years, all the while prattling on complacently about Renewal. It took FORTY YEARS before the liturgical establishment started to mumble, "Hmmm... didn't quite go as we had hoped..." And there are still people who insist that it was all to be expected...'

    What's true of the United States of America is also true of the Catholic Church: The single biggest problem is that nobody in power wants to admit that there are big problems. Objectively, the problems of both shouldn't be too hard for reasonably intelligent and conscientious administrators to fix, particularly when considered in light of the tremendous resources and great advantages that both have at their disposal. Only recently, though, has anyone of importance in either institution started to admit that not everything is sunshine and roses, and they usually still point the finger at any causes they can find other than the the deep-seated underlying issues.

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  2. Greetings. I disagree. The Novus ordo which is based largely on the writtings of St Justin Matyr is and can be most beautiful; effective and very holy. This of course provided that there are no abuses.
    I am a Oblate of Mary Immaculate priest serving Gods poor and we celebrate the Mass that is catholic and universal and expressed in African style and culture and the people celebrate the sacrifice of Christ and His resurrection with depth and joy and commitment and receive Holy Communion with great love and devotion.The Novus Ordo also unites us as a Communion in the Body of Christ the Church and our people confess often and there are confessions heard daily. Many people are moved by the Mass and come back to Christ and the Church and there are so many youth involved and committed and people are faithful on Sundays and fill the Church and during the week more than 400 people attend daily Mass. While I love and value and treasure the traditional Mass I feel it may be profound for priests who celebrate Mass alone and it may have value in certain cultures and traditions. It would never be effective in evangelization today and the Novus Ordo assists us to proclaim Christ and the Catholic faith in every aspect of depth. God bless; Father Ronald Cairns. OMI

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  3. It took FORTY YEARS before the liturgical establishment started to mumble, "Hmmm... didn't quite go as we had hoped..."

    I think things are going exactly as they hoped.

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  4. Well . . . maybe in Africa . . . just maybe! . . . otherwise I agree with Anti-Gnostic.

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  5. "We lose sixty percent of our worshipping congregation over the next thirty years."

    Where in the world does this come from? From the numbers I've seen, the Catholic population has grown with world population, and remains at about the same percentage of world population as it was a hundred years ago.

    Those numbers of course include less impressive numbers for North America and Europe. But I rather question what seems to be a common assumption here that those third-worlders don't really count. How can you blame our apostasy on something that has been common throughout the world?

    "Without the council, the church still would have taken a hit from the Sixties but it would have been smaller."

    I'm sure you believe that, and feel it, but it's hardly an established fact. I remember being constantly assured that everything that went wrong in the sixties was the result of the Supreme Court public school prayer decision. Can't prove it one way or another. My feeling, by the way, is that the new vernacular mass kept many people in who might have drifted away--but of course I don't assert that as a fact. And Vatican II's teachings, about the hierarchical constitution of the Church, about the authority of the bishops with the pope, about the divine origin and purposes of marriage and the family, about the absolute inadmissibility of elective abortion--these you take wholly for granted, as if their assertion in an ecumenical council were irrelevant.

    Looking back over the past fifty years, the Catholic Church has demonstrably weathered the storms better than others. Things could have been better. They may well have been much worse. I do not dislike the traditional mass, and am glad that Benedict made it more widely available. But the idea that the mass that for hundreds of millions of Catholics has nourished their faith for most of their lives "doesn't work."--that's a stretch.

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  6. While I love and value and treasure the traditional Mass I feel it may be profound for priests who celebrate Mass alone and it may have value in certain cultures and traditions.

    Those numbers of course include less impressive numbers for North America and Europe. But I rather question what seems to be a common assumption here that those third-worlders don't really count.

    What this seems to be saying is that the Catholic Church is increasingly a Global South Church, and the TLM is a relic of the waning Global North.

    Danger, Will Robinson.

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  7. "What this seems to be saying is that the Catholic Church is increasingly a Global South Church."

    That's what the numbers do say, for now. Not that a trend must necessarily continue. And surely it's not a great surprise, given what Jesus said about the rich entering the kingdom of Heaven.

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