Monday, November 21, 2016

Vatican II, approaches to liturgical change, and the importance of culture

The Second Vatican Council suggested changes in policy and regulations; it didn't define any doctrine.
I regret to inform you that it did. Given that it was billed as the succeeding Council to the First Vatican Council, it (V2) was granted the same infallible status as V1. (Not to mention the heteropraxis of V2, but there is more than enough material on that from both Catholic and non-Catholic sources.) The SSPX try to get around that by saying that the Council did not have the power to change the liturgy, but the reality is that if you claim to be Catholic, and worship with the Novus Ordo, then you are compelled by the teachings of V2 to uphold them.
Vatican II is infallible in theory and it would have been if it defined doctrine, but while it was intended to balance Vatican I by pointing out the powers of the episcopate (while Vatican I defined doctrine about the papacy), it didn't actually issue an equivalent of Pastor Aeternus, the document that explains (limiting, as Fr. John Hunwicke rightly says) papal infallibility. It quoted past definitions. Vatican II is rhetoric and rules, not doctrine.

We would be better off coming clean that it was a failure and shelving it. (Pope Benedict XVI — actually not conservative, just Catholic — almost did and look what happened to him.)

(Example: our archdiocesan seminary is selling its campus. "How's that 'renewal' working out for youse?")

"The SSPX try to get around that by saying that the Council did not have the power to change the liturgy, but the reality is that if you claim to be Catholic, and worship with the Novus Ordo, then you are compelled by the teachings of V2 to uphold them."

The SSPX do much good (face it; we have our Mass back in the official church thanks to them) but if this is really what they say, they're wrong on this.

The church can rewrite services, and after (not at) Vatican II it did, but historically it didn't. Churchmen didn't study the liturgy as history so they didn't know where much of it came from. Because of that, they chose to be cautious, changing the liturgy as little as possible, lest they omit something essential. The liturgy does change, but it was either minor rules (there were many tweaks to the Tridentine Mass) or very slow and non-directed (custom that eventually became rules). All of this applies to all rites (such as the Eastern ones).

I have no conscience problem with Benedict XVI's English Novus Ordo. That's right; I'm not that extreme. (I actually have little religion but what religion I have is Catholic before 1965.) I can worship in spirit and in truth at it, and going to a quiet, by-the-book celebration (like orthodox Catholics' mainstay for over 40 years; little or no attempt at music), even in liberal parishes, I appreciate what the old, orthodox liturgical renewal was trying to do. The basics: collect (troparia in the Greek Rite), epistle, gospel, offertory, consecration, and Communion; the Mass is the Mass. But the new Mass is not my home, and if my Mass were taken away and I didn't have or decided against the Greek Catholic option (which I do choose monthly), I wouldn't get any joy or identity out of church. I'd go when I was told, put my envelope in the basket (one of the precepts of the church), try to follow the teachings, and that would be that. (Yes, know Jesus personally, but losing my church culture would hinder that.) Religious obligations would be nothing more than that. I'd get all my pleasure in life somewhere else, like the normies.

(Assuming we still have Benedict's reform. Working in our favor right now: Pope Francis doesn't care about liturgy and doesn't speak English.)

I have no problem with other Catholics wanting a pared-down service (the church has several rites and sub-rites, and many cultures, signs that it's true); I do with the pathologically anti-high church mentality that Thomas Day described (a problem the Episcopalians, historically Reformed and definitely still not Catholic, long have not had anymore, ironically; old-fashioned Anglo-Catholicism is almost the right faith taught by the wrong side), which is actually historically and culturally self-hating and is often associated with heresy, a kind of Protestantism (a made-up Christianity starting in the 1500s) or worse.

I have a diocesan magazine that came out when Benedict the Great's reform was implemented, almost exactly five years ago, with an article by the seething, aging low-church liberals/heretics who are still church officialdom in many places. Forced to acknowledge the reform, they decided to headline the story "Embracing liturgical change" as though this were an objective good and the church's normal practice. Sounds Orwellian; take a people's culture away and you own them. The Bolsheviks would smile.

Dumb idea behind bad "liturgical renewal": any form of "active participation" is good, no matter how inane.

By the way, Novus Ordo is a nickname, not an official church term. Officially it's the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, but I like Msgr. Klaus Gamber's idea that while it's a valid Catholic rite, and a Western and Latin rite, because it no longer exclusively uses the Roman Canon, it's no longer the Roman Rite.

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