12 May 2013

The Reformers

In my previous post, I mentioned that all was not well in the Church at the end of the 1950s, and suggested that Cardinal Heenan's proud proclamation that:

“Our people love the Mass, but it is Low Mass without psalm-singing and other musical embellishments to which they are chiefly attached”

was indicative of a malaise.

Coincidentally, and while looking for something else - I am developing my unified theory of where it all went wrong -  I came across something quite odd in Bugnini's History of the Reform:

"The point of departure for the reform should not be "private" Mass but "Mass with a congregation"; not Mass as read but Mass with singing. But which Mass with song-the pontifical, the solemn, or the simple sung Mass?

a) Given the concrete situation in the churches, the answer can only be: Mass celebrated by a priest, with a reader, servers, a choir or cantor and a congregation. All other forms, such as pontifical Mass, solemn Mass, Mass with a deacon, will be amplifications or further simplifications of this basic Mass, which is therefore called "normative."

b) There must be a substantial sameness among all the forms of Mass with a congregation, with or without singing. For if, in fact, Mass with
out singing were made the model because, for example, of the vernacular, sung Mass would gradually fall into disuse.

c) A sharper differentiation can be made between Mass with a congregation and Mass without a congregation ("private" Mass). Mass with a congregation requires several areas (for the altar, for the lectern, for the presidential chair) and perhaps fewer formulas, since by its nature
its celebration will take more time. Mass without a congregation, on the other hand, does not require these several areas and can have longer or more numerous formulas that may augment the devotion of the celebrant."

In other words, the Consilium, the body set up to reform the Liturgy, didn't actually understand (or didn't recognise as important, or couldn't care less) that the development of Low Mass from the normative practice of the first thousand years of worship in the Church obeyed a particular set of circumstances and had never been considered as an ideal until the twentieth century.

Looking elsewhere in Bugnini's book, I came across a passage about Eucharistic Prayer II.  I had always believed until relatively recently what I was taught in 1970: that EPII was the earliest extant anaphora of the Church and its use in the New Mass took us right back to the worship of the Early Church.  Ignoring the number of questions being begged in that particular statement, the status of the Anaphora of Hippolytus is no longer that of model of the Primitive Church.  Volume 1 Number 1 of Usus Antiquior contained an essay by Matthieu Smyth which comprehensively trashed this idea.  But Bugnini said in his book:

"The aim was to produce an anaphora that is short and very simple in its ideas. The anaphora of Hippolytus was therefore taken as a model. But, although many thoughts and expressions were taken from Hippolytus, Eucharistic prayer II is not, as it were, a new edition of his prayer. It was not possible to retain the structure of his anaphora because it does not have a Sanctus or a consecratory epiclesis before the account of institution or a commemoration of the saints or intercessions. All these developed after Hippolytus and could not now be omitted in a Roman anaphora. In addition, various ideas and expressions in the anaphora of Hippolytus are archaic or difficult to understand and could not be taken over into a contemporary anaphora."

In other words, the chaps in the Consilium knew that Hippolytus wasn't the (or even an) anaphora of the Early Church but wanted to sell it as such.  What Matthieu also points out is that when Bugnini says"various ideas and expressions in the anaphora of Hippolytus are archaic or difficult to understand and could not be taken over into a contemporary anaphora", what was removed was (inter alia) references to the end times, and the victory over Hell: quite a clue towards discovering the intentions of the reformers.

Somebody else will pick up on this: Ben's series on the Lectionary of the New Mass shows other evidence that some of what is going on here is about reshaping the way the Faithful thought about their Faith, but I want to highlight something else.

Can there ever have been such a time in the Church when the people responsible not only for good order, but for the reordering of worship where that was necessary, were so ignorant about the source of that order?  And is it possible that in spite of the definitive refutation of so much of the reformers' cherished wishful thinking, not least during the last two Pontificates, there are people in authority still peddling the same errors?


Richard Collins said...

Ttony, all I can suggest re HE Heenan is that, his words may have been taken out of context. As a young man I met the Cardinal on a few occasions and found him most orthodox in his approach to theology. Certainly, he was not loved by his Westminster priests because of his orthodoxy (at a time when all was in even worse turmoil than today).
In his defence I would say that he was never far from appearing regularly on television programmes, always proclaiming the Catholic anti establishment position. I find it hard to recognise that quote with the track record of the man.

Lazarus said...

The more I think about this -both in terms of the liturgy and in terms of the abandonment of neo-Scholasticism- the more I'm convinced that the problem is ressourcement. The example you give of Hippolytus exemplifies three issues: a) the focusing on an arbitrary 'source' and taking it as a paradigm; b) the engagement with that source using contemporary (but inevitably flawed) scholarship; c) the deliberate use of that source to serve a modernizing agenda. There is too little humility here before the tradition of the Church: that what we have received from the previous generation may not be completely untouchable (tradition is not Tradition), but it has been the vehicle of sanctification and should treated tenderly.

Ttony said...

Richard, I'm not saying Heenan wasn't orthodox: far from it. He was the one who stood up to the nonsenses of Bugnini and his Consilium. My argument is that Bugnini et al did not spring fully formed from the Council, but that the ground had been prepared for them by more than half a century of messing about with the Liturgy: the Church had lost, or was ignoring, its liturgical compass.

Lazarus: You have hit exactly on the same point as I have.