After Forty Years of “Liturgical Renewal,”
Incompetent Priests, Bored Laity
by Christopher A. Ferrara
January 22, 2013
Zenit reports the hilarious news — hilarious if it weren’t so tragic — that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments “is preparing a booklet to help priests celebrate the Mass properly and the faithful to participate better...”
Come again? A booklet, you say? A booklet to help priests learn how to celebrate the Mass? But how can this be when, according to Paul VI, the New Mass was imposed upon the Church after the Second Vatican Council precisely in order to produce a “greater simplicity of the ceremonies...” How could priests be in need of instruction in how to celebrate the simpler new Mass of Paul VI?
A booklet to teach the faithful how to participate better in the Mass? But how can this be after forty years of a “liturgical renewal” that, according to Pope Paul, eliminated Latin from the Mass because “the divine Latin language kept us apart from the children, from youth, from the world of labor and of affairs, [was] a dark screen, not a clear window...” and “participation by the people is worth more — particularly participation by modern people, so fond of plain language which is easily understood and converted into everyday speech.”
What happened to all that joyous participation by the faithful, “so fond of plain language,” following abolition of the Latin liturgy? According to Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, head of the Congregation that is producing the booklet, there has been an effort “to make the Mass ‘entertaining’ with certain songs — instead of focusing on the mystery — in an attempt to overcome ‘boredom’ by transforming the Mass into a show.”
Boredom? But how could the splendid liturgical renewal of Paul VI have produced boredom when, according to his successor John Paul II, speaking on the 25th anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Vatican II’s “constitution” on the liturgy, “the Christian people have accepted the liturgical reform in a spirit of obedience and indeed joyful fervour.” So, they are joyfully and fervently bored?
Ah, but the booklet, the booklet, you see, will address this problem of incompetent priests and bored laity. For one thing, the booklet will explain that “the Council did not speak of the priest celebrating Mass facing the people...” Perhaps the booklet will also explain, then, why Paul VI and John Paul II allowed Mass facing the people to become the norm, while Mass facing God — the bimillenial tradition of the Church — was banned in almost every church in the world. That’s a rather surprising papal oversight, is it not?
But have no fear, for the booklet — the booklet’s the thing — will stress “the importance of Christ on the altar” and “the need of the notion of mystery, and... the fact that the sacrificial sense of the Eucharist must not be lost.” Yes, after forty years of “liturgical renewal,” the time has come to remind priests and laity alike that the Mass is about Christ, you know, and that there really ought to be a “notion of mystery” about the unbloody presentation of His sacrifice on the Cross. Yes, a sense of mystery is always a handy thing to have when one is dealing with a mystery. No doubt the booklet will insist that a sense of mystery be introduced straightaway into the liturgical renewal that has left everybody so bored. Come now, people, the Mass is mysterious!
So, when will this crucial booklet be available? “We are preparing it,” said Cardinal Cañizares. “I hope it will come out this year, in the summer...” Maybe this summer, then, there will be a booklet to teach priests how to celebrate Mass properly and the laity how to participate without boredom. Meanwhile, however, the “liturgical renewal” will continue as before, boredom and all.
You can’t make this stuff up. Like the world at large, the disaster area comprising much of the Church after Vatican II has become so absurd that it parodies itself. This is what Sister Lucia meant by “diabolical disorientation.” And no one is laughing harder at this debacle than the Adversary who contributes to it every day.