What I find to be a wonder to my eyes is the fantasy that the US bishops are living under regarding the state of the liturgy in the Church today. The US bishops just released a document praising the renewal efforts of Vatican II concerning the Mass. For them everything is peachy, and according to them, more of this "renewal" must continue. Let me comment on a couple of things in regard to their new document ironically titled, 'Stewards of Tradition.' As we know, there is nothing traditional about any of the liturgical changes made by Pope Paul VI after Vatican II. In fact, the very act of concocting a new Mass ad-hoc by committee is against the very nature of liturgical tradition. I am going to boldly cover some of the points in the document and classify them as "fantasies," since that is exactly what they are. Forgive me for my sarcasm, but now and then I think it is needed to get the point across.
Fantasy #1 from the document: There has been increased spiritual vigor and ongoing renewal.
"We want to underscore that the reforms in the Liturgy, which were the result of the Council's deliberations and decisions, are for nothing less than the increased spiritual vigor and ongoing renewal of the Church. It was judged that the visible rites of the Church had to undergo reform for the sake of interior renewal of the faithful."This claim is nothing more than a figment of their imagination since less than 30% of all Catholics go to Mass on Sunday, and the vast majority of the ones that do go have no idea what the Mass is. There has been no interior renewal of the faithful on any large scale if we are going to use numbers of faithful Catholics as the criterion. As the old lady in the Wendy's commercial used to say, "Where's the beef?" Prove it!
Fantasy #2 from the document: The Abundant Fruits
"As we give thanks for the great work of reform of the Liturgy and renewal of the Church that has borne such abundant fruits, we must also continually strive to deepen this renewal that was begun under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit."After reading this we must surely ask ourselves, what abundant fruits, and what continual renewal are they speaking of? We can't take anymore of the bad medicine they have been serving up for the past 40 years. This is another case of the emperor's new clothes. The US bishops write it so it must be true, right? Do they live in the same universe that we do? Where have they lead the Church over the past 50 years? What fruits are they speaking of? Are they proud of the fact that they have let the vast majority of their flock run out of the Catholic Church? Are they proud of the fact that vast the majority of Masses said throughout the country are a disaster, and few lead anyone to contemplate the Sacrifice of Christ? Lets take a look at these fantastical "fruits" of which they speak.
The abundant fruits..
Priests ordained in 1965 in the US- 994. In 2013, 511 ordained. Thats almost a 50% decrease since that great renewal got underway! Great job! I know its not their fault right? Its the modern culture that we should blame, not the watering down of the faith to the point where it doesn't matter to anyone anymore!
How about the total number of diocesan priests in the US? In 1965 we had 33,925. In 2013, 26,558. Wow that is a great renewal isn't it? It is if you are on Satan's team who is trying desperately to destroy the Church. Then it could be seen as an accomplishment! There are supposedly almost twice as many self identified Catholics in the world today as there were in 1965, and this is the track record the bishops have? The real numbers tell us that few are practicing the faith!
Fantasy #3: The "evolution" of liturgical teaching was a good thing.
"...it is important to recall that the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy was the fruit of the evolution of the Church's teaching on the Liturgy, especially from the early years of the last century. The reformed Liturgy was the result of extensive historical scholarship and reflection on pastoral needs, and it was carried out by the specially-created Consilium under the direction of the Sacred Congregation of Rites (later to become the Congregation for Divine Worship) and Venerable Pope Paul VI."The word they used should be "revolutionary" rather than "evolutionary." The "extensive scholarship" that they speak of has essentially destroyed the meaning and understanding of the Mass. Go ask the average Catholic what the Mass actually is in its essence. 90% of them would not be able to tell you that it is sacrifice! That is what this "evolution" has given us. Anyone who has the audacity to tell us as Catholics that the Church never really understood the Mass up until Vatican II has no respect for the Saints or tradition of the Church whatsoever. Do they really know more than their predecessors? Judging by the facts of Mass attendance and the mis-education of those who do go to Mass, their claim is objectively false. They are correct in stating that it was the Consilium that carried out the reforms of the Mass. Many wish to dismiss the Consilium, but one cannot wish it away and live in a fantasy land wishing it never existed, and deny the fact that Paul VI went along with the vast majority of the nonsensical ideas that it sought to implement. The Vatican II document did not implement anything. It was used as one of the vehicles to give us a new Mass.
Fantasy #4: Pope Pius X and Pius XII began what was carried out after Vatican II.
The first example is from the pontificate of Pope St. Pius X, who, in his 1903 landmark statement on music in the Liturgy, Tra le sollecitudini, stated that the purpose of the Liturgy is "glorifying God" and "the sanctification and edification of the faithful." St. Pius X also made the concept of liturgical participation a matter of papal teaching: "…the faithful assemble for no other object than that of acquiring this [true Christian] spirit from its foremost and indispensable font, which is the active participation in the most holy mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church." This 1903 motu proprio emphasized that music sung by the assembly (in addition to music sung by a choir) was an important means of participation in the Sacred Liturgy. Tra le sollecitudiniclearly set a standard for subsequent magisterial documents.
The second example is that of Pope Pius XII, who indicated that the Roman Missal "needed both to be somewhat revised and also to be enriched with additions" (Discourse to the Participants in the First International Congress of Pastoral Liturgy at Assisi, 22 September 1956: AAS 48 (1956), p. 712). Pope Pius XII undertook some revision himself in a particular way with the restoration of the rites of Holy Week and the Easter Vigil (1951-56). Two of this Pope's many encyclicals—Mediator Dei. . .(1947), on the Sacred Liturgy, and Mystici Corporis Christi. . . (1943), on the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ—were highly influential on the thinking that undergirded the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, and, in fact, were valuable building blocks for its drafting.How can anyone seriously make the claim that these documents of Popes Pius X and XII are of the same leitmotif as what was implemented after Vatican II? In fact, if you read those documents closely, you will find that they are opposed to many of the exact changes that were carried out by the "reform!" Hey, anyone remember Pope Pius XII saying, "Thus, to cite some instances, one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive tableform; were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in Churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer's body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts, even where it conforms to regulations issued by the Holy See." What do we have now? Read Mediator Dei for yourself! It spoke of nothing even close to what was done after the Second Vatican Council. It is amazing that they can release a document like this while keeping a straight face. They are taking for granted that no one has even read these documents, and that we should just take their fantastical ideas as being the truth.
Fantasy #5 : Their Proposed Foundational Principles of Liturgy Redesigned!
Under the section titled, 'Foundational Principles' is where the rubber meets the road! I will not quote it all here, I suggest you read it for yourself. In the first paragraph where it lays out principle #1, 'The Presence of Christ in the Liturgy,' there is not ONE mention of Christ being sacrificed anywhere! How can this be? There is talk of Christ being present yes, but not how He presents Himself. In reading the entire document, there is not ONE mention of Christ being Sacrificed on the altar! I will harp on this again as I continue.
The next principle is 'Liturgical Participation.' Here they praise all of the extra practices that the laity take part of in the Mass, yet little is mentioned about prayer! It is all about zeal and "active" participation. What about the different manners of prayer and contemplation that the laity have always been encouraged to engage in? No mention of that! Maybe its because no one can spend two seconds in contemplation at the average Novus Ordo Mass because the "active participation" has distracted everyone from the Sacrifice that is taking place on the altar! No even knows its taking place, and if you did know you are distracted by the inappropriate music, gestures, jokes at the homily, and the lay people prancing all through the sanctuary. Rather than the Mass, you would have thought you were at a live airing of the Johnny Carson Show.
The next principle is titled, 'Proclamation of the Word.' Of course the old argument we always hear about the greatness of the Novus Ordo, is that we now have so many more readings! The US bishops claim that we as Catholics now have a greater understanding of the Biblical texts because of this! Really? And how would we gauge that claim? Do the Biblical texts now follow the Mass more closely than the previous Latin Rite Missal? Do they add more depth to understanding the liturgical year? Any claim to that effect is a most ridiculous one. The readings in the Old Mass follow much more closely to the liturgical calendar than the new Mass. Also, you can read all of the Scripture you want at Mass, but when few understand what it really means, it really doesn't amount to much. Read it Latin, read it English, it doesn't really matter. After all, you are mostly likely to hear nonsense like the book of Genesis was just a myth, and Adam and Eve never really existed! What an improvement to Biblical scholarship. Having three readings and three cycles changing all of the time was really a game breaker! How the Church and the Mass survived the previous 2000 years is a wonder.
The final principle is 'Inculturation and the Liturgy.' This part is worth quoting, "Translation of liturgical texts into vernacular languages, for example, has been a monumental success, making the words of the Liturgy more understandable to those present. We should continue to consider ways in which the Liturgy can be legitimately adapted to the various cultures of our people." First of all the first translations were lousy, and having it celebrated in the vernacular was not a success. No one understands the Mass better now because it is said in the vernacular. Few even know what the Mass is! How can this be a success? They think that making the Mass more identifiable to the pagan cultures is a great achievement! The US bishops just wrote an entire document on the Mass and never ONCE mentioned the Sacrificial nature of the Mass! This should indeed be an amazement to our eyes! We are so used to this garbage that it doesn't even phase us anymore. While we should be outraged and insist upon proper catechesis from the bishops, we just watch as the shirt unravels before us until we have nothing left to wear. We now think it is normal to feel that draft upon our backs when the wind blows.
The document then ends with a creative idea that the Mass is an 'Art and Craft,' and then tells us to 'Live What We Celebrate'. The bishops here do make reference to using beautiful things in the Mass like Sacred Vessels, etc. They then moved onto sacred music and I noticed that nowhere did the bishops speak of the pride of place of Latin anywhere concerning music. Instead they wrote, "The development of a repertory of vernacular music for the Liturgy over the past fifty years is a gift for which we are grateful and which we continue to promote." Are we not tired of that horrible Pollyannish drivel that passes for sacred music? Where is the chant which was held in such high esteem in their highly praised document Sacrosantum Concilium? "...steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin..." So we must ask ourselves if there was any true renewal of the liturgy thus far following Vatican II. Are the US bishops really the "Stewards of Tradition?" I think not. I am not buying what they are selling us! Thanks for all that has been done. It is indeed a wonder to our eyes!