Newsletter of the District
on the Novus Ordo Missae
the military officers at Camp Capinpin, last June, 1997
Is the New Mass really Protestant in its origin?
Edition) by ANGELUS PRESS, 2918
Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri 64109, USA
Hughes has provided an excellent picture of the religious life of
the British people on the eve of the Reformation and what he writes,
with regard to the Mass, is applicable until the accession of the
young King Edward VI in 1547. Henry VII had shown himself very
conservative as regards changing the established forms of worship.
Sunday, Mgr. Hughes explains, all went to their parish church for
Mass, “a Sacrifice really offered by the Priest, offered in the
name of the Church and also offered by him as the human agent of
the great real offerer, the Divine Priest, Jesus Christ Himself;
a Sacrifice in which the Victim was Jesus Christ. The Mass was
Christ once again offering Himself to the Father as a propitiation
for the sins of the world, not in order to merit forgiveness
for them, as at Calvary, on the Cross but in order to provide particular
men with a means of making that forgiveness their own, in order
that the merit won by the Cross should be applied. Sunday, from
the earliest times, had been with Catholics what the Sabbath was
- is - to the Jews; the day of the Lord, consecrated by the testimony
of the whole community present at a ritual worship and by their
abstinence from ordinarily toil. The neglect to assist at Mass
on Sundays and on these special feast days was held a serious sin,
as also was the neglect to observe the law forbidding ordinary work
on these days.
the church, there were placed statues of the Saints and painted
on the walls, pictures that told the story of the great events narrated
in the Scriptures or in the lives of the Saints. One very favourite
subject was the Last Judgment, Christ at the last day of all, judging
mankind. Very notable among the Saints were the special patron
of the particular church or village, the Saints traditionally associated
with that countryside, above all others, a Saint in a class apart,
Mary, the Mother of the God-Man, Jesus Christ.
churches generally, were the great pride of the village for their
statues and pictures and silken hangings, for some specialty in
a vestment or in the chalice and other sacred vessels.”
number of means were employed to prepare the people for the replacement
of this traditional Latin Mass by a vernacular Protestant Communion
order to overthrow the Mass and with it all that remained of the
Catholic Faith, the Reformers adopted a cautious approach. They
realized that an open frontal attack could rebound on themselves.
The way was first prepared with the help of the press. In 1547,
a campaign against the Mass was initiated alleging, among other
things, that “such as honour the bread there for God do no less
idolatry than they that made the sun their god or stars.”
complained that “certain printers, players and preachers make a
wonderment, as though we knew not yet how to be justified, nor what
sacraments we should have.” The authorities expressed disapproval
in public but their failure to take any active steps to suppress
these books made it obvious where their sympathies lay. By the
end of the year, the floodgates were opened and books began to appear
filled with abuse of everything Catholic - and even dedicated to
the King himself and the Lord Protector. The Blessed Sacrament
is described as “a vile cake to be made God and Man” and the Mass
as “the worshipping of God made of fine flour.” Many of these books
were written by continental reformers, among them Luther, Zwingli,
Calvin, Melancthon, Bullinger, Urbanus Regius, Osiander, Hegendorp
and Bodius. While
these books shocked and outraged most of the ordinary faithful and
parish clergy, they made a great impression on those who liked to
consider themselves an educated and enlightened élite - almost invariably
men of influence in some sphere or other.
wishing to defend the Mass found it very difficult to do so as the
Reformers had total control of the means of communication. “Here
and there, possibly a book might be published bearing the name of
an author and printer which was distasteful to Cranmer and the Council
but there can be no doubt that this would be done at the peril of
those concerned. And as a fact, on examining the bibliography of
these years, it is remarkable that hardly a single book or pamphlet
written in support of the ancient doctrines appears to have been
issued from the English press. Such treatises as those of Gardiner
and Tunstall on the Sacrament had to be printed abroad and in secret.
the other hand, the country was flooded with works, either translations
of the labours of foreign reformers, or original compositions, inveighing
against Catholic observances and specially against the Mass. These
bore the name of author or printer and were mostly of the booklet
class, which could be sold for a few pence and were evidently designed
for wide circulation among the people. In the circumstances, there
can be no doubt whatever that this style of literature, which is
so abundant, could not have had currency without the connivance
or good will of the government and that it really represented beyond
question their wishes and intentions. Nor merely was the circulation
of such literature, which is chiefly of a profane and scurrilous
character, not prohibited or even moderated by any of the numerous
proclamations of the time but express license was given to printers
of such works.”
effective means of propagating the revolutionary ideas was through
sermons - preachers with a license from Cranmer could go from town
to town, attacking beliefs which, in theory, he still held himself
and was upholding. Under Henry, for example, while “men and women
were dying for beliefs which the Archbishop privately shared, he
subscribed to the ruling orthodoxy and imposed it upon others.” While the Reformer-dominated King’s Council
issued proclamations forbidding irreverent attacks upon the Sacrament
and listing punishments for those who did so, in practice it could
be called a “round robin” or “Jack in the box” with impunity. One
preacher with Cranmer’s license - Thomas Hancock - was arrested
after saying, among other things, “that which the Priest holdeth
over his head you do see and kneel before it, you honour it and
make an idol of it and you yourselves are most horrible idolators.”
He was completely discharged at the instigation of the Protector
Somerset himself. Cranmer alone had the power of granting a license
to preach and his attitude can best be seen by quoting from an instruction
issued by the Privy Council to licensed preachers in June, 1548,
forbidding them to bring “that into contempt and hatred which the
prince doth either allow or is content to suffer,” but at the same
time permitting “the lively teaching of the word of God by sermons
made after such sort as for the time the Holy Ghost shall put into
the preacher’s mind.”
his famous sermon “of the plough” preached at St. Paul’s on 18th
January, 1548, Latimer openly attacked Catholic practices before
the whole court, declaring them and the Mass itself to be the work
of the devil whose “office is to hinder religion, to maintain superstition,
to set up idolatry, to teach all kinds of popery . . . where the
devil is resident and hath his plough going, there away with books,
and up with candles; away with bibles, and up with beads, away with
the light of the Gospel, and with the light of candles yea at noon-day
. . . Where the devil is resident, that he may prevail, up with
all superstition and idolatry; censing, painting of images, candles,
palms, ashes, holy water and new services of men’s inventing . .
. Let all things be done in Latin; there must be nothing but Latin
. . .”
policy of upholding the traditional faith in theory while
allowing it to be undermined in practice extended to liturgical
innovations. “. . . On the one hand the Council was issuing orders
to restrain innovations in the liturgy and on the other was allowing
it to be understood that such innovations were not displeasing to
them . . .” Cranmer’s
programme for overthrowing the established liturgy described at
the beginning of this chapter was divided into four stages. It
has already been explained in Chapter VIII why he deemed it imprudent
to do too much too soon. Stage one was to have certain
portions of the unchanged traditional Mass in the vernacular. Stage
two was to introduce new material into the old Mass, none
of which would be specifically heretical. Stage three
was to replace the old Mass with an English Communion service which,
once more, was not specifically heretical. Stage four
was to replace this service with a specifically Protestant one.
As will be explained in Chapter XVI, the psychology of this process
was very sound. Very few men have the courage to be martyrs and
even those with strong convictions are liable to seek a compromise
where one is possible. Such a compromise was possible with each
of Cranmer’s first three stages - and once the process of compromising
has been entered into, it tends to be self-perpetuating. A man
who has been making continual concessions is liable to lack the
will to make a stand and to feel that, “in any case it is too late
now.” Prominent among the liturgical innovations which prepared
the way for or accompanied the 1549 Prayer Book were the principles
that the liturgy must be in the vernacular and audible throughout;
Communion under both kinds; a new order of Communion to be used
with the old Mass; the replacement of altars with tables.
VERNACULAR AND AUDIBILITY
a number of the Reformers began by using a modified traditional
or newly composed Latin liturgy, it soon became a sine qua non
of Protestantism (but for some Lutherans) that worship must be exclusively
in the vernacular. Statements
such as the following, taken from the writings of the Reformers
and condemned by Trent, provide an accurate summary of the
Protestant standpoint: “The rite of the Church of Rome by which
the words of consecration are said secretly and in a low voice is
to be condemned and the Mass ought to be celebrated only in the
vernacular language which all understand.”
The use of the vernacular even before the introduction of the new
services was, in itself, “indeed a revolution.” It was also an effective instrument
for revolutionary change as it accustomed the people to the idea
of drastic change in their manner of worship. Where the ordinary
Catholic was concerned, Cranmer’s revision of the Latin Mass in
his new rite of 1549 did not appear as startling as
the transition from Latin to English while still using the old rite.
Even an Anglican author can see clearly that by introducing English
into the traditional services “Cranmer clearly was preparing for
the day when liturgical revision would become possible.”
early as 11th April, 1547, Compline was being sung in English in
the royal chapel. The opening of the first Parliament
of Edward’s reign was made the occasion for a far more significant
novelty as it touched the ritual of the Mass itself. The King rode
from his palace of Westminster to the Church of St. Peter with all
the lords spiritual and temporal for a Mass during which the Gloria,
Credo, and Agnus Dei were all sung in English. Even the more conservative
Bishops were now prepared to concede that while Latin should still
be the general rule during Mass, especially “in the mysteries thereof,
nevertheless certain prayers might be in the mother tongue for the
instruction and stirring of the devotion of the people as shall
be thought convenient.”
By the 12th May, 1548, it was possible to have a totally English
Mass at Westminster, including the consecration.
is difficult,” writes A. L. Rowse, “for anyone without a knowledge
of anthropology to appreciate fully the astonishing audacity, the
profound disturbance to the unconscious levels upon which society
lives its life, of such an action as the substitution of an English
liturgy for the age-long Latin rite of Western Christendom in which
Englishmen had been swaddled time out of mind . . . nothing can
detract from the revolutionary audacity of such an interference
with the customary, the subconscious, the ritual element in life.”
well as insisting upon the vernacular, the Reformers demanded that
the whole service should be audible to the congregation. A rubric
in the 1549 Prayer Book requires that the Priest “shall saye, or
syng, plainly and distinctly, this prayer following,” namely the
Council of Trent pronounced anathemas upon anyone holding the propositions
either that “the rite of the Roman Church whereby a part of the
Canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low tone
is to be condemned; or that the Mass ought to be celebrated in the
vernacular tongue only.” These anathemas do not, of course, preclude
the possibility of these practices being permitted within the Roman
UNDER BOTH KINDS
of Cranmer’s first important innovations was to impose the practice
of communion under both kinds for the laity at the end of 1547.
Many Catholics both in England and abroad, made the mistake of conceding
this change without opposition for the sake of peace. “It was,
after all, only a matter of ecclesiastical discipline, although
some innovators, in urging the incompleteness of the Sacrament when
administered under one kind only, gave a doctrinal turn to the question
which issued in heresy. The great advantage secured to the innovators
by the adoption of communion under both kinds in England was the
opportunity it afforded them of effecting a break with the ancient
missal.” Every such break with tradition lessened
the impact of those to follow so that when changes that were not
simply matters of discipline were introduced, the possibility of
effective resistance was considerably lessened.
NEW ORDER OF COMMUNION
printing of “The Order of Communion” - a booklet of only three or
four leaves - was finished on 8th March, 1548. This was to be used
in conjunction with the traditional Mass and must not be confused
with the wholly new Communion service contained in the 1549 Prayer
Book. The 1548 rite contained exhortations addressed to those about
to receive the Sacrament which, according to Mgr. Hughes, contained
“ambiguities designed to make the rite one which could be conscientiously
used by those who did not believe that he (Christ) was there present
except to the communicant in the moment of receiving Holy Communion
and who believed that the presence, even at that moment, was not
in what was received but only in ‘the heart’ of the receiver.” The book also included a ritual for
the administration of Communion under both kinds and these prayers,
with a few modifications, were incorporated into the 1549 Book of
Common Prayer. Mgr. Hughes’ assessment of the ambiguous nature
of the new rite is shared by the Protestant historian S. T. Bindoff.
“The new service contained little or nothing clearly inconsistent
with Catholic doctrine. At the crucial points its phraseology was
ambiguous and the statute embodying it explicitly renounced any
intention of condemning rites used elsewhere.”
how pleasing this new rite was to discerning Protestants was made
clear by no less a person than Miles Coverdale who translated it
into Latin and sent a copy to Calvin declaring it to be “the first
fruits of godliness (according as the Lord now wills his religion
to revive in England)...”
his proclamation giving effect to the new service, the King admonishes
such radical Protestants as Coverdale “to stay and quiet themselves
with this our direction - and not enterprise to run afore and so
by their rashness to become the greatest hinderers” of change.
But at the same time he speaks of a “most earnest intent further
to travail for the reformation and setting forth of such godly orders.” The radicals did not need to “quiet
themselves” long and the further “godly orders” were to be imposed
in the following year.
REPLACED BY TABLES
was another step directly in line with the liturgical policies of
the continental Reformers, the final product of which is well summarized
by a description of the Communion service at Strasbourg after 1530
when Bucer’s influence became dominant. “So, Mass, Priest and altar
are replaced by Lord’s Supper, minister and Holy Table and the westward
replaces the eastward position of the celebrant.” (It is worth repeating that Bucer influenced
Cranmer and hence his new liturgy, more than any other continental
reformer.) On the same theme, Calvin explains that God “has given
us a table at which to feast, not an altar on which to offer sacrifice,
He has not consecrated Priests but ministers to distribute the sacred
The wholesale destruction of altars in England did not take place
until after the imposition of the 1549 Prayer Book but a start had
been made in 1548 with the altars of the chantry chapels which Cranmer
has suppressed. After 1549, the stone altars upon which the Sacrifice
of the Mass had been offered were replaced with wooden tables placed
in the chancel. On 27th November, 1548, John ab Ulmis wrote to
Bullinger as follows: “At this time those privileged altars are
entirely overthrown in a great part of England and by the common
consent of the higher classes, altogether abolished. Why should
I say more? Those idolatrous altars are now become hog-ties (Arae
factae sunt harae), that is the habitation of swine and beasts.”
vacancy in the See of Norwich when it came under Cranmer’s jurisdiction
(1549-1550), “The most part of all altars” in this diocese were
taken down. In a series of Lenten sermons preached
before the King and Council, Hooper urged the complete abolition
of altars and the substitution of tables because there were only
three forms of sacrifice which Christian men could offer and these
did not require an altar. They were sacrifices of thanksgiving;
benevolence and liberality to the poor; and mortifying of our own
bodies and to die unto sin . . . “If we study not daily to offer
these sacrifices to God, we be no Christian men. Seeing Christian
men have none other sacrifice than these, which may and ought to
be done without altars, there should among Christians be no altars.”
While altars remained, he insisted, “both the ignorant people and
the ignorant and evil-persuaded Priest, will dream always of sacrifice.”
27th March, 1550, after the appointment of Ridley to the See of
London, Hooper wrote to Bullinger: “He will, I hope, destroy the
altars of Baal, as he did heretofore in his church when he was Bishop
of Rochester. I can scarcely express to you, my very dear friend,
under what difficulties and dangers we are labouring and struggling,
that the idol of the Mass may be thrown out.” He was able to add,
“Many altars have been destroyed in this city (London) since I arrived
here.” Hooper’s expectations of Ridley proved
to be well founded. Within three months he had issued injunctions
calling for the removal of the altars from the Churches in his diocese. Altars were “too enduring
monuments” to the age old belief in the sacrifice of the Mass.
Altar-smashing was already a well recognized mark of the Reformation
on the Continent, where the practice had been the normal accompaniment
of the abolition of the Mass.” On 24th
November, 1550, the King’s Council ordered the universal implementation
of this policy in England, “that all the altars throughout the kingdom
should be destroyed. For the future, whenever the rite of the Holy
Eucharist was celebrated, a wooden table was to be used, covered,
during the rite, with a cloth of linen. This was intended “to
avoid all matters of further contention and strife” and in a set
of reasons accompanying the instruction (signed by Cranmer among
others), it was explained that: “First, the form of a table shall
move the simple from the superstitious opinions of the Popish Mass
unto the right use of the Lord’s Supper. For the use of an altar
is to make sacrifice upon it: the use of a table is to serve for
men to eat upon. Now when we come again unto the Lord’s board,
what do we come for? To sacrifice Christ again and to crucify Him
again; or to feed upon Him that was once only crucified and offered
up for us? If we come to feed upon Him, spiritually to eat His
Body and spiritually to drink His Blood, which is the true use of
the Lord’s supper; then no man can deny but the form of a table
is more meet for the Lord’s board than the form of an altar.”
throughout the land the consecrated altars of the Christian sacrifice
were cast out and in the account books of country parishes such
items as this appeared: ‘Payd to tylers for breckynge downe forten
awters in the cherche’ . . .”
descendant of Bishop Ridley writes in a biography of his reforming
ancestor that the destruction of the altars which the ordinary people
considered sacrilege shocked them into a full realization of the
extent of the revolution which had taken place: “. . . The removal
of altars brought home to every subject in the kingdom that the
central object which had stood in the churches for over a thousand
years and which they had watched with awe every Sunday since their
early childhood, was condemned as idolatrous and thrown contemptuously
away by the adherents of the new religion which had been forced
fact that the word altar is used in certain of the rubrics of the
1549 Prayer Book might appear to involve some inconsistency with
the teaching of the Reformers. This point is dealt with in the
explanation which accompanied the order of the King’s Council demanding
the destruction of altars. It explains that “it calleth the table
where the holy Communion is distributed, with lauds and thanksgiving
unto the Lord, an altar; for that there is offered the same sacrifice
of praise and thanksgiving.”
Nevertheless, the word ‘altar’ was struck out of the 1552 Prayer
Book and was not subsequently replaced. Archbishop Laud ordered
the communion tables to be placed altar-wise, against the east wall,
in about 1636.
were a good number of other innovations, some of which might appear
of minor importance but nonetheless played their part in contributing
to the general atmosphere of change, disturbance and unrest. The
most important of these was the widespread destruction of statues.
The Reformer abolished such well loved ceremonies as the carrying
of candles on Candlemas day, the distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday
and of palms on Palm Sunday. “In these years 1547 and 1548 consequently,
the popular mind was being stirred up by changes in old established
ceremonial, by novel introductions into the services, by intemperate
preaching and by profane tracts scattered broadcast over the country,
attacking with scurrilous abuse what the people had hitherto been
taught to regard as the Most Holy.”
seeds of revolution had been sown. All that remained was for the
revolutionaries to reap their harvest.
books referred to in the notes on Chapter XI of CRANMER’S GODLY
ORDER have been abbreviated as follows:
THE CHURCH TEACHES (Documents of the Church in English Translation),
translated by J. F. Clarkson and others (Rockford, Illinois, 1973).
This is an English version of the Denzinger ENCHIRIDION SYMBOLORUM
and references to Denzinger in the notes, indicated by “D”, can
be located in this book.
THE WORKS OF THOMAS CRANMER (two volumes), Parker Society.
See: CT above.
EDWARD VI AND THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER, Gasquet & Bishop (London,
1890). In the interests of brevity, only the first of the authors
is mentioned when reference is made to this book.
EUCHARISTIC SACRIFICE AND THE REFORMATION, F. Clark (Oxford, 1967).
THE FIRST AND SECOND PRAYER BOOKS OF KING EDWARD VI, D. Harrison
(Dean of Bristol) (London, 1968).
THE REFORMATION - A POPULAR HISTORY, P. Hughes (London, 1960).
THE REFORMATION IN ENGLAND, P. Hughes (three vols.) (London, 1950).
THE REFORMATION, THE MASS AND THE PRIESTHOOD, E. C. Messenger, (two
volumes) (London, 1936).
TUDOR ENGLAND, S. T. Bindoff (London, 1952).
What is doctrinally wrong with the New Mass?
from Cardinal Ottaviani and Bacci
his Holiness Pope Paul VI
September 25th, 1969
carefully examined, and presented for the scrutiny of others, the
Novus Ordo Missae prepared by the experts of the Consilium ad
exequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia, and after lengthy
prayer and reflection, we feel it to be our bounden duty in the
sight of God and towards Your Holiness, to put before you the following
The accompanying critical study of the Novus Ordo Missae, the work
of a group of theologians, liturgists and pastors of souls, shows
quite clearly in spite of its brevity that if we consider the innovations
implied or taken for granted, which may of course be evaluated in
different ways, the Novus Ordo represents, both as a whole and its
details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the
Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent.
The “canons” of the rite definitively fixed at that time provided
an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the integrity
of the Mystery.
The pastoral reasons adduced to support such a grave break with
tradition, even if such reasons could be regarded as holding good
in the face of doctrinal considerations, do not seem to us sufficient.
The innovations in the Novus Ordo and the fact that all that is
of perennial value finds only a minor place, if it subsists at all,
could well turn into a certainty the suspicion, already prevalent,
alas, in many circles, that truths which have always been believed
by the Christian people, can be changed or ignored without infidelity
to that sacred deposit of doctrine to which the Catholic faith is
bound for ever. Recent reforms have amply demonstrated that fresh
changes in the liturgy could lead to nothing but complete bewilderment
on the part of the faithful who are already showing signs of restiveness
and of an indubitable lessening of faith. Amongst the best of the
clergy the practical result is an agonizing crisis of conscience
of which innumerable instances come to our notice daily.
We are certain that these considerations, which can only reach Your
Holiness by the living voice of both shepherds and flock, cannot
but find an echo in Your paternal heart, always so profoundly solicitous
for the spiritual needs of the children of the Church. It has always
been the case that when a law meant for the good of subjects proves
to be on the contrary harmful, those subjects have the right, nay
the duty of asking with filial trust for the abrogation of that
Therefore we most earnestly beseech Your Holiness, at a time of
such painful divisions and ever-increasing perils for the purity
of the faith and the unity of the Church, lamented by You our common
Father, not to deprive us of the possibility of continuing to have
recourse to the fruitful integrity of the Missale Romanum of St.
Pius V, so highly praised by Your Holiness and so deeply loved and
venerated by the whole Catholic World.
A. Cardinal Ottaviani
A. Card. Bacci
of St. Pius X
OF THE BRIEF CRITICAL STUDY OF THE NEW MASS
History of the change.
new form of Mass was substantially rejected by the Episcopal Synod
(1967), was never submitted to the collegial judgment of the Episcopal
Conferences and was never asked for by the people. It has every
possibility of satisfying the most modernist of Protestants.
Definition of the Mass.
a series of equivocations the emphasis is obsessively placed upon
the “supper” and the “memorial” instead on the unbloody renewal
of the Sacrifice of Calvary.
Presentation of the ends.
three ends of the Mass are altered; no distinction is allowed to
remain between Divine and human sacrifice; bread and wine are only
“spiritually” (not substantially) changed.
Presentation of the essence.
Real Presence of Christ is never alluded to and belief in it is
Presentation of the four elements of the Sacrifice.
position of both priest and people is falsified and the Celebrant
appears as nothing more than a Protestant minister, while the true
nature of the Church is intolerably misrepresented.
The destruction of unity.
abandonment of Latin sweeps away for good all unity of worship.
This may have its effect on unity of belief and the New Order has
no intention of standing for the Faith as taught by the Council
of Trent to which the Catholic conscience is bound.
The alienation of the Orthodox.
pleasing various dissenting groups, the New Order will alienate
The abandonment of defenses.
New Order teems with insinuations or manifest errors against the
purity of the Catholic religion and dismantles all defenses of Faith.
full text of this study is available at our “Aquinas Book Centre”,
2 Cannon Road, New Manila, Quezon City 1112 for US $2 (P 60) post
The labyrinth of illegalities in the imposition of the New Mass
his historical novel Mitre and Crook, Fr. Bryan Houghton
describes the heroic efforts of Bishop Edmund Forester to bring
back the traditional Latin Mass in his diocese of Stamford, England.
We reproduce here most of the bishop’s third letter to the clergy
of his diocese in which he was attempting to answer questions
and to guide them “in the labyrinth of documents in which the
Mass has been lost”. This letter is dated January 31st, 1977.
All the informations, dates and names of documents are historically
exact. The style alone is of the author.
THE SITUATION BEFORE VATICAN II
should be remembered that until 1570 no Pope and no Council had
ever legislated over the rite in which Mass was celebrated. The
astonishing similarity between the rites in the Western Church arose
from the fact that no bishop or priest dared innovate in anything
so sacred. If in doubt, they discovered what was the common practice
in Rome. The attitude was notably different from that of some contemporary
priests who seem to imagine that the Eucharist would be invalid
if they failed to tinker with it. Actually, the only attempt to
unify the rite came from civil, not ecclesiastical authority. After
the conquest of Old Saxony, completed in A.D. 785, Charlemagne was
faced with the problem of its evangelization. To facilitate and
integrate the missionaries’ work he instructed the Anglo-Saxon,
Alcuin of York, to unity the rites current in the Empire.
was the Protestant reformers who first dared to touch the rite of
the Sacred Mysteries. Eucharistic forms multiplied with the same
rapidity that they do today. It was to restore order in existing
chaos that the Council of Trent called upon the Pope to establish
a norm for the celebration of Mass. Hence the first Papal legislation
on the subject, the Bull Quo Primum of St. Pius V of July
19th, 1570. What did this Bull do?
It consolidated and codified (statuimus et ordinamus are
the operative words) the Immemorial Roman Rite.
It made its use compulsory throughout the Latin Church, except
when other rites had a continuous usage of over two hundred years,
such as those of Sarum, Lyons, Toledo, Milan, the Dominicans, the
It granted a perpetual Indult to all priests under any circumstances
to celebrate according to the Immemorial Roman Rite thus codified.
is to be observed, therefore, that the so-called “Tridentine Rite”
does not exist by the positive law of one Pope which the next is
at liberty to undo. It exists by immemorial custom to which the
laity who attend it have as much right as the clergy who celebrate
it. Is it not possible that this point has been overlooked? Anyway,
an immemorial right can be extinguished by two means:
by a solemn pronouncement of the Sovereign Pontiff abrogating the
customary right on the grounds that its continuance would be contrary
to the common good;
by the customary right falling into desuetude -- along with the
custom the right lapses.
the other hand, what is of positive law in the Bull Quo Primum
is the exclusively granted to the Immemorial Roman Rite, apart from
rites over two hundred years old. This exclusivity can clearly
be modified by a succeeding Pope without any appeal to “reasonableness”
and the “common good.”
was the position on which we were all agreed, Pope, bishops, priests,
laity, up to and including the Council.
November 1963, the Council promulgated its Constitution on the Liturgy,
Sacrosanctum Concilium. It should be noted that this document
is a Constitution, the most solemn form of legislation of which
a Council is capable. What does it do? Does it abrogate (=abolish),
obrogate (=substitute) or derogate (=make exceptions to) previous
legislation and notably the Bull Quo Primum? Not a bit of
it; it takes it all for granted. It merely speaks of instauratio.
The Latin instaurare does not mean to restore in the sense
of restoring a ruined building. It means to restore in the way
we restore our tissues in a restaurant. In fact it means to refresh.
Even the refreshment was to be pretty abstemious as we learn from
article 36: “The use of the Latin language shall be maintained
(servetur) in the Latin rites.” Article 54 allows for the
local dialects “above all for the lessons and community prayers.
. . also in the responses of the people.” In fact a vernacular
dialogued Mass was permitted although not made compulsory. (...)
far we have two laws, both duly promulgated in the most solemn form
of which the Church is capable:
A Papal Constitution, the Bull Quo Primum of 1570;
A Conciliar Constitution, Sacrosanctum Concilium of 1963.
Two months later, on January 25th, 1964, Pope Paul
VI issued a motu proprio called Sacram Liturgiam.
A motu proprio is a binding Papal document, be it legislative,
judicial or administrative. What passes belief is that this is
the only one on the liturgy which the Pope has issued to date, that
is in thirteen years. This unique document fixes the parts of the
Mass to be said in the native dialect as recommended by article
54 of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the introductory psalm, epistle
and gospel, etc. Unfortunately, it also announced the creation
of a special Consilium (with an ‘s’ in the middle, consequently,
an advisory body) to put into effect the Council’s recommendations.
This was duly established on February 29th under the chairmanship
of Cardinal Lercaro.
took a little time for the Consilium to warm to its work and its
first publication, the Instruction Inter Oecumenici of September
26th, 1964, could, with a bit of pushing and pulling, be fitted
into the Council’s Constitution. It permitted (but did not enjoin)
the whole of the Mass apart from the Preface and Canon to be said
in the vernacular. It reintroduced the bidding-prayers (. . .).
It also delegated liturgical powers to bishops.
was from this moment onwards that serious opposition began to be
felt. For instance, I think the Latin Mass Society was founded
early in 1965. Several perfectly reasonable priests rang the alarm.
Myself, being neither a theologian or Canon Lawyer but a clerical
accountant, thought Inter Oecumenici unwise but not impossible.
I became your bishop.
perhaps to the opposition, the Consilium remained reasonably inactive
for nearly three years. Then, on May 4th, 1967 it produced its
Tres Abhinc Annos, better known as the Instructio Altera.
This, my dear Fathers, was the revolution. Permission was granted
for the whole Mass, including the Canon and Consecration, to be
said aloud and in the vernacular. (. . .) It was, of course,
a derogation from the law, a pure permission, but we were all made
to realize that laws were no longer meant to be obeyed whereas permissions
is the legal value of such an instruction? It is not easy to determine.
The Consilium, as its name implied was a counseling body. It should
therefore have induced either the Pope to issue a motu proprio
or the Ministry concerned, the Congregation of Rites, to send out
a Notification. It did neither but issued its own Instruction.
Whatever its value, one thing is quite certain: it cannot derogate
from any existing law, in the particular case from the Pope’s motu
proprio of January 25th, 1964 and from the Council’s Constitution.
It was a try-on.
The trouble is that it worked. Neither the Pope nor the episcopate
questioned the Instructio Altera. From that moment onwards
the progressive bureaucracy knew that it was master. The bishops,
from Rome to Stamford, had abdicated.
extent of the abolition became almost immediately evident. In October
of the same year, 1967, the Consilium produced its Missa Normativa
at the Synod of Bishops. It was rejected by 104 votes to 72. What
did that matter? It has become law as the New Ordo.
THE NEW ORDO
THE CONSTITUTION MISSALE ROMANUM
has the most puzzling history of all. May I remind you, Fathers,
that we already have two documents of the highest conceivable authority:
the Bull Quo Primum and the Constitution Sacrosanctum
Concilium (. . .). What happens next?
April 3rd, 1969, a Papal Constitution entitled Missale Romanum
was promulgated purporting to be the law governing the New Order
of Mass, as yet unpublished. In this original version it is not
a law at all but an explanatory introduction to a permission. Even
the word Constitution is nowhere to be found in the text,
merely in the title. There is no abrogation of previous legislation
and no clause ordering the use of the new rite. There is no sentence
to show that it is obligatory, let alone exclusive. There is no
dating clause to show when it should come into effect.
of course, did not prevent the powers that be from saying that it
was a binding law. To do so they had recourse to a mistranslation.
What is so curious is that this mistranslation was common to all
languages. I have read it myself in English, French and Italian;
I am told that it is the same in German and Spanish. How can all
these expert translators make the identical howler? Your guess
is as good as mine.
is the sentence, the fourth before the end of the original version,
the fifth in the Acta: “Ad extremum, ex iis quae hactenus
de novo Missali Romano exposuimus quiddam nunc cogere et efficere
placet...” I have underlined the mistranslated words. Cogere
et efficere is a well-known Ciceronian phrase to be found in
most dictionaries. Even if the translators could not be bothered
to look it up, it is perfectly clear that quiddam cogere
breaks down into agere quiddam con = to work something
together, which is in the context “to sum up.” Equally, quiddam
efficere breaks down into facere quiddam ex = to make
something out, which is in the context “to draw a conclusion.”
The sentence therefore means: “Lastly, from what we have so far
declared concerning the New Roman Missal, we should now like to
sum up and draw a conclusion.” And what did all the translators
make of it? “In conclusion, We now wish to give the force of law
to all We have declared...”; and in French, “Pour terminer, Nous
voulons donner force de loi à tout ce que Nous avons exposé...”;
and in Italian, etc. ... It is strange, my dear Fathers, but such
is the truth: “to sum up and draw a conclusion” becomes “to give
the force of law.”
what did I do about it? Absolutely nothing for the simple reason
that I did not bother to read the Latin until two or three years
later. Do not judge me too severely. Have you read it?
that is not the end. Worse is to come. The Acta for June
1969 were published as usual about two months later. When it appeared
a brand new clause had been inserted into the original document
as the penultimate paragraph. It reads: “Quae Constitutione
hac Nostra praescripsimus vigere incipient a XXX proximi mensis
Novembris hoc anno, idest a Dominica l Adventus.” That is:
“What We have ordered by this Our Constitution will begin to take
effect as from November 30th of this year (1969), that is the First
Sunday of Advent.” You will notice that for the first and only
time the word Constitutio appears in the text. For the first
time, too, a word signifying “to order” is introduced - praescripsimus.
For the first time a date is given on which the order is to
become effective. Thus is a permission turned into a law.
there are a couple of snags even about this insertion. The word
praescripsimus - We have ordered - is not the proper term
in Latin, but I shall not bother you with such refinements. More
important, it is in the wrong tense. Up to this point the legislator
has prescribed nothing at all. It is precisely in this clause that
he claims to do so. The verb, therefore, should be in the present
tense, praescribimus - “what We are ordering by this our
Constitution”: not in the perfect, “what We have prescribed.” The
only explanation I can think of for this howler is recognition by
its author that he is tampering with a pre-existing text. Moreover,
the logical conclusion from the use of the wrong tense can scarcely
be what its author intended; since nothing was prescribed, nothing
is prescribed; and the legislator, to boot, is still prescribing
nothing. What a mess! I wonder how long a civil government would
last which thus tampered with its own laws?
is a last remark I wish to make about this strange document. It
winds up with the usual clause de style: “We wish, moreover, that
these decisions and ordinances of Ours should be stable and effective
now and in future, notwithstanding - in so far as may be necessary
- Constitutions and Apostolic Regulations published by Our Predecessors
and all other ordinances, even those requiring special mention and
derogation.” At long last - indeed it is the last word - there
is a technical term in the Constitution, so we know exactly where
we stand: “derogation.” The New Ordo is therefore only a permission
after all. It is merely a licit exception, a derogation, to the
previous laws which are still in force. They have not been abrogated.
But surely it is only a mistake? The author of the praescripsimus
clause forgot to alter the clause de style? Maybe, but it
proves three things: (1) one’s sins always find one out; (2) the
author has a highly efficient Guardian Angel; (3) it is nonsense
to claim that the Bull Quo Primum has been abrogated.
Mistranslation, insertion, error: it is all highly distasteful.
Needless to say there has been no apology, explanation or withdrawal.
It is those who point out these irregularities who are accused of
being disloyal and divisive.
these irregularities invalidate the Constitution? Of course; it
is a valid law in the terms published in the Acta. At most
it could be maintained that the wrong tense of praescripsimus
makes its meaning doubtful and lex dubia non obligat - but
it does not much matter as it is only a permission anyway. No,
the irregularities do not invalidate the law. All they do is to
make me highly suspicious of the present administration. (...)
THE INSTITUTIO GENERALIS AND THE NEW PRECES.
of the reasons why the all-important Constitution received such
scant attention was that on April 6th (consequently two months before
its publication in the Acta) the New Mass were released,
preceded by a theologico-rubrical introduction called the Institutio
Generalis. I am ashamed to say that it was received with unctuous
enthusiasm by us bishops, although the Mass rites were practically
identical with what our synod had rejected in October 1967. You,
priests, were marginally better; you received it with glum gloom
but little protest. Opposition was left to the laity. It became
highly vociferous and found expression in the Critical Study
presented by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci to the Pope on September
25th of the same year. If you have kept a copy of the Critical
Study, please re-read it. You will notice that it does not
merely criticize the theology of the introduction but the Mass rites
which give expression to that theology..
opposition did in fact have some effect. On October 20th, less
than a month after the Critical Study had been presented
to the Pope, the Consilium issued an Instruction Constitutione
Apostolica, delaying the introduction of the New Ordo from November
30th, 1969 to November 28th, 1971, nominally to give time to prepare
vernacular translations. In the meantime the New Ordo could be
said in Latin. On the other hand, in this document also we hear
for the first time that the Immemorial Mass may only be said by
aged priests sine populo, without a congregation. This is
pure usurpation of power and has no basis in law.
the following March 26th, 1970, a new edition of the Institutio
Generalis was issued. The heretical clause 7 - “The Mass is
the sacred synaxis or congregation of the People of God” - was made
merely ambiguous and clauses 48, 55, 56 and 60 were amended. So
much for the permanent value of the most solemn Roman documents
under the present administration. Not only is there tampering with
the basic law governing the New Ordo, but its theological justification
has to be amended within a year of publication. This certainly
calls for blind obedience since it is difficult to obey with eyes
open. What remains quite inexplicable, however, is that the Mass
forms themselves have not been changed. Their theological justification
has gone; they are unaltered.
Incidentally, it is in the same year, the year of opposition, that
the English Martyrs were canonized and Cardinal Heenan of blessed
memory secured his Indult.
THE NEW ORDO IN OPERATION
I have said, the opposition was almost exclusively lay. The powers
that be could not deal with it as summarily as they could with the
clergy. There was over a year of patient waiting to see if the
laity could organize themselves. It became clear that with an inadequate
supply of priests and no bishop they could not. Hence we got the
second revolutionary document. You will remember that the first
was the Instructio Altera of May 4th, 1967, which decided,
contrary to the law, that the whole of the Mass, including the consecration,
should be said aloud and in the vernacular. Well, this time it
is a bit worse. On June 14th, 1971, the Congregation for Worship
issued a Notification granting to Episcopal Conferences the right
to impose the exclusive use of the vernacular in the New Ordo, once
the translations had been approved. It thus became illicit to celebrate
the New Ordo in Latin. (. . .) It also repeated the provision
in the instruction of October 20th, 1969 that the Old Mass could
only be said by aged priests sine populo.
it noted that a Notification is a purely administrative document
and has no legislative authority whatsoever. Moreover, this particular
one was itself undated and unsigned. It is therefore worth less
than the paper on which it was printed. The bishops, from Rome
to Stamford, remained mute.
course, the inevitable result of this particular piece of administrative
folly was to throw all Latinists into the arms of the Tridentiners.
There was no alternative if the New Ordo was illicit in Latin.
It became imperative to divide the opposition, especially as Archbishop
Lefebvre had cropped up in the meantime. The laity had thus found
a bishop with the promise of future priests. Hence the Notification
of October 28th, 1974. This document reverses the previous ruling:
the New Ordo may now be said in Latin or vernacular with equality
off esteem. The New Ordo, however, is obligatory “notwithstanding
the pretext of any custom whatsoever even immemorial”. The importance
of this last remark is that for the first time the establishment
admitted the existence of immemorial rights, even if only to brush
this moment onwards the assault against the old rite slightly changed
tack. At the beginning of this Ad clerum I wrote: “An immemorial
right can be extinguished by two means:
by a solemn pronouncement of the Sovereign Pontiff abrogating the
customary right on the grounds that its continuance would be contrary
to the common good;
by the customary right falling into desuetude - along with the custom
the right lapses.”
It would not be easy to prove that the Immemorial Mass had been
contrary to the common good. Who would believe it? Moreover, by
1974 it was a bit late to start saying so, especially as the Council
had said nothing of the sort. The alternative was to crush the
custom as rapidly as possible, preferably under the existing administration.
explains the extraordinary animosity against Archbishop Lefebvre:
he is busy perpetuating the immemorial custom. It also explains
the astonishing pressure brought to bear on the English hierarchy
to petition for the withdrawal of Heenan’s Indult. In its humble
way, the Indult too is preserving the custom. (. . .)
tragedies are heightened by farcical interludes. Four days after
the Notification of October 28th, on November 1st, 1974 the Congregation
promulgated its two little Eucharists for Reconciliations and three
may well ask, in this plethora of Constitutions, Institutions, Instructions
and Notifications, has the Pope done or said nothing? The two questions
are rather different. What he has done is restricted to: a) the
motu proprio, Sacram Liturgiam, of January 25th, 1964,
which in practice was rendered nugatory by the Consilium’s Instructio
Altera; b) the Constitution, Missale Romanum, of April
3rd, is a very different matter. In 1969, there is the Allocution
of April 28th, of November 19th, and again of November 26th. As
the years roll by, so do the Allocutions. However, they are all
summed up in the Consistorial Allocutions of May 24th, 1976, to
which the anonymous Canon Lawyer refers. It is a little more harsh
than the rest because it was directed against Archbishop Lefebvre.
I translate the relevant passage.
is in the name of tradition itself that We require all our sons
and all Catholic communities to celebrate the liturgy according
to the renewed rite with dignity and fervour. The use of the New
Ordo is by no means left to the discretion of priests and faithful.
The Instruction of June 14th, 1971, has provided that the celebration
of Mass according to the Old Rite should only be allowed, with the
permission of the Ordinary, to aged and sick priests when celebrating
with nobody present. The New Ordo has been promulgated to replace
the Old after mature deliberation and in order to fulfill the Council’s
decisions. It is in exactly the same way that Our predecessor St.
Pius V made obligatory the Missal recognized by his authority after
the Council of Trent. By the same supreme authority, which We have
received from Christ, We decree the same prompt obedience to all
the other reforms, be they liturgical, disciplinary or pastoral,
which in recent years have grown up out of the decrees of the Council.”
what is one to say to that?
in the first place the translators have been at it again. In the
passage concerning Pius V, the Latin has: “. . . St. Pius V made
obligatory the Missal recognized (recognitum) by his authority”
- which is perfectly correct; whereas the Italian has “. . . reformed
(riformato) by his authority” - which is perfectly incorrect
but suits the argument better. The whole point is that Pius V reformed
nothing at all: he codified the Immemorial Rite; whereas a little
later in the same passage Paul VI admits that “the New Ordo has
been promulgated to replace the Old.” So the New Ordo is not even
a reform but a “replacement” or substitution - for which the technical
term is abrogation. But not even a Pope can abrogate an immemorial
custom - unless there are two or more immemorial customs running
concurrently and one is substituted for the other. A new usage
cannot abrogate an immemorial custom unless the latter is first
abrogated, abolished; only then can the new usage fill the void.
Therein, I think lies the real importance of the text: the admission
that the New Ordo is not a reform of the Mass but a substitute for
the Mass. Anyway, the statement is nonsense: Pius V did not make
the old Ordo exclusive since he allowed all rites over two hundred
years old to continue. Neither has Paul VI made the New exclusive
since only eighteen months previously he had permitted the rites
for Reconciliations and kiddies.
suppose I should mention briefly a few other points. A Consistorial
Allocution is a speech. It is not a law. In the present case it
illustrates Paul VI’s deep affection for the New Ordo. This is
perfectly natural: most parents believe that they beget nothing
but swans. More significant is that His Holiness should make no
appeal to the only laws on the subject to which have been duly promulgated:
his own Constitution of 1969 and the Council’s of 1963. Concerning
the latter he uses a euphemism: “the reforms . . . which in recent
years have grown up out of the decrees of the Council.” (. . .)
His Holiness is therefore led to appeal to what he calls the “Instruction”
of June 14th, 1971. This is most unfortunate. As we have seen,
the document issued on that date was a mere Notification, itself
undated and unsigned. Its legal value is nil. It does, however,
contain the gratuitously cruel clause that aged and infirm priests
may (with permission, of course) say the immemorial Mass provided
nobody is present. This His Holiness does not blush to repeat.
Lastly, the emotional appeal of the passage consists in calling
upon the faithful to discard the tradition of worship in the name
of the tradition of obedience. Does His Holiness not realize that
the tradition of obedience is even more delicate than that of worship?
He complains bitterly that he is no longer obeyed. No wonder: tradition
as such having been undermined, the tradition of obedience has vanished.
It is all terribly sad.
THE PROOF OF PUDDING
this point, fathers, I can well imagine you saying: “The old Bishop
naturally makes out a good case in his own cause. But how can I
tell that his opponents could not do as much? I certainly have
no time to verify the documents he mentions, let alone the ones
he does not. It is beyond me. I shall just obey, even if I am
called a weathercock.”
I think you can judge the truth of my contention from the least
expected of sources: the Lefebvre affair. Everyone knows that the
real trouble with Archbishop Lefebvre is that he sticks to the Immemorial
Mass and is training priests to do the like. Agreed? Of course.
Then, why is it that he was not suspended for that? Wasn’t he?
No, he was not.
devious way was found. He is not a diocesan bishop and consequently
has no title, no right, to ordain priests. To get round this difficulty
he founded the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X as a diocesan congregation
in the diocese of Fribourg. Thus, as bishop-superior of his congregation
he could ordain his own subjects. Rome then suppressed his congregation
(legally or illegally is beside the point), so that he no longer
had the right to ordain. He did ordain. He was suspended.
see the point? It is precisely because Archbishop Lefebvre could
not be suspended for saying the Immemorial Mass that a devious means
had to be employed. The Establishment is determined to crush the
Old Mass: it cannot do it straight so it will do it crooked.
TO SUM UP AND CONCLUDE
quiddam cogere et efficere placet.
You will have noticed that in all the documents I have quoted it
is taken for granted that the Mass is the private property of priests.
It is not. The priest is the executor of the Testament of God Incarnate
but the faithful are just as much beneficiaries under the will as
he. It is they, the faithful, who have the right to the Immemorial
Mass. They can demand that the legacy be paid in a currency which
has held its value from time immemorial. They are aware that we
live in an age of inflation and bright new notes are soon devalued.
The Immemorial Mass has not been abrogated - even if it could be.
Its use is therefore licit as well as valid.
The attack against it is devious: to suppress the custom thanks
to the abject conformism of bishops and the servile obedience of
A REFORM OF THE LITURGICAL REFORM?
some time “conservative” publications of the conciliar Church such
as “30 Days”, or “La Nef” have informed us of a future “Reform of
the Liturgical Reform.” According to some well-informed sources,
Rome would seriously consider calling into question certain aspects
of the liturgical reform undertaken under the authority of Paul
clear signals would render this hypothesis very plausible - such
as the success of the two books by Bishop Gamber, recently published
with a foreword by Cardinal Ratzinger, the article by Father Armogathe
- ‘Save the Ritual’ - in Communio of July/August 1993, or
the book form Dom Nocent, a member of the Congregation for Divine
Worship, published in 1993 and called “The Liturgical Renewal,
course, this project rejoices all the “conservatives” of the conciliar
Church and particularly the “Ecclesia Dei” Catholics. It
lets them hope for a true renewal of the Church on this crucial
point. This is the case, for example, of Father Christian Laffargue,
one of the founders of the Fraternity of St. Peter, who declared
that he expected from Rome . . . “that it gives back the principles
of a true Liturgical Reform as it did for the Catechism.”1
What should one think of the “Reform of the Liturgical Reform”?
Is it a sign for a return by Rome to a healthier view of the situation,
after so much blindness? Are we going to witness a real re-thinking
of the spiritual disaster which was caused by this Liturgical Reform?
Or, are we going to witness again a deception, a trickery, a deceit,
affirm that there is really something changed in Rome, that a new
spirit reigns in the conciliar Church, that we are on the brink
of a time more favourable to Tradition, would require that two essential
conditions be combined. On the one hand, that the previous Liturgical
Reform had been confirmed as unchangeable and on the other hand
that this proposed ‘Reform of the Liturgical Reform’ would correspond
to a real change of mind, to a real break with previous thinking.
put it in other words, if this project of the “Reform of the Liturgical
Reform” only represents a follow up of an already ancient plan,
in direct continuation of the reform inaugurated by Paul VI, far
from rejoicing one should fear a dramatic increase in the damage
caused by this reform.
for those who are informed about the Liturgical Reforms of Vatican
II, this proposed “Reform of the Liturgical Reform” is nothing new
or extraordinary. On the contrary, it has always been an integral
part of the reform itself: right from the beginning of the reform,
a “Reform of the Liturgical Reform” has been considered by the reformers
have available on this subject, hundreds of perfectly explicit statements,
issued by some of the most reliable and well informed authors but
as space is not available, we will satisfy ourselves today with
a modest selection of statements bearing on the first twenty years
of the Liturgical Reform. Our readers will thus readily be able
to appreciate that this project of the “Reform of the Liturgical
Reform” has not anything new nor does it, above all, give notice
in any way, of a true return to Tradition.
we must convince ourselves of and strive to promote in those under
our charge, is the transformation of a static, rubrical conception
of the liturgy (and of liturgical Music) to a liturgy and music
newly felt, re-discovered like an expression in itself of the life
of the Church, that is to say - life characterized by movement -
no longer stationary and threatened with sclerosis but on the contrary,
active, dynamic and in a certain way evolving”2 wrote
Father Picard, General Secretary of the French Union of Sacred Music
is quite certain that the spirit and dynamism which motivates these
new rules will, without delay, translate itself into reform and
structure even more decisive. Would it be possible to say that
some day, it could be announced that these reforms are completed?
Would this new movement not be a permanent part of the Church?”3
This question was asked in 1967 by Father Maertens, a member of
the Consilium of the Liturgy which is the Roman organization which
had prepared and put together the Conciliar Liturgical Reform.
reform is not an occasional happening but a permanent condition,”4
was a comment made in 1968 by Father Maldonado, Director of the
Superior Pastoral Institute of Salamanca in Spain.
fact of looking upon the Reform of the Liturgy as a limited effort,
undertaken to fashion a permanent Liturgy for many centuries to
come, would be as regrettable an error as could be. Similarly,
the creation of a new Liturgy to which we have referred, far from
appearing to be a temporary task, represents on the contrary, a
permanent obligation to renewal.”5 This opinion was
maintained, in 1969, by Father Rennings, Professor at the Liturgical
Institute of Treve and Secretary of the German Liturgical Commission.
official texts of today’s Liturgy itself no longer claim the permanence
which characterized those of previous times. It is unthinkable
that the Missal of Paul VI promulgated after Vatican II on the 3rd
April 1969 should last four centuries like that of Pius V promulgated
on the 14th July, 1570 following the Council of Trent,”6
said Father Gantoy, Director of the periodical Paroisse et Liturgie
in Belgium, in 1972.
spirit of Vatican II appears to be far from being spent as long
as it is not congealed by reforms prematurely stated to be final.
In fact, Liturgical Reforms are only beginning.”7 This
fact was underlined in 1972 by Father Duchesneau, a member of the
National Centre of Pastoral Liturgy of Paris.
Cardinal Knox, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, that
is to say, the heir to Consilium, submitting the work of
his Congregation to the Synod of Bishops in 1974, confirmed: “Subsequent
to the production of the new liturgical books, on no account must
it be said that the Reform of the Liturgy has reached its final
point. New problems arise, the requirements of people become clearer,
just as the comparison in the manner of speaking of the liturgical
books and that of today’s men.”8
can foresee what the Liturgy will be in ten or twenty years. If
the Liturgy has changed much in the last ten years, it is quite
certain that it will continue to change in the following decades.”9
This was confirmed, in 1975, by Father Rouillard, Professor at the
St. Anselm Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome.
“What the Liturgy of Christians will be in one or two generations,
no-one can tell but one can assume from the changes in ritual which
have occurred within the last ten years in the Roman Catholic Church
that they will only be the fore-runners of deeper changes in the
behaviour of Christian gatherings.”10 These were the
words, spoken in 1976, of Father Gelineau, an ex-member of the Consilium
of the Liturgy.
most of the observers and particularly the Priests agree that this
Liturgical Reform is only a first step: a renewal of the Roman Rite
with a first effort to conform to the different cultural spheres,
in the shape of translation and partial adjustments,”11
was submitted, also in 1976, by Father Dye, a member of the Dominican
Commission for Reform of the Liturgy.
the first place, one must recognize the results as well as the limits
of the Liturgical Reform undertaken since Vatican II: the Aggiornamento
is an essential step but it is only a step which must not put a
full stop to further research,”12 said Father Lecuyer,
former Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers and former member
of the Consilium of the Liturgy, in 1978.
Monsignor Noe, the present Secretary of the Congregation for Divine
Worship, explained to the American Bishops last June, the Liturgical
Reform has not finished. It would be a mistake to think that the
Liturgical Renewal, which was initiated with the Council twenty
years ago, was completed apart from some minor details.”13
This was a reminder, in 1984, by Father Crivelli, Director of the
Liturgical Centre for the French-speaking Switzerland.
as we have been told by those who appeared and achieved the Liturgical
Reform under the guidance of Paul VI and with his formal approval,
the reform must be continuous in keeping with the daily changes
which occur in a world in evolution. That is why a “Reform of the
Liturgical Reform” is normal, natural and essential on account of
the time that has elapsed since Vatican II. “After twenty-five
years of practical applications of the Constitution on the Liturgy
and while praising their fully justified diligence, it would not
be showing a lack of respect to mention that while praising the
enormous amount of work undertaken in the past for the Liturgical
celebrations, there already appears certain gaps where one or the
other lacks adaptation.”14
from bringing a return to Tradition, the “Reform of the Liturgical
Reform” would only be a furthering of the plans of the Liturgical
Reform itself under some partially renewed appearances because “The
Liturgy is not monolithic but because it is alive, it must retain
an adaptability which makes it accept to be and to remain forever
an object of reform.”15
fact, it is the principles themselves which prompted the Liturgical
Reforms of Vatican II, put into effect by Paul VI, which makes this
reform essentially obnoxious and pernicious for the true Tradition.
That is why any “Reform of the Liturgical Reform” cannot be accepted
or considered before these false and destructive principles have
been expressly rejected and solemnly condemned. Any “Reform of
the Liturgical Reform” which would be undertaken on the basis of
these false principles would only be a deception and a trap because
it would only follow a road which leads the Church to its ruin and
souls to their loss.
finally convince us that this “Reform of the Liturgical Reform”
does not, in any way, show a return by conciliar Rome to the past,
because it had already been foreseen from the beginning, we will
finish by quoting three extremely enlightening extracts from the
publication Notitiae which was at first the publication of
the Consilium of the Liturgy and became that of the Congregation
for the Divine Worship when Consilium merged with it.
work of the Liturgical Reform is not completed and in furtherance
with the spirit of the Council, must not have a final ending. If
one looks at it from its human aspect, the Liturgy as well as the
Church, is inescapably subject to a continuous reform, born from
ecclesiastical life, in order that the Church will truly conform
to modern time, today’s culture and to the contemporary moment.”16
“new problems arise each day, which demonstrate the necessity of
a continuous renovation and at the same time, the importance and
the effectiveness of the Liturgy in the Church.”17
is why “the Liturgical Reform will continue without any limits of
time, of space, of person and initiative, of form and of rite, in
order that the Liturgy will remain alive for the men of all times
and of all generations.”18
1 Benoit Pesme, “L’abbé Christian Laffargue: Itinéraire
d’un pionnier”, France Catholique 2409, 25 Juin 1993, p.
2 François Picard, “Problème et perspectives de la musique
sacrée”, Etudes, Février 1965, p. 257.
3 Nouvelles instructions pour la réforme liturgique, présentation
de Thierry Maertens, Centurion, 1967, p. 37.
4 Luis Maldonado, “La réforme liturgique à venir”, Concilium
32, Février 1969, p. 77.
5 Heinrich Rennings, “Objectifs et tâche de la liturgie”,
Concilium 42 Février 1969, p. 117.
6 Robert Gantoy, “composer des prières pour aujourd’hui”,
Paroisse et Liturgie 1, Janvier-Février 1972, p. 20.
7 Claude Duchesneau, “Improvisation sur le thème de la
créativité liturgique”, La Maison Dieu III, 3 trim. 1972,
8 Jacob Robert Knox, “Relatio de laboribus et inceptis
Sacrae Congregationis pro cultu divino ad synodum episcoporum 1974”,
Notitiae 99, Novembre 1974, p. 356.
9 Philippe Rouillard, “Liturgie aujourd’hui”, encyclopédie
Catholicisme, Letouzey et Ané, 1975, VII, col. 892.
10 Joseph Gélineau, Demain la liturgie, Cerf, 1976,
11 Dominique Dye, “Statut et fonctionnement du rituel dans
la pastorale liturgique en France après Vatican II”, La Maison
Dieu 125, 1 trim. 1976, p. 148.
12 Joseph Lécuyer, “compte rendus”, La Maison Dieu
134, 2 trim. 1978, p. 141.
13 Jean-Claude Crivelli, “La réforme liturgique est encore
à faire”, Vie (bulletin des paroisses catholiques romandes
de Suisse), Décembre 1984, p. 10.
14 Adrien Nocent, Le renouveau liturgique: une relecture, Beauchesne, 1993,
15 Ibid., p. 10.
16 Anscar J. Chupungco, “Costituzione conciliare sulla
sacra liturgia. 15 anniversario”, Notitiae 149, Décembre
1978, p. 580.
17 “Sic decies, sic vicies”, Notitiae 101, Janvier
1975, p. 4.
18 “Rinnovamento nell’ordine”, Notitiae 61, Février
1971, p. 52.
The Position of the Holy Father, John Paul II:
are a few passages of the Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter on the
liturgy called Vigesimus Annus. The
document was signed on December 4th, 1988, and published
May 14th, 1989. This letter is the famous document that was long
awaited, which was going to give priests all over the world ‘carte
blanche’ to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass “where pastoral
needs exist”. However, pressures from Bishops’ Conferences, (especially
those of France, Germany, America and Switzerland) led to a different
result: an official disavowal of the attachment to the liturgy of
(. . .) This work (the liturgical reform) was undertaken in accordance
with the conciliar principles of fidelity to tradition and openness
to legitimate development, and so it is possible to say that the
reform of the Liturgy is strictly traditional (sic!) and in accordance
with ‘the ancient usage of the holy Fathers’.”
(. . . ) Some have received the new books with a certain indifference,
or without trying to understand or help others to understand the
reasons for the changes; others, unfortunately, have turned back
in a one-sided and exclusive way to the previous liturgical forms
which some of them consider to be the sole guarantee of certainty
in faith.(. . .)”
(. . .) These are all reasons for holding fast to the teaching
of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium and to the reforms
which it has made possible: ‘the liturgical renewal is the most
visible fruit of the whole work of the Council’. For many people
the message of the Second Vatican Council has been experienced principally
through the liturgical reform. . .”
Another important task for the future is that of the adaptation
of the Liturgy to different cultures. . .” (That is called
inculturation: mixture of Catholicism and any culture even pagan).