Liturgical Battle

The Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy teaches that “the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the font from which all her power flows.” (SC, 10) and necessary for catechizing the faithful that Christ Jesus may fully work in them in transforming them. If this is so, and it is, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger got it right when he noted that the “disintegration of the liturgy” is behind the crisis of faith that confronts the Church at present, for when man falls from worshipping God in the way the He want to be worshipped “In favor of the powers and values of this world” he loses his freedom and returns to captivity through loss of the moral law which governs true humanity.” (Spirit of the Liturgy) — from a book ms. I have been sent–The Smoke of Satan in the Temple of God– by Timothy Wallace

This has been for me, a chicken or egg question. Did modernism in the Church make the liturgy disintegrate or did the disintegration of the liturgy produce modernism in the church? I think modernism produced the disintegration of the liturgy, but the disintegration of the liturgy helped promulgate and distribute the modernism.

In a similar way, the new liturgical movement on its own cannot reverse the modernism in the church. Modernistic assumptions, for many Catholics, have become the air they breathe, and a restoration of liturgy alone will not correct their assumptions. However–it will help. Whenever the modernist assumptions clash with the a restored liturgy there is chance for correction. The liturgy then becomes the battleground, and the new liturgical movement the means of waging a war which, at it’s heart, is theological and philosophical.

We are talking about basics here: is worship about us or God? Do we worship the community or Almighty God? Are we focussed only on ourselves or first on God. It is fine to love our neighbor, but this is the second commandment not the first. The first it to love God. How we celebrate the liturgy, therefore, really does matter. It is not simply a matter of taste–it is a matter of orientation. Are our hearts and lives oriented toward God or toward ourselves?

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  • Andrew

    Liturgy = War

  • Bethie

    From a 2008 address in France, the Pope commented…"In his homily for vespers at the cathedral of Notre-Dame, he called for a "beauty" in the earthly liturgies that will bring them closer to the liturgies of heaven." An article entitled "From Paris and Lourdes, the Lesson of the "Liturgist" Pope" can be found here:"On his trip to France, Benedict XVI did not only defend the ancient rite of the Mass. He also explained and demonstrated repeatedly what he believes to be the authentic meaning of the Catholic liturgy of today and always."

  • Arnold Conrad

    Recently when the new music director of my parish in southern Oregon began chanting the propers in English at the Introit and Communion, he and the pastor received strong complaints from some parishoners who were evidently hopping mad. One woman complained that she did not want the Church "returning to the Middle Ages." I assume she is one of those victims of modernism who prefers hootenany music to good liturgical chant. It was decided to hold back on using the propers for now since they will be mandated anyway starting with the introduction of the new translation at Advent.

  • ben

    The "previous administration" in our parish could be described as closet modernist, but also widely loved and respected by everyone. So anything that goes against that would be considered an attack on a good an holy man. The only authority in the church that is not open for debate is that of the music director.I pray for the parish, but not enough. I know that I need to pray for myself as well. After all, what do I know? I was hoping for wide-reaching changes with the "new administration" but when it didn't happen, maybe I should take that as a clue that there's more important things to worry about?

  • Anagnostis

    The people responsible for destroying the Roman liturgy were not Modernists, formally, materially or any other way. They were straight-down-the-middle ultramontanist, orthodox Roman Catholics who believed their papally-instigated project couldn't fail, being underwritten by "Peter". This is what you simply won't confront. It was the Popes themselves and their devoted functionaries who brought down disaster. The bankrupt "modernist consipracy" is in reality little more than a conspiracy of "denial".

  • Evagrius Ponticus

    Fr.,Might I direct you to some of the musings on my own blog? They might at least provide an interesting counterpoint. And I would be very interested to know where you disagreed!To the point in question, I would say it is not the rite, but the ars celebrandi and the sense of continuing tradition that are at issue.I said on another blog (and will repeat here): if one truly believes in Tradition, then the most 'trad' options in the 1970 Missal are not 'tradding it up'; they are the obvious and natural default.And I fear that the liturgy was 'under attack' as long ago as the 17th Century; what sickened liturgy truly, I believe, was the baroque overlaid with 19th Century romanticism, working as an aesthetic mode on top of a purely functionalist approach.(And, of course, the virtual death of the Divine Office – the other major part of the liturgy – is a great tragedy.)

  • Serendipity

    Ad orientum?

  • AliceS

    Yes, it is first and foremost about GOD! He should be always at the very core of our faith. Worship means turning back to God. Doing a 180 if you will. It is one of two ways to save our Catholic faith. The other way? Pray to Mary.

  • broken

    Lately I've been desiring to attend the Latin Mass. I even asked my husband for that old gregorian chant cd I bought years ago. The Novus Ordo Mass just seems to be "Me" centered not "God" centered.

  • broken

    Maybe the Novus Ordo is not "Me" centered. Maybe I'm too "Me" centered. I do find the New Mass distracting. On Sunday I was trying to pray after Holy Communion when the choir started bellowing out some "hookey" song. I'm thinking, my goodness can't they just shut it; I'm trying to pray! Oh, I forgot, "Happy are they who are called to His supper" Yay!Uugh, Yuck!

  • Deacon Ed

    An adequate reponse to Modernism will require martyrs – white or red.

  • kkollwitz

    "I think modernism produced the disintegration of the liturgy"Yes, although few Catholics were aware of modernism until the English Mass, revised or discarded nun habits, revised music and other outward signs. Remembering all that from my childhood, the change was as abrupt as flipping a light switch.

  • Sister Lori

    I was a child of the Latin Mass, and did not understand one iota of it. I was only in the fourth grade when I left. I returned to the new Mass totally struck in the changes! Now that I have grown spiritually, I am not so sure it was a good thing. What did changing it to our language have to do with changing the whole thing? And yes, the nun's habits gone, the Communion rail, the veil or headcovering gone, and the priest faces us (aren't we all supposed to be facing east looking for His Glorious return?)

  • Bill Meyer

    "I think modernism produced the disintegration of the liturgy"I agree. I was also a child o the Latin Mass, and at my grandmother's urging, began following the Latin at the age of 7. Later, I read both the Latin and the English in my missal. Hardly a major undertaking, the two versions were there, easily available.I am baffled now, at the upset from those who object to the new translation, and even more, by the kid gloves with which the change is being eased into place. Where was this concern 40 years ago, at the gross rupture of continuity which was perpetrated on us all in the wake of the Council?It would be funny, were it not so sad, that the catechists in my parish urge all in RCIA to read the documents of Vatican II. Having studied closely a few of them, I am quite confident that our catechists have not done so. How else to account for their attitude to Latin, which SC clearly did not intend to banish?

  • kkollwitz

    Bill will probably agree with me that Catholics as a group were simply much more obedient pre-V2 than we are today.

  • Sister Lori

    I agree Catholics were more obedient pre- V2! It is my thought Modernism disintegrated the liturgy as well.

  • Sue

    Let the "Liturgical Battle" rage. What is important is that you embrace devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as outlined by Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima.Our Lady is always there standing in the gap to keep you confirmed in the Catholic Faith, no matter which Mass you attend.

  • Gail F

    "The first it to love God. How we celebrate the liturgy, therefore, really does matter. It is not simply a matter of taste–it is a matter of orientation. Are our hearts and lives oriented toward God or toward ourselves?"That is GREAT.Anagnostis: ??? No they weren't.

  • Anagnostis

    I'm afraid they were, Gail, as a matter of public record.