Monday, March 9, 2015

Reform of the Reform?

Rorate Caeli writes:
Intentionally celebrating the Mass facing the people, displacing the altar from the sanctuary (and in fact doing away with a tangible "sanctuary" in the traditional sense), covering up or removing the high altar, the use of a "table-altar", communion no longer received while kneeling ... we are often assured by "conservative" writers that these had nothing to do either with Paul VI or Vatican II, and in fact became widespread only years later, and against the express will of both. However, the records of this Mass and of Masses publicly celebrated by Paul VI in the years immediately after 1965 show that he was at the vanguard of these changes. This is ironic given the tendency in some Reform of the Reform circles to point to the "1965 Missal" as the way to resacralization and the return to tradition for the wider Church -- a Missal whose very birth was attended by many of the innovations now deplored by these same circles.

Equally of note is that these innovations, which many in the Reform of the Reform camp assert have nothing to do with Vatican II because these are not mentioned in the actual text of Sacrosanctum Concilium, were already taking place in Rome itself, with the Pope's own endorsement and in his presence, long before the Council ended on December 8, 1965. 
(emphasis in original). I think Rorate is both wrong and right here. Obviously the record is as they describe it: Paul VI, Bugnini, and the lot were engaged in shenanigans that presaged (or reinforced) what happened around the world. But the argument that so-called conservatives make is narrower. That is, essentially, a textualist argument against the dynamic interpretative hermeneutic of the 1960s: Sacrosanctum Concilium does not say X, Y, or Z, and so one cannot be compelled to regard the presence of X, Y, or Z in the Mass as necessary or needful, nor can one legitimately be portrayed as opposing the Second Vatican Council's request for liturgical reforms* by saying otherwise.
"[W]hen  upon a point of ritual or of dedication or special worship a man talks to you of the Spirit and Intention, and complains of the dryness of the Word, look at him askance. He is not far removed from Heresy."
Everyone knows what actually happened, and everyone knows that Paul VI was, more or less, culpable for it. The debate over whether or not the texts can support the authentic reform that did not happen (a debate I do not enter here on the merits) is simply another matter.

* Set aside for the moment whether one may take such a position (it is abundantly evident that one may): opposing things that happen in practice is different, if not per se better, than opposing the actual request for reform articulated by the Council.

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