Catholic Herald front and center on “Reform of the Reform”

The Catholic Herald, the best Catholic weekly in the UK, has a front page piece on the Reform of the Reform of the Church’s liturgy.  It is penned by the wonderfully persistent Anna Arco.

My emphases and comments.

Vatican seeks ‘reform
of the reform’
By Anna Arco

28 August 2009

The Vatican has proposed sweeping reforms to the way Mass is celebrated, it has been claimed.

Communion on the tongue, Consecration celebrated ad orientem (facing east) and renewed use of Latin could all be re-introduced to ordinary Sunday Masses as part of proposals put forward by the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Andrea Tornielli, a senior Vatican watcher, reported last week that the congregation’s cardinals and bishops voted "almost unanimously in favour of greater sacrality of the Rite" at a plenary meeting in March.

Members of the congregation are said to have put forward 30 propositiones ("propositions") aimed at reforming the way in which the Novus Ordo has been celebrated since the Second Vatican Council.

These set out to recover a "sense of Eucharistic worship", the use of the "Latin language in the celebration" and include the "remaking of the introductory parts of the Missal in order to put a stop to liturgical abuses".  [I have said elsewhere that I am all for this.  However, we already have liturgical laws on the books now… in force now.  We might think about using them.  When laws are promulgated repeatedly, they are weakened.]

According to Mr Tornielli the propositions, which were voted on by the congregation on March 21, also include placing renewed emphasis on receiving Communion on the tongue "according to the norms".

Mr Tornielli said that Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, the prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship, had also been studying ways to return to the ad orientem celebration of the Mass. This would see the priest and the congregation facing the cross and the altar during the Consecration.  [Long ago I made a series of PODCAzTs which dealt with Pope Benedict’s thought about ad orientem worship.  I concluded then – and I hold now – that his "Benedictine arrangement" of altars (i.e., Mass facing the people over the altar, but with the traditional six candles and the centrally placed Cruficix between the congregation and priest) was a temporary… provision… transitional arrangement on the way to an eventual return to ad orientem worship.]

He also said that the "propositiones foresee a return to the sense of sacredness and to adoration, but also a recovery of the celebrations in Latin in the dioceses, at least in the main solemnities, as well as the publication of bilingual Missals – a request made at his time by Paul VI – with the Latin text first". [Having a bilingual Roman Missal would be helpful.]

Mr Tornielli said these were the first concrete steps towards the "reform of the reform", a notion outlined in Pope Benedict’s 2000 book, The Spirit of the Liturgy. The book argues that some of the liturgical reforms following the Second Vatican Council got out of hand and needed reform as they no longer reflected the changes envisaged by the Council Fathers.

Cardinal Cañizares delivered the propositiones to Pope Benedict on April 4, receiving the Pope’s approval, Mr Tornielli said. But Mr Tornielli also said that the "reform of the reform" would take a long time before it would be fully implemented. He said it would require a long and patient labour "from below" with the aid of the bishops.

"The point of departure and ultimately also that of arrival is the Council’s Constitution on the liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium," he said. "The Pope is convinced that it serves nothing to make hasty steps or to drop directives from on high, with the risk then that it could remain a dead letter. The style of Ratzinger is one of comparison and, above all, of example. This is evidenced in the fact that for a year now anyone who receives Communion from the Pope must kneel on a kneeler prepared for that purpose by the master of ceremonies."  [You have read it here a hundred times if you have read it once: The Holy Father has a vision for the Church.  He wants to revitalize Holy Church’s identity, both within the Church herself and to the watching world.  The tip of the spear in this effort ad intra and ad extra is LITURGY… sound WORSHIP.  It is part of Pope Benedict’s "Marshall Plan" for the Church to reform our worship.] 

Shawn Tribe, the editor and founder of the New Liturgical Movement, an online magazine which deals with liturgy, said: "Given what we know from the Pope’s writing and discourses over the years, one can at least say that what is being suggested would be consonant with the Pope’s own liturgical thought and approach.

"Evidently we can only speculate at this point and will have to wait and see what, if anything, might actually come to pass, though Tornielli has proven himself reliable in these regards in the past. If what has been reported does indeed come to pass, it would certainly be a matter of no little significance."

Fr Ciro Benedettini, the deputy spokesman for the Holy See, downplayed the report on Monday. He said: "At the moment, there are no institutional proposals in existence regarding a modification of the liturgical books currently in use."  [This was the "non-denial denial"]

But Mr Tornielli stood by his story, saying that he interpreted Fr Benedettini’s denial of "institutional proposals" as indicative of "unofficial (for now) projects".

The American Catholic News Service (CNS) quoted anonymous Vatican sources as denying that proposals had been voted on at the plenary meeting. Rather, the congregation had forwarded its suggestions on the subject of Eucharistic Adoration – which had been the theme of the plenary session – to the Pope. The subject of ad orientem had never been discussed, according to the CNS source

The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, said that Latin should remain the language of the liturgy even as it promoted the wider use of the vernacular.

It said that "the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites" but also that "since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended".

Communion on the tongue continues to be the liturgical norm, while reception on the hand remains an indult granted on a local level. Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, then secretary of the worship congregation, caused a stir last year when he said that Communion should be received on the tongue.

Archbishop Ranjith argued that the practice had been brought in hastily in some places and was only approved by the Vatican after it had been introduced. [In other words… it was introduced in disobedience to the Church’s law.]

The 2004 instruction Redemptionem Sacramentum also re-emphasised that the faithful had a right to receive Communion on the tongue but that receiving Communion on the hand was only granted to the faithful in areas where an indult had been given. Officials for the Congregation for Divine Worship were unavailable for comment.

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17 Responses to Catholic Herald front and center on “Reform of the Reform”

  1. Father,

    I think that if the “reform of the reform” goes through then we might see sea changes in the Church. Many people including myself have been clamoring that reverence be re-instituted in our parishes. The Benedictine arrangement is probably one of those elements as is “ad orientem.’ We need to bring the sacredness back and throw out all of the dross that has accumulated. IT’s time to get back to basics. Thank God for the Holy Father and all of the work that he is doing to make this happen.

    If these reforms go through, then what the Vatican must do is order the bishops to institute catechesis. The Pope is right in not making unilateral decisions. But it is not a bad idea if he puts his foot down every once in a while and tells people what to do. If we don’t want a repeat of the late 1960s then we need to prepare people for it.

    Finally, a bilingual Missale Romanum does exist. The Daily Roman Missal has been around for years and includes the Ordinary of the MAss in both LAtin and English as well as some of the hymns and orations. I have not, however, seen a completely bilingual missal.

    God bless,

    Brother Juniper

  2. chironomo says:

    Hmmm… if nothing else this is a good example of how the print media has come o a place where even if it works quickly, it is always going to be “behind the curve” on stories like this. The Tornielli article, the Vatican response and Tornielli’s counter-response are all “old news” now… 5 days old to be exact! I see that the Herald article is from the 28th…was it out in print then? Why is it just now coming to light?

  3. robtbrown says:

    Mr Tornielli said that Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, the prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship, had also been studying ways to return to the ad orientem celebration of the Mass. This would see the priest and the congregation facing the cross and the altar during the Consecration.

    [Long ago I made a series of PODCAzTs which dealt with Pope Benedict’s thought about ad orientem worship. I concluded then – and I hold now – that his “Benedictine arrangement” of altars (i.e., Mass facing the people over the altar, but with the traditional six candles and the centrally placed Cruficix between the congregation and priest) was a temporary… provision… transitional arrangement on the way to an eventual return to ad orientem worship.]

    I think it can also be read another way, referring to the great Euro cathedrals with the altar in the transept.

  4. MichaelJ says:

    I wonder, as a practical matter, how successful the “reform of the reform” will prove to be. As Brother Juniper stated “Many people … have been clamoring that reverence be re-instituted in our parishes” which shows that the initial reform, for whatever reason, was really a complete failure.

    Why does anyone think that a reform of the reform will be successful? I do not say this to be snarky (well, maybe a *little*), but really want to know. How is this latest refom effort different from the last one?

  5. Fr. Steve says:

    I’m all for restoring the practice of receiving communion on the tongue while kneeling. But, the way the “indult” is phrased in the GIRM it makes it seem as if the indult trumps the universal norm. It states that receiving communion standing is normative in the United States and if this isn’t followed than the person who didn’t follow the norm needs to be taken aside and be given a sever beating. Or something to that effect. My point is, that if they want this to change I think that they do need to make some legislative adjustments to restore more traditional options. Then, as tradition gains ground they can cancel out the alternative options rooted in a hermeneutic of rupture.

  6. Mitchell NY says:

    We are not alking about changing the rite, more about simply following the rubrics of the Missal and what the Second Vatican Council has already said. It would be helpful if Rome stated along with its’ denial that these are indeed the norms to be followed anyway. As far as the indult to receive in the hand, if Pope Paul VI was the one who eventually “gave in” to this abuse, what are people supposed to think about that? No wonder women are pushing for ordination. And a refusal or denial to be returning to the norms is not helpful to the Church or future reforms. They do mention that this may take a “long time” to implement, so what if the next Pontificate does not focus on liturgy or reform? I can understand the need for prudence on the part of the Pope (I would not want to be in his red shoes), especially as a direct result of the initial liturgical reform, but leaving no official documentation, or laws regarding the future or the whole rite just leaves it undone, which can go undone into the next two or three Pontificates if they do not share his vision. There must be a happy medium, no ? We still have not heard about the MP clarification letter, and it is already clear many, many Bishops are getting in the way and obstructing Romes’ instruction regarding both forms of Holy Mass. And many are still waiting and praying the Holy Father to celebrate a Mass according to the 1962 books. Our Holy Father is the head of the whole Church, not just the NO or Tridentine portion of it. By not celebrating it, it leads to some division that the MP intends to curb or prevent. We must admit it is still lacking legitamancy from a visual standpoint. I pray for The Holy Father every day and for his vision and health. We still need his help in giving us some traction to carry out his wishes.

  7. Deacon Nathan Allen says:

    A bilingual altar missal is what I think we’re talking about here, and I’m all for it. The more priests and deacons see for their own eyes how poor the lame-duck ICEL translation is, the more they will be able to answer the objections to the new translation that are sure to come. You can’t look at a page where the translation for “accipiens et hunc praeclarum calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas” is “he took the cup” and not see that something is missing! Also, a bilingual altar missal will mean celebration in whole or in part of the Mass in Latin will be much easier and more common, because parishes won’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a book they’ll only use on occasion. If it’s already there, you’re much more likely to use it.

  8. ljc says:

    I think what the Vatican needs to do first is to come out with a document, or some other method of ensuring that Redemptionis Sacramentum is applied to the fullest in every place. As Fr. Z said, if laws are promulgated repeatedly they become weakened. There are so many Bishops who refuse to enforce Redemptionis Sacramentum that thats what has to be addressed first. Like Fr. Z, I am all for these developments, but lets try to enforce one document at a time. If no one obeyed the last one, why would this one be any different?

  9. ljc: I think what the Vatican needs to do first is to come out with a document, or some other method of ensuring that Redemptionis Sacramentum is applied to the fullest in every place.

    Ummm.. that document is called Redemptionis Sacramentum.

    The bishops in their dioceses and priests in their parishes must implement it.

    However, read about the role of laity in this process at the end of the document.

    Just go… go now. Read it.

  10. chironomo says:

    Fr. Z;

    The role of the laity in this process seems to be to observe and be on watch for liturgical abuses and report them to the Pastor, or Local Ordinary, or the Holy See in that order. Is this what you’re referring to? Should this be a regular practice, or only in the most eggregious cases? If all of the laity did this (or even 1/4 of the laity!) the Bishop would have no time to do anything but read letters concerning liturgical abuse in his parishes. I’m sure if there was such a response from the laity, perhaps the Bishop would take the time to do something about the problem on a more global scale….

  11. Richard says:

    It is time for the laity to realize its role is to pay, pray and obey. Nothing else.

  12. ecclesiae says:

    I would like to see the NO only use the Roman Canon. This would give credance to “two forms” of one rite.

  13. chironomo: The role of the laity in this process seems to be to observe and be on watch for liturgical abuses and report them to the Pastor, or Local Ordinary, or the Holy See in that order.

    With the proviso that, since the Congregation has highest authority (other than the Pope) a person always has the right to recourse directly to the Congregation. However, it most cases it pays to work your way up, for practical reasons.

    Should this be a regular practice, or only in the most egregious cases? If all of the laity did this (or even 1/4 of the laity!) the Bishop would have no time to do anything but read letters concerning liturgical abuse in his parishes.

    And I suppose eventually the bishop would do something about the situation in his diocese, right?

    But if people are participating in the Church’s worship with “full, conscious, and active participation” they will a) recognize abuses and b) be irritated by them and c) try to correct the situation. Perhaps the proper manner of participation of laypeople can work to correct the errant ways of priests? It isn’t a one way street, you know.

    If the priest needs to attend to the ars celebrandi the lay faithful must attend to their ars recipiendi… participandi….

  14. NLucas says:

    Richard: “It is time for the laity to realize its role is to pay, pray and obey. Nothing else.”

    I know that that line of thought has been used repeatedly for having the laity take over priestly duties at Holy Mass. However, from my experience, the clerical (and progressive laypeople in power) implementers of liturgical abuse seem to have no problem in insisting on “pay, pray, and obey” to the laity if that layperson happens to object to liturgical abuse or ask for subversive things like Holy Communion on the tounge while kneeling or the TLM.

    In Christ,

  15. B Knotts says:

    One practical matter that will need to be addressed may seem trivial, but I think is important: priest that have been distributing Holy Communion in the hand for 40 years will need to learn the proper technique for distributing on the tongue. I can assure you that there are priests, even of the age where you would think they would have had to do this early in the career, who are not exactly adept at this. And, yes, laymen will need to learn how to receive properly.

    It is interesting to me that the ordinary form seems almost to be designed for reception in the hand, because of the awkwardness of responding “Amen” just before receiving. Another argument in favor of the extraordinary form, I’d say.

  16. robtbrown says:

    It is time for the laity to realize its role is to pay, pray and obey. Nothing else.
    Comment by Richard

    Obedience is overrated. It’s what put us in the present mess.

  17. Seraphic Spouse says:

    And this saying has been out of date since the 1950s. Yves Congar wrote a very
    good book on the laity, one the preserves the unique roles and dignity of the clergy. I recommend it. Meanwhile, the laity has a big job to do in the secular world, defending
    the Church in the secular world. We’re the ones who have to get out there and
    make sure everyone has food, water, clothes, a decent burial and companionship in prison-like situations, like extreme old age. We’re the ones who have to work for just
    laws and the protection of the unborn and other vulnerable people. We’re the ones who have to say that pro-choice Catholic politicians do NOT represent the Catholic community.
    We’re the ones that have live out our Catholicism IN public life, not DESPITE public life.