Intriguing book by SSPX – “The Problem of the Liturgical Reform: A Theological and Liturgical Study

The kind folks at Angelus Press, the publishing arm of the SSPX, recently sent me a copy of The Problem of the Liturgical Reform: A Theological and Liturgical Study by the Society of Saint Pius X.

I have no doubt that those of you who are followers of the SSPX have seen it. I ran into it in a footnote in  Reforming the Liturgy: A Response to the Critics by the liberal Jesuit liturgist at Boston College, John Baldovin, who has a very useful and fair-minded book which identifies the main arguments of critics of the Novus Ordo and then responds.

While I am just starting to dig into this short polemic against the Novus Ordo and the theology the writers believe was behind it, I found something interesting right away in the open letter by SSPX Bp. Bernard Fellay written in 2001 to His Holiness the late Pope John Paul II.  Felley wrote, with my emphasis:

The Liturgy has certainly evolved over the course of history, as is shown by the reforms made during the past century by St. Pius X, Pius XII and John XXIII. But the post-conciliar liturgical reform, by its extension and brutality, represents a disturbing upheaval, as a radical rupture from the traditional Roman Liturgy. Above all, this reform contains disconcerting elements, ambiguous and dangerous for the Faith.

What I find interesting here is that this, with the probable exception of "radical" and "dangerous", might have been written by Joseph Card. Ratzinger before his election.

The Forward states:

While this study goes to very root of the problem with the Liturgical Reforms, the analysis will focus for reasons of clarity on the Missal of Paul VI. The Mass is after all, the very jewel in the crown of the Catholic Liturgy.

The study comprises of three theses, each of which introduces a separate section. Firstly we will show how the publication of the New Mass of 1969 constituted a liturgical rupture. Secondly we will show how that rupture is explained principally by a new theology of Redemption, which we will call the "Theology of the Pascal Mystery". This complex second part forms the very heart of our study. Thirdly, we will seek to evaluate the new theology in the light of the infallible teachings of the Church, and to establish what attitude one should have towards this Novus Ordo Missae. In support of this attitude, an appendix treating the canonical status and rights of the Mass of St. Pius V is attached.

While by no means exhaustive, this work gets to the central issue at stake; the official texts show quite categorically that the "Pascal Mystery" is the key to interpreting the entire Liturgical Reform. 

I haven’t got much farther than this.

However, I was intrigued by the language used, in light of Pope Benedict’s identification of a "hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture" that has plagued the interpretation and implementation of the Second Vatican Council.  It certainly plagued the implementation of the liturgical reform from the moment Sacrosanctum Concilium was promulgated.

We are so accustomed to making reference to "the Paschal mystery" in our post-Conciliar liturgical practice and preaching that we perhaps don’t consider more fully what may be involved in this theological category. 

This little book might prove to be interesting. 

There are a couple chapters which have especially interesting titles:

"From Christ, Priest and Victim, to the Lord of the Assembly"

and

"The Sacrament as Mystery"

At the end is a rather less relevant examination of the abrogation of the older, traditional form of Mass, now a moot point since Summorum Pontificum.

So, I am intrigued and will read this closely.

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Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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25 Responses to Intriguing book by SSPX – “The Problem of the Liturgical Reform: A Theological and Liturgical Study

  1. Flambeaux says:

    Father,

    I will look forward to any further comments you wish to make once you’ve made your way through it. It sounds like an intriguing work.

  2. iudicame says:

    Those dimples – yes a fly in my conspiratorial ointment but still…Fellay & Z – never seen together in the same place…hmmm

  3. iudicame: I will apply an ironic riff to your choice of a handle for the blog and say only that perhaps you judged me prematurely.

    o{];¬)

  4. Sid says:

    I like to learn things. So someone tell me what this book’s argument happens to be in faulting The Paschal Mystery. Was Odo Casel a heretic? (Die Liturgie als Mysterienfeier. Das christliche Kult-Mysterium) Hans Urs von Balthasar? (Mysterium Paschale ) The writer of Ephesians? (2:4-7) Of Colossians? (2:11-15) St. Paul himself? (Romans 6: 1-11). The writers of Catechismus Catholicae Ecclesiae? (##571-573, 654, 2175). Indeed, counting the number of times the Pauline writers use in Christo, the number of times in Acts where the Apostles make the Resurrection the central point of their preaching, I thought The Passover Mystery was the very center of the faith?

    But what do I know? I’m just a country boy.

  5. iudicame says:

    Padre,

    Hardly serious – just looking for an excuse to say “dimples”.

    heh heh heh…QUICKLY: Who won the ’37 World Series?!!! [Well… it wasn’t the Cubs.]

    Just testing.

    SEFTON

  6. Hidden One says:

    Maybe Sid should read the book.

  7. kgurries says:

    Sid, here is a brief quote from the book (taken though from my blog post). In any case, it summarizes the issue:

    “Is the Paschal mystery a total innovation? Not according to the new theology. It is a fresh look at the traditional dogma of the Redemption…classic theology is thought to have overemphasized the satisfaction of justice, the cooperation of man and the pains of Christ’s Passion. The Paschal mystery will seemingly put things back into their proper perspective by emphasizing the great importance of love, the intitiative of God, and the new life of the Resurrection”. (The Problem of the Liturgical Reform, Angelus Press, pp. 39-40)

    In my blog post (link above) I relate it to the teaching of then Fr. Ratzinger (taken to task for so-called “heresy” by Bishop tissier). The origin of the debate really goes back to Anselm, Abelard and St. Thomas…If you are interested you may want to check it out.

  8. The Cobbler says:

    So in other words, first off the name is unimportant if not misleading, and second the problem is that it focuses on nice tidbits without technicalities in a misguided reaction against the alleged focus on technicalities of yesteryear? Unless technicalities are downright denounced, I’m not sure that constitutes a new theology per se, merely a mumness on theology prior to there. But then, I should read the book before I think I know what it’s saying.

  9. You have piqued my interest, Fr. Z. I will have to obtain and read this book.
    Thank you.
    If I can understand this whole thing better, I will be more at peace, and be able to explain it to others that I am involved with…I ‘get’ how perturbed, and downright angry and frustrated traditional Catholics have become over these 45 some years (I think I am one of them, sort of); but sometimes I just do not understand what the real issue is. Maybe this can shed some light.

  10. Oh, and one other thing.
    I have found Laurence Hemming’s “Worship as Revelation” as a wonderful explanation of the Sacred Liturgy (Holy Mass and Office) and some of the issues involved with the reform of the Liturgy, which he takes back to Pope St. Pius X, in his reform of the Breviary and Missal, as well as Pope Pius XII. Fascinating reading. Excellent. But this book you are speaking of sounds worth the time and money to expend.

  11. Sid says:

    I thank kgurries for his link and suggestions. I’ll read the link. For now, and not in reply to kgurries but to all:

    1. Are we to say that the Resurrection would have nothing to do with the redemption, that it be just a epilogue or afterthought? That would be news to Saints Luke and Paul (Romans 4:25). See F.X. Durrwell, The Resurrection, a Biblical Study (the translation of Resurrection de Jesus, mystere de salut. Durwell demonstrates that the Resurrection is redemptive. And because it is redemptive, I would then ask, Isn’t The Paschal/Passover Mysterium of the dying and rising of Our Lord the better way to label the matter?

    2. Are we to say that the Resurrection has nothing to do with the Mass? One priest suggested to me that at the Commingling Rite, where the Precious Body and Blood are rejoined, we have the re-presentation of the Resurrection.

    3. Are we to say that St Anselm be the first word, the last word, or even the best word on the redemption? I don’t think so. To be fair, he didn’t really teach Penal Substitutional Atonement, yet his mistakes (and Thomas’) lead to this very bad theory of the redemption, the theory of Calvin. Alas, Penal Substitutional Atonement is the view among Evangelicals — even Arminian Evangelicals –, who do a pretty good job (I tip my hat to them) of propagating their views in the general public. The fact of the matter is that the New Testament doesn’t teach this view. See John McIntyre, The Shape of Soteriology, chapter 4. The “for” in “Christ died for us” is hyper in Greek, which does NOT mean “in place of” or “as a substitute for”, but instead “on behalf of” or even better, “in behalf of”.

  12. JayneK says:

    Father,
    I hope that you will relate further comments on this book to _Iota Unum_. It too presents the thesis that there is a discontinuity in liturgical practice.

  13. Ogard says:

    I did read the book, but was not impressed with its doctrinal competence. The Paschal Mystery does not “minimiz(e) the mystery of the Redemption” (Bp. Fellay’s letter to JPII, introducing the book, p.II), nor does it constitute “a new way of looking” at it (No. 49, p.36), but includes it and puts it in its proper historical and liturgical context.

    The Passion and Death would have been useless had He not Risen; and the Anamnesis has been present in all Christian liturgies from the time immemorial, and as such is normative: what the Church received from Christ she “perpetuates and hands on to all generations” “in her doctrine, life and WORSHIP” (DV 8/I, emphasis mine). Lex orandi – lex credendi.

  14. kgurries says:

    I think the Paschal Mystery seeks to link together the various redemptive acts of Our Lord. This can be seen, for example, in the traditional Preface for Easter: “Who by dying destroyed our death, and by rising again hath restored us to life”. The same goes for other traditional prayers: “…for by His life, death and resurection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life…” In other words the redemptive acts should be linked and considered together rather than viewed in isolation. Some aspects should not diminish the others — but each retains its proper place in the perspective of the whole. I think this is what is intended by “Paschal Mystery”.

  15. robtbrown says:

    kgurries,

    Not surprisingly, JRatzinger’s Soteriology has a lot in common with that of St Bonaventure.

  16. robtbrown says:

    To be fair, he (Anselm) didn’t really teach Penal Substitutional Atonement, yet his mistakes (and Thomas’) lead to this very bad theory of the redemption, the theory of Calvin.
    Comment by Sid

    What are St Thomas’ mistakes?

  17. robtbrown says:

    1. Are we to say that the Resurrection would have nothing to do with the redemption, that it be just a epilogue or afterthought? That would be news to Saints Luke and Paul (Romans 4:25). See F.X. Durrwell, The Resurrection, a Biblical Study (the translation of Resurrection de Jesus, mystere de salut. Durwell demonstrates that the Resurrection is redemptive. And because it is redemptive, I would then ask, Isn’t The Paschal/Passover Mysterium of the dying and rising of Our Lord the better way to label the matter?

    Eastern Theology has a great emphasis on the Resurrection.

    2. Are we to say that the Resurrection has nothing to do with the Mass? One priest suggested to me that at the Commingling Rite, where the Precious Body and Blood are rejoined, we have the re-presentation of the Resurrection.
    Comment by Sid

    The Co-Mingling represents Two Natures of the Incarnation.

    NB: The Institution of the Eucharist happened before the Resurrection. Further, Christ’s words point to His future Sacrifice. If the first Eucharist would have occurred after the Resurrection, you would have a good argument.

    In so far as the Sacred species are Transubstantiated, it has to be said that Christ’s Resurrected Body is not present. Christ’s substance doesn’t change. On the other hand, by the necessity of concomitance, Christ’s accidents are present.

  18. Maltese says:

    Novus Ordo: Table where bread is prepared for community fellowship (at least in the minds of many, too many.)

    Traditional Latin Mass: Altar of the Unbloody Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ where bread is transubstantiated into the Body and Blood.

  19. robtbrown says:

    I think the Paschal Mystery seeks to link together the various redemptive acts of Our Lord. This can be seen, for example, in the traditional Preface for Easter: “Who by dying destroyed our death, and by rising again hath restored us to life”. The same goes for other traditional prayers: “…for by His life, death and resurection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life…” In other words the redemptive acts should be linked and considered together rather than viewed in isolation. Some aspects should not diminish the others—but each retains its proper place in the perspective of the whole. I think this is what is intended by “Paschal Mystery”.
    Comment by kgurries

    Redemption means to buy back, and so strictly speaking, it would refer only to the Sacrifice, not the Resurrection. The Resurrected Body is a new gift to man, not something re-gained.

  20. Ogard says:

    “Further, Christ’s words point to His future Sacrifice.”

    I don’t think so. The Sacrifice was made present at the Last Supper. The Latin rendering of the consecration in the future tense is due to Jerome’s rendering, which reflects his misunderstanding of the Greek text as well as of the notion of Christ’s Sacrifice. The Greek rendering is in the present tense. So are the vernacular translations of eastern liturgies.

    I don’t think that Christ’s Sacrifice consisted in His death. If it were so, the death of the man on His left would have been that man’s sacrifice too. No, the Sacrifice consisted in His free acceptance of the death. It was His internal choice, and the choices, by definition, are spiritual entities, which last so long as they are not superseded by other, incompatible choices.

    (If one chooses to commit adultery he commits mortal sin by that choice, regardless of whether he manages to execute that choice, and we say that he is in a state of mortal sin so long as he does not choose not-to-commit the adultery.)

    As the latter is not the case (Hebrew’s High Priest, Lamb of the Book of Revelation), His sacrifice is permanent: it was present before His Passion, and is eternal. As such it was made present at the Last Supper, visible sacramentally, before its physical manifestation on the Cross; and it still made present, visible sacramentally, at the Mass whenever He is made present by Transubstantiation. That explains how it can be made present without being repeated. What is repeated is the ritual, not the Sacrifice.

    The authors of the book misunderstand the decree of Trent, and maintain that its use of the verb ‘representare’ is not to be understood as ‘making really present’ but as ‘to represent or signify’. In other words, Christ’s Sacrifice is not present on the altar, but only signified. Vatican II, uses a better expression: ‘perpetuate’: “Christ instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood whereby he might perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages….” (SC 47).

  21. I copied and pasted the comments on this book on the Amazon site.
    “1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars Novus Ordo is not valid., July 22, 2006
    By M. A. Ramos (Florida USA) – See all my reviews
    (TOP 500 REVIEWER) (REAL NAME)
    If you have trouble explaining why the new Mass should not be accepted, this book explains it well. The Traditional Mass, known as the Tridentine Mass, is the valid Mass. This book shows how the Novus Ordo broke with liturgical tradition of the Catholic Church. And it shows how the new teachings of the Catholic Church are condemned by the traditional Catholic doctrine.

    We can only pray that we can get a copy of this book into the hands of every Priest.”

    “5 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars The New Mass is not a good Mass, December 23, 2002
    By A Customer
    From the authorship of the Society of Saint Pius X and sent to His Holiness Pope John Paul II in the beginning of 2001, “The Problem of the Liturgical Reform” constitutes an excellent comparison between the Tridentine Mass and the New Mass of Paul VI, definitively refuting the error that both masses are the same thing, one being said in latin and the other in vernacular.

    This study clearly establishes and asserts the main differences between both rites: the Tridentine Mass is nothing less than the repetition and renewal, in an unbloody way, of the death of Christ on the cross, putting all the emphasis in His real presence under both species after the consecration – bread and wine trough the consecration officiated by the celebrant priest are transformed in the body and blood of Christ, such separation of elements symbolising His sacrifice in favour of a sinful mankind; on the contrary, the New Mass of Paul VI is essentially an eucharistic meal, a commemoration of the death of Christ, a protestantization of the Mass, which seriously devaluates its sacrificial dimension and minimises the real presence (in a substantial way) of Christ on it, by that reason endangering an essential dogma of faith and the beliefs of unguarded catholics.

    The reviewed book is usually considered, even among traditionalist circles, as a though reading. I don’t think so: any catholic with an average knowledge of his faith will be able to read this book without problems and profitably, in order to understand why the New Mass is not a good Mass.”

    Now, since I did not read the book, I have no idea if these comments are accurate.
    But if they are; we have a problem here.
    I have problems with the translation of the present Ordinary Form and the exclusion of certain rites that emphasis the Real Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
    But.
    If when, we as “novus ordo” priests (as we are sometimes called) celebrate the Ordinary Form, we are celebrating a “protestantized” rite, which “devaluates the Real Presence” and “endangers the faith” of Catholics, then this is absolutely unacceptable.
    And I do not believe, for one moment, that this is the case. The Mass is a reality that is beyond a “rite”; otherwise, we would not have so many valid rites. Can the Ordinary Form be “enriched” by the Extraordinary Form? Absolutely. Can it develop further to be in line with Sacred Tradition. Yes. But if these commentaries on this book are correct, then I should today, offer the Extraordinary Form exclusively, and this would put me in direct contradiction to both the charism of the association to which I belong and to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict.Plus, since I was not ordained according the Extraordinary Form of the Ordination of Deacon or Priest, my Orders are invalid, according to this train of thought. This, I do not believe, either.
    One more thought.
    The Extraordinary Form, in the prayer “Suscipe, sancta Trinitas” at the offertory mentions the “death, resurrection and ascension” of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Roman Canon after the Consecration at the “Unde et memores” says: “…in memory of the blessed Passion of the same Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, of his resurrection from the place if the dead, and of his ascension into the glory of heaven”. Is this not the Pascal Mystery?
    How is this focus upon the Pascal Mystery a departure from Tradition?
    There are so many levels of meaning, such richness, such profundity in the Extraordinary Form, that I find it difficult to summarize its meaning in simply “the death of Christ”. It emphasizes this, no argument from me, but it’s much, much more.

  22. robtbrown says:

    Ogard,

    1. In His Sacrifice Christ is both the Sacrificing Priest and what is sacrificed (the Victim) Christ’s Act of Offering is His Priestly Act. His more passive submission to that Sacrifice is
    part of what He offered–His Victimhood.

    2. Acc to St Thomas, a) The Redemption begins at the first moment of the Incarnation, and b) we are redeemed by His Death. If we put those principles together, we see that Christ’s Sacrifice, both Priest (He who Offers) and Victim (Who is offered), begins at the first moment of the Incarnation when he takes on passible flesh, and is consummated at His Death on the Cross.

    Notwithstanding the nuances of Greek grammar, such a Christology explains that the use of present tenses at the Last Supper.

    3. According to St Thomas, the Redemption is effected by Christ’s Humanity, which is the Instrument of His Divinity. STA’s famous phrase is that His Humanity is the instrumentum coniunctum (conjoined instrument) of His Divinity. Thus we have the famous prayer, invoking the Redemptive consequences of His Humanity:

    Anima Christi, sanctifica me.
    Corpus Christi, salva me.
    Sanguis Christi, inebria me.
    Aqua lateris Christi, lava me.

    4. Neither St Thomas no St Augustine would agree that Christ’s Sacrifice existed before the Incarnation. Acc to both, there is one Intellect and one Will in God, not multiple wills, as there
    would be in obedience. Christ’s obedience, therefore, is human.

    5. Acc to St Thomas the Eucharist, like every other Sacrament, is a sign (of course, it has a double res because of transsubstantion). Not every sign (signum), however, indicates merely a likeness in the mind: For example, a song might remind me of Italy.

    There are other signs that are actual participants in the thing signified: For example, a baseball pitcher might have the ball he used to finish a no-hitter or his 20th win. Thus Sacraments as signs actually participate in the Redemption and are not merely reminders of it.

    6. Christ’s Sacrifice occurred once in history. When mass is said, He is not killed anew.

  23. Ogard says:

    Ad “6. Christ’s Sacrifice occurred once in history.” – If it were so, there would be no way how the Sacrifice of the Mass could be the same – even if the different mode of offering were ignored – as the Sacrifice of the Cross, without the latter being repeated, while to claim the it is repeated would be a blasphemy.

    A perusal of Documents, from Trent to the Compendium of the CCC (i.e. Mediator Dei, SC, Institutio Generalis (both editions), Mysterium Fidei, Instruction Mysterium Eucharisticum, CCC, and Ecclesia de Eucharistia), can easily demonstrate that the doctrine on Sacrifice is in a state of confusion, and that it is impossible to figure out what the Christ’s Sacrifice is and how it relates to the Mass. If somebody disagrees let him come up with an answer, but exclusively on the basis of the Documents.

    Fr. Michael Mc Guckian, S.J., a dean of theology of St.Peter Major Seminary in Malawi, has recently published a study on the subject: The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Gracewing 2002, and claims that Trent’s teaching that it is a “true and proper sacrifice” of its own right doesn’t answer the question: how?

    “The Protestant theologians taunted the Catholics because they had no answer to that question. How can Catholics maintain so adamantly that the Mass is a sacrifice, if they do not know what the sacrifice is? In post-Tridentine Catholic theology there ensued a concerted effort to answer the question, but no satisfactory answer has been found” – he says in the Preface.

    In the light of this confusion all one can do is to have a recourse to his own analysis. The only explanation that makes sense to me is in making a distinction between the Death on the Cross, the visible sign the Sacrifice, an evil done to Christ by the executioners, which occurred once in history, and cannot be repeated but only “called to mind” (as it is done in the Anamnesis), AND the Sacrifice itself which is not something done to Him, but consists in a His free acceptance of the Death (“Death He freely accepted”, EPII), which, although one, is not one event that “occurred once in history”, but a permanent reality that transcends the history (Ecclesia de Eucharistia 11/2). In the Mass it is made present, re-presented (Trent DS 1740); not “represented” as the SSPX would have it (pp 77-81, Nos. 95, 97, 98; p 90, No.108), perpetuated (SC 47), each time when He Himself is made present by Transubstantiation, because it is constitutive of Himself and cannot be separated from Him. It is His choice, prophesized by Simeon (Lk. 2:35), and implied by Jesus (prediction of the Passion in the synoptics, and multiple allusions to it in St. John’s gospel) before the Passion.

    As I commented on 19th December, the choices are spiritual entities, which last until superseded, revoked, by other, incompatible choices. He has never revoked it (St. John’s vision of the Lamb in the heavenly liturgy, Rev. 5:6,12; High Priest, Heb. particularly 6:20; 7:3,25; 9:11,12,24,25, less clearly in 5:5,6,10; 27; 7:26: 9:26,27,28; 10:11,12). So, it is eternal, and each time when Transubstantiation takes place, the Sacrifice is made present on the altar too, without being repeated.

    Perhaps, this example might be illustrative of what I mean.

    Suppose a country is in a war and three men are sent to a front line to defend their country. Two were volunteers; one was a conscript who was forced to go. He and one of the two volunteers were killed; one volunteer survived. Who has made a sacrifice that deserves a remembrance and honour? Certainly not the conscript: he was killed by enemy. We can say that country sacrificed him, but that is another matter; he himself does not deserve an honour or remembrance, because it was not his choice to go to the frontline. But the two volunteers both deserve honour and remembrance: the fact that one was killed was not his merit, nor is another’s demerit the fact that he was not killed. They both chose to offer themselves, and that is what matters.

    Ad “1.….His more passive submission to that Sacrifice is part of what He offered—His Victimhood.” – It follows from the comment above that the “passive submission” refers to “His Victimhood”, but not to His Sacrifice because the latter is a free choice, active, not passive.

    Ad “5. Acc to St Thomas the Eucharist, like every other Sacrament, is a sign.” – Of course, and the following data may be of interest.

    The words of Institution (By the way, it is not De Fide, but only a Western theological assertion, that these words constitute the “form” of the sacrament as the SSPX would have it: p 9, No. 11.) in the Novus Ordo and in Eastern liturgies known to me (Byzantine, Armenian, Syrian, Coptic) – all have similar pattern: Take and eat/drink, this is my Body/Blood, which is given up (“broken” in Byzantine, Syrian and Coptic, “distributed” in Armenian) or shed, for you and for many, for the remission of sins.

    “Take and eat/drink” signify the paschal banquet, “this is my body/blood” signify the Transubstantiation, “given up/broken”/”shed” indicate the Sacrifice (CCC 1365, JPII: Ecclesia de Eucharistia, No.12), “for the remission of sins” indicate the propitiation. Only the Armenian consecration of the bread is a bit odd, if the word “distributed” is a correct English rendering; and, evidently, the TLM consecration of bread is unique in its defectiveness: it signifies neither the Sacrifice nor propitiation.