Bugninicare, revisited

A friend and I were talking this morning and he brought back to mind something I posted a few years ago.

Given the fact that, as this presidential election cycle revs up and Obamacare is a huge issue, it is opportune to repost this.

Liberals pit the experience of the individual during Mass against the assembly. Most liberals think congregations should be nearly constrained to do everything everyone else does (including what the priest does).

Is it possible that the Novus Ordo lends itself to this more than the TLM, the Extraordinary Form?

Some will argue that it does. Some will argue that it does by intention and design.

Perhaps we need a townhall meeting to discuss this?

BUGNINICARE

UNIVERSAL SPIRITUAL-CARE REFORM FOR THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

(Socialized Worship)

Taking his cue from post-war European national health care programs, Annibale Bugnini, assisted by a small circle of spiritual-care specialists and church policy makers, spearheaded a massive overhaul of the Catholic Church’s spiritual care system in the 1960s. The centerpiece of “Bugninicare” was a program known as Novus Ordo, so-called because it introduced a New Order into the regulation of the Church’s worship. The NO regulations were aimed at extending spiritual-care benefits to those for whom active participation was previously thought to be inaccessible. Bugninicare guaranteed that barriers to full participation were removed, thus permitting access to spiritual care on the part of ordinary believers. Bugnini and his consultants were convinced that the costs their programs would exact would not be excessive.

Special guarantees were built in to Bugnini’s socialized spiritual care system to protect the rights of women. The program also reached out to previously disenfranchised sectors of the general population, ensuring that mainline Protestants, Pentecostals and charismatics would no longer be excluded from participation. In fact, Bugninicare so lowered the bar of spiritual care throughout the Church that other obstacles to full participation, stemming from language, education, religion, gender and sexual orientation, were also effectively removed. The goal of equal distribution of spiritual care in the Church was now guaranteed. Novus Ordo was designed by Bugnini as a monopoly, a “single-provider” liturgy that would allow no room for competition from previous forms of spiritual care delivery. In order to ensure that élite types would not be able to opt out of the Novus Ordo, spiritual care decisions in the Church were left to a small circle of bureaucrats, headed by Bugnini.

He sent some photos.

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Caption Call, Classic Posts, Linking Back, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, SESSIUNCULA, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Drill, Wherein Fr. Z Rants. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Bugninicare, revisited

  1. lucy says:

    Seriously delusional.

  2. Scott W. says:

    Good satire, but brings up a question: does the new translation mean anything, or is it simply window dressing on a bad idea? [And which you are opening as... a rabbit hole?] I am reminded of Marxists that hold that charity is bad because it props up an unjust system. Of course they are wrong on this point and our Holy Father said exactly why in one of his encyclicals, but what about this point? That the new translation revitalizes something that ultimately ought to go away?

  3. FrCharles says:

    That last picture is crazy, right? Everyone knows concelebrants are supposed to vest in the same color.

  4. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    It wasn’t Bugnini. It was a Pope, Paul VI. Why the fetish to dump on an underling? Or does it speak to inconsistencies you’d rather not deal with, Catholic Cognitive Dissonance?

  5. ChristopherM says:

    Ah The Mexican Sarape Stole – Something even the Mexican pastors gave up at the end of the 90s

  6. Andy Milam says:

    @Cheesesteak Expert;

    Read Bugnini’s memoir. It was Bugnini. It was his Consilium started in 1948. The sickness that was the Consilium reaches far back before Paul VI.

    Sure he was complicit it in, but this wasn’t his brainchild. That dubious honor really belongs to these few men: Father Cipriano Vagaggini, O.S.B., and Father Frederick McManus (sacraments); Monsignor Johannes Wagner (art and music); Canon Aimé-Georges Martimort (general principles); Father Josef Andreas Jungmann, S.J. (Mass); Father Herman Schmidt, S.J. (Divine Office); Father Ansgar Dirks, O.P. (liturgical year and sacred furnishings); Monsignor Emmanuel Bonet (liturgical law); Father Annibale Bugnini, C.M. (secretary).

    Don’t dump all of this on Pope Paul VI. He was merely a part. The real blame for the mess we have today lies with these men. The liturgists of the 1950′s are no friends to the Mass and the liturgical action.

  7. anilwang says:

    “Does the new translation mean anything, or is it simply window dressing on a bad idea? ”

    The key problem is this. Let’s say, the NO was outlawed and TLM replaced it tomorrow. Most priests would have no clue how to handle either the liturgical actions or speak proper Latin. Most of the laity wouldn’t have a clue how to handle not being able to understand the mass since it is so foreign to what they’re used to. Many priests, even with the NO, don’t beat their chest during the confiteor, so there’s even less hope that TLM will be rendered faithfully. In short, a large portion of the laity would balk and a large number of priests would celebrate TLM with the NO spirit, rendering it ineffective.

    The revised translation is something that’s easy to assimilate and should bring the NO closer to conformance in both the music and the liturgy to the “spirit of TLM”. It’s not perfect, but it’s a stop forward. In retrospect, Vatican II could have achieved its goals by simply translating TLM, and adding more readings to the lectionary without removing those already in the lectionary (allowing both TLM theme based and NO context based lectionaries to co-exist). I suspect that future iterations of the liturgy (they will come if the current Pope has a long life or the one after him is cut from the same cloth), will continue to raise the NO to that of TLM and possibly borrow from other traditions such as the Anglican Ordinariate and the Eastern Catholics. But it will take time. We didn’t get into the current mess overright and neither can it be fixed overnight.

  8. albizzi says:

    When he presented to Paul VI his resignation from the Liturgical Commission (headed by Mgr Bugnini) , because he was in strong disagreement with the changes Bugnini was upon to bring, Fr Louis Bouyer reported that Paul VI acknowledged that he had been deceived by him in that terms:
    “And since I am not a liturgical specialist, I tell you again, I have always accepted your judgement. I never said that to Monsignor Bugnini. I was deceived. Father Bugnini deceived me and deceived you.”
    If so, one has to wonder why anyways the Pope upheld the reform and enforced the NO as it had been concocted by his good friend Bugnini.
    Who deceived whom? Wasn’t there a kind of duplicity from the Pope’s part. Sad to say, I believe so.

  9. pablo says:

    Mary Ball Martinez’s book The Undermining of the Catholic Church (1998)

    Advances the well founded theory that the betrayal of Vatican II was not the beginning of the revolution against traditionalism but the culmination of decades of revolutionary activity of secret societies (like the freemasons) who have silently infiltrated every corner of Vatican.

    Following the death of Pope Leo XIII in 1903, the Cardinal Secretary of State Mariano Rampolla was about to be elected by the conclave, but, invoking a long forgotten privilege of the Holy Roman Emperor, the Cardinal Patriarch of Krakow Poland, Cardinal Jan Puzyna de Kosielko, arose to nullify the election on behalf of the successor to the Holy Roman Emperor, the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Emperor Franz Josef.

    The Cardinal Patriarch provided the astonished conclave with a dossier compiled by Msgr. Jouin, a Vatican archivist, which proved that Rampolla was a Freemason, an enemy actively engaged in the destruction of the Church.

    By the grace of God, Pope St. Pius X ascended to the Chair of Peter and the faithful Cardinal Merry del Val became Cardinal Secretary of State.

    Rampolla’s influence continued through much of the 20th century due to the influence of Rampolla’s proteges, della Chiesa (Benedict XV), Pacelli (Pius XII), Roncalli (John XXIII), Montini (Paul VI), and Pietro Gasparri (Cardinal Secretary of Sate 1914-1930).

    Instead of the usual school and seminary training, both Pacelli and Montini were tutored under the personal direction of Rampolla (until their last two years before ordination).

    The banking families of Pacelli and Montini were also connected to the Rothschilds.

    These and more disturbing details of the liturgical and theological shifts setting the stage for the Vatican II revolution are documented in this little known work by Miss Martinez.

    Miss Martinez was an author and a Vatican correspondent during the decades before that tragic Second Vatican Council.

    Miss Martinez proves her thesis well by exploring the careers of Popes Benedict XV, Pius XI and XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul I and II.

    Her narrative ends in the nineties before the Pontificate of Benedict XVI.

    Most interestingly, she had already identified Ratzinger as being a part of the plot to revolutionize the Church as he was part and parcel of the ‘revolutionaries’.

    A must read for everyone. (from the internet).

    By The Way,

    Which of those pictures is of the Tridentine Mass?

    *

  10. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    Andy, two things for your consideration:
    1. Subordinates all. The boss was the Pope, and he had every right and authority to accept, change or reject any and all portions/recommendations/whatever. He obviously had the chutzpah to issue Humanae Vitae against his subordinates on that pronouncement, so he certainly could have done any number of things regarding the NO. What he in fact did do is promulgate it with the full might and power of the Papacy, which steamrolled the TLM right out. Why the impulse to not accept this fact?????

    2. Change to the liturgy was a prerogative of Popes long before Paul IV. Within his lifetime, both Pius X and Pius XII had made changes to elements of communal prayer in the Western rite. So, Paul IV AND all his subordinates were operating consistently within the authority of recent Popes, who by virtue of exercising their prerogative paved the way for the NO. You may not like the result, but then your issue is more with the authority of the Pope than anything else. Which is tough to consider, hence the answer to #1 above and the fetish to dump on the Pope’s subordinates by those who do not like the NO.

  11. Andy Milam says:

    @anilwang;

    “Most of the laity wouldn’t have a clue how to handle not being able to understand the mass since it is so foreign to what they’re used to.”
    —Please don’t sell the faithful short. People adapt pretty well. They adapted to the Novus Ordo, with absolutely no catechesis, so there is no reason they cannot adapt again. I think that people would “get it” pretty quickly. 1600 years of Catholicism is 1600 years of Catholicism.

    “…there’s even less hope that TLM will be rendered faithfully.”
    —Don’t tell that to the FSSP, SSPX, ICRSS, or scores of young priests today. They won’t believe you.

    “In retrospect, Vatican II could have achieved its goals by simply translating TLM, and adding more readings to the lectionary without removing those already in the lectionary (allowing both TLM theme based and NO context based lectionaries to co-exist).”
    —Considering that is not what the Council Fathers wanted, I doubt that is what would have happened in a faithful rendering of the Conciliar discussion on the Liturgy.

    “We didn’t get into the current mess overright and neither can it be fixed overnight.”
    —We kinda did. The Ordinary Form of the Mass (Novus Ordo) was essentially written between 1965 to 1969 and implemented in 1970, with revisions in 1975 and 2000 (with an editing in 2008).

    Bottom line…a historically critical look at the Novus Ordo will show that it is, in fact, a rupturous event in the life of Holy Mother Church and that it espouses nothing of which you speak…and that is what Bugnini, et. al., wanted with the Novus Ordo…to be intentionally vague, so as to be able to blur the Council Fathers’ view.

  12. Andy Milam says:

    @Cheesesteak Expert;

    Notice that I said he was complicit in the action. I’m not absolving him of the promulgation of the Novus Ordo. What I am doing is saying that he relied on his subordinates to the extent they wrote the new Mass. They are just as culpable as the Pope. Let’s not forget that Pope Paul was also a fan of collegiality (in the flawed sense). I am very well aware that the Missal is the Missal of Paul VI and not the Missal of Bugnini.

    But….

    To simply absolve those who wrote the new Mass as being subordinates is to de-emphasize the gravity of what those men listed above actually did.

    I am also aware that Pope Pius XII made changes to the liturgy. But on whose recommendation? Ironically, it was the same group of men which led to the revisions of 1955 and musically in 1958 (while he was on his deathbed). I’m not so naive as to simply say it was the Pope and no one else. Culpability.

    Regarding the changes the Pope St. Pius X made, they were mainly his own and they were congruent and not detrimental to the life of the Church as a whole, where as the changes that were made by Pius XII and Paul VI could be seen as such.

    So, I agree that it is fact, but it is not fetishism to call to task the culpability of the periti who designed the new Mass.

  13. Andy Milam says:

    @ pablo;

    While it is interesting what you state, what are your thoughts on the post. It isn’t your own. Can you please defend what you posted in the text dump?

    http://sharethefiles.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=149091

    Thanks. It is compelling.

  14. anilwang says:

    @Andy Milam,
    “They adapted to the Novus Ordo, with absolutely no catechesis”
    I’m speaking of entropy. It’s relatively easy for an olympic athelete to give up his heavy training and return to “normal life”, but it’s much harder for someone in a “normal life” to become an olympic athelete.

    “Don’t tell that to the FSSP, SSPX, ICRSS, or scores of young priests today. They won’t believe you.”
    But I’m not talking about these priests, I’m talking about the average priest, which avoids litugical abuse but often omits many of the liturgical actions such as chest beating on the confiteor or the Alleluia before the Gospel. The average priest today sees a lot of the “frills” of the liturgy as optional and they will continue to do so even with TLM. As the parable says, if one is not faithful with small things, one will not be faithful with large things, so if one does not follow the NO exactly as described one cannot be trusted to follow TLM exactly as prescribed.

    “Considering that is not what the Council Fathers wanted, I doubt that is what would have happened in a faithful rendering of the Conciliar discussion on the Liturgy.”
    If you read the Vatican II documents, what was called for were a set of modest changes that even the SSPX founder, Archbishop Lefebvre could sign on to. The NO as implemented went far beyond this. Nowhere in the documents do they, for instance, specify that ad-orientum masses need to be replaced by talk show host masses.

    “We kinda did. The Ordinary Form of the Mass (Novus Ordo) was essentially written between 1965 to 1969 and implemented in 1970, with revisions in 1975 and 2000″

    The NO might have been created at that time, but “the spirit of Vatican II” took much longer to germinate. I was born in 1969. I remember the changes as they slowly happened. Over several decades, the chanting decreased and were replaced by guitars, the incensing decreased until they were only used on special days like Easter and Christmas, the statues were removed and replaced by a “Divine Mercy portrait”, the large crucified Christ behind the alter was replaced by a much smaller more “ecumenical” “glorified Christ rising from the cross”, the marble altar was replaced by a wooden table, and altar boys got replaced by “lay ministers”. And I’m not even talking about the post modern “Churches” that have been created since the NO that even mainline Protestants would cringe at worshiping in.

    IMO, if you could go back to 1980 and compare a liturgy with the poorly translated roman missal and compare with the liturgy with the more faithly translated roman missal being rolled out now, you will see that in many cases, the 1980s liturgy will be more reverent simply because there was still an echo of the TLM that came before.

    “to be intentionally vague, so as to be able to blur the Council Fathers’ view.”
    Again, it’s an implementation problem not a NO problem. Let me put it to you this way, if I told you “It’s raining now”, you would take an umbrella with you when you went outside, even though I was vague about specifying “where” it was raining.

    Whenever there is ambiguity, you have to assume the “common custom” that “It’s raining now” means “It’s raining how in the city I’m in”. Similarly, when the VII are vague about something, one has to assume that the resolution to the ambiguity lies in Catholic Tradition. To assume that “ambiguity” means “anything goes” is just plain dishonesty, and is the sort of game you’d expect lawyers and teenagers to play and not faithful priests and bishops who should not better.

  15. David2 says:

    “If you read the Vatican II documents, what was called for were a set of modest changes that even the SSPX founder, Archbishop Lefebvre could sign on to..”

    Not including complete translation of the Mass into the vernacular. So “translating the TLM” would in fact go beyond the mandate of the Council. An entirely vernacularized is unsupported by SC.

  16. David2 says:

    That should be “an entirely vernacularized liturgy” …

  17. Andy Milam says:

    @anilwang;

    “I’m speaking of entropy. It’s relatively easy for an olympic athelete to give up his heavy training and return to “normal life”, but it’s much harder for someone in a “normal life” to become an olympic athelete.”
    —You assume that it takes a spiritual giant to understand the TLM. It simply doesn’t. It is very easy to grasp. As I said millions and millions of people did for 1600 years, and the vast majority were nowhere near as educated as Catholics today.

    “But I’m not talking about these priests, I’m talking about the average priest…”
    —I daresay those priests (and their parishoners) view themselves as average priests. I certainly do. I’m not looking for the next cur d’Ars in the FSSP, just a priest who will say the Mass faithfully.

    “…which avoids litugical abuse but often omits many of the liturgical actions such as chest beating on the confiteor or the Alleluia before the Gospel.”
    —and to not beat one’s breast is an abuse. It is in the rubrics, therefore it should be done. As for the alleluia, if the Gospel is recited, the alleulia may be omitted…that is not an abuse, it is just liturgical obtuse.

    “If you read the Vatican II documents, what was called for were a set of modest changes that even the SSPX founder, Archbishop Lefebvre could sign on to. The NO as implemented went far beyond this. Nowhere in the documents do they, for instance, specify that ad-orientum masses need to be replaced by talk show host masses.”
    —I’ve read the documents hundreds of times (literally). But what you listed prior was not what you are assuming now. Nowhere was there to be the translations in the mode by which you advocated prior, to name one….or even a lectionary change to the extent you speak.

    “The NO might have been created at that time, but “the spirit of Vatican II” took much longer to germinate. I was born in 1969. I remember the changes as they slowly happened.”
    —I was born in 1972. I don’t really remember any changes until about 5th grade, when I started really paying attention…and then it wasn’t until 1996 that I knew it was abusive. So, unless you were the most astute 9 year old on the planet, liturgically, I think I’d prolly question that, unless you’re speaking retrospectively, to wit, I completely agree.

    “IMO, if you could go back to 1980 and compare a liturgy with the poorly translated roman missal and compare with the liturgy with the more faithly translated roman missal being rolled out now, you will see that in many cases, the 1980s liturgy will be more reverent simply because there was still an echo of the TLM that came before.”
    —Aboslutely disagree…the Mass in 1980 was hardly reverent, with the Gaudete Singers and Polka Masses…I challenge that. Today is bad too, the same things, but those changes were wholesale and complete, almost immediately.

    “Whenever there is ambiguity, you have to assume the “common custom” that “It’s raining now” means “It’s raining how in the city I’m in”. Similarly, when the VII are vague about something, one has to assume that the resolution to the ambiguity lies in Catholic Tradition. To assume that “ambiguity” means “anything goes” is just plain dishonesty, and is the sort of game you’d expect lawyers and teenagers to play and not faithful priests and bishops who should not better.”
    —and you now know the point I’m making by responding to you. eg. The mother tongue may be applied in certain cases (paraphrase)…to be interpreted as ALL VERNACULAR, LATIN ABANDONED! Thank you Fr. Bugnini, quite a legacy you left us.

  18. Andy Milam says:

    @David2;

    “So “translating the TLM” would in fact go beyond the mandate of the Council. An entirely vernacularized is unsupported by SC.”
    —THIS.

  19. BLB Oregon says:

    What does this detailed assessment of blame accomplish, exactly? We may as well blame all of the messes in the American Catholic Church on the assimilation of Catholics into mainstream of American culture, and blame that in turn on the election and popular martyrdom of John F. Kennedy…..because gee, that happened in the early ’60s, too. It is not as if the experiment can be run again.

    OK, granted, that was a bit of a stretch. Still, as bad as it is to unnecessarily obsess about tomorrow, surely it is even more pointless to obsess about yesterday. The ’60s are gone, and the NO is a horse long out of the barn. Not to be a wet blanket, but it is not going away any time soon. It will be a long time before the extraordinary form becomes the ordinary again. We have to get used to the idea that we are unlikely to see it in our lifetimes.

    Maybe it is just me, but I think it is far better to concentrate on things like the opportunities and possible pitfalls posed by the pending implementation of the more faithful translation. The destination we hope for is in front of us, not behind us.

  20. JohnRoss says:

    I’ve known two Byzantine-rite Catholic priests who were ordained in the Latin rite after Vatican II. They were so horrified by what they saw that they sought and obtained canonical transfers, so they could continue celebrating a traditional rite of Mass/Divine Liturgy.

  21. Geoffrey says:

    Say what you will about the late Archbishop Bugnini, but after looking at those silly pictures, I find it hard to believe that he had any of that in mind when putting together what is now the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

  22. Andy Milam says:

    @Goeffrey;

    Please read Bugnini’s memoirs. They bear out his master plan. You’ll read that what is going on is exactly what he envisioned. It has been printed in English since 1990 and is available @ amazon.com.

    Bugnini knew exactly what he was doing, as did his Consilium.

  23. albizzi says:

    And Paul VI knew exactly what Bugnini was doing and let him free to do as he wanted.
    He endorsed the NO without changing one iota.

  24. Kerry says:

    I always want to know where they get those giant shriveled-apple faces.

  25. Andy Milam says:

    @BlB Oregon;

    “What does this detailed assessment of blame accomplish, exactly? We may as well blame all of the messes in the American Catholic Church on the assimilation of Catholics into mainstream of American culture, and blame that in turn on the election and popular martyrdom of John F. Kennedy…..because gee, that happened in the early ’60s, too. It is not as if the experiment can be run again.”
    —That is more than a reach, it’s just inaccurate. A couple of things…1. Assigning blame reminds those who are in power that they must be accountable for their actions. Accountability. 2. It is the Catholic Church in America, NOT the American Catholic Church. We are not a National Church, in communion with the Holy See. We are Catholics who live in America. It may seem like I am nitpicking, but this subtle difference in view is imperative in understanding that being Catholic is more than any one nation, it is truly universal. 3. Catholics shouldn’t look at JFK as a marytr for America, he wasn’t. He was an executive officer who was killed. Sad, yes. Potentially fatal to the nation, no.

    What I’m getting at is this…the mindset that the American Church is an entity is incorrect. There is not, nor has there ever been an American Catholic Church.

    Also, I tend to agree that the Novus Ordo is “a horse out of the barn.” But we’re faced with two choices…we can either reign it in or we can shoot it dead. Those are the choices which we are faced with. If we continue to let it run free, we will cease to have control over that “horse.” There are a couple of thoughts with that though…first, Bugnini and his Consilium made a hinny in the barn, with the doors closed. Then they opened doors and let the hinny out. Third, they allowed the hinny to run free. It has created all sorts of havoc. The first answer was to try to lasso her, first in 1975, then again in 2000. Neither worked. So, now they’ve allowed the parent out to try to corral her. It may be working, but they’re not sure yet. So, they’re preparing for one of two options…lasso the hinny with the parent in tow or shoot the hinny, dead and continue with the parent who we know is stable and can be ridden.

    Barn = Church
    Barn Doors = Vatican Council II
    Hinny = Novus Ordo
    Parent = TLM
    Lassoers = The CDWDS and the Pope

    Those who are outside the fence have their opinion (the faithful) and perhaps they can influence the outcome, but ultimately it will have to be the Lassoers who will have either throw the rope accurately or pull the trigger.

  26. Centristian says:

    anilwang says: “Most of the laity wouldn’t have a clue how to handle not being able to understand the mass since it is so foreign to what they’re used to.”

    I have a suspicion that most of the faithful today don’t have much of a clue about liturgical subtleties at all. It isn’t so much that the older form of Mass, reintroduced, would be foreign to them as it is that “church” in general is foreign to them. I think that’s more true than ever today. We live in a very secular and apostatized age…and if the traditional forces now running the Church were clever, they would use that cluelessness about things ecclesiastical to their advantage. I think Pope Benedict XVI already has begun to, to a degree, actually.

    I think one of Pope Paul VI’s genuine hopes was that a reformed liturgy would wake-up Catholics in the pews and compel them to look up from their novena booklets and rosary beads (or shake themselves out of their daydreams) and enable them to better comprehend what the Mass is. It didn’t, alas; partly because the reforms were implemented badly, partly because human nature isn’t what Pope Paul naively imagined it to be.

    The people in the pews did, in fact, give up the private novenas and the rosaries during Mass. Unfortunately, however, they didn’t replace those things with the hoped-for liturgical, Mass-centered spirituality that they were supposed to adopt instead. For one thing, the reforms were more often than not presented as something more akin to entertainment than worship. Liturgical novelty, however, is only entertaining to the clergy, to certain types of nuns, and to a small handful of (overly) involved lay activists. The average guy in the pews, however, don’t get any of it, doesn’t want to, and finds it all boring (both to his credit and to his shame).

    I think that, today, the average Catholic has become so desensitized to things ecclesiastical in general that it’s all become all the same to most people. Most of the laity today could hardly distinguish the difference between traditional liturgy and contemporary liturgy, between high liturgy and low, between good liturgy and bad. Roman chasubles over lace albs v. overlay stoles over flax albs; ad orientem at the old altar v. versus populum at the new; chant v. praise music…I think that for alot of people, all of it is now all the same thing: “church”. And “church” is merely an inconvenience to be endured once a week for 45 minutes, no matter what the choir is singing, or what the clergyman is wearing, or what language he’s speaking (since we aren’t listening and it all sounds like the teacher from “The Peanuts” anyhow).

    If the Vatican were to suddenly impose, universally, a Mass in Latin celebrated ad orientem, sure, people would be perplexed at first…but most Catholics would not find themselves incensed (no pun intended) or indignant over it. There would be no rebellion of the great unwashed. An uproar would come from within the ranks of the clergy and from within the nunnery and amongst the miniscule handful of lay busybodies, to be sure. The great mass of Catholics, however, would just go right along with it, unconcerned as ever with the changing nuances and subtleties of the ecclesiastical realm.

    When Pope Benedict XVI emerges in public wearing a fiddleback chasuble or a mantum or a tall precious miter or a camauro, people like you and me…”church nerds”…get all excited about it and ponder what it all means. People like you and me know which pope the garments were originally designed for, whose coat of arms adorn the lappets, whether or not the cut of the vestment is 16th century or 18th. We make remarks about which throne the pope is sitting in, and what sort of a throne it is, and where it is positioned, and whether or not it’s under a canopy and why.

    We, the “church nerds”, whether to the left or to the right, are the only ones paying such close attention to such things, however. For most everyone else, the sight of the pope pontifically vested is all the same. They aren’t agitated by the style or cut or antiquity or modernity of his vestments. They simply see the pope in his “pope hat” and in his “robes”. That’s all they see. Whether he dresses like Pius IX or like John Paul II, it’s all the same for most people at this point. Most Catholics perceive no difference at all. It’s all just “church”.

    There’s nothing good about the general apathy that characterizes today’s Catholic laity. The abuse crises have only served, of course, to intensify that apathy (and that aspect of the problem, incidentally, should never be ignored or discounted). Nevertheless, if the powers-that-be in this Church would recognize that complete apathy and stop imagining that we are all ever-so-sensitive to liturgical reforms, they might be bolder in the changes they make, understanding that the time is actually ripe for sweeping reform. Do it now…now, while none of us give a fig what you robe-wearing weirdos do at your altars. It’s all the same to us, so change whatever you want.

    If and when a style of public worship that is genuinely Catholic (and returning to the use of the 1962 Missal shouldn’t be imagined to be the only possible solution in that regard) replaces what we generally find ourselves stuck with today, that apathy amongst Catholics will begin to erode, generationally, as boys and young men begin to look up at the altar, again, intrigued rather than bored, and begin to say to themselves, “That’s fascinating…what he’s doing up there. I think I might want to do that, too.”

    So, go ahead, Church. If you want to cure our apathy, take advantage of it and give us what we need, now…now, when we don’t care what you give us.

  27. irishgirl says:

    ‘It’s the Catholic Church in America, NOT the American Catholic Church. We are not a National Church, in communion with the Holy See. We are Catholics who live in America.’-Andy Milam.
    THANK YOU! This term, ‘American Catholic Church’ drives me crazy, especially when I see it in the so-called ‘Catholic’ press. Thank you, Andy, for reminding us who we are here in America!