Exorcising Bugnini from the Roman Rite

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Much has been written over the last forty years about Annibale Bugnini and his impact upon the Roman Rite. The architect of the Novus Ordo Mass, Father Bugnini was Secretary of the Consilium, the body established by Pope Paul VI in 1964 and charged with implementing Sacrosanctum Concilium. Even before Vatican 2, however, Fr. Bugnini was instrumental in the 1955 reforms of Holy Week promulgated during the papacy of Pius XII. These “reforms” were the proverbial foot in the door for the full liturgical revolution which occurred in the wake of the Council.

Fast forward to 2007. Following four decades of liturgical devastation, Pope Benedict XVI released his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, which granted greater availability of the traditional Mass of the Roman Rite to the faithful and to those priests who wished to offer it. As Summorum introduced to the Church the largely juridical terms, Ordinary Form (for the New Mass) and Extraordinary Form (for the Old Mass), it is quite clear that Benedict’s actions were more those of a shepherd looking to correct rather than a revolutionary looking to change. It was also his attempt to reconcile with traditional priests and laity who had received either neglect or outright abuse from their local ordinary for decades.

Enter the Holy Ghost and the sensus fidelium. Unlike the dictatorially imposed top-down ‘reforms’ of post-Conciliar progressives, the implementation of which made the Roman Rite nearly unrecognizable from its very own tradition, the reemergence of the Old Rite has been a lay driven movement, aided often by a handful of maligned priests and (even fewer) bishops. The Mass of the Ages has truly been the Mass that wouldn’t die, though the revolutionaries have spent decades mercilessly trying to kill it.

In the last ten years an increasing number of Catholics have been slowly, methodically, exorcising Bugnini from their experience of the Roman Rite, regardless of whether or not they even know who he was. Celebrating the venerable Mass using the liturgical books of 1962, these faithful Catholics have experienced the Mass, the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary, as their forefathers did. Those who are able to attend weekly Sunday Mass in the Extraordinary Form participate in the liturgy as Catholics have for centuries, not merely decades. The rushed and ecumenically motivated work of Bugnini and the Consilium has been replaced for them with the organically developed Mass of the Saints.

Now we come to Holy Week 2018, and once again we see the work of the Holy Ghost. As has been widely reported, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei has granted permission to several traditional priestly societies to offer Holy Week liturgies just as they existed before the Bugnini & Pius XII reforms of 1955. In other words, between weekly Masses offered all this year using the liturgical books of 1962, and celebrating Holy Week using pre-1955 books, there are Catholic parishes & communities who will have a Bugnini-free 2018.

The outstanding Catholic writer Martin Mosebach recently noted:

The Roman Rite will be won back in hundreds of small chapels, in improvised circumstances throughout the whole world, celebrated by young priests with congregations that have many small children, or it will not be won back at all.

What we are seeing with this year’s Holy Week liturgies is Mosebach’s prophetic statement realized. We are seeing the exorcising of Bugnini from the Rite which has been so devastated in the wake of the Council and his work with the Consilium. No one need worry about the limited scope of this initial implementation. The restoration of authenticity continues on a scale & scope outside of our control. All we need do is respond with humility & gratitude.

Posted on March 27, 2018, in liturgy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 60 Comments.

  1. Celebrating the beautiful and meaningful rites of the Great Vigil of Easter at 10:00 am Holy Saturday morning and divorced from the Mass of the Easter is hardly something to get excited about.

    • “Contrary to many contemporary opinions the old Holy Saturday liturgy was not at the wrong time. It was at an unusal time, morning, rather than after the canonical hour of None, around 3:00 pm or 4:00 pm, but it was never a night time liturgy. Also, it is not Easter’s Mass done the day before, nor is it a midnight Mass, as at Christmas. It is a Mass and liturgy meant to help us anticipate the Resurrection.”

      • In other words, we celebrate the Lord’s resurrection as was done in the early centuries of the Church, at sunrise on the morning before he actually arose?

        I read the book, I saw the movie. That’s not what happened.

    • Well, to be fair, celebrating Easter with a highly archaeologized Vigil that deprives the Feast of Feasts not only of First Vespers but also of the Te Deum ( ! ) is also hardly something to get excited about … In any case, it is doubtful that very many places using the pre-1955 Easter Vigil will in fact do so at 10:00 am. I suspect that there actually will be a fairly wide range of start times (mostly in early evening), as would have been the case before Pius V standardized the start time in 1566. The traditional Holy Saturday ceremony of course is hardly an intrinsically morning service, just as it is not a midnight service. The “correct” time, according to the missal, is after the liturgical hour of None.

    • Actually, a number of these pre-1955 Holy Saturday Masses are being celebrated later in the day – some as late as 7:30pm (for logistical and pastoral reasons, I think). Apparently, PCED has no problem with that, for whatever it’s worth.

      That being the case, the question may be more whether the real objection is to the time slot, or to the rite (as it existed pre-1955) itself.

  2. Deus Vult!

  3. The Holy Saturday liturgy start with the lighting of a fire and candles, which was at the beginning a daily rite at twilight (lucernaire). It is only the anticipation of the breaking of fast that pulled it to the morning. I do not like the 1955 liturgy — by the way, it has complicated and unnecessary changes of vestments; furthermore, the words of the Exultet no longer match the actions! — but I agree on the concept of celebrating the triduum in the evening (safe the change it implies in eucharistic fast).

  4. Do we know which societies have been granted this permission?

    • Both the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP), in limited locations and on an “experimental” basis. However, a number of diocesan parishes have gone and done it anyway without permission for several years now.

      • what is experimental about it? I know that’s what was given, but what is to be evaluated to determine whether it was successful or not? If the people become to holy or too pious does that mean it failed?

      • PCED didn’t give any details about the criteria for that, so it’s hard to say.

        But my hope is that unless something unexpectedly catastrophic happens, like a sudden wave of trads getting immolated in large numbers by arundos on Holy Saturday, they’ll be content to make the permission permanent.

      • Richard:

        Does any proponent of reviving the pre-1955 ever look up the definition of the word “experiment”?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experiment

        Part of upholding Catholic tradition is understanding the objective meaning of a word, which is one reason we use Latin, remember? Is there a “control group”? Is there a means of evaluating? Or have these societies (and certain parishes operating with a wink and a nod) already decided what they’re going to do, regardless?

        Moreover, there remains the critical need to examine why the changes were made in the first place. What was the process? The 1955 reforms were once experimental, and after the reaction from around the world (which anyone who read the Decree would know), they were implemented.

        The first six chapters of Antonelli’s memoirs, by themselves, go a long way toward this part of the analysis (as opposed to playing “the Bugnini card” and calling it a day). Will we ever see an honest look at them at Rorate Caeli? At New Liturgical Movement? Anywhere???

      • Whatever the role of Msgr. Bugnini, experience with the pre-1955 Sacred Triduum rite this year reinforced my impression that the 1955 Holy Week revision was indeed a first step toward his later devastation of the vineyard. A view eloquently expressed in the following quote from the 1975 Sykes biography of Evelyn Waugh:

        “(in the mid-1950s) ….the new service retained much of the beauty of the old, and the overwhelmingly impressive Maundy Thursday Mass, the ‘Altar of Repose’, the night offices of Tenebrae, and the liturgical masterpiece, the Good Friday ‘Mass of the Presanctified’, remained intact. Not for long. The belief grew that the celebration of Holy Week would be more valuable, would compel a greater corporate sense in the Church, if it was expressed in ceremonies which did not involve a keen appreciation of symbolism, if they were more easily understood by ordinary people and invited more ‘mass participation’ in the form of community singing; if they appealed less to the sense of awe, they avoided the accusation of meretricious aestheticism, above all of excessive indulgence of the sense of the past. Nowhere did the notion of a ‘Century of the Common Man’ exert more fascination than on Roman Catholic clergy. The entire edifice of the Holy Week Liturgy was swept away as being over-elaborate, and it was substituted by services of a more everyday kind. This was the beginning of a movement which was to reduce all Roman Catholic ceremonial to commonplace and to abolish the traditional order of the Mass in favour of a prayer-meeting in which only essential vestiges of the traditional celebration were retained.“

        Incidentally, I understand that FSSP superior allowed only some (but not all) of their chapels to use the pre-1955 rites this year. This self-absorbed promethean rigidity seems rather quaint. Among the young priests and seminarians I know–unburdened by baggage from the past–the prevalent attitude is that “what was sacred once is sacred now”, so what’s there to get uptight about?

        BTW, our own Holy Saturday Vigil began at 10 am (as in the old days) and was well-received by our community. For sure, the lengthy chant of all twelve traditional OT prophecies (reduced to a mere four in 1962) may have seemed more palatable of a fresh morning than in the shank of an evening after a long day.

    • The Monastère Saint-Benoît in the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France (wherein Dom Alcuin Reid resides) has also confirmed that it has the permission to use both the pre-1955 missal and office this week.

  5. The whole story of Bugnini is a mysterious affair. He was suddenly booted from the Vatican by Pope John XXIII — a man known for his charity. He managed to return under Paul VI and had built up his own team. Then suddenly during the summer when Rome was more or less on vacation, his team was dissolved and he was sent into exile as the ambassador to Iran — it was all a mystery and apparently remains so.

  6. His role in the liturgical reforms also seems to have grown since his death. I lived through the Council and closely followed the liturgical reforms and have no memory of his name from that period.

  7. It is my understanding that although permission has been granted to allow the use of the pre-1955 books for Holy Week, the traditional prayers for the Jews, non-Christians, etc. cannot be used but replaced with those of the subsequent reforms. Is this true? If so, what would be the point of using the pre-1955 books if you can’t offer those same prayers accordingly?

    • According to the recently published memoir edited by Msgr Nicola Giampietro, The Development of the Liturgical Reform: As seen by Cardinal Ferdinando Antonelli from 1948 – 1970, Bugnini was not “instrumental in the 1955 reforms of Holy Week promulgated during the papacy of Pius XII.” By the time he was appointed Secretary of the Commission that oversaw the pre-conciliar reforms, Bugnini was ordained to the priesthood barely more than a decade earlier, and was overshadowed by the great minds of the Liturgical Movement. He would have been in no position to be of any great influence. So, the entirety of 2018 will be “Bugnini-free” after all.

      Many of those who take exception have probably never even read “The General Decree for the Revised Order of Holy Week as Promulgated by Pope Pius XII,” let alone the recollections of someone who was actually there.

      http://www.romanitaspress.com/maxima-redemptionis

      Extract from the General Decree of November 16, 1955, which restored the Liturgy of Holy Week:

      “Not only have the times been radically altered, but the ceremonies themselves have been modified. This is mainly by way of shortening and simplification, and the intention is to make the main ideas of each function stand out more clearly. For the most part, these changes are not innovations. They are mainly a return to an older form, more in line with what was known in the days of St Wilfrid and St Bede.” [penultimate paragraph, pg. 455]

      • Reading Maxima Redemptionis Nostrae Mysteria, two things are quite striking: 1) nearly all of the prefatory discussion concerns the question of times for the rites, and yet the change of time was certainly the least important change made to the Holy Week liturgies (even if it might have been the most immediately visible to most laity); 2) two motivations for the reform of the times are given: a) a loss of meaning as a result of the creep to morning start times, working as a “detriment to the liturgy’s meaning and with confusion between the Gospel accounts and the liturgical representation;” and the inconvenience to the laity of these morning times, resulting, it claimed, in low attendance. (The latter is a fair argument with regards to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, but a perplexing one for Holy Saturday, when few Catholic would have been concerned with involvement with “schools, businesses, and public affairs of all kinds.”)

        Some have questioned whether the claims of low attendance (or of higher attendance after 1955) can be taken at face value. But if we grant for the sake of argument that this was indeed the case in most locales, the pastoral convenience argument is a very strange one to make when the solution is to move a four hour long liturgy to “begin at about the midnight,” or in the alternative, no earlier than after sunset. It must take a scholar priest with little pastoral experience to think that a family with a platoon of young children is going to remain conscious and alert through such a long liturgy that will end, even in the best circumstances, well after most of their regular bedtimes.

        In my experience, the overwhelming majority of Holy Saturday Masses celebrated according to the 1962 missal opt for a start time somewhere around 7 to 8pm, which is of course the earliest feasible time that complies with this decree – and more than a few I have attended push hard on the “not before sunset” requirement. A midnight timeslot is usually perceived by pastors as a guarantee of nearly empty pews. Even with the dusk timeslot, most trad communities seem to see most of their attendance at the Sunday morning Masses, with modest turnout for the Vigil. A four hour liturgy is going to be a challenge at *any* time; but conducting all of it after dark, let alone in the wee hours of the morning, seems like a pastoral “own goal.”

    • The traditional (pre- and 1955) Good Friday Prayer for the Jews will be replaced with the ecumenical one published by Pope Benedict XVI — so what’s the point of returning to the pre-55 Rites if a heterodox-modernist-ecumenical addition must be included?

      The primary cause of our fidelity to the traditional Roman Rite (1962) is because of its doctrinal purity compared to the Novus Ordo Missae. This is why Archbishop Lefebvre countered “The Nine” sedevacantists who wanted to reject the liturgical reforms of the 1962 Roman Missal and Breviary (and thus also the Holy Week Reform) because there was nothing unorthodox in them and they were legitimately promulgated; “Only when the Faith is in question” was his famous response — and this too should be ours, since it is the principle of the Church.

      • Regarding the desire to recover the pre-55 Holy Week Liturgy: sites much more erudite than mine have addressed this, and have done so while maintaining the greatest respect for the 1962 liturgical books (NLM, Rorate, & the LMS Chairman come to mind). No doubt, while much of this desire to recover is based on a love for the venerable Liturgy of the Rite, it is also likely done so with 20/20 hindsight, knowing what was to come a mere decade later, and with several of the same participants, the most (in)famous of which was Fr. Bugnini.

      • The difficulty with so many of the sources referred to up to now is that 1) nearly all base at least some of their contention that Bugnini’s role was a prominent one, and 2) almost none of them provide a balanced view of why the reforms were deemed necessary in the first place. There would be little effort to examine the General Decree itself. Instead, they simply compare one set of books to the other and lament the absence of a practice itself as reason enough for objection.

        In any debate, the onus of proof is not on the status quo, but on the challenger. The status quo is not defined by the older practice, but by what the term itself means, which is “the existing condition or state of affairs.” Most writing on the subject never gives it a chance at a fair hearing. The result is a problem with the conversation itself, one that places the onus on the status quo, and thus cannot be viewed as “maintaining the greatest respect for the 1962 liturgical books,” at least insofar as Holy Week is concerned.

      • Pope Benedict XVI still had this Prayer for the Jews ask for their conversion! It is a bit of a downer, but it is unfair to call it “ecumenical” in the bad sense!

        It seems to me you want to have your cake and eat it too. You say 1962 is adequate, but even there no one is using strict 1962 (since the third Confiteor is added most if the time). And I already mentioned the Palm Sunday addition. You can’t say I go for Tradition, and then say as long as the Faith isn’t in question, I’m fine with any changes, even against Tradition, or your case falls apart.

      • Louis, I agree that the older form of the prayer for the Jews was superior to the one composed by Benedict XVI. But since this permission is ad experimentum for 3 years, maybe after that the old prayer will simply come back quietly after the permission is permanently extended … In any case, it seems clear that in including this new prayer, Benedict XVI/Ecclesia Dei are not acting out of a desire to change the liturgy but rather trying to protect the restoration of the Mass/Holy Week by eliminating possible grounds for complaint by activists. The B16 version of the prayer (though unfortunately a bit eschatalogical in focus) is understood still to be a prayer for the conversion of the Jews, which is why liberal Jewish groups were so angry when it was composed in 2008, and just two years ago the bishops of England and Germany cared so much about the issue that they actually petitioned to Holy See to BAN the B16 prayer and to impose the Paul VI one on the handful of Extraordinary Form Good Fridays going on in their dioceses. We have reached the state today of being at last able to celebrate the traditional Holy Week rites again largely because over the last 10 years or so a number of very fine articles have spread knowledge of and enthusiasm for those rites. No doubt a good, calm study of the old prayer by competent theologians could have a similar effect. In any case, since the new prayer failed to satisfy the naysayers in 2008, it seems there really was no point in changing it after all. I don’t think it’s worth being dismissive about the restoration of the traditional Holy Week simply because of this new prayer being included, but of course Catholics should be able to defend the older prayer (which is not vaguely “anti-semitic”) and to hope for its eventual restoration.

      • Richard Malcolm

        Hello Louie,

        “This is why Archbishop Lefebvre countered “The Nine” sedevacantists who wanted to reject the liturgical reforms of the 1962 Roman Missal and Breviary (and thus also the Holy Week Reform) because there was nothing unorthodox in them”

        I’m not quite sure I understand what you mean here. I do think it should be noted that the objection of “the Nine” to the 1955 Holy Week was not that it was heterodox – I do not believe I have heard that claim advanced – but that it was no longer prudent to use it. This still seems to be Fr Cekada’s position today.

        Whereas if you mean that ++Lefebvre’s position was that it had been validly promulgated and was orthodox, and this was a sufficient condition for celebrating it, that would certainly be a fair characterization.

  8. I want to point out that Bugnini was not behind the Reform of the Holy Week Rites — that is a sedevacantist myth and it has been demolished with the publication of the Cardinal Antonelli’s diaries (The Development of the Liturgical Reform: As Seen by Cardinal Ferdinando Antonelli from 1948 to 1970; Nicola Giampietro) et al.

    • Thanks for your comment Louis. A couple points which need to be addressed: 1) no sedevacantist sources were consulted by me; so any ‘myth’ promoted in my piece must have found its way into other writings on the subject; and 2) I never argue that Bugnini was solely “behind” the Holy Week reforms, but we shouldn’t suggest that Bugnini (along with Fathers Joseph Löw, Alfonso Albareda, Agostino Bea, etc.) didn’t play a role on the committee.

    • I think we can accept that a) Bugnini’s role in the 1955 reform was not as decisive or important as it was with the Concilium and b) that there is nothing heterodox per se in the revised Holy Week, while still contending that the reform was in certain respects ill-advised and an impoverishment of the Holy Week rites.

  9. If its pre-55, but post-51, it still may have Bugnini’s foul touch.

    • As stated elsewhere, there is sufficient testimony of record that Bugnini’s influence during this period has been greatly exaggerated.

      • What about his right hand (or arm) man, Fr. Carlo Braga? He evidently thought similarly to Fr. Bugnini, so I can see where the sedes got mixed up, if they did get mixed up. As I said, it is a easily forgivable to call the Holy Week reforms Bugnini’s brainchild, since Fr. Braga was basically a second Bugnini.

      • “What about his right hand (or arm) man, Fr. Carlo Braga?”

        What about him? If Bugnini lacked either notoriety or position to be of genuine influence relative to others involved, how would that enable his lieutenant? It reminds me of a saying: “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

  10. Whether or not Bugnini was principally responsible for the new Holy Week, his comments on the sister reform of 1955 (the calendar and breviary) make it very clear that he saw these reforms as a “bridge” to the liturgy of the future. Father Carlo Braga hailed the new Holy Week as a “battering ram” that broke down the gates to the “fortress” of the traditional liturgy. And Paul VI said very clearly when he promulgated the full-blown New Mass: “the formulas of the Roman Missal ought to be revised and enriched. The beginning of this renewal was the work of Our predecessor, this same Pius XII, in the restoration of the Paschal Vigil and of the Holy Week Rite, which formed the first stage of updating the Roman Missal for the present-day mentality.” This is the whole problem of the New Holy Week. It was a trial balloon for the Novus Ordo, and if not unorthodox, as such, it certainly flattened the liturgy at the most important time of the year and made it less rich. The problem lies there, more than with whether or it was Bugnini or anyone else who was primarily responsible. Anyway, who knows about sedevacantist myths, but it certainly is an SSPX myth that 1962 somehow represents the zenith of tradition.

    • “Father Carlo Braga hailed the new Holy Week as a ‘battering ram’ that broke down the gates to the ‘fortress’ of the traditional liturgy.”

      A man has a right to his opinion, but not to his own facts. A hyperbolic statement of one man, in and of itself, is just that and nothing more.

      Testimonies of those greater prelates alive at the time demonstrate a consensus among the sacred pastors of the Church, that the liturgy was in need of reform. At the same time, they did not envision it as anywhere near to the scale that happened in the years following the Council. That any part of the Council’s agenda may have been taken over by a progressive wing only proves that such actions did not satisfy them. They did satisfy Pius XII, who went on to warn about progressivism in the liturgical movement, both in Mediator Dei and at a 1956 liturgical conference in Milan.

      There is no evidence of a causal relationship between what happened with the Holy Week reforms and the liturgical reforms after the Council. If one is to know the thinking and decisions of Pius XII, quite the opposite, in fact.

      And a hijacking is not the same as a continuation.

      • “There is no evidence of a causal relationship between what happened with the Holy Week reforms and the liturgical reforms after the Council. If one is to know the thinking and decisions of Pius XII, quite the opposite, in fact.”

        And yet, we have another pope, Paul VI, making essentially this very claim just 11 years after Pius XII’s death: “”It was felt necessary to revise and enrich the formulae of the Roman Missal. The first stage of such a reform was the work of Our Predecessor Pius XII with the reform of the Easter Vigil and the rites of Holy Week (1), which constituted the first step in the adaptation of the Roman Missal to the contemporary way of thinking.” (Paul VI, Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum, April 3, 1969)

        It is not plausible to argue that Pius XII would have authorized the Pauline missal in the form we received it. It’s also hard to argue, on the other hand, that Pius XII thought the (unprecedented in scale) reforms he put in place in 1951-58 were the end of the line. Montini, the closest thing he seems to have had to a hand-picked successor, was not entirely in fantasy land to think he had grounds for the idea that he was carrying on what Pius XII started, however much they might have differed on details.

        But be that as it may: We have one papal will against another on this score. It may be a largely moot point what Pius XII intended, or even what certain French, Belgian, German, and Italian liturgists and bishops intended or interpreted, when a more radical interpretation was given a formal papal imprimatur a short time later. An interpretation which neither John Paul II or even Benedict XVI (however much he saw fabrication and rupture in its wake) seems to have challenged, at least not directly.

  11. https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/01715a_4c2b62c3a6bb425eb9b1dce83eb5c220.pdf

    This is one of the best critiques of the 1955 reforms; Msgr. Leon’s is too as well. Only one mention of Fr. Bugnini in this above paper, but showing evidence that the 1955 reforms didn’t respect Tradition well, and in fact made several useless and nonsensical innovations.

    As for Archbishop Lefebvre’s assertion, it means in principle Tradition can be trashed, just as long as “the Faith is not in question.” So the SSPX likes innovation, carrying Archbishop Lefebvre’s assertion to its logical conclusion. Sorry, but I would rather stand with St. THomas Aquinas who said custom is a law unto itself, and that it is sad to lose the traditions of old. Why is Tradition lowered to an aside and doctrine everything? The Apostles believed in Jesus first and then doctrine later. We had liturgy first; doctrine is important, yes, but discounting Tradition as a mere decoration is what led us to the bad situation we are in.

  12. Another point: Fr. Bugnini didn’t have anything to do with the 1955 reforms, but his right-hand man Fr. Carlo Braga did. Are we to ignore Fr. Bugnini’s right-hand man, just because Fr. Bugnini was unfairly made responsible for the reforms? Funny how we can accept the 1955 reforms, just because “it’s orthodox,” even though it breaks Tradition in a lot of instances. It is perfectly reasonable, though erroneous, to identify Fr. Bugnini as the culprit, since Fr. Braga thought very similarly to him.

  13. Even Archbishop Lefebvre was compelled to acknowledge the 1955 reform was inadequate, by reinstating the pre-1955 ceremony of the processional cross knocking on the closed doors of the church. “The Faith isn’t in question,” isn’t it? Yet he inserted it back in.

  14. Why is it not fair to compare the 1955 reforms to the previously established one, a tradition of at least 400 years now? The decree establishing the 1955 reforms says the liturgy in essence goes back to the days of St. Wilfrid and St. Bede. Where’s the proof of that? From what I’ve read of Cardinal Antonelli’s memoirs, there was little evidence that the 1955 reforms were actually doing anything but innovations and the little things like restoring the hours to the “proper” times were at the expense of these rather major innovations. The only rebuttals I see, previously before the granting of this permission, was the only one of authority. I’d say the burden of proof is on the people defending the 1955 reforms, not the people defending pre-1955.

    • “Why is it not fair to compare the 1955 reforms to the previously established one, a tradition of at least 400 years now?”

      “I’d say the burden of proof is on the people defending the 1955 reforms, not the people defending pre-1955.”

      No, it is not.

      In any debate, the onus of proof is not on the status quo, but on the challenger. The status quo is not defined by the older practice (let alone the loudest voices on the internet), but by what the term itself means, which is “the existing condition or state of affairs.” Most writing on the subject never gives it a chance at a balanced hearing. The result is a problem with the conversation itself, one that places the onus on the status quo, and thus cannot be viewed as “maintaining the greatest respect for the 1962 liturgical books,” at least insofar as Holy Week is concerned.

      • So, of course, that means that in 1955 the onus would have been on those who wanted to concoct a new Holy Week. They rather coyly talk about timetables but don’t offer much justification for THEIR radical overthrow of the status quo.

      • “So, of course, that means that in 1955 the onus would have been on those who wanted to concoct a new Holy Week.” … which changes nothing in 2018. A short version of their justification was not offered “coyly,” but in the form of a General Decree — issued by the status quo.

        http://www.romanitaspress.com/maxima-redemptionis

        Extract from the General Decree of November 16, 1955, which restored the Liturgy of Holy Week:

        “Not only have the times been radically altered, but the ceremonies themselves have been modified. This is mainly by way of shortening and simplification, and the intention is to make the main ideas of each function stand out more clearly. For the most part, these changes are not innovations. They are mainly a return to an older form, more in line with what was known in the days of St Wilfrid and St Bede.” [penultimate paragraph, pg. 455]

      • (Mr. Alexander, your civility and scholarship are refreshing. My best wishes to you for a joyful Easter.)

      • Kurt:

        I must share some credit for civility to others in this venue. As all of us pursue the cause of restoring the sacred with joy, I wish to you and yours, and to all here, a most blessed season as well. Let us rejoice, for Christ has risen from the dead, so that we may do likewise and be with Him on the last day.

      • Very blessed to have such an intelligent and respectful discussion in the combox of my site. It’s a credit to the quality & sincerity of those who read the blog.

  15. This is a huge topic deserving of far larger comments than I have time for here. However, a couple of notes.

    1. While the resurgence of the Latin Mass has inevitably been maintained by a laity that’s interested, ultimately the credit really has to go to SSPX and FSSP as the groups which have kept it alive – seeing as outside the UK the limitation was largely until 2007 and summorum Pontificum.

    2. I have participated in the pre-Pian rites before and such was the volume of complaint following from it (in an SSPX church so no doubt about the credentials of those attending) that since then the post-Pian rites have been ruthlessly followed according to the book.

    The point this makes to me is that the kind of liturgical ‘experts’ on NLM, etc, who write about it as though it is unquestionably superior perhaps misunderstand that their academic preference for it isn’t necessarily shared by everyone.

    • “I have participated in the pre-Pian rites before and such was the volume of complaint following from it (in an SSPX church so no doubt about the credentials of those attending) that since then the post-Pian rites have been ruthlessly followed according to the book.”

      Were the complaints about the time of the liturgies (esp. Saturday)?

      Or was it more a case of “The archbishop settled on 1962, and we must follow him in all things?”

      • Neither. It was a practical complaint about a number of factors. I’m not particularly sure any stood out, there was just a general discontent.

      • The truth is that I actually would expect more of a fuss in an SSPX community over this sortof thing than I would in, say, an Ecclesia Dei or diocesan one. Or, of course, a sede one. This was not always the case, but I think it has been more of a reality in the Society in the last few decades.

        And I have sensed a number of motivations for this. But I am always keen to learn more about which ones are at work in specific incidents.

  16. From the writings of Father Neil Xavier O’Donoghue:

    “[I]t now seems that even the 1962 Roman Missal is not sufficient for some of those who find the celebrations according to the 1962 Missal more beneficial than those using the current Roman Missal. The Rorate Coeli blog has the news that ‘the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei has given new permission to a handful of traditional priestly societies to offer Holy Week liturgies this month as they existed before the massive Pius XII / Archbishop Bugnini reforms of 1955.’

    [There they go, overplaying Bugnini again.]

    “Personally I believe that the 1951 introduction of a renewed Easter Vigil and the 1955 introduction of a renewed Holy Week was a good achievement. I am not sure about the advisability of allowing groups to ‘resurrect’ different forms of the liturgy. Does this mean that in the future some people will use the 1962 Missal and others use a 1950 edition? What will happen if another group would like to use some other old version or ‘resurrect’ another earlier form of the liturgy from history?”

    http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2018/03/29/pick-a-century-game/

    If you think this concern overblown, consider those who already complain about the breviary reforms of Pius X, and who even criticise his motu proprio of 1903 inviting the faithful to join in singing the chants of the Ordinary of the Mass, as proper to them.

    One may dismiss the above, from a weblog authored by one Benedictine Father Anthony Ruff, on the basis of having to “consider the source.” However, I suggest the piece by the guest author be judged on its own merits, if only as mere food for thought.

    In addition, there is provided an essay by the eminent Jesuit liturgist Father Robert Taft.

    • The above should not be construed as a total agreement with all that is written, merely that it contains sufficient cogent points to consider, as this conversation moves forward, and toward the Holy Weeks to come.

    • It is odd for the Pray Tell crowd to complain about the eventual possibility of churches using different versions of the old rite (so maybe one keeps the octave of Corpus Christi and one does not?), when the Novus Ordo has four different Eucharistic Prayers and several different penitential rites, among other options. No two New Masses are ever the same … so maybe this Father Donoghue should no cast stones from his glass house. In any case, there is ALREADY a certain degree of diversity in the traditional movement, since the traditional Benedictine monasteries already implement certain post-1962 changes. Would it really be a crisis to allow also certain pre-1962/55 customs to those churches or societies that want them?

    • We essentially already have this situation. There are pastors who do not like the 2010 translation and use at least elements of the previous ICEL monstrosity. There is of course elements that more custom than explicit rubric (second Confiteor goes here as the Communion of the Faithful was not strictly speaking a part of the traditional Mass anymore than the sermon). There are the 1962 types but as Fr. Cekada seriously noted in his criticisms of Abp. Lefebvre, who had no more authority than a real Religious Order to decide what year of the liturgical books they could use. It’s also noteworthy that centralization of authority did not happen all at once and as Fr. Fortescue noted how many had conflated the comparatively few roles of the universal primacy of the Pope versus that of the Pope’s jurisdiction as Patriarch versus that as the primate of Italy versus that of the bishop of the diocese of Rome.

      Many of the 1962 Rubrical reforms were necessary. Some of these were the continuation of an arc that went back to Leo XIII and St. Pius X (particularly the re-emphasis on the ferials during Lent and Advent) after the Sanctoral cycle came to completely dominate the Temporal over the previous 400 years. While I would argue St. Pius X had struck a reasonable balance, the fact that his system only lasted about 5 decades before being largely jettisoned doesn’t speak to its success. It also had the unfortunate implications of being associated with other changes that were propagated on the sole basis of basis of Papal authority by jettisoning the ancient psalter arrangement that went back to the catacombs, if not that Our Lord used at the Temple… it’s only surprising it took 5 decades to extend that precedent to the Missal

      Others continued the abominable practice of the reduction of every Simple feast to a mere commemoration and did nothing to address the precedence of 16th century Italian Confessors added as doubles over that of 3rd and 4th century martyrs. To say nothing that St. Pius V’s Missal only had 3 ranks versus the 6 of St. Pius X and that the ranking system was needed, even if some tweaking would be desirable and local calendars (a good feature of 1969/70 that is unfortunately tainted by association with so many other radical innovations).

      That’s all too complicated to pick any one year of the Missal, of course, but no one trusting Rome to issue one today especially in this pontificate would make a simple amnesty allowing any year of the Missal celebrated ad libitum as an attractive solution. Let the hippy dying grey hairs force the 1970 ICEL on their poor flocks as much as the Reform of the Reform types could use 1964 that most arguably resembles the text of Sacrosanctum Concilium. Why pretend there’s liturgical uniformity any more than than theological uniformity in the Latin Rite, even within most diocese? Most trads would probably fall back to 1948 or so, replete with octaves, fixed commemorations and the full organic development of the Tridentine rites… let the faithful vote with their feet.

  17. “A short version of their justification was not offered “coyly,” but in the form of a General Decree.”

    Dear Mr. Alexander, you are quite right that “Maxima Redemptionis” is a General Decree. And “Missale Romanum” is a Papal Bull … which explicitly states that the new Holy Week and new Mass are part of the same process with the same goal: “updating the sacred liturgy in keeping with the mentality of modern man.” With all due respect, thanks but no thanks! I am not sure what you mean in another comment by suggesting that various Catholic/liturgical websites refuse to give a fair hearing to the Holy Week reform. One of the managers of Rorate Caeli, which you mentioned, has made clear his dislike of the older Holy Week.

    Naturally, evaluating the reforms on their merits will lead to different opinions, since this is somewhat subjective. Some people will prefer the old Holy Week, some people are happy with the 1955/62 version … just as some people prefer the Extraordinary Form in general, and many others are perfectly happy with the Novus Ordo. But surely you can understand that there may in fact be people who do not share the opinion that the liturgical form in vigor for 15 years from 1955 to 1969 is necessarily superior to what preceded and followed it, even if you do not share that opinion.

    • Peter:

      Well, you’re right about one thing. It certainly would surprise me that any contributor to Rorate Caeli would be an advocate of the 1955 reforms, and still be allowed as a contributor. I can’t imagine how I would have missed that. Or maybe I can.

      “But surely you can understand that there may in fact be people who do not share the opinion that the liturgical form in vigor for 15 years from 1955 to 1969 is necessarily superior to what preceded and followed it …”

      Yes, Peter, it’s obvious that others might not share my opinion of the Holy Week reforms. But they don’t know yet, since I haven’t provided it. For all you and others know, I may find the older observance to be vastly superior.

      The substance of my written concerns has been over the conversation itself; the lack of balance in that conversation, why the reforms were deemed necessary to begin with (and don’t kid yourself, much less has been written about that than any apologia), the ill-informed choice of Bugnini as the whipping boy of choice without foundation (speaking of the years before the Council, not after), the lack of proper understanding of an “experiment” (which is by definition limited in scope and not just for anyone who feels like doing it), and most of all, what emerges as a need by some traditionalists for a reason to complain.

      Enter the “More Traditional Than Thou” competition.

      I’ve chosen to withhold my own comparative assessment until I read the accounts of those who were there. If certain contributors to Rorate Caeli and New Liturgical Movement already have, it is not evident in their writing.

      Up to now, I’ve preferred the Byzantine Rite for Holy Week anyway. As for next year, you never know.

      • Mr. Alexander, as to your last paragraph, have you noticed as I seem to that in the Byzantine Catholic Church there has been a move to (like the Latin Holy Week reforms) restore some of the services to the (proper?) time? For example, the 12 Passion Gospels on Friday morning rather than Thursday evening?

      • Kurt:

        It’s been a few years since I’ve actually gone to “Great Week” services, but I have attended Divine Liturgy for the Vigil of Easter more recently, and the Basilian liturgy that used to be on Great Saturday in the morning (with the change from dark to bright vestments and so on) has been moved to the evening, at least for the Ruthenians in the United States.

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