Saturday, September 26, 2009

The "Reform Of The Reform" Rumors

Something else I've gotten emails about is this report from Rorate Caeli from about a month ago. Lots of questions have come in about why I haven't addressed it. For those who haven't heard:

The document was delivered to the hands of Benedict XVI in the morning of last April 4 by Spanish Cardinal Antonio CaƱizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. It is the result of a reserved vote, which took place on March 12, in the course of a "plenary" session of the dicastery responsible for the liturgy, and it represents the first concrete step towards that "reform of the reform" often desired by Pope Ratzinger. The Cardinals and Bishops members of the Congregation voted almost unanimously in favor of a greater sacrality of the rite, of the recovery of the sense of eucharistic worship, of the recovery of the Latin language in the celebration, and of the remaking of the introductory parts of the Missal in order to put a stop to abuses, wild experimentations, and inappropriate creativity. They have also declared themselves favorable to reaffirm that the usual way of receiving Communion according to the norms is not on the hand, but in the mouth.

Those who know Cardinal CaƱizares, nicknamed "the small Ratzinger" before his removal to Rome, know that he is disposed to move forward decisively with the project, beginning in fact from what was established by the Second Vatican Council in the liturgical constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, which was, in reality, exceeded by the post-Conciliar reform which came into forceat the end of the Sixties. The porporato, interviewed by monthly 30Days in recent months, had declared regarding this: "At times change was for the mere sake of changing from a past perceived as negative and outdated. Sometimes the reform was regarded as a break and not as an organic development of Tradition."

"Isn't this awesome news?" and the like is what I've been hearing. Here's the problem. We've been through this before. Remember Redemptionis Sacramentum? That was five years ago. I heard all the "reform" stuff then. It was completely brushed off, buried, and forgotten.

Remember Ecclesia de Eucharistia? That was six years ago. Rome was going to get serious about liturgical abuse then, too.

In fact, we can go all the way back to Dominicae Cenae from 1980. Remember that one? It's John Paul II's apology that nobody likes to talk about.

As I bring these considerations to an end, I would like to ask forgiveness-in my own name and in the name of all of you, venerable and dear brothers in the episcopate-for everything which, for whatever reason, through whatever human weakness, impatience or negligence, and also through the at times partial, one-sided and erroneous application of the directives of the Second Vatican Council, may have caused scandal and disturbance concerning the interpretation of the doctrine and the veneration due to this great sacrament. And I pray the Lord Jesus that in the future we may avoid in our manner of dealing with this sacred mystery anything which could weaken or disorient in any way the sense of reverence and love that exists in our faithful people.

That was supposed to herald a new era for the liturgy as well.

My point is that we've seen all kinds of optimistic portents in the past. Every one of them has resulted in a big load of nothing. I know what you are thinking. "Yeah, but this is Pope Benedict. He's not the kind of guy that will let this stuff fall by the wayside."

Consider Summorum Pontificum itself. How many bishops are still in disobedience on the Traditional Latin Mass or looking for bizarre rationales for why this document does not apply to them? I'm guessing more than a few. Has anything been done? No. Same as with the above-mentioned pronouncements.

Even the Rorate article itself promotes a slowing of our collective rolls on this one:

With a significant nota bene: for the accomplishment of the "reform of the reform", many years will be necessary. The Pope is convinced that hasty steps, as well as to simply drop directives from above, serve no good, with the risk that they may later remain a dead letter.

I cannot get excited about this right now. I probably should, but I just can't. Too many years of having the rug jerked out from under me, I guess. I don't think it's a secret that recent examples from Cardinals Mahoney and Schonborn show that irreverence at Mass is welcome in some pretty powerful circles. It's tough to be an optimist when you consider how many high-ranking prelates (some of whom could even be considered the papabile sort) are fond of disco liturgy.

So that's my thoughts on it. I really do hope that I'm wrong. The weight of recent history is against it, though.

1 comment:

Chants a Lot said...

I agree that we should not get our hopes up about this. I'm not even certain that we won't see resistance to the new Mass translation when its use is mandated next year. Liturgical rebellion among many bishops and priests has been the order of the day for nearly 40 years now. I don't expect that to change any time soon.