Monday, 5 November 2012

Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce Positio N. 2

Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce
Positio N. 2
MARCH 2012
From the General Introduction
These papers, commissioned by the International Federation Una Voce, are offered to
stimulate and inform debate about the 1962 Missal among Catholics ‘attached to the
ancient Latin liturgical tradition’, and others interested in the liturgical renewal of the
Church. They are not to be taken to imply personal or moral criticism of those today or
in the past who have adopted practices or advocated reforms which are subjected to
criticism. In composing these papers we adopt the working assumption that our fellow
Catholics act in good will, but that nevertheless a vigorous and well-informed debate is
absolutely necessary if those who act in good will are to do so in light of a proper
understanding of the issues.
The authors of the papers are not named, as the papers are not the product of any one
person, and also because we prefer them to be judged on the basis of their content, not
their authorship.
The International Federation Una Voce humbly submits the opinions contained in these
papers to the judgement of the Church.
Liturgical Piety and Participation: Abstract
The Liturgical Movement of the mid to late 19th Century and early to mid 20th Century
promoted a piety which took the liturgy as its primary inspiration. This naturally led to
the insistence that the liturgy be comprehended: as well as liturgical catechesis, this in
turn led some members of the movement to recommend the exposure of aspects of the
liturgy which were hidden in one way or another (by the use of Latin, silence,
celebration ‘ad orientem’ etc.), and by the simplification of the rites themselves.
However, as Blessed Pope John Paul II pointed out, proper understanding of liturgical
participation does not limit it to an intellectual comprehension of the rites, but includes
the impact of the rite on the whole person. Pope Benedict XVI’s reference to the former
liturgical tradition’s ‘sacrality’, draws attention to the fact that the very aspects of the
rites which might seem to obscure the faithful’s comprehension (complex ceremonial,
Latin, silence etc.), in fact facilitate participation of the whole person, by
communicating the sacred realities of the rite in ways which transcend words.
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1. The term ‘Liturgical Piety’ refers to a piety which is fostered by frequent
participation in the liturgy, draws inspiration from the unfolding of the sacred
mysteries through the cycle of the liturgical year, and for which the texts of the
liturgical books and the ceremonies of the liturgical rites as central rather than
peripheral to its formation. It is contrasted with a piety which is formed
predominantly by non-liturgical devotions, whether these be public or private. The
fostering of liturgical piety, and the participation in the liturgy conducive to such
piety, might be said to be the ultimate objects of the Liturgical Movement, from its
beginnings in the nineteenth century up to, and including, the influence that
Movement had on the reform of the liturgy after the Second Vatican Council. It was
the task of successive popes to encourage this movement while simultaneously
guarding against the exaggerated and misguided conclusions which were sometimes
derived from this ideal. The concept of liturgical piety is of particular interest in the
context of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Missal, since this ideal continues to
influence discussion of the participation of the faithful in the liturgy, and the
discussion of how the Extraordinary Form should be celebrated, and its liturgical
books further developed over time. In particular this paper is intended to shed light
on the question of whether the ‘former liturgical tradition’ is itself a barrier to a
proper liturgical participation by the faithful, and whether the arguments of the
Liturgical Movement, and the contemporary Magisterium such as Pius XII’s
encyclical Mediator Dei, should be read as indicating that it is a barrier.
2. The desire for a more liturgical piety arose naturally from two observations. First,
that the Catholic liturgy is an enormously rich source for the devotional life. As the
English Cardinal Wiseman exclaimed as early as 1842:
Why there is not a place, or a thing, used in the worship which [the Catholic]
attends, upon which there has not been lavished, so to speak, more rich poetry
and more solemn prayers, than all our modern books put together.1
3. Secondly, the liturgy, and in particular the Eucharist, is of its very nature the
privileged opportunity for the Christian to communicate with God. The liturgy is the
public prayer of the Church, and the Mass is the re-presentation of Christ’s Sacrifice
on the Cross: in joining themselves to the first, the faithful can take part in the
perfect prayer offered to God by His spotless Bride; in joining themselves to the
second, the faithful can associate their own offerings with the perfect Sacrifice
offered to the Father, that of the spotless Victim.
4. For the liturgy to have the place in the ordinary Catholic’s devotional life which it
ought to have, his participation in the liturgy must be as profound as possible. One
way of fostering this was to promote liturgical formation, both of the clergy and the
faithful,2 notably by books, both of the liturgy—missals for the laity—and about the
liturgy, such as Dom Prosper Guéranger’s monumental ‘L’Année liturgique’,
published between 1841 and 1844. Guéranger wrote in his general preface, after
noting the special value of prayer united with the Prayer of the Church:
1 “On Prayer and Prayer Books’, Dublin Review November 1842. This point is echoed in the Constitution
on the Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium 33.
2 Sacrosanctum Concilium’s energy in promoting liturgical formation is very striking: see 14-20.
Liturgical prayer would soon become powerless were the faithful not to take a
real share in it, or, at least, not to associate themselves to it in heart. It can heal
the world, but only on the condition that it be understood.3
5. Even at its very dawn, the aims and inspiration of the Liturgical Movement
encompassed a tension. On the one hand, the richness, which is to say the
theological profundity, density, and complexity of the Catholic liturgy, is part of the
reason for promoting a greater appreciation of it, particularly as the basis for
devotional contemplation. On the other hand, if participation in the liturgy, which
was also recommended by the contemporary Magisterium,4 requires an adequate
understanding of it, then it would seem that participation could be enhanced both by
the exposure to view of parts of the liturgy traditionally hidden, in one way or
another (by saying silent prayers aloud, by the use of the vernacular, by saying Mass
‘versus populum’), and also by the simplification of the rites.
6. This tension explains the debate within the Liturgical Movement over liturgical
reform, which continued for more than a century. Many writers in the movement
were profoundly attached to the liturgy as it had been handed down, and opposed
(for example) the use of the vernacular: Guéranger himself being an example of this.
Others took the opposite view.5
7. This tension can be resolved, however, by two observations. First and most simply,
taken to its logical conclusion, the attempt to ease the comprehension of a rite by
simplifying it is self-defeating, since the process of simplification has the result that
there is less to comprehend. Removing prayers and ceremonies, clearly, removes
things which could be the object of fruitful meditation.
8. Secondly, the ‘comprehension’ at issue in liturgical participation is not primarily a
matter of the grasp of propositions; it concerns rather the spiritual impact of the
liturgy on the participant. Fr Aidan Nichols OP, discussing the views of a number of
sociologists concerned with religious ritual, observes:
To the sociologist, it is by no means self-evident that brief, clear rites have
greater transformative potential than complex, abundant, lavish, rich, long rites,
furnished with elaborate ceremonial.6
The notion that the more intelligible the sign, the more effectively it will enter
the lives of the faithful is implausible to the sociological imagination. ...a certain
opacity is essential to symbolic action in the sociologists’ account…7
3 Dom Prosper Guéranger ‘The Liturgical Year: Advent’ p6-7.
4 Notably St Pope Pius X Motu proprio Tra le sollicitudine (1903): ‘Filled as We are with a most ardent
desire to see the true Christian spirit flourish in every respect and be preserved by all the faithful, We
deem it necessary to provide before anything else for the sanctity and dignity of the temple, in which the
faithful assemble for no other object than that of acquiring this spirit from its foremost and indispensable
font, which is the active participation in the most holy mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of
the Church.’
5 Joseph Gottler’s 1916 paper ‘Pia Desideria Liturgica’ called for the ‘foremass’ in the vernacular, and the
removal of some ceremonies. Romano Guardini actually put into practice Mass ‘versus populum’ in the
inter-war years.
6 Aidan Nichols OP ‘Looking at the Liturgy: a critical view of its contemporary form’ (San Francisco:
Ignatius Press, 1996) p59
7 Ibid p61
9. This is not just a matter of aesthetic impact, but of the general issue of non-verbal
communication. Elaborate ceremonial indicates in a universal language the
importance of whatever is at the centre of the ceremony. The use of Latin serves to
emphasise the antiquity and universality of the liturgy, as Blessed Pope John XXIII
pointed out.8 The use of silence is a very effective means of emphasising the sacred
character of what is happening.9 Similar things can be said of many aspects of the
former liturgical tradition which might superficially appear to impede the
comprehension of the faithful. Blessed Pope John Paul II refers to such things in
speaking of the liturgy of the Oriental Churches:
The lengthy duration of the celebrations, the repeated invocations, everything
expresses gradual identification with the mystery celebrated with one’s whole
Again, as the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam points out:
The Sacred Liturgy engages not only man’s intellect, but the whole person, who
is the “subject” of full and conscious participation in the liturgical celebration.11
10. The point is underlined by Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Mediator Dei. While
approving a number of the initiatives of followers of the Liturgical Movement, as
well as deprecating others, he makes an important qualification.
Many of the faithful are unable to use the Roman missal even though it is
written in the vernacular; nor are all capable of understanding correctly the
liturgical rites and formulas. So varied and diverse are men’s talents and
characters that it is impossible for all to be moved and attracted to the same
extent by community prayers, hymns and liturgical services. Moreover, the
needs and inclinations of all are not the same, nor are they always constant in the
same individual. Who, then, would say, on account of such a prejudice, that all
these Christians cannot participate in the Mass nor share its fruits? On the
contrary, they can adopt some other method which proves easier for certain
people; for instance, they can lovingly meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ
or perform other exercises of piety or recite prayers which, though they differ
from the sacred rites, are still essentially in harmony with them.12
8 Bl. Pope John XXIII Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia (1963) 8; see also Pope Paul VI
Apostolic Letter Sacrificium Laudis (1968): ‘For this language [sc. Latin] is, within the Latin Church, an
abundant well-spring of Christian civilisation and a very rich treasure-trove of devotion’.
9 Pope Benedict (Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger) writes in ‘The Spirit of the Liturgy’ (San Francisco:
Ignatius Pres, 2000) p209: ‘We are realising more and more clearly that silence is part of the liturgy. We
respond, by singing and praying, to the God who addresses us, but the greater mystery, surpassing all
words, summons us to silence.’
10 Bl. Pope John Paul II Encylical Orientale Lumen (1995) 11: ‘Extractum longius celebrationum tempus,
iteratae invocationes, omnia denique comprobant aliquem paulatim in celebratum mysterium ingredi tota
sua cum persona.’
11 Instruction Liturgiam authentican (2001) 28: ‘Sacra Liturgia non solum hominis intellectum devincit,
sed totam etiam personam, quae est “subiectum” plenae et consciae participationis in celebratione
12 Pope Pius XII Encyclical Mediator Dei (1947) 108. ‘Haud pauci enim e christifidelibus « Missali
Romano », etiamsi vulgata lingua exarato, uti nequeunt; neque omnes idonei sunt ad recte, ut addecet,
intellegendos ritus ac formulas liturgicas. Ingenium, indoles ac mens hominum tam varia sunt atque
absimilia, ut non omnes queant precibus, canticis sacrisque actionibus, communiter habitis, eodem modo
moveri ac duci Ac praeterea animorum necessitates et propensa eorum studia non eadem in omnibus sunt,
neque in singulis semper eaderr permanent. Quis igitur dixerit, praeiudicata eiusmodi opinionf compulsus,
tot christianos non posse Eucharisticum participare Sacri icium, eiusque perfrui beneficiis? At ii alia
ratione utique possunt, quae facilior nonnullis evadit; ut, verbi gratia, Iesu Christi mysteria pie meditando,
vel alia peragendo pietatis exercitia aliasque fundendo preces, quae, etsi forma a sacris ritibus differunt,
natura tamen sua cum iisdem congruunt.’ The concern with the variety of forms of participation is
reiterated in Sacrosanctum Concilium 26: ‘[services] concern the individual members of the Church in
11. With the aid of this fuller understanding of participation, which is certainly both
active and liturgical, but which is of the whole person, and not merely the intellect,
we can look again at the questions raised by the Liturgical Movement about the
form that a properly liturgical piety should take. To be imbued with the spirit of the
liturgy, to have the liturgy in its proper place of honour in one’s spiritual life,
requires a degree of liturgical catechesis, but it is above all to be affected in the way
the Church, in the liturgy, wishes us to be affected. This is with a profound sense of
awe, awe being the rational response to the apprehension of the Holy. It is this sense
which stimulates us to participate spiritually in the Sacrifice as intensely as possible.
Pope Benedict XVI has noted that a particular charism of the Extraordinary Form in
its ‘sacrality’, its evocation of awe.13 The mysteriousness of the ceremonies, the fact
that prayers are said in a sacred language, even silently, the fact that parts of the
liturgy are veiled from sight, naturally contribute to that awe, and in this way
facilitate, rather than impede, the participation of the faithful.
different ways, according to their differing rank, office, and actual participation.’ (‘Quare ad universum
Corpus Ecclesiae pertinent illudque manifestant et afficiunt; singula vero membra ipsius diverso modo,
pro diversitate ordinum, munerum et actualis participationis, attingunt.’)
13 Pope Benedict speaks of ‘the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage’ (Letter to
Bishops accompanying the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum (2007)).

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