Friday, August 7, 2009

Archbishop Nichols Versus Cardinal Ratzinger

By Brian Kopp

According to The Tablet

Archbishop Nichol gives no shred of encouragement to those who want the Tridentine Rite to replace the newer version. Conference participants “will wholeheartedly celebrate the Mass in each of these forms”, he instructs them bluntly, adding: “The view that the ordinary form of the Mass, in itself, is in some way deficient finds no place here.” People who hold that view are “inexorably distancing themselves from the Church”, he says. There is no scope, in other words, for “Tridentine Rite” parishes that set themselves up in the spirit of being “more Catholic than thou”. Recognising the threat of such moves, Archbishop Nichols is seeking to nip a potential schism in the bud. His firm leadership in Westminster is one that other bishops in England and Wales – and elsewhere – will welcome. The Catholic Church does not need its own version of “culture wars”, and in his message the archbishop in effect declares a priest’s personal tastes or preferences to be irrelevant.

This seems to contradict the views of Pope Benedict XVI. In Revue Theologisches, Vol. 20, Feb. 1990, pgs. 103-104, then Cardinal Ratzinger stated:

The liturgical reform, in its concrete realization, has distanced itself even more from its origin. The result has not been a reanimation, but devastation. In place of the liturgy, fruit of a continual development, they have placed a fabricated liturgy. They have deserted a vital process of growth and becoming in order to substitute a fabrication.They did not want to continue the development, the organic maturing of something living through the centuries, and they replaced it, in the manner of technical production, by a fabrication, a banal product of the moment.

In the preface to the French translation of Monsignor Klaus Gamber's most famous book, Die Reform der römischen Liturgie (The Reform of the Roman Rite) then Cardinal Ratzinger stated:

What happened after the Council was altogether different: instead of a liturgy fruit of continuous development, a fabricated liturgy was put in its place. A living growing process was abandoned and the fabrication started. There was no further wish to continue the organic evolution and maturation of the living being throughout the centuries and they were replaced -- as if in a technical production -- by a fabrication, a banal product of the moment. Gamber, with the vigilance of a true visionary and with the fearlessness of a true witness, opposed this falsification and tirelessly taught us the living fullness of a true liturgy, thanks to his incredibly rich knowledge of the sources. As a man who knew and who loved history, he showed us the multiple forms of the evolution and of the path of the liturgy; as a man who saw history from the inside, he saw in this development and in the fruit of this development the intangible reflection of the eternal liturgy, which is not the object of our action, but which may marvelously continue to blossom and to ripen, if we join its mystery intimately.


KT said...

It would be easy to read these excerpts out of context, and warp them into a non-existent opposition. Whatever complaints the former cardinal Ratzinger had in the early 90's about the way in which the reform of the liturgy was handled, these statements are not equivalent to a papal pronunciation, and indeed as Pope he continues to celebrate in the new form at public Masses. He surely loves the older rite, and wants it to have a special place/role/status in the life of the church. But I doubt that it seems wise, even to him, to put the Church through another 40 years of liturgical turmoil by suddenly banning the liturgy that is by now most familiar to all of us, and indeed which has made the Gospel and much of the old Testament much more familiar to most of us than it ever was before. It's easy to glorify the old days, but my own opinion is that the neglect of scripture in the old rite (severely limited readings, or readings repeated over and over etc) left 'the faithful' bereft of a sense of salvation history, and vulnerable to Jansenism and Protestantism and etc.

I am a daily Mass person, and for my part, I must say that my occasional experience of the old rite didn't leave me thinking it would be a good idea to standardize it. Something much less than full, active and conscious participation was happening. One Sunday at the Brompton Oratory, where they strive most for excellence at the Latin Mass, I found I could not keep up with the pace of the Latin in the booklet, sat passively while the choir sang long and difficult pieces (lovely, but more like going to a concert than praying), and rather than a homily about the Gospel, it was a 40 minute rant about the old liturgy versus the new. I was glad when it was over, and became convinced that I wouldn't survive a steady diet of it.

On the other hand, contemporary music and contemplation of the Scriptures in my own language has moved my heart to love God with my whole heart mind and soul.

Reform of the Reform said...

Your experience is not unusual, but think of the millions of people who gradually left the Church after Vatican II because the liturgy became so irrelevant to them. The people who remained were mostly those of your opinion, and so the Holy Father has to take that into acount in all that he does and says; but he has sown the seeds for a return of the venerable Gregorian liturgy of our forefathers, while not forsaking those like yourself, unlike what was done to those attached to the Gregorian liturgy.
As for Jansenism and the Protestants, both were against the traditional Gregorian liturgy, and called for the vernacular, more scripture, less of Mary, and fewer mediaeval symbols for the Mysteries. I need not re-iterate the Papal condemnations of both sects, and yet what do we find after Vatican II? Indeed, if you throw in all the propers (which are rarely used in the new liturgy) there is just as much scripture in the Gregorian Mass as in the new, if not more. Indeed, with so much variety today, at least in the old days one knew what the readings were a year ago, and that repetition imbibed the gospel and its its message into their hearts.
But then I ask: which is the more authentic full conscious active participation: Slavishly following in the missallette the priest who repeats outloud again and again the same 4 euchristic prayers with his back to the Lord, and in front of a table as if to perform a magic hocus pocus trick for the audience, or to let the priest quietly but formally speak to the Father on our behalf facing the Lord on the cross in the east like everyone else, while the people sincerely pray to the Lord in their own words, knowing full well of the miracle that is happening on the altar?

KT said...

I doubt they left because the liturgy was suddenly irrelevant. They left because their roots were quite shallow and unable to endure the turbulence of the 60s.

Where did all these prayerful people go, who were well aware that a miracle was going on behind the priest? Would they really abandon the Eucharist if they knew?

Anyway, I know there are many like you who get a lot from the ancient liturgy, so I'm glad for your sake that it has made a comeback. I also hope (for my sake) that it doesn't become the only option.

Blessings to you.

Catholic Mom of 10 said...

Nice blog..will link..

Joe said...

The Tablet has twisted the facts to make Abp. Nichols appear to be in opposition to Pp. Benedict re the EF. However this is simply not the case - the Tablet is fabricating a situation which does not exist.