A Lack of Liturgical Hope

There seems today to be a lack of hope in the liturgical reform, both among some young people who despair in new rites and presume that older rites better safeguarded the church (or at least what they imagine to be the true church) and among some older folks, prophets of doom who are also in some cases prelates of considerable influence. For both of these subjects, albeit for different reasons, memories that are not real result in an obstruction of vision and a weakening of spirit. While the young presume things about a time they did not live through themselves, those who are older idealize their ecclesial infancu in a way that lacks a sense of reality(1). This leads to a nostalgia expressed in grave forms of presumptuous despair or, more often, of desperate presumption. We see this, for example, in the presumption that the liturgical reform that followed the Council not only preceded various difficulties of our day but also caused them. To listen to such diagnoses, which are instances of the fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc, one would think that if only the liturgical reform had never happened, everything would be fine(2).

Andrea Grillo, Beyond Pius V: Conflicting Interpretations of the Liturgical Reform, trans. Barry Hudock, Rev. Ed. (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2013), p. 93. ISBN: 978-0-8146-6327-1.

Grillo’s two footnotes contained in this paragraph are worthy of note:

  1. A demonstration par excellence of this regressive nostalgia for Latin is found in the idea – more widespread than one might think and often promoted by pastors with a thoughtless automatism – that “the liturgical reform never abrogated the earlier rites” (that is, the rites that were the fruit of the Tridentine reform). In reality, this idea can only be defended by turning the burden of proof on its head. It is the nostalgic promoters of the Tridentine Rite who must demonstrate that it was never abrogated; it does not fall to those who follow the tradition of the church by celebrating according to the rites (those of Paul VI) which explicitly reformed the earlier ones. If the rite of Paul VI is the fruit of the reform of the preceding rite, it is clear that, at the moment it was promulgated and put in force, the preceding rite was substituted with the new one. Otherwise, why was ther a reform at all? Another naive assertion – also quite common – regards the ritual plurality that Trent permitted and that Vatican II ought therefore to be able to permit as well. In reality, this is only a fallacy, an instance of bogus reasoning. Trent permitted the restoration of Latin rites other than the Roman Rite, not a Roman Rite other than the one determined by Trent. In other words, what Trent did, Vatican II also did. Reforming the Roman Rite, it did not permit the existence of another Roman Rite. At best, this allows for the use of the previous rite “by indult,” as an exception to the rule – including the rule of common sense – according to which there can be at any one time only one Roman Rite, one Ambrosian Rite, one Hispanic Rite, one Gallican Rite, etc. …
  2. Even if there is a clear contradiction, at least for those traditionalist authors who still retain a glimmer of realism in the heat of argument, in an “ancient” Roman Rite that, in order to be usable, needs to be reformed! This, paradoxically, they acknowledge that the possibility of using the “Missal of Pius V” today would call for at least a reform of the lectionary, the calendar, and the sanctoral cycle in order to make them adaptable. But this is precisely what led to the Missal of Paul VI, and that was already done forty years ago, evidently when these authors were not looking. …
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Article by Andrew Doohan

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