Dr. Hull on WHH: “Well Documented,” “Original and Worthy of Attention”

I AM PLEASED to report that Work of Human Hands has received its first formal review in a periodical. This came in a lengthy piece by Dr. Geoffrey Hull in the October 2010 issue of Christian Order. One advantage of the Internet age is the opportunity it offers an author to engage with and respond to points raised by reviewers. In the case of Dr. Hull’s lengthy and thoughtful review, this will be a pleasure.

PERIODICAL: Christian Order was founded in England in 1959 by Father Paul Crane SJ. In the years following Vatican II, Christian Order promoted resistance to the liturgical changes and fidelity to the old Mass, and described its mission as battling the efforts “of the Modernist revolutionaries and their manic efforts to protestanize the faith anew” in the “the liturgical, doctrinal, moral, catechetical and ecumenical fields.”

Apart from editorials, Christian Order does not put its content on-line. For information on ordering the number which contains Dr. Hull’s review, or to subscribe to Christian Order (for U.S., $50 for ten editions per year) click here.

REVIEWER: Dr. Geoffrey Hull is an Australian linguist, ethnologist, historian and professor at Macquarie University, Sydney.

Dr. Geoffrey Hull

Professor Hull is also the author of The Banished Heart: Origins of Heteropraxis in the Catholic Church, a study of the historical causes and socio-cultural impact of church reforms of the 1960s in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic traditions. A second edition of Banished Heart was published in 2010 by T&T Clark (London) as part of its series Studies in Fundamental Liturgy.

THE REVIEW: Dr. Hull’s review is rather extensive (11 pages). He takes his duty as a reviewer seriously: he strives to represent the content of WHH concisely, accurately and fairly, and to balance positive and the negative parts of his analysis. His tone is academic, rather than polemic, a refreshing contrast to so much traditionalist writing.

The first obstacle that many traditionalists must overcome before reading almost anything I have written is that I am a sedevacantist. I begin Work of Human Hands with this very point, and Dr. Hull addresses it in his opening paragraph.

When I agreed to review Rev. Anthony Cekada’s latest study Work of Human Hands: A Theological Critique of the Mass of Paul VI, I was aware that many readers of Christian Order would hesitate to open a book written by a sedevacantist… And as the reviewer of this book I wish to state for the record that I am no supporter of the sedevacantist thesis or of the mission of its proponents.

Nevertheless, in his preface Fr Cekada states that his topic is not sedevacantism but the Roman liturgical reform, and although latter-day traditionalist cynicism might make it hard to suspend the judgement that the two subjects can hardly be unrelated in the mind of a writer so given to systematic thought, I think it only fair to evaluate the work more for what it purports to be rather than for what it might seem to imply…

I. Positive Observations. From this Dr. Hull proceeds to a number of positive general observations about Work of Human Hands:

Cekada’s latest offering is well documented and based on an impressive amount of background reading evidenced by its extensive bibliography.…

Both parts naturally go over ground already covered by other writers and scholars who have attempted to assess the extent to which the new liturgy has departed from organic ritual development and compromised Catholic doctrine in the interests of ecumenical convergence with Protestantism: the thought of Louis Salleron, Michael Davies, Klaus Gamber, Didier Bonneterre and others has been well pondered and economically synthesized by the author. But what makes Anthony Cekada’s study original and worthy of attention are those pages where he goes into a deeper analysis of particular aspects of the liturgical revolution that have so far been dealt with in only a cursory fashion.

Dr. Hull points out and sums up for the reader the two key chapters in which I analyze the theological underpinnings for the Mass of Paul VI:

Particular cases in point are his excellent Chapters 5 and 6, examining the protestantizing doctrinal innovations that informed the 1969 General Instruction on the New Mass, and the skullduggery resorted to by Vatican officials in their attempt to salvage and repackage the document after its orthodoxy was brought into question by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci. The author’s reflections on the expunging of references to the Mass as a sacrifice of propitiation in the Instruction are most interesting, as is his analysis of the new interpretations of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, and of the roles of priest and congregation…

Of the Chapter 4, which deals with the vernacular translations of the New Mass that conservatives have so severely criticized over the years, Dr. Hull says:

Another valuable insight provided by this book (pp. 92–9) is evidence that in several instances, for example, the foisting of poor and erroneous vernacular translation of Latin liturgical texts on local churches, responsibility lay with the Vatican bureaucracies working under the Pope, not with the episcopal conferences who usually get the blame in polemic literature…

In Chapter 1 of Work of Human Hands and again in my conclusions, I point out the dangers of reducing the question of old Mass vs. New Mass to one of aesthetics, nostalgia or a vague “hunger for mystery” in religion. I argue that the main reasons for rejecting the New Mass and embracing the old must be Catholic doctrine and piety.

On this point Dr. Hull is in complete accord.

I could not agree more with [Fr. Cekada’s] criticism of the modern Vatican’s plainly dishonest endorsement of the immemorial rite on primarily aesthetic grounds. Such grounds are diametrically opposed to (and designed to sweep under the carpet) the weighty doctrinal considerations that have motivated intelligent traditionalist dissent from the reform ever since the 1960s.

Another important observation, made on pp. 5–7, concerns the gagging of traditionalist opinion demanded by a conscientious acceptance of the terms of the indults of 1988 and 2007. The Vatican strategy of subjectively portraying fidelity to the immemorial rite “as mere personal preference or sentiment” was, Cekada writes, “ extremely clever. It sidestepped the doctrinal question — it’s all just choice and options. And if you suspect there may be a problem, please don’t be so ungrateful to the Holy Father as to mention it…”

Here Dr. Hull offers a personal anecdote about priests who had had begun to celebrate the traditional Mass under the auspices of the new, Vatican-approved priestly societies established under John Paul II in 1988:

This reminds me of a conversation I had in the late 1980s with the superior of the newly-formed Fraternity of St. Peter. I asked the priest in question whether [it] was true that accepting the terms of the Ecclesia Dei decree [of John Paul II] meant being unable to criticize the liturgical revolution still approved by the Vatican. “Oh, enfin…” [“Oh, well…”] was his evasive reply, and after a short, embarrassed silence he changed the subject.

“The elephant which I had led into the room,” Dr. Hull continues, was that the New Mass was a “dangerous aberration,” and that putting it on the same level as the traditional Mass “in the interests of a spurious unity of faith based on post-conciliar, Anglicanoid pluralism is totally unacceptable,” because “in the orthodox universe there are no such things as ‘extraordinary’ and ‘ordinary’ forms of the Roman rite.”

Summing up on this issue, Dr. Hull concludes:

Fr. Cekada rightly recognizes that just as truth and error cannot be wed, no convergence of authentic worship and an artificial cult is possible, and talk of a “reform of the reform” is a mere delusion, whether it come from the lips of the Supreme Pontiff or from someone lower down the chain of command. That the Pauline liturgy needs to be officially repudiated and abolished in the Roman rite is the logical — and impeccably orthodox — conclusion of the book,

Dr. Hull’s review appeared in Christian Order immediately after an editorial on the New Mass that concluded with the phrase delenda est — it must be destroyed. This, as it happens, was also the title for the final  section in my conclusions at the end of Work of Human Hands.

II. Criticisms: Some of the offenses alleged fall into the venial category. Work of Human Hands, Dr. Hull concedes, “certainly never suffers from dullness.” That said,

Anthony Cekada is an engaging and entertaining writer, but his penchant for the witty aside is somewhat over-indulged in what sets out to be a work of objective scholarship. This sometimes leads him to descend into populist rhetoric…

In a purely academic context, Dr. Hull is of course quite correct. Work of Human Hands, however, was also aimed at a broader audience — not only the intellectual or the liturgy buff, but also the average Joe in the pew at a traditionalist chapel, who tends not to read many books and who (my experience as a parish priest tells me) appreciates a few extra rhetorical flourishes here and there when he does. It is for his benefit that Father Chuck and Ms. Gauleiter make an occasional appearance.

Dr. Hull points out three instances of inaccurate terminology in a footnote (p. 88, n. 16) discussing various liturgical languages. Two of the three instances are based on my source (De Marco, Rome and the Vernacular, 45, 81), but since Dr. Hull is eminent linguist in the field of Romance, Celtic, Slavonic, Semitic, Austronesian and Papuan languages, one must naturally defer to his expertise.

Other points in the book to which Dr. Hull takes exception touch upon more complex issues:

(1) Invalidity?. The thesis of Work of Human Hands deals with the disastrous effects of the New Mass on Catholic doctrine and piety. The issue of the validity or invalidity of the new rite I treat in a somewhat ancillary fashion at the end of Chapter 12 (see pp. 346–8)

Put roughly, my argument is this: (a) According to the traditionally accepted principles of Catholic sacramental theology, to recite the Words of Consecration (or “sacramental form”) at Mass in a narrative mode manifests a defect of intention that would render the consecration invalid. (b) In the official liturgical text of the New Mass itself, the Words of Consecration (Verba Consecrationis) have been changed from a true sacramental form into a quote (Verba Domini, as the new rubrics and Paul VI’s Apostolic Constitution say) in a historical narrative. (c) The conclusion based on (a) and (b) is invalidity.

Dr. Hull is of the opinion that, to arrive at this conclusion, I would need to prove that modern priests habitually and deliberately read the Words of Consecration this way.

But the problem I see lies not with the individual priest, but with the official liturgical text itself. The priest just takes what the official rite gives him, and as I demonstrate by examining this rite, it gives him a narrative with a quote. (See pp. 337–45) Applying the major principle (a) leaves only one conclusion.

Deliberately abandoning the traditional principles of sacramental theology in the formulation of a new rite, as the reformers did, was bound to have terrible consequences, and this, I contend, is one of them.

(2) Modernist or ‘modernist’? While Dr. Hull acknowledges the subversive activities of the New Theology (an anti-Thomist movement which emerged in the 1930s and which would triumph at Vatican II), he believes that I have not clearly set “terminological parameters” in applying the term “modernist” to its adherents. In some cases (Küng and Schillebeeckx), he believes, it applies; in others, he believes it does not — notably that of Father Louis Bouyer.

His exception for the case of Bouyer, I think, is rooted in the general inclination among traditionalists (e.g. Michael Davies, and many who are now promoting the old Mass under the banner of Summorum Pontificum) to claim Bouyer as an ally of their cause, due to his caustic comments after the Council about how some of the liturgical reforms actually turned out. (These are found in Liturgy and Architecture and The Decomposition of Catholicism.)

The perception needs to be revised. He who undertakes a reading of Bouyer’s 1954 Liturgical Piety while keeping one eye on Pascendi will see all the usual modernist sleight-of-hand: brutal dismissal of the ages of faith, praise for heretics (Brilioth, Jubé, Anglicans), “surpassing” standard Catholic theological terminology, attacks on the Real Presence, hatred for Thomism, and everywhere, endless rhetorical zigzagging to camouflage his real ideas from too close a scrutiny. All of this, I contend, I have amply documented on pp. 32–40 of Work of Human Hands.

As regards Dr. Hull’s more general terminological objection to my characterizing adherents of the New Theology as “modernists,” I respond that the label was employed not only by their own more orthodox contemporaries (to the question “Where is the New Theology leading us?” the great Dominican neo-Thomist Garrigou-Lagrange replied, “back to modernism”) but also by their latter-day sympathizers (Jürgen Mettepenningen’s recently-published study, for instance, is entitled Nouvelle Théologie – New Theology: Inheritor of Modernism, Precursor of Vatican II.)

In light of the foregoing, it would seem that my “application of the damning label ‘modernist’ to most of the post-scholastic Latin liturgists and theologians” may be far less hasty than Dr. Hull seems to think.

(3) Contempt for the Catholic East. This, Dr. Hull contends, is my attitude towards Uniate Catholics. I will let the charge pass, and ask the reader of Work of Human Hands to form his own conclusions.

(4) Sedevacantist Shortcomings. Dr. Hull devotes only two paragraphs to this point. My “rough handling of non-Roman theological and liturgical traditions” seems to be “intimately bound up the general outlook of sedevacantists, which is excessively prone to abstraction in thought.” This results in

an exaggerated conception of papal power that makes grave errors of naturally fallible pontiffs outside the strict bound of guaranteed infallibility seem inconceivable, an attitude hardly supported by the evidence of Church history.

On the issue of whether my conception of papal power is exaggerated, or whether it indeed constitutes an excess forming part of what Dr. Hull calls “the author’s latinocentric sedevacantist baggage,” I will take a pass as well. This topic would take us far beyond what is, strictly speaking, the subject matter of Work of Human Hands.

III. Conclusion. Dr. Hull observes that no reviewer who, like himself, is also an author assumes that writing the perfect book is an easy task.

And while any thoroughgoing review of a book will inevitably appear more negative that positive because of the very nature of criticism, my concluding opinion is that there is much to commend in Work of Human Hands — a work I have found enlightening in many respects, in spite of the reservations I have expressed.

There is no doubt that a good deal of what Anthony Cekada has painstakingly chronicled and lucidly argued will make a very useful contribution the question that faces all orthodox Catholics today: how to restore integrity and holiness to the sanctuaries of our devastated churches.

I thank Dr. Hull and Christian Order for the opportunity to present and discuss these issues.

NOTE: Christian Order has since posted Dr. Hull’s review on line as its October Feature.

Posted in 02 Liturgical Movement, 12 Eucharistic Prayer, Reviews of Work of Human Hands, WHH Chapter Topics | Comments closed

Bugnini Collaborator: “Work of Human Hands” Defames Paul VI’s Reform

Rev. Matias Augé

MUCH TO my surprise, the first non-traditionalist writer to weigh in with a review of Work of Human Hands (albeit brief) was a liturgist who actually had a hand in creating the New Mass.

Rev. Mathias Augé, a Claretian priest and liturgical scholar, worked in the 1960s for Consilium, the Vatican agency headed by Rev. Annibale Bugnini that was charged with the task of overhauling the liturgy. Fr. Augé assisted Consilium Study Group 18b, which revised the orations — the variable prayers in the Missal that change according to the liturgical feasts and seasons.

In particular, Fr. Augé was responsible for rewriting the collects (opening prayers) for the temporal cycle of the liturgical year (the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, etc.).

In Chapter 9 of Work of Human Hands, I cite Fr. Augé’s own commentary on his work, “Le Collete del Proprio del Tempo nel Nuovo Messale” (Ephemerides Liturgicae 84 [1970], 275-98) in which he explains how the reformers sought to eliminate from the collects various concepts “of little relevance to the mentality of modern man.” These concepts, he explained, included punishment for sin, divine anger or wrath, damnation, eternal punishment, etc. — a category he and the other reformers referred to as “negative theology.”

I used his article, and that of Bugnini’s assistant, Rev. Carlo Braga CM, as a starting point for analyzing how Fr. Augé and his collaborators at Consilium applied this principle to the liturgical texts they created for the Missal of Paul VI.

I was therefore very interested to read Fr. Augé’s commentary on Work of Human Hands. It is entitled “A Polemic against the Missal of Paul VI,” and was posted on his blog, Liturgia Opus Trinitatis, on October 27, 2010:

In 1982 those who had worked on the post-Vatican II liturgical reforms with Archbishop A. Bugnini presented the bishop with a collection of studies on the reform entitled Liturgy: A Divine and Human Work. Nearly thirty years later, the Rev. Anthony Cekada has published a book critical of the Mass of Paul VI entitled Work of Human Hands. The title itself is an open polemic against the Pauline reform — as if it were nothing more than the product of human scheming.

I thank the publishers who have sent me this hefty volume of 445 pages with notes and references. I started leafing through it with interest, but I realized very quickly that the book is more than a “Theological Critique of the Mass of Paul VI,” as the subtitle says. It is a voluminous polemic [un voluminoso pamphlet] that aggressively defames the Pauline reform. It takes just a few examples to understand this:

“The changes made in the prayers of the Missal of Paul VI have been made to destroy Catholic doctrine” (p. 245).

“The Lectionary of the Mass of Paul VI is a gigantic fraud” (p. 274).

“The only victim offered in the new presentation of the gifts is the Catholic doctrine — a ‘living sacrifice’ to ecumenism in a rite reeking not of oblation, but of Luther and Teilhard de Chardin” (p. 304).

The title of Chapter 12 reads: “The Eucharistic Prayer: Deplorable Impoverishment” (p. 305).

The title of Chapter 13: “The Communion Rite: Impiety in Action.”

The author shows himself a true disciple of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who ordained him a priest in 1977. I thank him anyway for the four times that he deigned to mention one of my studies (in a critical way, of course). Bear in mind, though, that I do not belong to [the Masonic lodges] P2 or P3, as the author suggests when he writes of “Augé and company” (p. 222); I have my way of evaluating things, and I express it sincerely. Works like this sadden me because they show the arrogance with which some set themselves up as defenders of tradition (theirs) and teachers of doctrine in the Church of God.

In response, I posted on Fr. Augé’s blog the following comments:

Please excuse me for writing in English, rather that in your sonorous and poetic language.

First of all, the English phrase “Augé and company” is merely an American colloquialism, and did not suggest any Masonic affiliation.

I wish that Fr. Augé had not merely denounced my conclusions, but instead addressed the evidence I presented for them.

In the matter of the orations in the Missal of Paul VI, for instance, I cited several hundred passages where the language had been changed in order to eliminate references to miracles, the true Church, heresy, the merits of the saints and what Fr. Augé himself called “negative theology” — Catholic teachings that modern man finds offensive: hell, contempt for the world, punishments for sin, divine wrath, etc.

Surely the elimination of such concepts from the lex orandi [law of praying] harms Catholic doctrine.

Similar procedures were followed with the new lectionary. It was presented by the reformers as “more Scripture.” But the revisers eliminated, passed over, relocated, or made optional many verses “modern man” would find “difficult.” I provide many citations to the new lectionary to demonstrate this.

If one disputes my conclusion that the lectionary is a “gigantic fraud,” one should at least deal with my evidence.

As for “deplorable impoverishment,” the expression comes not from me, but from Mgr. Bugnini, who used it to describe the unvarying use of the Roman Canon throughout the centuries, rather than multiple Eucharistic Prayers (p. 313).

Fr. Augé (understandably) disagrees with my conclusion that the reform was a bad thing. But leaving that aside, he and others should at least give a fair hearing to my evidence that the changes in the prayers and ceremonies of the Mass introduced by Paul VI and Consilium represent a substantial theological shift for the lex orandi.

After all, even a liturgical scholar on the “progressive” side of the reform like Jesuit Father John Baldovin has stated that “the reformed liturgy does represent a radical shift in Catholic theology and piety” (p. 4). If Father Baldovin and I draw the same conclusion from the examining the new rite, perhaps there is more to my argument than just polemics.

Thank you, Father and readers, for your patience!

Those who reformed the Mass told us they were changing its “doctrinal content.” That they actually did so is verified by comparing the texts and rites of the old Mass with the new.

It is therefore unreasonable for the reformers to claim that Catholics who discover this years later and object to the results are merely engaging in “polemic.”

Posted in 03 Liturgical Changes 1948–1969, 09 Revised Orations, Reviews of Work of Human Hands, WHH Chapter Topics | Comments closed

WHH: Some Positive Reactions

Well, maybe not just yet…

OVER THE past few months since the publication of Work of Human Hands, we’ve received a great number of positive comments about the book. Below is a representative sample taken from short reviews posted on Amazon, as well as from e-mails we’ve received.

A traditional Catholic priest: Nowhere have I seen such an exhaustive and well-researched analysis of just exactly what the Modernists did to the Catholic Mass, step by step.

A university professor: The work of a scholar… An outstanding example of scholarly research… the most informative and comprehensive study I have seen of the post-Vatican II Mass.… knife-sharp logic… a must for seminarians and Church historians.

A Catholic priest: I was a student of liturgy at the “Catho” [the Catholic university] in Paris from 1973 to 1975. My professors are frequently mentioned by the author. There is much in his analysis that squares with my experience. The Jungmann-Bouyer-Bugnini troika stands behind much of the Mass of Paul VI. His thesis is systematically argued. For me, it was a satisfying visit to a liturgical “whodunit.”

A Catholic wife: A wealth of information and enjoyable to read… I’ve been a traditional Catholic for 15 years and I thought I’d read and learned all there was to know about “what happened and why” but this book really opened my eyes.

A “former litnik”: Outstanding. Highly readable, fascinating, humor, scary realities, Father Cekada pulls it all together. A book that could not have been written until now. Extensive interesting research. Very convincing. This is going to be a quotable book and I bet is being read by every Vaticanist who can get his hands on it. Probably every seminarian as well. Willing to bet it will be widely discussed and debated. In some modernist seminaries will be cause for dismissal if found on your bookshelf. Great job Father, I am not a sede but you hit the nail on the head, over and over and over and…

A traditional Catholic priest: … a masterpiece of research and a detailed exposé of the plots and scheming of the modernists.… clear and concise with a bit of humor added to help the reader travel more easily through deep theological issues.

A Catholic father: If you are new to the traditional movement, or are just curious about the traditional Mass, this book is for you. It sticks to the topic at hand, the problems with the Novus Ordo Mass, and does not dwell on any of the topics that divide traditionalists.

A traditionalist “from way back.” When I learned that Fr. Cekada was writing a book on the New Mass, the thought kept recurring, “After forty years, what could Fr. Cekada say on this subject that hasn’t already been said?” Well, as Paul Harvey used to say, “Now we’ll hear the REST of the story!” A glance at the Table of Contents or the Index ALONE go a long way toward answering the question above, not to mention the handy chapter summaries. By the end of the second chapter, you will KNOW.

A former chapel coordinator: .… a well researched book that takes from the Holy Week changes in the 1950’s and all the frequent changes that followed until the Novus Ordo Mass in 1969. At the time these frequent alterations in the liturgy left us confused and discouraged. His book gives us a clear picture of what happened and why.

A Catholic author: Full of new findings… Virtually every important theological and historical consideration is represented… immense scholarly apparatus.… an ideal gift for friends and family who are beginning to think seriously about the issues… sober erudition and elegance of style.… a work of history and Thomistic philosophy all rolled into one.… a natural and easy-to-read complement to Dom Guéranger’s Liturgical Year.

A Catholic couple: Thank you for this fine work. We have often wished for a history of how our wonderful faith could have been destroyed.

A former Novus Ordo priest: Everything you describe is exactly like what I was taught and saw in my Novus Ordo seminary and parish. I hope it gets into the hands of many of the “conservative priests” in the New Church.

A Dutch traditionalist priest: A tremendous achievement.

It seems we are regularly getting orders from across a wide spectrum — not only from traditionalists, but also from priests in the Novus Ordo milieu, as well as from Catholic seminary and university libraries.

This is very encouraging on several counts: First, we have done very little in the way of publicity thus far, so it appears that people are finding out about the book by word of mouth, always a good sign.

Second, one of the main considerations which prompted me to finish Work of Human Hands was the interest a younger generation of clergy has taken in the pre-Vatican II liturgy, and the problems many of them sense in the Mass of Paul VI. WHH, I hope, will aid in enlightening them on both counts.

Posted in Reviews of Work of Human Hands | Comments closed

The Meaning of “Work of Human Hands”

RECENTLY I CAME across the musings of a young Jesuit, Father Mark Mossa, about the phrase “work of human hands” which occurs in the Preparation of Gifts (= Offertory) in the New Mass. This prompted a brief correspondence the meaning of the phrase.

Fruit of the vine…

The full text of the priest’s blog posting is here, and the pertinent excerpts were the following:

This past weekend I joined the nearby parish where I help out for their patronal feast.  It was a wonderful celebration.  The church was packed.  One of the bishops came and presided at mass (doing so both in English and Spanish—I was impressed).  Everyone was well-dressed.  At the offertory, representatives of various different countries came forward dressed in ethnic costume to present some native foods.  Then came the offering of the bread and the wine…

I’ve been taking a class on Eucharist and social justice, where we discuss the meaning and implications of our Eucharistic celebrations, like the Mass we had this night.  At every Mass I speak the words “the work of human hands,” often not really thinking about what that means.  This class is pushing me to be attentive to such things.  What we are saying at that point in the mass, in fact, is that our Eucharist is possible because the work of so many brings the bread and wine to us so that we can offer it as a gift to each other… So, when we hear “the work of human hands” we are reminded that our Eucharistic food depends on the work of… many of those rough-handed people who come to church each Sunday.

My comment was as follows.

Dear Father: You may find the following information interesting.

I recently published a critique of the Mass of Paul VI entititled “Work of Human Hands,” which is available from philotheapress.com

I explain that the phrase in the post-Vatican II rite for the Preparation of the Gifts in the modern Mass originates in the writings of the pantheist/evolutionist Teilhard de Chardin, silenced by Rome in 1925 for his modernist ideas and therafter forbidden to publish.

It reflects Teilhard’s theory that human labor becomes the “matter” for the Eucharist. Bad theology, of course!

This is in addition, of course, to Scripture’s denunciation of idols as merely “the work of human hands.”

Best wishes.

This prompted the following response from Fr. Mossa

Thanks for your reply. I don’t understand that phrase from the Mass as saying that human labor itself becomes the matter of the Eucharist. That’s an interesting notion, but, probably, as you say, bad theology. I think, however, it is good to be reminded that the matter of the Eucharist, at least in terms of the bread and wine we use, does come to us from the work of human hands.

In any case, I’m sure you know more about the history of the liturgy than I do. I just use the words as they have been given to us by the Church, and assume that they contain wisdom for us, even if “the work of human hands” (or brains) might, as you suggest, have resulted in some flaws. God seems to “fill in the blanks” in various ways despite the limits of our understanding, thankfully!

Can’t say I’m sure about the logic of your scriptural reference. The two might be confused, I suppose. But I don’t think the implication is that everything we speak of as “the work of human hands” is therefore an idol. And I expect that you are warning against the former danger, rather than the latter conclusion, right?

And my response:

In my book (pp. 287-88) I cite the evidence for the phrase’s Teilhardian roots, and give a few quotes from Teilhard’s (rather creepy) essay “Mass on the World.”

The use of the phrase in Scripture to refer to idols is more easily seen in the Latin Vulgate (opera manuum hominum), and it appears in 4 Kings 19:18, 2 Paralipomenon 32:19, Psalms 113:12, Psalms 134:15, Wisdom 13:10, Isaias 37:19, Baruch 6:50, and Baruch 6:51. The overtones conveyed by such an expression in the successor rite for the Offertory seem, at the very least, incongruous.

Many thanks for your considerate reply!

Finally, one idea in Fr. Mossa’s original post is particularly noteworthy:

What we are saying at that point in the Mass, in fact, is that our Eucharist is possible because the work of so many brings the bread and wine to us so that we can offer it as a gift to each other.

This is a total inversion of the ultimate purpose of the Mass as it is traditionally understood — a sacrifice of praise offered to the Most Holy Trinity. But such theological confusion is the natural consequence of the indeterminate expressions in the prayers the modernists formulated to replace the traditional texts. They could mean anything.

Posted in 11 Preparation of the Gifts, WHH Chapter Topics | Comments closed

ICEL Mistranslations: Who’s to Blame?

AN ARTICLE in a recent issue of The Wanderer resurrected the old accusation, often heard in the 1960s and 1970s, that ICEL (the International Committee for English in the Liturgy), bore almost exclusive responsibility for the post-Vatican II mistranslations of the Mass of Paul VI. English-speaking Catholics, we were repeatedly told, never had the opportunity to assist at the real Mass of Paul VI, because the wicked modernists in ICEL had manipulated the English translation in such a way as to undermine what our beloved Holy Father had intended for the new rite.

Il pesce puzza…

The following is a letter to the Editor that I wrote in response to the article.

*     *     *     *     *

Paul Likoudis’s “Liturgy Wars are Over” (The Wanderer, September 16, 2010, p. 4) brought back memories of the anger and outrage we conservatives felt during the ‘60s and ‘70s when ICEL shoved their mistranslations and kindergarten style down the throats of the English-speaking Catholics everywhere. Their work was a particular trial for those of us church musicians who still believed in maintaining a sacred style for music at Catholic worship.

Mr. Likoudis, however, leaves the impression that blame for those mistranslations is to be laid almost exclusively at the feet of ICEL. Most of us certainly believed this during those years after the Council, and we undertook various initiatives to bring the problem to the attention of those who would surely correct it — “If the Pope only knew about this deception,” etc. etc.

However, now that so much documentation about the history of the liturgical reform has become readily available, and so many members of Consilium have written their own accounts about their work, it is clear that ICEL was merely putting into practice principles enunciated in various Roman documents.

Three documents from Consilium (Inter Oecumenici, 1964; “Conventus de Popularibus Interpretationibus Textuum Liturgicorum,” 1965; Aussitôt après, 1967) progressively allowed translators more and more freedom to “adapt” translations.

The final blow to any pretense of accuracy came with the Roman Instruction Comme le Prévoit (25 January 1969). This document (denounced several years ago in The Wanderer, if memory serves) laid down the general principles that would produce the distortions, omissions and outright errors we conservatives complained about in the ICEL translations.

Its probably author, Father Antoine Dumas, wrote a commentary on Comme le Prévoit the following year. (Notitiae 6, 194-213) Here, he amplified the principles laid down in such a way as to further the modernist theological agenda of removing from translations “negative” theology and allusions to doctrines that Protestants could find offensive. (Thus “victim” would disappear from the translation of the Eucharistic Prayer 1.)

Nor, it appears, could one maintain that ICEL and Consilium were operating a cabal (as some of us thought) “to frustrate the will of the Holy Father.”

The real blame, it turns out, rested with Paul VI himself. He carefully examined both the French and Italian drafts of Comme le prévoit; he made 47 notations on the draft in his own handwriting; he made changes both in its style and substance, and he even corrected the printer’s page-proofs. (See Bugnini, La Riforma, 236-7)

So, the awful ICEL mistranslations, it seems, were nothing more than an implementation of official policy handed down from the top.

*     *     *     *     *

Readers can find a more detailed discussion of this issue, including citations, in Chapter 4 of Work of Human Hands.

So, ICEL should not be made the whipping boy for the awful post-Vatican II mistranslations. Ultimately Paul VI laid down the principles that ICEL followed.

If the translations stank, it was because (as the Italians say) Il pesce puzza dalla testa — the fish rots from the head.

Posted in 04 Latin to the Vernacular, WHH Chapter Topics | Comments closed

An Important Article on the 1951–1956 Holy Week Reform Appears

THE Rorate Caeli blog recently posted a translation of The Reform of Holy Week in the Years 1951-1956, an excellent and detailed study of the Pius XII Holy Week rites, written by Fr. Stefano Carusi.

As we noted in Chapter 3 of Work of Human Hands, these rites constituted the third stage in a process of liturgical change that eventually culminated in the New Mass.

Fr. Carusi makes extensive use of a commentary by Fr. Carlo Braga, who assisted Fr. Annibale Bugnini in formulating both the new 1951–1956 Holy Week reform and the 1969 Novus Ordo Missae. The following is from Fr. Carusi’s concluding comments:

The entire raison d’être of the reform seems to be permeated with the whiff of rationalism and archeologism, with at times dollops of pure imagination…

According to Father Carlo Braga, this reform was the “head of the battering-ram” which broke into the Roman liturgy for the holiest days of the year. Something so revolutionary was bound to have repercussions on the entire subsequent spirit of the liturgy.

The whole article is worth careful reading and study. It brought to light a number of details in the new rite that had been missed even by long-time critics of the rites like me.

Everyone owes a debt of gratitude to Fr. Carusi and Mr. Palad of Rorate for making this work available.

It is worth noting that Fr. Carusi is a member of the IBP (Institute of the Good Shepherd), a Vatican-approved  society for priests (mostly former SSPX-ers) who offer the traditional Latin Mass under the banner of Benedict XVI’s 2007 Motu Proprio — which, in theory at least, prescribes the use of the John XXIII Missal that contains the very rites Fr. Carusi criticizes.

It is significant that even in these circles many are now examining the pre-Vatican II liturgical changes with a critical eye, an undertaking previously regarded as exclusively “sedevacantist” territory.

Inevitably another issue came up during the discussion of Fr. Carusi’s article. Various members of the anti-sedevacantist camp maintain that it is inconsistent to reject the Holy Week rites promulgated by Pius XII, whom sedevacantists regard as a true pope, while maintaining that the New Mass promulgated by Paul VI is part of the proof that he was a false pope.

It will be useful here for me to restate my position on this matter.

Taken individually, none of the changes introduced in 1951–1956 Holy Week rites (I offer a summary in Work of Human Hands, 68–69) was evil in itself.

But fifty years later, we recognize that these precedents and the principles behind them were the foot in the door to the eventual destruction of the Mass. Bugnini, after all, told us that the changes were just one stage in the process of a wholesale liturgical reform — a “bridge,” he said, to “a new city.” (See WHH, 61)

In the very document promulgating the Novus Ordo, moreover, Paul VI himself points to the Pius XII legislation as the starting point for the creation of the New Mass. (See WHH, 49)

If the rites were not evil in themselves, on what basis could one now criticize them or refuse to follow them?

The answer is to be found in the general principles of canon law. Canonists and moral theologians (e.g., Cocchi, Michels, Noldin, Wernz-Vidal, Vermeersch, Regatillo, Zalba) commonly teach that a human ecclesiastical law can become harmful (nociva, noxia) due to changed circumstances after the passage of time. In such a case it automatically ceases to bind.

This, I contend, is exactly the case with the 1951–1956 Holy Week rites.

One cannot therefore maintain that the application of this principle (cessation of law) to the Holy Week changes contradicts the teaching of dogmatic theology that the Church is infallible when she promulgates universal disciplinary laws.

On this point, therefore, there is no inconsistency whatsoever in the sedevacantist position.

Posted in 03 Liturgical Changes 1948–1969, 15 Which Missal to Use?, WHH Chapter Topics | Comments closed

The New Lectionary and Hell (Short Form)

A PREVIOUS post, The Novus Ordo and Corpus Christi “Lite,” noted that the new lectionary (cycle of scripture readings) for the Mass of Paul VI omitted a scripture passage which appeared in the old Missal, apparently because the passage was at odds with various tenets of modernist theology.

Missing something?

Needless to say, the reformers couldn’t  possibly have omitted every such passage from the lectionary, otherwise there would have been little left to read. How, then, did they proceed? The Introduction to the new lectionary lays down the principles:

• Scripture passages that are “truly difficult,” which present “serious literary, critical or exegetical problems” or which the faithful “may find too difficult to understand” are not employed on Sundays.

• In certain passages appointed to be read to the people, individual verses have occasionally been omitted, since they were deemed to be “of little pastoral worth, or involving truly difficult questions.”

• In some cases, individual verses in a reading are optional; in others, an entirely different reading may be substituted. “Pastoral reasons” and the ability of the people “to understand difficult texts correctly” will determine which option the priest chooses.  (See Work of Human Hands, 265)

One such “difficult” passage occurs in the Gospel in the traditional Missal for tomorrow, the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost:

At that time Jesus said to His disciples: Except your justice abound more than that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother: Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say: Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee, leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother; and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift. (Mt 5:20–25)

The difficult bit for the modernist, of course, is the line in bold: “whosoever shall say: Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

Thus, while the passage we have quoted above does indeed appear in the new lectionary for the Sixth Sunday of the Year in Year A (Lectionary §77), it is in a “long form” of the reading, for which an alternate and optional “short form” is provided. The latter omits the offending phrase.

So, take your pick: the hell or the non-hell option.

This is but one example in the new lectionary of how the men who promised us “more scripture” gave us less of its message. For other examples, see Work of Human Hands, 265–72.

The fate of Postcommunion prayer in the traditional Missal for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost is also of interest:

Grant, O Lord, we beseech Thee, that we whom Thou hast fed with the heavenly Gift, may be cleansed from our hidden sins and delivered from the snares of our enemies.

More “negative” theology — and even worse, the last few words could be construed as referring to the devil!

So, in the Missal of Paul VI the prayer has been entirely suppressed.

Lex orandi, lex credendi.

Posted in 09 Revised Orations, 10 Liturgy of the Word, WHH Chapter Topics | Comments closed

Eternal Things: No Loss?

IN A previous post, The World, the Sacred Heart and the New Mass, I noted how the old Postcommunion for the Feast of the Sacred was changed in the Missal of Paul VI in order to accommodate modernist theology on the world and earthly things.

Many of the changes in the Propers of the new Missal reflect this “new view of human values,” as Bugnini’s assistant, Carlo Braga called it. (See Work of Human Hands, 223). For the most part, such changes went unnoticed in traditionalist critiques of the reformed rite. But in the liturgy, the little stuff starts to add up.

In the Sunday orations in particular, the reformers routinely abolished or rewrote texts containing ideas that “contemporary man” (i.e., godless, secular man) finds disturbing. One such example is the tomorrow’s Collect for the Sunday within the Octave of Sacred Heart (Pentecost III), which was “sanitized” of unpleasant implications and then put to use in the new Missal’s 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Both the old and the revised texts begin the same way:

O God, the protector of those who hope in Thee,

without whom nothing is strong, nothing holy,

increase Thy mercy towards us;

that with Thee as ruler and guide,

The old text then continues:

we may so pass through the good things of time

that we may not lose the good things of eternity.

In the Missal of Paul VI — the Latin version, please note — this passage was was revised as follows:

we may now so use transient things

that we may cling to those things which endure.

The allusion to the possibility of damnation — the loss of heaven through the misuse of temporal things — has disap­peared. In its place is clinging to “things which en­dure,” a vague, though infinitely more positive notion. (See WHH, 228)

If even such a discreet mention of hell had to go, a fortiori the other more direct references in the collects of the traditional Missal had to disappear as well: everlasting death, eternal punishment, the pains of hell, its fire, etc. (See WHH, 227–8)

Contemporary man does not make hell part of his “new perspectives” — and the Missal of Paul VI is happy to oblige him.

“Hermeneutic of continuity”? Don’t believe it.

Lex orandi, lex credendi.

Posted in 09 Revised Orations, WHH Chapter Topics | Comments closed

Msgr. Marini and “Richness”

ONE OF the stars in the firmament for those who see Benedict XVI as a great restorer of traditional liturgical practices is Msgr. Guido Marini, Pontifical Master of Liturgical Ceremonies. (Pictured below.)

Msgr. Marini, appointed to his post in October 2007, is credited with giving Vatican ceremonies a more traditional look and feel. The spectacularly ugly modern liturgical furnishings used during the days of Paul VI and John Paul II (the dreary, plain chasubles, the bare high altar, the modern “twisted lizard” crucifix) have given way to Baroque miters, elaborate papal thrones, lace cottas, Renaissance altar frontals and embroidered dalmatics. The ceremonial for Masses celebrated in St. Peter’s is now far more elaborate and the tone for everything far more “traditional.”

This shift reflects not merely Msgr. Marini’s ideas on the liturgy, of course, but also those of Benedict XVI, a man of high culture and refined aesthetic sensibilities, who has long lamented many of the developments in the liturgy that occurred after Vatican II.

In January 2010, Msgr. Marini delivered a lengthy address criticizing the effects of the post-Vatican II liturgical reforms. His remarks seemed particularly significant, because one sensed in them an at least implicit awareness that the official reforms themselves — and not merely their application — caused some of the problems he described.

But the solution Msgr. Marini proposes is applying a “hermeneutic of continuity” to the liturgical reform — to maintain that there is no substantial difference between the old liturgy and the new liturgy. “Hermeneutic of continuity” is the buzz phrase, of course, that Benedict XVI uses for his broader theory that Vatican II represented no break at all with previous teaching, but merely continued and developed it.

In a recent interview, Msgr. Marini explained how this notion applies to the liturgy:

The hermeneutic of continuity highlights that in the life of the Church there is an authentic growth in the way in which they do not cut the roots, so that this development includes the richness of its history and tradition.

The phrase “richness of history and tradition” has profound appeal for traditionalists who reject the New Mass and the entire liturgical reform.

But lack of “richness” in the reformed rites is merely a symptom, not a cause. The latter must be sought in doctrinal basis for the Novus Ordo: ecumenism and modernism. The reform did in fact “cut at the roots,” so no hermeneutic of continuity is possible.

The Missal of Paul VI, for instance, contains only 36% of the orations found in the traditional Missal, and of these over half were changed, thus leaving a bare 17% of the prayers as they were before. And these changes and omissions affected the doctrinal content of the prayers. (See Work of Human Hands, 224–45)

In the face of these and countless other details in the New Mass, it is therefore impossible to speak of “continuity” on the doctrinal level.

So, overlaying this rite with lots of the ornate pre-Vatican II externals may look like “richness.” But it is mere camouflage for the doctrinal bankruptcy that lies beneath.

Lex orandi, lex credendi.

Posted in 01 Old Mass or New Mass, 14 Conclusions, WHH Chapter Topics | Comments closed

The World, the Sacred Heart and the New Mass

A PRIEST who offers the traditional Latin Mass soon becomes very familiar with the Propers for the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The feast itself falls on the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi, but the Missal prescribes the same texts for the Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart which is offered on First Fridays.

In the Postcommunion, the following phrase appears:

… having tasted the sweetness of Thy most dear Heart, may we learn to despise earthly things and love those of heaven.

The phrase in bold, “to despise earthly things” (terrena despicere), is one that recurs frequently in the orations that the old Missal prescribes for various feasts and observances throughout the liturgical year.

The expression reflects the teaching that there will always be a conflict between the Christian and the world. It is founded in Scripture (“Whosoever, therefore, will be the friend of the world,” says St. James, “becometh an en­emy of God”) and echoed in the writings of countless theologians, ascetics and saints throughout the ages. The traditional liturgy, therefore, points to this disdain for earthly things as something singularly virtuous.

Not so the new liturgy. The Missal of Paul VI excised this idea not only from the Mass of the Sacred Heart, but also from the many other prayers in the Missal where it formerly appeared, for example, from orations for the Second Sunday of Advent, and for the feasts of St. Peter Damian, St. Cajetan, St. Angela Merici, St. Casimir, St. Paulinus of Nola, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Hedwig, and St. Henry. (See Work of Human Hands, 231–4.)

The creators of the New Mass said that this change in the “doctrinal reality” that the prayers expressed reflected “the new view of human values” proposed by Vatican II (WHH, 223), and was “dictated by the new theology.” (WHH, 300)

Those of us who endured the post-Vatican II liturgical revolution recall the assurances that the liturgical changes in fact represented a “return to the sources” (ressourcement) or a restoration of  the spirit of the early Church. So, did the reformers then “restore” prayers from older liturgical sources that were more “positive” about the world?

Alas, no. A Secret from the old Leonine Sacramentary, for instance, contained the petition that we “be purified from the [moral] infections of the world.” But the man of today, said one of the revisers, believes that earthly reality is fundamentally sacred; the phrase would appear “severe” and would “collide with modern sensibilities.” Hence the petition in the “restored prayer” that appears in the Missal of Paul VI now merely asks that we “be freed from the allurements of the world.”  (WHH, 300–1)

Even some scripture texts were considered too much. The new Lectionary makes optional St. Paul’s condemnation of the “enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction; whose God is their belly, and whose glory is their shame,” and of those “who mind earthly things.” (Formerly, it was read on Pentecost XXIII.)

And the Lectionary permits a substitute reading for the passage containing Our Lord’s words: “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world, keepeth it unto life eternal.” (See WHH, 269)

And so it goes countless times in the New Mass. The differences between the old and the new rites run far deeper than atmosphere, “tradition” and “a sacrality which attracts.”

The Novus Ordo does indeed, as its creators stated, reflect a new “doctrinal reality.” And  it is for that reason that the faithful Catholic must reject it.

Lex orandi, lex credendi — the law of praying is the law of believing.

TALKS: I will be giving talks and signing copies of Work of Human Hands in Brooksville FL (June 16), Northeast Detroit (June 18) and Southwest Detroit (June 19).

Posted in 09 Revised Orations, 10 Liturgy of the Word, WHH Chapter Topics | Comments closed
  • Categories

  • Archives