Half a century ago, Pope Paul VI imposed a liturgical reform on the whole Church in the name of the Council which had just ended. Thus was born the Mass of Vatican II. It was immediately rejected by two cardinals and, since then, opposition to it has not weakened. This sad anniversary is an opportunity to retrace its history.
Before considering the liturgical reform of Paul VI and the New Mass, it is worth going through the history of the Roman missal, because his reform claims to be the homogeneous development of the past. Which is absolutely questionable. A historical step back makes it easy to see.
The first four articles brought us to the 19th century, to Dom Guéranger and to his magnificent work of restoration of the Roman liturgy, prelude and beginning of the liturgical movement. There is, however, in the work of the founder of Solesmes, a remarkable passage which fits happily into the study of the new Mass.
In the 14th chapter of the first book of the Liturgical Institutions, Dom Guéranger characterizes the anti-liturgical spirit in its various manifestations by speaking of heresy. By this term, which repelled Father Lacordaire who understood it in the strict sense, he did not mean the negation or the refusal of revealed truths of faith.
Under the name of anti-liturgical heresy, Dom Guéranger describes a spirit, an attitude which "goes against the forms of worship." It proceeds essentially by way of negation and destruction, which includes any transformation which upsets to the point of disfiguring. It always proceeds from a deep reason, which targets the beliefs themselves, because of the intimate link between the liturgy and the creed.
Dom Guéranger does not hesitate to qualify as sectarians those who work to destroy the liturgy at any time whatsoever. Admittedly, in most cases, they are not organized among themselves. But their action proceeding from the same motive, Dom Guéranger does not hesitate to group them under the general name of sect.
The author of the Liturgical Institutions discovers the first manifestations of it in Vigilance, a Gallic priest born around 370. He criticized the worship of the relics of saints as well as the symbolism of ceremonies, attacked the celibacy of sacred ministers and religious life, "all to maintain the purity of Christianity. "
Dom Guéranger goes through the history of the Church and stops at Protestantism, in which he discovers as a quintessence of anti-liturgical heresy. This is why he proposes a systematization of this attitude in twelve points. The capital interest of this description is to provide a sure means to flush out this heresy where it is hidden, and a key to understand the liturgical revolution undertaken by Vatican Council II.
An Innovative Spirit That Rejects Tradition
"The first characteristic of anti-liturgical heresy is the hatred of Tradition in the formulas of divine worship." The reason is clear: "Any sectarian wishing to introduce a new doctrine, is infallibly in the presence of the Liturgy, which is tradition at its highest power, and there can be no rest until he has silenced this voice, that he has not torn apart these pages which conceal the faith of centuries past.” Modernism, wanting to introduce its pernicious doctrines, could not ignore the liturgy: it had to be corrupted or not succeed.
The second principle, according to Dom Guéranger, is to want to replace the formulas of ecclesiastical style by readings of the Holy Scriptures. This makes it possible to silence the voice of tradition which the sect dreads above all; and that provides a way to propagate ideas through negation or affirmation. By way of negation: "by passing in silence, by means of a skilful choice, the texts which express the doctrine opposed to the errors which we want to prevail; by way of affirmation, by highlighting truncated passages that only show one side of the truth."
This principle was applied in the Novus ordo missae promulgated by Paul VI: by the addition of texts from the Holy Scriptures on the one hand, and by the deletion or modification of the very ancient and venerable orations of the Roman Missal. This point deserves a book. Four examples: the removal of the Roman directory, considered a "duplicate"; the expression of contempt for the things of this world - despicere terrena - which was encountered at least 15 times in the Tridentine Missal, and which is found only once in the new missal; the disappearance of the mention of the soul in the requiem mass; and finally the removal of part of Kyrie.
The third principle consists in manufacturing and introducing various formulas to encourage innovations. This is the case with the three new canons of the reform mass of Paul VI. The second canon is a hazardous reconstruction of an ancient prayer composed by an author who was presented as St. Hippolyte, but which, to this day, we do not really know who it is. Canon number 4 was entirely written by a liturgist, who finished his work on the corner of a bistro table. Let us also mention the change introduced into the rites of the seven sacraments, which have all been revised. This had never been seen in the history of the Church.
The fourth principle of the proponents of the anti-liturgical sect is "a usual contradiction with their own principles." The entire passage should be cited as it describes our modern liturgies. “Thus, all the sectarians, without exception, begin by claiming the rights of antiquity [what Pius XII condemns among the moderns as“ archeology ”]; they want nothing but primitive, and pretend to take over the Christian institution. To this end, they prune, they erase, they entrench, everything falls under their blows, and when we expect to see divine worship reappear in its first purity, it turns out that we are encumbered with new formulas which do not date only from the day before, which are unquestionably human, since the one who wrote them still lives.”
A Rationalist Spirit
The fifth principle wants "to cut off from worship all ceremonies, all formulas that express mysteries." It is known that neo-liturgists wanted to make the liturgy "accessible," by promoting "active participation." Dom Guéranger continues: “There is no longer an altar, but simply a table; more sacrifice, as in any religion, but only a supper; no more church, but only a temple, as among the Greeks and Romans; more religious architecture, since there are no more mysteries; no more Christian painting and sculpture, since there is no longer any sensitive religion; finally, no more poetry in a cult which is fertilized neither by love nor by faith." The iconoclastic madness that followed the Council is the irrefutable witness that confirms this analysis. As for true liturgical architecture and art, they have lived.
The sixth principle states that the removal of mysterious things produces "the total extinction of this spirit of prayer which is called anointing in Catholicism." The post-conciliar liturgical revolution produced a weakening of the faith and with it a drying up of piety, which was verified by the vertiginous fall of sacramental practice.
The seventh principle excludes the worship of the Virgin and the saints. This principle, which perfectly illustrates what happened in Protestantism, has not been expressed with the same vigor in the current reform. But there exists, in modern liturgies, a depreciation of the Marian worship and the worship of the saints, as well as the forms by which they are manifested. Due to the deep attachment of certain Catholic regions to these devotions, their manifestation remains limited and variable depending on the location.
The eighth principle is formulated by Dom Guéranger: "The liturgical reform having for one of its main purposes the abolition of mystical acts and formulas, it necessarily follows that its authors had to claim the use of the vulgar language in the divine service. This is therefore one of the most important points in the eyes of the sectarians." The Benedictine monk continues: "Let's face it, it is a master stroke of Protestantism to have declared war on the holy language; if he could successfully destroy it, his triumph would be well advanced. Offered to profane eyes, like a dishonored virgin, the Liturgy, from this moment, has lost its sacred character, and the people will soon find that it is not too worthwhile to let their work or pleasure go for go hear about it like you talk in the public square." Let the ecclesiastical authorities deign to recognize that the warning from the founder of Solesmes was prophetic.
Private and Social Consequences
In the ninth principle, the author shows that "by removing from the Liturgy the mystery which lowers reason, Protestantism was careful not to forget the practical consequence, namely the emancipation from fatigue and embarrassment that impose to the body the practices of the Liturgy. ...More fasting, more abstinence; more genuflection in prayer; for the temple minister more canonical prayers to be said in the name of the Church." The result is a decrease in "the sum of public and special prayers."
The tenth principle refuses papal power. If this refusal is categorical and definitive in Protestantism, it is none the less lively in the Modernist. Today the current which seeks to strip the papacy of its prerogatives - already at work through the texts of the Council on collegiality - has resumed vigor with the complicity of the Pope himself who always intends to "decentralize."
The eleventh principle states that anti-liturgical heresy needs "to destroy in fact and in principle all priesthood." Again, Protestantism was radical. But Modernism, by assimilating the common priesthood of the faithful and the ordained priesthood, distinguishing them only as degrees of the same priesthood, in fact achieves the same result. Among the Protestants, there are only lay people, because there is no longer a sacred liturgy. Among the Modernists, the priests performed almost on a par with the assembly in a disfigured liturgy.
The twelfth principle corresponds to the submission of Protestantism to temporal powers, by the loss of the unifying center that are Rome and the Pope. In modernism, it results in a centrifugal force which tends to separate the national churches from each other. This is embodied by the liturgical language passed to the vernacular, by the increasingly decentralized powers, by the democratic spirit infiltrating under the guise of synodality. A full-scale implementation of this principle is accomplished today in Germany through the "synodal path."
His deep knowledge of the Catholic liturgy and his great love for it allowed Dom Guéranger to grasp its greatness. In contrast, they led him to identify the constants of the anti-liturgical spirit. His work offers a precious diagnosis for our time, witness to a veritable rage of destruction of the Catholic liturgy.