ANY MODERN CATHOLICS believe that scholastic theology has been rendered obsolete by the “discoveries” of modern Scripture scholarship, modern philosophy, and, well, all things modern, which are generally perceived as improvements upon all that has come before. In like manner, modern(-ist) liturgists, like the members of Paul VI’s Consilium, believed that the Roman liturgy as inherited from the Middle Ages was burdened with grave defects that had to be corrected by a more scientific and more contemporary approach to liturgy. How wrong they were has been confirmed, sadly, by the mass exodus of faithful souls from the churches on Sundays, the greying of the diocesan clergy, the emptying of religious houses, the secularization of confessional schools, and, in short, to use Bouyer’s poignant phrase, the decomposition of Catholicism.
As students of Saint Thomas know, medieval theology is infinitely superior to modern theology qua modern; it surpasses it in depth, breadth, profundity, insight, coherence, truth, and above all, in fidelity to Sacred Scripture as the inspired, the truly revealed, word of God.
The liturgy, too, as it organically developed down through the ages participates in the same inspired and revealed quality, which is why it breathes the air of Scripture. It is thoroughly in accord not only with the text, which it uses in a totally integrated and familiar way, but also with the inner meaning, trajectory or tone, of Scripture. Take the Psalms, for example, of which the ancient Mass and Office are woven like a seamless garment from top to bottom.
The incoherent pluralism of Catholic theology at the start of the 21st century is anything but edifying—one symptom among many that the crisis in the Church has reached proportions comparable to those of the late Middle Ages, and will require a creative response as effective as that of the Counter-Reformation.
In like manner, the divisive pluralism of the liturgy today—the radically different manners in which the Ordinary Form can be celebrated, the encouragement (in the official rubrics!) of ad libbing, the loss of any certainty about what is and what is not Catholic, the cafeteria-style approach to tradition and doctrine that characterizes the entire daily life of the Church—is thoroughly disedifying and is, let us not mince words, a major impediment to the success, or perhaps even the start, of any new evangelization.