ROM A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE, László Dobszay has demonstrated that it’s incorrect to assume each Mass has its own “theme.” Even more erroneous is the notion that the Readings historically played the largest role in determining this “theme.” From a theological perspective, Fr. Deryck Hanshell has said:
In the name of the reform there has been a tendency to equate the “theme” of the Mass with the theme to be derived from the readings. This is a misunderstanding of the nature of the Mass, in which the liturgy of the word leads up to and is subordinate to the liturgy of the sacrifice. In every Mass there is properly speaking one theme and one theme alone: the theme of the paschal mystery, of the death and resurrection of Christ.
I had previously assumed that Fr. Josef Jungmann was aware of these two basic realities, so I was shocked to discover something he wrote in 1964:
Very often the Propers are not particularly apposite, bearing a particular reference neither to the rest of the Mass formula nor to the relevant part of the action of the Mass. In short, they need reforming.
The entire article is available at the following link:
Did you notice the horrible error made by Editor, by the way? He accidentally typed “OPPOSITE” instead of “APPOSITE”. Needless to say, there’s a huge difference! (For the record, Msgr. Schmitt often joked about how sloppy an editor he was.)
Anyway, getting back to that quote … it’s appalling! In essence, Jungmann is saying:
“I’ve decided that each Mass has a theme. If the ancient Propers don’t match the theme I’ve invented, let’s change them. Let’s ignore the incredible history of these prayers, which have been used for approximately 1,600 years.”
The spoken Propers were, in fact, radically reformed in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, but the Sung Propers were left largely untouched. The reformers also annihilated most of the Collects, perhaps because they didn’t sufficiently match the “theme.” Dr. Lauren Pristas wrote a book about this, which I mention in my article, “Bugnini wanted to get rid of Ash Wednesday.”
I challenge you to carefully read that quote by Jungmann several times. What he’s putting forth shows a total misunderstanding of the Church’s liturgical life. I realize this is a serious allegation, but I cannot see any other possible conclusion.