ULTON J. SHEEN was adamantly opposed to teachers who kept the same class notes each year and simply “transferred” them to the students. He didn’t consider that teaching. Similarly, a major criticism I have regarding some of today’s liturgical blogs is their heavy reliance on “cut and paste.” I’ve never considered cut/paste to be a skill—computers make it so easy! Moreover, this also frequently leads to poor formatting, which is insulting to readers (in my humble opinion).
On this blog, we assiduously avoid a “cut and paste” mentality, but sometimes it’s necessary & appropriate. I do cut and paste a few excerpts below, promoting an important article published in 2010 by Susan Benofy:
* * Part 2 • The Day the Mass Changed — By Susan Benofy
Like many articles on the ADOREMUS website, the content is excellent, but the formatting is rather poor…and hard on the eyes. Susan provides fascinating details about the post-conciliar changes, and mentions three pivotal books:
A major part of the “Parish Worship Program” consisted of three books. No author was given for these volumes, but each book had a signed Preface and listed contributors to its composition. Father H.A. Reinhold wrote a preface to one volume, Father McManus wrote the preface to another. Fathers McManus, Clement McNaspy and Eugene Walsh were all listed among the contributors, as were representatives of two commercial music publishers: the Gregorian Institute of America (GIA) and World Library of Sacred Music (now WLP). Father Godfrey Diekmann’s ideas are evident in the program’s recommendations. One of the books—Priest’s Guide to Parish Worship—has an imprimatur dated 22 May 1964.
(Do any readers own those books? If so, please email me.)
Susan includes quotes like the following, by Msgr. Fred McManus in July of 1980:
The reformed eucharistic liturgy of the Roman rite is a most extraordinary and revolutionary accomplishment. After four centuries of increasing rigidity of text and form, almost overnight the Roman liturgy changed so notably that once familiar features of the preconciliar rite are now as remote to us as some obscure aboriginal ritual.
Susan juxtaposes the sentiments of McManus with the actual words of Vatican II:
There must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing (Sacrosanctum Concilium §23).
Perhaps Susan’s most salient point is this one:
Archabbot Rembert Weakland insisted that liturgists were “attempting to restore the Proper to its rightful place,” even though he had previously admitted that the people had never sung the Proper.
She goes on to say:
Note the basic points of the argument here. Some liturgists interpret the participation required by the Constitution to require participation of the congregation in the singing of the Proper. But this interpretation has no explicit basis in the Constitution; furthermore, it is contrary to historical practice, since the Propers were sung by choirs ever since they originated in the 6th or 7th century. These same liturgists contend that it is impossible for congregations to sing the existing Propers, or even anything that could reasonably be called a Proper. That is, congregations cannot learn new texts and music proper to each Sunday and Feast. Paradoxically, then, defense of the alleged “right” of the people to sing the Propers means that the Propers must change radically—effectively eliminated—in order that the people can sing something else during the time the Proper is supposed to be sung.
We’ve often mentioned ironies of the post-conciliar reforms. In an effort to get people to “sing the Mass, not sing at Mass” the actual texts of the Mass were de facto eliminated and replaced with non-liturgical texts. Vatican II wanted to add more optional Scripture readings, but the big publishing companies ended up limiting the options to increase their profit. These days, everyone simply uses whatever is in the missalette, because it’s easier that way.
I will not continue to cut/paste Susan’s article, except a final quote from the Manual (1964):
Although the plain chant is one of the priceless treasures, it is primarily the domain of the monastery; it has never been the actual treasure of the American parish. Our priests were “exposed” to it during the formative years of the seminary training, and occasionally a hard-working choirmaster has introduced it, but not without hard effort and even some opposition. There is no need to fear that the chant will be lost, for the monastery will preserve it, whereas the parish never really possessed it. For the monk, Latin will not prove a barrier to his understanding of the Church’s ceremonial; for the average parishioner, English will prove an invitation to an understanding of the worship of the Whole Christ that Latin could never give.
Don’t tell that to my former Pastor, whose rural parish in the 1940s sang with gusto Mass I, Mass II, Mass III, Mass IV, Mass VIII, Mass IX, Mass XI, and several others!