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'Misunderstandings and irregularities' in post-Vatican II liturgyICEL head lists problems, highlights recent Dublin congress
5 July 2012, 16:00
The Pope's recent speech for the Eucharistic Congress raises criticisms of liturgical reform since Vatican II, argues Mgr Andrew Wadsworth, head of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL)
When I am in Rome, I hear very little these days about the ‘reform of the reform' - it just isn't within the arena of most people's awareness. In matters liturgical, if anything, we see something of a polarisation and many people seem to have a vested interest in promoting this. Happily, not everyone is of this view and I would like this evening to concentrate on one such person whose view, fortunately for us, will be decisive. I refer to the Holy Father. Just ten days ago, he addressed these thoughts to those gathered in Dublin for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress:
'The Congress also occurs at a time when the Church throughout the world is preparing to celebrate the Year of Faith to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the Second Vatican Council, an event which launched the most extensive renewal of the Roman Rite ever known. Based upon a deepening appreciation of the sources of the liturgy, the Council promoted the full and active participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic sacrifice. At our distance today from the Council Fathers' expressed desires regarding liturgical renewal, and in the light of the universal Church's experience in the intervening period, it is clear that a great deal has been achieved; but it is equally clear that there have been many misunderstandings and irregularities. The renewal of external forms, desired by the Council Fathers, was intended to make it easier to enter into the inner depth of the mystery. Its true purpose was to lead people to a personal encounter with the Lord, present in the Eucharist, and thus with the living God, so that through this contact with Christ's love, the love of his brothers and sisters for one another might also grow. Yet not infrequently, the revision of liturgical forms has remained at an external level, and 'active participation' has been confused with external activity. Hence much still remains to be done on the path of real liturgical renewal.' (Pope Benedict XVI - Video Message at the Closing Mass of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, Dublin June 17th, 2012)
During our brief time together, I propose to reflect with you on a few themes taken from this single recent utterance of the Holy Father, as I believe it is highly representative of his thought in relation to this all-important consideration. The Holy Father said that:
1.'The Second Vatican Council is an event which launched the most extensive renewal of the Roman Rite ever known'
Very few people could have foreseen the wholesale revision of the liturgy which would come in the wake of the Second Vatican Council and certainly few could foresee that the unifying experience of a Latin liturgy would become entirely alien to most Catholics born in the last third of the twentieth century. The unchangeable nature of this characteristic of the Liturgy was a view largely shared by Blessed John Henry Newman, Mgr Robert Hugh Benson, Mgr Ronald Knox and, until the liturgical reform happened, also by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Commentators such as Fr Joseph Gelineau SJ, composer of the famous psalm tones, went as far as to say: 'the Roman Rite, as we knew it, has been destroyed'!
The factors which fed into the liturgical reform after the Council were complex and in some ways, not entirely contemporary. I think we must admit that until relatively recently there has been very little scholarship that is able to accurately identify the sources of the liturgical reform. In some cases, the scholarly opinions upon which some decisions were based does not stand the test of time. We must hope that scholarly commentary which unravels some of the mystery surrounding the making of the new liturgy becomes more readily available in the near future.
Whether or not we have any scholarly insight, many of us have lived in the Church through this period and have thereby accumulated a vast reservoir of experiences which for good or ill shape our perceptions in relation to the liturgy and guide our expectations when we consider what we would hope to find when we come to worship God in the liturgy. While there is a sort of commonality to these observations across a wide spectrum of liturgical preference, it goes without saying that whether something is considered desirable or not will largely depend
on your view of what the liturgy is meant to achieve. I have come to the view that there is little agreement in this important matter and many people proceed on what is essentially a privatized view of something which is by definition common property.
In his address to the Eucharistic Congress, the Holy Father said:
2. 'A great deal has been achieved'
Obviously, there have been some very positive developments in the wake of the liturgical reforms that followed Vatican II. Among them, I would cite:
• The liturgies of the Sacred Triduum, largely unknown to a previous generation, have now become the liturgical heart of the year for most Catholics.
• The Liturgy of the Hours, previously largely limited to the clergy, has become more genuinely the Prayer of the Church in the experience of both religious and lay people.
• A wider selection of lections in the Mass and all the Sacramental Rites has strengthened the idea that Scripture is part of the primitive liturgical κήρυγμα.
• In those places where the principles of the liturgical movement have been applied to music, there is a greater appreciation of the various functions of music in different elements of the liturgy.
• The revision of the rites of Christian Initiation has led to a greater understanding of Baptism as the foundational fact of our ecclesial identity.
• Where provision has been made for individual Confession, there has been a return to the centrality of the Sacrament of Penance in the personal journey of conversion.
• The renewal of the Rite of the Worship of the Blessed Eucharist outside Mass has facilitated (if not quite inspired) the widespread adoption of Eucharistic Adoration as a standard element of parish life and as an important means of engendering private prayer.
On this recent occasion, the Holy Father also said:
3.‘It is equally clear that there have been many misunderstandings and irregularities'
• A sense of the communion of the Church has become limited to local communities that are in many ways self-selecting - many Catholics have a poor understanding of what it means to belong to the Universal Church but a highly developed understanding of what it means to belong to a self-selecting parish community of people like themselves.
• Any notion of the shape of the Liturgical year has been greatly lessened by an ironing-out of those features which characterized the distinctive seasons of the year.
• The universal tendency to ignore sung propers and to substitute non-liturgical alternatives.
• The transference of Solemnities which are holydays of obligation to Sundays destroys the internal dynamics of the liturgical cycle e.g. The Epiphany and The Ascension.
• The frequent tendency to gloss or paraphrase the liturgical texts, supplying continuous commentary, has contributed to an improvised or spontaneous character in much liturgical celebration.
• The multiplication of liturgical ‘ministries' has led to considerable confusion and error concerning the relationship between the ministerial priesthood and the common priesthood of the baptized.
• The liturgy often seems to have the quality of a performance with the priest and liturgical ministers cast in the roles of performers and behaving accordingly. Consequently, congregations are often expecting to be ‘entertained' rather as spectators might be at a theatre.
• The manner of the distribution and reception of Holy Communion (including the appropriateness of one's reception of Communion at a particular Mass) has led to a casual disregard for this great Sacrament.
• A proliferation of Communion Services presided over by lay people has resulted in a lessening of the sense of the importance of the Eucharistic sacrifice.
• The appalling banality of much liturgical music and the lack of any true liturgical spirit in the use of music in the liturgy has been a primary generating force in anti-liturgical culture.
The Holy Father then went on to say that:
4. 'Not infrequently, the revision of liturgical forms has remained at an external level, and 'active participation' has been confused with external activity.'
In my view, this is the very crux of the matter and I would like to illustrate it with reference to the Mass at which Pope Benedict's remarks were heard - the closing Mass of the recent Eucharistic Congress in Dublin. The improvements in liturgical culture and particularly the improvements in liturgical music, that have become increasingly evident throughout this papacy, particularly in large-scale celebrations were sadly almost entirely absent from this occasion, giving the event a sort of ‘eighties' feel to it. More specifically:
• The entire liturgy had a ‘performance' quality to it, with the assembly as the principal focus. This was borne out by the fact that musical items were frequently greeted with applause.
• There was a frequent disregard for the provisions of the GIRM.
This was particularly evident with reference to music:
• None of the antiphons of the proper were sung for the entrance, offertory and communion processions (cf GIRM #40)
• Gregorian Chant was conspicuous by its absence (cf GIRM #41). None of the Missal chants was used for the people's parts of the Order of Mass (with the single exceptions of the gospel and preface dialogues), even though the liturgy was predominantly in English and these chants would have been known by most people present.
• In the Profession of Faith, after the Cardinal celebrant had intoned Credo III, lectors read the Apostles' Creed (which has a different intonation to the Nicene Creed) in a variety of languages, spoken paragraphs were punctuated by the sung response ‘Credo, Amen!' This is not recognizably one of the modes for the Creed described in the GIRM (cf GIRM #48).
• Much music did not ‘correspond to the spirit of the liturgical action' [GIRM #41] such as the celebrity spot during the distribution of Holy Communion of 3 clerical tenors, ‘The Priests', singing the impossibly sentimental song 'May the road rise up to meet you'. I feel like asking, just what is wrong with the Communion antiphon and psalm?
• Despite the international character of the occasion, the use of Latin in the people's sung parts was almost non-existent (cf GIRM#41).
The depressing cumulative effect of the disregard for all these principles in a major liturgy, celebrated by a papal legate, and broadcast throughout the world, is hard to underestimate. If I were given to conspiracy theories, I would almost feel persuaded that this was a deliberately calculated attempt to broadcast a different message and to oppose the better liturgical spirit of recent times. But surely it cannot be so?
I think we have to ask such questions and indeed to surmise that the influence of former barons of the liturgical establishment has found a new and conspicuous arena of activity in which to model their example of poor liturgy. There can be no talk of the reform of the Roman Rite until the GIRM is enforced as the minimum requirement. If it remains a largely fantasy text at the beginning of our altar missals then ‘the rebuilding of the broken down city' will take a very long time.
The Holy Father then concluded by stating that:
5. 'Much still remains to be done on the path of real liturgical renewal'
We must conclude by agreeing with the Holy Father - there is much to be done and happily a week like this one is a prophetic sign of the new liturgical road map - where we are going and how we are going to do it! In an attempt to engender on-going improvement in the quality of our liturgy, and in the hope that Catholics will be able to encounter a liturgy that is self-evidently expressive of our liturgical tradition and conveys a sense of something larger than the purely local, in a highly personal view, I would identify the following as desirable characteristics of the liturgy of the future:
• A sense of reverence for the text: the unity of the Roman Rite is now essentially a textual unity. The Church permits a certain latitude in the interpretation of the norms that govern the celebration of the liturgy and hence our unity is essentially textual: we use the same
prayers and meditate on the same Scriptures. This is more clearly evident now with a single English text for universal use.
• A greater willingness to heed Sacrosanctum concilium rather than continual recourse to the rather nebulous concept of the ‘spirit of the Council' which generally attempts to legitimize liturgical abuses rather than correct them. Currently, these teachings are more likely to be evidenced in a well-prepared presentation of the Extraordinary Form than in most Ordinary Form celebrations. It need not be so.
• In relation to both forms of the Roman Rite, a careful attention to the demands of the calendar and the norms which govern the celebration of the liturgy, not assuming that it is possible or acceptable to depart from these norms.
• A re-reading of the encyclical Mediator Dei of Pope Pius XII in conjunction with more recent Magisterial documents. In this way, the light of tradition might be perceived to shine on all our liturgical celebrations.
• The widespread cultivation of a dignified and reverent liturgy that evidences careful preparation and respect for its constituent elements in accordance with the liturgical norms.
• A recovery of the Latin tradition of the Roman Rite that enables us to continue to present elements of our liturgical patrimony from the earliest centuries with understanding. This necessarily requires a far more enthusiastic and widespread commitment to the teaching and learning of Latin in order that the linguistic culture required for interpreting our texts and chants may be more widely experienced and our patrimony enjoy a wider constituency.
• We should seek to see the exclusion of all music from the Liturgy which does not a ‘liturgical voice', regardless of style.
• The exclusion from the liturgy of music which only expresses secular culture and which is ill-suited to the demands of the liturgy. A renaissance of interest in and use of chant in both Latin and English as a recognition that this form of music should enjoy ‘first place' in our liturgy and all other musical forms are suitable for liturgical use to the extent that they share in the characteristics of chant.
• An avoidance of the idea that music is the sole consideration in the liturgy, the music is a vehicle for the liturgy not the other way around!
• A commitment to the celebration and teaching of the ars celebrandi of both forms of the Roman Rite, so that all priests can perceive more readily how the light of tradition shines on our liturgical life and how this might be communicated more effectively to our people.
• A clearer distinction between devotions, non-liturgical forms of prayer and the Sacred Liturgy. A lack of any proper liturgical sense has led to a proliferation of devotions as an alternative vehicle for popular fervour. This was a widespread criticism of the liturgy before the Council and we now have to ask ourselves why the same lacuna has been identified in the newer liturgical forms.
• A far greater commitment to silence before, during and after the Liturgy is needed.
Having travelled the English-speaking world very widely in preparation for the implementation of the English translation of the third typical edition of the Missale Romanum, and having experienced the liturgy in a wide variety of circumstances and styles, I would conclude that I have generally encountered a great desire for change, although not always among those who are directly responsible for the liturgy. I think we are currently well placed to respond to this desire and this is evidenced by the fact that many things which were indicated fifty years ago, such as the singing of the Mass, and more particularly the singing of the proper texts rather than the endless substitution of songs and hymns, are only now being seriously considered and implemented. It is earnestly to be desired that such developments continue to flourish and that an improved liturgical culture is accessible to everyone in the Church.
Crucial to this peaceful revolution has been the leadership and example of the present Holy Father who has consistently studied and written about the liturgy in a long life of scholarship which now informs his governance of the Church's liturgical life. Much that he commends was already evident in aspects of liturgical scholarship from the early twentieth century onwards. In our own time, however, it is finally being received with the joy and enthusiasm that it merits. A new generation of Catholics eagerly awaits a greater experience of the basic truth that the liturgy is always a gift which we receive from the Church rather than make for ourselves. The Church Music Association of America and all those who identify with its initiatives and benefit from its prophetic lead have a very serious and a highly significant contribution to make to this process. May God bless us all as we share in his work.
Mgr Andrew Wadsworth was delivering the keynote address to the Church Music Association of America in Salt Lake City on 27 June
27 September 2012 9:49 (34 of 34)
'The Liturgy of the Hours, previously largely limited to the clergy, has become more genuinely the Prayer of the Church in the experience of both religious and lay people.' Yes, but the numbers of clergy and religious have dropped so much that the nuimber of people saying the Liturgy of the Hours is probably smaller overall.
Fr Anthony Musaala
4 August 2012 23:15 (33 of 34)
Liturgy is not an end in itself. Surely liturgy simply serves to facilitate our prayer TOGETHER as the assembled people of God, and is not the be all and end all of christian life. Behind all the present liturgical distress,( which may not be so easily overcome with 'reforms of the reform',) I wonder whether there isn't just a hunger for God, for prayer, for meaning, for truth... Of course good liturgy should address this deep need...but I suspect that whether traditionalist or liberal, we have come to expect rather too much from what we call 'liturgy'! Prayer, we should remember does not begin nor does it end with the liturgy.Prayer begins with me. If I come to liturgy devoid of any personal meaningful relationship with God, perhaps because God is not the real focus of my life,or,I have no real time for God,or for meditation;or for God's word,or for some real mission or witness, or ministry; then I might just look to the liturgy to just give me my weekly spiritual ' fix'. (And get very upset when it doesn't!) I may idealize impossibly about correct liturgies of the past or present,, or just trivialize liturgical celebrations to mask my boredom with them, while all the time evading the real question of where I stand with God and with other people in my life. Each one of us brings a contemplative and charismatic dimension to the liturgy, by the kind of lives we live. Both those dimensions are echoed back to us in the liturgy .If we are really 'bearing fruit' and allowing God to 'prune' us, charity will surely overflow bringing us into deep fellowship with God and one another, whatever the liturgical standard. Not that we should be content with sloppiness of course, but neither should we foist 'disciplines' and excessive liturgical correctness upon worshippers, who we presume will by dint of that alone,once again immediately experience the' mystery, dignity and beauty of the liturgy.' In any case let all reformers remember to be reformed, since 'Nemet dat quod non habet'..you cannot give what you dont have. Fr Anthony Musaala Kampala Uganda
20 July 2012 12:40 (32 of 34)
Different people like different styles of music,and worship. Some people are more formal, others more relaxed - Jesus seems to have been relaxed about many things. 'He who is not against you is for you. ' To raise up one style as somehow 'better' , than the other,that is, more moral, or morally acceptable to God is very strange. Music affects the hearts and minds of the listeners, but not all in the same way.Formal ritual has been used by many for many different purposes and some of them evil (Nazis, Masons etc.) Music expresses emotion: joy, sadness, grief, celebration, pomp and circumstance - and partying. I think Jesus liked parties. There is nothing particularly holy about Latin, any more than English or Aramaic. It's just a language which has constanly changed throughout the centuries - into Italian, French , Spanish Romanian etc. splitting music and ritual into 'morally good' and 'morally bad' ignores human psychology which creates the music in the first place. Pauline Webb
20 July 2012 11:36 (31 of 34)
What sort of God do we worship if we are afraid to enjoy the celebration of the Eucharist on a Sunday.
12 July 2012 6:47 (30 of 34)
The multiplicity of communion services has nothing to do with removing the uniqueness of the eucharist. The Vatican's steadfast refusal to discuss married clergy is the problem. A little honesty for a change on this matter would be most welcome.
Fr Peter Sharrocks
11 July 2012 11:24 (29 of 34)
I find Mgr Wadsworth's comments somewhat rude. All those who attended the Congress that I have spoken to were impressed with the liturgies and the care with which they were celebrated. Mgr Wadsworth would be better devoting his time to providing an understandable English translation of the Missal.
10 July 2012 23:25 (28 of 34)
I live in Ireland but I didn't go to the Congress because I guessed the ceremonies would be like that. May I not die before I see the final extinction of the made-up 'Spirit of Vatican II'.
10 July 2012 18:06 (27 of 34)
I have yet to hear a priest whose first language is English make anything but disparaging comment about the new translation foisted upon us. Church Latin was never glorious or mysterious. It was the lingua franca of the time. It (and its current English transliteration) is no longer such.
9 July 2012 18:48 (26 of 34)
I Am SO Glad that the The Tablet Published this Much Needed Article that Every Average Catholic must Read.
9 July 2012 17:03 (25 of 34)
Sadly, none of this will help evangelise people. Reintroducing Latin which is no longer taught in the vast majority of schools will not bring people back to Church. Using ancient chants will simply encourage choirs to perform rather than lead the people in prayer. Tradition is all very well, but you've got to bring people back first otherwise sooner or later the priest will be saying Mass on his own every day.
9 July 2012 17:00 (24 of 34)
This speech given by Msgr. Wadsworth is the single most refreshing piece I have read in the Tablet in years. His assessment is completely spot-on and my hope is that the Tablet publishes more pieces by him. I hope he is named a bishop.
9 July 2012 12:02 (23 of 34)
At the Eucharistic Congress closing Mass in particular there were way too many Eucharistic Ministers distributing Holy Communion in the presence of nearly 1,000 Priests. I know of people personally who did not receive Holy Communion as they did not want to receive from a lay person. Though personally I would believe it is better to receive anyway as it is still Jesus present in the Holy Eucharist and it was not the fault of the congregation that this happened. I thought this was really sad that this should happen at a Eucharistic Congress but I also believe it shows to the whole Church how much we need new leadership in our Church in Ireland and how we need good and holy men who will listen and put in place what the Church teaches.
8 July 2012 18:23 (22 of 34)
I am not as skilled as some in my ability to write but I will attempt to give my thoughts. I often get the impression when I read things like Mgr Wadsworth's that there is greater importance given to academic and historical aspects of our church and it's liturgy than to its purpose as I see it which is to enable people to worship and pray to God. The recent translation indicates to me a lack of interest in the people of God who sit in the benches willing and longing to pray to God with their hearts and minds. This cannot be done wholeheartedly when the wording is staid and awkward as some of the translation is. The liturgy should NOT be a reflection of the talent and academic ability of its writers to prove how clever they are or how close to the Latin they can make it. It should primarily be written by these talented people as a way to enhance the prayer and worship of the people. Music should of course be liturgical but that does not mean it should be limited to traditional style. Again the music is a means of raising our prayer to God and that can be done in plain chant, hymn, folk, even rock in its place. The return of the abstinence from meat on Fridays has largely been ignored as far as I can see - its reintroduction a sign of how far away from the people the church leaders are. Christ met people where they were, He wouldn't have dreamed of speaking to them in language which needed a translation or an academic degree. He always criticised the Pharisees for their emphasis of rules and regulations. I pray for a church which enables us it's people in the benches to pray words which have beauty and meaning and which unite us with God in the celebration of the Eucharist. I pray for a church which worries less about Latin and rubrics than about where it's people are in the world and how they can lead us to a greater and more intimate relationship with God and guide us in the reality of our every day lives.
8 July 2012 14:22 (21 of 34)
Msgr. Wadsworth's first sentence points quite clearly to the problem the Church faces today. The disconnect between 'Rome' and the people is deep and wide. I agree there is polarization it is fed by an institutional leadership acting on a medieval structure that can only be effective with a people willing to relinquish freedom of thought and will. Vatican II displaced the pendulum and set it in motion. It has now swung far, far to the right. It will once again attain equilibrium. This is the history of all great reforms in our church. The 'Spirit' (read truth) of Vatican II lies not in the struggle of the Roman Curia to impose discipline on the people of God and the forward momentum of an ever evolving Tradition, as it attempted, but failed to do at the council itself, but in the collective faith and wisdom of the entire global community of Catholic people, laity, clergy and, yes, Rome.
8 July 2012 6:24 (20 of 34)
Universality in the Church is damaged when GIRM is ignored even in part. Priestly identity as an MC or centre of attention detract from worship of God. As a Church based on he Eucharist we need to see a liturgy based less on personality and banal music for entertainments sake and one that gives is the glimpse of otherness and challenges our secular expectations that often relegate Mass into a community gathering. Yes, reform of the liturgy is essential in reforming our spirituality and turning us to God.
8 July 2012 1:57 (19 of 34)
I grew up as a child of the council. I remember some Latin at benediction and with great fondness I recall the grown up hymns that we occasionally sung. I do remember very clearly sitting on the floor of the school hall while a kaftan clad teacher taught us hymns on a guitar. I didn't like the hymns but knew that they were for little children and that when I was older I would learn proper hymns with melody and harmony and maybe accompanied by a grown instrument like an organ. I wasn't worried that the children's hymns were increasingly sung by adults; I simply assumed that they were being nice because I and other children were present. As I grew older I started to learn of the history of the church to which I belonged and that there had been a different mass. No one said it was bad but everyone appeared uncomfortable when it was talked about. That was an increasingly common expression as I grew older. And it gradually dawned on me that things were not becoming more mature, quite the opposite I was watching a progressive degeneration where increasingly bizarre liturgy was encouraged. Perhaps that how I came to burn the carpet of our church after its reordering during the consecration of the old altar stone by the parish priest who had undertaken the role because the Bishop would not! There are indeed many blessings that have come to us from the Council. Throwing open the windows did allow fresh air into the house; leaving the windows open has allowed dust and rubbish to blow in and I sure there used to be more chairs, a carpet, stations of the cross, candles, vestments etc. Progress has been in many case degeneration: children's pictures attached to carved lecterns with drawing pins, drop down screens and pop up projectors and my very favourite, liturgical dance to pop tunes performed by confused and anxious children to equally confused and anxious adults. Catechists who say in public that a parish would be better off without a priest than with a priest who challenges the local liturgical norms lead this isolated, shrinking and confused population, protected from the 'bad bishop' and 'dreadful Pope' I hope that we can be inspired and not merely enthused
8 July 2012 1:13 (18 of 34)
Excellent comments, bravo, especially the entertainment issue. Many Priest and laity are expecting mass to be a funny, clapping and feel good show. Mass is boring to the laity, do we worship man or God?
8 July 2012 0:35 (17 of 34)
There can be no reform of the Reform until the prohibition of using much of the ceremonial of the Ancient Rite is removed.
7 July 2012 21:59 (16 of 34)
Great speech by Mgr Wandsworth he highlights so much of what is ails the Church today. It is interesting to note that what he says is clearly in accord with the intentions of our Holy Father and one wonders therefore why those who have made negative comments feel that they are the ones in communion with the successor of Peter
7 July 2012 18:24 (15 of 34)
Not a regular reader of the Tablet, I stumbled on this article and read it with a degree of surprise, disbelief and growing frustration. I'm sure that Mgsr Wadsworth travelled far and wide during the implementation of the new English liturgy, however I would contend that he spoke with the wrong people. I am certainly not the only person at our Parish and Diocese who detests the new English translation and who questions the (barely explained and rational) theology behind it. For example, having been brought up speaking English and Polish, I can understand where this new version comes from: 'Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.' However, the older English version: 'Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.' ...contains hope and clarity! Whereas the new version only talks about healing of the Soul, the old version talks about full healing - mind, body, spirit, soul, the lot! As someone who was dealing with health problems at the time of the change, I was particularly struck by this. Are we to accept that we no longer are to believe in miracles of healing of the body? How will the Church address that? This 'reform of the reform' is driving the Church away from its congregation. The 'misunderstanding and irregularities' are a sign of life and renewal in the Church. I see the Church's response as a way to impose central control and I'm afraid that it will only alienate the congregation. It probably comes across in this post, but I am angry and frustrated at a Church that has systematically moved away from renewal and from the Spirit. I pray that those with a voice - and clearly regular parishioners like me have no voice - will seek guidance for true renewal!
7 July 2012 10:15 (14 of 34)
While one may not agree with everything that Mgr. Wadsworth has to say one would have to agree that the communion pieces and the manner of their 'performance' at the IEC in Dublin were most unsuitable. Apllauding our liturgy is like dancing around the golden calf. That said the Mass was a beautiful occasion and I was pleased to be their and grateful to all who worked so hard to do what was on the whole a great service for us and to us. Thank you
Brian MacGarry (Harare)
7 July 2012 9:26 (13 of 34)
This, like any list of comments that is so long, is a bit of a curate's egg. I find, and so do many I know, that silence and reverence are helped by understanding what is going on rather than the silence forced by exclusion because everything is done in a dead language - indeed, one that was probably stillborn. Gregorian chant has a valuable place, but it certainly isn't the only liturgical music. Otherwise Bach wasted a lot of his time. The development of liturgical music in many languages of Africa and the musical idioms of its peoples has had very positive effects. Growing appreciation of the sacrament of reconciliation 'where provision has been made for individual confession' falsely implies that this is a rarity. Why no positive appreciation of that real rarity, communal celebration of this sacrament? A group that selects itself according to its insistence on only one possible liturgical form claims it is not 'self-selecting?' The negative remraks about the variety of ministries sound like an expression of fear that clerical domince will be lost. I have long felt uneasy with the moving of major feasts to Sundays. That doesn't commit me to Latin language, to insisting on communion on the tongue, to excluding suitable vernacular hymns at entrance, offertory, between readings or at communion. Does 'ironing out those features that made liturgical seasons distinctive' refer to the way the calendar has once again become encrusted with little known saints days and such superfluities as 'Divine Mercy' within the Easter octave? - marked features in some minds of the last papacy.
7 July 2012 8:32 (12 of 34)
I agree with Monsignor completely! This is a well-written article that points to many prolems we face today. I pray for the proper corrections to be made quickly for the good of all.
7 July 2012 5:48 (11 of 34)
At the end of Vatican II, it was understandable that many of the bishops were enthused over the new liturgical norms of the Novus Ordo. However, in their enthusiasm (which I call the 'spirit' of Vatican II, or the 'zeitgeist' of Vatican II more properly) our shepherds did not valiantly lead us to a much deeper understanding of the Mass, or the Church, for that matter. They let others do it, without much intervention, which is why we had such a confusion. But the confusion was going to break forth anyway, with or without Vatican II, which I still see as a positive, for the most part. It is my opinion that the Church and the world would have been in a worse situation if liturgical changes were not forthcoming, or if Vatican II never took place.
7 July 2012 4:27 (10 of 34)
Nice comments Father. I attend both liturgies and I do observed what you wrote ... spot on.
7 July 2012 2:26 (9 of 34)
As a long suffering Australian layman who has had to cringe at so called modern musical offerings at the Mass I am at last at home in a parish that does incorporate the traditional plain chant, afro rhythmns in liturgically based music, and classical Eucharistic hymns in both English and Latin. My vote is with the Monsignor.
6 July 2012 21:26 (8 of 34)
Msgr Wadsworth was one of the people responsible for the pompous, unmusical and barely English translation which we now suffer. He doesn't fill me with inspiration. The Church is going to be left with a rump of supposedly dogmatically pure people who will have driven away so many of us who are desperately trying to cling on to our faith in the face of the child abuse scandals and the misogynistic attitude of some in the hierarchy.
Rev William A White
6 July 2012 20:32 (7 of 34)
The Msgr. comes across as absolutizing the 'tradition'/past practice is such a way that strikes me as denying the presence of Christ still active in his Church. Trent straight-jacketed the Liturgy for 400 years, so there was bound to be renewal and reform not all of a piece. Let's not be so quick to run to the past if we are uncomfortable with the present. Christ is still head of his Church and his Spirit is still at work as Jesus promised. Our task is to discern what the Spirit is saying wihin the Body of Christ. And let's be honest, the so-called new Roman Missal in English is a poverty-striken product - it does not do justice in any way to the Mystery it purports to point to and express. On with the reform!
6 July 2012 18:58 (6 of 34)
1. Mgsr Wandsworth affirms: 'Commentators such as Fr Joseph Gelineau SJ, composer of the famous psalm tones, went as far as to say: 'the Roman Rite, as we knew it, has been destroyed'!' Mgsr Wandsworth fails to give reference to context: i.e., did Gelineau mean by this what the Monsignor wants him to make him say? [I note in passing that this quote from Gelineau is much used (subjectively, I would say 'abused') by Michael Davies: is the latter the Monsignor's speech writer?] 2. I suggest that the Monsignor visits the Lefebvrist church in Paris (incognito would be best): he will discover that it is the one of the prime European distribution centres for virulent anti-semitic literature. This is not a 'coincidence'. It seems to be a genetic feature of SSPX. The Mgsr should be invited to spell out how he intends to deal with this in his negotiations with them.
6 July 2012 17:39 (5 of 34)
And I read the good Mgr's talk on the day that the Gospel reading spoke of Jesus welcoming tax-collectors and sinners. Would that he had welcomed Liturgy perfectionists! It is not the healthy who need the doctor but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice.
6 July 2012 16:29 (4 of 34)
I'm shaking my head at these comments from Msgr. Wadsworth. The 'reform of the reform' will be complete with his oversight and the Roman Church will speak to the few who will remain within it. Meanwhile, the many who are being dismissed, forced out, or suppressed are going elsewhere. This 'Dark Winter' in the RC Church will not last, for Christ, who is Light to the nations, continues to lead the way to God. But, it does speak to these being the final days of Vatican imperialism. May God have mercy on us all.
6 July 2012 16:18 (3 of 34)
The SSPX is not self-selecting. There are people from all walks of life, all races and all political persuasions (permissible within Catholic morality). The only similarity they have is a sense of confusion on what is going on in the Novus Ordo Church and a suspicion of the modern world, because it makes attaining salvation so difficult.
Fr John Wotherspoon (Hong Kong)
6 July 2012 10:21 (2 of 34)
Re the final Mass of the Dublin Eucharistic Congress. Where did the Msgr think he was? At a SSPX gathering? The Msgr says 'When I am in Rome, I hear very little these days about the 'reform of the reform' - it just isn't within the arena of most people's awareness'. This is true of most places....most people are still not aware of the big picture of the 'reform of the reform'...which is why I have put a file 'Agenda of the reform of reform' at top of website www.v2catholic.com . The agenda includes many of the things the Msgr has mentioned in his article. If the reform of the reform is successful, people at future Eucharistic Congresses will be at a SSPX gathering
5 July 2012 18:02 (1 of 34)
The Msgr lists among 'misunderstanding and irregularities' self-selecting communities of worship. Is not that exactly what the extra-ordinary form has bred? How can self-selection be a problem for the Novus Ordo liturgy but not for the extraordinary form?