The Order of Mass

After a brief hiatus, I am delighted to post the next post on this blog, courtesy of Ttony, of The Muniment Room blog.

This is a short extract from Mgr Anibale Bugnini’s “The Reform of the Liturgy 1948—1975”. While short, I believe it conveys the mindset of those involved in creating the New Order of Mass. As Bugnini comments on what Cardinal Heenan said, I have added his comments as an Appendix at the end. 

This extract is not offered as an opportunity for competitive fisking: rather it is an opportunity to explore what the “experts” had come to believe by 1965 was wrong with the Mass and how the wrongs could be righted. There are a few clues along the way about what constituted the intellectual foundation on which reform was to be built, but we can also see the arbitrary exercise of papal privilege as well (it is ironic that Paul VI was the last to be able to exercise it so arbitrarily). The pace the reformers imposed on their project is also worthy of note.


The Order of Mass


The programme for the revision of the Roman Missal provided for seven study groups, of which group 10 was assigned to study the Order of Mass. It thus became the group from which the others took their lead.

The following directives were issued to this group:

1  The group is to implement article 50 of the liturgical Constitution: “the Order of Mass is to be revised in a way that will bring out more clearly the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, and more readily achieve the devout, active participation of the faithful. For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance; elements that, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated or were added with but little advantage are now to be discarded; other elements that have suffered injury through accident of history are now, as may seem useful or necessary, to be restored to the vigour they had in the tradition of the Fathers”.

2  The problems connected with the Order of Mass are among the most complicated and difficult of the entire liturgy; one reason for this is that they have to do with the rite that is at the centre of worship and that is the supremely important pastoral standpoint. For this reason an effort has been made to have the two areas of history and pastoral care represented in the study group.

3  Although the Mass is a sensitive and complicated subject, it also has the advantage of being the most fully studied of all the liturgical rites. The literature on the subject is very extensive; the group will have to be fully cognizant of it. In any case, the individuals called to work in the group are for the most part writers internationally famous for their solid works on the Mass. It is enough to mention Father Jungmann and Monsignor Righetti.

4  As part of the work done by the preparatory commission, the scholars in charge of this area produced complete plans for simplification and renewal. At the time, these were set aside because it was decided to include only guidelines of a general kind in the liturgical Constitution. All that material is now to be utilised.

5  Another valuable source that did not exist a few years ago is the critical editions of the sacramentaries and Ordines; with the aid of these it is possible to follow the present-day rites, and especially the Mass, from their birth to their manifold developments. Nowadays nothing eludes the historian and critic. Therefore every change proposed is to be exhaustively documented.

6  Since the pastoral aspect of the rite of Mass is regarded as exceptionally important in the present reform, it seems appropriate that once the work of the “technicians” is complete, the “critical” pastoral sense of a sizeable group of parish priests should have its say. These men are to be chosen from various countries and various types of parishes. Room is also to be made for some experiments (on the basis of article 40), these being limited to some “circles”, churches, or parishes.

  1. First phase of the work (April 1964 – October 1965)

The group set to work in a decisive manner and in accordance with rigorous methods of research. The first meeting was held at Rome in April 1964. As a result of it, on April 17, at the second general meeting of the Consilium, Monsignor Wagner was able to present a report on the work that needed to be done. He asked for a reply to 5 questions; the answers adopted would indicate clearly the basis on which the schema of the reformed Mass was to be constructed. 

The questions had to do with the norms governing the work; article 50 of the liturgical Constitution; the readings and Mass; the prayer of the faithful; communion under two kinds; and concelebration. I shall deal with the first two hear and take up the others at their proper places.

1)                  Norms governing the work

The group was to base its activity primarily on the mandate given by the Council, while also taking into account the reports made by the conciliar commission in the Council hall. In addition the group was to have before them:

a) the minutes of the preparatory commission, especially the declarationes on each article; although these possessed no juridical authority, they were greatly valued for an understanding of the text on which the Fathers voted;

b) the views of the bishops as contained in the acts of the antepreparatory commission of the Council;

c) the work of the commission established by Pius XII for the reform of the liturgy;

d) the works of the most qualified authors on the subject.

In principle, no door was to be closed to the investigators; their purpose, after all, was not to essay an archaeological restoration but to see to it that “any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing” (SC 23).

The fathers approved these norms. 

2) Problems connected with SC 50 

Article 50 of the constitution on the Liturgy sets down six requirements: (1) that the distinctive character of each part, as well as their interconnections, appear clearly; (2) that a devout and active participation of the faithful be made easier; (3) that the rites be simplified; (4) that doublets and less useful additions be eliminated; (5) that worthwhile elements lost in the course of time be restored; and (6) that the substance of the rites be faithfully maintained. 

The preparatory commission had drawn up a detailed explanation (declaratio) of this article. It began by recalling the need for a clear distinction between the liturgy of the Word and the liturgy of the Eucharist. It then went on to say that the parts of the Order of Mass that seemed in need of careful revision were the opening rites, the offertory, the communion, and the dismissal, all of which had acquired new elements when the Roman Rite was accepted in Gaul. There was need, for example, of:

a) reducing the number of signs of the Cross, kissings of the altar, genuflections, bows, and other such gestures;

b) shortening and simplifying the prayers at the foot of the altar;

c) facing the congregation while proclaiming the readings;

d) allowing the participation of the congregation or its representatives in the offertory rite, at least on more solemn days (as in the Ambrosian Rite); the prayers that accompanied the offering of the gifts should bring out the aspect of oblation, and the prayer over the gifts should be said aloud;

e) increasing the number of prefaces and reciting the Canon aloud;

f) also saying aloud the embolism of the Our Father, as at the Good Friday liturgy;

g) improving the organisation of the fraction;

h) removing the restrictions on communion of the faithful at some Masses;

i) shortening the communion formula to, for example, “The Body of Christ.—Amen”, as in the writings of St Ambrose;

j) ending Mass with the blessing and the dismissal, “Go, the Mass is ended”.

While accepting the suggestions, the group formulated other worthwhile observations:

  1. The point of departure for the reform should not be “Private” Mass but “Mass with a congregation”; not Mass as read but Mass with singing. But which Mass with song— the pontifical, the solemn, or the simple sung Mass?

 a) Given the concrete situation in the churches, the answer can only be: Mass celebrated by a priest, with a reader, servers, a choir or Cantor, and the congregation. All other forms, such as pontifical Mass, solemn Mass, Mass with a Deacon, will be amplifications of further simplifications of this basic Mass, which is therefore called “normative”.

b) There must be a substantial sameness among all the forms of Mass with a congregation, with or without singing. For if, in fact, Mass without singing were made the model because, for example, of the vernacular, sung Mass would gradually fall into disuse.

c) A sharper differentiation can be made between Mass with the congregation and Mass without a congregation (“Private” Mass). Mass with a congregation requires several areas (for the altar, for the lectern, for the presidential chair) and perhaps fewer formulas, since by its nature is celebration will take more time. Mass without a congregation, on the other hand, does not require the several areas and can have longer or more numerous formulas that may augment the devotion of the celebrant.

  1. The number and length of the readings calls for special attention. Is it appropriate that they usually be three: prophet, apostle, and gospel?
  1. The Canon raises many problems

a) Should the number of signs of the cross be reduced?

b) Should the “amens” be omitted, except the final one of the congregation?

c) Should the entire Canon or the principal prayers or at least the final doxology be said aloud?

d) Should there not be acclamations of the congregation during the Canon, as in the other liturgies of the Church? Ought not the lists of the saints be revised to make them accord better with historical truth? Should not the other formulas be revised so that the faithful may more easily grasp their meaning?

  1. The final part of the Mass should also be radically revised. Should the “last gospel” be eliminated? Should there be psalms and songs for the period of thanksgiving after communion? Should there be a variety of formulas for the blessing of the congregation?

Monsignor Wagner ended his report by saying that in this first phase of the work, the group has simply listed in summary fashion the problems that seem to call for closer study. There are doubtless other problems that ought to be faced by the study groups in charge of the various parts of Mass.

 The Consilium accepted in principle the general approach taken to the work on revision of the Order of Mass.

 On April 17 1964 as sturdy, powerful machinery was set in motion that in five years’ time would bring the “new” Mass.

  1. Continuation of the Work


On October 4 and 5 1964 the work thus far accomplished was again described to the Consilium at its fourth general meeting. Some norms were approved that the group was to follow in establishing the definitive Order of Mass:

  1. The description of the rite of Mass was to be based on Mass with singing, a reader, at least one server, a choir or cantor, and a congregation.
  2. The proper place for the liturgy of the Word is the lectern; the proper place for the liturgy of the Eucharist is the altar.
  3. There is to be a single collect, a single prayer over the gifts, and a single prayer after communion.
  4. There are to be three readings on Sundays and feast days.
  5. In some circumstances and some situations the Apostles’ Creed may replace the Nicene-Constantinopolitan. It may be either sung or recited.
  6. The final blessing may be sung.
  7. The dismissal “Ite, missa est” is to be kept in the Latin text, but it may be translated in ways better adapted to the various vernaculars.
  8. At the beginning of Mass, during the offertory, and during communion, songs adapted to the season and the particular sacred action may be sung.

 Other questions had to do with the opening rites, The Kyrie and Gloria, the song between the readings, the prayers and rites of the offertory, the Canon, the reorganisation of the communion rites, and the formulas for the dismissal.

Meanwhile, some of the points studied by group 10 and approved by the Consilium would be given practical application for the entire Church in the first instruction (Inter Oecumenici) and in the introduction, on March 7 1965, of the new rites of concelebration and communion under two kinds.


The sixth meeting of the group was held at Le Saulchoir (near Paris), June 8-23 1965; also present were group 15 and some other experts individually invited. The purpose was to carry on discussions and experiments (behind closed doors) that would aid in improving the schema drawn up for the Order of Mass. It was clear that there was no further room for studies and theoretical discussions; the need now was for practical decisions, and these in turn required experimentation.

  1. First Schema of the “Normative” Mass

The complete schema of the new Order of Mass was presented to the Consilium at its sixth general meeting. It was discussed for five days, during which two experimental celebrations were also held. The schema in question was “the first schema of the normative Order of Mass”, which was accompanied by a lengthy explanation that ended with eight sets of questions on which the views of the fathers were requested.

 The Mass was called “normative” because, while there would always be several forms of celebration, this was the one that was to serve as the norm or standard for the others. According to the schema, the celebration begins with the singing of the congregation. The ministers make the sign of the cross in silence; this is followed by the celebrant’s greeting and the penitential act, the Kyrie, Gloria, and collects. A point on which there was disagreement was the succession of three songs: opening song, Kyrie, and Gloria, which could make the early part of Mass somewhat slow and heavy. It was suggested that the singing of the Kyrie might be optional.

Next comes the liturgy of the Word with the three (optional) readings, homily, the Creed on holy days of obligation, and the prayer of the faithful. This last was declared to be a structural permanent element of the celebration, not to be omitted “from any celebration, even on weekdays and in private Masses, though in the latter the form is to be appropriately adapted”.

The offertory begins with the washing of hands; it continues with the preparation of the gifts, which are brought to the altar, where the celebrant places them on the altar to the accompaniment of short formulas.

After the prayer “In a spirit of humility …”, the celebrant immediately says aloud the prayer over the gifts; he then enters into the Eucharistic Prayer by beginning the dialogue before the preface.

The Roman Canon was the most sensitive and complex problem of all. On the one hand, respect for this prayer made the group hesitate to touch it; on the other, there were suggestions from experts and requests from pastors for a different and more logical organisation of the Eucharistic Prayer. In order to achieve a resolution of the difficulties, it was proposed to experiment with three revised forms of the Roman Canon.

Schema A

This consisted of the traditional Canon, including all the elements added to it over the centuries and not excluding even the most recent change— the addition of Saint Joseph’s name as ordered by Pope John XXIII. Some formulas, however, were to be corrected in accordance with the critical edition of Bernard Botte, that is, by omitting the so-called “Addition of Alcuin” (“for whom we offer to you or”) in the memento of the living and the Amens which are scattered throughout the text but which, as the manuscript tradition shows, were inserted only during the Middle Ages.

 Study group 10 was of the opinion that this traditional canon, including the entire series of saints names— despite the doubts of historians about some of them— could do good service in the future as it had in the past. 

Schema B

 This schema attempts to reduce, at least to some extent, the massive interpolations that have been made in the original Roman Canon. In fact, the two mementos are shortened slightly; the series of saints’ names are not completely omitted, but the two sets (one in the “Communicantes”, the other in the “Nobis quoque”) are combined into one, and only the names of biblical saints are kept. This was done out of a desire to adopt the suggestions long since made by experts in this area.

The group had not felt up to accepting suggestions that new lists of saints be drawn up that would exclude the local saints of the city of Rome and include others from all times and places.

Schema C

 The content here is exactly the same as in Schema B, except that the two mementos and the “Nobis quoque” are combined into a single complex prayer. This new prayer is placed after the consecration, between the “Supplices” and the final doxology. [1]

For the rite of communion the following sequence of actions was proposed: Our Father with its opening exhortation, the embolism, and the acclamation “Yours is the Kingdom …” (In the form that would be kept in the definitive rite), the greeting an exchange of peace, the fraction during the singing of “Lamb of God”. The priest then says quietly a single prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God”, and then immediately says “Behold, the Lamb of God …” and receives communion. His reception of the chalice is accompanied by the prayer, “What shall I give to the Lord …”.

Conclusion of the mass: silence or singing after communion, prayer after Communion, announcements, blessing, dismissal[2].

The study groups asked for the views of the bishops on each point, and the latter gave substantial approval. This does not mean the bishops did not have their doubts. Their intention in approving was that the group should conduct experiments and then bring the subject up for discussion again. In some of the votes this point was expressly made: “Yes, for experiments”. The Fathers were in agreement that the schema of the Rite of Mass proposed to them should be the subject of experiment in suitable, controlled centres. These experiments were rendered impossible, however, by leaks to the press and the fright of bishops, faithful, and other experts. The Secretariat of State intervened several times, saying that no further steps were to be taken before informing the Holy Father of them in detail; such in fact had always been the procedure and intention of the Consilium. 

It was agreed, however, that some time should be allowed to pass. Meanwhile the secretariat and those in charge of group 10 prepared a presentation to the Pope of the situation with regard to work on the Order of Mass; this report was submitted to the Consilium in October.

At an audience granted to Cardinal Lercaro on June 20, 1966, the Pope expressed his mind on two points:

  1. [Penitential act:] The Kyrie, duly adapted, is to be used when there is no Gloria in the Mass; in order to avoid three songs in a row (Introit, Kyrie, and Gloria), the Kyrie is replaced in this case by another penitential formula; this formula is to be of a kind in which the congregation can participate (unlike the present prayers at the foot of the altar, in which only the celebrant and the servers have a part).
  2. [Canon:] the present anaphora is to be left unchanged, and two or three others are to be composed of found for use at special limited times.

The way was thus opened to further studies on a basis authoritatively provided by the Pope himself.

The study group immediately began to put the Pope’s regulations into effect. Contacts were maintained chiefly through correspondence during the summer of 1966. Meanwhile another stage was being anticipated— consultation with the bishops, for which advantage was to be taken of the Synod.


At an audience on September 22, 1966, the Holy Father suggested that the liturgical schemas already prepared should be sent to the 1967 Synod of Bishops, and asked the Consilium to contact the Secretariat of the Synod in good time so that the texts might be forwarded to the conferences.

He made the same point of the members of the Consilium when he received in a special audience on October 13, 1966:

A second issue, worthy of your most intent consideration, is the Ordo Missae. We are aware of the work done and of how much learned and thoughtful discussion has taken place with regard to composing both the new missal and the liturgical calendar. The issue is of such serious and universal import that we cannot do otherwise than consult with the bishops on any proposals before approving them by our own authority.

The vague wording of this announcement gave some credence to the idea that the Pope was intending to hold a special session, or “Extraordinary Synod”, at the Synod of Bishops in 1968, solely for the purpose of discussing liturgical problems. This prospect was in fact a welcome one, so much so that at the end of the seventh general meeting of the Consilium (October 1966), the Cardinal President wrote as follows to the Pope:

Given the point that the work has now reached after the general meeting held October 6-14 of this year, if the intention is confirmed of having a special meeting of the Synod of Bishops to deal with questions of the liturgical reform, I can anticipate that we will have some schemas ready for sending to the parties concerned for the requisite prior study; specifically, the schemas on: 1) the Ordo Missae; 2) the general structure of the Office; 3) the Ordo lectionum for Mass on feast days and weekdays; 4) the rites of ordination (bishops, priests, deacons); and 5) some sacraments (baptism of adults, baptism of children, marriage) and sacramentals (funerals).

Some information on this point is needed so that we can decide on the order in which various parts of the work are to be done; it must also be kept in mind that the printing and sending of the pertinent texts will likewise require no small amount of time.

On November 15, 1966, the Secretariat of State communicated the Pope’s decision that the most important schemas of the reform should be presented to the Synod of 1967.

The material was prepared and sent to the members of the Consilium, who discussed it at length their eighth general meeting (April 10-19 1967). It was decided to compile a lengthy report on the work of the Consilium and then to explain to the Fathers only the key sensitive points in the reform of the principal rites, namely, the Mass and the Office. As for the sacraments, it was not possible to do more than give a general description of the state of the work, since each sacramental rite was a special case, and it was therefore necessary to present either all or none of them. The material prepared was sent to the bishops, along with the other matters to be taken up at the Synod, so that the episcopal conferences might discuss them and their delegates might then report on their thinking.

On October 21 9067 Cardinal Lercaro opened synodal discussion of the liturgical schemas with a vigorous report. Immediately following this, a “Supplemental Report on the Liturgy” was read, explaining the four new Eucharistic Prayers, the variance in the formulas of consecration, and the introduction of the Apostles’ Creed into the Mass. These further liturgical matters were described as “Papal Queries”. The Pope had decided to bring them up at the Synod after the booklet containing the subjects the discussion had been sent to the bishops; he did not wish to pass up the opportunity of having a least the personal views of the Fathers on these important matters.

That same day saw the first interventions on both the report and the supplement: nine Fathers spoke; on October 23, 21 more; on October 24, 16; on October 25, 17; 63 in all. 19 Fathers expressed their views only in writing.

On Monday, October 24 the normative Mass was experimentally celebrated in the Sistine Chapel. The Fathers were given a booklet containing the chants prayers of the Mass and of Eucharistic Prayer III, which was here used for the first time with the permission, and at the wish, of the Pope (letter of the Secretariat of State, October 17, 1967).

The mass [in Italian] was to be thought of as a Sunday Mass in a parish church, with the participation of a congregation, a small choir, a lector, Cantor, and two servers.

The readings were taken from the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Schema B) in the Ordo lectionum; in the new organisation of the liturgical year, the Nineteenth Sunday would fall in approximately the second half of October. The chants were taken from the Graduale simplex, Schema IV, but the time after Pentecost. The entire mass was prepared solely for this celebration.

 It must be said flatly that the experiment was not a success and even that it had an effect contrary to the one intended and played a part in the negative vote that followed. Few of the Fathers were disposed and ready for the experiment; this was even more true of those who had grasped the value and essential character of the normative Mass. The majority of the Fathers entered the Sistine Chapel with their minds made up and ill-disposed to the new Mass.

The ceremonies and chants had been worked out in the smallest detail, and as far as these were concerned the celebration went very smoothly. The setting, however, was completely unsuitable. In the first place, the Sistine Chapel lent itself to elitist, not popular, celebrations. Most important of all, the congregation was in a false position. The Fathers of the Synod had to imagine a fine assembly of ordinary people present in the hall, for it was with such a congregation in mind that the songs, rites, language, and tone of the homily had been chosen. Instead, the father saw around them a gathering of illustrious church dignitaries. The Italian language and the many sung parts were a further obstacle to participation.

The celebration must therefore have left many of the Fathers with the impression of something artificial, overly pedantic, and quite un-parochial[3]. Some of them thought that such a mass could not possibly be celebrated in a parish. The very term “normative” suggested, incorrectly, that all the parts sung in the Sistine Chapel would have to be sung always and in all circumstances in every parish. Other Fathers, accustomed to individual celebration, found this Mass to be impoverished by omission of the priest’s private prayers. Still others, incited by the dogma of the real presence, looked with concern on any reduction in gestures and genuflections and on the lengthening of the liturgy of the Word. In short, the changes in the Mass seemed too radical[4]



What Cardinal Heenan actually said:

 “Like all the bishops I offer my sincere thanks to the Consilium. Its members have worked well and have done their best. I cannot help wondering, however, if the Consilium as at present constituted can meet the needs of our times. For the liturgy is not primarily an academic or cultural question. It is above all a pastoral matter, for it concerns the spiritual lives of our faithful. I do not know the names of the members of the Consilium or, even more important, the names of their consultors. But after studying the so called Normative Mass it was clear to me that few of them can have been parish priests. I cannot think that anyone with pastoral experience would have regarded the sung Mass as being of first importance.

At home it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday in the Sistine Chapel [a demonstration of the Normative Mass] we would soon be left with a congregation mostly of women and children. Our people love the Mass, but it is Low Mass without psalm-singing and other musical embellishments to which they are chiefly attached. I humbly suggest that the Consilium look at its members and advisers to make sure that the number of those who live in seminaries and religious communities does not exceed the numbers of those with pastoral experience among the people in ordinary parishes.

Here are a few points which solely for the sake of time – since only five minutes are allowed for comments – must be put so shortly as to sound brusque. 

  1. The rule of prayer is the rule of faith. If there is to be more emphasis in the Mass on Bible readings than on Eucharistic prayer, the faith of both clergy and people will be weakened.
  1. There is more need than ever today to stress the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. No change in the Mass should be made which might seem to throw doubt on this doctrine.
  1. Many bishops in this Synod have spoken of the need of coming to the rescue of the faithful grown restless and disturbed on account of too frequent changes in the Mass. I must therefore ask what attitude the Consilium will take to these warnings from the pastors of the Church? I confess in all seriousness that I am uneasy lest the liturgists say “These bishops know nothing about liturgy.” It would be tragic if after the bishops have gone home no notice were to be taken of their opinions.
  1. In my diocese of Westminster – and in several English dioceses – the rule is that at least one Mass each Sunday must be celebrated in Latin. It would be a great help if the Consilium were to tell the whole Church how the Latin tongue can be preserved. If the Church is to remain truly the Catholic Church it is essential to keep a universal tongue.”


[1] The purpose of these revisions was to smooth the transition from the Sanctus to the consecration, in an attempt to recover, at least in this first part, the original grandeur and sublimity of the Eucharistic Prayer. The resultant union, in the “Te igitur”, of “in primis quae tibi offerimus” and the “Communicantes” (which contains the list of —biblical— saints) is certainly an advantage, because it is the joining of two groups: those who “in terries offerrunt” and the triumphant Church (Jungmann); this was something that Cardinal Schuster had long ago thought perfectly in harmony with the present Roman Canon. 

These three schemas were discussed at great length. No one denied the difficulties presented by the Roman Canon. Some, however, closed ranks against even the slightest revision or development of the Roman Canon (with the exception of the critical restoration of the text to the form it had before Alcuin tampered with it); their motives were historical and literary. On the other hand, all without exception urgently asked for the addition of a new Canon to the existing Roman canon.

The fathers of the Consilium did not vote on the request for the introduction of a second canon, but limited themselves, in a secret vote requiring a two-thirds majority, to consenting to an experimental use of the three schemas.

[2]In order to make the rites of preparation for communion less cumbersome, the other two prayers (one for the peace and unity of the church, the other in preparation for communion) was suppressed. The part of the Mass that follows upon communion was discussed at length. Some regretted that the Roman Mass ended almost abruptly, with no pause for meditative prayer and praise and thanksgiving for the gift received. It was suggested that the Gloria be moved to this point, but the group did not think this opportune. Others saw in the rapid conclusion of the Roman Mass a characteristic of the Roman rite that ought to be preserved. The group found a compromise: “after communion and an optional exhortation depending on circumstances, a hymn or psalm or other prayer of praise is sung or recited”.

[3] On October 26, Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster, took the podium and accused the commission of technicism, intellectualism, and a lack of pastoral sense. Cardinal Lercaro immediately replied that 47 Fathers, almost all of them pastors of dioceses, and 18 parish priests belong to the Consilium.

[4] The chief spokesmen for these objections were the representatives of the English-speaking hierarchies, who gathered at the English College on October 25 to agree on a common attitude that would be expressed in the voting. The attitude adopted was a negative one and displayed an obsession with singing in particular; it was claimed that people in the English-speaking world do not sing in church (the reference seems to have been solely to Catholic churches) and that the normative Mass should therefore be the read Mass. Another concern was to defend the Church’s faith in the real presence.

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2 Responses to The Order of Mass

  1. cumlazaro says:

    Thank you, Ttony and Ben, for extracting this. (And, as a side thought, why has no one reprinted this book at a more sensible price? I’d certainly buy a copy if it was reduced from the £120 it’s now going for on Amazon.)

    Three aspects occur to me as crucial:
    a) Change by decision rather than organic growth.
    b) Rationalization and simplification of structure.
    c) The substance of the changes (eg do they reduce reverence for the Blessed Sacrament?)

    I’ll stick to the first two just now.

    I confess to being in several minds on these issues. I suspect I’ll be unusual here in having a certain sympathy for Bugnini’s approach on these aspects. I tried to tease out some relevant points in a blogpost: In short, I don’t see, in principle, why the exercise of Papal authority to ‘clean up’ an existing ritual mightn’t be a good idea. (It is of course another question whether or not any particular exercise is well done or not.)

    I guess we can go further into the reasons for this as we travel through the book. But I’m conscious that my attitude is influenced by my experiences as a former Anglican. Certainly in Scotland, gorgeous liturgy (and in essence a variation on the Tridentine Mass) was absolutely no protection against ghastly theology: indeed, there was a great deal of chatter about how the symbolism of liturgy in some way was superior to articulated theology and dogma, the beauty of liturgy being used to give permission for ‘feel-ology’. (I see much of this in Pickstock’s After Liturgy quite apart from the post-mo obscurantism.) It strikes me that every now and then the Magisterium does have to intervene to correct and direct liturgy through the understanding of theology. (It was thoughts along these lines that also persuaded me that Orthodoxy wasn’t a home for me.)

    On the other hand! Change in liturgy is, ceteris paribus, bad: it means that generations are cut off from that lifelong familiarity with rituals that enters the bones and leads to ceaseless prayer. Decisive change in liturgy is particularly liable to error. Decisive change in liturgy in a time of cultural desolation (ie the Sixties)is probably going to be disastrous.

    Anyway, probably gone on too long. I thought Cardinal Heenan’s remarks particularly sensible.

    • I really think Cumlazaro’s comment, and, especially, the blog post to which he links, is a really useful addition to the debate. I have been moving more and more towards the idea that Bugini’s NO is an almost inevitable result of the collapse of a liturgical authority arising from and rooted in “tradition” and its replacement by something else, a papal liturgical Fiat, but that this was not something that “just happened” after VII. What he does in the blogpost is identify the engine (or at least a candidate) which underpinned such change, the neo-scholasticism of the nineteenth century. I will explore this when I begin a weekly look at the pre-Pius X Calendar at Advent this year.

      Turning more towards the case in point: I’m not sure that the liturgy as something gorgeous – the feel-ology – was ever a significant part of the Catholic Church in England and Wales (and I guess, but am prepared to be corrected, in Scotland or Ireland either). Fortescue’s insistence that the Roman way is austere and disciplined, a constant corrective to the Gallican insistence on the florid has always struck me as a reflection of the typical late Victorian Englishman’s suspicion of all things foreign. (There is a tale which used to be told proudly of Pius IX sending his chaplain to observe the Holy Week rites at Westminster Cathedral to see how it should be done, but, even if true, can you ever imagine Rome marching to that sort of English beat?)

      And on the Continent even less so. The pre-Pius XII Holy Week in Spain, for example, sees every parish, never mind every diocese, with a Use of its own: very much small growths on a recognisable common stock, but different. That was the way of things throughout Europe, and, to a lesser extent, but still recognisable in England and Wales: each diocese ran the liturgy inherited from Trent (either Tridentine or blessed by Pius V) in its Proper way.

      This changes radically with the changes promulgated from the beginning of the twentieth century on: Piuses X-XII all feel empowered to prune the liturgy radically, so much so, that Pius XII’s Passiontide is almost unrecognisable when compared with that of a century earlier.

      I want to start a discussion on two points: authority and liturgy.

      That the Pope has a liturgical authority goes without saying: I would challenge anybody to find anything wrong with Pope Benedict’s rewriting of the Prayer for the Jews in the EF Good Friday liturgy: when something old and venerable has become a scandal then it must be changed, and the Pope has the authority to effect that change. Similarly, the Leonine Prayers and the Pius X addition thereto were a valid accretion and might well have ended up, like the psalm Judica Me as an integral part of the Mass eventually if they had any lasting value. (Equally, like Octaves, they might have faded into semi-observance.) Fr Hunwicke’s rule of thumb: if you can correct the text with a pencil or paste in a new Collect, then the change is probably organic; if you have to buy a new Missal, the change probably isn’t: Pope’s bless organic change, and, just occasionally, nudge the Church towards change which should have happened organically anyway, but can’t/shouldn’t engineer disconnects.

      That’s where Cumlazaro’s post is helpful in suggesting that the neoscholastic vision of the nineteenth century offered a framework in which a sort of permanent vigilance to ensure liturgical tidiness: a sort of Pope as Head Gardener ensuring that an estate of formal gardens is always kept in shape, rather than the neo-trad vision of Pope as solitary gardener with the big shears and secateurs, single-handedly and heroically pruning back the liturgical shooting growth: represents a positive care for the liturgy. This is a new argument to me, one which I will have to reflect on, even if my ideal liturgical garden sees no sharps.

      So: I can see that a case might be made for the changes in the liturgy by the Piuses, even if I don’t think it would convince me. But Bugnini and his Consilium in the text above are about something else: a vision – their vision – of what a snapshot view of second hand scholarship in 1953 might say that the original Mass (discuss) might or might not have included that would satisfy what a small number of progressive prelates had identified as the zeitgeist. It is a logical development from what the Piuses were doing, but it was a rupture, because it didn’t simply work from the current base, but rather from a (culpably badly) hypothesised base.

      I haven’t touched “liturgy as symbolism” and I am no theologian, but I suspect that the liturgy is older or deeper, or even in a different dimension than theology or even interpretation: the point at which the eternal intersects with our mundane lives: is something which shouldn’t be susceptible to dramatic change. When only the priest and the sacristan can even touch the sacred vessels which will hold God’s Body, how can anybody else even think of changing the entirety of the manner in which the change is confected?

      What Bugnini’s piece above tells me is that the liturgical changes introduced under the papalism of the Piuses have taken the image of the gardener as pruner and replaced it by the (very twentieth century) image of the gardener as innovator. Once you can prune back hard, you can do anything at all in the garden.

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