Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

What caused the Roman Catholic Liturgical Debacle?

The sixties weren’t the beginning of liturgical falling away: “. . . What are the root causes of this liturgical debacle? Any reasonable person understands that these causes cannot be traced to the Second Vatican Council alone.” – Monsignor Klaus Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background

Prior to this statement: “We are now witnessing a dismantling of the traditional values and piety on which our [Roman Catholic] faith rests. Added to this state of affairs is the shocking assimilation of Protestant ideas brought into the Church under the guise of the misunderstood term ecumenism with a resulting growing estrangement from the ancient [Orthodox] Churches of the East; that is, a turning away from the common tradition that had been shared by the East and the West.” – ibid.

The author goes on to cite several things:

  • The adoption by the Franks of the liturgy designed for use in Rome
  • The loss of the concept of the cosmic liturgy or liturgical cultus with the schism and the advent of Western minimalism
  • The phenomenon of individual piety born in the Gothic period and the substitution of personal relationship for the cosmic liturgy. Curiously, for sit-down churches now prevalent in Orthodoxy, he goes on to describe the faithful becoming silent observers, and beginning to participate in non-liturgical “devotional” services, further driving a wedge between liturgy (as the teacher and source) and popular piety (as the outcome).
  • The invention of the concept of man’s individual nature [confusion of person/nature as a result of the filioque] and its birth in the Age of Humanism, followed by the development of vernacular hymns and canticles that then were inserted at intervals in the mass and were adopted by Luther into Protestantism.
  • The resultant freezing of the liturgy in the 16th century, making it more or less permanent, instead of protecting it, induced a period of substantive liturgical innovation and novelty while keeping the form of the words, from ultra-baroque to low-church and anti-triumphalist. The result is that the purpose of corporate worship was seen as instilling moral behavior in the people [think “1950s” and “traditional doctrine”]

“It is no surprise that today’s [Roman Catholic] pastors, and among them particularly the young priests who have had no training in the strict norms of liturgy, developed what in their view were fresh ideas about a contemporary form of worship—ideas which often do not conform to traditional teaching [and which crush] all traditional forms of liturgical worship.” -ibid
Comment: one can only wish that these lost sheep would come home, but they must come home to the original mentality of Orthodoxy and not to a nostalgic period of the 1950s when we didn’t discuss women’s ordination, or homosexual marriage, or have abortions, or have too much violence on TV. One gathers that the above author actually agrees. Let us learn from him. The above article (link) is well worth reading. There’s far too much to quote fairly here, but the author is incisive. His ending paragraphs are particularly instructive.


January 17, 2008 - Posted by | -- Ecclesiology & Ecumenism, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , ,

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