April 21, 2001
volume 12, no. 111

The Germs of GIRM

Part Six: Truncating Trent

    By now you recognize the way the consiliors and committees have verbally engineered their spin to justify what they have done. I ask you, as you continue to read their logic - or, in this case: illogic of GIRM - if it has not, in effect, further confused and enabled abuses to spread further.

Paragraph 11 of GIRM reads:

    "The Council of Trent recognized the great catechetical value contained in the celebration of Mass, but was unable to bring out all its consequences for the actual life of the Church. Many were pressing for permission to use the vernacular in celebrating the Eucharistic sacrifice, but the Council, judging the conditions of that age, felt bound to answer such a request with a reaffirmation of the Church's traditional teaching. This teaching is that the Eucharistic sacrifice is, first and foremost, the action of Christ Himself and therefore the manner in which the faithful take part in the Mass does not affect the efficacy belonging to it. The Council thus stated in firm but measured words: 'Although the Mass contains much instruction for the faithful, it did not seem expedient to the Fathers that as a general rule it be celebrated in the vernacular.' The Council accordingly anathematized anyone maintaining that 'the rite of the Roman Church, in which part of the canon and the words of consecration are spoken in a low voice, should be condemned or that the Mass must be celebrated only in the vernacular.' Although the Council of Trent on the one hand prohibited the use of the vernacular in the Mass, nevertheless, on the other, it did direct pastors to substitute appropriate catechesis. 'Lest Christ's flock go hungry . . . the Council commands pastors and others having the care of souls that either personally or through others they frequently give instructions during Mass, especially on Sundays and major feasts, on what is read at Mass and that among their instructions they include some exposition of the mystery of this sacrifice.'"
Comment and Analysis:

    This a mother lode of propaganda. "The Council of Trent recognized the great catechetical value contained in the celebration of the Mass, but was unable to bring out all its consequences for the actual life of the Church?" This is a lie and a misrepresentation of the true facts.

    That is, revolutionaries have to contend that the past was bad. Otherwise, you see, there would be no need for a revolution. To wit, the Bolsheviks always reminded the people they held under captivity about how terrible life was under the Czars. Bill Clinton and Al Gore revised the history of the 1980s to condemn that period as having been one of economic misery and dislocation (when precisely the opposite was true). In like manner, therefore, the authors of GIRM assert that the fathers of the Council of Trent meant well but were simply unable to bring forth good fruits for the Church. There are several problems with this.

    First, GIRM's assertion about the Council of Trent presupposes once more that some sort of changes were necessary. The Council Fathers wisely concluded that no major changes were needed. And history has proven Trent's fathers correct. All of the gratuitous assertions GIRM makes about the failure of Trent to instruct the faithful about the Mass fly in the face of the actual truth that Catholics up until forty years ago knew exactly what the Mass was without any question whatsoever. They were far better informed than Catholics are now nearly forty years into the liturgical revolution.

    They were believers. Can the same be said today? The past was better than what we have today. Was it perfect. By no means. Fallen human nature will always prevent the achievement of perfection in this mortal life. But the average Catholic knew his faith better. He was more devout. He was more reverent. He was more prayerful. And it was the ambiance of the Traditional Latin Mass which taught him to a believer, to be devout, reverent, and prayerful.

    Second, GIRM dismisses the meaning of the word anathematize. It is almost as though the Council Fathers of Trent were naive fools who used words loosely. Such a word could not possibly be taken seriously in our era today? On whose authority has the word anathematize been deconstructed to mean little more than a minor admonition which was certainly never meant to bind modern man in the twentieth century, enlightened as he is by the insights of modern theology and the recapture of ancient liturgical sources.

    GIRM"s efforts to justify the unprecedented creation of our synthetic liturgy is therefore premised upon a sophomoric and sophistic attack upon and caricature of the Council of Trent. It is beneath contempt.

Tomorrow: Part Seven: The ICEL Sell-out

Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.

For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives

April 21, 2001
volume 12, no. 111
CHRIST or chaos
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