The paragraphs selected for particular analysis and scrutiny over the next seven installments demonstrate how the new Mass depends very heavily upon the decisions made by individual celebrants and/or liturgical committees, giving rise to an instability and congregationalism which are deleterious to the life of the Faith and to the unity of Holy Mother Church.
Although Sacrosanctum Concilium [the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy], which was promulgated by the Second Vatican Council in December of 1963, did not specify the type of liturgical "reforms" which were later created synthetic by the Consilium appointed by Pope Paul VI, it does contain elements which led inexorably to the rise of instability and congregationalism within Holy Mother Church. Specifically, Paragraph 22 of Sacrosanctum Concilium envisioned the devolution of liturgical decision-making from Rome to the national episcopal conferences and other bodies designated by the bishops to deal with the liturgy, such as the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL).
A great many of the so-called liturgists who were advising diocesan bishops in the early 1960s were in the vanguard of projecting their own desires for a liturgical revolution onto the past, portraying themselves as the defenders of recapturing the true, simpler spirit of the liturgy of the first three hundred years of the Church. The devolution of important liturgical decision-making from Rome to the local churches proved to be a disaster for reverence in worship and for the integrity of the Faith. It led liturgical and doctrinal revolutionaries into viewing themselves as autonomous from Rome, which was seen as a perfunctory "clearinghouse" as one experiment after another was foisted upon the unsuspecting faithful during the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Once formed, for example, ICEL, which was nominally under the authority of the episcopal conferences of the countries which used the American style of the English language, became populated with a variety of heretical Catholics (people who dissented from Church teaching on the nonadmissability of women to the priesthood, contraception, abortion, divorce and remarriage without a decree of nullity, the very sacerdotal nature of the priesthood itself as defined by Holy Mother Church) and Protestants.
ICEL's longtime Executive Secretary, John Page, told me in 1993 when I interviewed him for The Wanderer that it was the intent of his people to "push the liturgy into the twenty-first century." ICEL consisted of liturgical "experts" who desired so-called "inclusive" language in the Mass (both vertical and horizontal), people who believed it was their right to "improve" the 1969/1973 General Instruction of the Roman Missal with their own recommendations, most of which were considered to be binding by the lion's share of American bishops.
It was ICEL which decided to refer to a priest-saint as a "presbyter" and to refer to the celebrant of the Mass as the "presider." It took until just recently for Rome to remind the episcopal conferences that bodies such as ICEL are subordinate to them, not the other way around. Bishops are to be involved in the process of supervising the translation of texts, not the self-anointed experts on bodies such as ICEL.
Naturally, all of this is the result of a synthetically created liturgy, something which was absolutely unprecedented in the history of the Church in any of her approved rites. There was no need in the Traditional Latin Mass for the bishops to appoint bodies of experts to help them to plan translations of texts and/or to determine the various "options" to be chosen for purposes of "enriching" the liturgy with the fruits of inculturation. The Mass was the same everywhere in the Latin rite, save for those places which had rites of their own dating back more than 200 years prior to the issuance of the Roman Missal by Pope Saint Pius V in 1570. However, even those rites did not differ substantially from those contained in the Missale Romanum promulgated in 1570.
We are living through a period of the Church's history which is without parallel. And the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal virtually canonizes exceptions and adaptations as normal in the Church's liturgical life.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
Tomorrow: Part Eleven: Communitarian collaborationism and Calvinism
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives