The revolution which brought about this instability and discontinuity did not begin with the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath. Elements of the liturgical revolt go straight back to Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Thomas Cramner. Pope Leo XIII noted this quite prophetically at the end of the nineteenth century: "Sad it is to call to mind how the harmful and lamentable rage for innovation which rose to a climax in the sixteenth century, threw first of all into convulsion the Christian religion, and next, by natural sequence, invaded the precincts of philosophy, whence it spread amongst all classes of society. From this source, as from a fountainhead, burst forth all these later tenets of unbridled license which, in the midst of the terrible upheavals of the last century, were wildly conceived and boldly proclaimed as the principles and foundation of that new jurisprudence which was not previously unknown, but was at variance on many points with not only the Christian, but even with the natural law."
That is, the liturgical revolutionaries of the Protestant Revolt wreaked havoc upon all social order in Europe. The instability institutionalized by the liturgical revolutionaries of the sixteenth century produced violence and immorality in its "innovative" wake. The late Father John A. Hardon, S.J., said in 1987 that the Protestant Revolt (with all of its liturgical permutations) was "principally about sex and divorce." A liturgy was thus created to reaffirm people in theological relativism, which helped to expedite the triumph of secularism and the iron rule of godless political ideologies in the ensuing five hundred years.
Lex orandi, lex credendi. The law of praying is the law of believing. If we pray in such a way as to signify that First and Last Things are subject to change, then it stands to reason that what we believe will change constantly. And if the liturgy loses its sacrificial character as a means of expressing "openness" to the modern world, then the very fact of the Incarnation will become unimportant. If Christ is not made incarnate under the appearance of bread and wine, then what is the importance of even believing in His Incarnation in Our Lady's virginal and immaculate womb? This rejection of the incarnational aspects of the liturgy intersected with various trends which had been developed by some early Renaissance philosophes, pseudo-intellectuals who wanted to give rebirth to the relativism of the Sophists of Athens, circa the fifth century before Christ. Change and innovation were good. Man could chart a path to social "progress" without any public mention of God, a development which Freemasonry sought to popularize (and which fit the Protestant desire to avoid any and all public conflict on doctrinal matters after the Peace of Augsburg). The creeping atheism expedited by the rejection of the incarnational reality of the Holy Mass had a devastating impact upon all aspects of the sacred sciences, especially the study of Scripture.
German Protestant Scripture "scholars," influenced by rationalism and evolutionism, started to "de-mythologize" Scripture in the nineteenth century, eventually exercising their influence upon their like number in Catholic colleges and universities. Allied with the forces of social liberalism and democracy, Modernists within the Church began trying to reconcile Hegelian process philosophy and Darwinian theory with Catholic theology, propositions which were condemned at various times by Blessed Pope Pius IX and Pope Saint Pius X (and which were addressed under the guise of Modernism's multifaceted manifestations by Pope Leo XIII). And the range for innovation within the Church had begun to express itself in a desire for "liturgical reform" as early as the 1920s as liturgical scholars sought to "discover the roots" of the liturgy in order to recapture the simplicity of earlier forms, a move condemned by Pope Pius XII as the worship of antiquarianism. It is a mistake to contend that the social revolution of the 1960s and the liturgical and theological revolutions which took place at that same time arose as a result of spontaneous generation. Both revolutions evolved over a long period of time.
As is the case with the social revolutionaries, the revolutionaries within the Church sought to wipe out the memory of the past. Everything that was old, including the liturgy, had to be eradicated. A new structure had to be created synthetically as a means of giving expression to a new faith for a new age. Once the new structure was institutionalized, those ordained to celebrate the liturgy of our fathers were taught to denounce the past repeatedly. Constant, unremitting change was the order of the day, so bewildering the faithful as to convince them that doctrine itself (especially as it pertains to matters of conjugal morality) was subject to change. Darwinian evolutionism and modern Scriptural exegesis produced a liturgy which reflected chaos, not order; anthropocentricity, not Christocentricity; communitarianism, not the worship of the Father through the Son in Spirit and in Truth.
Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, give us the wisdom to see the world clearly through the eyes of the true Faith.
Tomorrow: Part Three - The Direct Connection Between Liturgical Reverence and Social Order.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives