Paragraph 288 of G.I.R.M. reads as follows:
"For the celebration of the Eucharist, the people of God normally assemble in a church or if there is none or one that is inadequate for some reason, then in some other place nevertheless worthy of so great a mystery. Churches and other places of worship should therefore be suited to ensuring the active participation of the faithful. Further, the buildings and requisites for worship should be truly worthy and beautiful, signs and symbols of heavenly realities."
Comment and Analysis: Most revolutionaries try to cloak themselves in the mantle of representing "the people." The French Revolutionaries were doing the work of "the people." The Bolsheviks and the Maoists and the Spanish Communists were doing the work and the will of "the people." The Masons in Mexico were concerned about "the people." Bill and Hillary Clinton spoke constantly about their concern for "the people." Well, the theological and liturgical revolutionaries who captured Vatican II and have controlled the Church for neigh-well forty years also claim to represent "the people." The Mass of Pope Paul VI is pro populo, that is, for the people. And a "People's Mass" needs "People's Temples" for them to participate actively as the "People of God." The church buildings of the past were far too ostentatious, indicative of an outdated theology concerning the nature of the Mass and the "inert" role of "the people" during Mass. The dicta of the Council of Trent, formed as they were in an unthinking reaction to the progressive ideas of the Protestant Revolutionaries, had ossified both the Mass and the churches in which it was celebrated. A new "Springtime of the Liturgy," as the liturgist Louis Boyer (don't know if he was any relation to Ken or Clete or Cloyd, the Boyer brothers who played baseball) put it in the 1960s.
Thus, this very important section of GIRM deals with the design of new churches and the renovation of existing churches to accommodate "the contemporary mentality." Although Michael Rose's The Renovation Manipulation attempts to prove that the wreckovation of Catholic churches in the United States has been accomplished by ignoring Vatican directives in favor of the implementation of the non-binding "Environment and Art in Worship," it is my contention that to the extent that the Vatican directives themselves are defective as they are premised upon false principles contrary to Catholic tradition. Indeed, the cornerstone of the fabled "liturgical renewal," Sacrosanctum Concilium, issued by Vatican II on December 1, 1963, was based upon the now disproved antiquarian presuppositions of Pius Parsch and other pseudo-liturgical scholars. Thus, just as the neoconservatives flail about in their efforts to "fix" the new Mass with this document and that document (including GIRM and Liturgian Authenticam, whereas twenty years ago it was supposed to be Dominicae Cenae and Inaestimabile Donum, which is what I believed, erroneously, at the time), so do many good people try to halt wreckovations of churches by relying upon this or that conciliar or postconciliar document. Those documents are the problem as they accept the need for a liturgical "renewal" and thus the redesign of churches to accommodate that "renewal," which is really nothing other than a full-scale revolution.
Oliver Cromwell himself could not have done a better job smashing up our churches as we have done in this country and elsewhere. High altars have been smashed to bits. Tabernacles have been hidden from public view. Altar rails have been taken out to prevent the faithful from kneeling. Kneelers have been removed from pews in many instances. Marble altars of sacrifice have been torn apart and replaced by wooden coffee tables to teach us that the Mass is really the "Eucharistic banquet." Churches in the round have been built so that everyone is looking at each other. It is not infrequently the case that those churches in the round have the "table"in the middle. The choir and instrumentalists have been placed in full view, an exact replication of Protestant "churches." Statues and stained glass windows have been replaced by banners with ideologically laden slogans and "Renew" trees or bushes. As much as some neoconservatives want to protest that these things are violative of various Vatican directives, some are absolutely in accord with the spirit of what is contained in this section of the General Instruction to the Roman Missal.
The unwillingness of many neoconservatives to look at our situation honestly leads otherwise sensible, seemingly intelligent people into trying to convince themselves and others that monstrosities and profanations are not what they seem to be. Oh, the now retired Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland can be criticized for his wreckovation of the cathedral in Milwaukee. Not a word of criticism, however, can be offered when the old high altar is smashed to bits at the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. The Wanderer can rightly take to task Francis Cardinal George for participating in an Native American purification ritual (the very thing that the North American Martyrs gave their lives to eradicate) while it says nothing about the Pope participating in Aztec rituals during Mass in Mexico. Indeed, Raymond Arroyo of the Eternal Word Television Network told viewers not to believe their eyes when the Pope was "purified" by Aztec representatives. No, what viewers could plainly see was a pagan ceremony was not that at all. It was simply an exercise in the inculturation of the Gospel. As Christopher Ferrara has pointed out in The Remnant, it is interesting that Saint Juan Diego, who converted to the Faith in 1524, seven years before Our Lady appeared to him on Tepayac Hill, attended the Traditional Latin Mass. He was not demanding the inclusion of rituals associated with barbaric people who practiced human sacrifice in their public "liturgies."
This suspension of right reason informed by the true tradition of the Church leads many believing Catholics into accepting the need for Papal Masses conducted in fields and sports stadia and other facilities entirely unsuited for "so great a mystery." There is no need for canonization Masses to be held in Saint Peter's Square. As a man reported to me after the canonization of Saint Padre Pio, "Doc, Hosts were on the ground everywhere. The priests distributing Holy Communion told people to relay Hosts one to the other, resulting in scores of Hosts falling to the ground." This is not at all an uncommon phenomenon during one of Pope John Paul II's extravaganza Masses, most of which feature rock and roll or liturgical dance or hand waving some time of native ritual that Catholic missionaries sought at one time to eradicate precisely because they are demonic of their very nature. I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, there was none of this sort of sensational display at the foot of the Cross on the part of Our Lady and Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Mary Magdalene and the handful of others who kept company with Our Lord as He completed the first Mass.
Think of it. The following have been venues for Papal Masses in the United States alone over the course of the past twenty-three years: Yankee Stadium, Giants Stadium, Central Park, Grant Park (Chicago), a field near Des Moines, Iowa, The Capitol Mall, Joe Robbie Stadium, the Superdome. Candlestick Park, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Aqueduct Race Track, among other venues. How can we criticized San Jose, California, Bishop Patrick McGrath for having all of his diocese's confirmations take place at one time in the San Jose Sharks hockey arena (featuring Aztec dancing) when the Vicar of Christ has no regard for the importance of celebrating a Mass in a church? How can we criticize the Bishop of Phoenix, Thomas O'Brien, for confirming young Catholics at Bank One Ball Park in Phoenix (where people were served hot dogs and cracker jacks during the Confirmation Mass). What is the purpose of having hundreds of thousands of people gathered outside for Mass when it has been proved that such gatherings lead to one sacrilege after another?
Thus, when GIRM speaks about the fact that Mass should take place outside of a church only in "some other place nevertheless worthy of so great a mystery," it is involved in a gigantic exercise of spin doctoring. Tell me, please, why a sports stadium is worthy of the Mass?
As I will demonstrate in this part of my analysis of GIRM, endless amounts of time have been wasted on arguments about whether a proposed wreckovation is being done according to the true intent of Vatican II. The problem is, you see, that Vatican II was wrong to call for "reforms" in the Traditional Latin Mass. Pope Paul VI was wrong to have authorized the unprecedented devising of a synthetic Mass. All of the problems we have faced insofar as the liturgy is concerned (and the architecture that has been devised to adjust our churches to the new Mass) are the result of the abandonment of Catholic tradition in favor of novelty. "By their fruits you shall know them." The fruits of the conciliar and postconciliar attack on our liturgical tradition have borne bitter fruits that have resulted in the destruction of reverence in the Mass and a loss of belief in the Real Presence of Our Lord (and thus the sacrificial nature of the Mass). As will be demonstrated below, there is enough room in this part of GIRM for legitimate interpretation among liturgical "planners" to justify just about anything they desire to do.
The council fathers of Vatican II were wrong to ignore the wisdom of Pope Pius XII, who had inveighed in Mediator Dei in 1947, just sixteen years before Sacrosanctum Concilium, against the very sorts of reforms that wound up taking place. Pope Pius XII knew that the liturgical movement of Pius Parsch was based on the projection of what he desired the liturgy to look like in the future onto the past, claiming that the "past" had actually been uncovered by this exercise in antiquarianism. The right ordering of the Church and thus the right ordering of souls has been gravely wounded as a result of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Consilium, the new Mass, and GIRM.
Paragraph 289 of G.I.R.M. reads as follows:
"At all times, therefore, the Church seeks out the noble support of the arts and welcomes the artistic expressions of all peoples and regions. Even more, the Church is intent on keeping the works of art and the treasures handed down from the past and, when necessary, of adapting them to new needs. It strives as well to promote new works of art that appeal to the contemporary mentality. In commissioning artists and choosing works of art that are to become part of a church, the highest artistic standard is therefore to be set, in order that art may aid faith and devotion and be true to the reality it is to symbolize and the purpose it is to serve."
Comment and Analysis: Just a little something for everyone here. Inculturation. A nod in the direction of tradition, that is, unless you ignore the qualification that it might be "necessary" to adapt the works of the past to "new needs." However, quite importantly, GIRM stresses the importance of commissioning new works of art that "appeal to the contemporary mentality." This is an interpretative loophole through which revolutionaries can drive the proverbial Mack truck (or perhaps a Georgetown motor home, huh?).
As Pope Pius XII noted in Mediator Dei in 1947, at a time that many churches in Europe had to be rebuilt entirely after their destruction during World War II, the Church does not reject new works of art because they are new. There have been different styles of art and architecture reflected in Catholic churches throughout the centuries. The Eastern churches have styles of art and architecture that are quite distinct, especially with their iconography. However, the sensus fidei gave artists and Church officials had an inherent sense of the beautiful, the noble, the appropriate in art. Sure, there were controversies now and then in the Middle Ages concerning matters of taste and proportion. But there was always Catholic tradition to guide artists and Church officials in their discussions over the appropriateness of new works of art.
We are facing today, on the other hand, a radical break with tradition. The art and architecture of the past thirty years have been in the service by and large of a revolutionary effort to reshape the nature of the Mass and thus the very hierarchical nature of the Church (as will discussed shortly). The ugly, the grotesque, the worldly and the abstract have become all too common in our churches now. And given the break with tradition that the new Mass represents, a bishop or his liturgical functionaries are on firm ground when they assert GIRM gives them great interpretive powers to adapt churches to the "contemporary mentality." The "reality" the new Mass is "to symbolize and the purpose it is to serve" is alien to the true Catholic Faith.
Paragraph 290 of G.I.R.M. reads as follows:
"All churches should be dedicated or, at the very least, blessed. Nevertheless, cathedrals and parish churches are dedicated with a solemn rite."
Comment and Analysis: Again, the principle of non-contradiction is stood on its head. The first sentence in this paragraph says that churches can be dedicated or blessed. The second sentence says that cathedrals and parish churches are "dedicated with a solemn rite." Well, what are the churches to be blessed rather than dedicated? You will get no answer in GIRM. Contradiction and ambiguity are the rule in the new religion.
Paragraph 291 of G.I.R.M. reads as follows:
"All who are involved in the construction, restoration, and remodeling of churches are to consult the diocesan commission on liturgy and liturgical art. However, the diocesan Bishop is to use the counsel and help of this commission whenever it comes to laying down norms on this matter, approving plans for new buildings, and making decisions on the more important issues."
Comment and Analysis: As if Paragraph 22 of Sacrosanctum Concilium, which authorized the devolution of much liturgical decision-making from Rome to the national episcopal conferences and to the local bishops (at which levels liturgical revolutionaries were in place in many instances), this paragraph of GIRM gives a diocesan liturgical commission and a diocesan bishop great latitude to wreck the faith of our fathers. Rembert Weakland's wreckovation, though temporarily stopped before his early retirement in disgrace, was permitted to continue. Roger Cardinal Mahony's monstrosity alongside the Hollywood Freeway (US-101) in Los Angeles was dedicated with full Papal approbation, even though it is a poster child for Mahony's efforts to "de-Europeanize" the liturgy. The bishops and their liturgical functionaries can pretty much do whatever it is they want to do. GIRM gives them great latitude insofar as the wreckovation of our churches.
Paragraph 292 of G.I.R.M. reads as follows:
"Church decor should seek to achieve noble simplicity rather than ostentation. The choice of materials for church appointments must be marked by concern for genuineness and by the intent to foster instruction of the faithful and the dignity of the place of worship."
Comment and Analysis: One would be well within his rights if he were to ask the personage who is supposed to be worshiped in a Catholic church. The new Mass is principally about the worship of ourselves, not about the worship of the Blessed Trinity. The churches of tradition majestically communicated the glory of the Blessed Trinity. Most of the new churches convey a congregational sense of communitarianism. What is noble simplicity? A church with few statues, no altar rail, a table instead of an altar, a piano or keyboard instead of an organ? Are all of the churches of the past to be dismissed as ostentatious or triumphalistic? This is a gratuitous slap in the face to the glories of Christendom? What does "genuineness" mean?
Revolutionaries desire to change everything about a society they take over by violence and/or deceit. The dating of time must be changed. New calendars are introduced. The past is flushed down the memory hole. Books are published for popular consumption and schools in which history is entirely rewritten. And efforts are to made to design statues and monuments and buildings to express the "spirit" and the "genuineness" of the revolution as indicative of the will of the people. Need I say any more?
Paragraph 293 of G.I.RM. reads as follows:
"Proper planning of a church and its surroundings that meets contemporary needs requires attention not only to the elements belonging directly to liturgical services, but also to those facilities for the comfort of the faithful that are usual in places where people are assembled."
Comment and Analysis: Contemporary needs? The principal need of the "people" that Holy Mother Church is concerned about is the salvation of their immortal souls. The art and architecture of a Catholic Church should be communicating that which is timeless, Our Lord's Redemptive Act on the wood of the Cross being offered in an unbloody manner at the hands of a priest on a altar of sacrifice, not that which is time-bound and contemporary for the sake of "relevance." And while the provision of lavatories in newer churches has provided a convenience not found in the past, what other "facilities for the comfort of the faithful" does GIRM want included in a church? An Internet bar? A meeting room? A cafeteria? State of the art air conditioning? I don't think Our Lady and Saint John were too comfortable at the foot of the Cross. We shouldn't be too comfortable in Mass. We should be on our knees in gratitude for our Lord's mercy and in reparation for our sins.
An interesting sidebar at this juncture: churches were not built with lavatories in the past principally because no one receiving Holy Communion could take anything by mouth after Midnight, including water. Furthermore, there was not the contemporary phenomenon of thousands of people driving great distances to find a "safe" Mass to attend, which might be located miles and miles and miles away from where they live. Because Mass in the past was the Mass of tradition (and thus the same everywhere at all times), people did not have to travel to find safety. Their local parish church was their home. It was ipso facto a place of a safety, a place so very frequently where people were baptized as infants and buried as adults eighty to ninety years later. The same is not true today. And the new Mass is the reason.
Paragraph 294 of G.I.R.M. reads as follows:
"The people God assembled at Mass possess an organic and hierarchical structure, expressed by the various ministries and actions for each part of the celebration. The general plan of the sacred building should be such that in some way it conveys the image of the gathered assembly. Thus it should also allow the participants to take the place most appropriate to them and assist all to carry out their individual functions properly. The faithful and the choir should have a place that facilitates their active participation. The priest celebrant, the deacon and other ministers have their place in the sanctuary. At the same time, seats for the concelebrants should be prepared. If there is truly a great number of concelebrants, then seats should be arranged in another part of the church, but near the altar. Even though all these elements must express a hierarchical arrangement and the diversity of functions, they should at the same time form a deep and organic unity, clearly expressive of the unity of the entire holy people. The character and beauty of the place and all its appointments should foster devotion and show the holiness of the mysteries celebrated there."
Comment and Analysis: The art and architecture of a Catholic Church must reflect the greater honor and glory of the Blessed Trinity and the nature of the sacrifice to be offered in the sanctuary. Note this sentence and note it well: "The general plan of the sacred building should be such that in some way it conveys the image of the gathered assembly." The image of the gathered assembly? That's right, the image of the gathered assembly, not the image of God: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Not the image of the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph and other saints. No, the "sacred building" should convey "the image of the gathered assembly." I'm sorry, Michael Rose, although you meant well, phrases such as this give bishops and pastors and liturgical committees almost unlimited room for damaging the Holy Faith.
Furthermore, GIRM desires that a church be designed in order to facilitate the false concept of "active participation" that is the essence of the new Mass. This cannot be reconciled with Catholic tradition whatsoever. And despite this paragraph's slight nod in the direction of the hierarchical nature of the Church, that nod is entirely vitiated by this sentence: "Even though all these elements must express a hierarchical arrangement and the diversity of functions, they should at the same time form a deep and organic unity, clearly expressive of the unity of the entire holy people." Thus, a bishop or his liturgical functionaries are entirely within their rights when they interpret this paragraph in a way to justify churches in the round and tables in the middle of churches from which the "banquet" is served to the "holy people" gathered therein. It is therefore the expressed intention of GIRM to destroy the expression of the hierarchy of God and his priesthood over the faithful by appealing to the alleged necessity of expressing the "unity of the entire holy people." Quite insidious.
And efforts on the part of neoconservatives to try to fit this square peg into a round circle just don't work, folks. GIRM authorizes the very changes that so many good people want stopped. These good people don't want to realize (or admit) it is Vatican II and its aftermath that caused all of this.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
For past installments of G.I.R.M. Warfare in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives