Liturgical Shipwreck

by Michael Davies
Part 4

  Father Gelineau tells us that the traditional rite of Mass has been destroyed and replaced by one that is different. Father Stravinskas assures us that there is no significant difference between the two rites. An impartial examination of the reform in which Fr. Gelineau played so active a part will prove beyond any possible doubt that his assessment, and not that of Father Stravinskas, is correct. But before examining the actual reform, it is necessary to be clear as to precisely what the Liturgy Constitution of the Second Vatican Council mandated. It is indisputable that the Second Vatican Council was followed by a reform far more radical than that envisaged by the Council Fathers or authorized by the Liturgy Constitution. By no possible stretch of the imagination can Vatican Council II be interpreted as mandating or sanctioning the destruction of the Roman Rite! It contained stipulations which appeared to make any drastic remodeling of the Traditional Mass impossible. The Latin language was to be preserved in the Latin rite [Article 36], and steps were to be taken to ensure that the faithful could sing or say together in Latin those parts of the Mass that pertain to them [Article 54]. All lawfully acknowledged rites were held to be of equal authority and dignity and were to be preserved in the future and fostered in every way [Article 4]. The treasury of sacred music was to be preserved and fostered with great care [Article 114], and Gregorian Chant was to be given pride of place in liturgical services [Article 116]. There were to be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly required them, and care was to be taken that any new forms adopted should grow in some way organically from forms already existing [Article 23].

  These explicit commands of Vatican II have been, as Hamlet expressed it, "More honour'd in the breach than the observance." The Latin language has virtually vanished from our churches, and not the least effort is being made in 99.9 % of parishes to ensure that the faithful can sing or say together in Latin those parts of the Mass that pertain to them. Far from preserving and fostering the Roman Rite, that rite has been destroyed, and the treasury of sacred music, Gregorian Chant in particular, has been all but forgotten in the majority of parishes. A long list of innovations can be cited which the good of the Church did not genuinely and certainly require and, in almost every instance, these innovations modified the Traditional Mass in a manner that made it more acceptable to Protestants. Examine the prayers that the sixteenth-century Protestants removed from the traditional missals in their own countries and you will find that the very same prayers have been removed from the Tridentine Mass, so that the Mass of Pope Paul VI could and did win Protestant approval. 19 The one exception is the Roman Canon, which was removed from the Mass by all the Protestant Reformers and by Archbishop Bugnini, but which was restored, Deo gratias, thanks to a direct command of Pope Paul VI. 20 It is true that the Roman Canon is not often used in the New Mass today, but its presence in the New Missal guarantees that, although the reformed liturgy contains many parallels with Protestant worship, because of the presence of the Roman Canon, which was anathema to every Protestant Reformer, the New Mass cannot be described as a Protestant liturgy. God would never allow a pope to approve any Sacramental rite that does not contain what is essential for the validity of the Sacrament or that contains anything specifically heretical. Contrary to what is often alleged, Archbishop Lefebvre acknowledged that the New Mass is valid and contains no heresy. 21

  When the Council Fathers voted for the Liturgy Constitution, they did not imagine for one moment that their actions would ever be interpreted in a manner that contradicted their explicit intentions. But this very thing occurred because the periti [experts] who drafted the text had inserted ambiguous passages into it which they intended to use after the Council to implement a liturgical revolution which they knew would not have been sanctioned by the Council Fathers if it had been spelled out explicitly in the Constitution itself. Lest it be thought that this is no more than a wild allegation by a layman addicted to conspiracy theories, the testimony of Cardinal John Heenan of Westminster England will be cited. Cardinal Heenan was one of the most active of the Council Fathers, and in his book, A Crown of Thorns, he wrote, concerning the first session of the Council in 1962:

     The subject most fully debated was liturgical reform. It might be more accurate to say that the bishops were under the impression that the liturgy had been fully discussed. In retrospect it is clear that they were given the opportunity of discussing only general principles. Subsequent changes were more radical than those intended by Pope John and the bishops who passed the decree on the liturgy. His sermon at the end of the first session shows that Pope John did not suspect what was being planned by the liturgical experts. [Emphasis added by the author] 22
  What could be more clear than this? Cardinal Heenan states explicitly that experts who drafted the Liturgy Constitution intended to use it after the Council in a manner that the Pope and the Council Fathers did not suspect. Most of the Council Fathers would have dismissed such a possibility as incredible, even if it had been explained to them. Commenting in 1973, with the benefit of hindsight, Archbishop R. J. Dwyer of Portland, Oregon remarked sadly:
       Who dreamed on that day that within a few years, far less than a decade, the Latin past of the Church would be all but expunged, that it would be reduced to a memory fading into the middle distance? The thought of it would have horrified us, but it seemed so far beyond the realm of the possible as to be ridiculous. So we laughed it off. 23