Liturgical Shipwreck

by Michael Davies
Part 5

  Father Louis Bouyer, an outstanding figure in the pre-conciliar liturgical movement and one of the most orthodox periti at the Council, was able to see the direction the reform was taking, even before the promulgation of the New Mass. He stated in 1968 that "We must speak plainly: there is practically no liturgy worthy of the name today in the Catholic Church." 24 And that "Perhaps in no other area is there a greater distance [and even formal opposition] between what the Council worked out and what we actually have." 25 Msgr. Gamber made the same point when he wrote:

     One statement we can make with certainty is that the new Ordo of the Mass that has now emerged would not have been endorsed by the majority of the Council Fathers. 26
In 1964 Father Bouyer wrote an enthusiastic appreciation of the Liturgy Constitution entitled The Liturgy Revived, which predicted the flowering of a great liturgical renewal. He had become totally disillusioned by 1968 and wrote a scathing denunciation of the manner in which the reform was developing in practice, entitled The Decomposition of Catholicism, in which he states that not only is there formal opposition between what the Council required and what we actually have, but that, in practice, the reform constitutes a repudiation of the papally approved liturgical movement to which he had contributed. 27

  It is perfectly legitimate to describe what has taken place in the Roman Rite since Vatican II as a "revolution" rather than a reform. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines "revolution" as a "complete change, turning upside down, great reversal of conditions, fundamental reconstruction." Is this not precisely what has taken place in the Roman Rite since the Second Vatican Council? The revolutionary nature of the changes in the Roman Liturgy since Vatican II have been apparent even to non-Catholics. At the Harvard Club in New York on May 11, 1978, Peter L. Berger, a Lutheran professor of Sociology, commented on the post-conciliar changes within the Catholic Church from the dispassionate standpoint of a professional sociologist and insisted that the changes were a mistake, even from a sociological standpoint: "If a thoroughly malicious sociologist, bent on injuring the Catholic Church as much as possible, had been an adviser to the Church, he could hardly have done a better job." 28 Professor Dietrich von Hildebrand echoed these sentiments when he wrote, "Truly, if one of the devils in C. S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters had been entrusted with the ruin of the liturgy, he could not have done it better." 29
The testimony of Father Joseph Gelineau to the fact that the liturgical revolution which followed the Council went far beyond what the Council Fathers intended must surely be conclusive:

      It would be false to identify this liturgical renewal with the reform of rites decided on by Vatican II. This reform goes back much further and goes forward far beyond the conciliar prescriptions [elle va bien au-delà]. The liturgy is a permanent workshop [La liturgie est un chantier permanent]. 30
  So there we have it. In place of the moderate reform sanctioned by the Liturgy Constitution of Vatican Council II, the Mass of the Roman Rite, surely the Church's greatest treasure, apart from the Scriptures themselves, has been reduced on a practical level to "a permanent workshop," something done by the people, rather than an action of Christ, an actio Christi. This is a fact accepted by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who commented:
Today we might ask: Is there a Latin Rite anymore? Certainly there is no awareness of it. To most people the liturgy appears to be rather something for the individual congregation to arrange. 31