Liturgical Time Bombs
in Vatican II: Excerpts
The Destruction of Catholic Faith 
Through Changes in Catholic Worship 
by Michael Davies

Published on the Web with Permission of the Author.

Active Participation

In Article 11 there appears one of the key themes of the CSL. Pastors of souls are urged to ensure that during the Mass "the faithful take part knowingly, actively, and fruitfully." Similar admonitions are included in Pope Pius XII's Mediator Dei (1947), but in both that encyclical and in the CSL the Latin word which has been translated as "active" is actuosus. There is a Latin word activus which is defined in Lewis and Short's Latin Dictionary as active, practical, opposed to contemplativus, but the same dictionary explains actuosus as implying activity with the accessory idea of zeal, subjective impulse. It is not easy to provide an exact English equivalent of actuosus; the word involves a sincere (perhaps intense) interior participation in the Mass-----and it is always to this interior participation that prime consideration must be given. The role of external gestures is to manifest this interior participation, without which they are totally without value. These signs should not only manifest, but aid the interior participation which they symbolize.

   No gesture approved by the Church is without meaning and value-----the striking of the breast during the Confiteor, making the Sign of the Cross on the forehead, lips and heart at the beginning of the Gospel, genuflecting at the Incarnatus est during the Creed and at the Verbum caro factum est of the Last Gospel, kneeling for certain parts of the Mass-----the Canon in particular, bowing in adoration at the elevations, joining in the chants and appropriate responses: all these are appropriate external manifestations of the internal participation which the faithful should rightly be taught to make knowingly and fruitfully. But Pope Pius XII points out in Mediator Dei that the importance of this external participation should not be exaggerated and that every Catholic has the right to assist at Mass in the manner which he finds most helpful:

      People differ so widely in character, temperament and intelligence that it is impossible for them all to be affected in the same way by the same communal prayers, hymns, and sacred actions. Besides, spiritual needs and dispositions are not the same in all, nor do these remain unchanged in the same individual at different times. Are we therefore to say-----as we should have to say if such an opinion were true-----that all these Christians are unable to take part in the Eucharistic Sacrifice or to enjoy its benefits? Of course they can, and in ways which many find easier: for example, by devoutly meditating on the mysteries of Jesus Christ, or by performing other religious exercises and saying other prayers which, though different in form from the liturgical prayers, are by their nature in keeping with them. (Par. 115). [Emphasis in red above and below added by the Web master.]
   As Pope Pius XII explains at great length in his encyclical, what really matters is that the faithful should unite themselves with the priest at the altar in offering Christ and should offer themselves together with the Divine Victim, with and through the great High Priest Himself. This is "participation" of the highest kind in the Mass.

     There is a clear change of emphasis between Mediator Dei (1947) and the CSL (1964), which states that "in the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, the full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else, for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit." (Art. 14). As is the case in this quotation, actuosus has been translated invariably by the word "active," which is interpreted in its literal sense. The necessity of making, as Article 14 directs, full and active congregational participation the prime consideration in "the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy" has resulted in the congregation rather than the Divine Victim becoming the focus of attention. Since the Council, it is the coming together of the community which matters most, not the reason they come together; and this is in harmony with the most obvious tendency within the post-conciliar Church-----to replace the cult of God with the cult of man. Cardinal Ratzinger remarked with great perceptiveness in 1997:

         I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy . . . when the community of faith, the worldwide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence? Then the community is celebrating only itself, an activity that is utterly fruitless. [Joseph Ratzinger, Milestones (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1998), pp.148-149.]
      Once the logic of making the active participation of the congregation the prime consideration of the liturgy is accepted, there can be no restraint upon the self-appointed experts intent upon its total desacralization.

   It is important to stress here that at no time during the reform have the wishes of the laity ever been taken into consideration. Just as in the Soviet Union the Communist Party "interpreted the will of the people," so the "experts" interpret the wishes of the laity. When, as early as March 1964, members of the laity in England were making it quite clear that they neither liked nor wanted the liturgical changes being imposed upon them, one of England's most fervent apostles of liturgical innovation, Dom Gregory Murray, O.S.B., put them in their place in the clearest possible terms in a letter to The Tablet: "The plea that the laity as a body do not want liturgical change, whether in rite or in language, is, I submit, quite beside the point." He insists that it is "not a question of what people want; it is a question of what is good for them." [The Tablet, March 14, 1964, p. 303.] The self-appointed liturgical experts treat with complete contempt not only the laity, but also the parish clergy-----whose bishops insist that they submit to the diktat of these experts, to whom, in most cases, they have abdicated their authority in liturgical matters. Monsignor Richard J. Schuler, an experienced parish priest in St. Paul, Minnesota, explained the predicament of the parish clergy very clearly in an article written in 1978 in which he made the very poignant comment that all that the experts require them to do is to raise the money to pay for their own destruction:

       But then came the post-conciliar interpreters and implementors who invented the "Spirit of the Council." They introduced practices never dreamed of by the Council Fathers; they did away with Catholic traditions and customs never intended to be disturbed; they changed for the sake of change; they upset the sheep and terrified the shepherds.

      The parish priest, who is for most Catholics the shepherd to whom they look for help along the path to salvation, fell upon hard times after the pastoral council. He is the pastor, but he found himself superseded by commissions, committees, experts, consultants, co-ordinators, facilitators, and bureaucrats of every description. A mere parish priest can no longer qualify. He is told that if he was educated prior to 1963, then he is ignorant of needed professional knowledge, he must be updated, retread and indoctrinated by attending meetings, seminars, workshops, retreats, conferences and other brainwashing sessions. But down deep, he really knows that what he is needed for is only to collect the money to support the ever-growing bureaucracy that every diocese has sprouted to serve the "pastoral needs" of the people. While the parishes struggle, the taxation imposed on them all but crushes them. The anomaly of having to pay for one's own destruction becomes the plight of a pastor and his sheep who struggle to adapt to the "freedom" and the options given by the council.

   Msgr. Schuler certainly agrees with Msgr. Gamber that the reform as we have it would not have been endorsed by the majority of the Council Fathers. He continues:
       Not least among the blows received by a pastor and his flock have been the liturgical innovations imposed by the Washington bureaucracy. Most of the changes we have witnessed since 1965 were never dreamed of by the Conciliar Fathers, and hardly one of them was ever asked for by the Catholic people. But with the new given freedom, we must have options, and we must use options, particularly the options that the liturgists propose. The liberal position means that one is free to agree with the Liberal position and no other. Thus options, as they are introduced, soon become the norm, and any exercise of choice is soon labeled divisive. [The Wanderer, November 2, 1978.]
          The demand that the full and active participation of the congregation "be considered before all else" is a time bomb of virtually unlimited destructive power placed in the hands of those invested with the power to implement in practice the details of a reform which the Council authorized, but did not spell out in detail. Thus, although the Council says that "other things being equal," Gregorian chant should be given pride of place in liturgical services (Art. 116), the "experts" can and did argue that this was most certainly not a case of other things being equal, as the use of Gregorian chant impeded the active participation of the people. The music of the people, popular music, pop music, is, say the "experts," clearly what is most pleasing to them and most likely to promote their active participation-----which, in obedience to the Council, must "be considered before all else." This has led to the abomination of the "Folk Mass," which certainly has no more in common with genuine folk music than it does with plainchant. It also illustrates the ignorance of, and contempt for, the ordinary faithful that is manifested by these self-styled "experts." Because the housewife or the manual laborer listens to pop music to relieve the monotony of the day's routine, it does not follow that they are incapable of appreciating anything better, or that they wish to hear the same sort of music in Church on Sunday. The same is equally true of young people: if the liturgy is reduced to the level of imitating what was being heard in the disco last year, then the young will soon see little point in being present. Dietrich von Hildebrand has correctly defined the issue at stake as follows:
       The basic error of most of the innovators is to imagine that the new liturgy brings the holy Sacrifice of the Mass nearer to the faithful, that shorn of its old rituals the Mass now enters into the substance of our lives. For the question is whether we better meet Christ in the Mass by soaring up to Him, or by dragging Him down into our own pedestrian, workaday world. The innovators would replace holy intimacy with Christ by an unbecoming familiarity. The new liturgy actually threatens to frustrate the confrontation with Christ, for it discourages reverence in the face of mystery, precludes awe, and all but extinguishes a sense of sacredness.  . . . [Triumph magazine, October 1966.]
 . . . The next time bomb is located in Article 21. It states that "the liturgy is made up of unchangeable elements divinely instituted and elements subject to change." This is perfectly correct-----but it does not follow that, because certain elements could be changed, they ought to be changed. The entire liturgical tradition of the Roman rite contradicts such an assertion. "What we may call the 'archaisms' of the Missal," writes Dom Cabrol, a "father" of the liturgical movement, "are the expressions of the faith of our fathers which it is our duty to watch over and hand on to posterity." [Introduction to the Cabrol edition of The Roman Missal.] Similarly, in their defense of the bull Apostolicae Curae (1898), the Catholic Bishops of the Province of Westminster insisted that:
In adhering rigidly to the rite handed down to us we can always feel secure . . . And this sound method is that which the Catholic Church has always followed . . . to subtract prayers and ceremonies in previous use, and even to remodel the existing rites in the most drastic manner, is a proposition for which we know of no historical foundation, and which appears to us absolutely incredible. Hence Cranmer in taking this unprecedented course acted, in our opinion, with the most inconceivable rashness. [A Vindication of the Bull "Apostolicae Curae" (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1898), pp. 42-3.]
   The CSL takes a different view, so startling and unprecedented a break with tradition that it seems scarcely credible that the Council Fathers voted for it. Article 21 states that elements which are subject to change "not only may but ought to be changed with the passing of time if features have by chance crept in which are less harmonious with the intimate nature of the liturgy, or if existing elements have grown less functional." These norms are so vague that the scope for interpreting them is virtually limitless, and it must be kept in mind continually that those who drafted them would be the men with the power to interpret them. No indication is given of which aspects of the liturgy are referred to here; no indication is given of the meaning of "less functional" (how much less is "less"?), or whether "functional" refers to the original function or a new one which may have been acquired.

    Article 21 refers, of course, to the liturgy in general, but specific reference is made to the Mass in Article 50:

        The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, can be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful can be more easily accomplished. For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, while due care is taken to preserve their substance. Elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage are now to be discarded. Where opportunity allows or necessity demands, other elements which have suffered injury through the accidents of history are now to be restored to the earlier norm of the holy Fathers.
     Those who have read my book Cranmer's Godly Order will be struck immediately by the fact that Thomas Cranmer himself could have written this passage as the basis for his own "reform" of the Catholic liturgy-----i.e., his creation of the Anglican prayer service. There is not one point here that the apostate Archbishop of Canterbury (1489-1556) did not claim to be implementing. An Anglican observer at Vatican II, Archdeacon Bernard Pawley, praised the manner in which the liturgical reform following Vatican II not only corresponds with, but has even surpassed, the reform of Thomas Cranmer.  [B. Pawley, Rome and Canterbury through Four Centuries (London: Mowbray, 1974), p. 349.] There is a very close correspondence between the prayers which Cranmer felt had been added to the Mass "with little advantage" (almost invariably prayers which made Catholic teaching explicit) and those which the members of the Consilium, which implemented the norms of Vatican II [with the help of Protestant advisers], also decreed had been added "with little advantage' and "must be discarded." The correspondence between the reform of Thomas Cranmer and those of Father Bugnini's Consilium is made clear in Chapter XXV of my book Pope Paul's New Mass, where the two reforms are set out in parallel columns with the Traditional Latin Rite Mass codified in perpetuity by St. Pius V (1566-1572).

. . . Father Joseph Gelineau was described by Archbishop Bugnini as one of the "great masters of the international liturgical world." [Bugnini, p. 221.] In his book Demain la liturgie, Father Gelineau informs us that:

       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). [J. Gelineau, Demain la liturgie (Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1977), pp.9-10.] 

This concept of a permanently evolving liturgy-----"the liturgy is a permanent workshop"-----is of crucial importance. St. Pius V's ideal of liturgical uniformity within the Roman Rite has now been cast aside, to be replaced by an ideal of "pluriformity" in which the liturgy must be kept in a state of constant flux, resulting inevitably in what Cardinal Ratzinger described with perfect accuracy as "the disintegration of the liturgy."


HOME------------------- HOLY EUCHARIST