Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Assesing the Liturgical Reforms of Vatican II


"Jesuit Fr. Robert F. Taft, an internationally acclaimed authority on the history of Eastern liturgies, has been teaching at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome for almost 40 years and also serves as a consultor for the Vatican’s Congregation for the Oriental Churches. He holds the honorary title of archmandrite, conferred upon him by more than one Eastern church for his extraordinary contributions to liturgical studies and church unity....Liturgical pioneers drew inspiration from Russian Orthodox emigrĂ©s to France, who had fled from their homeland after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. These contacts proved crucially important because the Orthodox church, Fr. Taft notes, had preserved the liturgical spirit of the early church and continued to live by it.Liturgists in the West, however, did not attempt simply to imitate existing Eastern usage, but interpreted and applied it in the light of the needs of Latin Christianity. And that is why the liturgical movement, which Vatican II essentially validated, was so successful.But there were things that Vatican II “failed to do well or did not do at all,” Fr. Taft writes. He mentions three items: the process of initiation, the Liturgy of the Hours, and Communion from the tabernacle.He underscores the irony that one of Pope Pius X’s most celebrated and enduring reforms, namely, the lowering of the age of first holy Communion from adolescence to the age of reason....“This destroyed the age-old sequence of the rites of Christian initiation,” Fr. Taft insists....Fr. Taft argues, secondly, that the Liturgy of the Hours, despite its title, “is no liturgy at all, but still a breviary or book of prayers.”....Finally, the distribution of pre-consecrated hosts at Mass was “totally unthinkable in the early Christian East and West ... [and] is still inconceivable in any authentic Eastern Christian usage today.” Indeed, “Communion from the tabernacle is like inviting guests to a banquet, then preparing and eating it oneself, while serving one’s guests the leftovers from a previous meal.” "

And now, for a few words from The Young Fogey:

"Vatican II didn't define any Roman Catholic doctrine and its decrees on religious liberty and ecumenism, the real bone of contention with some traditionalist groups, are no problem but it was exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time.The legitimate liturgical movement was wonderful and indeed influenced by the Orthodox.The aftermath of Vatican II killed it.Pope Benedict XVI's 'reform of the reform' that McBrien hates so much is a try at reviving it.Robert Taft makes a good liturgical point on all three matters. Trying to bring the divine office (the hours as Orthodox say) back into the daily practice of most Roman Catholics is one valuable reform that either has spectacularly failed or never was tried.Tacked-on epiklesis and token deacons notwithstanding it's obvious to the common man that the aftermath of Vatican II moved Roman practice far away from the East and more in line with Protestantism. Traditionalist the late Michael Davies nailed this: for all the talk about ecumenism it's 'a harsh and even offensive condemnation' of Eastern practice.More than one Orthodox knows this.Richard McBrien and NCR are typical old, liberal-Protestant-wannabe RCs angry that the kids like Pope Benedict and his restoration of tradition better than their worn-out junk.I really suspect people of McBrien's kind don't like Communion from the Reserved Sacrament not for some purist liturgical reason (like Communion should be from the liturgical action happening right now) but because they think the Roman Catholic/Orthodox belief in the Real Presence is stupid and superstitious like the first Protestants did.I wonder what insulting things he'd say about the Orthodox if you put a few drinks in him.Note to McBrien and Taft: what Western Rite Orthodox do looks a lot more like Pope Benedict's revival than their junk.That should tell you what the mind of the Orthodox Church is on this."

Well done, Serge!


The young fogey said...

Thank you!

liturgy said...

Thanks for pointing to Fr Taft's work.
Please consider linking to
"Liturgy of the Hours"
and "Liturgy"
Let me know so I link back.