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Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Difference Between "What If" "If Only" And "Why Not?"

I recently read a blog post from Southern Orders:

What's wrong with this for the post-Vatican II reformed Mass (Ordinary Form)?
UGH! After renovation! Please note that the renovated sanctuary is on the other side of the altar railing which they kept oddly enough, but now behind the new altar or sanctuary. Were they confused? But at least the old was save and could easily be restored by ripping out the new which I suspect will happen one day if not already!
UGH! After renovation!
Why not? Before Renovation! Was renovation really needed for the post Vatican II Mass? I say no! What a waste of time, energy and money!
What if the reform of the Mass had not led to the reform of Church buildings and the sanctuary in particular? If only the reform of the Mass had been carried out without the reform of sanctuaries or what many call the iconoclasm of these sanctuaries that rivaled the destruction of Catholic sanctuaries during the height of the Calvinistic movement during the Protestant Reformation. Why not revisit the Catholic sanctuary as it was traditionally designed and recover what was tossed out?

I think the liturgical renewal was derailed by the destruction of Catholic Church sanctuaries after Vatican II and unnecessarily so. The liturgical renewal was derailed by the horrible examples of post-Vatican II architecture that abounds in the USA today and elsewhere. Music is a separate problem for another article but also derailed authentic renewal too!

My first paragraph should not be construed as opposing the reform of the Mass because quite frankly I love the reformed Mass when celebrated reverently and as the General norms and rubrics indicate. That doesn't mean that I don't love the extra-ordinary form either. I do and if I had a congregation that appreciated that and wanted it every day, they would get it.

The reason that I love both is because both are the same at least when it comes to its dogma and doctrine although their spirituality and theology may differ a bit.

But back to my main premise: why did we have to deconstruct the Catholic Sanctuary for the reformed Mass? Was it necessary? I say no and that has been a long time in coming as I would have been a "champion" for renovating sanctuaries in the early 1980's. (One day I'll reprint an article I wrote for our diocesan newspaper in 1981 extolling the renovation of Saint Teresa Church in Albany, Georgia by none other than Rambusch! You'll be shocked by what I wrote!) But when I saw what was accomplished by these renovations I realized that nothing really was and that in fact it had a deleterious effect rather than a positive effect upon the Catholicity and spirituality of the congregations which did renovate radically.

You can have a beautifully celebrated Ordinary Form of the Mass in a traditional sanctuary all the while still involving the laity both in interior and exterior participation, reading the scriptures and being Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion when needed.

You could still have altar railings and kneel for Holy Communion without damaging the intent of the reform of the Mass that is the Paul VI Missal.

You can still celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist ad orientem and still have people understanding why and what is happening at the altar.

So, I say, let's recover the pre-Vatican II altar for the post-Vatican II Mass even if that altar is pulled away from the reredos and free-standing allowing for either Ad Orientem or facing the people but keeping the so-called "Benedictine arrangement" for whatever way is chosen (although I prefer the six candles behind the priest on a reredos if the priest is facing the people, but with a crucifix dead center, but low on the altar facing the priest). "Why not?"

This is my response:

I agree with EVERYTHING you're saying Father.  But I have one question for you, have you made the changes to using the traditional arrangement of the sanctuary, ad orientem, communion rails, etc. full time yet?
The difference between "what if" and "if only" and "why not" v. "done" are the priests and bishops.  If it is kept in the realm of the theoretical, it will only stay a theory.  This isn't a theory, it should be a reality.
I challenge any priest, bishop or edcuated layman to show where the changes implemented after Vatican Council II were implemented. 
The faithful will adapt.  YOU must lead.
I hope that you're practicing what you preach.  As a layman, I want what you advocate.  I speak about it on my blog often.  (If you're curious, click on my name and check it out)  The priests are afraid of their bishops and the bishops are afraid of the liberals.  That is why none of this is done, save a very, very few who have courage enough to stand up and say, enough is enough.  Bishop Slattery comes to mind.  The late Mons. Richard Schuler (my mentor) is another.
Liturgically, the Church has been hijacked by the Protestant mentality.  Bottom line.  We take the Protestant out of the Mass and the move to what you're advocating is simple.

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