Thursday, 26 April 2012

More on Cardinal Heenan on the New Mass

Part Time Pilgrim raised some interesting and important questions in response to my recent post quoting Cardinal Heenan.

I attempted an answer to the first here, so I am now turning my attention to the second: 
2. How exactly does the OF throw doubt on the doctrine of the Real Presence?
Here I think the source of my original quotation becomes very relevant.  In his three volume work on the Liturgical Changes, Michael Davies essentially makes the case for this proposition.

The first volume is 'Cranmer's Godly Order.'  It looks at the Protestant Reformation, and at how the Mass was repeatedly re-written in order to express a theology which denied the orthodox Catholic understanding of it as the Sacrifice of Calvary, in which Our Lord's body and blood are made truly present as the same victim, being offered by the same priest, to the Heavenly Father.

What is disconcerting is that the changes which Cranmer and others initiated find uncanny echoes in the changes made by the Consilium and subsequent initiatives.

One of these, clearly is the removal of the Offertory, about which I have already blogged here.

There is also the change from regarding the altar as primarily a place of sacrifice to treating it as a table, about which I have blogged here and here.

We have also witnessed the destruction of the notion of the sanctuary as a holy place, set apart for sacrifice, about which I have blogged here and passim.

Then in the actual language of the Mass (and in particular in the emasculated translation which, thanks to our Holy Father, has finally been replaced) we found that almost all references to sacrifice and oblation have been bowdlerised.

The ritual, too, has been stripped of those signs of reverence that acknowledged the Real Presence: the genuflections, signs of the Cross, the priest's holding his fingers together lest a crumb be dropped, kneeling for communion, receiving on a tongue, the use of pattens, the use of a hieratic language...

Then there was also the introduction of innovations that served as a rupture with the pre-existing sensus fidelium, often scandalising the faithful, and ultimately (in my view) numbing them: the use of EMHCs when not absolutely necessary, the deliberate destruction of the pervasive silence that was once a characteristic of any Catholic Church (particularly before and after Mass), the practical prohibition of kneeling for communion, the admittance of women to the sanctuary and to service at the altar,and so on and so on.

Also, there was the replacement of the fundamentally vertical orientation of the Mass, focused intensely on God, as Father, Sanctifier, Priest, Victim, and Spiritual Food,  with a much more horizontal orientation, with the people attending, at least in part, to themselves as a community: the new approach placed a new emphasis on the people, typified by Mass facing the people, and an emphasis on the Mass as a time of instruction. (Don't get me wrong: I think instruction in the Faith, and knowledge of Scripture are essential: but the Mass is not the place for them.  At Mass we are learning a yet more profound lesson). 

For me, one of the changes I think really unhelpful  - and emblematic of the thinking of the 'reformers' is in the Kyrie.

We used to have a three fold  - Trinitarian -  structure:

Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison,
Christe eleisonChriste eleisonChriste eleison
Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.

That was replaced with the dialogue form:

Priest: Kyrie eleison
People: Kyrie eleison

Priest: Christe eleison
People: Christe eleison

Priest: Kyrie eleison
People: Kyrie eleison

(Though if you get it in Greek, you are very lucky. Yet this is a link with the very early Church...)

Thus the  whole feel of the Mass changes: the priest and the people are talking to each other, rather than united in the worship of God (and that's why orientation is so important...)

It is quite true that much of this was changed after Cardinal Heenan's remarks: he was prescient, I think, and spotted very early on the direction of travel - what followed later was implicit from the start, from the philosophy, theology, ecclesiology and sociology of the Concilium.

It is also quite true that few, if any, of these changes were mandated by the Council Fathers.

Perhaps what is hard to see from the perspective of those of us who grew up after the changes is the massive impact of change at all.

The iconic example of this is the Canon of the Mass.  The very word Canon means that which is unchanging.  Suddenly it was changed: the Canon itself was both edited, to become Eucharistic Prayer No. 1, and made optional, with three other regular options and, eventually, countless others.

Some of these, such as EP 2, when compared line be line with the Roman Canon, are clearly less explicit about the Sacrificial Action and the Real Presence.

So my thesis is that it is the cumulative effect of these changes which has undermined a clear Catholic sense of what the Mass is, and therefore belief in the Real Presence.

It is not the sole cause - the crisis in education and the apostasy of some priests and nuns are clearly contributory factors.  But Cardinal Heenan said what he said when he said it, and what he predicted came to pass - so I think it is not unreasonable to suggest that he may have been onto something.

In terms of protestantisation, if Davies' analysis is correct - and it certainly seems cogent to me - then that case is made: the New Mass is far more acceptable to many protestants than the Old could ever have been - and was designed to be.  Protestant advisors were consultors to the Concilium.

As for feminisation, I am less clear. I think the Cardinal was suggesting that the more community-focussed 'inclusive' approach to liturgy may appeal more to women than to men, but I am wary of generalisations about the sexes.  I think our own time is one in which it is hard to see these issues clearly (every age has its own blindspots!).


Hugh of Avalon said...

Excellent post, which succinctly sets out the disastrous effects of the changes. As to feminisation, I too am wary of gross generalisation but it does strike me that the stereotypical 'pushy', liberal, busybodies in so many modern Catholic parishes are women of a certain age. Also, the sentimental and even pop culture-influenced 'liturgy' one encounters is simply not appealing to most men. I think this is why one sees so many men (including young men) at celebrations of the TLM. Fundamentally, it is serious and solemn. This is not to say that women aren't capable of seriousness and solemnity! My wife feels the same way I do. But I think it is fair to say that on the whole women were historically more supportive (dare I say instigative) of the changes at the local level than men. Please correct me if I am wrong: I am a youngish convert, whose knowledge of 20th-century Catholicism comes from books and blogs rather than life experience.

Richard Collins said...

Thanks Ben for a truly excellent post.

It occurs to me that what Cardinal Heenan meant in his now famous remark that only women and children would attend this new Mass, was that men might be regarded as less zealous than women and not cling on to something that had been emasculated.
A good topic for debate, I think.

Ttony said...

Something that worries me at times about the Michael Davies argument, and something that seemed (to me) to always be part of the thinking of the sort of people who were in the LMS in the 80s and 90s was a sort of Manichaean view of Consilium members as "reformers who wanted to protestantise the Mass". The truth is a lot more nuanced as the "reformers" took Sacrosanctum Concilium and turned what it had said into what they called "guiding" and "operational" principles.

Even Bugnini's summary is far too long to be a comment on a blog posting, but a simple paragraph might help to illustrate my contention that however mistaken they may have been, the impulses motivating those involved were Catholic.

"A liturgical celebration is the supreme sacred action of the Church. At the heart of the Constitution is a profound meditation on the mystery of the Church, which is looked on as a flood of love pouring from the open side of the crucified Christ. The liturgy is the sign that offers the truest and fullest image of the Church: a worshipping community gathered around a single altar, under the presidency of its lawful pastors. But the symbol also becomes the reality, for the Eucharist feeds the Church; the Church continually grows and renews itself through the celebration of the Eucharist and the administration of the sacraments."

I repeat that this doesn't make them right, but it certainly clashes with the idea that they would try to remove from the Mass everything that a Protestant might object to.

(There really isn't space to do this justice here - sorry!)

Part-time Pilgrim said...

This has provoked me to a lot of thought about the arguments presented and to re-read the Catechism on the mass (always a good thing to do).
A few things strike me. Firstly a lot of what you describe (and dislike) are things introduced since Cardinal Heenan's comments. Certainly he was a man of foresight but I don't accept he predicted all those changes. We have discussed them before and the level of our agreement goes from complete (on e.g. EPII) to utter disagreement (on e.g. women on the sanctuary) with all shades in between on other issues.
When you address the issue of Real Presence you talk almost exclusively about downplaying the sacrificial nature of the Mass rather than the Real Presence itself. On first reading I dismissed these arguments as it is possible to have a firm belief in the Real Presence without fully understanding the Mass as a sacrifice. Indeed I suspect that is actually the case for many Catholics. However I realised that if you look at it the other way round it is impossible to believe that the Eucharist is sacrificial without accepting that Christ is truly present on the altar. It is therefore true that downplaying the sacrifice aspect of the understanding of Mass could undermine our understanding of the nature of the Blessed Sacrament. However I am not sure that this illuminates the meaning of the Cardinal’s criticism; surely he would have mentioned the sacrificial understanding if that was what was in his mind.
The most convincing argument you put forward is that of rupture. Although it is false to claim the Mass as unchanging from the Council of Trent and before, other changes have been small and gradual. People might be fooled into thinking that if the Mass could change so much, perhaps other things were also mutable. In an environment of questionable catechesis (which certainly did happen) error can creep in. Again though, if it was the amount or speed of change Heenan objected to, surely he would have said so explicitly.
The “dialogue” point is an interesting one. It has never crossed my mind that when I make responses in Mass that I am talking to the priest. Do you really think that this might be the case with some people and is this what the Cardinal was getting at? I am not convinced.
As for Protestantisation, I think Ttony has laid that one to rest. I have never seen Bugnini as a crypto-protestant; Ttony introduced me to him and I read on Ttony’s blog that Bugnini thought that altar relics should be large and visible underneath the altar. It’s a mad idea but the sort of thing that would send any self-respecting Protestant screaming towards the nearest exit.
And feminisation, again, no-one is clear what Heenan meant. Perhaps it is just an indictment of the commitment of men in general as Richard suggested.
So perhaps the church should look at the liturgy (and catechesis!) so that the sacrificial nature of the Mass is more explicit. Maybe that is what our present Pope is about with his “reform of the reform”. But this time, let’s change things slowly. Again maybe that is what Benedict XVI is doing and the new translation is the first part of this. Time will tell.

Ben Trovato said...

Pt-P I keep meaning to come back to this -and will eventually if I remember - but always think of it late at night. Remind me if I don't - some very good points to discuss here!