The history of the modern Roman liturgical renewal is complex and often inaccessible to the layman having little to no theological training or backgro...moreThe history of the modern Roman liturgical renewal is complex and often inaccessible to the layman having little to no theological training or background in liturgical study. It often seems as if there are two camps within the Latin Church, the Levebrist-influenced radical traditionalists who claim that the Missal of Paul VI (and the Second Council of the Vatican) was a break with centuries of Latin Catholic tradition to the detriment of sound or even valid liturgy; and the modernist/postermodernist self-acclaimed reformers who tout the Missal of Paul VI (and Vatican II) as license for endless creativity within the Roman liturgy. There are indeed two camps within the Latin Church, but the two aforementioned groups do not singularly comprise them. In fact, the two former groups are in reality one group, with a right and a left wing respectively, which claims that the reforms of the Council were a mad break with Sacred Tradition and the Church's past in favor of some new embezzled future, "postconciliar Church." The corresponding opposite group is one which declares with Pope Benedict XVI that in the history of the liturgy there is no break or fabrication but organic growth and development, of which the Missal of Paul VI is the latest part.
It was Cardinal Ratzinger who once said that the layman would hardly spot the difference between the so-called Tridentine Mass and a properly-celebrated (chanted Latin, following the rubrics) Novus Ordo; it was Benedict XVI who said that the so-called Mass of Paul VI contained within it treasures and beauties which were untapped, but not at all absent. The reasons for the liturgical mayhem following the Council are complicated and variously layered, and the seeds of this mayhem were already present in the decades leading up to the reforms. It is obviously not the fault of Paul VI, who did merely what the Council called for; nor is it the fault of the Council, which pastorally took into account the situation of the Church and, guided by the Holy Spirit, recommended certain remedies. It is obvious, Bishop Aillet says, and was obvious prior to the Council that the Roman rubrics were in need of a noticeable degree of reform. The Council saw this need and Paul VI followed the ideals of the Council. And it must be admitted in truth that the Missal of Paul VI contains much beauty and light, imbued with the Faith in many ways which the Missal of Bl. John XXIII lacks. Bishop Aillet and Benedict XVI cover this far more skillfully in their works than I can here, but suffice to say that the Missal of Paul VI saw these lacks and did much to compensate.
Those who see the Ordinary Form of the Roman rite to be doctrinally problematic do not understand either the rubrics themselves or the Council; those who see the Roman rite as something designed to subvert the Faith of the Church are (hopefully honest) fools. It is in the Missal of Paul VI that the treasures of the Missal of 1962 are caught up and reinvigorated; the reason that this fact has been missed is not because of the former Missal itself but because of ridiculous abuses which have befallen it. In some ways the Missal of Bl. John XXIII was subject to these abuses, if not as obviously as can be seen in a vernacular (and now, thanks to the information age, widely-dispersed) setting. When celebrated according to the rubrics and the spirit of the Roman liturgy, the so-called Mass of Paul VI is the plane for a real and soul-altering encounter with Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. As the chaos of the aftermath of the Council settles (a chaos which finds parallels after practically every Council in the Church's history) and as Catholics learn to celebrate the Missal of Paul VI in the way that it was intended and envisioned, more and more will it be seen just what a vessel of glory has been given to the Church in this latest stage of the Spirit-guided growth of the Roman Mass. This work, "The Old Mass and the New," serves as a fine introduction to this subject and gives a hopeful, though in no way naive, outlook on the new liturgical movement prayed for by Benedict XVI and which is taking shape throughout the world.(less)