Rorate Caeli

Motu proprio notes: Remembering Klaus Gamber

In this age of abysmally deficient party throwers who dare call themselves "liturgists", it is fitting to remember the work of a true Liturgical Scholar, a glory of Germany, Monsignor Klaus Gamber (1919-1989). Few scholars were as dedicated as Gamber to the search for Truth in liturgical history: not for the false truths of carefully crafted aberrations, as so many did in the late decades of the Liturgical Movement, with feverish application of their misguided concepts in the post-Conciliar turmoil. As Cardinal Ratzinger said in the well-known preface to the French translation of Gamber's most famous book, Die Reform der römischen Liturgie (The Reform of the Roman Rite):

What happened after the Council was altogether different: instead of a liturgy fruit of continuous development, a fabricated liturgy was put in its place. A living growing process was abandoned and the fabrication started. There was no further wish to continue the organic evolution and maturation of the living being throughout the centuries and they were replaced -- as if in a technical production -- by a fabrication, a banal product of the moment. Gamber, with the vigilance of a true visionary and with the fearlessness of a true witness, opposed this falsification and tirelessly taught us the living fullness of a true liturgy, thanks to his incredibly rich knowledge of the sources. As a man who knew and who loved history, he showed us the multiple forms of the evolution and of the path of the liturgy; as a man who saw history from the inside, he saw in this development and in the fruit of this development the intangible reflection of the eternal liturgy, which is not the object of our action, but which may marvelously continue to blossom and to ripen, if we join its mystery intimately.
Gamber was not afraid of revealing what he knew was true in liturgical history, even if that meant for him living a life of ostracism after the Second Vatican Council. The following excerpt of the aforementioned book displays the powerfulness of Gamber's scholarship, whose impact has been far-reaching:

...when Luther and his followers first discarded the Canon of the Mass, this change was not commonly noticed by the people because, as we know, the priest spoke the Canon in a low voice, as a private prayer. But Luther purposely did not dispense with the elevation of the Host and Chalice, at least not initially, because the people would have noticed that change. Also, in the larger Lutheran churches, Latin continued to be used, as was Gregorian chant. German hymns existed before the Reformation and at times were sung during the liturgy, so they were not a major change. Much more radical than any liturgical changes introduced by Luther, at least as far as the rite was concerned, was the reorganization of our own liturgy — above all, the fundamental changes that were made in the liturgy of the Mass. It also demonstrated much less understanding for the emotional ties the faithful had to the traditional liturgical rite.

At this point, it is not entirely clear to what extent these changes were, in fact, influenced by dogmatic considerations — as they had been in Luther's case. ...

The truly tragic aspect of this development is that many of those involved in designing the new liturgical texts, among them especially bishops and priests who had come out of the Catholic Youth Movement [Jugendbewegung], were acting in good faith, and simply failed to recognize the negative elements that were part of the new liturgy, or they did not recognize them right away. To them, the new liturgy embodied the fulfillment of all their past hopes and aspirations for which they had waited so long.

One thing is certain: the new (liberal) theology was a major force behind the liturgical reforms. (A good example of this is the German hymnal, Praising God.) Yet to assert, as is sometimes done, that the Novus Ordo Mass is "invalid" would be taking this argument too far. What we can say is that ever since the liturgical reforms were introduced, the number of invalid Masses certainly has increased.

Neither the persistent entreaties of distinguished cardinals, nor serious dogmatic points raised about the new liturgy, nor urgent appeals from around the world not to make the new Missal mandatory could stop Pope Paul VI — a clear indication of his own, strong personal endorsement. Even the threat of a new schism — the Lefebvre affair — could not move him to have the traditional ritus Romanus at least coexist with the new rite — a simple gesture of pluralism and inclusiveness, which, in our day and age, certainly would have been the politic thing to do.


  1. Msgr. Gamber is indeed worthy of remembrance on the eve of this great victory for the faithful.

    I will never forget reading his "Reform of the Roman Rite" shortly after my baptism in the 1990's.

    It opened my eyes to many (then) shocking truths, including the astounding botch-job justifying the "turning of the priest to the people" based on simply wrong conclusions about the placement of the apostles at the Last Supper.

    I appreciate the postings in recent days reminding us of the brave Catholic men who contributed to this great moment, and I will pray especially for Msgr. Gamber tonight.

    May he rejoice among the saints in light.

  2. Anonymous4:11 PM

    We have had forty years of abuses and betrayals. Now that the Holy See
    can read the writing on the wall (the progressive desintegration of the
    Church), there is a reaction. They know that the traditional seminaries
    are full while the Novus Ordo seminaries are empty (Arlington had no
    ordinati ons this year), they know that attendance at Mass has plummeted
    and that families of Catholics who go to the Novus Ordo are consistently
    small (few children) while tradition-oriented families have many
    children, they know that churches and schools are closing and that
    belief in the basic tenets of the Faith is the exception rather than the
    rule among Novus Ordo Catholics, who can be better described as
    "cafeteria Catholics" (both clergy and laity) who feel free to pick and
    choose what strikes their fa ncy. Were the bishops of the American
    Catholic Church high officials in corporations, they would have been
    fired long time ago for incompetence (no results consistent with the
    mission of the institution.)

    This has nothing to do with obedience or faithfulness. It does not take
    a genius to know that things are going wrong in the Church. It will
    take a major upheaval to bring us back to our senses. Thank God for
    the laity, for they and not the clergy have taken it upon themselves to
    straighten up the mess.

    Mind you, when I talk about abuses I am not talking necessarily about
    liturgical abuses-insanity, but abuses of the people and the clergy who
    refuse to join the parade out of fidelity. Do you know how many times
    we have been told that the traditional Mass was supressed "for good",
    only to find out now that this was nothing but a ruse to lead us into
    Modernism? Do you know how many good priests have been abused, some very good friends of mine, Fr. Vicent Miceli SJ and Fr. Charles Fiore OP easily come to mind among the hundreds, simply because they would stand by the same stuff to which they committed their lives? Do you realize that most bishops have scheduled traditional Masses at inconvenient times in out of the way places, simply to discourage people from attending, horrified that young families with children would opt for the traditional Masses over the hootenany meals. In Miami, Msgr. Brian
    Walsh would not hear confessions at the tradional Mass he was assigned to celebrate because,and these are his words, people should go to their own parishes and his Mass was a stop-gap measure until they started going to the Novus Ordo.

    If, as the Pope asserts, the traditional Mass was never abolished and
    we were free to celebrate it, Who was lying? Why were we told that one
    needed a "celebret" to celebrate that Mass? Why were our people denied
    everywhere the right to attend it? I was consulted a couple of weeks
    ago by a layperson on behalf of a priest who is retired and was
    admitting a few people to a private traditional Mass he celebrated in
    his house, only to have the local bis hop contact his religious superior
    pressing that he be disciplined and forbidden to admit people to a
    religious ceremony the bishop obviously deemed harmful to their souls...
    Again, who is lying? Can we trust people who behave in such a callous
    way in the name of God?

    They killed trust, now it will take a long time to bring it back. The SSPX needs to be extremely careful, for only God knows what would be in
    store for them if they simply "returnerd" and gave up their assets. We
    all need to take chances, but they need to be rational. Before we run,
    we need to walk, and broken human relations are not mended by decree.
    Let them show good will by their actions - not paper or decrees but
    behavior - and people will be more than happy to re-establish full

    Just imagine, if this is the reaction when people are simply given a
    choice, what will they do when the balance starts tilting away from
    their direction. The numbers do not bode well for the modernists. The
    statistics have been published, they are a dying breed. Their rage is
    not surprising, for they know full well that, given the choice and
    knowledge of the faith, people will run away from their leadership.


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