Rorate Caeli

"Got a revolution, got to revolution!"
40 years of Pontificalis Romani and the new Roman Rite

Forty years ago, on June 18, 1968, Pope Paul VI signed the Apostolic Constitution Pontificalis Romani, which put into effect the first part of the first completely new liturgical book in the history of the Church, the new Rite of Ordination of Deacons, Priests, and Bishops of the new Roman Pontifical.

It was not a mere liturgical reform, but a brand new product, a fruit of the frenetic work of the Consilium ad Exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia, under the presidency of Cardinals Lercaro and Gut and with the unifying influence of Monsignor Annibale Bugnini. After the profound reforms of some liturgical texts and rubrics in the post-Conciliar years, the New Rite of Ordination was something else entirely: a radically new text for a new People of God.

Dom Bernard Botte, chairman of the subcommittee for the New Pontifical inside the Consilium, recalled with his characteristic modesty the events which led to the new text of the rite of Episcopal Consecration (or, rather, Ordination):

The reform of these rites imposed a delicate problem: was it necessary to return purely and simply to the primitive tradition and to suppress all the subsequent additions, or should these alterations, which were justified by a largely millennial tradition, be preserved? ... To suppress with one stroke all which had been added throughout the centuries would be against the very laws of life. On the other hand, the Roman Pontifical could not anymore be considered an untouchable monument elevated to its perfection by a master of ceremonies of the 13th century. The study of the early tradition, on the other hand, made clear that, in many of its points, a deviation of the true tradition had taken place. A superficial revision of the text, therefore, could not be enough

The commission charged with the reform chose an intermediate way: to preserve, in the Roman tradition, whatever could be kept or adapted without compromising the essence. I say keep or adapt for certain rites, while themselves legitimate, could appear falsified by the formula which accompanied them .
...

Formula of Ordination:

What bolstered the formula of Hippolytus was, in first place, its doctrinal wealth and its clarity.

After the reading of the text [of the new formula of episcopal ordination], many Fathers [members of the Consilium] were delighted, yet others remained in doubt, and some were certainly hostile to the idea. What prevailed in the decision [favorable to the new text] was the ecumenical value of the text.
...
["L'ordination de l'évêque". Published in La Maison-Dieu, 98, 1969/2, p. 113-126]

In his short memoir (published in English as "From Silence to Participation: An Insider's View of Liturgical Renewal"), Dom Bernard Botte would recall the almost feverish mood of the Consilium which needed the temporary approval of the new text by the appropriate Roman authorities as soon as possible so that the first "New Episcopal Ordination" might take place - it was the ordination of the famous Swiss liturgist Anton Hänggi as Bishop of Basel, which took place on February 11, 1968.

The text of the new Rite, "De Ordinatione Diaconi, Presbyteri et Episcopi", was then approved by Pope Paul along with his Apostolic Constitution on June 18. Other new texts for rites included in the Roman Pontifical would be published in the following years.

What was then considered "solid scholarship" regarding the reliability of the liturgical formulas of "The Apostolic Tradition", by the Pseudo-Hippolytus, is very much disputed today (an introduction to contemporary criticism of the Pseudo-Hippolytus is available here).

Such formulas were, nevertheless, the basis for the Consilium's decision on the new rites of ordination in the Latin Church. The validity of such formulas is not in question*. Yet the lack of prudence and foresight of the scholars and prelates who approved, abetted, and promoted this upheaval is not immune to criticism.

This bold destruction of centuries of Catholic liturgy, of the gentle accumulation of layers of contributions added by men of all ages, by a committee of scholarly bureaucrats of the 20th century, who believed they were somehow "outside" History, that they could sit in judgment of their forefathers in the Faith and pick and choose what was "historical" and what was not, what was the "true tradition" and what was a distortion of it - this still strikes any observer as the epitome of arrogance and carelessness, of hatred for the magnificent edifice of Western liturgy.

It is curious to observe that those ecclesiastical bureaucrats, in their respectful meetings and silent work had the same attitude - if not the same mindset - of the barbarous youth protesting throughout Western Europe and North America in that year of 1968: they mistrusted all that was established, they needed to build something new, whatever it might be, to reflect modern thought, to attract "the man of today"... even if, in the case of the liturgists, their brilliant novelties were presented as refurbished antiquities, especially if they had a "trustworthy" Eastern appearance.

The New Roman Rite was born, 40 years ago.

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*cf. "Why the New Rite of Consecration is Valid", by Fr. Pierre-Marie, O.P., first published in Le Sel de la terre; translated and printed by The Angelus; more convincing arguments were penned by Brother Ansgar Santogrossi, O.S.B., and published by this weblog in 2007
.

12 comments:

  1. The study of the early tradition, on the other hand, made clear that, in many of its points, a deviation of the true tradition had taken place.

    This shocking assertion, if one takes it seriously and follows it to its logical conclusions, means that the Holy Spirit allowed one of the most important sacraments of the Church to be deformed beyond recognition. It is a statement that betrays a lack of faith that the Church really is who God says She is.

    More evidence that the post-Vatican II liturgical reform was almost a complete botch-up.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was deformed beyond recognition.
    No one noticed?
    It is also evident from the actual new-but-certainly-not-improved ceremony of Holy Orders that this sacrament was also deformed.
    Likewise, and most evidently, was Confirmation deformed: check out the NEW form.
    Compare the NEW form for Penance with the old form and tell me that both forms say the same thing.
    The form for Anointing of the Sick (Extreme Unction) is mutilated and deformed beyond recognition.
    When Paul VI (alias Hamlet) was finished, we had a new religion.

    ReplyDelete
  3. When Paul VI (alias Hamlet) was finished, we had a new religion.

    Oh well, I guess this Catholicism thing wasn't true after all, then . . . Pity. It seemed so right. . . .

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've always thought Lear, rather than Hamlet, with Goneril as a certain Archbishop and Kent as the Trads generally. It's all there. That play, together with Edwin Muir's The Good Town eerily captures the whole tragedy.

    It's clear too that this was a characteristically "modern" debacle, turning upon the notion that everything is susceptible of rational improvement by technocratic/bureaucratic elites. Add the means - a hubristic ultramontanism according to which the Magisterium can do or make anything without fear of failure, because any enterprise it undertakes is underwritten by Peter and the Holy Spirit (witness, inter alia, John XXIII's dismissal of the "prophets of doom" - forgetting that only the false prophets were ever otherwise).

    Jordanes

    Oh well, I guess this Catholicism thing wasn't true after all, then . . . Pity. It seemed so right. . . .

    As the sinister brain surgeon in The Lady Vanishes observes, "My theory is good. It's the facts that are misleading."

    ReplyDelete
  5. 40 years of wandering in the liturgical desert. May it please God to bring us home under the leadership of the new Joshua, Pope Benedict XVI.

    As I understand it, the novus ordo was NOT a new invention. Rather as Michael Davies explains in LITURGICAL REVOLUTION (VOLUME 1): CRANMER'S GODLY ORDER that it was the 16 century book of common prayer service with perhaps a few modifications. Yes that wheel had been invented several hundred years ago and used in protestant churches.

    Today, in my round church with our protestant songs about coming to the table with our bread and wine for our mea, I could only think that I was attending a very protestant Catholic service...

    ReplyDelete
  6. "The validity of such formulas is not in question*."

    For an opposite opinion and an extended discussion of the theological problems, readers may want to see my study of the new rite, "Absolutely Null and Utterly Void," together with my answers to Fr. Pierre-Marie and Br. Ansgar.

    http://www.traditionalmass.org/images/articles/NewEpConsArtPDF2.pdf

    http://www.traditionalmass.org/images/articles/NotTruBps1.pdf

    http://www.traditionalmass.org/images/articles/NuEpConObjex.pdf

    -- Fr. Anthony Cekada

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous5:46 PM

    "The New Roman Rite was born, 40 years ago."

    Right, so what else is new? A Novus Ordo buff will simply reply: "But these changes were approved by the Supreme Legislator of the Church, right? The buck ultimately stopped with Paul VI, and he approved these new rites, right?"

    ReplyDelete
  8. "The validity of such formulas is not in question*."

    Or to be more precise, the validity of such formulas is not in question among orthodox Catholics who are in communion with the Holy See, which Fr. Cekada, it must be remembered, is not. It is not at all apparent how the Holy Spirit would permit the Church to defect as Fr. Cekada alleges She has.

    ReplyDelete
  9. " It is not at all apparent how the Holy Spirit would permit the Church to defect as Fr. Cekada alleges She has."

    Since it's no secret that I'm a sedevacantist, anyone can figure out I would respond to this.

    But be that as it may, since the Church has no power (as Leo XIII said) to change the substance of a sacrament, the theological problem of mounting a defense of an essential sacramental form for episcopal consecration that lacks one of the elements necessary for validity (the order being conferred) remains.

    That problem cannot be blown off by saying, well, the person who raised it was "not in communion with the Holy See."

    -- Fr. Cekada

    ReplyDelete
  10. the Church has no power (as Leo XIII said) to change the substance of a sacrament

    Which is why there is no change in the substance of the reformed ordination rite.

    Also, Holy Church seems to disagree with your appraisal of the reformed rite of consecration of bishops. It's amazing that anyone could seriously entertain doubts about the order that is conferred with bishops are consecrated with the reformed rite.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "It's amazing that anyone could seriously entertain doubts about the order that is conferred with bishops are consecrated with the reformed rite."

    And how many words do the new rite and the old rite have in common??

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anonymous4:41 AM

    So fearful of Holy Scripture that you censor it I see.

    ReplyDelete

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