Rorate Caeli

Work of human hands: interviews

Rorate disclaimer: as it has happened in such occasions in the past, our readers know that we post information we consider useful even if we deeply disagree, in fundamental and non-negotiable principles, with their authors. That is the case, for instance, when we post encouraging news from the Eastern Orthodox. And it is also the case today as we post two excerpts on an interview granted by Fr. Anthony Cekada exclusively related to the liturgical history of the Mass of Paul VI, as explained in his well regarded book, Work of Human Hands.

Work of Human Hands has been praised by reviewers as diverse as author Dr. Geoffrey Hull ("well documented… original and worthy of attention"), liturgical historian Dr. Alcuin Reid ("flags the big question we've not been prepared to face"), ICEL Director Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth ("an important contribution to the current debate"), and Dr. Stephen McInerney ("the definitive traditionalist critique"). One of Abp. Bugnini's closest collaborators in his liturgical work, Fr. Matias Augé, who was closely involved in preparing and organizing the orations in the Missal of Paul VI, declared about the book: "The title itself is an open polemic against the Pauline reform — as if it were nothing more than the product of human scheming."

With this disclaimer, we present the interviews, with introductions by the author himself.


First excerpt:

I began work on Work of Human Hands: A Theological Critique of the Mass of Paul VI on November 29, 1964, when I was thirteen years old. This statement is only a slight rhetorical exaggeration. The date is when the first post-Vatican II liturgical changes were introduced. Like many people, I didn't care for the new liturgy.

I mention this only because I am well known in traditionalist circles — O.K., "notorious" — for a specific theological position. But ages before that, the changes in the Mass left me uneasy. And these changes, not this position, are the subject matter of Work of Human Hands. So I suspect that many followers of this site would agree with much that I have to say about the Mass of Paul VI.

Stephen Heiner of True Restoration Press invited me to engage in a videotaped conversation with him about Work of Human Hands. He has has made two substantial excerpts from the interview available free of charge to Rorate followers. Today's excerpt explains my background, my experience with the liturgical changes as they were being introduced, how I became a Traditionalist, and some of the historical and theological background to the Mass of Paul VI, notably, the influence of Modernism.

I am grateful to Mr. Heiner for his work on this project, and to Rorate for allowing it to be made available. I hope it will contribute to making more people aware of the profound problems encountered in the liturgical reform.


Second excerpt:

Below is another excerpt from my video conversation about my book Work of Human Hands: A Theological Critique of the Mass of Paul VI.

This second excerpt touches upon a variety of issues: active participation, the 1955 Holy Week changes, Latin vs. the vernacular, the theology reflected in the 1969 General Instruction on the Roman Missal, and The Ottaviani Intervention.

The first half of Work of Human Hands deals with these topics in order to lay the groundwork for the detailed discussion of new rite itself that follows in the second section of the book.