Rorate Caeli

“A Half-Century of Novelty: Revisiting Paul VI’s Apologia for the New Mass”

This lecture was given in Wagga Wagga on March 28, in Melbourne on March 30, and in Hobart on April 3, during Dr Kwasniewski's visit sponsored by the Latin Mass Society of Australia. The full text is presented below, in a Rorate exclusive. UPDATE: The video of the lecture as given in Melbourne may be found here.

A Half-Century of Novelty: Revisiting Paul VI’s Apologia for the New Mass

Peter A. Kwasniewski

April 3 of this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae by Pope Paul VI’s 1969 Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum, the provisions of which were to go into effect on November 30, the first Sunday of Advent.

When we look back a half-century later at this monstrous masterpiece of liturgical reform—and, truth be told, it is no longer only self-proclaimed traditionalists who lament a job badly done—we often feel moved to ask the simple question: Why? Why was it deemed necessary to make so many and such radical changes in the Mass? For an explanation, we must look to the pope who, more than any other figure, was responsible for pushing forward the liturgical reform, handing down not only a new rite of Mass, but also, in like manner, new rites for all of the sacraments and indeed new versions of almost everything to be said or done in church—a figurative “sack of Rome” that throws the work of Alaric and Charles V into the shade. 

Where can we look to find the pope’s explanation? There are, as one would expect, a plethora of addresses, letters, and other documents that allow us not just a glimpse into the mind of Montini, but a leisurely review; he was frank and outspoken about the liturgical reform, which was and had been his passion prior to and during his pontificate. Above all, however, we ought to look carefully at three general audiences in the 1960s: the first from March of 1965, concerning the epochal shift from Christian Latin to modern vernaculars; and two from November of 1969, on the even greater shift from the classic Roman Rite to the product of the Consilium. Before descending into the details of these general audiences, I will make a theological argument about how we, as believers, should understand the historical development of liturgy in the Catholic Church, as this, I am convinced, is the only way to see the magnitude of what Paul VI desired to do, attempted to do, and, in the judgment of most people, succeeded in doing.

Laws of Organic Liturgical Development

In his 1947 encyclical on the liturgy, Mediator Dei, Pope Pius XII pointed out a theological error in the tendency of some members of the Liturgical Movement to reach back to suppositious liturgical rites of ancient times while excluding or denigrating later periods of Church history such as the Middle Ages or the Baroque. Speaking of “some persons who are bent on the restoration of all the ancient rites and ceremonies indiscriminately,” he says:

[T]he liturgy of the early ages is most certainly worthy of all veneration. But ancient usage must not be esteemed more suitable and proper, either in its own right or in its significance for later times and new situations, on the simple ground that it carries the savor and aroma of antiquity. The more recent liturgical rites likewise deserve reverence and respect. They, too, owe their inspiration to the Holy Spirit, who assists the Church in every age even to the consummation of the world (cf. Matt 28:20). They are equally the resources used by the majestic Spouse of Jesus Christ to promote and procure the sanctity of man.[1]

Pius XII is writing in 1947 about avant-garde liturgists who want to leap frog over the Baroque and medieval periods—in other words, over the Roman rite as codified after Trent—to arrive at a pristine apostolic liturgy. In 1947 the Roman Rite was still very much intact, as vintage photos of Pius XII’s magnificent papal liturgies evince; the liturgy committee that was to give Bugnini his first post at the Vatican and eventually produce a new Holy Week was yet to come. So when Pius XII talks about “more recent liturgical rites,” he is talking about medieval and Baroque developments, culminating in the Tridentine codification, of which the 1570 Missale Romanum is the flagship. The key points to take away from this paragraph are, first, that something’s being more ancient does not ipso facto make it better; second, that the historical development of the liturgy is not an accident that God permits, but a plan that He positively wills, inspired by the Holy Spirit and used by the Head of the Church, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to sanctify the members of His Mystical Body.

Indeed, this passage reads rather like a commentary on the famous Canon 13 of the Seventh Session of the Council of Trent:

If anyone says that the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church that are customarily used in the solemn administration of the sacraments can be looked down on, or that ministers can without sin omit them according to their own whim, or that any pastor of churches whatever can change them into other new ones, let him be anathema.[2] 

The seventh canon of the twenty-second Session of Trent is also highly pertinent. This canon states:

If anyone says that the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs which the Catholic Church uses in the celebration of Masses are incentives to impiety rather than offices of piety; let him be anathema.[3]

When the Council pointedly says “which the Catholic Church uses,” we are given to understand that all of the liturgical ceremonies, vestments, and external signs received from tradition are offices of piety and not incentives to impiety. Thus, the view, later popular with 20th century reformers, that aspects of the classical Roman Rite are to be considered corruptions of authentic liturgy and detrimental to the spiritual life of the faithful is anathematized ahead of time.

In the same spirit, the Roman Catechism published in 1566, three years after the Council of Trent was concluded, says this about the Mass in particular:

The Sacrifice is celebrated with many solemn rites and ceremonies, none of which should be deemed useless or superfluous. On the contrary, all of them tend to display the majesty of this august Sacrifice, and to excite the faithful when beholding these saving mysteries, to contemplate the divine things which lie concealed in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Christ promised that “when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will teach you all truth”[4]: cum autem venerit ille Spiritus veritatis, docebit vos omnem veritatem (Jn 16:13). This includes the fullness of liturgy.[5] One would expect, if the Church is truly governed by the Spirit of God, that her liturgy would, in its large lines and accepted forms, mature and become more perfect over time. Would it not then follow that the rate of change will slow down and the Spirit’s work will gradually shift from inspiring new prayers to preserving the prayers already inspired? A liturgical rite will grow in perfection until it reaches a certain maturity, and then will cease to develop in any but incidental or minor ways.

One could diagram this process as a chart with two lines: the descending line[6] represents the creation of liturgical forms, while the ascending line[7] represents the preservation of existing liturgical forms. As the former action tapers, the latter action dominates, until that verse from Ezekiel is fulfilled in the Church’s sacred liturgy: “Your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God” (Ezek 16:14).[8]

(The following diagram was distributed as a handout.)
Much more can and should be said on the subject of what we might call “the laws of organic liturgical development,” and I am currently researching and writing on the subject. In the interests of time, however, I will turn to the three general audiences of Paul VI on the topic of the liturgical reform.[9]

Papal example: Paul VI offering the first-ever Italian Mass, versus populum

General Audience of March 17, 1965

The first text we will look at was delivered on March 17, 1965 [English here; Italian at Vatican website], ten days after Pope Paul VI celebrated the first-ever Italian-language Mass at the Church of All Saints (Ognissanti) in Rome. In spite of official rhetoric, there is little evidence that the people rejoiced; a plaque memorializing the event in Ognissanti was vandalized so many times that a new plaque finally had to be placed high on the wall, out of reach of disgruntled parishioners.[10]

It is hard to know what to be more astonished about: the sheer contempt for the common man with which the audience drips, or the sheer fantasyland into which the pope enters when describing the anticipated benefits of the “new liturgy” that was unveiled at Ognissanti—remember, this was not the Novus Ordo, which was four years away, but a heavily simplified Tridentine Mass conducted in Italian (except for the Roman Canon), with the celebrant facing the people, standing at a temporary altar placed outside of the sanctuary.[11]

The pope says there have been negative reactions and positive reactions. The negative reaction is one of “a certain confusion and annoyance”:

Previously, they say, there was peace, each person could pray as he wished, the whole sequence of the rite was well known; now everything is new, startling, and changed; even the ringing of the bells at the Sanctus is done away with; and then those prayers which one doesn’t know where to find; Holy Communion received standing; Mass ending suddenly with the blessing; everybody answering, many people moving around, rites and readings which are recited aloud … In short, there is no longer any peace and we now know less than we did before; and so on. 

This does not seem an altogether unreasonable reaction. As far as the pope is concerned, however, Catholics who react this way have a paltry understanding of what they are doing:

We shall not criticize these views because then we would have to show how they reveal a poor understanding of the meaning of religious ceremonial and allow us to glimpse not a true devotion and a true appreciation of the meaning and worth of the Mass, but rather a certain spiritual laziness which is not prepared to make some personal effort of understanding and participation directed to a better understanding and fulfillment of this, the most sacred of religious acts, in which we are invited, or rather obliged, to participate.

One wonders when a pope has ever said something more self-righteous, presumptuous, insensitive, and unjust? I suppose everyone, before the glorious revolution, was spiritually lazy, unprepared to make even “some” effort to understand, and altogether bereft of participation in the mysteries. The popularity of Liturgical Movement authors like Dom Prosper Guéranger, Pius Parsch, and Ildefonso Schuster, whose commentaries on the Mass instructed and inspired precisely those laymen who were startled and disturbed by the changes of the 1960s—is passed over in utter silence.[12]

Montini continues by explaining that reform always causes people to feel upset because deeply rooted religious practices are being tampered with, but that’s okay—soon everyone will love it. And we’ll make sure that no one can settle back again into silent devotion or laziness. “The congregation will be alive and active!,” he says: everyone must participate. Now one must “listen and pray” (apparently they were doing neither before). Activity is the order of the day, the name of the game! We will finally have a liturgy that is not mummery (“performed merely according to its external form”) but “an immense wing flying towards the heights of divine mystery and joy.” An immense wing… Excuse me while I reach for the airsickness bag.

The positive reaction, on the other hand, is, according to Paul VI, that of a majority of Catholics, young and old, uneducated and scholarly, the earnestly devout and the urbanely cultured, insiders and outsiders, who greet the changes with “enthusiasm and praise.” At last, they say, “one can understand and follow the complicated and mysterious ceremonial” (the pope declines to explain how simplication and easy accessibility fit with “complicated and mysterious,” unless his meaning is that a ceremonial that was once complicated and mysterious will henceforth cease to be either). At last, “the priest speaks to the people” (but wait: I thought the liturgy was addressed primarily to God?). One old gentleman, the pope says, fighting back a tear, gushed to a priest that “at last” in this new way of celebrating Mass he fully participated in the sacrifice—indeed, possibly for the first time in his life. Some say this excitement will quiet down and turn into habit. But Pope Paul expresses the hope that the “new form of worship” will continue to stir up “religious enthusiasm,” so that “the gospel of love” will be realized in “the souls of our time.” (He does not seem aware of Msgr. Ronald Knox’s classic critique of religious enthusiasm; it is just this hankering for feelings of enthusiasm or excitement that has led to ever-repeated efforts to stir up or stimulate congregations ever since the sixties, with ever-diminishing returns.)

This papal address is notable for the number of times it uses the word “new”: “new, startling, changed”; “new order”; “new scheme of things”; “new liturgical books”; “new form” (twice); “new liturgy” (twice); “new habit”; “liturgical innovation.” If we add them up, eleven times. Some Catholics today are critical of traditionalists who speak of the Novus Ordo, but here we have a pope identifying the interim missal of 1965 as a novel thing, when it was vastly less of a novelty than the missal of 1969. I think we owe it to Pope Paul to use his terms when we talk about his reforms. He did not try to hide the fact that there had been a sea change.

Many notable Catholics of this period have left us records of their reaction to the “new Mass” of 1965 (which in retrospect turned out to be a half-way house). Evelyn Waugh and William F. Buckley left us choice words about it, but I shall quote what Dietrich von Hildebrand wrote in 1966:

The basic error of most of the innovators is to imagine that the new liturgy brings the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass nearer to the faithful, that shorn of its old rituals the Mass now enters into the substance of our lives. For the question is whether we better meet Christ in the Mass by soaring up to Him, or by dragging Him down into our own pedestrian, workaday world. The innovators would replace holy intimacy with Christ by an unbecoming familiarity. The new liturgy actually threatens to frustrate the confrontation with Christ, for it discourages reverence in the face of mystery, precludes awe, and all but extinguishes a sense of sacredness.[13]

Beware: intellectual at work

General Audience of November 19, 1969

Now we turn to a pair of general audiences given 4½ years later, in the month of November 1969. As mentioned at the start, the Novus Ordo Missae was officially to go into effect on the first Sunday of Advent, which fell on November 30th that year.

The Pope was really feeling the heat at this moment. He had promulgated the text of the Novus Ordo Missae seven months earlier, on April 3. The Short Critical Study of the New Order of Mass, more commonly known as The Ottaviani Intervention, was completed by June 5, but not published until a few months later; somehow it did not come to Paul VI’s knowledge until September 29, according to historian Yves Chiron. The popular press picked up the story and made a great deal of it. Paul VI sent the Short Study to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whose prefect, Cardinal Šeper, reported to him on November 12 that, in his opinion, the Study was essentially worthless. This was only one week prior to the general audience of November 19. We must bear in mind, then, that this and the following week’s address are Paul VI’s attempt to defend the entire project of the Novus Ordo in the face of its critics and for posterity. It is his apologia pro Missa sua.[14]

What is perhaps most striking about these addresses is the pope’s penchant for gratuitous assertion and his stark authoritarian tone. He wants us to believe that nothing really central has changed, while at the same time listing, and doubling down on, one enormous change after another. For those who take seriously that a developed liturgical rite is a kind of body-soul composite in which one cannot readily separate what it is from how it is done, how it looks, sounds, smells, and feels, the case he makes for essential identity is far from convincing.

On November 19 [English text here; only Italian at the Vatican site], again the pope does not shy away from the language of novelty: he speaks of “a new rite of Mass” (four times) “a new spirit,” “new directions,” “new rules,” “new and more expansive liturgical language,” “innovation” (twice). He closes with the guarded sentiment: “Do not let us talk about ‘the new Mass.’ Let us rather speak of the ‘new epoch’ in the Church’s life.” In a colossal understatement, the pope says “the Mass will be celebrated in a rather different manner from that in which we have been accustomed to celebrate it in the last four centuries, from the reign of St. Pius V, after the Council of Trent, down to the present.”

He shows admirable candor in getting right to the point:

This change has something astonishing about it, something extraordinary. This is because the Mass is regarded as the traditional and untouchable expression of our religious worship and the authenticity of our faith. We ask ourselves, how could such a change be made? What effect will it have on those who attend Holy Mass?

His answer is feeble. Just pay attention to the explanations you will get from the pulpit and in religious publications, and trust that “a clearer and deeper idea of the stupendous and mysterious notion of the Mass” is just around the corner, thanks to the new missal. Again, he shows candor in admitting that the faithful will have “spontaneous difficulties.”

Paul VI claims that the new missal “is due to the will expressed by the Ecumenical Council held not long ago.” This claim is questionable, to say the least—particularly in view of what the pope will say one week later, when he openly contradicts Sacrosanctum Concilium on any number of points. But here, the new missal is said to be four things, each of which is surprising:

It is an act of obedience. It is an act of coherence of the Church with herself. It is a step forward for her authentic tradition. It is a demonstration of fidelity and vitality, to which we all must give prompt assent.

It is quite unclear how “coherence of the Church with herself” is to be achieved by breaking with much of what the Church had been doing in her most important actions for centuries. It is quite unclear how exactly a radically revised missal counts as a “step forward” (whatever that means) for the Church’s “authentic tradition” (whatever that means). I do not think it would be unfair to call this doublespeak. According to Edward Herman, “What is really important in the world of doublespeak is the ability to lie, whether knowingly or unconsciously, and to get away with it; and the ability to use lies and choose and shape facts selectively, blocking out those that don’t fit an agenda or program.”[15] Again, one is left speechless at the claim that the Novus Ordo Missae is “a demonstration of fidelity and vitality, to which we all must give prompt assent.” Fidelity—how so, precisely? Vitality—just because papal muscle can be flexed to push through the biggest raft of changes in the history of the Church’s worship?

The speech continues in a tone almost feverish and certainly imperious, as if the pope were feeling the total inadequacy of his account: 

It is not an arbitrary act. It is not a transitory or optional experiment. It is not some dilettante’s improvisation. It is a law. It has been thought out by [wait for it] authoritative experts of sacred liturgy; it has been discussed and meditated upon for a long time [that is, for a few years of extremely hasty and busy committee work]. We shall do well to accept it with joyful interest and put it into practice punctually, unanimously, and carefully.

These are not the words of a man who is especially at peace about what he has done, or confident in the power of the product to win over the customers. One suspects a psychiatrist could have a field day analyzing this language.

Pope Paul VI then says that the reform he has imposed “puts an end to uncertainties, discussions, arbitrary abuses. It calls us back to that uniformity of rites and feeling proper to the Catholic Church…” Can irony have no limits? It was in large part the Vatican’s practically yearly changes to the liturgy from the 1950s through the 1960s that stirred up this febrile atmosphere of uncertainty, discussion, and abuse; it was the insistence on liturgical reform that shattered the uniformity of rites and feeling that the Church had enjoyed in relative peace from the end of the Council of Trent to the 20th century. Moreover, one of the most characteristic features of the Novus Ordo is its lack of uniformity from one celebration to another, and its multiplication of Catholic “identities.”

The second part of the address goes into “what exactly the changes are.” Whether from ignorance or from duplicity, the pope states that the changes “consist of many new directions for celebrating the rites,” not adverting to the fact that the principal change is in the substance of the texts themselves: for example, only 17% of the orations of the old Roman Missal survived intact in the new missal. He then has the temerity to say: “Keep this clearly in mind: Nothing has been changed of the substance of the traditional Mass.” I wonder how many people in 1969 believed this; I wonder how many still believe it today.

A passage in St. Irenaeus of Lyons, directed against the arbitrary interpretations of the Gnostics, seems to me to capture perfectly what was done in our times with the Roman Rite, as well as the subterfuge of saying: “This is the Roman Rite” or worse, “This is now tradition.” St. Irenaeus writes:

Their manner of acting is just as if, when a beautiful image of a king has been constructed by some skillful artist out of precious jewels, one should then take this likeness of the man all to pieces, should rearrange the gems, and so fit them together as to make them into the form of a dog or of a fox, and even that but poorly executed; and should then maintain and declare that this was the beautiful image of the king which the skillful artist constructed, pointing to the jewels which had been admirably fitted together by the first artist to form the image of the king, but have been with bad effect transferred by the latter one to the shape of a dog, and by thus exhibiting the jewels, should deceive the ignorant who had no conception of what a king’s form was like, and persuade them that that miserable likeness of the fox was, in fact, the beautiful image of the king.[16]

Returning to the general audience, we find Paul VI—as if detecting the misgivings his words to this point might generate in a listener—going on the defensive:

Perhaps some may allow themselves to be carried away by the impression made by some particular ceremony or additional rubric [this is what he says, but in fact the transition from old to new is mostly a matter of lost rubrics, not additional ones], and thus think that they conceal some alteration or diminution of truths which were acquired by the Catholic faith for ever, and are sanctioned by it. They might come to believe that the equation between the law of prayer, lex orandi, and the law of faith, lex credendi, is compromised as a result.
It is not so. Absolutely not. Above all, because the rite and the relative rubric are not in themselves a dogmatic definition. Their theological qualification may vary in different degrees according to the liturgical context to which they refer. They are gestures and terms relating to a religious action—experienced and living—of an indescribable mystery of divine presence, not always expressed in a universal way. Only theological criticism can analyze this action and express it in logically satisfying doctrinal formulas.

In a spectacular instance of neoscholastic reductionism, we are told that only dogmatic definitions pertain to the essence of the Catholic Faith, since rites and rubrics have to do with experiences and actions that vary according to place and time; the only expression of truth is a “logically satisfying doctrinal formula.” In these words Paul VI has obliterated the lex orandi as a reality unto itself and has denied liturgy as theologia prima, a mode of revelation.

He continues: “The Mass of the new rite is and remains the same Mass we have always had. If anything, its sameness has been brought out more clearly in some respects.” As Shakespeare says, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” To belabor the point that the Mass is the same establishes that it isn’t; the obvious need not be said. In order to agree with the sameness hypothesis, one would first have to adopt the perspective that the Roman Rite is nothing other than a generic outline—an introduction, some readings, an anaphora with valid words of consecration, communion, conclusion.[17]

As if to offer proof of his claim, the pope rather pathetically turns to the oneness of the Lord’s Supper, the Sacrifice on the Cross, and the representation of both in the Mass, which he says all remains true for the Novus Ordo. Apart from the somewhat odd claim that the Mass is a representation of both the Cross and the Last Supper—which is not what the 22nd Session of the Council of Trent teaches—this, it must be said, is placing the bar of liturgical continuity pretty low. Far from supporting the claim that the Novus Ordo is still the same Roman rite, it demonstrates only that the Novus Ordo is a valid liturgical rite, like any other liturgy, Eastern or Western, offered by a validly ordained priest using the correct matter and form. By this logic, one could argue that the Novus Ordo is the same as the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

Still clutching at straws, Paul VI says that the new rite brings out more clearly the relationship between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist,[18] but fails to explain how this is so; and, as can be shown both theoretically and practically, the opposite proves to be true. He makes one last plug for the joy of active participation, then, as if running out of steam, declares: “You will also see other marvelous features of our Mass.” Why exactly does this plural suddenly appear? Is it the papal “we”: our modern papal rite? Is it an oblique reference to the Consilium: our committee Mass that we now present to a Catholic world panting in expectation? Or is this the “we” of the collectivity that would subsequently find in the Novus Ordo Missae the incentive, and indeed the invitation, to celebrate itself?

Then, another desperate attempt to ram home the sameness thesis: “But do not think that these things are aimed at altering its genuine and traditional essence.” We are left once more with the stubborn question that will not go away: What is “the genuine and traditional essence” of a liturgy? Is it whatever the pope decides it is, however minimal that may be, or can we trust the broad lines of its historical development and its universal reception in the Church, as the Council of Trent so obviously did? In short, it is hard to imagine two more opposed visions of liturgy than Trent’s and Montini’s.

At the end he invokes a favorite word, “pastoral,” as justification, and expresses his desire that “the faithful will participate in the liturgical mystery with more understanding, in a more practical, a more enjoyable, and a more sanctifying way.” I’ll admit this is a subjective call on my part, but to my ear the language here smacks of urban planning and social engineering. How curious, then, that he refers to “the Word of God which lives and echoes down the centuries”—that very Word whose ongoing incarnation in the organic development of the liturgy is being repudiated—and then opines that the faithful will better “share in the mystical reality of Christ’s sacramental and propitiatory sacrifice,” even though the Novus Ordo has purged the liturgy of its palpable mysticism and its unmistakable accentuation of the propitiatory sacrifice of Calvary.

This address is classic Montini: cold logic, stiff manner, overbearing tone, occasional Maritainian poetic flourishes, and, above all, a baffling obliviousness to the sheer magnitude of what he is doing, as if the dropping of liturgical nuclear bombs were like playing a game of theological chess.

Ready to throw open the windows to the world!

General Audience of November 26, 1969

One week later, the pope continues his apologia [English text here; Italian here]. Once again, notice how relentlessly Paul VI underlines the newness of what he is imposing on the Church. In the opening sentence he speaks of “the liturgical innovation of the new rite of the Mass.” The phrase “new rite” is mentioned seven times; the words “new,” “newness,” or “renewal,” seven more times; “innovation” twice; “novelty” twice. That makes a total of 18 times.

In classic Montini fashion, his second paragraph lingers regretfully over what is to be lost: 

A new rite of the Mass: a change in a venerable tradition that has gone on for centuries. This is something that affects our hereditary religious patrimony, which seemed to enjoy the privilege of being untouchable and settled. It seemed to bring the prayer of our forefathers and our saints to our lips and to give us the comfort of feeling faithful to our spiritual past, which we kept alive to pass it on to the generations ahead. It is at such a moment as this that we get a better understanding of the value of historical tradition and the communion of the saints.

As incredible as it may seem, the pope appears to be saying that when we give up our hereditary religious patrimony, we feel most keenly the value of that tradition and of the communion of saints with whom we once prayed in common! This seems to me a sadistic maneuver, like telling a child: “You will appreciate your mother more if we take her away from you and you never see her again.” He continues, resuming themes from his March 1965 address:

This change will affect the ceremonies of the Mass. We shall become aware, perhaps with some feeling of annoyance, that the ceremonies at the altar are no longer being carried out with the same words and gestures to which we were accustomed—perhaps so much accustomed that we no longer took any notice of them. This change also touches the faithful. It is intended to interest each one of those present, to draw them out of their customary personal devotions or their usual torpor.

If I am not mistaken, Paul VI is arguing that ritual stability causes people to stop paying attention to what is going on and to fold in on themselves in subjectivism or laziness. If this were true, it would explain the obsession of modern liturgists with constantly changing things up: as I once remarked, paraphrasing Heraclitus, “you can never step in the same Novus Ordo twice.” In the experience of many, on the contrary, stability in ritual makes possible a deep intimacy with the Church’s prayer, and thereby heads off unhealthy private or collective subjectivism.

In any case, the pope seems to be under no illusions about the shake-up when he writes in paragraphs 4 and 5:

We must prepare for this many-sided inconvenience. It is the kind of upset caused by every novelty that breaks in on our habits. We shall notice that pious persons are disturbed most, because they have their own respectable way of hearing Mass, and they will feel shaken out of their usual thoughts and obliged to follow those of others. Even priests may feel some annoyance in this respect. … This novelty is no small thing. We should not let ourselves be surprised by the nature, or even the nuisance, of its exterior forms.

This hardly requires comment, except to say that Paul VI would never have succeeded as a salesman. It is no wonder so many Catholics stopped going to Mass and a further wave of priests and religious suffered the crisis of spiritual disorientation, when their supreme Shepherd thought it was a good idea to cause especially pious persons and priests a “many-sided inconvenience,” “upset,” “disturbance,” “annoyance,” “nuisance,” as they struggled to figure out what in Hades was going on with the “exterior forms”—not to say internal spirit—of the Church’s liturgy!

In the face of this upcoming challenge, what does Paul VI recommend? Like an eggheaded intellectual out of touch with ordinary Christians, he suggests that we need to prepare ourselves for “this special and historical occasion” by, don’t you know, doubling down on our study of books and articles that explain the motives for “this grave change.” Recognizing again the inherent weakness of his position, he invokes “obedience to the Council”—he knows the lesson of totalitarian propaganda that the only thing needed to establish a falsehood as truth is to repeat the same lies calmly, boldly, and frequently—and adds to it, for good measure, “obedience to your bishops.” He is confident that all the bishops will be lining up in good ultramontanist (or should we say ultra-Montini-ist)[19] fashion.  In a moment of almost Montanist afflatus, he concludes paragraph 6:

It is Christ’s will, it is the breath of the Holy Spirit which calls the Church to make this change. A prophetic moment is occurring in the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church. This moment is shaking the Church, arousing it, obliging it to renew the mysterious art of its prayer.

In paragraphs 7 through 14—the largest thematic section of the discourse—Paul VI offers a defense of the practical abolition of Latin. He still seems to be smarting under the lash of Tito Casini’s 1965 book The Torn Tunic, in which that popular Italian author attacked the introduction of the vernacular into the Mass. 

The pope’s point of departure in this section is the claim that because “the faithful are also invested with the ‘royal priesthood’ … they are qualified to have supernatural conversation with God” (§6). From this truth—which no one had ever denied, in theory or in practice—Paul VI deduces the necessity of replacing Latin with the common spoken language; for otherwise, the people are not able to have a supernatural conversation with God (?). The pope starts up his familiar hand-wringing routine, in which he will first tell us how great a loss will be incurred by the new rite:

The introduction of the vernacular will certainly be a great sacrifice for those who know the beauty, the power, and the expressive sacrality of Latin. We are parting with the speech of the Christian centuries; we are becoming like profane intruders in the literary preserve of sacred utterance. We will lose a great part of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing, the Gregorian chant. We have reason indeed for regret, reason almost for bewilderment. What can we put in the place of that language of the angels? We are giving up something of priceless worth. But why? What is more precious than these loftiest of our Church’s values? (§§8–9)

It is at this point that Paul VI shows his cards, advocating a kind of epistemological nudism or “free and simple” philosophy:

The answer will seem banal, prosaic. Yet it is a good answer, because it is human, because it is apostolic. Understanding of prayer is worth more than the silken garments in which it is royally dressed. Participation by the people is worth more—particularly participation by modern people, so fond of plain language which is easily understood and converted into everyday speech. (§§10–11)

As our earlier quotation from Dietrich von Hildebrand pointed out, we see here a humanistic, horizontal, and anthropocentric understanding of liturgy that is opposed, paradoxically, to liturgy’s very effectiveness as a means of spiritual transformation, drawing the soul up to the infinite God and into communion with the Mystical Body of Christ, past, present, and eternal. The Latin language is effective precisely because of its “beauty, power, and expressive sacrality,” its “sacred utterance,” its “priceless worth,” the loftiness of its associations, and the “stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing” that clothes it in music, Gregorian chant.

Participation in the sense of the immediate comprehension of “plain language, easily understood, in everyday speech,” is the least and lowest sense in which the faithful participate in the awesome mysteries of Christ. Sociologists have pointed out that dense, impenetrable, to some extent off-limits religious rituals are a powerful motivator for belief and devotion. Fr. Aidan Nichols observes: “The notion that the more intelligible the sign, the more effectively it will enter the lives of the faithful is implausible to the sociological imagination. … A certain opacity is essential to symbolic action.”[20] Psychologists note that archetypal symbolism conveyed in gestures, clothing, and other physical phenomena, not to say the superrational language of music, are at least as communicative as words, if not more so. The power of the liturgy to affect the soul depends to a very great extent on such non-verbal elements and the subtle factor that may be called, for lack of a better term, atmosphere or ambiance.

Yes, the faithful should have some grasp of the content of the Mass (and, of course, of more than just the Mass); about this, Dom Guéranger and the pars sanior of the Liturgical Movement were right.[21] But what draws men to liturgical worship is the prospect of an encounter with the mysterious and the ineffable, the strangely beautiful that opens our minds to the transcendent and offers a glimpse of heaven. In this way it was exactly anti-apostolic to invert the Church’s priorities by placing a superficial notion of popular engagement above the more profound immersion in prayer that the ancient liturgy, properly celebrated, had always offered to the faithful, and still does.

In one of the most hauntingly ironic statements in papal history, Paul VI noted with some melancholy in his 1975 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi: “Modern man is sated by talk; he is obviously tired of listening, and what is worse, impervious to words.”[22] This observation was made only five years after he had imposed on the Church a liturgy outstanding for its non-stop verbosity, huge doses of Scripture, lack of silence, and paucity of non-verbal ritual.

Back in the 1969 address, Pope Paul, however, proceeds to dig himself into a hole:

If the divine Latin language kept us apart from the children, from youth, from the world of labor and of affairs, if it were a dark screen, not a clear window, would it be right for us fishers of souls to maintain it as the exclusive language of prayer and religious intercourse?

The most dramatic decline in Mass attendance in the decade after the Council (that is, from the first introduction of the vernacular and versus populum to the imposition of the Novus Ordo) was found precisely among the laborers, as English sociologist Anthony Archer demonstrated.[23] Furthermore, it is by no means clear that “men of affairs” ever favored the liturgical reform. I have already mentioned Casini, von Hildebrand, Waugh, and Buckley, but the most embarrassing sign of the lack of support among educated people came in 1971, with a petition urging the preservation of the traditional Latin Mass, signed by 56 of the most eminent cultural figures of Great Britain—“many of the foremost writers, critics, academics, and musicians of the day, as well as politicians from Britain’s then three main parties, and two Anglican bishops”[24]—which John Cardinal Heenan presented to Pope Paul VI, an intervention that led to the “English Indult” (sometimes called the “Agatha Christie Indult”) for the continued use of the old Mass, which was, in retrospect, the first step in a long process of backtracking on the overblown claims that had been made for the “new epoch” to be ushered in by the liturgical reform.[25] Lastly, Paul VI’s mention of “children and youth” may remind us of what is perhaps the sharpest irony of all: while the average number of children born to mainstream Catholics and the average retention rate of young adults continues to be alarmingly low, the numbers of large families and the overall youthfulness of the traditional Mass movement tell a very different story about what attracts people to Christ and what pushes them away.

In paragraphs 13 and 14, the pope throws a sop to Latin-lovers by reminding them that the new rite of Mass allows for the people to sing together in Latin the Ordinary of the Mass—an allowance that was almost never to be actualized in practice—and that Latin will still remain the official language of Vatican documents, cold comfort if ever there was any. Without any indication of sarcasm, he says: “Latin will remain … as the key to the patrimony of our religious, historical, and human culture. If possible, it will reflourish in splendor.” Yet if Latin is really the key to our Catholic patrimony, why are we making the one move most calculated to destroy its living presence in the Church? How will this help Latin “reflourish in splendor”?

In paragraph 15, Paul VI takes up his theme from the previous week that the Mass hasn’t really changed, because “the fundamental outline of the Mass is still the traditional one, not only theologically but also spiritually.” If by “fundamental outline” one means that some kind of penitential thing comes first, some kind of Eucharistic prayer comes around the middle, and some kind of gesture indicating the end of the service comes last, one can warmly agree with the pope’s assessment. Here we would not have the time to go through a lengthy list of examples of ways in which the structure, theology, and spirituality of the new missal clearly differ or depart from those of the old missal.[26] But it takes little more than attendance at the usus antiquior to begin to see for oneself that the application of the word “traditional” to the reformed liturgical rites of Paul VI is precisely the sort of “abuse of language, abuse of power” about which the philosopher Josef Pieper, who lived under the National Socialist regime in Germany, wrote so eloquently.

Then Paul VI has either the naivete or the shamelessness to assert:

Indeed, if the rite is carried out as it ought to be, the spiritual aspect will be found to have greater richness. The greater simplicity of the ceremonies, the variety and abundance of scriptural texts, the joint acts of the ministers, the silences which will mark various deeper moments in the rite, will all help to bring this out. 

As long as everyone “participates profoundly,” he says, the Mass will become “more than ever a school of spiritual depth and a peaceful but demanding school of Christian sociology. The soul’s relationship with Christ and with the brethren thus attains new and vital intensity.” In lines like this, we see Paul VI abandoning himself to full-scale fantasyland.

The last three paragraphs, 17 through 19, form a bizarre coda that conveys to us, even today at a distance, something of the feeling of slapdash haste and scarcely-controlled chaos that surrounded the entire project of liturgical reform:

But there is still a practical difficulty, which the excellence of the sacred renders not a little important. [What an expression!] How can we celebrate this new rite when we have not yet got a complete missal, and there are still so many uncertainties about what to do?

Good question, Holy Father. It was a question that had rarely left the lips of clergy and laity for a good 15 years by this point, as rubrics, texts, music, language, nearly everything continued to evolve on an almost annual basis. What we see in this madness for sacramental reform, starting regrettably under Pius XII, is the very negation of the correct Catholic attitude towards tradition, which is that of a gardener, not that of an industrialist or a real estate developer who knocks down the old mansion to make way for modern flats. If I might adapt some recent words of Fr. John Hunwicke: the pope needs

to remember the aperçu of Blessed John Henry Newman, that the ministry of the Roman Church within the oikoumene is to be a barrier, a remora, against the intrusion of erroneous novelty. It is: to hand on the Great Tradition unadulterated. In an age when the adjective ‘negative’ has unpopular vibes, we need a reappropriation at the very highest level within the Church of the central, fundamental importance of a negative and preservative papacy. Tradidi quod et accepi implies Quod non accepi non tradam.

Having posed the question, Paul VI answers it with rather more technical detail than one would expect in a general audience. The takeaway is that Latin liturgy is definitely on its way out—and that, by the pope’s express will. By November 28, 1971, there are to be no more Latin liturgies from the old missal or even from the new one. And if a priest expects to find himself in various places, offering Mass alone and with a congregation, he had better invest in a stout wagon for carrying all the liturgical books he will need. The old days when an altar missal sufficed are hereby excluded in the name of “greater simplicity of rites.”[27]

The address closes with a final subtle irony—a quotation from one of Paul VI’s favorite authors, the Swiss priest and theologian Maurice Zundel (1897–1975), from the preface to the second edition of Le Poème de la Sainte Liturgie of 1934, which was published in English in 1939 under the title The Splendor of the Liturgy

The Mass is a Mystery to be lived in a death of Love. Its divine reality surpasses all words. . . It is the Action par excellence, the very act of our Redemption, in the Memorial which makes it present.[28]

I do not know what Zundel, who died in 1975, thought of the Novus Ordo Missae, but I can say without a doubt: Anyone who reads this book, a profound work of mystical theology, which, from start to finish, is steeped in the prayers and ceremonies of the classic Roman Rite, enters into a world of luminous wonder and fiery devotion—the epitome of a Church securely and gratefully rooted in her tradition. This world was doomed by Paul VI’s interim missal of 1965 and banished by the perfidious Missale Romanum of 1969. To a poor layman or priest standing in the audience on November 19 or November 26 of that fateful year, the glorious and intimate world described in Zundel[29] seemed on the verge of being lost for ever.

Say goodbye!


Revisiting these audiences five decades later is important for many reasons. Today I should like to mention just two of them.

The main reason is that, considering the magnitude of the reform, Paul VI’s defense of it is exceedingly flimsy. Some people saw that already back in 1965 and 1969, but today it is overwhelmingly clear, with the benefit of a hindsight that shows how narrow and dated are his assumptions, and how his every prediction has failed. Montini’s defense of the Novus Ordo relies on equivocation, deceitfulness about the extent of the changes, and a brute exercise of top-down authority. It is based on a poor theology of liturgy, sacraments, and prayer; a poor sociology of ritual; a poor psychology of habit; and a poor philosophical analysis of modernity.

A second reason has to do with more recent attempts to clean up the Montinian mess. Proponents of the “Reform of the Reform,” no doubt in good faith, cling to a narrative in which the Novus Ordo Missae came hot off the Vatican press clothed in Latin as with a garment, ready to be celebrated in splendor and solemnity to the noble strains of Gregorian chant, in perfect fulfillment of the conciliar constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium—and then the Mass got “hijacked” by European and American progressives, who flatly contradicted the good intentions of Paul VI.

A  basic problem with this narrative is that it’s false. The three general audiences indicate that Paul VI never thought that the Novus Ordo would be celebrated widely in Latin; he never expected Gregorian chant to survive in the parishes; he never wanted “our Mass” to look or sound like the inherited Roman liturgy. He calmly noted that Latin and Gregorian chant would disappear; the old way of celebrating Mass would perish from the face of the Earth. To this extent, then, he sought rupture, not the continuity for which his successor Benedict XVI has become famous.[30] Certainly Paul VI could have heartily endorsed the words of influential liturgist and Consilium member Joseph Gelineau, S.J.: 

Let those who like myself have known and sung a Latin-Gregorian High Mass remember it if they can. Let them compare it with the Mass that we now have. Not only the words, the melodies, and some of the gestures are different. To tell the truth, it is a different liturgy of the Mass. This needs to be said without ambiguity: the Roman Rite as we knew it no longer exists. It has been destroyed.[31]

It is evident that Paul VI’s operative principle was accommodationism: the liturgy must be accommodated to the mentality and purported needs of Modern Man.[32] To this hungry Moloch of modernization, every other consideration had to yield; indeed, the first sacrificial offering to be placed in its mouth was the Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. It requires no towering intelligence to see that some of its clearest and most important provisions were not only ignored but negated. Paul VI acted against the provisions signed by 2,147 bishops and major superiors in an exercise of hyperpapalism that has no other historical equivalent and probably never will. In this way he exhibited an extreme megalomania that could be summed up in the phrase: L’église, c’est moi.

These three audiences illustrate a more general trend. We can see an exact parallel to them in the manner in which the Vatican after the Council discouraged culturally Catholic nations from preserving any special constitutional recognition of or agreement with the Church, and in the disastrous policy towards the Communist countries known as Ostpolitik, which has resurfaced in Pope Francis’s sell-out to the Chinese government. We see it in the encouragement of ugly modern art, with the Paul VI audience hall, opened in 1971, as its preeminent monument. We see it in the discouragement of clerical attire and large families. In other words, we are looking at a comprehensive program of secularization, of conformity to the liberal Western world forged in the anticlerical Enlightenment and repackaged after World War II as optimistic humanism. This was the defining ethos of the Vatican II period as interpreted and advanced by and under Pope Paul VI. And this is and was contrary to the fundamental demand of Christianity according to St. Paul in the Epistle to the Romans: “Do not be conformed to this world”—that is, the world as fallen angels and sinful men have made it, in their rebellion against God—“but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2).

The great American Catholic writer of the 19th century, Orestes Brownson, wrote in July 1846:

The Church is not here to follow the spirit of the age, but to control and direct it, often to struggle against it. They do her the greatest disservice who seek to disown her glorious past, and to modify her as far as possible, so as to adapt her to prevailing methods of thought and feeling. It is her zealous but mistaken friends, who, guided by a short-sighted policy, and taking counsel of the world around them, seek, as they express it, to liberalize her, to bring her more into harmony with the spirit of the age, from whom we, as good Catholics, should always pray, Libera nos, Domine![33] 

Martin Mosebach speaks of “the defective liturgical development that was encouraged by a mentality antagonistic to spiritual realities.”[34] This, in fact, is what we see in Paul VI: a mentality so preoccupied with modernity, with evangelization, and with accessibility that it ends up becoming antagonistic to spiritual realities—the set-apartness of the sacred; the primacy of God and the things of God; the otherworldly itinerary of Christ in His Passion, death, resurrection, and ascension; and the conquest of this world for Christ the King, seizing it from Satan’s empire and sanctifying it with her “mystic benedictions . . . derived from apostolic discipline and tradition.”[35]

Permit me to conclude with a quotation from Johann Adam Möhler:

If one cannot trust tradition, then Christians would rightly despair of ever learning what Christianity really is; they would rightly despair that there is a Holy Spirit which fills the Church, that there exists a common spirit and sure knowledge of Christianity. … This is the state in which those who reject tradition find themselves, and for them there can be no such thing as an objective Christianity.[36]

Thank you for your kind attention.


[1] Mediator Dei, n. 61.

[2] DZ 856: “Canon 13. Si quis dixerit, receptos et approbatos Ecclesiae catholicae ritus in solemni sacramentorum administratione adhiberi consuetos aut contemni, aut sine peccato a ministris pro libito omitti, aut in novos alios per quemcumque ecclesiarum pastorem mutari posse, A.S.” Another translation of this dense text renders it thus: “If anyone says that the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church, accustomed to be used in the administration of the sacraments, may be despised or omitted by the ministers without sin and at their pleasure, or may be changed by any pastor of the churches to other new ones, let him be anathema.”

[3] “Si quis dixerit, ceremonias, vestes et externa signa, quibus in missarum celebratione Ecclesia Catholica utitur, irritabula impietatis esse magis quam officia pietatis: anathema sit.” On the surface, this canon would seem to require saying that the Novus Ordo, in its integrity, must be an “office of piety” and not an “incentive to impiety.” But it does not follow that the Novus Ordo fosters piety as much as the traditional rite, or that it avoids occasions of impiety as well as the traditional rite does. This canon also cannot be taken in isolation from other conditions that must be fulfilled before we can identify a given rite as actually Catholic, as opposed to being a tolerated intruder.

[4] St. Thomas Aquinas (ST II-II, q. 1, a. 9, sed contra) cites this verse as evidence for the indefectibility of the Church: “The universal Church cannot err, since she is governed by the Holy Ghost, Who is the Spirit of truth: for such was Our Lord’s promise to His disciples (Jn 16:13): ‘When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will teach you all truth.’”

[5] Susanne Spencer writes: “The beauty of tradition is that it does not cast out the years between the early Church and now, but trusts that the Holy Spirit has guided the Church as we have grown in understanding of doctrine and developed our liturgical rites. Soon-to-be-canonized Blessed John Henry Newman describes the development of tradition in this way: ‘A true development, then, may be described as one which is conservative of the course of antecedent developments being really those antecedents and something besides them: it is an addition which illustrates, not obscures, corroborates, not corrects, the body of thought from which it proceeds.’” “The Beauty of the Extraordinary Form Comes from Tradition,” citing Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, Pt. II, Ch. V.6.

[6] Like the descent of the dove, or the tongues of fire on Pentecost, announcing that a new dispensation is at hand. However, there will never be another dispensation: that of Christ is definitive. Hence, one can never expect a time, after the age of the Apostles, in which new Christian rites or sacraments will come into existence.

[7] This could remind us of the Ascension and the Assumption, exemplars of our final destiny in the unchanging bliss of heaven. As liturgy unfolds over time, it becomes more evidently the image of the eschatological banquet.

[8] This entire chapter of Ezekiel, especially verses 8 to 26, can be taken as a description of a three-stage historical drama: first, the calling of Israel and the old covenant; second, the coming of Christ and the new covenant, which inaugurated a period of maturation and royal splendor; third, the apostasy of the 20th century when churchmen went whoring after secular values, created “colorful shrines” to the gods of the world,  and made a religion out of humanism, burning incense to “images of men.” To these values, gods, and images, churchmen sacrificed the Church’s sons and daughters, in the outward exodus of the baptized who left the Church and the internal exodus of the faithful who have ceased to believe or even to know the Catholic Faith.

[9] I would like to point out that all canonists and theologians are in agreement that General Audiences, like papal homilies or sermons, occupy a lowly place among the instruments by which a pope can choose to exercise his magisterium. They are often a mixture of statements that say something about matters of faith or morals and other statements that mere express the pope’s personal opinion. While they deserve our respectful attention, they usually do not demand much from us in the way of assent.

[10] See Gregory DiPippo, “The Liturgist Manifesto.” For more on the Ognissant event, see Dom Alcuin Reid, “March 7th, 1965—‘An extraordinary way of celebrating the Holy Mass’”; Peter Kwasniewski, “‘Backwards vs. Forwards’—What Does It Mean?” and “Just Say No to ’65!”; and the article mentioned in the next note.

[11] See the description at Rorate Caeli in “The 50th Anniversary of Paul VI’s First Italian Mass: Some Hard Truths About the ‘1965 Missal’ and the Liturgical Reform.”

[12] Pope Benedict XVI, whose intelligence, fairness, courtesy, and realism greatly exceeded those of Paul VI, noted precisely this fact in his Letter to Bishops Con Grande Fiducia, which accompanied the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum: “Afterwards, however [i.e., in the period after the introduction of the new missal], it soon became apparent that a good number of people remained strongly attached to this [older] usage of the Roman Rite, which had been familiar to them from childhood. This was especially the case in countries where the Liturgical Movement had provided many people with a notable liturgical formation and a deep, personal familiarity with the earlier form of the liturgical celebration.”

[13] Triumph magazine, October 1966; cited in Michael Davies, Liturgical Time Bombs in Vatican II (Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, 2003), 40–41.

[14] It is also worth noting that in response to the Short Study and other critiques, the pope pushed through a number of significant modifications to the Institutio Generalis that prefaced the missal.

[15] Quoted here. A similar Montinian phrase shows up in an Address to a Consistory, May 24, 1976: “For our part, in the name of tradition [!], we beseech all our children and all Catholic communities to celebrate the rites of the restored liturgy with dignity and fervent devotion.”

[16] Against Heresies, Book I, ch. 8.

[17] Such a remote or abstract sameness would not, in all probability, satisfy the simple and childlike or the sophisticated and cultured that the Mass was the same—the two demographics most heavily alienated from the Church during this period.

[18] Incidentally admitting that the age-old nomenclature of “the Mass of Catechumens” and “the Mass of the Faithful,” matching up to ancient practice and followed by hundreds of commentators over the centuries, has therewith been jettisoned.

[19] This was prior to the heroic stance taken up by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, which was to bring out the worst of the tyrant in Paul VI. But that is a story for another time.

[20] Aidan Nichols, Looking at the Liturgy: A Critical View of Its Contemporary Form (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996), 61.

[21] It is distressing to see some of today’s would-be advocates of tradition exalting a “devotionalism of ignorance” and a strict bifurcation between lay spirituality and the rites of the sanctuary. On this topic, see my articles “Is Passivity Mistaken for Piety? On the Perils and Pitfalls of Participation”; “Two Different Treasure Chests”; “Carrying Forward the Noble Work of the Liturgical Movement”; “Living the Vita Liturgica: Conditions, Obstacles, Prospects.”

[22] Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 42.

[23] In his book The Two Catholic Churches: A Study in Oppression (SCM Press, 1986); see this article by Joseph Shaw.

[24] See this position paper, which is included in the forthcoming book from Angelico Press, The Case for Liturgical Restoration.

[25] The crucial milestones in this process are well known: the English Indult of 1971, Quattuor Abhinc Annos of 1984 (cleverly named to sound like a response to and replacement of Tres Abhinc Annos of 1967), Ecclesia Dei Adflicta of 1988, Summorum Pontificum of 2007, and Universae Ecclesiae of 2011.

[26] It is clear to those who compare them, although one is permitted to wonder how well acquainted Paul VI was with every liturgical book published at his behest. According to Archbishop Bugnini, on the one hand Paul VI read each draft of the Ordo Missae with painstaking care, underlining in multiple colors and annotating the margins in small print, while on the other hand he returned the text of the new lectionary with a note saying he had not been able to study it in detail but assumed that the experts had done their work properly.

[27] To use the language of the Synod of Pistoia—and of Paul VI.

[28] The wording of the opening phrases as quoted by the pope is somewhat different from that which is found in the English edition published by Sheed & Ward: “The Mass is a mystery, which must be made our living experience. And that experience is no less than a death for love.”

[29] Or, for that matter, in Prosper Guéranger, Nicholas Gihr, Pius Parsch, Fernand Cabrol, Ildefonso Schuster, or any of the large number of liturgical commentators in the 19th and 20th centuries who labored tirelessly to advance understanding and reanimate participation in the liturgy of the Church in its traditional (i.e., handed down) form, not as it might be reinvented by engineers in laboratories.

[30] The only exception was in Paul VI's attitude towards monks and nuns, who, in his Apostolic Letter Sacrificium Laudis, he encouraged to retain their chanted Latin Divine Office. However, he never enforced this, in keeping with his typically weak and ambivalent mode of governance, and watched from the balcony as all of the great religious orders collapsed, taking their choral office and sung Mass into the tomb with them.

[31] From Demain la liturgie (Paris, 1976), 9–10.

[32] On the motives of the reform and its revolutionary nature, the comprehensive work by Michael Davies remains indispensable, even if it must be supplemented by more recent publications: Pope Paul’s New Mass (Kansas City, MO: Angelus Press, 2009). See Yves Chiron, Annibale Bugnini, Reformer of the Liturgy, trans. John Pepino (Brooklyn: Angelico Press, 2018).

[33] “Newman’s Development of Christian Doctrine,” accessed here on March 20, 2019.

[34] Martin Mosebach, Subversive Catholicism: Papacy, Liturgy, Church (Brooklyn: Angelico Press, forthcoming), 95.

[35] Council of Trent, Session 22, ch. 5.

[36] Quoted in Antoine Arjakovsky, What is Orthodoxy? A Genealogy of Christian Understanding (Brooklyn: Angelico Press, 2018), 267–68.

The video of the lecture as given in Melbourne: