Friday, July 28, 2006

New Liturgical Movement Stirring in the Church

[Apologies for the length, but I think you'll be interested in the whole piece, and I didn't just want to make it solely a PDF link. Please remember to get those registrations in to CIEL 2006. One note: many Americans have been asking me whether they can pay the fee in U.S. Funds. The answer is yes. Contact me for details if you wish to do that. If you still intend to register but haven't, email me and I'll help expedite the process for you. This article first appeared in The Wanderer. SRT/NLM]

CIEL: Its Mission and its Part in a New Liturgical Movement

An Interview with Lt. Cdr. Neville McNally, Director of CIEL UK,
the Rev. Dr. Alcuin Reid and Fr. Thomas Kocik

By Shawn Tribe

That there is need today for a new liturgical movement seems so self-evident as to not require explanation. In fact, if one stops and looks at the developing landscape of the Church as its members mature beyond the infancy and rebellious stage of the immediate post-conciliar era, it is fair to say that this new liturgical movement has already started. As lay organizations continue to be formed, papers, journals, blogs and websites spring up, books written and resources created, new or re-born religious orders and priestly societies develop and grow in vocations, the manifest momentum of this new movement becomes self-evident to any honest on-looker. With Benedict XVI now on the throne of St. Peter, this movement is poised to explode even further and reach into the very depths of the Curia, as it has already begun to do.

A liturgical movement is something, it would seem, that ought to be characterized by a few dominant features: on the one hand, authentic, scholarly study of the sacred liturgy -- its history, development, theology and spirituality -- and on the other, the practice and promotion of authentic, solemn worship. This movement further ought to encompass not only the rites themselves, but also ought to include that which further surrounds and ornaments these sacred rites: namely sacred architecture, sacred music and sacred art. Each of these have an important part to play in the restoration and renewal of an authentic liturgical life and spirituality, akin to the original goals of the Liturgical Movement, and it is necessary that all of these aspects come together in a synthesis.

When speaking of "authentic worship" it should be made clear that this is not be taken as a coded reference to one or another particular liturgical rite. Rather we are speaking of an overall Catholic spirit of the liturgy, one which has characterized numerous liturgical rites and uses in the history of the Church, both East and West. This spirit is characterized by a dominant truth that ought to set the stage for all else: that in the liturgy we come into contact with the Holy Trinity, worshiping God the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. That the sacred liturgy of the Church Militant is an icon of the heavenly liturgy, an offering up of the one Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross by which we offer God fitting worship and through which we are sanctified. It is this context in which and for which we gather as a Christian community.

The Church teaches us that the liturgy is a treasure we receive, not something we are masters over. But what are these treasures? Academic study of the sacred liturgy, done in view of the mind of the Church, and which understands the importance of our tradition, offers an important contribution to knowing and gaining a deeper appreciation for the divine realities that characterize the sacred liturgy, and how and why these realities have come to be expressed in particular ways. Ultimately this study enables us to better appreciate and approach liturgical questions with a deep respect for our tradition and the action of the Holy Spirit in forming that tradition down the centuries. Watered then by these intellectual wellsprings, our normative liturgical practice and parish worship is only destined to bloom and flourish with time and patience.

The future of this new liturgical movement will not be found in only the classical Roman liturgy and its associated communities, nor simply in the "reform of the reform". Rather it will be found in both as they mutually strive on their own fronts to re-invigorate their parishes and their adherents with a deep love and appreciation for the great spiritual treasure that the sacred liturgy is. Together they will work to re-introduce solemnity and decorum into ordinary parish worship; together they will seek to re-claim the ethos of Catholic worship in organic continuity with our tradition and with the written letter of the Second Vatican Council.

CIEL takes it place in the midst of this new liturgical movement, pursuing the study of the Roman liturgical tradition. Not only are the fruits of their work published for consumption and discussion, reaching into the very corridors of the Holy See, but their conferences are also characterized by that practice of solemn worship as well. While CIEL is very much characterized by the classical Roman liturgical tradition, its conferences represent a cross-section of the new liturgical movement, with priests and laity from traditional liturgical communities sitting side by side with those from reform of the reform. Here, friendships and alliances are forged and a cross-fertilization of scholarly ideas can occur. It is no wonder then that the work of CIEL has received positive attention from Rome itself.

For the first time in CIEL's history, it is hosting its annual international colloquium in the English language and in an English speaking country. As such, there is a great opportunity for those in the English speaking world who have not known about CIEL to get to know more about it and participate in the colloquium and CIEL's national activities. (Perhaps then it is fitting that represented in this essay-interview are represented four nationalities: British, Australian, American and Canadian.)

I am pleased to present an interview with Lieutenant Commander Neville McNally, the director of CIEL UK and host of the upcoming CIEL conference to be held at Oxford University this September; with the Reverend Doctor Alcuin Reid, one of the speakers at the upcoming CIEL conference and author of works including, The Organic Development of the Liturgy; and Fr. Thomas Kocik, author of Reform of the Reform?: A Liturgical Debate.

Q. Lt Cdr McNally, as director of CIEL UK can you first tell us a bit about the general mission of CIEL?

Neville McNally: CIEL, the French word for heaven, is the acronym of the French name of the organization, Centre International d’Études Liturgiques. The movement began in France in 1994 as an initiative to study the treasures of the traditional liturgy of the Church. Since then CIEL has organized an annual series of colloquia on the liturgy. In 1996, CIEL UK was one of the first national organizations to be established as a response to the French initiative to help disseminate the results of academic research of liturgy in the English-speaking world. This year for the first time, CIEL UK will host the International Colloquium at Oxford University.

Q. How does CIEL compare to other liturgical organizations?

Neville McNally: Although related by association to CIEL and with similar aims, I speak on behalf of CIEL UK. The organization’s aim is to facilitate liturgical piety and a deepening of the faith. It does not lobby or promote worship of any kind but by encouraging liturgical scholarship, it seeks to increase knowledge of the richness of the traditional liturgy and thereby to encouraging Catholic devotion. The important relationship between faith and liturgy was a theme of a previous CIEL academic conference.

Q.CIEL distinguishes itself as being ‘scholarly and non-polemical’. Can you tell us how CIEL fulfills this aspect of its mission?

Neville McNally: The source of CIEL’s scholarly activity is the series of annual international Colloquia of studies on the liturgy, of which the CIEL 2006 Colloquium at Oxford is the 11th. The Colloquia are open to all and attract clergy, religious, academics and the laity. The conference papers are subsequently published as ‘The Proceedings’, which are translated into different languages for distribution to the Church authorities and for sale.

CIEL and CIEL UK are free associations of the faithful within the meaning of the Code of Canon Law. By being non-polemical, all activities are conducted in complete fidelity to the Church authorities. The importance of the organizations work has been acknowledged by senior church figures, both in the local Church and in Rome.

Q. How has the work of CIEL been received by the Holy Father and other Roman officials?

Neville McNally: The Church authorities have been very supportive of CIEL and CIEL UK’s endeavours. A number of forewords to the Proceedings have been written by curial Cardinals and senior Church figures. In 2003 Loïc Merian, the CIEL President, had the joy of being received in private audience by the late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, and was able to present the Holy Father with a copy of the Proceedings.

Q.CIEL UK is hosting an upcoming conference in Oxford, as host, what can you tell us about this conference?

Neville McNally: As I mentioned, for the first time CIEL UK has the privilege of hosting the International Colloquium at Merton College, Oxford from 13 to 16 September 2006. Known as CIEL 2006, the Colloquium will receive papers from about a dozen academics on the theme of ‘The Genius of the Roman Liturgy: Historical Diversity and Spiritual Reach’. The Catholic scholarly associations of Oxford and the mediaeval setting of the College will provide a wonderful context for the Colloquium.

Q. Dr. Reid, how did you first become acquainted with the work of CIEL?

Alcuin Reid: Some French friends alerted me to its foundation back in 1995 and I purchased the first volume of proceedings - never translated into English - from the gift shop at Le Barroux [a traditional Benedictine Monastery] shortly thereafter. CIEL UK began its annual Mass and conference in London in 1997 and I have been happy to attend many of them. I was honored to be its guest speaker in 2004. I have also had the privilege of speaking at the International Colloqium in Paris 2003 and Rome 2005.

Q. Dr. Reid and Fr. Kocik, what are your impressions of CIEL as an organization and of its work?

Alcuin Reid: CIEL is loosely organized and probably much better for that in so far as it simply promotes the study and celebration of the classical Liturgy at international colloquiums and through local activities. In a sense this lack of a central ‘board’ or the like enables local initiatives - such as CIEL UK - the freedom to flourish. CIEL’s work is a contribution - how small or large only history will tell - to the vital task of examining the place and nature of the Sacred Liturgy in the Church today; a question all too often ignored.

Fr. Thomas Kocik: I first became aware of CIEL in the late-1990s, some years after its founding, by way of an article in the Catholic press. If memory serves, CIEL was described as a school for the defense of the classical Roman liturgy. For too long the liturgical progressives were portrayed as having the intellectual upper-hand over their "reactionary" and "nostalgic" opponents. CIEL would change that, the article predicted. Judging from the quality of its academic work, those hopes have not been dashed. I think it's fair to say that the opponents of ongoing liturgical destabilization now have the upper-hand, thanks in some measure to CIEL.

Q. CIEL promotes the study of the ‘classical Roman liturgy’ (i.e. the Tridentine Mass), and it celebrates these liturgies at it conferences, but is CIEL and its work only of interest to "traditionalists" or does it have a broader audience and application?

Neville McNally: The CIEL Colloquia are open to all, whether traditionalist or not. The organic development of liturgy and the heritage of the traditional liturgy are of relevance to all those with a liturgical interest, whether traditionalist, reform of the reform, or other grouping.

Alcuin Reid: Certainly - a very broad audience and application. The traditional liturgy is not a museum piece of curious interest to but a few. It is the Liturgy of the Church to this day. Of course we cannot ignore that Pope Paul VI introduced other rites as the Liturgy of the Church also, creating an interesting phenomenon - two legally legitimate versions of the Roman rite. Catholics who only know the latter can benefit enormously by discovering and beginning to understand the classical rites. They can also learn much from the scholarly discussion of the ‘question of the Liturgy’ in our day. CIEL can contribute in all these areas.

Fr. Thomas Kocik: There is much to criticize about the reform of the liturgy following Vatican II, but CIEL is not just another traditionalist group seeking a wholesale return to the pre-conciliar rite. It encompasses those who embrace the so-called Tridentine rite as well as those who advocate a "reform of the reform." In CIEL one finds the best of both movements: traditionalists who understand and appreciate the goals of the classical (pre-1965) Liturgical Movement, and reformists who realize that the pre-conciliar rite helps us to think responsibly about the liturgy and has much to offer in re-engaging contemporary worship with the fullness of tradition. In this context, the terms "traditionalist" and "reformist" are not mutually exclusive. I am of the "reform of the reform" school (hence, my membership in the Society for Catholic Liturgy); but I have nothing against those who prefer the pre-conciliar liturgy while remaining in full communion with Rome, and I do not think my commitment to the reforms actually mandated by Vatican II would be compromised were I to celebrating the traditional Mass for those desiring it. On the other hand, there are "traditionalist" priests involved with CIEL who use the current Missal as well as that of 1962.

In my book, The Reform of the Reform?, I propose a "traditionalist-reformist coalition of some form," perhaps a scholarly association, "into which some existing smaller organizations would be subsumed." CIEL, I think, fits that bill. I believe that pooling the best and brightest of both movements can create a "redoubtable bloc of scholars (laity and clergy) with enough clout to facilitate a consensus in the hierarchy on the direction the renewal should take." Time will tell

Q. There have been rumours of pending moves on the part of the Holy Father both for the Tridentine rite and for the reform of the reform, how might CIEL's work be important in the case of such developments?

Neville McNally: Any such changes would be very welcome of course, but they would not alter the need for study and knowledge of the traditional liturgy. In that sense, the work of CIEL could become very important.

Alcuin Reid: As I said, we shall probably not know the impact of CIEL’s work. It is simply important that that work be done. I expect that our beloved Holy Father may read the papers presented, as might some of his Curial officials. If so, that would be a significant contribution on the part of CIEL. Perhaps CIEL may serve to ignite the flame of love of the Sacred Liturgy in some person who may be in a position of authority and influence many years from now. All that is in the hands of Providence.

Q. CIEL's Oxford conference will be the first major CIEL conference in English. Is this an important development for the work of CIEL in the English speaking world and if so, why?

Neville McNally: The previous ten Colloquia have been held in either France, or more recently Rome, and the lingua franca has been French. While the calibre of the speakers is consistently high, and the speakers have represented a broad range of nationalities, participation by English-speaking attendees has not always been easy because of the language barrier. This year, the majority of talks are being delivered in English, but in addition, English transcripts of papers that are delivered in a foreign tongue will be provided to English language attendees. We will also be catering for French speakers by providing French transcripts for non-French papers.

Alcuin Reid: Yes, without doubt. The Rome Colloquium was the first outside France. That too was an important development. Perhaps we shall meet in North America before long? It is good that the International Colloquium is being held in more places. But I hope also that we shall meet also in France from time to time.

Q. Dr. Reid, you will be giving one of the papers at the upcoming conference, what can you tell us about this?

Alcuin Reid: My paper will attempt to explore Sacrosanctum concilium’s concept of the organic development of the Liturgy. This is an important question, as some argue that Sacrosanctum concilium itself was a betrayal of Liturgical tradition whereas others argue that its implementation was the problem. I can’t promise more than to explore the question, but if we are to move forward in any discussion of what was or was not legitimate in the liturgical reform - and therefore whether any future reform (of either Missal in either direction) is desirable or legitimate, it seems to me we must understand the Council’s official call for a reform.

Q. You are also known, Dr. Reid, for your work on a new edition of the Fortescue and O'Connell's "Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described". What can you tell us of the liturgies one can expect to assist at during the colloquium?

Alcuin Reid: Lauds, Vespers and Compline will be sung each day according to the Roman rite. Solemn Mass will be celebrated each day; Saturday’s Mass will be pontifical. Gregorian chant will have pride of place and each delegate will be given a specially printed book - sponsored by Baronius Press - containing the texts of the offices and Masses in Latin and English. The organizers feel strongly that this is a liturgical conference and that as well as talking about the Sacred Liturgy we should celebrate it as fully as possible.

Q.Lt Cdr McNally, there are liturgical conferences hosted all over the world. As host of this conference, can you tell us why should people consider coming to the CIEL colloquium in Oxford?

Neville McNally: The CIEL International Colloquia have acquired a particular importance in liturgical circles. This is the first time that the Colloquium will be held in the English-speaking world and it provides a very important opportunity to meet, discuss with and learn from all those participating. In addition the Colloquium is held against the daily backdrop of the Mass and Divine Office which offers a significant spiritual dimension to the conference.

Q. Do you have any final words on CIEL or the upcoming CIEL Conference?

Neville McNally: It is worth mentioning for those who have never attended the CIEL Colloquium, that it is not exclusive to those with an academic bent. The time between talks and at meals offers plenty of opportunity to discuss the day’s events and meet a range of interesting people. As well as Mass each day, the offices of Lauds, Terce, Vespers and Compline will be sung in the 13th century chapel. There will also be some time to explore Oxford and tours of historic Catholic Oxford are being arranged for English and French language groups.

Booking forms are available on the website,, or from CIEL UK, PO Box 500, Rochester, Kent ME1 1WU, England. [Note: Americans may pay in U.S. Dollars. Please contact Shawn Tribe for details.]

Alcuin Reid: One of the important aspects of the Colloquium is the colloquy that it facilitates. It is good to meet and talk. Indeed, Providence works through these meetings and conversations. I would encourage as many people as possible to attend. The papers themselves will make it worthwhile, as will the people one will meet. And then Oxford itself is historic and beautiful, and Merton College is simply magnificent. I look forward to meeting many new friends there.

Fr. Thomas Kocik: I look forward to attending the CIEL colloquium at Oxford this September. It's exciting to be a part of this movement for the good of the whole Church. And if there is any doubt as to the power of CIEL and similar associations to effect needed change, one need only consider how traditionally minded Catholics fared only fifteen years ago.

For more information on CIEL or the 2006 Oxford Conference: - CIEL Oxford Conference Information and Registration - CIEL UK - CIEL Canada - CIEL USA

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