Over at the Chant Café, Fr Christopher Smith has posted yet another excellent article, “Mutual Enrichment and the Coexistence of Varying Models of Liturgy in the Church”, elaborating on some of the ideas in Dr Kwasniewski’s recent post here on “The Ironic Outcome of the Benedictine-Jesuit Controversy.” Click the link above to read the whole article, which is, as always, well worth your time.
Ascertaining what current of thought prevails can help us understand why people react the way they do about matters liturgical. Those who argue for the retention of the classical Roman tradition, whether they be SSPX adherents or the people who have been inspired by Sacrosanctum concilium and the liturgical theology of Ratzinger and Gamber, all have the first school as their fundamental principle. The second school is behind movements as various as Reform of the Reform to the original set of ideas behind the foundation of the Society for Catholic Liturgy in the United States. The third school is behind some of the calls for greater experimentation and inculturation, such as the work of Keith Pecklers and Piero Marini.
The great influence of three very different schools of thought on the liturgy have led Kwasniewski to posit:
The legacy of the post-conciliar reform is a Benedictine insistence on the primacy of liturgy, fused with a Jesuitized re-conception of liturgy as collective private devotion. It is as if new Jesuit wine has been poured into old Benedictine wineskins, causing them to rupture. The moment of triumph was the moment of disaster, as the very notion of a rite—a formal ritualized act of common worship based on a common orthodox tradition—gave way to a pluralistic, relaxed, malleable, and privatized praxis of variations on a more or less Catholic theme. In short, the Consilium’s exploitation of Sacrosanctum Concilium left us with a volatile mixture that makes genuine reform today much more difficult.
This is a bold claim, and one which I think needs to be examined more closely. It removes the discussion of the liturgical reform away from hackneyed labels of liberal vs. conservative, and also removes it from the thorny question of hermeneutics of continuity vs. rupture vis-à-vis Vatican II. This claim instead relocates the debate within the history of Christian spirituality, and within a broader historical context. Now, that having been said, to the extent that one of the aforementioned three schools rises to prominence, it is clear that reaction ensues. But the reactions have tended to be expressed in terms of fear: fear that the uniqueness of the historical liturgical tradition of the Church will be lost, fear that Vatican II and the liturgical reform is in danger of being undone by reactionaries plotting to usher a kingdom of pharisaical rubricist status quo ante, fear that all of these liturgical battles are losing sight of what is truly important and central to our Christian faith. ...
Benedict XVI had hope that the celebration of the two forms of the Roman Rite would lead to mutual enrichment, and a corresponding renewal in the life of the Church. Much ink has been spilled on promoting or proscribing one form or another of the rite. I am beginning to wonder whether we need to examine, not which form is better or worse, but what lines of thought are driving the way we think about and execute the sacred liturgy, and whether, if they are allowed peacefully to coexist along side each other, that a true synthesis may emerge, one not forced by the work of human hands, but by the action of the Holy Spirit.