What happened in the interpretation and implementation of the Constitution is an important and potent area for study, but we shall be unable to do that well if we do not read the Constitution in a manner that is consistent with the minds of the Council Fathers. We must be good historians: understanding the historical context of the principles and measures they laid down is crucial. An a posteriori isogesis of the Constitution, as is fashionable in some circles, is simply bad scholarship.
If we do read the Fathers’ interventions—all of them—it is simply impossible to assert that revolution (Duschakian or otherwise) was what they intended. Indeed, the debate on article 37 (50) proves the opposite. It shows that the Fathers accepted the principle that, so as to achieve a greater participatio actuosa a moderate reform of the Order of Mass was desirable.
If we have trouble today with the understanding of the Church as a Mystical Body, the fact might be that we have trouble with the body in general... It is no longer seen as a coherent whole, but only as a receptacle of more or less organised matter that one can reorganise at will. (Dom Charbel)The attack on the family is an attack on the liturgy, in part because it is an attack on the innate, intrinsic relationships of the family, which point us towards a Trinitarian model of relationships. When we succumb to the worldly temptation to perceive the liturgy in terms of voluntary relations rather than familial, Trinitarian relations - in other words, to treat the liturgical action as a purely social contract - it is subjectivised and relativised. We must assiduously guard against this!
Finally, Dom Charbel offered a couple of practical suggestions: that Rome produce an official Ceremonial for parishes so their public liturgical action can be more representative of the universal Church, and that liturgical formation in the Church ought to be greatly improved. He spoke particularly of the offertory, where the faithful should be taught to offer themselves alongside Christ in the host and chalice as a personal spiritual sacrifice (cf. SC 48).
has posted on St Hedwig's previously at NLM, so I will not duplicate here the pictures of how the cathedral looks currently - suffice it to say that the upper and lower sanctuaries and altars look dated and, frankly, utterly bizarre.
In the course of his paper, Prof. Stephan discussed how architecture must conform to the liturgy, and not the other way around, and guided us through his proposal for a more authentically Catholic reordering of St Hedwig's.
The Low Mass, however, cannot be understood properly without reference to the Solemn Mass:
Both Sacrosanctum Concilium and those engaged in liturgical renewal are right to place the Solemn Mass at the forefront of the Catholic liturgical experience, because it is the Solemn Mass which provides the clearest link to the history of the Roman rite as well as to the Oriental rites. It is the Solemn Mass, with its gratuitous singing and ceremonial that points to the freedom and joy of heavenly worship. And it is the Solemn Mass which affords a framework in which the Low Mass makes sense. (Dr Donelson)Dr Donelson went on to look at the history of the relationship between speaking and singing in the liturgy. Up until roughly the end of the first millennium, liturgical texts were either spoken in near silence (as the Roman Canon is in the EF), or sung aloud. The number of texts spoken in a quiet voice increased between the 9th-11th centuries - for example, the prayers at the foot of the altar - and by the 12th century the rise of the missa lecta for various reasons had caused a rupture between text and music in the Western Church.
Why did this rupture persist? Low Mass made daily Mass possible, and an increased devotion to the Blessed Sacrament was thus also nourished, enabling more frequent reception of Holy Communion. Considerations of validity/liceity also contributed to the increasing neglect of music in the Roman Rite, resulting ultimately in minimalistic celebrations and a mechanistic, overly-rubrical approach to the liturgy:
It is in this way that one comes to think of the sacred liturgy in terms of power and control rather than in humble reception of what has been handed on. (Dr Donelson)Dr Donelson argued passionately against what she termed "liturgical sloth", the idea that if it takes 1 hour 15 minutes to sing a Solemn Mass, but 45 minutes to say a Low Mass, then why bother singing? Such an attitude is damaging and corrosive, as well as lacking in love. When one is in love, one lingers with the beloved - why then would we not want to linger with God in our worship of Him? The Solemn Mass needs to become a regular feature of parish and seminary life, in order that the liturgy is made more attractive and effective as a means of formation.
A panel discussion on Sacred Music followed, which included Prof. William Mahrt, the publisher of NLM. There were lively discussions and exchanges regarding the best ways to introduce into a parish the singing of the propers and the resources available to help with this, along with other topics.
The day ended with Solemn Mass in the usus recentior, celebrated by Robert Cardinal Sarah, with the London Oratory School Schola Cantorum providing the music. All in all, a fascinating day!
(More photos and extracts from the talks can be found at the Sacra Liturgia Facebook page.)