Friday, October 13, 2017

1967: Reaching the Bottom of the Slippery Slope

Here is an interesting bit of history from the post-Conciliar period, a new set of variations to the order of Mass issued in May of 1967, following those implemented in March of 1965. The imprudence of Sacrosanctum Concilium calling for “noble simplicity” and for the rites to be “simplified”, without specifying what exactly that should entail, has by this point become impossible to deny. Less than three and a half years have passed since its promulgation, (the Council itself has been over for less than a year and a half), and the Roman Ordo Missae has already undergone more changes in that period than it had since before Trent. Altars are being turned around throughout the world, so that the faithful can see what the priest is doing at Mass; the time has now come for there to be much less for them to see.

Less reverence is the order of the day; “the altar is kissed only once”, and signs of the cross and genuflections are rapidly disappearing, most shockingly, the genuflection immediately after the Words of Consecration. As William Riccio wrote earlier this year, the faithful who were made nervous by the seemingly endless barrage of changes to that which was always held to be unchangeable “... were told that the Canon, that most untranslatable prayer, would never be in the vernacular because it is too steeped in meaning. In 1967, it was put in the vernacular.” The pretense that even the barest letter of Sacrosanctum Concilium will be respected, (“let the use of the Latin language be preserved... Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy ... should be given pride of place in liturgical services”) is now almost entirely thrown off.

We may also note that commemorations, a feature against which the reformers had a particular and wholly inexplicable animus, are now basically gone, with almost no exceptions. At the very end, there is a footnote concerning the Divine Office; in the fairly few offices of three nocturnes left at that point, one may choose to say only one. The parts of Matins specific to choir ritual (the blessings before the readings and “Tu autem, Domine...”) may now be omitted, along with the prayer called the Absolution, which is a specifically Roman feature. This presages their complete disappearance from the Liturgy of the Hours. The Ambrosian Liturgy of the Hours was not published until 1981, by which time many people were beginning to realize what a mistake some of these changes really were; it retained the blessings before the readings.

Thanks to Mr Richard Hawker for sharing these scans with us.

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