Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Muphry’s Law Comes After Mass of the Ages (Part 2)

This is the second part of my response to a video which attempts and fails to “challenge” the second installment of the Mass of the Ages documentary series. As I noted in the first part, this video makes one fully legitimate critique, but attempts to do almost all the rest of its “work” by stating only a part of the pertinent information, a process known by the Latin term “suppressio veri – suppression of what it true.” And as it begins, so it goes on. Once again, this is not by any means a complete list of the mistakes of the remainder of the video; such a list would be as exhausting for you to read as it would be for me to write. If you want a quick-take which shows just how utterly shoddy the research that went in to this really is, scroll down to the last paragraph.
The video objects (5:50) to an image which compares the post-Conciliar Rite of Mass to a tree which has had most of its limbs lopped off, by stating that “practically all of the old form elements are still there, or at least available in the new.” suppressio veri: it does not acknowledge that many of these elements are available in theory, but in practice, usually not available, and in many places, ruthlessly or even unlawfully prohibited. It does not acknowledge that some of them (e.g. the Mass lectionary) were radically changed, and in many ways very much for the worse. It does not acknowledge that it was in no way the intention of Sacrosanctum Concilium for such elements to become completely optional, and in many places, ruthlessly or even unlawfully prohibited. There is no point in saying “the Novus Ordo can also be said in Latin” if many priests dare not do so for fear of punishment from their superiors. There is no point in saying that “you can still have chant and polyphony” if the schola was replaced by a guitar band 50 years ago and has never been reformed.
The video objects that MOTA “ignores the fact that in other eras, elements were taken on and left out of the liturgy.” MOTA is not about this, but I can assure our readers that I know personally several of the people who appear in it, and they would never deny such a thing. The video’s account of the post-Tridentine liturgical reform squeezes a truly remarkable amount of gross over-simplification into less than a minute, and makes several mistakes. Of these, the most inexcusable is to claim that it introduced a new calendar. The Tridentine reform kept the Roman ordo temporalis, a stable part of the rite for many centuries, completely intact, and lightly pruned the calendar of Saints. It falsely claims that it took out the “Prayers of the Faithful”, more properly known as bidding prayers. These did exist in some pre-Tridentine rites, by no means all, and in any case, have no relationship to the free-for-all Prayers of the Faithful of the post-Conciliar rite. It repeats the canard that other forms of the Roman Rite were largely prohibited after 1570, another gross over-simplification. In more than one place, it asserts that the Dominican Use did not have the offertory prayers of the Roman Rite. suppressio veri: the Dominican Use has offertory prayers which are much shorter than those of the Roman Missal, but in this regard, is very much an outlier among medieval uses.
There follows an attempt to provide a definition of “organic growth”, which I will not contest, because “organic growth” is not a useful way of describing how the liturgy changes. The video then falsely imputes to MOTA the following “faulty premises”:
“1. Everything added to the liturgy must stay.” MOTA does not say this. suppressio veri: of course, the post-Conciliar reform went far beyond the letter and spirit of Sacrosanctum Concilium, and took out of the Roman Rite many things that ought not to have been taken out, some of which are attested in every pertinent liturgical book of that rite as far back as we have them.
Folio 214r of the Gellone Sacramentary, ca. 780 AD, with the prayer “Deus honorum omnium” in the rite of episcopal consecration. (Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des Manuscrits. Latin 12048.) This prayer appears in every single pertinent liturgical book of the Roman rite from the so-called Leonine Sacramentary in the mid-6th century until 1968, when it was replaced by another prayer from the pseudo-Apostolic tradition of pseudo-Hippolytus, which has no historical relationship to the Roman Rite.
2. “Restoration of ancient custom is not legitimate”. MOTA does not say this either. suppressio veri: almost none of the putative restorations of ancient customs in the Novus Ordo restored them in their integrity, that is to say, as they are actually found in the ancient liturgical books. With few exceptions, they were almost all rewritten according to the bright ideas of the members of the Consilium, who at the same time, gave the lie to their own work by throwing out completely many aspects of the Roman Rite of the greatest possible antiquity. And of course, many such “restorations” (the canon of Hippolytus, the epiclesis, the Old Testament reading, the Solemnity of Mary on Jan. 1) are not “restorations” at all, because they never existed.
3. “The substance and accidental elements of the Mass are equally important”. MOTA does not say this either. suppressio veri: the creators of the post-Conciliar liturgy clearly had no good sense at all as to which accidental elements of the liturgy best express the substance of the Mass. If they had, they would not have subjected the prayers of the Mass and the Bible itself to the ruthless campaign of ideological censorship which took out so many expressions of what the Church wants us to receive from the Mass and know about the Faith.
The video then attempts to defend the indefensible by claiming that MOTA misrepresents how much was taken out of the Mass, since many such things are present in “modified or unmodified forms.” suppressio veri: the word “modified” is yet another gross oversimplification, and does not address how badly so many of those modifications were done, or the atrocious historical scholarship on the basis of which they were done. For example, the “proper chants” are counted as “still present” because they are an “option”, without saying that they are an option that is almost totally disused, and that this is the diametric opposite of what Sacrosanctum Concilium wanted to happen, and what Paul VI himself originally claimed would happen.
The Gloria, the preface, the Pater etc, can all still be sung, and in Latin, and indeed, the whole Mass “including the canon may be sung!” suppressio veri: it is also completely licit, and very much more common, for them all to be said in the vernacular at any Mass, however, “solemn”, even on the most important feast days. The Offertory prayers are declared to be “made more applicable” in their newer form, a meaningless statement and another suppressio veri, since this change was not asked for by Sacrosanctum Concilium, and serves no good purpose. Yes, the Roman Canon “may always be used”. suppressio veri: it may also never be used. Etc.
At 9:04 there begins a section introduced by the header, “False Ideas of Vatican II”, which purports to explain MOTA’s false ideas about “the Vatican II liturgy.” suppressio veri: the post-Conciliar reform is not the liturgy of Vatican II. It accuses MOTA once again of a failure to acknowledge that a priest can say the Mass with nearly all of the elements of the pre-conciliar rite, and shows footage of some exemplary Masses from churches like St. James at Spanish Place in London and St John Cantius in Chicago, (suppressio veri), without mentioning how few such churches are and how far between.
suppressio veri: at no point does the video even hint at the fact that while the liturgy has indeed changed in the past, never before did it undergo so many changes and so rapidly as it did in the post-Conciliar reform.
At 11:40, the video degenerates into a parody of itself when it effectively reproves the Tridentine Mass for being, of all things, too enculturated, because it could be celebrated with Baroque music in the 18th century, Gothic-revival vestments in the 19th etc. This is especially hilarious, considering that it is said in defense of a liturgy that was deliberately designed to be subject to constant change, based on the constant change of the surrounding culture. suppressio veri: the objective forms of the old liturgy meant that, whether for good or ill, the culture was put to the service of it, whereas enculturation in the post-Conciliar rite means that the liturgy is put to the service of the culture.
This is followed by the even more absurd contention that the post-Conciliar reform represents, through Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Church’s embrace of the pre-Conciliar liturgical movement. suppressio veri: the post-Conciliar liturgy is the betrayal and overthrow, not the fulfillment, of both the liturgical movement and Sacrosanctum Concilium. Ironically, it quotes Sacrosanctum Concilium to the effect that it is the wish of the Church to undertake a careful general reform of the liturgy. suppressio veri: everyone who has read the memoires of people like Fr Bouyer or Cardinal Antonielli knows that the post-Conciliar reform of the liturgy was careless in the extreme.
Weirdly enough, the video does finally get around to saying something useful when it claims that “we’re obviously still at the stage where most people have very limited and rather distorted ideas about the Mass.” proclamatio veri: yes, the liturgical reform has indeed absolutely failed to achieve what Vatican II wanted it to achieve. We already knew that. It also quotes the recent apostolic letter on the liturgy to the same effect, because when the Pope says that he “would like this letter to help us to rekindle our wonder for the beauty of the truth of the Christian celebration, to remind us of the necessity of an authentic liturgical formation, and to recognize the importance of an art of celebrating that is at the service of the truth of the Paschal Mystery and of the participation of all of the baptized in it, each one according to his or her vocation”, he acknowledges, whether he means to or not, that the post-Conciliar reform has achieved none of this.
This is followed immediately by seven pictures of the post-Conciliar Rite: a boy’s choir, a beautiful missal, a beautiful vestment, the elevation of the host at a Mass celebrated ad orientem, a beautiful altar set, a picture of a Gregorian chant, the minor elevation at another Mass, by a priest wearing a beautiful vestment. These do exactly what the beginning of the video accuses MOTA of doing: presenting the new liturgy at its best, without acknowledging that these things do not represent the experience of many ordinary Catholics. It is hypocritical in the extreme to reprove MOTA for presenting the traditional Mass at its best because the traditional Mass was often not celebrated at its best, and then show the post-Conciliar Mass at its best, when that best is far rarer than it ever was in the traditional rite, as everyone knows.
Just to end by adding insult to injury, the video then exhorts us to put an end to the “damaging liturgical wars”, a few seconds after citing a text by the person most responsible for inflaming them in recent times.
The last three minutes are occupied by a series of informational slides which are, of course, chock full of mistakes and falsehoods. At 15:37, we are treated to the comically absurd contention that the traditional liturgy is not a really a bulwark of orthodox belief, because it is also used by some communities which are wildly heretical (e.g. the Old Catholics.) suppressio veri: these communities are all tiny, and there is a tiny number of them. A caption at the bottom says that something called the “Gallican schism” has been using the “traditional” rite (sneer quotes theirs) for 700+ years. This “information”, which is all completely wrong, was garnered from the website of a woman named Cherry Chapman, whose principal interest in it comes from the fact that a certain church in Paris allows her to attend Mass with her dog. The fact that the video repeats information from a random personal webpage without fact-checking any of it demonstrates better than anything else how fundamentally unserious the whole project actually is.
Yes, of course I made a screen shot...

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