Friday, January 13, 2023

“Catholicism or Post-Catholicisms?” — Part 4: The Significance of Catholic Ritual Change

We continue the publication of Dr. Tomasz Dekert’s “The Effects of Catholic Liturgical Reform Considered in the Light of Roy A. Rappaport’s Theory of Ritual.” (Links to Part 1; Part 2; Part 3)

The Change to the Catholic Ritual Considered in the Light of Rappaport’s Theory

Rappaport’s theory cannot be summarized in its entirety in just a few pages. Thus, I have only sought here to present its most basic and essential lines of thought. In my opinion, though, these are sufficient to shed light on the above-mentioned problem of the influence of the liturgical reform on the “organism” of the Catholic Church, and its causes, from an anthropological perspective—which, in this case, reflects the importance of the liturgy as a ritual for the Catholic religious and cultural system. Similarly, it is not possible to present the post-conciliar reform in detail here, with its theory, history, and all relevant justifications and immediate consequences.[52]

Even so, the approach I am advocating does not require this, in that for present purposes it will be enough to indicate the main structural changes in actual ritual practice, supplementing this with the issue of the relationship of these changes to officially sanctioned lines of interpretation. (I emphasize the term “actual” here, as from the point of view of Rappaport’s theory, in order to be able to speak of a ritual in the full sense of the word, it must be performed.[53]) In other words, since Rappaport is primarily interested in the “surface” of ritual, when adapting his approach in order to address the problem of changes in the Catholic liturgy it will also suffice to look at their surface dimension—meaning things that are obvious and somehow visible at first glance. Indeed, these are what one should examine first anyway, leaving aside the whole plethora of different sorts of emic theoretical justification and interpretation.

The fundamental change concerned the missal—the texts that formed the basis and guidelines for the canonical message, both in terms of the euchology and of the guidelines for ritual activities. Regardless of any interpretations claiming that “nothing has been changed of the substance of our traditional Mass,”[54] from the surface point of view proposed here the change was evident and radical, and was not primarily limited to the theological and journalistic rhetoric of novelty or innovation accompanying the announcement and implementation of Paul VI’s Missal.

The essential logical implications of this change are already visible at the level of the very fact of the emergence of a new coding system for canonical information. I will focus mainly on them here, although they are by no means exhaustive.[55] (An important remark is called for here: at this point I only intend to consider the question of the consequences of official changes: that is, I am only interested in what results from the transformation of the basis of the canonical message if and when this is adhered to in good faith.)

The sheer fact of a new missal being created brings to mind two constitutive elements of Rappaport’s definition of ritual: “more or less invariant sequences of formal acts and utterances” and encoding “not entirely… by the performers”. One of the fundamental and inalienable features of the canonical message is its immutability, and Rappaport emphasizes that this does not concern immutability in the absolute sense: the absolutely necessary omnipresence of self-referential information makes some given performance of any, even the most formal, liturgical order different from all other performances of it. The immutability of the “canon” is not and need not be factual: the semiotics of immutability is much more important.[56]

The latter, on the other hand, is a much more fraught affair where literate communities are concerned than with illiterate ones, due to the far wider scope for verifiable historical memory.[57] In a situation where we are dealing with a written, highly codified and, indeed, over several hundred years only very slightly changed basis for a canonical communiqué, as in the case of Pius V’s Missale Romanum,[58] the introduction of a new, significantly different basis for this communiqué—which, in addition, even during the period of its validity is already evolving significantly[59]—practically invalidates, and makes unsustainable, the conviction on the part of the protagonists of the ritual as to its immutability. In short, the canon that in theory is unchangeable turns out to be changeable after all.

The second aspect of this same phenomenon is the problem of the timing of the coding of canonical information. It is true that the Mass celebrated faithfully according to the new missal remains largely “encoded not by the performers.” However, at the same time, because of the fact that the very process of encoding—be it afresh or entirely anew—is known as such and historically grasped almost as if were from just yesterday, the canon itself acquires a kind of historical randomness. While it is clear that each element of the liturgy has its own “human” history, from the standpoint of how ritual operates as understood by Rappaport there is a colossal difference between historically elusive (or at least non-obvious) and tangible sorts of coding. The latter carries with it a certain irremovable human relativity, which introduces an internal contradiction into the canonical message: as canonical it is, after all, non-relative by nature.

Furthermore, in official ecclesiastical discourse, the new basis for the canonical message was presented as “immutable,” both in terms of its meaning or content and in terms of the requirement to implement it faithfully in line with that basis. However, in the face of the obvious—because visible at first glance—nature of the change, the immutability of the canon, previously “natural” and thus not needing any justification or credentials, now began to require additional institutional guarantees beyond itself: namely, the authority of the Magisterium, statements from popes and theologians, legal acts, instructions consistently resembling the above-mentioned requirement, and so on.

This has generated the extremely important phenomenon of the change of proportions within the semiosis of immutability. In the time before the promulgation of Paul VI’s Missal, the immutability of the canonical information was indicated by the actual immutability of ritual forms. After its introduction, when such an unambiguous indexical relation was no longer possible, or at least had been made very difficult, the “immutability” passed more or less into the sphere of verbal symbolic coding. In other words, “immutability” has become a question of what is said and not what is done, and is contained more in explanations and interpretations external to the liturgy than in the liturgy itself. This is reinforced by some of the more specific features of the reformed missal, which allows for an alternative (ad libitum) selection of certain prayers and rites, including the Eucharistic Prayer central to the Catholic ritual, as well as a certain (fairly wide) scope for the practitioners’ own invention.

In this context, it is possible to refer, albeit only in a general way, to the specific changes introduced by Paul VI’s Missal, and note that they are characterized by an orientation towards the intensification of symbolic at the expense of indexical communication.[60]

In the missal itself, apart from the greatly transformed euchological layer, the attention is drawn to the far-reaching reduction of the obligatory gestures and body positions and, compared to the old form, a kind of “averaged out” distribution of the canonical messages that it literally and explicitly prescribes. In the ritual performed according to the usus antiquior, the space of the presbytery is a kind of broadcasting center for canonical communication, because a detailed and precisely described ritual, rich in indexical signs (gestures, body positions, movement) all of whose elements are practically obligatory, makes both information streams merge—so that, paradoxically speaking, the protagonists self-referentially communicate the canonical message. Thus, the canonical images of God, the world, man and the history of salvation, central to Catholicism and thus also to its implications, are communicated there and confirmed as “absolutely true” in a way that is far from being ambiguous.

Of course, this does not mean that it cannot for various reasons (e.g., illness, a poor mental state, loss of faith, etc.) develop disorders at the level of the merging of the two messages. However, the highly formal and obligatory nature of the ritual means that outside of resigning from performing it (according to Rappaport, itself a very important possibility as regards self-referential messages), a conscious breach of its rules, or a very far-reaching neglect of its performance, just entering into it will hardly differ on the communicative level from the priest’s celebrating it with full conviction and inner commitment. 

The faithful taking part in the liturgy are obligated to perform rituals in a different way than the priest and the ministers, and this can be construed more in terms of custom than law.[61] Their ritual activities are mostly indexical signs (gestures and body positions) which, overlapping with the self-referential stream (itself also indexical), somehow direct it, via a form of dynamic–reactive pointing, to the central message broadcast in or from the presbytery—itself canonically correlated with the liturgical activity.

This distribution of canonical messages, heterogeneous in terms of quantity and quality, generates a system in which the canonical center functions as an “absolute,” “objective” and “transcendent” reference point towards which the acts of participation, saturated with self-referential information, are directed. (In this case, these acts must be understood as a form of participation in something external, not in terms of a joint venture produced by the assembly.) Interestingly, although it would not be a mistake to read the spatial arrangement of the liturgy in the usus antiquior in terms of establishing and confirming the intermediary role of the priest (the “arrow” model, where the celebrant is the tip and everyone follows him), the structure of ritual communication outlined above has a clear vertical-concentric character.

The new missal, and the way it is used in actual liturgical practice, significantly transform this structure.

As for the presbytery, the far-reaching reduction of gestures and body positions, and the attenuation of their obligatory nature, have significantly reduced—if not undermined—the possibility of the above-mentioned phenomenon of self-referential communication of the canon. Inevitably, the canon does not have sufficient formal force to transform the stream of self-referential information, and this state of affairs has been greatly heightened, moreover, by the change to the liturgical orientation (from ad Orientem to versus populum). (Such change was not originally set down in the reformed liturgical books, but in practice has become dominant.)

The importance of verbally encoded information as part of the ritual has grown incomparably: dialogue, and the euchology spoken aloud, not to mention extension, and a de-ritualized mode of reading, of the biblical lessons, and the central place granted to the homily.[62] Due to the celebrant being permitted to offer independent introductions and explanations to various parts of the Mass, and the introduction of the role of a liturgical commentator,[63] a large part of a particular celebration may well take place in the verbal space and at the level of meta-ritual: the rite is more told or explained than celebrated, with more time and attention devoted to “wrapping” it in words than to its full and proper performance.[64]

The meaning of the message broadcast from the presbytery therefore naturally shifts from the level of “what is” to the level of “what is said (to be the case).” The main medium and sign is now the word (i.e. the symbol), whose employment (to consciously send and receive verbal information) becomes the central dimension of participation, so that it comes to be equated with the ordinary, basic state and process of immediate comprehension. As Anton Usher comments:

Liturgical reformers since the 1960s have interpreted and implemented immediacy principally in terms of speech aimed at the intellect. It was felt that direct interaction with the conscious mind of the liturgical participant, using speech (usually spoken, not chanted), would make and keep the liturgy more relevant and ultimately more true—true to Christ’s intention and true to human nature. Liturgy was to communicate primarily by words, with a preference for the verbal over the ritual. Where symbols and rites were allowed to remain, they too had to speak clearly to the intellect. The importance of non-verbal or non-intellectual modes of communication has been less appreciated.[65]


Looking from the side of the nave, the model of the participation of the faithful has undergone a degree of official unifying “canonization,” as there are rules regulating their behavior now.[66] The ritual postures and gestures have themselves undergone relatively small modifications in quantitative terms, but of course such changes as the departure in some parts of the Catholic world from the kneeling posture during the Eucharistic Prayer, including consecration, and receiving Communion standing and in the hand, are, from the point of view of the semiotic structure, by no means a trivial transformation. The exclusion of kneeling from the usual attitudes greatly reduces the indexical complexity of the rite when it comes to indicating with one’s body the gradations of importance of what is happening during it. From the point of view of intra-group communication, it reduces the unambiguousness of the messaging as regards the relationship of protagonists both to the liturgical event and to the canonical information signaled within it.

Inevitably, when the particular forms of behavior of the ritual’s participants are devoid of specific differences correlating with some given point or other in its unfolding, their participation becomes informatively “reticent” or even “silent,” and this greatly reduces the level of acceptance of the canon communicated in the ritual, thus opening up canonical information to multiple possible interpretations (including potentially contradictory ones).

In terms of gestures and postures, the next most noticeable change has been the beginning of a more intense and extensive exchange of verbal messages between the presbytery and the nave.[67] This was meant to ensure a new, “conscious” and “real” (actuosa) kind of participation on the part of the faithful, which therefore seems to necessarily be conditioned to a large extent by linguistic competence.

To sum up, if we compare the ritual forms based, respectively, on the missals of Pius V and Paul VI in terms of their chronological relationship (i.e. with respect to changes affecting the surface of the ritual, since any other sort will not be of interest to us here), two issues catch our attention. First, in the course of transformation, ritual becomes more and more the domain of symbolic communication. Secondly, the aforementioned “averaging out” of the process of transmitting canonical information generates a change of ritual “topography”. The vertical-concentric arrangement with the “transcendent” canonical center turns into a horizontal and largely decentralized arrangement.

This may sound paradoxical if we take into account the fact that the assumed aim underlying the change of liturgical orientation itself was to make the altar table and what is done on it the focal point of the liturgical assembly. However, from the point of view of Rappaport’s theory, the conceptual basis of the new positioning of liturgical artifacts (in this case the altar) is of only secondary importance to the semiotic layer of the ritual, as it primarily concerns the mutual relation obtaining between self-referential and canonical messages.

If my attempted reconstruction, here, of these relations within the framework of the older ritual forms approximates closely to reality, then in the symbolic communication-oriented liturgy according to Paul VI’s Missal, the center is much less tangible, and relative, it being more dependent on linguistically conditioned “consciousness” (“conscious faith”). Due to its internal structure, which determines the dominance of symbols over indices, it possesses—one might say—a significatory rather than a substantial character.[68]

Generally, the changes in liturgical semiotics resulting from the reform have been aimed at weakening the verifying power of the ritual vis-à-vis the symbolically coded universe of religious meanings, more or less (or at least partially) deactivating this function, described by Paweł Grad as the “cognitive stabilization of religious beliefs.”[69] It can be said that this universe becomes, to a much greater extent than before, a “territory without a map”—a space in which the lability and ambiguity inherent in language, as well as the possibility of semantic, syntactic and grammatical inversion, make themselves felt in a less restricted way.

Of course, weakening is by no means the same as abolishing. Nevertheless, when the verifying power of ritual is weakened, the “territory” can undergo much more extensive reinterpretation, including of a kind that undermines its fundamental aspects. This reinterpretation thus becomes not only feasible, but also maintainable and continuously extended, since on the plane of symbolic communication its meaning can be processed almost endlessly.  It seems, however, that one of the first results of this weakening has been a process that has led to an even greater reduction in the impact of the ritual, and in places even to its complete abolition.

So far, I have tried to capture the implications of changes at the level of the ritual carried out in accordance with the guidelines contained in the official liturgical books. It is impossible not to notice, however, that historically, an integral dimension of the implementation of the reformed liturgy has been furnished by a number of phenomena located along a continuum: from the new missal’s allowing for invention to take place to a complete departure from books and regulations in favor of the creativity of the celebrant(s) and/or the congregation.[70]

While from an intra-church legal point of view there is a fundamental difference between legal invention and illegal creativity, from a ritual perspective, as Rappaport understands it, these are two points on the same continuum. This phenomenon was and still is happening in various forms and with varying degrees of intensity across the entire Catholic world.

Seen through the prism of Rappaport’s theory, these phenomena entail a relativization of canonical information that is differentiable in terms of its degree of intensity (correlating with places on the continuum just mentioned), and sometimes even a reduction of it to a self-referential message. It is hard not to notice that the closer we come to the pole of creativity, the less we can talk about ritual; in fact, many, if not all, liturgical experiments or happenings fall outside of the definition of ritual, being neither “the performance of more or less invariant sequences of formal acts and utterances,” nor a message “not encoded by the performers”.

This has its own specific consequences, especially if, following Rappaport, we treat ritual as an anthropologically universal modus operandi while also paying attention to the fact that at the level of social perception—especially of the faithful themselves—it is still the “Catholic liturgy.” This kind of “liturgy,” in such an arrangement, plays the role of an anti-ritual—that is, the opposite of the function which, in his deliberations on the nature of language, Rappaport assigns to ritual.

In other words, it does not impregnate the Catholic symbolic universe against the dangers of lies and grammatically constructed alternatives, but instead confirms and even increases its vulnerability to them. A performance whose principal message consists in the contents of the participants’ psyches, and their subjective interpretation of this universe (including a radically inverted one), will successively deepen its atrophy as a “universal” and “objective” structure, creating temporary substitutes for the latter that will hold significance only for particular groups and/or individuals.


[52] The literature on this subject, both historical and theological, general and specific, is enormous. A veritable mine of first-hand information are, the “reminiscences” (and an apologia of sorts) presented in a nearly thousand-page volume by the secretary of the commission dealing with the reform (the so-called Consilium ad exsequendam constitutionem de Sacra liturgia), Archbishop Annibale Bugnini (La riforma liturgica 1948-1975 [Roma: CLV-Edizioni Liturgiche, 1983]; English edition: Annibale Bugnini, The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975, trans. Matthew J. O’Connell [Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1990]), as well as a book by Bugnini’s close associate, Archbishop Piero Marini (A Challenging Reform: Realizing the Vision of the Liturgical Renewal 19631975, ed. Mark R. Francis, John R. Page, and Keith F. Pecklers [Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2007]). Among more recent studies it is worth referring to the texts contained in the third part of the T & T Clark Companion to Liturgy, entitled “The Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council” (see Reid, T & T Clark Companion, 261–338). An insight into various aspects and dimensions of the reform, seen through the eyes of both its protagonists and supporters and its critics and opponents—groupings that cannot be said to overlap—is provided by Milcarek, Historia Mszy, especially 141–298.

[53] “Unless there is a performance there is no ritual.… Liturgical orders may be inscribed in books, but such records are not themselves rituals. They are merely descriptions of rituals or instructions for performing them. There are, in our possession, records of liturgies performed in the temples of Sumer and Akkad…, but they are no longer enlivened by performance. Liturgical orders are realized—made into res—only by being performed.” Rappaport, Ritual and Religion, 37; cf. also 118.

[54] Paul VI, “The Mass is the Same. Address to a General Audience (19 November 1969),” The Polish liturgist Czesław Krakowiak, interpreting this statement by Paul VI, writes that the Pope “emphasized that in a theological and spiritual sense the Holy Mass remains the same.” Czesław Krakowiak, “Dlaczego nadzwyczajna forma celebracji Mszy świętej?” in Jedna wiara, jedna Msza. Od Mszału Piusa V do Mszału Pawła VI, ed. Czesław Krakowiak and Bogusław Migut (Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL, 2007), 174). In other words, within this approach, “the theological and spiritual meaning” is (i.e. can be) something entirely separate from the visible and experimental liturgical ritual. This is a quite special point of view, evoking as it does the wider problem of the dichotomous understanding of the relationship between form and content present in Catholic thought and practice pertaining to the liturgy. These components, in turn, are a manifestation of the dualistic (in a Cartesian sense) perception of the relationship between the body (including the sensory sphere) and the mind that is present (dominant?) in the mental tissue of modern Western culture. See, e.g., Kevin Schilbrack, “Introduction: On the Use of Philosophy in the Study of Rituals,” in Thinking through Rituals: Philosophical Perspectives, ed. Kevin Schilbrack (New York – London: Routledge, 2004), 1; Nick Crossley, “Ritual, Body Technique, and (Inter)subjectivity,” in Schilbrack, Thinking Through Rituals, 34; Mateusz Dąsal, “Dlaczego brak nam zaufania do rytuałów? Perspektywa Antropologiczna,” Znaczenia. Kultura, komunikacja, społeczeństwo 1 (2008): 33–43; Laurence P. Hemming, Worship as a Revelation: Past, Present, and Future of the Catholic Liturgy (London: Burns & Oates, 2008) (who provides an analysis showing the rationalist underpinnings of Catholic liturgical reforms in the 20th century); Ronald Grimes, Beginnings in Ritual Studies (Waterloo: Ritual Studies International, 2013), 5; and Tomasz Dekert, “Filozofia rytuału. Problemy podejścia racjonalistycznego,” in Znaki tajemnicy. Sakramenty w teorii i praktyce Kościoła, ed. Krzysztof Porosło and Robert Woźniak (Kraków: Wydawnictwo WAM,  2017), 167-90. Cassian Folsom (“The Great Divorce: The Reason for our Liturgical Malaise,” Antiphon: A Journal for Liturgical Renewal 22, no. 1 [2018], 12) calls this rationalist basis for the contemporary Catholic approach to liturgy “a ‘great divorce’ between the rational and sensitive part of the soul.”)

[55] There remains, after all, the whole problem of the implications of specific changes in the coding of canonical information, such as, for example, the reduction, restructuring and revision of huge parts of the euchology (the introductory rites, offertory, Canon, collects, etc.). (A detailed analysis of the changes introduced within the collects is included in Lauren Pristas, The Collects of the Roman Missals: A Comparative Study of the Sundays in Proper Seasons before and after the Second Vatican Council [London: Bloomsbury, 2013]).

[56] “The actual changelessness or antiquity of an element is semiotically important only insofar as it affects the perception or understanding of that element as ancient, changeless or eternal. Appearances here are ‘truer’ than facts” (Rappaport 1999, 342; his emphasis).

[57] See Rappaport, Ritual and Religion, 342–3; cf. Andrzej Szyjewski, Etnologia religii (Kraków: Zakład Wydawniczy NOMOS, 2007), 47–54, 72–90.

[58] On changes introduced in the period between the promulgation of Pius V’s Missal and the pontificate of Pius X, see Alcuin Reid, The Organic Development of the Liturgy: The Principles of Liturgical Reform and Their Relation to the Twentieth-Century Liturgical Movement Prior to the Second Vatican Council (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005), 39–71; cf. also Denis Crouan The History and the Future of the Roman Liturgy, trans. Michael Miller (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005), chap. 8; Milcarek, Historia Mszy, 83–5. The far-reaching immutability of the basis of the liturgy (i.e. the prayers and rules contained in the liturgical books) did not in any way mean that all performances or variants of performances pursued in line with it were identical. As Bullivant (Mass Exodus, 109) points out, it is not true that during the pre-Vatican II period, the manner in which Mass was said was “rigidly uniform.” Subject to a variety of factors, the Mass was celebrated in different ways, but “these were all self-evidently variations on a common theme—variations, moreover, with a decidedly low standard deviation.”

[59] See Milcarek, Historia Mszy, 253–7.

[60] This is suggested by one of the main motivations for the reform, which was to make the liturgy more understandable, mainly through the large-scale introduction of national languages. In a sense, it is difficult to resist the impression that comprehensibility, and “conscious participation” on the part of the faithful as its correlate, were understood here in terms of giving everyone the opportunity to answer the question “what went on at Mass?”—i.e. the chance to grasp it (its sense, meaning, etc.) at the level of verbal discourse.

[61] The lack of rubrics regulating normatively the ritual activities of the faithful has generated a kind of pluralism in respect of ways of participating through idiomatic sets of unwritten rules of canonical behavior, where these have come to include commonly performed and customarily obligatory gestures or body positions (such as the kneeling position during the Eucharistic Prayer), as well as (on some occasions) short statements/dialogues and a certain set of available activities in the field of private piety, also defined by custom.

[62] It is worth noting that the “textualization” of the liturgy, in the sense of the shifting of its weight onto the text, has a very long history in the Roman Catholic tradition. Its first stage can be considered to be the extended process, beginning at the turn of the first and second millennia, of departing from the sung mode in favor of recitation in worship. Thus, the textual content of the liturgy has lost one of the basic factors underpinning its ritualization. (On this topic, see Usher, Replenishing the Ritual, 191–200, especially 197–8.) This trait, however, remained largely latent as long as the liturgy was governed by a strictly adhered to custom or (since the post-Tridentine reform) codified law.

[63] See General Instruction of the Roman Missal 31, 105b,

[64] There are also situations where a given element of the liturgy is limited to just its explanatory introduction. Once I had the opportunity to observe the Easter Vigil liturgy in one of the Polish villages. It began with a commentary announcing that a lit Paschal would be brought into the church and lit candles held by the faithful, and by explaining the meaning of this act. The Paschal was actually brought, but no one lit anything from it, and anyway, no one could have, because the faithful did not have candles with them—in this parish, for unknown, perhaps fire-fighting reasons, this part of the Liturgy of Light was not practiced. The ritual, therefore, “took place” here only in the descriptive and explanatory space of the narrative about it.

[65] Usher, Replenishing the Ritual, 129 (original emphasis).

[66] The order to introduce such regulations, and more precisely to include the role of the faithful in the rubrics, was already included in the conciliar Constitution on the Liturgy 31.

[67] The persistence of understanding the liturgical reform in these terms is shown in the work of the Benedictine Adrien Nocent (Le renouveau liturgique. Une relecture [Paris: Beauchesne, 1993]), which included, for example, postulates to reduce the introductory rites in order to extend the biblical lessons and homilies, and to abolish some of the reformed ritual elements left in the liturgy, such as Lavabo and elevation during consecration.

[68] This enabled one of the Polish researchers to apply Jürgen Habermas’ category of the “lingualization of the sacred” to the description of this phenomenon, and to link it with processes of secularization. See Tomasz Dekert, “Reforma kultu a ujęzykowienie sacrum: (anty)rytualny faktor sekularyzacji,” Horyzonty Polityki 9, no. 27 (2018): 125–42.

[69] Paweł Grad, “Realizm w teorii znaczenia języka religijnego. Filozoficzny przyczynek do teorii sekularyzacji” (PhD. diss., Instytut Filozofii i Socjologii Polskiej Akademii Nauk, 2020), 360.

[70] Many descriptions of such “liturgies,” based chiefly on media coverage during the implementation of the reform, can be found in Davies, Pope Paul’s New Mass; some examples (marijuana masses, “consecration” of crackers and whiskey, etc.) are given by Andrew Greeley, “Religious Symbolism, Liturgy and Community,” in Liturgy in Transition, ed. Herman Schmidt (New York: Herder and Herder, 1971), 66; some traditionalist blogs, such as the Polish “Kronika Novus Ordo” ( and its foreign counterparts, are mines of information (however polemically applied) on various experiments within the Catholic liturgy after Vatican II. It is worth noting that this kind of approach to the liturgy was not confined to being a grassroots product of small rebellious groups of believers dissatisfied with the insufficiently democratic nature of the official reforms, or overactive pastors who wanted to find a way to attract youth to the Church. Postulates of the “desacralization of the liturgy,” most often associated with the incarnationist theology of secularization or a radically construed need to adapt (i.e. acculturate) liturgical rites to contemporary secular culture, came from the pens of recognized theologians and pastors. See, e.g., Herman Schmidt, “Liturgy and Modern Society—Analysis of the Current Situation,” in Schmidt, Liturgy in Transition, 14–29; cf. also Grześkowiak, “Desakralizacja liturgii?”, 76–81 (especially for a bibliography of the subject from the 1950s to the mid-1970s). A similar approach also shows up in more recent literature, see Joris Geldhof, “Liturgy: From Desacralization to Sanctification in Secular Environments,” Jaarboek voor liturgieonderzoek 31 (2015): 117–31.

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