Pontifical Mass at Notre-Dame de Paris in 1705
Preference for the pre-1955 Holy Week rites in the Roman Catholic Church is still a relatively marginal question. I have two friends in England who are particularly interested in the question and who are regular readers of my blog. At least one of them, using the handle Rubricarius, has known John Tyson, a layman who devoted himself for many years to producing the famous Ordo in Latin according to customs of the middle of the last century before the unpleasant and unfortunate changes of the 1950’s and early 1960’s. This Ordo is now produced by Rubricarius, who runs The Saint Lawrence Blog.
I was also trained in the Roman Rite at seminary by a remarkable young priest by the name of Fr Frank Quoëx who was the MC and taught liturgy to the seminarians. He possessed the art of paying lip service to the 1962 liturgy and did as much as he dared of the pre-Pius XII rites during Holy Week, and also the use of folded chasubles in Lent.
Many have remarked that if the Pope should ever decide to do the ancient Papal Mass again, Fr. Quoëx would have been one of the few people who could have arranged it properly.
One piece of work he gave us to read was The “Restored” Holy Week by Msgr Léon Gromier, Papal Master of Ceremonies during the Pontificate of Pius XII – a conference given in 1960. I did this translation, though others may also have done translations (better than mine certainly) since I did this one around about the beginning of this century. I have already written on this subject in Monsignor Léon Gromier and Liturgical Reform.
Rorate Caeli has just published two parts of a FIUV Position Paper on the 1955 Reform of the Holy Week services. The texts are available through Rorate Caeli or in pdf format:
This author also recommends Philip Goddard’s Festa Paschalia. These papers are intended for non-specialist consumption.
I get a nagging feeling that questions of liturgy in the Church of Pope Francis are going to look like individual persons crossing the Atlantic in small boats or even swimming across! Also under Benedict XVI, there was no sign of anything substantial being done to the rites themselves, to either the “extraordinary” or “ordinary” forms of the Roman rite, using the terms used by the Pope emeritus in Summorum Pontificium. Perhaps such studies would give courage to individual priests and communities to take their own initiatives and break with the post-Tridentine instinct of not going to the toilet or sneezing without permission of the Congregation of Rites or the post-Vatican II equivalent.
In France, priests have taken initiatives for decades. One might exclaim – And look what a mess the liturgy in France is in! One might also notice a more liturgically-motivated reaction to the 1960’s reforms and the “heresy of formlessness“. There are two sides to priests taking liberties. Anglicans have always been masters at tweaking the liturgy to conform to rules and at the same time restore pre-Reformation norms as much as possible, stretching everything to the utmost limit. Percy Dearmer – and never mind about allegations of his favouring theological modernism!
But, indeed, there are no easy answers. Surprisingly enough, and I’m sure Patricius will pick me up – most Latin rite traditionalists seem to be satisfied with the 1950’s reforms of Monsignor Annabile Bugnini – because Pius XII was the Pope at the time! Was Bugnini a case of falsus in uno falsus in omnibus, or was it all part of a big plan as evidence suggests?
Comment as you will, but try to be positive and constructive. I use Sarum, not because I consider it a perfect rite, but because it has been undisturbed (because of its disuse) since 1549. Some things seem to be more “logical” because they haven’t been “disturbed” by the insertion of aspects of popular religion. That being said, that can be said for aspects of any rite. It is perhaps for the reason that liturgical rites are so imperfect, being the products of human minds and hands, that they should be left as undisturbed as possible – without “pruning them back” to “restore pristine simplicity” – – – or – – – introducing the parish’s favourite Blessed Sacrament and Rosary devotions to guild the lily!
The Eastern Orthodox seem to have kept liturgical stability and a liturgical sense. Why can’t we? Oh, please, Orthodox readers – be kind!