Monday, December 3, 2012

Available: "An Acceptable Sacrifice": Reforming the Liturgical Reform

An Acceptable Sacrifice: Reforming the Liturgical Reform
Wade St. Onge

Though available since last December, I just recently revised and expanded the work. It is now twice the size and much better organized. Unfortunately, it is also more expensive. 

DESCRIPTION (from the back cover)

By juxtaposing the Church’s definition of Liturgy and the Mass with the myriad of post-conciliar liturgical changes, it becomes apparent that there has been a deliberate intent to shift from the Catholic idea of the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice to the Modernist idea of the “Eucharistic celebration” as a “communal, fraternal meal”. To correct this, the Church must return to the original conciliar document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, and “reform the liturgical reform” according to the mind of the Council Fathers. To this end, the many changes are explored, the Church’s liturgical laws are consulted, and Sacrosanctum Concilium is re-applied to the preconciliar liturgy. 


            One of my fondest memories as a child was attending Sunday Mass with my family. Although I did not really understand much of what was going on, I did enjoy participating in the singing and in the prayers and following the action of the priest and servers on the altar. Most of all, I experienced a great feeling of peace. When I was in the church, it felt like I was at home –my true home, a spiritual or heavenly one. Unfortunately, upon entering adolescence, like many my age, I stopped paying attention to God and thus stopped going to Mass.

            However, in 1997, my Catholic faith was re-awakened, and I not only returned to Mass, but began to attend daily Mass. The more I went and the more I read about my faith and about the liturgy, the more I came
to appreciate Mass on a whole new level.

            As I continued to devour the library at the Catholic Student Center at Minot State University, I came upon an old missal from the days before the Vatican II Council. As I familiarized myself with its contents, I was drawn to this liturgy that I had never witnessed but could only imagine. I asked my father about it, and he gave me his old missal which he had hung onto all those years from the days back in the 1950s when he was a server at Sacred Heart Parish in Torquay for the priest who would later baptize me, Fr. Peter Rubbens. He then impressed me by reciting by heart in perfect Latin some of the old prayers.  

            I was very excited when I found out that this Mass was still being offered in some places, and that there was one offered every Sunday in Powers Lake, North Dakota, less than an hour’s drive from my hometown of Estevan, Saskatchewan. One Sunday in 1999, I decided to make the trek across the United States border and attend. It was a profound and moving experience. Just as when I was a child, I did not understand what was going on, and in fact, I was quite lost. But it was beautiful. Upon each subsequent visit, I came to understand the “old Mass” more and more and learned to follow it quite well.

            In returning to the “new Mass”, as I called it then, I was struck though not bothered by the contrast. However, as I continued to attend Mass at a variety of different churches in different places, I came to notice that there was considerable difference depending on who was offering Mass and where it was being offered, and some of these differences did begin to bother me. I came to learn about the problem of “liturgical abuse”, whereby the priest deviates or allows those with liturgical roles to deviate from the prayers, gestures, and actions which are prescribed. I became sensitive to these “abuses”, and desired a Mass that was offered “by the book”.

            I had another epiphany in the summer of 2002. I was traveling to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis for meetings and interviews before beginning the five-year program of formation for priestly ministry which, God willing, would see me ordained in 2007 for the Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota. It was a 24-hour Greyhound bus ride, so I made sure to pack a fair bit of reading material. Upon the first onset of boredom, I dug into my bag, and randomly pulled out
The Documents of Vatican II.

            Naturally, owing to my love for the liturgy, I turned to Sacrosanctum Concilium – “The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy”.
I read the entire document, and was blown away. What the Council had to say about the importance of retaining Latin in the Mass, the praise it gave to Gregorian Chant and the preeminence it gave to the organ among all other instruments, and its warning to priests against being “creative” through its prohibition against changing any prescribed prayer or gesture, was exciting. I had become attached to many of those “traditional” elements I found so beautiful at Powers Lake, and I was consoled to discover that the Council had not rejected them but sought instead to preserve them. I was looking forward to the day when I would become a priest and incorporate those elements into my own offering of the Mass.

            However, I was also beginning to wonder why certain things so explicitly endorsed and commanded by the Council had completely disappeared. I also began to look more deeply into the liturgical abuses that were widespread in the contemporary Church, including the diocese I was studying for and which I expected to commit my life to, for I knew that as a priest and especially as a pastor, I would have to confront many of these issues. I decided that I would turn my research into a manuscript, and hence this project was initiated.

            This work was initially intended to be a handbook for myself and other like-minded seminarians who would someday be priests on how to address these issues, educate the faithful on them, and ensure and provide for a good and proper liturgy, offered according to the theology and discipline of the Church. This began to shift after I left seminary, which combined with periodic realizations that there was more that needed to be addressed as well as a growing liturgical knowledge as I continued graduate studies at Steubenville, led to a series of revisions and expansions between other projects over an almost 10 year period.

            As this work was never intended to be a catalogue of liturgical abuses, many of these will not be addressed here. However, they can be found in the various liturgical documents that I have referenced throughout, which I would recommend the reader reference and depending on the document read more extensive selections from.

            Chapter 1 provides a working definition and explanation of the liturgy, according to the teachings of the Church, as found primarily in The Catechism of the Catholic Church. This may be review for some and thus may be skipped. Chapter 2 presents an alternate view and definition of the liturgy, according to which many liturgical changes in the initial liturgical reform were illicitly introduced. Chapter 3 discusses the reason for liturgical law and how the many violations of the law since the initial reform began can be corrected and why they should. Chapters 4-17 take us through the various parts and elements of the liturgy, outlining what changes have been made (licitly and illicitly), and describe and explain issue by issue what we are doing wrong, why it is wrong, what we should be doing instead, and how to go about changing it, citing the liturgical laws of the Church and various Vatican documents extensively. Chapter 18 addresses the issue of the so-called “Tridentine Mass” (the Mass as it was before the reforms called for by the Vatican II Council) and the arguments of those who say “liturgical reform” should consist in merely going back to the “pre-conciliar liturgy”. Chapter 19 outlines what Vatican II actually said about liturgical reform, including some of the principles that provide us with the necessary parameters for a “reform of the liturgical reform”. Finally, Chapter 20 places the previous eleven chapters in perspective and shows us ultimately what is the “one thing necessary” (Luke 10:42) when it comes to the liturgy.

            Let us all hope, pray, and work with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, so that the liturgy may more and more effectively renew the Church and transform the World. 


Introduction … 10

1st Part: An Acceptable Sacrifice … 14
I. The Mass Defined and Explained … 16
II. The Initial Liturgical Reform … 45
            A. “Propitiatory Sacrifice” Versus “Community Meal”… 45
            B. Theological Shifts in the Mass … 52
            C. Reasons Given for the Shift … 62

III. The Church Believes as She Prays … 75
            A. Liturgical Law … 75
            B. Correcting Liturgical Abuse, Ensuring Right Practice … 83

2nd Part: Various Liturgical Issues and Abuses:
            General Principles and Matters … 87
IV. Sacred Liturgy … 89
V. Sacred Priesthood and Ministry … 97
VI. Sacred Dress … 116
VII. Sacred Language … 126
VIII. Sacred Orientation … 145
IX. Sacred Space … 155
X. Sacred Art … 160
XI. Sacred Architecture … 176
XII. Sacred Furnishings … 189
XIII. Sacred Music … 213

3rd Part: Various Liturgical Issues and Abuses:
            Liturgies and Specific Parts of the Mass … 250
XIV. The Roman Liturgy … 252
XV. Holy Communion … 309
XVI. Holy Triduum … 353
XVII. Ordination, Matrimony, Funerals, Reconciliation … 387

4th Part: Reforming the Liturgical Reform … 422
XVIII. Tridentine Mass Versus the New Order of the Mass … 424
XIX. The Reform of the Liturgical Reform … 462
XX: “Go, You Are Sent” … 475

Outline … 486
Citations … 532           
Bibliographical Notes … 540

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