Sunday, January 31, 2010

Why are they "rolling back the reforms"?

Dear Rev. Know it all, 
Can you tell me what’s happening? It seems that the liturgical directives of the Vatican Council are being rolled back. More and more Gregorian chant is sneaking into the Mass as well as more Latin. What a shame that after forty years the Second Vatican Council is being overturned.  
Mary Kay Pasa

Dear Mary Kay,
Let’s look at what the Vatican Council actually said in its document on the Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Consilium). I apologize that you will have to read actual quotes from council documents in which there are no explosions, car chases or torrid love scenes. They may be a bit boring.

Par.36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

Par. 54. In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue....Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

Par.114. The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care.

Par.116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services. But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30.

Par.20. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things....
But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship, with the knowledge and consent of the competent territorial authority, as laid down in Articles 22, 52, 37, and 40. This may be done, however, only on condition that the instruments are suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful. 

Let me summarize. We are supposed to have most of the Mass in Latin. Nothing is said about Mass facing the people. We are supposed to use mostly Gregorian chant. If we use a musical instrument, we are mostly to use the organ. The local language can have some appropriate place, as can local music and other instruments than the organ if they are dignified. I suppose this rules out the banjo, the bagpipes, and the kazoo, all three of which I am personally quite fond. These innovations are to have some place when pastorally appropriate. In fact, they have crowded everything else out, like a fat man on a city bus. In other words, my dear, you have been lied to. What happened to the Roman Catholic Mass that created and sustained Western art and culture for almost two thousand years has been a travesty. When Mass was a thing of mystery and beauty the churches were full. Now they are often empty. We have truly made sows’ ears out of silk purses. Who did this horrible thing? Well, among others, Rembert Weakland.

A Music Advisory Board was formed in 1965 to assist the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy. At its first meeting in Detroit in May 1965, Benedictine Archabbot Rembert Weakland  was elected chairman. At its February 1966 meeting, in Chicago, home of honest and upright government, the Music Advisory Board was presented with a proposal for the use of guitars and folk music in the liturgy.  I quote a disenchanted former member of the board, Msgr. Richard Schuler, author of the enlightening essay “a Chronicle of the Reform.”

“It was clear at the meeting that Archabbot Weakland was most anxious to obtain the board's approval.... Vigorous debate considerably altered the original proposal, and a much modified statement about "music for special groups" was finally approved by a majority of one, late in the day when many members had already left.

The "Music for Special Groups" statement observed that "different groupings of the faithful respond to different styles of music", and said that in services specifically for high school or college age young people "the choice of music which is meaningful to persons of this age level should be considered valid and purposeful.”  It specified that such music should not be used at ordinary parish Masses and that the liturgical texts should be respected. The incorporation of incongruous melodies and texts, adapted from popular ballads, should be avoided.

While the "special groups" statement did not mention either guitars or folk music explicitly,..... it was publicized as official approval, even encouragement, of what was at first called the "hootenanny Mass". Later these were more generally called "folk" or "guitar" Masses.”

At a meeting in Kansas City held in November of 1966, Rembert Weakland particularly voiced his opposition to the decision of the Vatican Council when he said that “...false liturgical orientation gave birth to what we call the treasury of sacred music and false judgments perpetuated it.” So there you have it. Rembert Weakland has decided that the Vatican Council was guilty of false judgments.

You and a whole generation of Catholics have been robbed and lied to. The parish guitar Mass was never envisioned and the wholesale dumping of Latin and Gregorian chant was expressly forbidden by the Second Vatican Council and dishonestly foisted on us by Rembert and his friends. Long live the Second Vatican Council!

Rev. Know-it-all


  1. Dear Rev.,
    Thank you, thank you. I would ask you if you could expand on this topic in the future? I am so saddened for our Church at the crimes perpetrated upon us by those who decided to remake the liturgy, etc. in their own image and not in God's.

    How many people left the Catholic Church trying to find what was removed from them? How many souls were lost who left and never returned? Souls who joined sects or who just gave up on God all together, and spread their pain, dismay and anger to those around, so that their friends and relatives never gave the Church a chance.

    How many Catholics became dissenters because of a culture, both inside and outside the Church, that promoted dissent? How many children lost due to the tolerance of Bishops and others of contraception and abortion? How many years of watered down catechesis so that now we have generations of ignorant "Catholics."

    The writings of Vatican II were wonderful. How did we as a Church allow it to be taken over by those with an agenda so alien and evil? The "Spirit of Vatican II" was certainly not of God. It must have been some other kind of spirit.

    I'm glad that I am young enough (44) to see the corrections that will hopefully will happen. I feel sorry for those 20-30 years older who have had to endure the rug pulled out from them and will maybe not see these changes fully put into force.

    Thanks so much Fr.