Volume > Issue > Note List > 'The Reform of the Reform' Is Going Nowhere -- At Least Not Yet

‘The Reform of the Reform’ Is Going Nowhere — At Least Not Yet

We are convinced that the Tridentine Latin Mass is superior to the new vernacular Mass. Martin Mosebach, in his new book, The Heresy of Formlessness, writes that the New Mass is generally formless: no sanctus bells, no incense, no Gregorian chant, no chapel veils, etc. His book is personal. His liturgical stories go back and forth through the centuries. It’s meant for the liturgist. (A more practical book is The Reform of the Roman Liturgy by Msgr. Klaus Gamber (Roman Catholic Books).

Mosebach’s book is published by Ignatius Press — let’s give credit where it’s due. It has a Foreword by the Editor-in-Chief of Ignatius Press, Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., who says: “There has been a lively debate…between those who, like Mosebach, advocate a return to the preconciliar liturgy [the Tridentine Latin Mass] and those who, like myself, the Adoremus Society [which advocates the “reform of the reform” for the New Mass], and — I think I can assert this with confidence — Pope Benedict XVI, advocate a rereading and restructuring of the liturgical renewal intended by the Second Vatican Council….” But there is no indication that Pope Benedict, as yet, is “advocating a rereading and restructuring of the liturgical renewal.” Take it from Russell Shaw (Our Sunday Visitor, June 24): “Correcting the mistakes and abuses [in the new vernacular Mass]…. Pope Benedict often has expressed concern relating to the Novus Ordo (New Order) Mass, but has left it alone so far.”

In Andrew Rabel’s interview with Fr. Fessio (Inside the Vatican, Aug.-Sept. 2006), Rabel poses this question: “In the past year, particularly with the Synod on the Eucharist, and the imminent publication of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, a lot of attention and discussion has been given to the area of liturgy…. Is this a fruition of the ideals you set forth when you started Adoremus, and what are we in fact likely to see happen in this very vexed area?” Fr. Fessio answers: “I cannot believe that he [the Pope] will not take steps to move in the direction of a real renewal of the liturgy…. I believe this post-synodal exhortation will be a significant document.”

Pope Benedict’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis (“The Sacrament of Charity”), issued on March 13, 2007, is a non-binding resolution for the new vernacular Mass. According to The Catholic World Report (May), whose Publisher is Fr. Fessio, Sacramentum Caritatis is “not a liturgical directive” and “did not propose any concrete liturgical reforms.” It will have no real effect. So much for Fr. Fessio’s belief that it would be “a real renewal of the liturgy.”

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