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The Revolution That Wasn’t

At this time last year we delved into some of the background drama that preceded and succeeded the launch of the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal on the first Sunday of Advent in 2011 (“Liturgical Winners & Losers,” New Oxford Note, Mar. 2012). Having had four months of worshiping according to the new translation under our collective belts, we reported that “the missal was introduced in parishes across the English-speaking world without much disruption and without eliciting a violent uprising” — much to the consternation of certain members of the progressivist faction in the Church, who had predicted, and seemed to long for, “bloody consequences.” Speaking for that contingent, the editors of the National Catholic Reporter recognized that “a battle has been lost” (Nov. 25, 2011) and that they’d just have to “get over it.”

Easier said than done.

In what has largely been considered a crowning achievement of the “reform of the reform” movement, the transition to the new missal, for the most part, unfolded “smoothly and successfully,” we wrote, “save for the occasional — and inevitable — verbal hiccup committed by priest or parishioner, which with practice will soon become a thing of the past.”

Has it yet? Perhaps some of you have internalized the new phrasings so that they roll off the tongue with such ease that you no longer notice that you’re saying slightly different things than you were some fifteen months ago. If so, there is a group in the Church that has noticed you not noticing — and is peeved about the whole thing.

One member of that group, Fr. Anthony Ruff, O.S.B., of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, took the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the missal launch to reassess its reception. While there has been “some heartfelt and enthusiastic support for the new missal,” he writes in the National Catholic Reporter (Dec. 7, 2012), “it is limited to a small band of the church” — namely, the “traditionalist conservatives…most anxious to ‘reform the reform.'” We have news for you, Fr. Ruff: Traditionalists could care less about the new missal or reforming the reform; their project is centered on the restoration of the pre-reform Tridentine Latin Mass. Conservative and liberal Catholics are, to them, largely indistinguishable; they see both groups as dupes of post-conciliar “modernist” Rome.

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