Monday, October 31, 2011

Liturgy and Change


If It Ain't Broke...

Bishop James Edward Slattery, of the Diocese of Tulsa, was interviewed by the National Catholic Register. I was struck, in a positive sense, by his wise observations on Liturgy
You’ve made public statements about problems with the liturgy. What changes would you like to see?:

I would like to see the liturgy become what Vatican II intended it to be. That’s not something that can happen overnight. The bishops who were the fathers of the council from the United States came home and made changes too quickly. They shouldn’t have viewed the old liturgy, what we call the Tridentine Mass or Missal of Pope John XXIII, as something that needed to be fixed. Nothing was broken. There was an attitude that we had to implement Vatican II in a way that radically affects the liturgy.

What we lost in a short period of time was continuity. The new liturgy should be clearly identifiable as the liturgy of the pre-Vatican II Church. Changes, like turning the altar around, were too sudden and too radical. There is nothing in the Vatican II documents that justifies such changes.

It's rare to hear a bishop speak so candidly about what went on, and wrong, after Vatican II. His observation about losing a sense of continuity with the radically altered liturgy is crucial.

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