Thursday, January 24, 2013

A critical analysis of the Tridentine Mass by Fr Ratzinger

Way back in 1967, theologian Fr Joseph Ratzinger wrote about the Tridentine Mass. This was soon after the closing of Vatican II. Below is an excerpt in which Ratzinger analyses the Tridentine Mass as established by the Council of Trent:
Joseph Ratzinger in a photo from 1971
Fr Joseph Ratzinger in 1971

The [liturgical] additions of the late Middle Ages were eliminated, and at the same time severe measures were adopted to prevent a rebirth. .... At that time, the fate of the Western liturgy was linked to a set authority, which worked in a strictly bureaucratic way, lacking any historic vision and considering the problem of the liturgy from the sole viewpoint of rubrics and ceremonies, like a problem of etiquette in a saint's court, so to speak.

As a consequence of this link, there was a complete archeologisation of the liturgy, which from the state of a living history was changed into that of pure conservation and, therefore, condemned to an internal death. Liturgy became once and forever a closed construction, firmly petrified. The more it was concerned about the integrity of pre-existent formulas, the more it lost its connection to concrete devotions ....

In this situation, the baroque carved it [the liturgy] superimposing a people's para-liturgy over its true and proper archeologized liturgy. The solemn baroque mass, through the splendor of the orchestra's performance, became a kind of sacred opera, in which the songs of the priest had their role as did the alternating recitals. .... On the ordinary days that did not allow such a performance, devotions that followed the people's mentality were often added to the mass.

(Source: Ratzinger J., Problemi e risultati del Concilio Vaticano II, Brescia: Queriniana, 1967, pp. 25-27)