Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Adieu! Reform of the Reform!

"The Restoration and Organic Development of the Roman Rite", by Laszlo Dobszay (T&T Clark, New York, 2010)

I just finished Part I of this magnificent book by a man whose earlier book I had shied away from because of the use of the words "Bugnini-Liturgy" in the title. I am so glad I put out big money (caveat!) for this book and look forward to reading Part II as my post-vacation or traveling schedule permits.

Part I of the Dobszay book does many things in a truly scholarly but eminently readable way. He sings the praises of Summorum Pontificum and offers great insights into what the Holy Father might intend or what we could hope for from a mutual enrichment (short term) from the coexistence of the two forms of the Roman rite. In no uncertain terms he explains his reasons for declaring the Novus Ordo (especially the Liturgy of Hours) to be, in the words of our present Holy Father, a devastation (cf. preface to Gamber book from 1992). As the title of his book indicates, Dobszay proposes a return to the 1962 Missal as a point of departure for a (long term) reform of the Roman Rite as willed by the Fathers of the II Vatican Council in Sacrosanctum Concilium and somehow subverted by the post-concliar committees. The author sees the way of Summorum Pontificum, two forms (ordinary and extraordinary) existing peacefully next to each other, as this way to finding ourselves and promoting the development of the Rite. For the time being, he sees no alternative for the majority of Catholics to an abuse-free and well celebrated Novus Ordo.

There is nothing too heady or cerebral about Dobszay's proposal. He understands and articulates well why turning back the clock to 1962 and abandoning the Novus Ordo altogether would be a grave error. At the same time he disavows the reform of the reform movement, arguing most convincingly that the gap created in 1970 and the years following cannot be bridged; the rupture is less that than a complete abandonment of the Roman tradition. To my mind he has undoubtedly made the case for returning to the firm foundation of the liturgy of the ages.

... Am I going to shred my liturgical reflections over at Island Envoy ? I don't think I have to. Granted, mine are not the fine tuned insights of Laszlo Dobszay but we share the way forward in terms of encouraging not only the best possible celebration of the Novus Ordo but also in terms of a suggestion he makes for opting whenever possible in the celebration for the option closest to the tradition. Decorum or sobriety, chant, and most dear to me preparing gifts and praying the Eucharistic Prayer ad Orientem.

The introduction of the new English translation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal is at the door. Please, Lord, that it will be received well! Please, Lord, that a generous application of Summorum Pontificum will hasten the day when the thread can be picked up and the tradition be organically set forth!


  1. Sometimes you have to go hunting for reactions to what you write. Thanks to my traffic feed, I discovered a lively discussion of this particular post: http://angelqueen.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=39108

    I understand the urgency but I also know that the Good Shepherd "leads the mother ewes with care." What pleases me about Dobszay is his realism in the face of a flock that needs to be led back and a 100 year pre-conciliar liturgical movement that he thinks had it right and was highjacked much as many say the Novus Ordo project was after the council fathers went their separate ways. We hope and pray.

  2. Thank you for your insight. I have really enjoyed your previous blog, as well as this one.

    It appears the commenters on AngelQueen aren't too familiar with you....


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