Sunday, July 19, 2009

Forty is the New Thirty...

Baldovin's book Reforming the Liturgy, which I posted on previously, reminded me of Denis Crouan and his membership in the "camp" that promotes not a "reform of the reform" nor "reverting to the '62 Missal" but instead insists that the intent of Sacrosanctum concilium be followed and that the depth and breath of the liturgy be performed and made reality in parishes today.

I read Crouan's The Liturgy Betrayed many years ago but this weekend I finished The Liturgy After Vatican II: Collapsing or Resurgent?. Because it was penned in 1999 I felt compelled to scatch out the 30 in "thirty years after Vatican II" and write-in forty. Unfortunately, the sort of abuses and impovershments Crouan laments are still found with some ease in parishes today, forty years after Vatican II.

The 1999 publishing date also meant that his commentary on whether the two instances of the Roman Rite (post-Vatican II and the '62 Missal) could or should coexist was informed without the insight and knowledge of Summorum pontificum, issued on July 7, 2007 and in effect by September 14th of that same year. Interestingly, Crouan was not in favor of allowing two forms to coexist - his concern being that it would only allow those who respect the ritual structure and rubrics of the Rite to go off to their secluded chapels while those who for forty years have treated the rubrics at a whim would continue to digress into rabid individualism and style liturgies to suit their personal needs. Crouan, instead, wants the Roman Rite, that is the Roman Rite which was restored after the Second Vatican Council, to be celebrated worthily and authentically.

But, Summorum pontificum was issued and I would imagine that the Crouan-of-2009 shares the hope of Pope Benedict XVI that the two forms of the Roman Rite enrich and inform one another. He writes:

The liturgy from before Vatican II can help us a great deal: not by serving as a refuge, as is all too often the case nowadays when it has become unhappily necessary to escape the disobedience of certain members of the clergy or the incompetence of all too many teams of liturgical animators, but by serving as a point of reference in the long history of the Roman liturgy (pg 116).

I enjoyed this book for pedestrian reasons - well written, clearly outlined, etc., but also because Crouan identities himself not as a "traddie" who cynically mocks the "spirit of Vatican II" nor as a "hippie" who for forty years have falsified the liturgy, but instead, as a moderate who desires to remain close to liturgical documents and to the depth of what the Roman Missal offers.

My critique would include the choice by the English translator from the original French to use "liturgical animator" for those in parishes/chapels, etc who prepare liturgies. I think a better word than "animator" could have been employed. Also, there are two or three instances where a quote is not cited, most noteably a sizeable quote by Dom Odo Casel on page 104. And overall, the book seems to make some rather broad generalizations of parish life. These would be directed mainly to France where the author writes, and the editor insists are also appicable to the English speaking world.

I'm not a trained psychologists though being one would have been helpful while reading this text. Crouan spends a sizeable amount of time arguing that liturgical abuses of the past forty years have at their root a psychosis of the individual "liturgical animator" who insists on projecting his or her own weaknesses, needs and "pleasurable disorder" upon the liturgy and the gathered parish. This is most clearly seen when ministerial roles are confused. It is an interesting angle, though again, I'm not a pyschologist and would be uncomfortable myself to make such broad statements.

Crouan's The Liturgy After Vatican II is a short, well-written, and clear text that represents well a particular outlook toward the liturgy in these thirty,... that is to say, forty years after Vatican II.


Anonymous said...

Very thoughtful review--you liturgical scholar, you. --nlb

Fr. Michael Wurtz, CSC said...

Ahh, the gentle mocking of a dear friend. Is it snowing in MN these days?