Friday, May 02, 2003

Interesting Interview About Liturgical Matters


Q: Why did liturgy go awry so much in the post-conciliar era?

Monsignor Elliott: Basically, the work of the liturgical movement and Pius XII in "Mediator Dei" on the meaning and spirit of the liturgy was not properly assimilated before the council.

The opening doctrinal section of "Sacrosanctum Concilium" is brief, because it presupposes "Mediator Dei." Then, after the council, the "changes" were brought in an authoritarian way, hastily, often without respect for popular piety and what people valued. Extremists and cranks soon moved in, experimenting, innovating and pushing people around. They moved many altars but not so many hearts.

I also believe that some changes to the Mass went beyond what the council Fathers envisaged in "Sacrosanctum Concilium," and this is the very area where we still encounter problems. We also need to remember that the late 1960s and 1970s was an era of cultural modernism, marked by overconfidence, radical chic and bad taste.

Q: Are the liturgical problems behind us?

Monsignor Elliott: There has been some stabilization and the revised Roman Missal and General Instruction should help, but there are still widespread problems -- sloppy ceremonial, verbosity, vulgar music, disobedience and sheer ignorance.

In some areas, in Australia for example, Church "renovators" are still destroying our patrimony and alienating people. These renovators are rushing their projects through before the Catholicpeople discover what is in the revised directives -- for example, the location of the tabernacle.

I hope that the Vox Clara committee will put one problem behind us -- the poor English translations. We have suffered 30 years of banal and inaccurate texts. That scandal is on par with the mistranslated vernacular Bibles that spread errors at the time of the Reformation. It has played into the hands of the Lefebvrists and it is a major source of banal liturgy in English-speaking countries.

Q: Would rapprochement with the Eastern Churches help the liturgy in the West?

Monsignor Elliott: I would hope so, because we have much to learn from the East a sense of mystery, transcendence, the liturgy as a taste of heaven. The Eastern Churches also understand the liturgy as an action, both divine and human.

In the West we often want to control, plan, even manipulate worship, so it centers more on us than on God. Liturgy becomes what we do, rather than the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.