Every honest observer of the present state of Holy Church will find it difficult to gainsay the signs of confusion and “disintegration” (Card. Ratzinger) which are so often evident today. The counterpart of disintegration in theology, in discipline and in morals is the disintegration in liturgy, which perhaps is where the entire process began. Nonetheless, we delude ourselves if we imagine that what we see is simply the consequence of disobedience towards the Church’s rules. There are cases in which provisions made by Church authorities are themselves, at least in part, responsible for the situation.

An historical analogy may be found in the years around 1520 or 1530. Symptoms of secularization (not only of the society, but of the Church’s own life) and various influences upon religious and liturgical life itself — alienation from the Church, latent heresies, desire for and movement toward a reformation — all these were widely prevalent in that long-gone age as well as in our own time. There emerged, even with ecclesiastical approval, liturgical rites that severed the thread of traditions. It was an era that desperately yearned for the Council of Trent. Is it possible that we, too, stand before another Trent? Or that we have to return to the point where we missed the way, and to prepare a right reform of the traditional liturgy as was intended by Sacrosanctum Concilium? Is it not too audacious for a layman to criticize the liturgical usage of Holy Mother Church? Is it not presumptuous of him to offer proposals? Indeed, – but one who possesses some degree of competence (and I hope I did not miss the mark in presenting and interpreting liturgical facts) is perhaps permitted to offer his services in bringing about a change for the better.

But, my friends, what can we do here and now, if we are anxious about the present state of affairs and motivated not by disobedience but by zelus domus tuae? We should strive to persevere in adverse times. We should strive for solutions that are, within the parameters of the law, the closest to the best liturgical traditions of the Church. We should strive for a better future by learning, thinking, weighing ideas and facts, and above all by praying, so that when the day of true reform dawns, we will not confront the problems in ill-prepared haste. But only the “official” Church may act. What we do may later appear useful; but it bears fruit only after the Church embraces it and makes it her own. As the Exsultet says: what the diligence of the bees has gathered, it transformed into the material of the precious candle by the work of the Mother-Queen; only she can offer it as a pleasing evening sacrifice to the Lord. May God grant us, my friends, that Holy Mother Church may present all our efforts to Him by the hands of His ministers, the work of bees… per ministrorum mantis de operibus apum sacrosancta reddat Ecclesia.

Laszlo Dobszay, The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform (2003)


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