The Jerusalem grave is the image of the old liturgy. It looked toward the Risen One and so faced east. For the old liturgy, the rising sun was a sign of the creation of the world, of the Resurrection, and of the Second Coming of Christ. Priest and people faced in the same direction, united in prayer and expectation. In the wake of the liturgical reform, the priest turned around and now looks at the congregation while pretending to be speaking to God. The model for the new liturgy is the committee table at a party or club meeting, with microphone and documents; on the left an ikebana dish with dried flowers and a bizarre orange-colored exotic plant, and on the right a couple of TV candles in hand-thrown pottery holders. Serious and recollected, the committee members look at the public, just like priests at a concelebration. The club meeting with its democratic order of business is the phenotype of the new liturgy; this is utterly logical, for those who reject the supratemporal mystery are bound to end up in the socio-political reality. There is no third way.

Martin Mosebach, The Heresy of Formlessness (2003)

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I am firmly convinced, in fact, that vernacular hymns have played perhaps a significant part in the collapse of the liturgy. Just consider what resulted in the flowering of hymns: Luther’s Reformation was a singing movement, and the hymn expressed the beliefs of the Reformers. Vernacular hymns replaced the liturgy, as they were designed to do; they were filled with the combative spirit of those dismal times and were meant to fortify the partisans. People singing a catchy melody together at the top of their voices created a sense of community, as all soldiers, clubs, and politicians know. The Catholic Counter-Reformation felt the demagogic power of these hymns. People so enjoyed singing; it was so easy to influence their emotions using pleasing tones with verse repetition.

In the liturgy of the Mass, however, there was no place for hymns. The liturgy has no gaps; it is one single great canticle; where it prescribes silence or the whisper, that is, where the mystery is covered with an acoustic veil, as it were, any hymn would be out of the question…In services that are governed by vernacular hymns, the believer is constantly being transported into new aesthetic worlds. He changes from one style to another and has to deal with highly subjective poetry of the most varied levels. He is moved and stirred – but not by the thing itself, liturgy: he is moved and stirred by the expressed sentiments of the commentary upon it. By contrast, the bond that Gregorian chant weaves between liturgical action and song is so close that it is impossible to separate from and content.

Martin Mosebach, The Heresy of Formlessness (2003)

What I do not want to do, when participating in Holy Mass, is be “active”, since I have good reason to distrust the instincts of my mind and my senses. What “active” role, for instance, did the apostles play in the Last Supper? They let the astounding events enfold them, and when Peter started to resist, he was specifically instructed to be “passive”: If I do not wash you, you have no part in me!”

Martin Mosebach, The Heresy of Formlessness (2003)

Many people, too, concerned about these issues, will ask, “Isn’t it still possible to celebrate the new liturgy of Pope Paul VI worthily and reverently?” Naturally it is possible, but the very fact that it is possible is the weightiest argument against the new liturgy…[L]iturgy’s death knell is sounded once it requires a holy and good priest to perform it.

Martin Mosebach, The Heresy of Formlessness (2003)

Though a committed pacifist might object to the notion, there really is a terrible beauty to seeing and hearing a regiment of soldiers obeying the order “Fix bayonets” and seeing the gun glint off the steel of the long row of blades. It is a powerful beauty and, in the Church, is often deliberately ignored in the use of vestments, architecture, sacred vessels, and music. It is certainly weak in the imagination of modern man. There is a whole generation of clerics who have imagined sacred things as cheap, in the guise of affection for “noble simplicity.”

The Rev. James W. Jackson, FSSP, Nothing Superfluous (2016)

The unity of the liturgy for all time and places can be maintained only insofar as it is always and everywhere celebrated in the same language. What consolation this would be to a Catholic in a foreign land; with his missal he could follow the Mass as if he were at home, with the exception of the sermon! Everything would be accessible to him. He would be spiritually at home. When national languages are adopted for the Mass, this uniformity and harmony are rendered almost impossible. […] The Mass in the vernacular alienates in a certain way every immigrant who does not speak the vernacular in which the Mass is said.

The Rev. James W. Jackson, FSSP, Nothing Superfluous (2016)

Notice that the rites of “washing” the chalice and ciboria [during a Catholic Mass] are called ablutions or purification. The word purification is used not in the sense that the sacred vessels are dirty in any way. It is used instead in the same sense as the rite of purification (churching) of women after childbirth. That is, the woman is not dirty after childbirth; the birth is holy – an imitation of God’s creating. So, in order for her to return to daily life, she and her child come into the church to give thanks and be blessed. In the same way, once the vessels have been used for the holy act of the Consecration, they must be blessed before they can be returned to the ordinary.

The Rev. James W. Jackson, FSSP, Nothing Superfluous (2016)

Gratia supponit naturam  – liturgical prayer takes nature for granted (sometimes that excellent phrase of St. Thomas is translated as “grace builds on nature,” but literally we could say grace supposes nature). Because of this, the liturgy needs a good culture. Grace needs real beauty to take root. It hardly grows at all in a soil of ugliness. But if, for example, the language in culture becomes degraded, base, or perverted, there is a danger of the cultural element of prayer becoming coarse, with a clumsy and monotonous imagery, and its ideas become empty and tedious, the emotion paltry and artificial and insipid. […]

The Catholic liturgy is not concerned with the individual’s reverence and worship for God. It is not concerned with the awakening, formation, and sanctification of the individual soul as such. It does not even concern itself with collective groups such as this monastery or that parish. In the liturgy God is to be honored by the body of the faithful – the whole Church – and the faithful derive sanctification from this act of worship…The individual Catholic, by his absorption into the higher unity, finds both liberty and discipline.

The Rev. James W. Jackson, FSSP, Nothing Superfluous (2016)

Hymns are wonderful compositions, but in the early Church, Gnostics, Arians, and Manicheans used hymns for a subtle indoctrination to heresy – something they could not accomplish through the Psalms [the Mass propers]. To this day there are hymns that carry an agenda, but the Psalms are immune to such manipulation.

The Rev. James W. Jackson, FSSP, Nothing Superfluous (2016)

But like the ice skater who achieves great freedom in her skating after being bound by endless hours of practice, so it is that many priests feel a great freedom in not having to construct or fabricate gestures or actions in the liturgy in order to keep the faithful interested. With strict rubrics, the priest and the faithful are freed from the burden of novelty and are free to pray.

The Rev. James W. Jackson, FSSP, Nothing Superfluous (2016)