By Joseph Shaw
During a February 14 audience for the participants in the plenary of the Liturgy Congregation, Pope Francis read a text about the liturgical development of the past fifty years which sounded like a parody compared to what really happened.
Francis claimed that in the 1960s the Church’s “praying tradition” needed “renewed expressions, without losing anything of its millennial wealth.” However, as a result of the changes, the “millennial wealth” was lost, and the “renewed expressions” turned out to be a flop.
As if he wanted to make fun about the disaster, Francis called to continue this journey “with wise constancy”.
Using a shaky 19th century Lebensphilosophie, he went on claiming that the liturgy is “life that forms”, not an “idea to be learned”, or that “reality is more important than the idea”. But life forms through ideas, and behind the liturgy are God’s life, ideas and reality, not ours.
Francis called the liturgy “the epiphany of ecclesial communion”. Something like that may be true for a party meeting but Catholic liturgy is the epiphany of God, not of men.
His strongest fears are toward the millennial Roman Liturgy against which he launched a furious attack:
“When we look back to nostalgic past tendencies or wish to impose them again, there is the risk of placing the part before the whole, the ‘I’ before the People of God, the abstract before the concrete, ideology before communion and, fundamentally, the worldly before the spiritual.”
It is a fact that the future belongs to the Old Rite families, that nostalgia is a phenomenon among those who – like Francis – idealize a failed reform, and that the Novus Ordo is “imposed” on the faithful while the Roman Rite is chosen freely.
Thus, Francis puts a partial, narrow-minded “reform” in an egocentric way before the good of the Church, his abstract liturgical ideas before the faithful, liberal ideology before truth, and fashions before the eternity of the Spirit.