Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
A Reform Imposed Despite Opposition from the Majority of the Bishops
Taken from here.

Having given Bugnini free rein to influence the reform of the Holy Week rites against the judgement of many of the world’s Bishops, Pius XII further increased his scope for liturgical mayhem by appointing him as a Consulter to the Congregation of Rites in 1956. True to form, Bugnini went about his task in predictable fashion, like a self-propelled, guided missile which, was directed by the masters of Progressivism to accomplish their long-planned agenda.

He immediately set in motion plans to bring about further changes to the Roman Breviary which Pius XII had allowed him to decimate in 1955 on the excuse of greater “simplification.” (1)

In 1957, the Congregation of Rites again consulted the world’s Bishops about further liturgical changes. But this time Bugnini’s “explosion of joy” turned out to be the dampest of squibs. The archival records of the Congregation show that the majority of Bishops wanted the status quo of the Divine Office to be preserved intact. One Bishop is reported to have declared that he was representative of the “large number” (92% as it was recorded), (2) of Bishops who were satisfied with the Breviary as it was and who also considered any change not only undesirable but dangerous to the Church. He even quoted St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa, I-II, q. 97, art. 2) on the harmful consequences that are likely to ensue when laws are changed, adding: “It is not easy to say ‘no’ to requests for change, but that is the proper action here.” (3)

This is a statement of great significance. A Bishop – representing the large majority at that time – had, to his great credit, dared to assert the over-riding importance of defending liturgical traditions at a time when the progressivists were teaching contempt for and even hostility towards them.

Maxima Redemptionis: A Departure from Tradition

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Fr. Frederick R. McManus

It is noteworthy that the Holy Week reforms were regarded in their day as out of the usual course of papal acts, an aberration in the history of liturgical tradition. One of the foremost members of the Liturgical Movement, Fr. Frederick McManus, commented approvingly in 1956:
Quote:“Certainly the changes now commanded by the Apostolic See are extraordinary, particularly since they come after nearly four centuries of little liturgical development.” (4)

We should not underestimate the magnitude of these changes that included outright novelties such as “active participation,” use of the vernacular, the priest facing the people and invasion of the sanctuary by the laity. Taken together, they represented a major shift in the liturgy of the Church.

Continuity Broken

It was the perennial teaching of the Church regarding its lex orandi that the preservation of liturgical tradition was an indispensable means to safeguard the integrity of Catholic doctrine. Yet the Congregation of Rites under Pius XII was issuing Decrees and Instructions promoting substantial changes to the Holy Week ceremonies whose texts, rubrics and ceremonial traditions proclaimed and transmitted the orthodox Catholic Faith.

But, it was not just the changes to the rites of Holy Week that broke the thread of continuity with the past. More fundamentally, it was the conscious attempt by the progressivists to reinvent the liturgy and their deliberate plan to inculcate their own desired values at odds with Tradition. Although the liturgy should be beyond the manipulation of any individual or group, in the Holy Week reforms the progressivist viewpoint prevailed. In an unprecedented abdication of papal responsibility, Pius XII allowed the radical members of the Liturgical Movement to impose their will on the rest of the Church.

A Rubicon Too Far

With the Holy Week reforms, a Rubicon had been crossed. History furnishes an interesting parallel between the army of Julius Caesar which crossed the Rubicon in 49 B.C. and the members of the Liturgical Movement (at whose behest Pius XII made the reforms). Just as crossing the river was an act that ended in civil war within Rome, so the Holy Week reforms crossed the boundaries of Tradition and would eventually split the faithful into warring camps. Both acts were pivotal events in history that committed the people involved to a specific course. (5)

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Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon

It seems that Pius XII had not heeded his Predecessor’s teaching regarding the responsibilities of Popes towards the liturgy. In effect, Pius XI, in his Bull Divini Cultus of December 10, 1928, declared:
Quote:“No wonder then, that the Roman Pontiffs have been so solicitous to safeguard and protect the liturgy. They have used the same care in making laws for the regulation of the liturgy, in preserving it from adulteration, as they have in giving accurate expression to the dogmas of the faith.”

It cannot be argued, however, that Pius XII used the same care in making liturgical laws. Having once warned about the “suicide of altering the Faith in the liturgy,” he nonetheless failed to preserve the Holy Week liturgy from adulteration and contamination by alien elements which could – and did – lead many to a false understanding of doctrine.

Disowning the Past

Furthermore, the acceptance of liturgical change had many other deleterious effects. It cast a shadow of criticism on the Holy Week rites of previous centuries, and even on those Bishops and priests who had been faithfully celebrating them during the reign of Pius XII. With the Pope giving his support to Bugnini, they were left open to criticism as being “insensitive” to the aspirations of the laity, guilty of injustice and, in a word, “unpastoral.” As events have shown, they were dismissed as hopelessly hidebound conservatives standing in the way of progress and modernity. Their authority would be undermined and, as St. Thomas warned in such cases, discipline would be shaken, leading to calls for far more radical changes in the future.

Legitimating Dissent

The imposition of the Holy Week reforms encouraged dissent and contempt for the law because the Pope was seen to acquiesce with those who had been acting against liturgical law for decades before Maxima Redemptionis. In spite of his warning that no one should introduce unauthorized innovations into the liturgy, his acquiescence in widespread dissent was an encouragement for the progressivists to commit further violations in the expectation that the official Church would eventually “catch up” with them once again.

Another unfortunate consequence of Pope Pius XII’s decision to reform the Holy Week ceremonies was that the disobedience of those who implemented the changes before they were approved, and who promoted still further changes, was tolerated in principle. Once this was done with something as sacred as the liturgy, and on the basis of a set of opinions prevalent in the Liturgical Movement, the signal was given that other changes considered urgent or “pastoral” could also be made on some trumped-up pretext. (6)

What this meant in practice was that the authority of both the liturgy and tradition was weakened in proportion as it was placed at the service of a principle of Progressivism – that of “active participation.” And it was Progressivism that would find its ultimate triumph in Vatican II’s Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium on the Liturgy.

In the Holy Week reforms we can see clearly taking shape the ground plan for more far-reaching mutations not only in Catholic worship but also in theology and the concept of the priesthood.


1. See the General Decree Cum Nostra Hac Aetate, AAS, 23 March 1955, p. 218, which brought about changes in the rubrics of the Roman Missal and the Breviary in the direction of greater “simplification.” This consisted mainly of eliminating most of the octaves and vigils from the Roman Calendar. Of the 18 octaves in use before 1955, all but three (Easter, Pentecost, Christmas) were purged in the reform, including the octaves of the Epiphany, Corpus Christi, the Ascension and the Immaculate Conception. Approximately half of the vigils disappeared in the reform. The Our Father, Hail Mary and Creed recited at the beginning of each liturgical hour were abolished; likewise the final Antiphon to Our Lady, except at Compline. Bugnini, who had masterminded the project, had no compunction about his role. See Annibale Bugnini, The Simplification of the Rubrics, Trans. L. J. Doyle, Collegeville: Doyle and Finegan, 1955.
2. Jul 29, 1957, Sacred Congregation of Rites, Historical Section, Memoria, supplement IV, Consultation of the Episcopate concerning a reform of the Roman Breviary: Results and Conclusions, p. 36, apud Thomas Richstatter OFM, Liturgical Law. New Style, New Spirit, Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1977, p. 40. It is interesting to note that only 8% of the Bishops wanted the Breviary to be changed, which in all probability corresponds to the percentage of Bishops supporting the aims of the Liturgical Movement. The same source reveals that only 17% of the Bishops asked permission for the use of the vernacular at least in some parts of the Breviary; they were massively outnumbered by those who explicitly asked for Latin to be retained for the sake of the priesthood. (ibid., p. 39)
3. Jul 29, 1957, Sacred Congregation of Rites, Historical Section, Memoria, pp. 101-2, apud Thomas Richstatter, Liturgical Law. New Style, New Spirit, pp. 40-41
4. Frederick McManus, The Rites of Holy Week: Ceremonies, Preparation, Music, Commentaries, Paterson, New Jersey: St Anthony Guild Press,1956, p. v.
5. The Rubicon was also the place where Caesar is said to have uttered the famous phrase “alea iacta est” (the die is cast), meaning that the situation he created was irreversible.
6. These would not be confined to the liturgy but could embrace “new understandings” of the Faith, the Church, other religions, marriage and family life, human needs etc.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
Liturgical Anarchy Increases under Pius XII
Taken from here [slightly adapted].

From 1955, it was becoming clear that Pope Pius XII was yielding ground to a “managerial” caucus of liturgical experts who saw themselves as indispensable organizers of a new liturgy for the Church. From random beginnings in various countries under the leadership of notable personalities such as Dom Lambert Beauduin, Ildefons Herwegen, Pius Parsch, Romano Guardini, Virgil Michel and Annibale Bugnini, they coalesced into organized pressure groups with some episcopal support.

Pius XII was evidently aware early in his pontificate that a liturgical revolution was being planned, for he reprimanded some deviations from tradition in Mediator Dei (1947).

We must not lose sight of the fact that these deviations were taking place precisely because of lack of ecclesiastical control. Pius XII’s verbal reprimands were not matched by corrective actions to prevent recurrence. He did not take steps to remove from office Bishops who were involved in liturgical revolution, replace them with more worthy candidates and require them to discipline radical priests.

It is simply inconceivable that he could not have mustered adequate support from among the world’s conservative Bishops – it was after all the age of Ultramontanism – to neutralize the effects of the Liturgical Movement. Despite his public breast-beating, the problem was that liturgical anarchy was inexorably increasing under his watch. And as he failed to give a firm and consistent signal of a united effort to defeat such dissident tactics, the progressivists became emboldened and gradually gained the upper hand. Anti-traditional challenges to authority went unchecked

Their radical agenda was expressed in internationally known journals (1) and also at international congresses held in the early 1950s: at Maria Laach (Germany), Mont Sainte-Odile (France), Lugano (Switzerland), Mont-César (Louvain, Belgium) and Assisi (Italy).

It is not an exaggeration to say that these congresses were characterized by a climate of seething mutiny against the Church’s sacred liturgical traditions. It was as if a simmering cauldron was slowly coming to the boil, the fire beneath it fueled by animosity to centuries of liturgical tradition.

At Maria Laach (1951)

The following points, unanimously accepted by the delegates, were among 12 resolutions to be forwarded to the Holy See:

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An historic liturgical meeting at the Benedictine Maria Laach Abbey in the Rhineland, Germany
  • Reform of the priest’s silent prayers (including the Offertory) during Mass;
  • Significant changes to the Roman Canon; (2)
  • Suppression of the prayers at the foot of the altar (citing the Easter Vigil reform as a precedent);
  • All of the Mass up to the Preface to be said away from the altar denuded of sacred vessels;
  • A longer cycle of scriptural readings, all in the vernacular only;
  • Introduction of bidding prayers with vernacular responses by the faithful;
  • Less frequent recitation of the Credo;
  • Elimination of the Confiteor before Communion;
  • Suppression of all prayers after the Blessing i.e. the Last Gospel and the Leonine prayers. (3)

At Mont Sainte-Odile (1952)

This meeting largely continued the requests made at Maria Laach with some additions:
  • Elimination of some of the celebrant’s genuflexions, Signs of the Cross and kissing of the paten;
  • Simplification of the formula of Communion of the faithful to “Corpus Christi”;
  • Increased opportunities for the faithful to join in the singing of the Mass, especially by newly composed melodies in the vernacular at Communion time.(4)

The Lugano Congress (1953)

The following resolutions were approved by the entire assembly which included Cardinal Ottaviani and Cardinal Frings of Cologne, 15 Archbishops and Bishops and hundreds of priests:
  • Increased “active participation” of the laity, supported by a message from Mgr Montini in Rome;
  • The laity to “pray and sing in their own tongue even during a Missa Cantata;” (5)
  • All Scripture readings to be in the vernacular;
  • Revision of all ceremonies of Holy Week in line with the recently revised Easter Vigil.
There were two notable features of the Congress. First, a signed message from Pope Pius XII, dated September 9, 1953, was read out giving his heartfelt encouragement to the deliberations and his blessing to “each and every participant.” (6)

He did not seem to mind that the Congress had been organized by the Liturgical Institute of Trier and the Centre de Pastorale Liturgique to further their revolutionary agendas; or that among the participants were those who sought to destroy Tradition e.g. Bugnini, Bishop Albert Stohr of Mainz and Bishop Simon Landersdorfer of Passau (the latter two jointly head of the Liturgical Commission appointed by the German Episcopal Conference to represent all the dissident reformers of the German-speaking lands including Guardini and Pius Parsch.)

Second, Cardinal Ottaviani (famous for his Intervention), celebrated Mass facing the people – a particularly prophetic gesture foreshadowing his defeat by the progressivists at Vatican II.

The Mont-César Conference (1954)
  • The meeting featured two themes:
  • A more extended cycle of scriptural readings at Mass;
  • A new rite of concelebration.
One of the participants noted that, in the course of the meeting, “a telegram was received from Msgr. Montini announcing the papal blessing imparted to all participants, and expressing the Holy Father’s satisfaction that these two actual themes were being competently studied and discussed from the historical, theological and pastoral points of view.” (7)

Assisi Congress (1956)

As the whole ground plan for the future Novus Ordo was already drawn up in the previous congresses, the Assisi participants simply put the finishing touches to their radical agenda. The Congress descended into a self-congratulatory “smugfest” with participants preening themselves on the righteousness of their cause and on their success in wresting so many concessions from the Pope.

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At the Congress of Assisi in 1956 a group of Americans with Fr. Godfrey Diekmann at the head of the table

In their papers read out at the Congress, they lavished the highest praise on the Holy Father for his “admirable initiatives in the field of pastoral liturgy.” (8) Who would have thought that Pius XII would become the toast of the liberals?

From Assisi, the Congress moved to Rome where it concluded with the Pope’s address to the participants. In it, Pius XII stated that the Liturgical Movement was “a sign of the providential dispositions of God for the present time, of the movement of the Holy Ghost in the Church.”

Thus, he helped to build a positive image of the Liturgical Movement for public consumption, with the result that what had once been a hole-in-the-corner activity and an isolated phenomenon lacking any great prestige, was put firmly on the map and made ready to become a mainstream activity.

Bugnini’s cock-a-doo of victory

Bugnini crowed with delight: “Who would have predicted at that time that three years later the greatest ecclesial event of the century, Vatican Council II, would be announced, in which the desires expressed at Assisi would be fulfilled, and this by means of the very men who were present at Assisi?” (9)

He was right in one respect – many of the Assisi delegates would later exert enormous influence in determining the course of Vatican II and creating the content of some of its documents. (10) However, his powers of prediction seemed to have deserted him when he declared that the event “was, in God’s plan, a dawn announcing a resplendent day that would have no decline.” (11)

Summoning the Apocalypse

The summons of the Assisi participants to Rome to be greeted by the Pope can be seen as a papal endorsement of their agenda. Fr. Löw of the Sacred Congregation of Rites stated that the organizers of the Assisi Congress “were the four centers of liturgical effort in Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland.” (12)

He might as well have said the Four Horses of the Apocalypse because of the chaos, anarchy and destruction that reigned as a result of the Liturgical Movement and Vatican II.


1. The most well known were Virgil Michel’s Orate Fratres (renamed in 1951 as Worship) published at St. John’s Benedictine Abbey, Minnesota; Bugnini’s Ephemerides Liturgicae published in Rome; and La Maison-Dieu published by Editions du Cerf for the Centre de Pastorale Liturgique in Paris.
2. This altogether staggering suggestion to overhaul the Roman Canon, hitherto considered for 15 centuries so sacred as to be untouchable, was not recorded in the original published conclusions of the Maria Laach Congress. But it was recorded by one of the participants, Dom Bernard Botte, OSB, in his memoirs: Le Mouvement Liturgique: Témoinage et Souvenirs, Paris: Desclée et Compagnie, 1973, pp. 80-81. Here he stated that a resolution to make significant changes to the Canon was part of a talk given by Fr. Josef Jungmann, SJ.
3. ‘Conclusions of the First International Congress of Liturgical Studies held at Maria Laach in 1951: Problems of the Roman Missal’, La Maison-Dieu, n. 37, 1954, pp. 129-131.
4. ‘Conclusions of the Second International Congress of Liturgical Studies held at Sainte-Odile in 1952: Problems of the Roman Missal’, La Maison-Dieu, n. 37, 1954, pp. 132-133.
5. ‘Conclusions of the Third Congress, Lugano, 1953’, Worship, Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, vol. 28, February 1954, p. 162. Vernacular singing at a sung Mass had been expressly forbidden by both Leo XIII and Pius X.
6. The message read: “Our good wishes go with the proceedings of this scholarly assembly and We warmly extend Our Apostolic Blessing to all and each one of the participants.” (Nous accompagnons de Nos voeux les travaux de cette savante assemblée et Nous accordons de tout coeur à tous et à chacun des participants la Bénédiction Apostolique.) La Maison-Dieu, n.. 37, 1954, p. 3.
7. Fr. Godfrey Diekmann OSB, ‘Louvain and Versailles’, Worship, vol. 28, 1954, p. 54.
8. Gaetano Cicognani, ‘Opening Address’ of the Congress
9. A. Bugnini, The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975, Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1990, p. 11.
10. The Cardinals participating were Gaetano Cicognani, Prefect of the Congregation of Rites and President of the Preparatory Commission on the Liturgy, Augustin Bea, SJ, confessor of Pius XII and President of the Commission for Christian Unity at Vatican II, Pierre-Marie Gerlier of Lyon, a noted ecumenist and liberation theologian, Gabriel Garrone of Toulouse, who helped formulate Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes, and Giacomo Lercaro of Bologna, who contributed an extremely radical paper on the reform of the Breviary and later became one of the four Moderators of Vatican II.
Other participants who played an active role in Vatican II were Fr. (later Cardinal) Antonelli; Bishop Wilhelm van Bekkum of Ruteng, Indonesia (on adapting the liturgy to local customs and languages); Bishop Otto Spuelberg of Meissen, who championed Teilhard de Chardin at Vatican II as “a great scientist”; and Fr. Joseph Jungmann, SJ, who promoted antiquarianism and the supremacy of pastoral initiatives over objective tradition. Jungmann was later appointed relator of the sub-commission that drafted the schema on the Mass. As a peritus (expert) at Vatican II, he contributed in large part to the writing of the document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium.
Two militantly reformist prelates, Bishops Edwin Vincent O’Hara of Kansas City and Albert Stohr of Mainz, contributed with papers to the Assisi Congress but died before Vatican II. Nevertheless, there is every reason to believe that their destructive legacy was not without influence on the Council.
11. A. Bugnini, op. cit., p. 11
12. ‘Assisi 1956 and Holy Week 1957’, Worship, vol. 31, Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1957, p. 236
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
Pius XII: ‘The Reforms Come from the Holy Spirit’
Taken from here [slightly adapted - emphasis in the original].

Pope Pius XII’s address to the participants at the Assisi Congress in 1956 contains a number of unwelcome surprises for those who thought of him as in every way a solidly traditional Pope. Just as the Congress itself had turned out to be a platform for tendentious propaganda, so the Pope’s speech reflected and perpetuated the reformers’ “narrative,” endorsing their message about “active participation” for the faithful in the liturgy.

A Papal Fanfare for the Liturgical Movement

In his speech, Pius XII lauded what he termed the “practical accomplishments” of the Liturgical Movement in the last 30 years. Among the “practical accomplishments” which he had so far enabled were the following:
  • The vernacular could be used in the administration of the Sacraments;
  • The faithful could recite aloud the server’s responses during Mass and sing along with the choir;
  • Women were officially permitted, albeit under certain conditions, to sing in the choir; (1)
  • The 1955 Holy Week liturgy, particularly the Easter Vigil, was gutted and reconstructed to cater for “active participation” of the laity;
  • In some ceremonies the celebrant was required to face the people and there was an optional dialogue in the vernacular;
  • The Breviary was drastically shortened (“simplified”) as the precursor to a more thorough reform incorporating the wishes of the progressivists. In the Opening Speech of the Assisi Congress in 1956, Cardinal Cicognani said that the “simplification of the rubrics was the forerunner of the eventual reform of the Breviary.” (2)
The Pope stated that “undeniable progress” had been made through these reforms. But “progress” does not necessarily guarantee improvement, as in the case of the progress of a terminal disease. In the context of the Liturgical Movement, “progress” meant only an advance along the road toward the goals envisaged by the architects of Progressivism.

And we know exactly what those goals were – the replacement of the Church’s traditional liturgy with a man-centred construct in which the “active participation” of the laity would be the predominant feature. Yet, Pius XII stated: “We sincerely desire that the Liturgical Movement progress and we wish to help it.”

A New ‘Pastoral’ Approach to the Liturgy

These reforms represented a significant turning point in the Church’s liturgical development, the precedence of so-called “pastoral liturgy” (aimed at adapting the ceremonies to the prevailing mentality of modern man) over the objective liturgical tradition of the Church.

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Progressivist Fr. Jungmann accused the traditional rite of losing its power to sanctify

As Bugnini explained in his Memoirs, the Liturgical Movement, with the support of Pope Pius XII, “entered upon its true course – that of pastoral concern – and was, thus, returning to the ideal it had had in the beginning.” (3) But where does that leave the liturgy of all the intervening centuries? It was obviously to be passed over as neither “true,” nor “pastoral,” nor “ideal.”

In fact, one of the speakers at the Assisi Congress, Fr. Josef Jungmann, posited that the Church’s liturgy had, since early Christian times, become “corrupted” and had lost its power to sanctify the faithful because they could neither understand nor participate in it.

The implication of this blasphemous smear on the Church’s sacred patrimony is that what we once esteemed was never really valuable in the first place. From which it follows that somewhere in its early history the Holy Spirit had departed from the Catholic liturgy, only to return in the 20th century with the new “pastoral” approach of the Liturgical Movement.

Playing to the Gallery

It is undeniable that Pius XII favored this new “pastoral” approach and even thought that it bore the Divine stamp of approval. To the delight of the Assisi participants gathered in Rome, he stated:

The Liturgical Movement is, thus, shown forth as a sign of the providential dispositions of God for the present time, of the movement of the Holy Spirit in the Church.”

If God was with it, who could be against it? A more imprudent and divisive opinion could hardly be imagined – imprudent because it seemed to imply that the traditional liturgy was grossly deficient and needed Spirit-led changes; and divisive because it signalled the Pope’s preference for the reformers, rather than the conservatives in the Church, at least on certain issues.

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The Assisi Papers were approved by Pius XII - a huge step forward for Liturgical Reform

But, the salient point is that the Pope – or whoever wrote his speech – simply assumed that because the liturgical reforms were promoted by members of the Church, their Movement must perforce enjoy Divine approval. His statement that “the chief driving force, both in doctrine and in practical application, has come from the hierarchy” is deeply troubling for two reasons.

First, it is an admission devastating in its implications. It reveals that it was the Church’s leaders, including the Pope himself, who were the driving force behind the international effort to reform the liturgy. In other words, it was the Pastors, more so than the liturgists, who were responsible for driving the sheep towards a liturgical cliff over which they would fall with astonishing suddenness within a few years.

However, only a tiny minority of Bishops at that time favored the reforms; and at the beginning of his pontificate most did not even have the slightest suspicion that such reforms were being planned. It is incomprehensible, therefore, that he should seek to alter the spirituality of Catholics who valued the Church’s traditions to suit those who did not.

Second, the Pope talked as if the reforms were unimpeachably orthodox “both in doctrine and in practical application” as if the lex credendi were in perfect accord with the lex orandi. Here we are not addressing the orthodoxy of Pius XII’s magisterial teaching on matters of Catholic doctrine. But to the degree that his reforms promoted “active participation” of the laity in the sacred functions, they introduced a tension between the Faith and pastoral practice. The laity was now seen to be “on the move” against a “despotic” clergy, who had allegedly robbed them of their rightful roles in the liturgy, to take back what belonged to them by virtue of their Baptism. The clergy-laity class struggle had been the raison d’être of the Liturgical Movement since its inception by Dom Lambert Beauduin.

Even though Pius XII taught the true doctrine of the Catholic priesthood, he nevertheless gave official impetus to the rolling revolution of lay “active participation,” which challenged the exclusive role of the priest. By promoting this competitive spirit, he initiated the process that turned the liturgy into an ideological battleground which continues to our day, to the detriment of the ministerial priesthood and the confusion of the faithful.

Pius XII misled by false propaganda

Much of Pius XII’s Assisi speech echoed the desiderata which the reformers had been putting forward in their various congresses and publications. The fact that the forces of Progressivism should play a pivotal role in the Pope’s speech is highly significant. It shows that he was swayed by their rhetoric in making policy decisions for the rest of the Church. He took their word for it that “the faithful received these directives with gratitude and showed themselves ready to respond to them.”

But, that was pure fabrication put about by Bugnini, who had massaged the results of the liturgical Commission’s surveys to give the misleading impression of general acceptance. For all his efforts, Bugnini had not produced evidence that was in reality objectively convincing or statistically significant.

Also, the reformers had been spreading a false sense of despondency about how useless the traditional rites were and claiming that the faithful welcomed with relief all the new, exciting initiatives that were on offer.

There was no general euphoria among the Catholic population, clerical or lay, in response to the reforms. In fact, the reformers themselves complained for years about the lack of enthusiasm for “active participation” and the extreme difficulty in getting the faithful to say or sing the responses. Besides, it is dishonest to claim that the laity accepted the reforms with joy on the basis of their presence at ceremonies, which they attended out of duty and obedience.


1. See the Encyclical Musicae Sacrae (Of Sacred Music), 25 December 1955, § 74. The document allows female choristers on the lame excuse “where there are not enough boys” to sing in church. But how few are “not enough?” Men (of whom there was never a shortage in those days) could always have been recruited to make up the numbers. As with the altar server debacle of the 1990s, the best way to ensure a dearth of boys in liturgical roles is to have girls perform alongside them.
2. La Maison-Dieu, No. 47-8, 1956, pp. 44-5
3. A. Bugnini, The Reform of the Liturgy, p. 6
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
Tectonic Shifts & Fault Lines in Pius XII’s Assisi Address
Taken from here [slightly adapted].

When Pius XII addressed the participants of the Assisi Congress in 1956 (here and here), he did more than tell them a pleasing tale of progress. The analogy with the precursory signs of an impending earthquake is apt.

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Ushering in a cult to man in the Catholic Church

His speech contained proposals which, when put into action, were to produce seismic changes of literally Church-shattering proportions, causing the bastions of Tradition to collapse. Yet, Pius XII did not seem to realize that the ground was already shifting beneath him or that the tremors beneath the ecclesiastical crust would soon lead to the “big one” (Vatican II) whose epicenter was in Rome.

We will deal with each of Pius XII’s points in turn, beginning with his astounding statement that:

“The present-day liturgy interests itself also in a number of particular problems concerning, for example, the relation of the liturgy with the religious ideas of the world today, contemporary culture, social questions and depth psychology.”(1)

Regardless of whether it was foreseen or not by Pius XII, a preoccupation with other religions and “psycho-social” ideas in the liturgy was bound to give rise not only to religious pluralism, but also to the secularization of Catholic Faith and Morals.

Rise of ‘Liturgical Theology’

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Fr Victor White

By giving the green light to ecumenism, (2) inculturation, the acceptance of social and political factors as well as experimentation with depth psychology in the liturgy, Pius XII initiated a tectonic shift in liturgical practice. It was a move away from the idea of liturgy as the expression of the objective truths of the Faith in favor of a new world-view that appeals to the subjective dimensions of the human mind.

In other words, the traditional theology based on Revelation was beginning to give way to a “liturgical theology” based on existential models of the human person as a valid criterion for orthopraxis. From there it was just a short step to liturgy as the Cult of Man and the de-Catholicizing of the Church via the sanctuary.

As subsequent history has shown, a liturgy shaped and influenced by the demands of extraneous religions (as would happen with the Novus Ordo Mass) would lose its Catholic identity as the expression of the one true Faith. And a liturgy in which feelings, emotions and a non-judgmental attitude to morality are emphasized would lead to the “opening to the world” (as Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes later demanded), setting the stage for the moral dissolution of society.

What has Depth Psychology to do with the Catholic Liturgy?

Depth psychology, which purported to be a therapeutic means of dealing with problems of the human mind, originated with the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung – the former a Jewish atheist, the latter a founder of an esoteric and deeply anti-Christian religious cult.

By the mid 1950s, when Pius XII gave his blessing to depth psychology in his Assisi Address, a movement to blend Freudian and Jungian theories with Catholic pastoral practice was at its height among many priests and lay people in the Church. (3) One such project had fortunately failed a few years earlier with the abortive attempt of the Dominican Fr. Victor White to integrate Jung’s theories with Thomistic philosophy. (4) It failed because he tried to amalgamate two contradictory positions.

The ‘Psychologization’ of the Liturgy

It is worth considering that the practical application of depth psychology to the liturgy was logically doomed from the start because these modern psychological theories offered rival alternatives to the Christian-based psychology that had existed from the time of the Scriptures, the Desert Fathers, the Doctors of the Church, the Saints and the Scholastic Philosophers.

Pius XII could not have successfully integrated depth psychology into the liturgy for the following reasons:
  • It was conceived in the mind of Carl Jung as a “religion of the self” to give free rein to the libido and liberate the human psyche from the restrictions of a “rule-bound” Church, especially in the area of sexual morality;
  • Jung’s ideas on religion were drawn from Gnostic sources, the occult, Eastern mysticism, ancient pagan cults of the earth goddesses, eroticism, medieval alchemy and various “New Age” philosophies;
  • Jung regarded the Mass as simply a figment of the human psyche and attributed its transformative power to a dream experienced by a third century Gnostic alchemist, Zosimos of Panopolis; (5)
  • Jung rejected the idea of a transcendent God and taught people to reject all external authority and search for the “god within;”
  • Depth psychology reduced the intellectual faculties to the level of sensation, elevated feelings and emotions as the source of all truth, and led inevitably to the Pentecostal Movement and Charismatic liturgies;
  • Needless to say, there would be no place for the traditional Roman Mass with its emphasis on rubrics and objective truth.

How anyone could hope to draw spiritually pure waters from such a polluted well is a mystery.

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A charismatic Mass at Steubenville University

We will now consider some of the results of reliance on the “expertise” of psychologists in the Liturgical Movement’s quest to adapt the liturgy to the mentality of modern man and provide a sense of psychological well-being for the participants.

The first casualty of the “psychologization” of the liturgy is reverence for God. As depth psychology – even in the hands of Catholic practitioners – induces people to turn in upon themselves and seek “self-discovery,” it follows that only a people-centered liturgy would be considered a suitable medium of worship. Hence the virtual absence in the modern liturgy of exterior signs of reverence in the presence of God, such as kneeling, genuflexion, silence, modesty of dress and behavior etc.

As a hedonistic society cannot abide condemnations of the sins of the flesh, references to asceticism or self-mortification, or reminders of Hell, these too had to be excised from the liturgy because they were deemed incompatible with the psychology of modern man. For the same reason anything too ornate or smacking of “medievalism” was summarily dismissed. (6)

The World invades the Church

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Nuns modify their habits to adapt to the world; below, an Enneagram session at a Vincentian Sisters retreat

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The Assisi Address can be regarded as an invitation and incentive to import worldly elements into the liturgy. But wherever humanistic psychology replaces spiritual discernment (the “psychology of the saints”), the result has been disastrous for religious vocations and has produced a situation from which the Church has still not recovered.

It brought havoc to Catholic Religious Orders in the U.S. in the 1960s because it encouraged individual autonomy and promoted the questioning of all authority, thereby challenging institutional hierarchies and their power to command obedience in matters of Faith and Morals.

Every Religious Order and seminary that had been “psychologically engineered” underwent a mass exodus of nuns and priests seeking “liberation” from their vows. They dug deep into their own psyches and emerged from their introspection with predictable conclusions: They no longer wanted to be bound by “rules” that prevented them from unleashing their libido.

This happened in the first place to the Jesuits and, then, to the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in California, followed by the Franciscans, the Christian Brothers and many other men’s and women’s Orders throughout the world. (7)

Depth Psychology: Designed to Modify Behavior & Alter Belief

Liturgists have been exploiting depth psychology in the liturgy for decades on a massive scale. Through psychology they thought they could re-program individuals by influencing their subconscious minds, coercing them by stealth into accepting what they wanted them to accept, change the Church and control the future of the liturgy. To add insult to injury, those who refused to be thus coerced and adhered to the traditional liturgy were psychoanalyzed as suffering from a new form of mental disorder.

With his recommendation for depth psychology, Pius XII shifted the tectonic plates of the Church’s liturgical tradition. It may seem to some people a fairly inconsequential action, but as with tectonic shifts in the geological order, it takes only a move of a few feet to flatten whole cities.


1. Card. Avery Dulles praised the superiority of “all that has been learned from depth psychology about the unconscious, from sociology about ideologies ... from comparative religion about the faiths of other people, and from linguistic analysis about the hazards of metaphysical discourse.” See A. Dulles, Preface to A History of Apologetics, London, Hutchinson, 1971, p. xviii.
2. It was Dom Lambert Beauduin who first gave the Liturgical Movement an ecumenical goal. He founded the Monastery of Chevetogne in 1925 for unity with the “Orthodox” Churches and proposed a theory for the Anglican Church to be “united but not absorbed” in the Catholic Church.
3. It was Card. Mercier of Malines, Belgium, a professor of philosophy at the University of Louvain at the end of the 19th century, who first proposed a synthesis between humanistic psychology and Thomistic Philosophy. He strongly promoted humanistic psychology as an independent “science” and worked to have it accepted in the programs of Catholic institutes of higher education.
4. Fr. White was a close associate of Carl Jung, and together they planned to integrate Jung’s psychoanalytic theories into Catholic doctrine and pastoral practice. The failure of his project did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of Catholic devotees of Jung’s theories and resulted in a flood of Jungian “New Age” spirituality at every level. This can be seen in the popularity of the Enneagram, yoga, transcendental meditation, wicca, spiritualism, druidism, encounter groups, sensitivity training, etc.
5. Carl Gustav Jung, 'Transformation Symbolism in the Mass' (Collected Works, vol. 11, Psychology and Religion: West and East, New York: Pantheon, 1958, (first published in 1940), pp. 201-298)
6. Archbishop Piero Marini, Papal Master of Ceremonies, made this very point with brutal frankness: “In view of the psychology of modern men and women, for which the mixture of court etiquette and religious rites is almost incomprehensible, it was decided that the sort of court life which had hitherto surrounded the Pope during liturgical celebrations should be done away with.” (Liturgy and Beauty: Experiences of renewal in certain Papal Liturgical Celebrations) [emphasis added]
7. Liturgy and Beauty, Vatican online documents
8. Two psychologists, Carl Rogers and his associate, William Coulson, a Catholic who would later repent of his part in the affair, set up a group therapy program in the 1960s for the nuns of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and their educational establishments. Coulson admitted that he had provoked a crisis of sexual misconduct among the IHM sisters which destroyed their Order. See William Coulson, ‘We overcame their traditions, we overcame their faith,’ Interview in The Latin Mass: Chronicles of a Catholic Reform, January-February 1994.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
The Role of Josef Jungmann in the Liturgical Reform

Taken from here [slightly adapted - all emphasis mine].

Another fault line in Pope Pius XII’s Assisi Address that was poised to release enough pressure for an earthquake (or should that be a Churchquake?) was the confidence he placed in the historical-critical studies carried out by contemporary liturgical experts. He expressed the hope that these would “bring forth a rich harvest, to the benefit of the individual members as well as the Church as a whole.”

But, how realistic was this hope considering that the experts in question – international scholars of a progressivist bent – were none other than the promoters of the Liturgical Movement led by Bugnini?

Evidence of collusion

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Fr. Josef Jungmann, the ‘man of the hour’ in the Liturgical Reform

Fr. Frederick McManus noted that Pius XII’s
Quote:“1948 Commission was influenced in succeeding years by the meetings of (mostly) European scholars … with which Antonelli, Löw and Bugnini were in contact.”(1)

By far the most influential of these was Josef Jungmann, SJ, a Professor of “Pastoral Theology” at the University of Innsbruck and a Consulter to the 1948 Liturgical Commission. (2) (Bugnini later publicly endorsed Jungmann’s theory of the Pastoral Nature of the Liturgy). (3)

These were the men who colluded in secret to produce the revised Holy Week rites and other liturgical changes that were imposed on the Church in the 1950s. In fact, some of them were participants at the Assisi Congress, basking in the warmth of the Pope’s praise.

Jungmann would eventually play a major role in the drafting and implementation of Vatican II’s Constitution on the Liturgy and, also, in the fabrication of the Novus Ordo.

Jungmann: A Liturgical Giant with Feet of Clay

Josef Jungmann published his magnum opus on the history of the Roman Rite, Missarum Sollemnia, in 1948, (4) (see here) which was long hailed as a classic of liturgical scholarship and became the ultimate reference and definitive resource book for the Liturgical Movement.

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Jungmann's 2-volume American edition ushered in the New Mass

His contemporaries conferred on him god-like status: his fellow-Jesuit, Fr. Clifford Howell, credited him with near “omniscience.”(5) Fr. Louis Bouyer rhapsodized that his book was “the greatest scholarly work of our times on the history of the Roman Mass,” (6) and Cardinal Ratzinger called him “one of the truly great liturgists of our time.” (7)

But, it turned out that Jungmann was ascribed authoritative status not through excellence in research integrity, but largely because he upheld the progressivist ideas of the liturgical establishment. It is now known that he “mined” the field of early Christian liturgies to produce data that supported his “antiquarian” agenda.

More recent scholarly research (8) has shown conclusively that Jungmann’s work was riddled with erroneous assumptions about the early Christian liturgies: he often hypothesized about events that he would like to have happened – for instance Mass celebrated versus populum (facing the people), an Offertory procession, bidding prayers at all Masses – thereby assuming tacitly that they did. And he did not scruple to skew the evidence in favor of his own preconceptions. One could say that, in some areas, Jungmann raised the falsification of data to an art form.

It was only later that he came to realize his error about versus populum liturgies. But, he said this orientation should nevertheless be adopted for “pastoral” purposes, thus laying bare the real reason for undertaking his research in the first place. Unfortunately, Pius XII, via Bugnini, relied on Jungmann’s compromised research for the Holy Week reforms and decided that some key aspects of it could be imported into the liturgy at the stroke of the Supreme Legislator’s pen.

Not So Much a Fact-Finding Mission as a Fault-Finding One

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Jungman: ‘The priest does not take the place of Christ at Mass, but is a server of the community’

While many of his fellow priests were suffering and dying for the Faith in war-torn Europe, Jungmann spent most of WW2 comfortably ensconced in a convent in the Austrian countryside, (9) which he used as the perfect hide-away in which to research for and write his history of the Mass. There, like a captious pedant, he busied himself finding fault with almost every aspect of the Roman Rite as it had been celebrated over the previous 1500 years.

It is interesting to note that while the Nazis were persecuting the Catholic Church in his native Austria, Jungmann, in the safety of his “funk hole,” (10) was jack-booting his way through the history of the Roman Mass. So brutal were his attacks that one could say that he kicked it around and finally kicked it to pieces. When there was nothing left to criticize, he arbitrarily concluded that any prayers of the Mass used after the early centuries of the Church “would really all have to vanish.” (11)

The following are just a few examples of his criticisms:
  • “The sacrifice of the Mass is not the sacrifice for the redemption of the world, but the sacrifice made by the redeemed.” (12)
  • He questioned the authenticity of the words Mysterium Fidei in the consecratory formula of the wine, regarding them as an extraneous element, an unscriptural “intrusion” with no connection to transubstantiation. (13)
  • He insinuated that the Catholic doctrine of the priest performing the sacrifice as an alter Christus was a later historical invention and was, therefore, by implication, a false teaching. (14)
  • He accused priests of usurping the role of the laity, creating a gap between the clergy and the people and preventing the latter from participating in the liturgy. (15)
  • He presented a paper at the Assisi Congress in which he placed the principal emphasis of the Mass on the “community meal aspect” and the “gathering of the People of God,” described the Mass as primarily a service of thanksgiving by the assembled community, disparaged the silent recitation of the Canon as a barrier to participation, and stated that the Mass should be in the vernacular “so that the people can speak and sing together.” (here) (16)
While all of these positions were directly contrary to Catholic doctrine, the last two were the subject of a special condemnation at the Council of Trent.

Modernism re-enters the Church under Pius XII

To those liturgists present at the Assisi Congress who included Jungmann among their number, Pius XII said in his Address that it was “a consolation and a joy for us to know that we can rely on your help and your understanding in these matters.” But the aim of the Liturgical Movement was to restructure the Mass so that it would no longer reflect essential Catholic doctrine, an aim that would be eventually realized in the creation of the Novus Ordo.

Thus, he trusted “men with itching ears” (2 Tim 4:3) with the reform of the liturgy, men whose theology represented the “striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in session XXII of the Council of Trent,” mentioned later by Cardinal Ottaviani with reference to the Novus Ordo.

In 1924, Pius XI had warned about the dangers of blind reliance on “expert” testimony based on shoddy historical scholarship and neo-modernist ideas:
Quote:“However, in these studies concerning ancient Rites the necessary groundwork for knowledge must first be undertaken in a spirit of piety and docile and humble obedience. And if these are lacking, any research whatever into ancient liturgies of Mass will turn out to be irreverent and fruitless: for when, either through ignorance or a proud and conceited mind, the supreme authority of the Apostolic See in liturgical matters, which rightly rejects puffed-up knowledge, and, with the Apostle, ‘speaks wisdom among the perfect’ (1 Cor. 8: 1,2: 6), has been scorned, there immediately looms the danger that the error known as Modernism will be introduced also into liturgical matters.” (18)

In fact, a resurgent Modernism had gained such a foothold in Pius XII’s time that even a Protestant theologian, cheering on the progress of the Liturgical Movement from the sidelines, noted in 1954 that
Quote:It is especially in its theological method that the Liturgical Movement evidences a relationship with the errors of Modernism as condemned by Pius X in Pascendi … certain of the most fruitful trends condemned by Pius X in his blanket condemnation have served to make the Liturgical Movement the great power it is today.” (19)


1. Apud Alcuin Reid, The Organic Development of the Liturgy, p. 186, as a letter to the author.
2. It has been claimed that “It is impossible to overestimate the contribution of Josef Jungmann to the Second Vatican Council, above all, to the pastoral renewal of the liturgy – to the momentum for reform that had been gathering for decades, to the climate in which it unfolded, to its preparations, inner workings, implementation and reception around the world. By the time the Council was announced Jungmann was already the elder statesman of the liturgical movement whose writing, teaching and preaching had formed a generation of pastors and scholars.” Kathleen Hughes, “Jungmann’s Influence on Vatican II: Meticulous Scholarship at the Service of a Living Liturgy,” in Joanne M. Pierce and Michael Downey eds., Source and Summit: Commemorating Josef A. Jungmann, SJ, Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1999, p. 21.
3. A. Bugnini, Reform of the Liturgy 1948-75, pp. 11-12.
4. The first English edition was translated from German by Francis A. Brunner, CSSR, and entitled The Mass of the Roman Rite: Its origins and development, 2 vol., New York: Benzinger Brothers, 1951.
5. In 1958, the English liturgist Fr Clifford Howell enthused: “There is mighty little that he holds that anyone would be inclined to dispute; for he seems to come as near to omniscience as is humanly possible. … Jungmann’s conclusions are pretty well universally accepted by the pundits. He is THE great man of the day.” (Clifford Howell, “The Parish in the Life of the Church,” Living Parish Week, Sydney, Pellegrini, 1958, p. 23)
6. Louis Bouyer, Liturgical Piety, Notre Dame, Ind: University of Notre Dame Press, 1955, p. 16.
7. Joseph Ratzinger, Preface to the French edition of Reform of the Roman Liturgy by Msgr. Klaus Gamber.
8. See, for example, Klaus Gamber, Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background, 1993, p. 5; Alcuin Reid, Organic Development of the Liturgy, 2004, pp. 151-159; and Eamon Duffy, “Fields of Faith: Theology and Religious Studies for the Twenty-first Century” in Worship, 2005, who showed convincingly that “there is in fact no warrant for supposing that an offertory procession … was ever a feature of the Roman Mass.” p. 120.
So how could it be realistically “restored,” as the reformers demanded?
9. When the Nazis closed down the University of Innsbruck’s Jesuit College in 1939, where Jungmann was teaching, he quickly packed his bags and decamped first to a residence in Vienna and, then, to a convent in Hainstetten run by the School Sisters of St. Polten.
Jungmann explained in the Foreword to Missarum Sollemnia, (p. vi): “Here, along with the moderate duties in a little church attached to the convent, I was granted not only the undisturbed quiet of a peaceful countryside, but – under the watchful care of the good Sisters – all the material conditions conducive to successful labor.”
10. During World War II, a '”funk hole” was a small private hotel or guest house in a remote part of the country where those with the necessary money could stay as permanent guests in safety and comfort.
11. These included the prayers at the foot of the altar, the silent prayers of the priest including most of the Lavabo and part of the Canon and the Last Gospel. “At a minimum we would have to say today: In order that any of these prayers be retained, a justifying reason must, in each single case, be adducible.” (J. A. Jungmann, “Problems of the Missal,” Worship, vol. 28, n. 3, 1953/4, p. 155.
12. Jungmann’s statement in its context follows:
"Since the Council of Trent, the understanding of the sacrifice of the Mass has often been obstructed by the apologetic tendency to overstrain its identity with the sacrifice of the Cross. … Exclusive stress upon the sacrifice of Christ, and unrestricted identification of the Mass with the sacrifice of Calvary, along with the ignoring of what we, as the Church, have to seek to do on our part, leads us away from the true liturgy of the Mass. … The sacrifice of the Mass is not the sacrifice for the redemption of the world, but the sacrifice made by the redeemed.” Josef A. Jungmann, Announcing the Word of God, trans. from the German by Ronald Walls, London: Burns and Oates, 1967, pp. 114 and 117.
13. “What is meant by the words Mysterium Fidei? Christian antiquity would not have referred them so much to the obscurity of what is here hidden from the senses, but accessible (in part) only to (subjective) faith. Rather it would have taken them as a reference to the grace-laden sacramentum in which the entire objective faith, the whole divine order of salvation is comprised. The chalice of the New Testament is the life-giving symbol of truth, the sanctuary of our belief. How or when or why this insertion was made, or what external event occasioned it, cannot readily be ascertained.” J. A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite: Its origin and development, Benzinger Brothers, 1950, vol. 2, pp. 200-201.
14. “I am sure it was not a mere accident that the primitive Church did not apply the term ιερευς [hiereus, “priest”] to either bishop or presbyter. … For, there is only one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ. … The term ιερευς was therefore applicable only to Christ and to the whole communion of the faithful, the holy Church, insofar as it is joined to Christ.” J. A. Jungmann, The Early Liturgy: To the Time of Gregory the Great, University of Notre Dame Press., 1959.
15. “The liturgy, the public worship of the Church, which in early times set the rhythm of Christian devotion, was, in the Middle Ages, put further and further in the background in favor of private and lay devotion. Hence subjectivism and individualism in the religious life of Catholics came strongly to the forefront. All too much leeway was given to human action in opposition to the operation of divine grace. So liturgical worship languished more and more and finally became a function of the priest, at which the people, during the liturgy and in place of it, gave themselves to private devotions. … A preliminary step to this divide was the proliferation of personal prayers, recited in a low voice by the priest. With such prayers, he already began to execute his own private ritual during the Mass.” J.A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, vol. 1, pp. 84, 104.
16. For the full text of his speech (in French), see J. A. Jungmann, “La Pastorale, Clef de L’Histoire Liturgique,” (The Pastoral Approach, Key to the History of the Liturgy) La Maison-Dieu, n. 47-48, 1956.
He criticized the silent prayers of the priest as a barrier preventing the faithful from entering into the liturgy. He compared the Canon to a veil that separated the faithful from true participation in the Mass.
17. Session 22, Canon 9 of the Council of Trent: “If any one saith, that the rite of the Roman Church, according to which a part of the Canon and the words of Consecration are pronounced in a low tone, is to be condemned; or, that the Mass ought to be celebrated in the vulgar tongue only, … let him be anathema.”
18. Pius XI, Inter multiplices (the opening words of the Introduction to the Missal of the Diocese of Braga in Portugal), Missale Bracarense, Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1924, p. viii: "Hisce tamen de antiquis Ritibus studiis praernittenda est debita scientiae praeparatio, quae comitern habeat pietatern ac docilem humilemque obedientiam. Quae si deficerent, profana evaderet et sterilis quaevis de antiquis Missae Liturgiis investigatio: contempta enim, sive ob ignorantiam, sive ob elaturn inflatumque animum, suprema in rebus liturgicis auctoritate Sedis Apostolicae, quae merito scientiarn repudiat inflantem et cum Apostolo sapientiarn loquitur inter perfectos (1 Cor. 8: 1,2: 6), periculum prorsus immineret ne error ille, qui modernismus audit, in res quoque liturgicas induceretur.” [Translation by C. Byrne]
19. Ernest Koenker, The Liturgical Renaissance in the Roman Catholic Church, University of Chicago Press, 1954, pp. 29, 30-31
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
Denying the Sacrificial Character of the Mass
Taken from here [slightly adapted].

Jungmann’s history of the Mass raises questions in the enquiring reader’s mind: Why should he have spent a decade of painstaking and meticulous research to produce a work that disparaged the faith and practice of virtually the entire history of the Church’s liturgy? What was Jungmann trying to achieve?

His concern was to amass “evidence” to show that, soon after the early years of Christianity, the Church’s liturgy had become “doctrinally corrupt” in its theology of the Mass and the priesthood. His magnum opus was an endeavor of large proportions. It was as if he had set out to bury the Roman Rite under a complex web of falsehoods and was building an elaborate funerary monument or vast mortuary palace to commemorate its passing.

But, of course, he did not succeed, no more than had the Protestants of the Pseudo-Reformation who embarked on the same quest. For the traditional Mass has unfailingly confirmed throughout the ages the Faith of the Apostles in the true meaning of the Holy Sacrifice, the Real Presence and their own priesthood.

A Front for Neo-Modernism

Where Jungmann did, however, achieve success was in influencing Church leaders and policy makers to accept his progressivist or neo-modernist ideas.

His work is a prominent example of how the power of false rationalization drove the Liturgical Movement: As we shall see below, he provided theories about how traditional doctrines were to be understood in an ecumenical perspective, i.e., in a manner acceptable to those outside the Catholic Church and away from the true Faith.

In fact, Jungmann’s theological thinking turned out to be remarkably similar to that of the 16th-century Protestants, nothing less than a rejection of the doctrine of the Mass as the Catholic Church has always understood it.

Jungmann’s privileged position as a consulter to Pius XII’s Liturgical Commission secured the adoption of some of his ideas for the 1955 Holy Week reforms. It is of the greatest significance that the rest would find a ready acceptance in Vatican II’s Liturgy Constitution (he was a member of the Preparatory Commission) and in the Novus Ordo Mass (he was a member of Bugnini’s Consilium).

Thus stands revealed the direct link between the Modernism condemned by Pope Pius X and the fateful Article 7 of the 1969 General Instruction of the Novus Ordo, (1) which defined the Mass in a Protestant sense, as “the Lord’s Supper” and the gathering of the People of God.

Attack on the Mass from inside the Church

The theoretical antecedents for Article 7 go back to the early years of the 20th century to the publication of a book, Mysterium Fidei, (2) which was extremely influential in the Liturgical Movement. Its author, Fr. Maurice de la Taille, SJ, proposed, contrary to the teaching of the Fathers of the Church, (3) St. Thomas Aquinas (4) and the Council of Trent, (5) that the Mass does not contain any reality of immolation.

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Ahead of his time, de la Taille set the framework for the Novus Ordo Missae

We can now see how this theory, put forward in 1921, had such potentially devastating consequences for the Church. For without the mystical immolation of the sacrificial Lamb on the altar, there would be no need for a sacrificing priest. The Mass would be reduced to a simple oblation, an offering of praise and thanksgiving by the community. The primary agents of the Eucharist would, therefore, be the People of God who, through their Baptism, offer the Mass through their representative, the priest. (6)

This corporate model was termed by de la Taille the “sacrifice of the Church” to replace the sacrifice of Christ performed uniquely by the ordained minister. (7) It became the dominant perspective of the Liturgical Movement and was promoted by the key figures of the nouvelle théologie.

Crucially, it was seen as a major ecumenical advance because it removed the Protestant objection to the Mass as the means of applying the merits of the Cross to souls through the mystical immolation of Christ on the altar. It was for this reason that the Anglican theologian, Dr. Eric Mascall, astutely observed that de la Taille’s theory “excited so violent a controversy in his own communion and so much admiration in ours.” (8)

One wonders how such a Catholic-sounding title as Mysterium Fidei was used for so Protestant-pleasing a book. But, then that is the modernist stock in trade.

Lambert Beauduin was one of the first to declare de la Taille’s thesis an important theological development (9) (see here) and described it as a welcome relief from an “all-absorbing obsession” with immolation. (10)

Karl Rahner considered de la Taille’s work as both stimulating and illuminating. (11) In his opinion, Mysterium Fidei “ought to have been read by every theologian in the field of the new and actively researching theology.” (12)

Henri de Lubac gloated in 1967 on the eve of the launching of the Novus Ordo Mass that de la Taille’s liturgical theology had gained the ascendancy: “The immense opposition he aroused in Mysterium Fidei is now only a memory and the essence of what he taught is now commonly accepted.” (13)

Accepted by whom? De Lubac’s terms of reference were limited to the narrow consensus of liturgical experts, but the broad swathe of faithful Catholics went on believing in the Mass as a mystical Mount Calvary, not a Protestant “Lord’s Supper” as Article 7 would indicate.

Joseph Jungmann’s sacramental theology borrowed heavily from de la Taille in the following ways:

The ‘No Immolation’ Theory

Despite the teaching of Pius XII (14) that the Mass is the re-presentation of Calvary and, therefore, contains an immolation, Jungmann insisted: “This re-presentation is indeed some sort of offering (offerre), but is not properly a sacrificial offering (sacrificari), an immolation.” (15)

In other words he was saying that the sacrifice of the Mass is not the self-same reality as the sacrifice of the Cross and that the mystical immolation that takes place in it is not a real and actual one. But here is the progressivist poison: if the Church commits her infallible authority to a doctrine that has no basis in objective reality, then, how can we believe that anything she teaches is true?

How did Jungmann seek to justify his departure from what the Council of Trent had laid down as de fide teaching on the Mass? He alleged that the Church had never been concerned about a distinction between an oblation and an immolation (16) until “the pressure of controversy” generated by the Pseudo-Reformation forced the Church to come up with a theory of immolation. (17)

Jungmann stated: “Thinking of the Mass almost exclusively as a sacrifice is a one-sided attitude resulting from the doctrinal controversies of the 16th century.” (18) Here the progressivist poison is injected: his readers are to take home the message that the Mass as a real sacrifice was not of Apostolic origin.

The ‘Sacrifice of the Church’ (19)

Jungmann proposed his own (or rather de la Taille’s) doctrine of the Mass:

Quote:“But when apologetic interests receded and the question once more arose as to what is the meaning and the purpose of the Mass in the organization of ecclesiastical life, it was precisely this point, the sacrifice of the Church, which came to the fore. ... There is nothing plainer than the thought that in the Mass the Church, the people of Christ, the congregation here assembled, offers up the sacrifice to Almighty God.” (20)

But his use of the word “sacrifice” was deliberately confused to conceal what he really meant: an offering of praise and thanksgiving by the community. (21)


1. “The Lord’s Supper, or Mass, is the sacred meeting or congregation of the people of God assembled, the priest presiding, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord.”
2. M. de la Taille, Mysterium Fidei, Paris, G. Beauchesne, 1921.
3. St Augustine, for example, taught that a real immolation takes place in the Mass: “Was not Christ immolated only once in His very Person? In the Sacrament, nevertheless, He is immolated for the people not only on every Easter Solemnity, but on every day; and a man would not be lying if, when asked, he were to reply that Christ is being immolated” (Letters 98:9).
4. With reference to the Eucharist, St. Thomas Aquinas says: “It is proper to this Sacrament that Christ should be immolated in its celebration,” for the Old Testament contains only figures of His Sacrifice (Summa, III, 83, 1).
5. The Council of Trent session 22, chapter 2, affirmed: “In this Divine Sacrifice, which is celebrated in the Mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who once offered himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the Cross.”
6. Fr. de la Taille stated: “The authors of the sacrifice, in a manner that is proper and personal to them, are the faithful whose gifts are by the priest’s hands addressed to God under the form of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ”(The Mystery of Faith and Human Opinion, New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1930, p. 134).
7. Fr. de la Taille stated: “The power and the act of sacrificing passes from the Head to the body” (Mysterium Fidei, vol. 2, p. 193).
E. L. Mascall, Christ, the Christian and the Church (London: Longmans, 1946), p. 168 apud Francis Clark, Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Reformation (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1960), pp. 263-264.
8. Prominent among those who opposed de la Taille were Fr. Alfred Swaby, “A New Theory of Eucharistic Sacrifice, American Ecclesiastical Review, 69 (1923), pp. 460-47 3; Fr. Vincent McNabb, “A New Theory of the Sacrifice of the Mass,” Irish Ecclesiastical Review 23 (1924), pp. 561-573; and Dom Anscar Vonier, Abbot of Buckfast Abbey, A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, 1925).
9. L. Beauduin, “Le Saint Sacrifice de la Messe: A propos d'un Livre Récent,” in Les questions liturgiques et paroissiales, vol. VII, 1922, pp. 197-198. He stated: “Le Christ n'a été immolé réellement qu'une seule fois: ce fut dans le sacrifice sanglant de la Passion. Par contre ni la Cène, ni la Messe ne contiennent une Immolation réelle et distincte d'aucune sorte.” (Christ was immolated in reality only once: that was in the bloody sacrifice of the Passion. However, neither the Supper nor the Mass contains a real and distinct Immolation of any kind.”)
10. Ibid., p. 202: “La thèse du P. de la Taille est une délivrance et un soulagement.” (Fr. de la Taille’s thesis is a liberation and a relief.)
11. Karl Rahner opined: “What is it that makes the properly historical in studies like those of de Lubac or de la Taille so stimulating and to the point? Surely it is the art of reading texts in such a way that they become not just votes cast in favour of or against our current positions (positions taken up long ago), but say something to us that we in our time have not considered at all or not closely enough about reality itself.”
12. “The Prospects for Dogmatic Theology,” in Theological Investigations, vol. I (Baltimore: Helicon Press, 1961), pp. 9-10.
13. Karl Rahner, “Latin as a Church language,” in Theological Investigations, vol. V (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1966), p. 397.
14. H. de Lubac, The Mystery of the Supernatural (Herder and Herder, 1967), p. 4.
15. Pius XII had said in Mediator Dei, n. 91: “The unbloody immolation at the words of Consecration, when Christ is made present upon the altar in the state of a victim, is performed by the priest and by him alone, as the representative of Christ and not as the representative of the faithful.”
Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, vol. 1, p. 184.
16. Ibid. But St. Thomas Aquinas had already disproved this point in the Summa ( q. 85, art. 3) when he said that “every immolation is an oblation, but not conversely,” i.e., not every oblation is an immolation.
17. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, vol. 1, p. 184.
18. Jungmann, Announcing the Word of God, trans. from the German by Ronald Walls (London : Burns & Oates, 1967), p. 112.
19. Jungmann was aware of his debt to de la Taille on this point. In fact, Jungmann states (cf. The Mass of the Roman Rite, vol. 1, p. 182, note 21): “In recent times the sacrifice of the Church has been given theological emphasis by M. de la Taille, Mysterium Fidei (Paris, 1921).”
20. Ibid., p. 180.
21. Jungmann believed that the Eucharist “is not primarily an object for our adoration, nor yet for the nourishment of the soul, but is, as its name indicates, a sacrifice of thanksgiving, of sacrifice within the assembled congregation.” He also affirmed that this communal celebration is the “primary and true function” of the Mass (Announcing the Word of God, p. 110)
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
Jungmann’s Idea of the ‘Sacrifice of the Church’
Taken from here [slightly adapted - all emphasis in the original].

Jungmann outlined the Council of Trent’s doctrine of the Mass, but interpreted it as follows:
  • “The Mass is a celebration for which the Church assembles.” (1)
  • “It is a celebration which presents God with a thanksgiving, an offering, indeed a sacrifice. (2)
  • It is “an expression of the self-offering of the Church.” (3)
  • “It is the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Church. In our liturgical study we may not treat the sacrifice of the Church as a matter of secondary moment.” (4)
With these statements Jungmann gave the impression that the substance of the Mass is determined not by Christ’s Sacrifice as offered by the priest, but by the “sacrificial activity of the community,” (5) which is not to be deemed of inferior value (“of secondary moment”) to Christ’s.

This is nothing other than the “democratization” of the Church which Benedictine Dom Lambert Beauduin had called for in his 1909 Manifesto and which lives on in the Novus Ordo, as evidenced by the following extracts from the current General Instruction of the Roman Missal:

Quote:34. Since the celebration of Mass by its nature has a “communitarian” character, both the dialogues between the priest and the assembled faithful and the acclamations are of great significance; for they are not simply outward signs of communal celebration, but foster and bring about communion between priest and people.

35. The acclamations and the responses of the faithful to the priest’s greetings and prayers constitute that level of active participation that is to be made by the assembled faithful in every form of the Mass, so that the action of the whole community may be clearly expressed and fostered.

Here we can also see the influence of de la Taille, who believed that it is the whole community that holds the principal place in offering the sacrifice in the Mass. (6) He also maintained that Christ is not immolated on the altar, but merely offered anew by priest and people.

The Concelebrating Laity

Throughout his career as a liturgist, Jungmann emphasized that the Mass (which he often preferred to call the Eucharist) is a service of praise and thanksgiving undertaken by the whole community. He attributed this pattern of worship to the early Christians and believed it to have disappeared when taken over by the ordained priesthood:

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Full participation of the people sharing the role of the priest, considered a president of the community

“The corporate character of public worship, so meaningful for early Christianity, began to crumble at the foundations.” (7)

In this respect, he mentioned the “concelebration of the laity” (8) as a desirable feature that he wished the Church to “restore” – along with other illusory notions such as Offertory processions etc.

Jungmann was perfectly aware that the “sacrifice of the Church” thesis (which he had culled from Fr. Maurice de la Taille) was not in line with the traditional teaching that had formed the faith of Catholics for centuries.

At a Liturgical Congress in Munich in 1955, he called for a new understanding of the Mass, an “awakening of the meaning of the Mass as a genuine community offering” on the alleged grounds that “we lost, through the centuries, the sense of the liturgy.” (9)

At the Assisi Congress in 1956, Fr. Ferdinand Antonelli also lamented that “the people have been separated, unfortunately, from the true liturgical life. A patient work of re-education, spiritual and technical, is needed to bring them back to an active, enlightened, personal, communitarian participation. This is a work that is not done in a year. It may require generations. But it must begin.”(10)

Dropping Tradition Down the Memory Hole

Here we have an admission from one of the Church’s most influential liturgists that a program of “re-education” should be put in place to change the outlook of those who hold “wrong” (i.e., traditional) views or who resist the reforms.

The most evident feature of Fr. Antonelli’s statement is its subtle totalitarian overtones, which mimicked a technique that Socialist States have universally practiced – the imposition of thought control through a process of brainwashing. It puts one in mind of the Orwellian memory holes into which unacceptable truths can be dropped and, thus, wiped from the annals of history. (11)

Metaphorically speaking, this was the fate of Pope Pius V’s Quo Primum, which was placed at the front of every typical edition of the Roman Missal printed from 1570 to 1962, but was unceremoniously “dumped” when the Novus Ordo Missae was published in 1969.

Indeed, the success of the liturgical re-education in producing a massive and sudden amnesia among the faithful was later verified by Fr. Frederick McManus (one of the foremost liturgists and a participant at the 1956 Assisi Congress). Without evincing the least compunction or regret at having brought about a revolution, he stated:

Quote:“The reformed Eucharistic liturgy of the Roman rite is a most extraordinary and revolutionary accomplishment. After four centuries of increasing rigidity of text and form, almost overnight the Roman liturgy changed so notably that once familiar features of the pre-conciliar rite are now as remote to us as some obscure aboriginal ritual.” (12) 

It does not need any very close observation to perceive in this remark the spirit of Modernism, which exalts the liturgical reforms at the expense of tradition and delights in obliterating the past. It demonstrates how swiftly Pius V’s Quo Primum (13) has been written out of the ecclesiastical script by reformers seeking to hasten its disappearance.

We can furthermore draw a comparison with the Cultural Revolution in China from 1966 to 1976 (incidentally the time when the first major wave of universal destruction was unleashed in the Church by the Conciliar Revolution). This was when the Chinese people were bullied into rejection of the “Four Olds”: Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits and Old Ideas.

Just as those who adhered to “the Four Olds” were sent to re-education camps, so Catholics who clung to the old ways were indoctrinated into accepting rapid, radical changes that bore no resemblance to the past. Priests especially were browbeaten into submission by Mao-like appeals to the “authority of Vatican II” and by having official sanctions (including excommunication) invoked against them.

The History of the Liturgy as Reflected in a Distorted Lens

Jungmann wrote what was basically a revisionist view of the Church’s liturgical development since early Christian times. He started with what he wanted to prove and then worked backwards, finding “confirmation” of his preconceived theories in the events of liturgical history.

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A common  sight today: priests celebrating Mass with the people's full participation

As we have seen, Jungmann was given to much rash speculation and would allow his imagination to fill in the gaps where evidence was lacking. He would also seek evidence, however tenuous, in some obscure synod or chance remark by a contemporary observer about liturgical practices in the early centuries of the Church, and assume that it was the universal practice in the Church.

Hence the existence, as we have seen, of some notable factual errors, manipulation of the historical records and even some instances of downright fakery strewn throughout his work.

Unfortunately, too many Vatican II Bishops and priests were willing to blindly endorse Jungmann’s hypotheses without bothering to look at how he actually reached his bogus conclusions. Had they done so, they would have seen that many of his theories were simply Neo-Modernism dressed up in faux academic garb.

It is an indication of how ineffective the Church of Pius XII was in combating Progressivism that there was virtually no one in the Vatican willing to hold him or his fellow progressivists to account. In the practical sphere, when it came to cleansing the Augean stables, Pius XII had all the effectiveness of a feather duster. Even though Jungmann’s thesis undermined belief in the true nature of the Mass and the priesthood, he was given a place of honor at the Assisi Congress.

In the next article we will look at some further examples of Jungmann’s use of propaganda tactics to denigrate and discredit the Church’s venerable liturgy in the eyes of the faithful.


1. Jungmann, Mass of the Roman Rite, vol. 1, p. 175
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid., p. 194
4. Ibid., p. 179
5. Jungmann, ibid., vol. 2, p. 226
6. “The Church holds the principal place in offering as does the devotion of the Church in determining the value of the sacrifice.” (Mysterium Fidei, Paris, 1921, p. 32)
7. Jungmann, Pastoral Liturgy (New York, Herder and Herder, 1962), p. 60
8. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, vol. 1, p. 117
9. Sylvester Theisen, ‘Liturgists at Munich,’ The Tablet, 17 September 1955
10. ‘The Liturgical Reform of Holy Week, its Importance, Achievements and Perspectives’, La Maison-Dieu, n. 47-48, Editions du Cerf, 1956, p. 244.
11. In George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, the memory hole was a vacuum tube into which old documents considered to be politically incorrect were dispatched and “would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces that were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.”
12. Frederick McManus, ‘The Genius of the Roman Rite Revisited,’ in Worship, vol. 54, n.4, July, 1980, p. 360
13. In 1570, Pope St. Pius V issued the solemn decree Quo Primum by which he codified the traditional Mass of the Roman Rite and ordered it to be used throughout the Catholic world “in perpetuity.”
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
Disinformation to Denigrate the Liturgy
Taken from here [slightly adapted - all emphasis in the original].

Jungmann not only spread misinformation but also something far more insidious: disinformation. Whereas the former is incorrect or inaccurate information arising from ignorance of the facts, the latter is false information deliberately designed to mislead, confound or subvert the recipient.

For, in his scholarly research, Jungmann mixed some truth and historical observation with false conclusions, half-truths and lies in order to denigrate the value of the traditional liturgy. This lethal mixture was presented in such a way as to provoke the desired response particularly among the clergy – animosity against liturgical traditions, which had supposedly plagued the Church for centuries.

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Boston seminarians at lunch in the 1970s, imbued with the relaxed spirit of the new liturgy

By the late 1960s the disinformation was indelibly stamped into the consciousness of priests and religious through compulsory “re-education” courses so effectively that the new thinking was regarded as axiomatic and, therefore, beyond dispute. The full extent of the damage done by the disinformation campaign only became apparent in stages:

First, as the clergy adopted the new rites devised by the innovators, their understanding of the meaning of the Mass and Sacraments changed. They ceased to understand because they no longer performed the rites that expressed their true meaning.

Second, as a result of so much anti-traditional propaganda, they came to bitterly resent the liturgy in which they themselves had been formed, regarding it as “oppressive”, “triumphalist” and “meaningless”. The persistence of this prejudice can still be seen today in the majority of priests who feel ashamed and embarrassed to be associated with it.

Third, any liturgical practice that did not enjoy the support of the Liturgical Movement was regarded as illegitimate. The inevitable result was the persecution of priests who remained faithful to the old ways.

Fourth, when, eventually, the liturgical poisoned cocktail percolated down to parish level, the faithful in the pews imbibed the same hostility against their own traditions.

Jungmann’s Address to the Assisi Congress in 1956

What follows is a résumé of the key points of Jungmann's speech that are still used today as “justification” for the Vatican II reforms. This is the gist of his speech, inspired by a deep loathing for the Church’s liturgical tradition:

From the beginning of the Middle Ages, a “wall of fog” settled between liturgy and people and separated them, with the result that the people could only dimly discern what was happening at the altar.

Here we can see the Liturgical Movement’s propaganda machine in full effect. A man awarded with the most prestigious accolades for scholarship stoops to spin tales about the past, which are now generally regarded as “fact” by practitioners of the new rites. His success illustrates the truth of Orwell’s dictum: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

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Jungmann: the ‘ossified’ Mass reduces the people to ‘silent spectators’

The language of the liturgy, understood only by the clergy, created a “gap” between the priest and the people, who were thus reduced to “silent spectators” and excluded from participation.

This is another common fallacy of the Liturgical Movement which gained traction under Pius XII and was used as the basis for the “active participation” of the laity through “dialogue” with the priest during Mass. The “necessity” for dialogue has become so well embedded in the consciousness of modern Mass-goers that they cannot comprehend how their ancestors did not feel “excluded” by remaining silent.

The truth is that the faithful of past ages knew that the priest was offering the Holy Sacrifice at the altar and could participate prayerfully in it through faith and devotion. They neither needed nor asked for more. The “Dialogue Mass” was, therefore, a solution to a problem that did not exist.

The liturgy became “ossified” into a medley of words and gestures subjected to fixed rules and lost the “living” quality that was once characteristic of the early Christian community.

But the traditional liturgy was always – and still is – a living reality , the authentic expression of the Catholic Faith. In open contempt for liturgical tradition, the reformers regarded its unchanging ceremonies as a useless repetition of meaningless acts, a dead weight to be cast off, encrusted barnacles to be scraped off the Barque of Peter.

There is no longer any need for protection of the liturgy: “pastoral” concerns are the highest priority.

According to Jungmann, there is no need to go on guarding and defending the Church’s liturgical heritage. But if the liturgy is not protected, then neither is the faith, which is enshrined in it.

According to the old adage of lex orandi , lex credendi, it is not possible to alter one without altering the other. When applied to the liturgy, the word “pastoral” meant that it should be refashioned to suit the mentality of modern man. This would, of course, involve profound and unprecedented changes.

We must go back to the early Christian forms as an example of real pastoral practice.

This suggestion was an example of the “antiquarianism” condemned by Pius XII in Mediator Dei as causing “grievous harm to souls.” By adopting this principle, the reformers destroyed the means by which the Church’s historical identity was formed throughout the centuries and is preserved.

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Seminarians perform with guitars in the 1970s as the Church ‘discovers fresh forces’

As a result, the faithful were cut off from contact with the treasures of the liturgy that conveyed and dispensed sanctifying grace superabundantly. How less pastoral can you get?

The reformed Easter Vigil was a model of pastoral liturgy because it enabled the people to participate actively and regard it as “our liturgy.”

But the whole point is that what we regarded as “our liturgy” was forcibly taken from us and replaced by the reformers with their liturgy.

The Liturgical Movement represents the dawn of a new luminous day. The Church discovers fresh forces. It marches with confidence towards a future in which it will be once more the People of God at prayer. (1) (See here)

With this revolutionary talk of a shining future for the renewed liturgy, we are clearly in the realm of “agitprop”(2) of the kind that was being simultaneously practiced in communist countries where radiant futures were endlessly promised but never delivered. Its role in the Liturgical Movement bears an ironic similarity to the final stages of the Soviet Union just before its collapse when perestroika was held up as the harbinger of a bright future of peace and socialist enlightenment.

It should be obvious to all that Jungmann was putting a pastoral face on an otherwise brutal reality: He was promoting a liturgical perestroika – a “restructuring” of the entire liturgy that would necessarily entail momentous departures from traditional practice to incorporate “active participation” of the laity.

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Participation becomes common in the 1970s as the liturgy & people abandon tradition

His proposals would radically change the very foundation of belief and worship. Under the guise of simplifying and purifying the liturgy, he and his colleagues created new forms to express new beliefs: the Mass as a celebration of the community or a catalyst for social reform or a means of self-expression.

There was nothing original in Jungmann’s anti-tradition propaganda. He was simply voicing what Beauduin and other liturgical leaders had been alleging since the beginning of the 20th century. The underlying message of their critique is that, for most of its history, the Church had a deficient understanding of the Mass and that it would be the work of the Liturgical Movement to minister to the true needs of the faithful.

But if, as they alleged, the Church had practiced her liturgy so badly in so many points for so many centuries, then the Holy Spirit must not have been inspiring her. Now, if the Holy Spirit was not with the Church, she was not the true Church. So, why should anyone want to take her seriously now? Thus, the creators of new rites who pretended to be representing the Church lose all claim to attention or credibility.

It seems that it was not just the liturgy that Jungmann was trying to consign to the museum of history, but Catholicism itself.


1. J. A. Jungmann, ‘La Pastorale, Clef de L’Histoire Liturgique,’ La Maison-Dieu, No. 47-8, 1956, pp. 62-3. See here.
2. Agitprop is a portmanteau, i.e. a combination of two words: agitation and propaganda. It was originally used in Soviet Russia, inspired by a Communist Party committee called the “Department for Agitation and Propaganda.” Its goal was to spread the ideals of Communism throughout the world. The term is now used for a publication that tries to influence opinion for its own ends by “agitating” people’s minds in a desired direction.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
The Liturgy Is Not a Work of the People
Taken from here [slightly adapted - all emphasis in the original].

The leaders of the Liturgical Movement were aware of the power of the traditional lex orandi – the fixed rites, hieratic language and gestures, ceremonial vestments, architecture and sacred music – to focus the mind on the transcendent nature of the liturgy. It was abundantly clear to all the faithful, priests and people alike, that what was taking place at the altar was a divine action.

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Normal today: a group of lay ministers in Camden; below, parishioners join the priest in giving a blessing

[Image: F109_Blessing2.jpg]

For Jungmann and some of his associates, however, it was this very transcendence that was a “scandal” because it failed to give the people an active role in the liturgy. He complained in the following terms:

“The Mass is viewed almost exclusively as an action of God. In the liturgical unfolding of the celebration of Mass, the action of the Church, its prayer of thanks and its gift-offerings are no longer perceived as in former ages; only the work, the redeeming work of God. The priest alone is active. The faithful, viewing what he is performing are like spectators looking on at a mystery-filled drama of Our Lord’s way of the Cross.” (1)

It is quite obvious from this and many other statements made by Fr. Jungmann that he wanted his readers to believe that the traditional sense of worship of God was unacceptable. His statement carries the implication that the lex orandi as it was practiced for centuries was not the authentic liturgical tradition of the Catholic Church, because it was too God-centered and priest-dominated.

The question needs to be asked: Could this have been written by a priest who was truly holy? Had this statement come from the pen of a less able and distinguished person, it might have passed unnoticed or have been dismissed as the prejudice of an anti-Catholic bigot heaping scorn on the Church’s sacred Tradition. (But he built his career on doing just that.)

Unfortunately, with his ascribed status of a liturgical giant, Jungmann was listened to in the highest echelons of the Church and gained the undying admiration of the reformers.

It is, therefore, important that Catholics, especially priests, should examine the accuracy and the implications of what he was alleging against the Church. We shall begin our investigation by asking and answering the following questions based on Jungmann’s theories.
  • In what sense precisely is the liturgy not “exclusively an action of God”?
  • Why should the fact that “the priest alone is active” lead to the conclusion that the traditional manner of celebrating Mass is a “corruption” of the lex orandi?
  • How does the unique role of the priest actually prevent the faithful from true, spiritual participation in the liturgy?

Is Liturgy the “Work of the People”?

These questions can be answered at a stroke by refuting the basic premise of the Liturgical Movement that “liturgy” means fundamentally the “work of the people” in the sense of a celebrating community.

The idea was first proposed in 1909 by Dom Beauduin as representing the “true prayer of the Church” (2) in opposition to the traditional teaching that it pertains to the priest alone to celebrate the Mass. It found a ready acceptance among the avant garde in the Liturgical Movement, who wanted to revolutionize the Church’s liturgy in the direction of “active participation” for all the laity, “not just for the priest,” as Beauduin put it.

But it was largely due to the influence of Jungmann’s writings that the idea of the laity as the active principle in the liturgy took root in the Church and bore the blighted fruit of so-called lay “ministries” in the novus ordo.

Some of the more daring and imaginative reformers claimed to have “proved” the work-of-the-people thesis by resorting to etymology, only to fall flat on their faces. The word Liturgy, they assert (correctly), is derived from the Greek leitourgia; but they mistakenly claim that this word is composed of two elements: laos (people) and ergon (work). It sounds plausible, but the problem is that it is not true.

Leitourgia is actually derived from leitos, meaning “public” and was originally used to denote acts of public service undertaken by a benefactor (leitourgos) for the good of the community. (3) It was undoubtedly “work” and it was certainly about “people,” but it was never meant in the sense of “work of the people.”

In other words, the work was not done by the people, but for them and on their behalf. (4) How unethical it would be if the people failed to recognize their benefactor’s munificence and attributed the glory of his deeds to themselves!

The Liturgy is in Its Essence the Action of Christ

There is an obvious correlation between this ancient usage and the traditional liturgy insofar as it shows the distinction between the leitourgos and the people. For Christ is identified by St. Paul as our Leitourgos (Minister of the sanctuary) (5) and continually gives His life for the spiritual benefit of the people. It is essentially His (not our) redeeming work for the salvation of souls; it is His Sacrifice for His people, His earthly ministry that the priest alone performs in His name. Therefore, the liturgy is not something that we do, but that Christ does for our salvation.

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Jungmann's notion of the Mass was opposed to the priest renewing the Sacrifice of Christ on the altar

But Jungmann took a diametrically opposite view:

“In reality, from its very beginning the structure of the Mass portrays it as our sacrifice; it is our entering into the sacrifice of Christ; it is our affiliation with His oblation to the heavenly Father.” [emphasis in the original] (6)

So, the term “Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” is no longer heard, because today worship is viewed as the “work of the people,” an overwhelmingly human action. There was a conscious sidelining within the Liturgical Movement of the teaching of the Council of Trent that the Mass is the Sacrifice of Calvary renewed on the altar. Jungmann stated that “thinking of the Mass almost exclusively as a sacrifice is a one-sided attitude resulting from the doctrinal controversies of the 16th century.” (7)

In fact, until the Liturgical Movement altered its meaning, the word “leitourgia,” when applied to the Church’s worship, was understood to designate the activity of Christ the High Priest; secondly and by extension, the activity of the priest who officiates in loco Christi (in the place of Christ). This understanding of the Mass is not only rooted in Scripture, but is visibly enshrined in the traditional rites where “the priest alone is active”.

In other words, it has been traditionally understood that liturgy is, by its very nature, a clerical activity.

Repudiation of the Past

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Christ as High Priest - gone in the Novus Ordo Anti-Liturgy

This is the very concept that the Liturgical Movement was set up to stifle. It succeeded so well that the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) now teaches that: “In a liturgical celebration, the whole assembly is leitourgos,” (8) i.e., collective ministers of the Church’s official worship by reason of their common priesthood.

So, on this view, the title of Christ as Leitourgos and the role of the priest acting as alter Christus are no longer unique, but shared democratically among the lay people.

The Novus Ordo: An Anti-Liturgy

It follows that, insofar as the novus ordo is the “work of the people,” it loses its divine character and cannot lay claim to the title of liturgy in the sense of true worship of God. It is not just a non-liturgy, but an anti-liturgy. It has been devised in such a way that in practice the people act as if they were the main focus of worship, rather than God. They celebrate their own lives and achievements in this world only. This is particularly evident in the Requiem Mass.

Those who participate in such ceremonies are often misled into believing that God is nothing more than the community, which comes together in church. This explains how it has become second nature for the novus ordo priest to turn his back on Christ in the tabernacle and face the people, whom he now instinctively considers as the real protagonists in the liturgy.


1. Josef Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, vol. 1, p. 117
2. This was the title of the address he gave at the Malines Conference in 1909 which inaugurated the Liturgical Movement.
3. In ancient Greece, leitourgia referred to an act of public service performed by a private citizen (the leitourgos) at his own expense. Thus, for example, a wealthy Athenian might construct a civic building such as a theatre or temple, build a bridge, fit out a war ship and pay the crew, or finance sporting and cultural events.
4. The Liturgical Movement’s influence on this point was so great that modern liturgists still echo Jungmann’s complaint that the faithful were excluded from the pre-Vatican II liturgy. For example, the Benedictine Kevin Seasoltz expressed his outrage that “for almost 400 years before Sacrosanctum Concilium, the rubrics of the 1570 Missal of Pius V provided that the Mass was celebrated for the people rather than by the people.” (Kevin Seasoltz, O.S.B., ‘The Liturgical Assembly: Light From Some Recent Scholarship,” in Rule of Prayer, Rule of Faith: Essays 5. In Honor Of Aidan Kavanagh O.S.B. (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1996), p. 322).
6. St Paul, Letter to the Hebrews 8:2.
7. Ibid., p. 115.
8. J. A. Jungmann, Announcing the Word of God, trans. from the German by Ronald Walls (London: Burns and Oates, 1967), p. 111.
9. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1992, § 1188.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
Liturgical Inversion: People First, God Second
Taken from here [slightly adapted - all emphasis in the original].

Turning again to the venerable formula lex orandi, lex credendi, we can see that the liturgy reveals what we truly believe and how we view ourselves in relation to God. It is evident that every part of the traditional Mass – each of its rituals, gestures and prayers – has a transcendent dimension reflecting the supreme honor due to God. But there is an inversion at the heart of the Liturgical Movement that reflects the exaltation of man and has led to the almost total neglect of reverence and a sense of the sacred in the liturgy.

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The congregation’s ‘full participation’ at the Our Father; below, participation takes new dimensions in a Brazilian charismatic Mass

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Jungmann was dissatisfied (but is not dissatisfaction the hallmark of all progressivists?) with a liturgy that was “viewed almost exclusively as an action of God.” He preferred, instead, to shift the center of gravity towards the “People of God at prayer.” He believed that the people, rather than the priest alone, should be given a central role in the liturgy even during the Canon, the most sacred and solemn part of the Mass.

The following extract from his magnum opus illustrates this in a nutshell:
Quote:“A thanksgiving prayer rises from the congregation and is borne up to God by the priest; it shifts into the words of consecration, and then into the oblation of the sacred gifts and this oblation, in turn, concludes with a solemn word of praise.” (1)

Here the people’s thanksgiving prayer shades imperceptibly into the words of Consecration so that any distinction between the priest and the laity is extremely blurred. The impression is given that it is the assembled people who are the actual ministers of the Consecration and who together fulfill Christ’s Institution.

Quote:“It is the whole believing people who make up the Ecclesia, which approaches God in prayer through the liturgy.” (2) 

That, Jungmann insisted, was of the essence: 
Quote:“In the early Christian age the liturgy was essentially corporate public worship” (3)

In other words, he was teaching the Protestant notion that the Eucharist is essentially a banquet of the assembled people; it was their action of praise and thanksgiving that gave meaning to the rites. According this progressivist notion, the Church went astray in privileging the priest over the laity in the celebration of the liturgy.

Jungmann’s influence was far-reaching and profound, judging from the man-centered liturgies that are now the norm. There is little, if any, awareness of God in this typical understanding of the Novus Ordo explained by the Carmelite Fr. Gregory Klein:
Quote:“Eucharist begins with the assembly, the people gather in the name of Jesus Christ. While the details of the environment in which the people gather, the occasion on which people gather, and the manner in which people gather are not unimportant, Eucharist is about people.” (4)

Less reverence towards God, more ‘active participation’

Jungmann attacked the traditional Mass on the grounds that the congregation had no active role to play, and complained that, correspondingly,
Quote:“the Mass becomes all the more the mystery of God’s coming to man, a mystery one must adoringly wonder at and contemplate from afar.” (5)

This is a clear indication that Jungmann saw an inverse correlation between the active participation of the laity and a God-centered liturgy: Insofar as the former decreases, the latter increases.

So, when God and man are weighed in the balance, a marked see-saw effect is produced. Too high an honor paid to God in the liturgy was, according to Jungmann to be avoided, on the grounds that it debased the dignity of the all-important lay people: their “rights” to “actively participate” should always be in the ascendant.

But, since when was it considered unjust and oppressive to put the supreme reverence due to God before the interests of the laity? Only since the Liturgical Movement decided that God was an inconvenient obstacle to their supposed rights to “actively participate” in the liturgy.

With Vatican II, the see-saw has definitely been tilted in favor of man: the Liturgy Constitution mandates that “active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else.” And, lest anyone should fail to appreciate the supreme importance of such participation, the Liturgy Constitution rubs it well in: the phrase is repeated 17 times in the document. (6)

Reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament, an Obstacle

As reverence – or lack of it – is ultimately a question of faith, Jungmann revealed the basic objection of the liturgical reformers to putting God first:
Quote:“We must see the Tabernacle as a hindrance to the celebration [of Mass] … because the presence of the Blessed Eucharist from the very start of the Mass must prejudice the logic of the course of the celebration.” (7)

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Children called to the altar to participate lose the sense of reverence, which leads to a completely casual reception of the Communion, below

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It was this specious and diabolical logic that turned the liturgy into the “work of the people” and the church building into the “house of the people” in which God’s dwelling place is daily dishonored by man-centered celebrations.

This “people first” logic led to the virtual disappearance of the reverence and solemnity that have traditionally characterized the liturgy, the reception of Communion and devotions in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. And their sudden withdrawal was bound to impact negatively on faith in the Real Presence.

For the symbols and signs of adoration communicated something of the sacred mysteries to the humble faithful in ways that the words by liturgical scholars often failed to convey.

Jungmann even went so far as to belittle devotion to the Blessed Sacrament by criticizing the sense of awe displayed by the faithful before the Real Presence:
Quote:“The result of this turn to Christ’s Eucharistic presence as God among mortals is an inordinate emphasis on the Eucharist as a sacrificial activity of the priest alone, inducing awe at Christ’s presence among liturgical spectators.” (8)

His theories were behind the drive to marginalize the greatest of all Sacraments:
Quote:“The measure in which the sacramental Presence becomes central is also the measure in which truly sacramental thinking fades out.” (9)

But, post-conciliar history has proved precisely the opposite to be true: the measure in which the cult of man becomes central is also the measure in which belief in the sacramental Presence fades out.

‘If Thou Hadst Thy Way, All Reverence Should be Abolished’ (Job 15:4)

Jungmann admitted to a lessening of esteem for the Real Presence: “The liturgical movement, it has been said, has reduced the honor paid to the Saviour in the Eucharist. That may be so.”

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A stadium Mass that looks more like a rock festival... all reverence was abandoned

In his opinion, however, the gains in terms of lay participation far outweigh the diminution of latria. (10)

However, without due reverence shown to God, the liturgy becomes self-referential and earth-bound. Reverence and awe are essential responses to the presence of God, a sign that the faithful are conscious of the reality and transcendence of God.

It is obvious to us now that the very idea of reverence and even the instinct for it have by and large disappeared in the modern liturgy. The clergy were the first to disown their duty of reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament, followed by the faithful who seem not to be offended or in the least bothered by its absence.

No Smoke without Fire

Regarding the hackneyed saying of Pope Paul VI that “through some crack or fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God,” (11) the question arises: who was the main culprit stoking the fire that sent the smoke swirling about the sanctuary?

No one thought of pointing to Jungmann. He was too erudite, too well respected among the liberal intelligentsia, too well protected by all the Popes from Pius XII to Paul VI. Nonetheless, many of his writings embodied a horror of reverence and a rejection of the supernatural dimensions of the liturgy. By continually promoting the laity to the foreground, he betrayed a desire to obscure the sacredness of the Holy Sacrifice and diminish awareness of the mystery in the minds of the faithful.

The “fissure” was Vatican II’s Liturgy Constitution, particularly its §14, which made the “active participation” of the laity a pivotal point of Catholic worship, thus putting the traditional orientation into reverse. Such a revolution in the lex orandi – reflecting first and foremost the “work of the people” and thereby implying a dishonor to God – could not possibly have been inspired by the Holy Spirit.


1. Josef Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, vol. 2, p. 101
2. J. Jungmann, ‘The Defeat of Teutonic Arianism and the Revolution of Religious Culture in the Early Middle Ages,’ in Pastoral Liturgy, New York: Herder and Herder, 1962, p. 101. Jungmann had written this essay in 1947.
3. Ibid., p. 2.
4. Gregory Klein, O. C., Pastoral Foundations of the Sacraments, Paulist Press, 1998, p. 86.
5. J. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, vol. 1, p. 84
6. There are 12 references to “active participation”; four to “participation” as understood in the active sense of the word, and one to “participate intelligently, actively, and easily.”
7. J. Jungmann, Announcing The Word of God, translated from the German by Ronald Walls, London : Burns and Oates, 1967, p. 122.
8. J. Jungmann, The Place of Christ in Liturgical Prayer, trans. Geoffrey Chapman, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1989, 1965, p. 263. The first edition was published in 1925 when Jungmann was a young university lecturer in Innsbruck. It was praised by two of his devotees, Dom Odo Casel and Fr. Karl Adam, as a major contribution to the Liturgical Movement.
9. J. Jungmann, ‘The Defeat of Teutonic Arianism’, p. 88.
10. “We understand the Church better, the Church which celebrates the Eucharist, and the unity of the Church which the sacrament calls for; we understand better baptism from which the Church is born; and Scripture, the other table of God which nourishes us at the start of every Eucharistic celebration, has acquired a new and richer relevance.” (J.A. Jungmann, “Eucharistic Piety,” in The Way: A Quarterly Review of Christian Spirituality, London, vol.3, n.2, 1963, p. 94). The journal (1961-1986) was an in-house publication produced by the Jesuits of the Immaculate Conception Church, Farm Street, in the Mayfair district of London.
11. “da qualche fessura sia entrato il fumo di Satana nel tempio di Dio”: Homily of Paul VI on 29 June 1972.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

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