Monday, September 26, 2016

The Third Liturgical Movement

The heart of any religion resides in its expression of worship. In the nexus of rites, rituals and prayers, the preternatural meaning of its conception of the Deity and reality's relationship to it resides. The sure indicator of the health of any religion, therefore, is the degree to which its worship is preserved or degraded. Where the nexus is fractured, there will most likely follow confusion and obfuscation of the preternatural language.

The original liturgical movement developed into a nearly ecumenical phenomenon with the goals of a) rediscovering Christianity's preternatural language and b) discover a universal language of Christian liturgy that was cross denominational in scope. The degree to which either objective was achieved is debatable. However, in its origins, if we are to be precise, the original liturgical movement began as a distinctly Roman Catholic phenomenon. Although it would grow in scope as Anglicans and Lutherans lined up in the quest to rediscover the genius of the Western liturgical tradition, the Roman segment of the liturgical movement always carried particular pre-occupations revolving around reconciling the ecclesiology and liturgy with the early modern developments of the papacy and papal mandates for liturgical reform. By the end of the original liturgical movement, Roman Catholic liturgists ultimate focused largely on these pre-occupations, in no small part due to Paul VI's liturgical reforms.

The "new liturgical movement," which reader's of this blog will know I think flaunts absolute audacity by so flagrantly trying to claim the mantle of the original, has been in large measure a Roman phenomenon and in continuation of the aims that stagnated their predecessors. Or, to be more blunt, the "new liturgical movement" was largely concerned with inter Roman conflict regarding which new form of the Roman rite, 1962 or 1970, should be normative and how it ought to be celebrated. For the most part, when the "new liturgical movement" played its hand, it often proved to be little more than a movement oriented to applying the papal mandates of 1962, with no regard for how the early modern reforms of the Roman rite (by papal decree) disrupted the Latin tradition. On occasion one found authors who were more honest and noble in their intent. There were and are those who try to push our attention to the wealth of the Latin liturgical tradition without obsessing over papal mandate, and there are those who are keenly aware that the crisis in the Western Church is at such point that the focus of our attention ought to shift away from ideological fantasies and more towards actually inculcating a strong liturgical praxis. This being noted, their efforts are, sadly, overshadowed.

What is needed now is a "Third Liturgical Movement," a liturgical movement  dedicated to recovering and reapplying the full breadth and scope of the Latin/Western liturgical tradition and cultivating liturgical praxis. It is with this in mind that I pray Fr. Chadwick's endeavor to re-launch his website, As the Sun in its Orb, proves successful.

Fr. Chadwick states his intention quite elegantly:

I would like the website to be an objective reference for those who identify with my idea of a “liturgical movement” (for want of a better term). I consciously promote Sarum because it is an Anglican liturgy – it continued to be used from Henry VIII’s break from Rome until the first Prayer Book of 1549. I am English and Anglican. However, my “target” is wider in that there are others in the world who can appeal to their old traditions, whether they live in Lyons, Milan, Rouen, Toledo, Braga or other places where there was a solid local tradition before Tridentine centralism moved in with heavy-handed tactics.

It is this very paradigm shift which is sorely needed if any further attempts at a liturgical movement aspire to lift the Western Church out of the mire of modern liturgical reforms.


  1. It's a very noble endeavor but I'm not sure it's possible within the Roman Catholic Church to go back beyond the modern papal reforms. For better or worse matters liturgical within Rome has become pretty much at the whim of the papacy.

    I tend to think that Father Chadwicks solution and/or some form of Western Rite Orthodoxy are the only places where this third liturgical movement stands much of a chance.

    What NLM supporters and trads under Rome fail to realize is that in their communion the pope has all the power. Even if there's some conservative future pope with true liturgical sensibilities any pope after him might be more like Francis or John Paul II. All things in Rome revolve around the self proclaimed infallible "vicar of Christ".

  2. Thank you for this most sympathetic posting. I think my ideas are getting out there, but without my knowing it so that I may not fall to the temptation of pride! I agree that nothing else can be done in the RC Church because it all works by authority and obedience according to a clever system of double, triple or whatever standards. My Church, the ACC, is too small - but it is established enough to be remembered. Western Orthodoxy is fraught with its own problems. May this movement be like that of philosophy, literature, art, music, poetry - a work of individual genius of which collective man is incapable! Sorry, that's the Romantic in me, but I don't think I am wrong.