I am still waiting for a Traditionalist to furnish me with actual empirical proof that the claim of Summorum Pontificum, that the liturgical books of 1962 were never juridically abrogated and therefore in principle were always permitted, holds water in the face of vast evidence to the contrary. Therefore I venture to investigate somewhat of the history of '62, the question of abrogation, and why Traditionalists view the '62 books as in some way more traditionally acceptable than the Novus Ordo of Paul VI. This is by no means an exhaustive account, and such a telling of the in-organic development of Liturgy immediately prior to the Council and afterward would be long as years of torment. Suffice to say that on account of my own inexperience and want of knowledge I shall let others fill the gaps where it is needed. Comments are welcome, as ever.
Traditionalists often view the year 1962, with its deplorable liturgy, as some sort of go-between year, not quite the Old Rite, but almost - in a similar way to how the Arians of old viewed the person of Christ as a go-between god; not quite deity, but almost. Such a view can only distort Liturgy, or is at least a distortion of liturgical perception, rendering custom, tradition, ceremony and proper superfluous to concern, and somehow ''less important'' compared with other things, such as the use of Latin, or the cut of the vestments. Indeed, I would question the Trad judgement of what is measurable in liturgical abuse and what isn't precisely because of 1962. For example, how is the reduction of Mattins on the Lord's Day from three nocturns (or vigils) consisting of a total of eighteen Psalms in the Old Rite (pre-1911) to what we now have in the 1961 Breviary and Liturgia Horarum (although neither Mattins in the 1961 Breviary nor the ''office of readings'' can claim any resemblance to the traditional Night Office as sung in the Cathedrals and Monasteries for 1500 years), in reality the only two legitimate office books for secular clergy and laity in the Roman Church, ''acceptable'' (probably only because the pre-1911 Office has passed out of living memory and doesn't touch upon the Mass in any noticeable way to ordinary Catholics, in the same way that pre-Tridentine praxis has passed out of living memory), whereas such things as the use of vernacular tongues or the revival of permanent deacons are seen as aberrations?
I think it boils down to the fact that Trad perception of Liturgy is entirely Eucharistic-centred, and that just because the rubrics of an average 1962 Mass look like the Old Rite (superficially, mind you), other changes (to the Ordinary, to the Psalter, to Holy Week etc) are perceived as secondary. Who decides this? What Traditionalist in the deeps of time set as a precedent that vast mutilation of the Office pales into insignificance compared with, say, the new Eucharistic prayers? To Traditionalists like Fr Zed, 1962 is some sort of ''focal point,'' upon which one can build up an edifice of tradition - you know the ''brick by brick'' nonsense - a means of making people long accustomed to the Novus Ordo familiar with ''the more ancient use.'' One wonders whether ancientry, to Traditionalists, is reckoned to be in terms of fidelity to received orthopraxis or to the encyclical letter Mediator Dei - which is effectively the very opposite of Tradition - the idea that the past must be judged by the standard of things present; compare the so-called ''development of doctrine,'' for example. I mean if I translated Colours of Day into Latin, and had it as an Offertory motet in a Mass according to the ''Extraordinary Form'' (1962), would Traditionalists consider this more traditional than having the Acolytes in tunicles on great feasts? To come back to the brick-by-brick nonsense, I had this exact same experience several years ago when I first converted to the Traditionalist cause. In the days before Summorum Pontificum I relied heavily upon material on the Fisheaters website, the SSPX and even some Sedevacantist sites (I was one...for about a week). They all pretty much said the same thing - the evils of Vatican II, a Protestantized liturgy, new Popes aren't like the heroes of old (e.g.: Pius X and Pius XII!) etc. And so my perception of Tradition was moulded by Traditionalists who didn't care much for Liturgy; preferring instead a return to the social kingship of Christ, and the days when elderly peasant women told their beads as their parish priest mumbled from a Missal - in hindsight a dislocated and imperfect vision. Then I acquired a working knowledge of Liturgy by making frequent visits to the Heythrop Theology Library, where I spent hours perusing old missals and breviaries, and gradually I came to realise what a load of rubbish it was. I couldn't then, nor can I now, understand why traditionalist groups make recourse to the liturgical books of 1962. If on a day like the feast of the Circumcision the differences between the Old Rite and '62 are comparatively trivial, then why not simply do the Old Rite? Similarly on days like Palm Sunday, why on earth, if you claim the seal of Christ, would you put on post-'56 rubbish? How can you accustom people to Tradition if what you provide them with is little older than (and in many cases is inferior to anyway!) the stuff you're trying to extricate them from?
It is a fact that the liturgical books of 1962 were only transient, a half-way stage in a well-planned, very thorough and intelligent reform of the Roman Rite; and just a convenient way of incorporating the changes of Cum Nostra (1955), Maxima Redemptionis (1955) and Rubricarum Instructum (1960). The Trad idea that the later changes of Paul VI came as a sudden lightning stroke from the Curia in 1969 upon an unsuspecting Church (which is what I genuinely believed until a few years ago!) is a fond fancy (to be polite) - far be it from me to accuse them of historical revisionism and downright falsehood though! Long before the Missal of 1962 preparations for some of the worst of the later reforms were underway at a series of liturgical conferences held at Maria-Laach (1951), Mont Sainte Odile (1952), Lugano (1953) Mont César (1954) and Assisi (1956). According to Worship, at Maria-Laach discussion about the recent revision of the rite of Holy Saturday (comparatively trivial to what came after) took place in relation to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday; Jungman drafted a ''penitential rite'' for pastoral expediency, and such things as the silent Canon, prayers at the foot of the Altar and the Last Gospel, considered inferior because they were no older than the Carolingian reform, had to be abolished. At Mont Saint Odile, similarly, ''Liturgy and contemporary man'' was on the agenda, among later reforms such as the simplification of the rubrics in the Anaphora, a sung Doxology at a High Mass and an audible Doxology at a Low Mass, the Confiteor and absolution before Holy Communion were asked to be abolished, and even a new formula for the distribution of Holy Communion - Corpus Christi - was proposed! At Lugano in 1953 ''active participation'' was on the agenda, and such things as vernacular readings in the Mass were proposed; the scholars praised Pius XII and his reform of Holy Saturday, asking that the rest of Holy Week be subject to similar reform, and (to me) most interesting of all, Cardinal Ottaviani, the hero of Tradworld and advocate for traditional Liturgy, was present at the conference and celebrated Mass facing the people(!), and Archbishop Montini (later Paul VI) attended in persona papae. Bugnini, the scapegoat of people like Michael Davies, praised not the Second Vatican Council, but the Assisi Liturgical Conference in 1956 as paving the way for his later conquest of the Roman Rite. And Traditionalists would have us look to 1962 as a foundation stone to build up Tradition again? Surely this idea is fraught with peril, for the reasons I have just given? The liturgical books of 1962 are a pathetic and shallow hodgepodge of half-remembered traditions and mutilated texts; the Old Rite having been brought down and shattered by a team of reprobate scholars and pieced together according to their aliturgical ideas. As Rubricarius has said, the so-called ''Mass of Ages'' is little more than the Mass of the Age.
But according to ''the'' motu proprio, and contemporary Traditionalists, you can line them all up in fact, the liturgical books of 1962 were never juridically abrogated - how strange that no evidence is given to support this claim. Yet Paul VI issued his own motu proprio in January of 1964, which established the Consilium, and partly reformed the 1962 books. In the Autumn of the same year the S.R.C issued the decree Inter Œcumenici, which among other things abolished all choir ceremonies, the solita oscula, Psalm 42 and the Preparatory Prayers, prescribed that the Subdeacon no longer held the paten aloft during Mass, parts of the Canon were to be sung or said audibly, vernacular tongues were authorised for parts of the Liturgy, the Scriptures were now to be read facing the congregation, etc - my gosh how this is reminiscent of those conferences from the early 1950s! This new order of Mass came into effect in the Spring of 1965. Ecclesiae Semper regulated the customs of Sacramental concelebration and Communion under both kinds. In 1967 the S.R.C issued another decree, Tres Abhinc Annos, which ordered that in the Mass only one Prayer was to be said, abolished most genuflexions and Signs of the Cross, the use of the Maniple became optional etc. In 1968 three new Eucharistic Prayers were authorized, EPII (the worst in my opinion) being based on pseudo-Hippolytus. And finally in 1969 Paul VI promulgated the New Mass with the bull Missale Romanum, the abrogatory clause reading:
''The effective date for what we have prescribed in this Constitution shall be the First Sunday of Advent of this year, 30 November. We decree that these laws and prescriptions be firm and effective now and in the future, notwithstanding, to the extent necessary, the apostolic constitutions and ordinances issued by our predecessors and other prescriptions, even those deserving particular mention and amendment.''
Even if you still cling to the numquam abrogatam delusion, you can at least see that the texts and rubrics of the 1962 books at least underwent significant derogation between 1964 and 1969. But the question of abrogation, so important for canonical and pastoral reasons, still remains. Upon what does Summorum Pontificum base its claim that the '62 books were never juridically abrogated, and therefore in principle always permitted? I have studied this matter earnestly, and having perused all this liturgical legislation from the 1960s I have found no paragraph, no footnote, no citation, nothing which indicates that 1962 was allowed as an option, an ''extraordinary form'' of the ecclesial lex orandi. Indeed, numquam abrogatam makes no sense whatever in relation to the term ''abrogation'' as understood in Canon Law - it is a strange innovation with no warrant in the liturgical history of the Church. When Paul VI and John Paul II issued indults for permission to use previous rites (the 1971 Indult was for the rite of Mass as it was in 1967 by the way) they were precisely that - indults - extraordinary departures from the law for pastoral concern. Summorum Pontificum seems to say that two mutually contradictory and inferior liturgies amount to a single Roman Rite, within two usages. I fail to see how this corresponds to what was, at the time of the promulgation of the 1970 Missal, a given - namely that the New Rite replaced the ''more ancient use'' definitively. Indeed it was a given until John Paul II made his own Indult for use of the 1962 Missal in 1984, Quattuor Abhinc Annos, which served merely to play into the hands of the Lefebvrists - who only until recently (that is, the early 1980s) had anything to do with the '62 books (in most cases - the man himself celebrated Mass according to the 1967 rite). By 1984, of course, Traditionalism had changed.
A study of how Catholic Traditionalism has changed since the 1960s would be too exhaustive for this post, although since it seems relevant to all that I have said it is advantageous that I devote some time to it. In the 1960s, the proto-Traditionalists of the Church, men like Evelyn Waugh (who significantly did not experience the Novus Ordo of Paul VI, having died in 1966 - what he objected to was the 1962 books, and subsequent editions of them) devoted their time to the defence of Tradition in clear defiance of vast ecclesial reform. If you look at Waugh's A Bitter Trial he complains about such things as the reformed rites of Holy Week (the Pacelli versions), the dialogue Mass (in the sense of a kind of imposed, forceful ''participation'' which detracts somewhat from one's spiritual union with the Ministers at the Altar), how the Church in Rome was destroying all that he held dear. One interesting letter to The Tablet from 1963 reads:
''Will you promote an appeal to the Holy See for the establishment of a Uniate Latin Church which shall observe all the rites as they existed in the reign of Pius IX?'' (Evelyn Waugh, A Bitter Trial, p.34).
Pius IX? He was a 19th century pope! Nothing here about the glories of '62, how the 1962 Missal enshrines all that is integral to the Mass etc, which is the rubbish spouted by modern Traditionalists. No, quite the opposite. Waugh saw through the obvious defects of the '62 books, which left him unedified and cold (being a temptation against faith, he said), and by no means viewed 1962 as a go-between year, upon which the Church could reconstruct the Tradition she so deliberately pulled down. I find it hard to see the distinction between how the Pope brought the entire Roman Church into demonstrable heterodox aliturgical innovation, and how this was somehow distinct from his office as teacher of all Christians - I wonder if Waugh thought this? Waugh was a founding member of The Latin Mass Society (curiously no obvious mention of this is made on the new LMS website, which seems to pass over the pre-Conciliar changes in the ''About Us'' section), which until recently promoted, almost in defiance of the Church, what could be described as the ''pre-Pius XII rite.'' Indeed the mainstream Traditionalist position had nothing to do with 1962 until the mid-1980s, when the movement splintered (thanks to Marcel Lefebvre). Old Traditionalists, such as Waugh, argued for the Old Rite from immemorial custom, and appealed to Pius V's Quo Primum to support this. Personally I find this hard to understand - how can you seriously appeal to ''custom'' by recourse to a Papal bull which practically abolished local custom? But it seems a far worthier argument for Tradition than the argument propounded by modern Traditionalists (that is, roughly between 1984 and 2007 - considerably less so since 2007), that the liturgical books of 1962 could be reckoned as an immemorial custom, unjustly derogated by monstrous Conciliar reform. The only reason these ''traditionalists'', most notably the Lefebvrists and Sedevacantists, appealed to the '62 books was because they were promulgated before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965); and the underlying agendas behind this are doctrinal, disciplinary and pastoral reservations about the said Council. But, especially since 2006-2007, there has arisen a more repugnant kind of ''traditionalist,'' for whom I have neither time nor patience. Some post-Summorum Pontificum Trads appeal to neither Tradition nor immemorial custom in their promotion of the ''extraordinary form.'' These people simply argue that the Church permits the 1962 books alongside the 1970-2002 books; and that both can complement each other liturgically in a wonderful relativistic fudge. These ''traditionalists'' have re-invented themselves. No longer is Catholic Traditionalism a movement in long defiance of the Church, fighting a long defeat and promoting august Tradition in the face of modernism and a Protestant liturgy. No, Catholic Traditionalists are the most obedient servants of the Holy See (and always were) fighting a war against liberals who subvert ecclesial doctrine. No longer is Tradition a venerable entity of itself worthy of defence, but the reigning Pope regulates it. The liturgical books of 1962, to them, are just another legitimate rite approved by the Church, as venerable as (and equal to) the Sarum Use, for example. In my opinion, such ''traditionalists'' are not really traditional in any meaningful sense at all; just Ultramontane types conveniently subject to a Pope who thinks the same as them.
Summorum Pontificum, by making its claim that the '62 books were never abrogated, merely plays into the hands of the Lefebvrists with their anti-Conciliar agenda. I think it is dangerous, its ecumenical dimensions are fraught with problems, and it will only cause more damage to the Sacred Liturgy. All it does is creates a false liturgical, canonical and pastoral dichotomy. Perhaps some Traditionalists agree that Summorum Pontificum is not as great as the euphoria made it out to be four years ago, but that because of the rife legal positivism in the Church it was a necessity in order to clarify the ''traditional'' position. If so, does this not exemplify an already existing underlying problem in Church law? And if not then why did Benedict XVI not simply abolish Quattuor Abhinc Annos and the Ecclesia Dei commission and instead promote something traditional by his own example? What did he do then? Did Benedict XVI abrogate all the liturgical legislation from the 1960s? If so, and the 1962 books are legitimate, then why did he not abrogate the Novus Ordo of Paul VI? If not then what is the positive use of all that legislation? Which legislation is constant in the Roman Church, and which can simply be swept under the carpet by the next Pope when it becomes inconvenient? There are very serious unanswered canonical issues with Summorum Pontificum, which Traditionalists (stuck in a series of hopeless contradictions and chasing the Rabbit deeper and deeper into Wonderland) are yet to own up to. Of course, when Tradition is finally driven into new catacombs, and liturgical people such as myself are forgotten as we ourselves slowly forget, I wonder what state the Church will be in then? Will Liturgy even exist, or will devotionalism finally take over by Papal decree? Pius XII canonized Pius X, and Benedict XVI has made Pius XII ''venerable.'' It just seems to me that the Roman Church, over the centuries, has consistently consigned Tradition to oblivion, by the very act of making saints out of the men who do so (and thereby placing their actions above reproach); so much so that the words of Treebeard are called to mind: Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.
Please do not litter my comment box with silly statements about ''preferring'' a legitimate rite approved by the Church. There is no such preference; you might as well say that you prefer falsehood to the God's honest truth. There is merely Liturgy and made up pseudo-liturgy which departs from ancient norms in a very serious way, and '62 is no different to the New Rite in this respect. It is my sincere belief that traditionalist organisations such as the Latin Mass Society betray the liturgical principles of their founding members and that were such men as Evelyn Waugh alive today they would be horrified at Summorum Pontificum, precisely because it undermines everything they defended.