Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Liturgical Movement

Fr. Romano Guardini

The Liturgical Movement was a scholarly movement begun in the nineteenth century which intended to reform Catholic liturgy by returning to medieval modes of worship.  Medieval worship was considered by members of the Liturgical Movement to be liturgy's ideal form.  Somehow, in the course of the twentieth century, this movement became diverted to a very different purpose.  Remarkably, the Liturgical Movement, which began in admiration of medieval worship, eventually helped produce the Novus Ordo, which no more resembles medieval worship than the Port Authority Bus Terminal resembles Chartres Cathedral. 

Fr. Romano Guardini (1885 AD - 1968 AD), a German notwithstanding his name, was a leading figure in the Liturgical Movement during its wholesome phase.  The following is taken from his text "The Spirit of the Liturgy," published in 1918:

The liturgy as a whole is not favorable to exuberance of feeling.  Emotion glows in its depths, but it smolders merely, like the fiery heart of the volcano, whose summit stands out clear and serene against the quiet sky.  The liturgy is emotion, but it is emotion under the strictest control.  We are made particularly aware of this at Holy Mass, and it applies equally to the prayers of the Ordinary and of the Canon, and to those of the Canon, and to those of the Proper of the Time.   Among them are to be found masterpieces of spiritual restraint.

....And how necessary this discipline is!  At certain moments and on certain occasions it is permissible for emotion to have a vent.  But a prayer which is intended for the everyday use of a large body of people must be restrained.

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