Benedict XVI’s Reform – The Liturgy between Innovation and Tradition

There has been a great period of confusion in the Church’s Liturgy for the last 40 or so years causing the Church’s central act of worship to be a major source of division and dissension.  Almost every Catholic has experienced some form of Liturgical abuse, whether something small and and less significant, or major exploits that invalidate the Mass.  Those who love the Mass wonder how far we must go before things settle settle down. The Mass should be a witness to the unity of our Faith, whether one attends Mass at St. Peter’s in Rome, or your local parish church.

Benedict XVI’s Reform – The Liturgy between Innovation and Tradition” by Don Nicola Bux, published in English by Ignatius Press, is a must for all who who love the Church’s Liturgy.  In this book, Bux traces out the problems and blessings of the Liturgical following the Second Vatican Council. Father Bux begins by laying out the theological foundations of the Liturgy.  He writes about the benefits of the reform, yet Father Bux is not shy in pointing out the many problems in the reform.  He points out that the consilium that was appointed to study Sacrosanctum Concilium and give Pope Paul VI advice on the Liturgical renewal was made up of 42 members, yet, the concilium was plagued by “incompetence of many of its members, of the thirst for novelty, of the hurried discussions, of the chaotic voting and desire to rush approval, the instability and uncertainty provoked by the reform that ended up favoring the arbitrary.”

Father Bux states that there need to be necessary corrections to the reform so as to realign it to tradition in the spirit of continuity.  Yet, Bux believes this must be done through solid scholarship, looking at tradition, but being open to change.  Tradition, writes Father Bux, is not something dead and open to legitimate change.  “The liturgy, like the Church, is living tradition.”

Bux does a fine job at exposing  the mind of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI in regards to the Sacred Liturgy of the Church. Father Bux gives the Liturgical debate a whole context as a “encounter” with Jesus Christ.  From this “encounter” flows the whole of Liturgical theology.  Our Liturgical orientation must be focused on God and not man, for when our Liturgy centers on anything but God, it fails.

There is a legitimate need for “corrections and integration” however this cannot be achieved through commands and documents since most are already being ignored.  In the new Liturgical Movement, we must “proceed in a different way, … not imposing obligations except for those that are necessary, illustrating possibilities and promoting debate.”

I believe this little book of Don Nicola Bux will not only assist in a true reform of the Roman Liturgy, but assist in the New Evangelization, which has at it’s heart the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.