I am using Pope Benedict’s words from his book: “The Spirit Of The Liturgy”, because if you, or I, or any traditional Catholic, would say these things, we would be written off as evil heretics. But when it comes right from the pope, it is harder to call these truths, evil.
I am also sharing these to help everyone see that changes in Sacred liturgy since Vatican II have not been organic, but newly made. Pope St. Pius V, in his bull Quam Primus, ordered all Roman Rite Catholics to use only the one ancient Gregorian Mass, except for those who were offering an rite in use for the last 200 years. He allowed all rites that had been extremely slowly organically developed from the Apostolic traditions and were still being used.
Pope Benedict says that no new liturgy can be created, even by a pope. “The authority of the pope is not unlimited: it is at the service of Sacred Tradition. Still less is any kind of general “freedom” of manufacture, degenerating into spontaneous improvisation, compatible with the essence of faith and liturgy. The greatness of the liturgy depends on its unspontaneity.”
He says this is the case because all the different ancient rites of the Church, (Latin and Byzantine), came out of and still “adhere to the form that has developed in the apostolic Tradition“. “The Church allows for different patterns of liturgy and includes living development, but it equally excludes spontaneous improvisation.”
We as Catholics know that the Bible was divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit but written down by mere men. For this reason he says “the Divine Liturgy has been fashioned, in a way similar to Scripture, by human beings and their capacities. But it contains essential exposition of the biblical legacy that goes beyond the limits of the individual rites, and thus it shares in the authority of the Church’s faith in its fundamental form.”
Man is not the author of the Bible, the Catholic faith or the Holy Sacraments. God is the author working through the teaching authority of the Holy Spirit. “The authority of the liturgy can certainly be compared with that of the great confessions of faith of the early Church. Like these, it developed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 16:13).”
The pope seems to think that the reformation would “have run a different course if Luther had been able to see the analogous binding force of the great liturgical traditions, and its understanding of sacrificial presence and of man’s participation in the vicarious action of the Logos.”
Luther’s idea of Sola Scriptura never was the foundation of the Church or its liturgy. “This makes it all the more absurd that a not insignificant number of people today are trying to construct the liturgy afresh on the basis of sola scriptura. In these reconstructions they identify Scripture with the prevailing exegetical opinions. It is a house built on sand and remains totally empty, however much human artistry may adorn it. Only respect for the liturgy’s fundamental unspontaniety and pre-existence identity can give us what we hope for: the feast in which the great reality comes to us that we ourselves do not manufacture but receive as a gift.”
Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, founded the Holy Catholic Church and left to the Apostles His words later written down into what is now called the Bible. He also gave us the deposit of faith handed down through Apostolic Tradition. For this reason we need to remember that the liturgy also forms part of the Apostolic Tradition. “the various ritual families grew out of the “apostolic sees”, central places of the apostolic Tradition, and that this connection with apostolic origins is essential to what defines them. From this it follows that there can be no question of creating totally new rites.”
May we continue to raise our voices and repeat what Pope Benedict has said: LITURGY CAN ONLY ORGANICALLY DEVELOP SLOWLY OVER CENTURIES AND NEVER EVER CAN BE CREATED BY POPES, BISHOPS, RELIGIOUS, PRIEST OR LAITY.
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.