The "Progressives" created a myth that Vatican II created a new church, that there was a break from the church existing at the time of the Council birthing new church. Liturgically, the story was that there was a new mass and an old mass. Unfortunately they convinced many traditionalist that the myth was true.
How did they make the myth of the new mass work? They implemented it to look as different from the old mass as possible. They imposed an English translation that was both mundane and inaccurate. They convinced bishops and priests that "The Vatican said" or the "Council said" Latin was out, Gregorian chant was out, statues were out, the priest must face the people, the tabernacle must be banished, etc., etc. In those days before the internet made it easy to discover what the pope or the council actually said, it was hard to argue with these experts.
I firmly believe, but can not prove, that the bishops of the time were great administrators who unthinkingly delegated the reform's implementation to these liturgists. It jives with the administrative mind. Delegate, delegate, delegate! The big surprise of the Council was when the American bishops swung over to the "progressive side." A young "peritus" (expert) by the name of Ratzinger noted that some of the bishops most opposed to dropping Latin from the liturgy were those whose Latin was lousiest. Could that have been our American prelates? As I try to picture those no doubt holy men, I wonder about the effect of building so many churches and schools as America shifted from cities to suburbs. Think of the soul numbing fundraising involved. Was there anything left over for reflection and critical thinking?
One way or another the bishops gave the liturgist free reign. The era's defining joke was the Q&A:
"What's the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist?"
"You can negotiate with a terrorist."
Yet Vatican II called for presenting the old message in a new way and of renewing the liturgy not abandoning it.
Which brings me to the story that brings all this to a head.
There is a fellow Catholic blogger who writes humbly and touchingly at Saint Louis Catholic. He wrote two posts, How John Paul II Led Me to the Traditional Mass, Vol. 1 and How John Paul II Led Me to the Traditional Mass, Vol. 2. In the first, he explains his ambiguous attitude toward John Paul and in the second he relates how then Cardinal Ratzinger's celebration of the late pope's funeral mass brought him to the traditional Latin mass, i.e., the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. I can not think of anyone who
would be better equipped to celebrate and plan that liturgy than Joseph
Ratzinger. I imagine it was most beautiful, beautifully celebrated.
This second post is a beautiful story of grace, relating the bogger's development with great humility and openness. His story piqued my curiosity. I searched to learn more about John Paul's
funeral. I found a link on EWTN laying out the rites in some detail. John Paul's funeral
was celebrated as a Solemn High mass in Latin with Chant and sacred polyphony. How could it not have been beautiful? It concluded with In Paridisum (note the accusative case), a traditional Catholic chant for the occasion. We had that same chant for my uncle's funeral recessional.
And now for the surprise! I looked at how it was celebrated. There was a First Reading, a Responsorial Psalm, and a Second Reading. There was the Prayer of the Faithful. It dawned on me: the funeral mass was celebrated according to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, i.e., what critics refer to as the Novus Ordo. Cardinal Ratzinger could not have provided more eloquent testimony to
the reality that the Mass of the missal of Paul VI is the traditional
Latin mass revised.
It is a tragedy that priests celebrating
according to the Ordinary Form do not draw on the treasury chest of
twenty centuries as called for by Vatican II. Moreover, if priests had been allowed to introduce the revised mass mostly in Latin with the Propers in English and facing East, few would have believed the "progressive's" myth of a rupture between the old mass and the new.