The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, Its Problems and Background

The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, Its Problems and Background
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The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, Its Problems and Background

Monsignor Gamber earns really all the praising words written about him and his work. One can easily see his experience in this subject which is and has been a very delicate one in the post-conciliar Church.

Gamber shows clearly what went wrong in the liturgical renewal of Pope Paul VI: the forced use of a new liturgy, lectionary and calendar planned and published without much respect for the tradition of about 1600 years of natural development of the liturgy; the turning of the altar without any real historical or scientific support.

Monsignor Gamber's book is a necessity for all those who want to have adequate information about the liturgical tradition of the Catholic Church and for those who say there is nothing strange in the way the liturgy - especially the Holy Mass - is celebrated today.

It sent shock waves throughout Europe when it first appeared there sixteen years ago, and its appearance here during the pontificate of Benedict XVI — who, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, provocatively endorsed it with a pointed preface to the French edition — promises to be no less eventful....

Whether the [Vatican II] Council Fathers envisioned the radical changes [in Holy Mass] that were ultimately made is a matter of dispute.... [B]ut, a sweeping revision of the entire rite is exactly what we got.

Then, in the late 1980s, came Monsignor Klaus Gamber. He was a liturgical scholar of great renown, who headed the liturgical institute of Regensburg and had brought out nearly three dozen volumes in the Studia Patristica et Liturgica and Textus Patristici et Liturgici series. It was Gamber's unimpeachable mainstream credentials that made his book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy all the more shocking. The book was a blistering attack. The new Mass, said Gamber, was pastorally, theologically, and aesthetically disastrous....

As recently as the 1990s, it was unthinkable that someone who endorsed the conclusions of Gamber's book could ever be elected pope. But, the current pontiff, as Cardinal Ratzinger, did just that: in his preface to the French-language edition he gave the book his hearty endorsement, including its finding that Holy Mass with the priest facing East with the people, rather than the priest facing away from the tabernacle and toward the people, was the ancient tradition and should be restored. Ratzinger's endorsement of Gamber's book made headlines across Europe....

At the very time when the piety of the faithful most needed nourishment at the fount of tradition, and when the Western world needed more than ever to be reminded that tradition was more than something to be spat upon and discarded, the traditional Mass was taken away....

It has often been said that in `today's world' we need a simpler rite and one in the vernacular. But, to the contrary: it is precisely in today's world, a world in which man believes himself bound by nothing, in which the traditional Mass is so obviously necessary. What generation has needed more than the present one to be told that the world does not revolve around it?...

Pope Benedict has followed through on what he has said in the past about the need to make the old rite widely available again; its significance will extend well beyond just those who have formed their spiritual lives around it. One of the great treasures of Western civilization has, at long last, been restored.... To the relief of a great many Catholics and their sympathizers, Monsignor Klaus Gamber has been vindicated.

"Anyone interested in the liturgy of the Church will find much to reflect on in this scholarly book. At the end the author argues that the Roman Rite, with some adaptations, should be restored to equal dignity along with the Novus Ordo, which should be retained for now ad experimentum." —Father Kenneth Baker, SJ, Homiletic and Pastoral Review

paperback, 198 pp.

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