Seeds of Liturgical Utilitarianism

An excellent piece deserving of attention from Traditional Catholics.


“One can see the same utilitarian and instrumentalizing trend in the development of the “private Mass” in the late first-millennium West. This reduced, if not in essence then certainly in appearances, the inherently communal liturgy into the priest-monk’s tool for daily personal sanctification and edification……Another seed is the gradual abandonment of the choral obligation of the Office (which in many places, according to Fr. Robert Taft, also implied a canonical obligation for laity [!] to attend!), in favor of private individual recitation. If we concede that a priest settled comfortably into an armchair by the fire silently mouthing the words of a Breviary by himself qualifies as “liturgy,” and are completely comfortable with setting the canonical bar there, should we really be that surprised at the prevailing utilitarianism of both clergy and laity when it comes to liturgy in general? There is also the medieval multiplication of stipend-Masses for the private intentions of the stipend-givers, a well-oiled machinery of sacramental efficacy if there was one…..”

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