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Laity to Bishops in 1943: We’re Not as Stupid as You Think


Over at his blog, Liturgy Guy, 1P5 contributor Brian Williams offers something dug up from before the Asteroid hit that tells us people knew what was coming:

The below Manifesto of the Catholic Laity was drafted by English Catholics twenty years before the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium.  Dated Pentecost 1943, the long forgotten letter was discovered in the Archives of the Archbishop of Westminster, and appears as a footnote in Dom Alcuin Reid’s excellent work The Organic Development of the Liturgy (Ignatius Press, 2005, pp. 103-104).

This articulate and heartfelt plea of English Catholics for the preservation of something as venerable as the liturgical language of the Roman Rite is still inspiring to read over seventy years later.  It also serves as an important reminder that the “reformers” of the twentieth century Liturgical Movement were very busy in the decades leading up to the Council.  Knowing as we do now that the words of this manifesto would have little impact, and that the liturgical revolution would commence in twenty short years, makes this an even more compelling read today.

Here’s an excerpt of the Manifesto:

“We, the undersigned Catholic Layfolk, desire…to make known our true feelings with regard to the present controversy concerning the language used by the Church in her public worship.  

“We utterly repudiate the subversive efforts that are being made to discredit the use of the Latin Liturgy, a precious heritage brought to the English people by Saint Augustine of Canterbury from our glorious Apostle, Saint Gregory the Great, and which we are proud to have preserved intact these fourteen hundred years, even throughout the hardships and dangers of the penal times.  

“We therefore protest that we are opposed to all attempts to tamper with this venerable Liturgy, or to substitute for it a copy of any non-Catholic rite, however beautiful or impressive.  

“We strongly resent the implication that we and our children are not sufficiently intelligent to understand the simple Latin of the Mass, and we declare our readiness to do all we can to equip ourselves with the necessary knowledge so as to be able to take a more active and intelligent part in our parochial Mass…

In other words: “Hey Bishops? How about you stop messing with our worship and calling us stupid and do your jobs!”

Head over to Brian’s post to read the rest of this excellent response to liturgical fiddling.


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