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Part Three: The Bitter Fruits of a Fashionable, Unserious Liturgist | Rev. Brian Van Hove, S.J. | Ignatius Insight
 George A. Kelly, The
New Biblical Theorists (Ann Arbor:
Servant Publications, 1983). It is noteworthy that Ralph Martin published A Crisis of
Truth: the Attack on Faith, Morality, and Mission in the Catholic Church the previous
year, 1982, also by Servant Press. In those bad days it was hard for orthodox
writers to break into print either professionally or otherwise. This was never
the case for Robert Hovda who wrote "The Amen Corner" for Worship during the
last nine years of his life. He died in 1992 after forty-seven essays were
written. See John F. Baldovin, ed., Robert Hovda, The Amen
Corner (Collegeville: A Pueblo Book
published by The Liturgical Press, 1994). It took another nineteen years
before the crisis in biblical studies was put into focus, this time by
insiders. See Luke Timothy Johnson and William S. Kurz, The
Future of Catholic Biblical Scholarship: a constructive conversation (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,
2002), esp. Kurz, 161-162. More narrowly responding to the abuse of method—and
its entanglement with ideology in the recent fascination with the gnostic
gospels—is Philip Jenkins, Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus
Lost its Way (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).
Compare also Roland E. Murphy, "What Is Catholic about Catholic
Biblical Scholarship?," Biblical Theology Bulletin 28, no. 3 (Fall 1998), 112–119.
 George A. Kelly, "A
Wayward Turn in Biblical Theory," address given at the Conference on the Bible
and the Church, November 12, 1999. Online edition. Also in Catholic Dossier 6, no. 1, (January/February 2000), 38-42.
 Raymond E. Brown's
little book Biblical Reflections on Crises Facing the Church (New York: Paulist Press, 1975) was a case of his
stepping outside his field. He adopted a polemical tone and generated anxiety
in orthodox Catholics who wished to see church doctrine defended rather than
dismantled. Had Brown given sufficient assurances back then, he would have won
over more friends.
 Hovda himself
preferred the expression "pastoral liturgist." See Baldovin, Hovda, Preface by John F. Baldovin, vii.
 The gratuitous
attack upon the rosary in Ritual Transformation, 7-8, is tasteless. (Even more tasteless is the use
of the "S" word on page 7.) One can only contrast it with the magisterial
contribution to the subject of the Most Holy Rosary by Pope Paul VI in 1973 in Marialis
cultus, as well as with the 2002
apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae of Pope John Paul II, with special reference to his historic addition
of the Luminous Mysteries. On 14 March, 2004, Pope John Paul II led an
international rosary via television in connection with European University Day.
unintended fallout from the Mass "versus populum" was the projection of the
priest into the role of entertainer, celebrity, facilitator, talk-show-host,
lecturer, professor, or center of focus. In this system, the priest assumes an
exaggerated visual importance—he and the people speak less to God and
more to each other, making it impossible for the priest to carry out the demand
in John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease." Today students who have
read Klaus Gamber and Joseph Ratzinger are reconsidering the orientation of
priest to altar. See also Letter of Jorge A. Cardinal Medina Estévez, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the
Discipline of the Sacraments, Vatican City, to The Most Reverend David
D. Foley, Bishop of Birmingham in Alabama, 25 September, 2000. Prot. No.
 James F. Hitchcock's Recovery of the Sacred, appearing in 1975 and reprinted in 1995, was
ignored by this group. Recovery
is well worth re-reading to get a sense of the liturgical crisis in the United
States, even if some examples are dated.
 Besides Manuel
Miguens, not all Catholic exegetes agreed with Brown's academic approach.
Stanislaus Lyonnet and Ignace de la Potterie were two. For more on this
question, see Johnson/Kurz, Future of Catholic Biblical Scholarship, passim.
 In this connection
let us ever remember the chilling words of the Anglican biblical scholar and
translator, J.B. Phillips: "I do not write for scholars; they can look after
themselves. For twenty-five years I have written for the ordinary man who is no
theologian. Alas, today, he frequently gets the impression that the New
Testament is no longer historically reliable. What triggered off my anger...
against some of our 'experts' is this. A clergyman, old, retired, useless if
you like, took his own life because his reading of the 'new theology,' and even
some programs on television, finally drove him, in his loneliness and
ill-health, to conclude that his own life's work had been founded upon a lie.
He felt that these highly qualified writers and speakers must know so much more
than he that they must be right. Jesus Christ did not really rise from the dead
and the New Testament, on which he had based his life and ministry, was no more
than a bundle of myths." J.B. Phillips, The Ring of Truth, Foreword (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1967),
 C.S. Lewis once
made a distinction between "thick" and "thin" religion. "When C.S. Lewis was
converted from atheism, he shopped around in the world's religious supermarket
and narrowed his choice down to Hinduism or Christianity. Religions are like
soups, he said. Some, like consommé, are thin and clear (Unitarianism,
Confucianism, modern Judaism); others, like minestrone, are thick and dark
(paganism, 'mystery religions'). Only Hinduism and Christianity are both 'thin'
(philosophical) and 'thick' (sacramental and mysterious). But Hinduism is
really two religions: 'thick' for the masses, 'thin' for the sages. Only
Christianity is both." Peter Kreeft, "Comparing Christianity & Hinduism," National
Catholic Register (May, 1987).
Online edition. Hovda tried to collapse the "thick" into the "thin" and ended
with a brand of American enthusiasm, Reformation-style.
more on the final Liturgical Week see Richard John Neuhaus, "What Happened to
the Liturgical Movement?", Antiphon 6, no. 2 (2001), 5-7. Also see Attila Miklósházy, Benedicamus
Domino!: The Theological Foundations of the Liturgical Renewal (Ottawa: Novalis, St. Paul
University, 2001), 15-16.
 See entry for "Gerald Ellard" in How Firm a
Foundation: Voices of the Early Liturgical Movement, compiled and introduced by
Kathleen Hughes, RSCJ (Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1990), 109-112.
Also James G. Knapp, "The Social Dimension of the Liturgy in the Writings of
Gerald Ellard, SJ" (STL thesis, Regis College and The Toronto School of
 Gabe Huck, "A Tree
Planted by a Stream", Toward Ritual Transformation: Remembering Robert W.
Hovda (Collegeville: A Pueblo Book
published by The Liturgical Press, 2003), 6.
 Funk was trained by Eugene A. Walsh, SS (1911-1989).
See Arthur Jones, "Funk—the Man Behind the Music", The National
(August 24, 2001), 4. Funk and Tom Conry offer reflections on the life of Walsh
in Toward An Adult Faith: Talking About the Big Questions: Eugene Walsh, by The Pastoral Press, a division
of Oregon Catholic Press (1994). Tim Leonard wrote a biography of Walsh from
the same press called GENO: An Autobiography of Eugene Walsh, SS (Pastoral Press, 1988). The
Complete Works of Eugene A. Walsh, SS, have also been published by The Pastoral Press. It is a
compilation of over forty previously published booklets and unpublished tapes
and manuscripts in six volumes. Here we have Johnson's "second generation" at
its clearest. See n. 37 below.
 Hovda once said
"No. 'Good morning, sisters and brothers' is as worshipful an orientation after
the opening song of the Sunday assembly as the sign of the cross and the
scriptural greeting." See Baldovin, Hovda, 121. I know someone who left the Catholic Church and joined the
Eastern Orthodox Church in part because once the priest omitted the sign of the
cross and the greeting in this manner. Omitting the invocation of the Divine
Trinity seemed to him a blasphemy. Serious Christians have joined the Orthodox
Church in recent years, including Jaroslav Pelikan, John Garvey, Jim Forest,
Michael Huffington and Franky Schaeffer. There are reports that Prince Charles
is very interested. Perhaps they seek traditional liturgy with its timeless
beauty and classic grandeur.
George A. Kelly, The
Second Spring of the Church in America
(South Bend: St. Augustine's Press, 2001), 30.
 Peter Toon, "Lex
Orandi or Lex Credendi", Lex Orandi 9, no.1 (Spring 1992). Online edition.
 Yes, dear reader,
in those days Hans Urs von Balthasar was ignored. Balthasar and others founded
the Communio International Catholic Review in 1974 in order to have a voice.
Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the
New Testament (New York:
Doubleday, 1997), 34 and 34, n. 25. Brown's methodology was known to be
restricted to the "scientifically" verifiable according to the
historical-critical method. This narrowness placed his concern for Catholic
identity out of focus and it is a pity he did not live longer to say more about
his commitment to Tradition as expressed on page 34 of the Introduction. Concerning this, an Evangelical
scholar, Andreas J. Köstenberger,
wrote: "Brown seeks to justify his church's
Tradition (with a capital "T") as "normative interpretation of [God's salvific action] which
is not found in Scripture" (p. 34). As a result, he is able to support
doctrines such as the assumption of Mary as a legitimate application of the New
Testament teaching on "the raising from death to glory of all the faithful
disciples of Christ" (p. 34). A further outgrowth of Brown's particular
confessional stance is his limited engagement, even acknowledgment, of
evangelical sources." Andreas J. Köstenberger, Faith and Mission 15/2 (1998), 97–98.
 Luke Timothy
Johnson, Obituary for Raymond Brown, Commonweal 125, no. 15 (September 11, 1998), 7.
 Irish soda bread uses self-raising flour (which means
additives), and it uses baking soda, and sometimes sour milk (which is
preferable to water), and salt. There is probably enough flour to keep the
matter valid, but it is certainly illicit. Hovda was annoyed when too much was
left over after Mass.
 The writer is
happily married and is an exponent of traditional liturgy.
  Hovda was first invited to The Catholic University of
America in Washington by Gerard Sloyan. The rector of Theological College
(1969-1972), Eugene A. Walsh, SS was also part of the liturgy circle and
contributed to the situation in the Washington, D.C., area in the period of the
1960s and the 1970s and after.
 Mitchell, "Being
Beautiful, Being Just," Ritual Transformation, 87. Huck refers to Built of Living Stones as "a document utterly lacking in vision and
poetry." See Huck, "A Tree Planted by a Stream," 9.
 The closest thing
to an apology may be Nathan Mitchell's embarrassment (p. 78) when he remembers
Peter, Paul, and Mary's music at "coffee-table-masses" in the 1960s.
 See Denis Crouan, The
Liturgy Betrayed (San Francisco:
Ignatius Press, 2000) and The
Liturgy After Vatican II: Collapsing or Resurgent? (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2001).
 Hovda, "The
Sacred: Silence and Song," Ritual Transformation, 20-21.
 Some older
intellectuals take the same position. Paul Piccone, once editor of Telos, is perhaps the most impressive. And while we are on
the subject, is there any good reason the old rite does not presently exist in
a poetic vernacular translation akin to the 1928 Anglican Book of Common
 Funk on page 30
admits to poor implementation, but "who is responsible" remains unaddressed.
Anthony T. Dragani, "A Growing Thirst for Traditional Liturgy", The
University Concourse 4, no. 6 (April
12, 1999), 1-8. Online edition. A similar sensible statement is The Oxford
Declaration published in the name of the Liturgy Forum of the Centre for Faith
and Culture, under the chairmanship of Mgr. Peter J. Elliott, author of Ceremonies
of the Roman Rite, at the conclusion
of the Centre's conference, June 29, 1996. See Peter J. Elliot, Liturgical
Question Box: Answers to Common Questions about the Modern Liturgy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1998), 187-189.
 The institutional
liberals, on the other hand, had problems with Sacrosanctum concilium from the beginning. See Kathleen Hughes, RSCJ, The
Monk's Tale: a biography of Godfrey Diekmann, OSB (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1991), Foreword
by Frederick R. McManus, xii. What a far cry this is from the "examination of
conscience" called for by Pope John Paul II forty years after the promulgation
of the document. See the apostolic letter "Spiritus et Sponsa," December 4,
Catherine Pickstock, After Writing: On the Liturgical Consummation of
 Huck, "A Tree
Planted by a Stream," 1 and 9.
Susan Benofy, "Radical Relocation of Transcendence: Changes in the Communion
Rite 1977 – 2002," Adoremus Bulletin 7, no. 3 (May 2002). Online edition.
 Hovda entered the
Catholic Church from Protestantism without waiting the prescribed canonical
year before enrolling in the seminary at St. John's, Collegeville, Minnesota.
One of his still-living classmates recounted the fact for this essay. This
classmate recalls that in those days of the late 1940s the seminarians with
liturgical interests tended to be elitist, sometimes shunning the company of
others deemed less avant garde.
 See Benedict
Groeschel and James Monti, In the Presence of the Lord: the history,
theology, and psychology of eucharistic devotion (Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 1997).
 Funk, Ritual
Transformation, 30. Funk seems
unaware of Johnson's "first generation", "second generation", and "third
generation" analogy. It is useful to explain liturgy as well as biblical
scholarship. See Johnson/Kurz, Future of Catholic Biblical Scholarship, 10-14; 32-33.
 Three of Cardinal
Ratzinger's books have had an impact on liturgical thinking: Feast of Faith,
A New Song for the Lord, and The
Spirit of the Liturgy. One of the
items reconsidered by these studies is the Mass "coram" or "versus populum."
 See Arlene Oost-Zinner
and Jeffrey Tucker, "A New Dawn for Latin Chant?," Crisis 22, no. 7 (July/August 2004), 34-37.
 Benofy points out
that so-called reformers such as Hovda and Huck try to reinterpret
transcendence itself. See her "Radical Relocation of Transcendence."
 I tell them that
neither the modern liturgy movement of "balloons, banners, and Wonder Bread",
nor the return of the Roman Missal of 1962, nor our best efforts, will achieve
anything unaided. I have witnessed elegant Anglican worship with more clergy
than faithful in attendance. All is God's grace. The hemorrhage of possibly the
majority of our youth out of a church they never really joined, so to speak,
continues at an alarming rate. Secularism, which begins with the secularization
of morals, is the real substitute for religion in the post-Modern world. In his
writing, Robert Hovda never seemed too concerned about the problem of
secularism versus Catholic identity. He did not understand that the loss of
faith is the gravest issue of our day, and perhaps that is why he did not
 The matter of
defective translations is a separate issue.
 Recently even
ultra-traditionalism has gained a certain unexpected respectability in the
person of Mel Gibson whose father is a Lefebvrist and who himself prefers the
Roman Missal of 1962.
Colleen Carroll, The New Faithful: Why young adults are embracing Christian
Loyola Press, 2002). Also David Brooks, "Kicking the Secularist Habit," Atlantic
Monthly 291, no. 2 (March
2003), 26-28. Available online.
 Hovda, "The
Sacred", Ritual Transformation,
 Baldovin, Hovda, 183.
 The notion of the
"multiple and equivalent presences" of Christ, expressed by J. Michael Joncas
on page 67, distorts both Sacrosanctum concilium, #7, and authentic Catholic doctrine. Christ is
substantially and permanently present under the Eucharistic elements—he
is not present in his word, in his ministers, or in his assembly in the same
way. See the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (Washington: The United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops, 2003), #27, p. 20.
 The rediscovery of
the Catholic understanding of any of the sacraments would be wonderful. But
displacing holy orders, as Hovda does in this citation, is objectively to
embrace Reformation theology. Hovda is effectively saying we really do not need
priests, at least not in the sense of Trent and Vatican II. The Reformation
holds that the church is founded and caused by baptism. Catholicism teaches
that the eucharistic sacrifice causes the church.
 Hovda, "The
Sacred", 21. Note the tone and the attitude of the passage. Hovda condemns
himself with his own words which will be reassessed, if he merits a footnote,
by ecclesiastical historians of the future.
 Huck, "A Tree
Planted by a Stream", 12. Yes, Hovda did not leave the church—here
referred to by Gabe Huck as "that pathetic institution"—but did he ever
 Those using the
terminology of "the institutional church" implicitly distinguish it from the local
assembly gathered on Sunday to worship. Again, the theme of the corrupt
historical church is a favorite Reformation idea. If anything has been
rediscovered, it is that the expression "institutional church" becomes
assimilated to and then identified with the corrupt historical
church—thus the dehistoricized invisible church sola fide unites us to Christ. Recent efforts to
hyper-emphasize "The Gathering Rite" can all too easily accommodate a
Neo-Lutheranism. By contrast, let us recall Cardinal Christoph Schönborn's
words: "In fact, Christ and the Church are one." See Christoph Schönborn, Loving
the Church (San Francisco: Ignatius
Press, 1998), 101.
 Hovda, "The
 Nathan Mitchell
puts it best: "The restoration of the assembly's role as pivotal agent and icon
in the liturgy is probably the most decisive result of postconciliar reform
among Roman Catholics. For in its worship, the assembly becomes what it receives: Christ's body given for the
world's life." See Nathan Mitchell, "The Amen Corner, 'Plenty Good Room': The
Dignity of the Assembly", Worship
70, no. 1 (January 1996), 65.
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