The Liturgy Betrayed
by Denis Crouan
Yesterday I bought The Liturgy Betrayed by Denis Crouan. I
read it today.
It was originally written in French in 1997, but was translated
in English and published by Ignatius Press in 2000.
Its encouraging to find a book published about problems with
the liturgy. The problems are frankly presented. For example
on page 71:
The Straight Facts
The Virtual Nonexistence of the Eucharistic Liturgy Celebrated
according to the Official Rituals
The faithful who are informed report that, in current circumstances,
it has become impossible, so to speak, on the parish level, to
participate in a Sunday Eucharist celebrated as required by the
official liturgical books published in the wake of the Second
Vatican Council (books such as the Roman Missal, the Ceremonial
of Bishops, and so on).
On page 73 he wrote that the French bishops have given a bad
example by improvising the liturgy. In seminaries they tolerate
liturgical abuses, but punish candidates for the priesthood who
want to respect the Roman Missal.
Consequently the "faithful who are truly and sincerely
attached to an authentic eucharistic liturgy" have three
choices, described on page 75:
"to participate in celebrations that have more or less
gone astray, the rites of which are often hijacked in favor of
an immediate, simple satisfaction of feelings;"
to take refuge with celebrations carried out by adhering closely
to the rites and usages that predate Vatican II
to cease all practice of religion
"In all these cases, the outcome is that the faithful
feel deeply frustrated and hurt, to the point where they are
no longer able to derive the slightest spiritual benefit from
The hurt and frustration are well conveyed by letters in the
Appendix of 25 pages.
Sometimes I believe the book's criticism is misplaced. For
example on page 54:
"In the liturgy we should do only what corresponds with
what we really are and not do what corresponds to what we would
have liked to be or what we imagine we are: if liturgical ritual
becomes an instrument that allows certain persons to make up
for their shortcomings, it is the liturgy as a whole that runs
the risk of becoming for the faithful who participate in it a
vehicle for neurotic behavior.
[Footnote 18: This is why it is advisable to be extremely
prudent in the choice of person who are in charge of liturgical
direction and to avoid calling on exseminarians who did not follow
through to the end with their vocation, on religious in civilian
dress, on divorced men and women ... This is not because people
like this, who are often full of good will, should be systematically
excluded, but because the liturgy must be guaranteed a healthy
role to play.]"
How does one tell whether exseminarians have not followed
to the end with their vocation? Perhaps they have found their
vocation. No mention is made of the ministry of instituted lector
or acolyte that they are likely to have received during their
seminary training. If there is a situation where seminarians
faithful to the Roman Missal are being punished, then perhaps
many of the exseminarians are the faithful ones. Perhaps their
knowledge of the ceremonies should be used to correct the problems
By J.R. Lilburne, 18 January 2003. I give what I have written
on this page to the public domain.