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The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background

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Reviews of The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background

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Scott Q

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by Scott Q on Jan 20, 2011

This is an amazing book by one of the best liturgists in the 20th Century. He absolutely destroys the integrity by way of careful research of the practices of the post-Vatican II Church with respect to the liturgy. Gamber was not a member of the SSPX or any group that has challenged Vatican II in its entirety. Rather, he was a conservative who understood the history of the liturgy and--this is of critical importance--the way in which the liturgy reflects theology, and vice versa. He uses blunt, direct language and this is an easy read for anyone who wants to know more about the history of the Mass and, especially, whether the changes after Vatican II have any connection with historical practices of the Church. Were Gamber alive today he no doubt would sneer at the notion of the "hermeneutic of continuity" nonsense being preached by Rome these days. For example, the present-day Mass is said with the priest facing the people. Gamber demonstrates in a methodical manner how the Mass said versus populum is a complete innovation and had no place whatsoever in the RC liturgy ever--at least until V2. He does not mince words and calls those liars who claim that having the priest facing the people is a restoration of ancient practice. In fact, he notes that there is not even a term for "facing the people" in the Latin or Orthodox Churches regarding the liturgy. Gamber spends a great deal of space on the importance of the eastward position in liturgies, be they Christian, Jewish or pagan. He shows how, since the earliest days of Christianity, the eastward position for the liturgy was of paramount importance. It was Luther who pushed for Mass versus populum, which, not coincidentally, went right along with his theology that the Mass is but a meal, not a sacrifice, and this was adopted quickly by the Free Churches. Thus it may be said with all accuracy that the post-Vatican II Mass is indeed Protestant. Facing east involved everyone, priest included, a practice some have smeared by the vulgar claim that "the priest has his back to the people." Gamber makes it clear that this practice demonstrates a deep respect to God, in contrast to the present practice that stresses a community meal rather than a sacrifice. The book concludes with several questions, with a reply to each one by Gamber, which are helpful to those who have been lied to. You will not be disappointed in this book if you care at all about the direction of the Church and of the integrity of the liturgy.

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