Elsewhere we have cited Jean Guitton's radio interview in which he stated his friend, Papa Montini, aimed to approximate the Roman rite with the "Calvinist Mass." To many Catholics of the age, the transition from Latin to vernacular, from orientation to versus populum, and from chant to hymns appeared to mirror the process of de-Catholicizing England and the Germanic countries during the Reformation. The common perception that the Pauline Mass was inspired, in whole or part, by protestantism is integral to several studies of the new liturgy, notably Michael Davies' Pope Paul's New Mass and Anthony Cekada's Work of Human Hands. Ecumaniacs of the 1960s and 1970s egged on the Church about her sudden convergence with protestantism and her disregard for her past. There is a sliver of truth to this narrative, but it is on the whole a simplistic reduction for those looking to ignore what really happened in the 20th century.
The new liturgy is a baked outcome of a strange batter of ingredients: clerical lethargy, boredom with the devotional culture, Jansenism, Modernism, pro-protestant ecumenism, neo-Scholastic minimalism and focus with form-matter-intent, an archaeologist obsession with the "early Church" (whatever that was), and, we often forget, Judaism.
The Second World War and Holocaust had just ended. Religious scholarship of both Christianity and Judaism returned to European academia. Modern religious scholarship, like most bad things (Nazism, Communism, protestantism, Wagner, and beer) comes from Germany. In the 19th century linguistic scholarship boomed in Germany and, with it, textual criticism of Christian and Jewish literature. The consensus held in academic circles corresponded to the biases of academic circles at the time against religion. They held the New Testament books to be second and third century divinizations of an historically doubtful Jewish rabbi with a simply message of peace. Early Christianity was re-imagined as a simplistic, communitarian potluck devoid of strong clergy. Judaism did not escape unscathed, either.
One cannot really say that the Rabbinical Judaism of today is the Judaism of Christ's age. Since the 19th century people have understood the synagogue to the Jewish equivalent of a church and the rabbi to be the equivalent of a priest. The synagogue is the worship house and the rabbi leads the prayer rites and provides the community with instruction. That is certainly modern Judaism, the Judaism those wishing to return the Church to her primitive roots sought to imitate, but it betrays an ignorance of first century Judaism.
When one reads of the question of the Canon of Scripture, one finds numerous debates which revolve around which books Christ quotes to which people. The Pharisees, Saducees, and Hellenistic Jews accepted different books ranging from the five Mosaic books alone to the Greek books contained in the Septuagint. These points did not make Hellenistic Jews any less Jewish than the Pharisees. What defined a Jew at the time was ethnic origin, the observance of the Mosaic commandments, and one's relationship to the Temple. This last point cannot be ignored in any way. Jerusalem was a temple surrounded by a city, not a city housing temple. The Temple was where God's Chosen People worshipped Him according to laws and rites revealed to them by Him through special prophets and continued with the aid of the Levitical priesthood. The rest was important, but additional. The Rabbinical model filled the abyss of a void created when the Temple was destroyed in 70, Jerusalem was destroyed in 135, and Jew expelled from Palestine until 1948. Judaism, to survive, moved from a Temple model to a synagogue model. Formerly, synagogues were akin to community and educational centers with a religious function. Rabbis were not strictly necessary. "Rabbi" was a generic term for a preacher, sometimes educated, sometimes not. The rabbi found himself in the synagogue eventually, expounding on the codified Hebrew Scriptures to members of a scattered community in some remote part of the Diaspora, far from Jerusalem. The priesthood, the place of worship, and the state were replaced with teacher, local community, and minority status. Imagine, as a Catholic, being trapped in some isolate part of northern China with some other Catholics and no priest. On Sundays, you gather as a group and perhaps get some spiritual advice from a particularly devout member of the circle. This is what happened to the Jewish people.
That Rabbinical Judaism influenced Christianity cannot be doubted. St. Paul came from the Pharisaical tradition that spawned the Rabbinical movement, a student himself of Rabban Gamaliel (rabban was a title of high status among rabbis). This influence is evident in St. Paul's epistolary and preaching style, which lived on in the Apostolic Fathers. This influence is not evident in the Patristic and Apostolic era's liturgical praxis because it did not exist. When one reads early accounts of the Christian house liturgies, one is struck at the level of organization (how many priests and deacons concelebrate, who houses the Eucharist, how many plates are used, who takes Communion to the sick etc). While the particular practices have either faded or been absorbed into the traditions of Rome, Byzantium, Antioch, Syria, Armenia, Alexandra and the others that come to us today, a clear taxis emerged. They worshipped in houses rather than grand edifices because houses were what was available to them. When Christianity emerged from the Diocletian persecution's catacombs and entered the Constantinian sun, the believers built grand churches and consecrated them as the Temples were consecrated. More recent scholarship by Margaret Barker and Laurence Hemming reveals that the Temple, not the synagogue, was the template the early—and certainly medieval—Christians sought to emulate. Hemming's Liturgy as Revelation even notes the strong textual parallels between the Roman Mass and Office for the Dedication of a Church (created c.500 for the consecrated of the Pantheon as "St. Mary and the Martyrs) and the previous Temple, as well as with the heavenly Jerusalem to come. The Church's rite are the maturation and fulfillment of the Temple rites, which prefigured Christ's perfect Sacrifice, a Sacrifice made present again on the altars of the Church. The priesthood is no longer Levitical, but Christ's. The Temple is no longer limited to one physical space because the Sacrifice of Christ can be renewed anywhere.
The spiritual archaeologists, seeking a plain and communitarian "early Church," erroneously took Rabbinical Judaism as the normative model rather than the Temple Judaism which prefigured Christ and which He fulfilled. In doing so, they took the parish rather than the cathedral as the normative setting for the liturgy. They took the reduced parish liturgy rather than episcopal celebration as the normative standard. And they took an earthy community rather than a heavenly one as the normative attendees. Unfortunately, bad thoughts do not die with those who think them.
In related news, Anthony Cekada is trying to get his Work of Human Hands back into print. To bring attention to this endeavor he has returned to making one chapter summary videos on YouTube. I find Cekada's research very valuable, particularly with regard to the figures around the reform process and the variable parts of the new Mass (orations and the lectionary). Still, one gets the same trite words about Modernism vs. "traditional" (neo-Scholastic Latin moral) theology one finds among those whose knowledge of theology begins with St. Thomas' Summa and whose scope is limited to the Roman patriarchate. His latest video, below, provides invaluable information when he is not calling Eastern Christians "woolly" and "schismatic" without qualification. If readers have time, I recommend his earlier videos on the reform process, "Adroit Choices, Giant Voices," and the offertory. His sly style is both entertaining and accessible thanks to his helpers, Fr. Chuck and Fr. Retreaux.