Sra,—The letter signed Constance Holt in your issue of May 21 is most welcome and timely. To label as 'Liturgical Extremists" all those who desire to cause changes in the present unsatisfactory state of our public worship, to accuse them of attacking devotion to Our Lady," and so forth, is to pei yea the truth. The Pope. in his recent encyclical Mediator Ad, has told us who liturgical extremists are. People who oppose all nonliturgical forms of piety. who introduce new rites without authority. who exclude the use of the Old Testament. who abolish black vestments, crucifixes which show Our Lord's wounds. who denounce private Masses, thanksgiving after Communion and all music which is not Gregorian chant--such are the extremists rebuked by the Holy Father. But those who •want such things as congregational singing of the Ordinary of the Mass, Dialogue Mass, Vespers and Compline, far from being denounced, are encouraged. These are not " liturgical extremists." Moreover. he says, " Let not the apathetic and tepid think themselves approved when we restrain those who are going too far."
The point is well expressed by "H. A. R." in Orate Fratres, of December 28, 1947. He writes that opponents of the liturgical movement attempt to " create the impression that a small army of crackpots who have gone mad over a point nobody else can see are attacking sacred traditions of the Church for the sheer fun of it."
But who is attacking what) Who opposes by sheer non-co-operation the carrying out of the solemn directives on chant by Popes Pius X, XI, and XII? The Liturgists? I know of priests trying to introduce the participation of the people in the singing at High Mass who have been accused to their face of " changing everything," or " introducing novelties and stunts which only upset the people and distract them from their devotions." A priest gets his parish to sing Compline — and see what happens: those who won't see the point of doing likewise call it an attack on popular devotions. I am not saying a word about the qualitative difference between the Church's prayer and what is so often offered by others; because some people have a hard time evaluating quality, dogmatic. spiritual, literary and musical. To thcm Home on the Range is as good as a Mozart Aria any day; and Good Night Sweet Jesus equals for them Urbs Jerusalem Beata (if they have ever heard of it). "The true fact is that Liturgy is fighting for survival. Extraliturgical functions crowd most parish calendars, and are sold with often dubious method; of publicity. Criticise these methods, often boo towed from the seienee of commercial advertising which appeals to the lower instincts of the masses, and there will be a cry: 'The Liturgists are attacking a devotion sanctioned from above, appealing to the people (Hollywood also appeals) and luring thousands into churches who would otherwise never go (the end justifies the means here, as one sees!)'." The criterion of what we ought to do in our worship of (Sod is not popular appeal; it is what the Popes say we should do. And they say that the people should participate actively in the Sacred Liturgy, that the Gregorian chant should be restored to the people, that people should not be detached and silent spectators, that they should sing Vespers—to mention but a few directives. We have a duty to foster all these things, and must not be deterred by unjustifiable accusations of unliturgical die-bards who persistently oppose the reforms which the Holy See so earnestly desires. CLIFFORD HOWELL, SJ. Bourton Hall, Rugby.