The stripping down of the Mass was anticipated by the denuding of church architecture. Enlightened architects of yesteryear sought to make buildings safe to "protect" people from harm. Bauhaus architecture, the stillborn movement conceived by the coupling of the fear and depression of an architect (Walter Gropius) traumatized by loss and motivated, at least initially, by a genuine sense of duty to design safer buildings, has resulted in living and working and worshipping spaces which are, indeed, quite safe—safe from imagination and the poetry of life, safe from humanizing relationships and creative interaction, and safe from encountering mystery or the transcendent.
The Bauhaus movement, born of hyper-utilitarianism, produced idols to the socialist realist (or is that secular materialist?) dogma of mechanized modernism, an ideology completely sanitized of human warmth. Imaginations traumatized by the degradation and brutality of the Second World War produced prisons, boxes, cells, attempts at indestructible buildings.
Compare the sterility of Bauhaus architecture to the riotous celebration of the human and the divine one typically finds in Baroque and Rococo architecture. Architecture, that is, which celebrates the human and divine in ways far too risky for the disciple of a vapid secularism to appreciate. One need not travel back as far as the Baroque to appreciate church-appropriate architecture. Consider the work of contemporary architect Duncan Stroik.
|St. Thomas Aquinas College Chapel|
|St. Thomas Aquinas College Chapel - interior|
Consider, too, the theological feast of Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia.
The preceding paragraphs hint at a progression. Where theology goes, so goes art and architecture. Worse case scenario? Bad theology produces iconoclasm. Sanitizing of the Liturgy to make it more "accessible" has produced a generation of iconoclasts. A liturgy stripped of its ornament, it's flesh so-to-speak, seems tragically welcome in a house similarly stripped of art.
No room at the Bauhaus Inn.
Bauhaus philosophy, which is to say modernistic philosophy, cannot be redeemed for Christian use because it can only produce sarcophagi of disembodied man. The Bauhausian ethos produces temples to modernist dissonance. Is it any wonder, then, that celebrations of the Ordinary Form of the Mass are so often dissonant and devoid of depth when hosted in buildings built to accommodate the spirit of an age which is entirely uncomfortable with a psychology and/or metaphysic of (Divine) mystery and silence?
Architecture too timid to embody man in all his fragility and dignity is hardly worthy of use for creating mediating forms in which to render the theology of the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. The Word was made flesh; Bauhaus architecture is far too gnostic to accommodate the Son of God.
Bauhausian architecture produces shells with no room for soul(s). Sadly, too many architects are still infected by the empty utilitarianism of Bauhaus (cf. Living Machines: Bauhaus Architecture as Sexual Ideology by E. Michael Jones).
No harm done.
For many rabid secularists, religion presents far too many unknown dangers for mankind. People must be protected from the interference which religion and faith provoke people to engage in. Ironically, secularism of the contemporary variety is nothing short of a fundamentalistic religion bent on terrorizing non-conformists, i.e., Christians, who refuse to burn incense at the shrine of some secular deity.
With no small amount of irony, we now see how liberal-progressives, once upon a time the self declared prophets of the Spirit of Vatican II, have become resistant to a call of the Holy Spirit to put aright the celebration of the Mass. Progressive cardinals and bishops, given a voice by an accommodating pope, imagine they must protect people from the nasty, rigid, [insert derogatory term here] Tradition-minded Catholics who, unafraid to celebrate the transcendentals—truth, goodness and beauty—and motivated by joyful orthodoxy, desire to see beauty returned to the Mass. The false prophets would, if they could, further denude the Mass and render it as plastic as the throw away culture in which they are tragically trapped.
Contrary to the hyper-materialism and morbid functionalism of our times, Tradition-minded Catholics herald a liturgical theology which restores to the Mass the transcendentals.
It is not by accident that most of the "useless repetition" was removed from the Mass. Repetition intended to assist the soul to achieve the necessary receptivity to the mercy of God is, to the prideful person, an undignified abasement of oneself. The liberal-progressive, eager to be free of shame and unable to appreciate a healthy examination of conscience, tossed out very useful supportive texts to assist the soul's progress from the illusion of pride to the reality of dependence upon God.
Where there is no sense of culpability for sin, the mind fabricates a comfortable god who is more a permissive parent than an authoritative (NOT authoritarian!) God Who rules the universe and loves creatures into existence and sustains them by His very being.
When thou hidest thy face, they are dismayed; when thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust.—Psalm 104 (103):29
The anti-authority movements of the 1960s and 1970s found a comfortable home in the Church and her Liturgy. Catholics, weary of obnoxious trespassers, should evict those who have bullied their way in the Sacred Liturgy.
The rupture between art and liturgy has been most obviously felt in what should be the music of the Mass. Compare the trite One Bread, One Body by John Foley to even the simplest motet by Palestrina—e.g., Jesu Rex Admirablis—and the disparity between devotional pablum and authentic sacred music becomes immediately apparent. Even though the aforementioned motet is in Latin, the geometry of the phrasing and the architecture of the harmony invites the worshipper into an encounter with the Beauty and Truth and Goodness responsible for inspiring said motet.
When the personality of the priest attempts to substitute for the mystery of faith into which ritual invites the worshipper, people put their faith in the person of the (narcissistic) priest. When that faith is challenged, people leave in despair or anger or frustration or... .
Where ritual is dumbed down to the point where people do not have to use and surrender their imaginations and engage their hearts, people have nothing through which the Holy Spirit may guide them into a deeper communion.