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Dialogue Mass - XXVII

Jungmann’s Idea of the ‘Sacrifice of the Church’

Dr. Carol Byrne, Great Britain
Jungmann outlined the Council of Trent’s doctrine of the Mass, but interpreted it as follows:
    Josef Jungmann

    Jungmann introduced the new 'sacrifice of the Church' thesis

  • “The Mass is a celebration for which the Church assembles.” (1)

  • “It is a celebration which presents God with a thanksgiving, an offering, indeed a sacrifice. (2)

  • It is “an expression of the self-offering of the Church.” (3)

  • “It is the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Church. In our liturgical study we may not treat the sacrifice of the Church as a matter of secondary moment.” (4)
With these statements Jungmann gave the impression that the substance of the Mass is determined not by Christ’s Sacrifice as offered by the priest, but by the “sacrificial activity of the community,” (5) which is not to be deemed of inferior value (“of secondary moment”) to Christ’s.

This is nothing other than the “democratization” of the Church which Benedictine Dom Lambert Beauduin had called for in his 1909 Manifesto and which lives on in the Novus Ordo, as evidenced by the following extracts from the current General Instruction of the Roman Missal:

34. Since the celebration of Mass by its nature has a “communitarian” character, both the dialogues between the priest and the assembled faithful and the acclamations are of great significance; for they are not simply outward signs of communal celebration, but foster and bring about communion between priest and people.

35. The acclamations and the responses of the faithful to the priest’s greetings and prayers constitute that level of active participation that is to be made by the assembled faithful in every form of the Mass, so that the action of the whole community may be clearly expressed and fostered.

Here we can also see the influence of de la Taille, who believed that it is the whole community that holds the principal place in offering the sacrifice in the Mass. (6) He also maintained that Christ is not immolated on the altar, but merely offered anew by priest and people.

The concelebrating laity

Throughout his career as a liturgist, Jungmann emphasized that the Mass (which he often preferred to call the Eucharist) is a service of praise and thanksgiving undertaken by the whole community. He attributed this pattern of worship to the early Christians and believed it to have disappeared when taken over by the ordained priesthood:

participation at Mass

Full participation of the people sharing the role of the priest, considered a president of the community

“The corporate character of public worship, so meaningful for early Christianity, began to crumble at the foundations.” (7)

In this respect, he mentioned the “concelebration of the laity” (8) as a desirable feature that he wished the Church to “restore” – along with other illusory notions such as Offertory processions etc.

Jungmann was perfectly aware that the “sacrifice of the Church” thesis (which he had culled from Fr. Maurice de la Taille) was not in line with the traditional teaching that had formed the faith of Catholics for centuries.

At a Liturgical Congress in Munich in 1955, he called for a new understanding of the Mass, an “awakening of the meaning of the Mass as a genuine community offering” on the alleged grounds that “we lost, through the centuries, the sense of the liturgy.” (9)

At the Assisi Congress in 1956, Fr. Ferdinand Antonelli also lamented that “the people have been separated, unfortunately, from the true liturgical life. A patient work of re-education, spiritual and technical, is needed to bring them back to an active, enlightened, personal, communitarian participation. This is a work that is not done in a year. It may require generations. But it must begin.”(10) 

Dropping Tradition down the memory hole

Here we have an admission from one of the Church’s most influential liturgists that a program of “re-education” should be put in place to change the outlook of those who hold “wrong” (i.e., traditional) views or who resist the reforms.

Memory hole

Vatican II dropped Tradition down the Orwellian memory hole & destroyed it in the blazing furnace

Hole 2
The most evident feature of Fr. Antonelli’s statement is its subtle totalitarian overtones, which mimicked a technique that Socialist States have universally practiced – the imposition of thought control through a process of brainwashing. It puts one in mind of the Orwellian memory holes into which unacceptable truths can be dropped and, thus, wiped from the annals of history. (11)

Metaphorically speaking, this was the fate of Pope Pius V’s Quo Primum, which was placed at the front of every typical edition of the Roman Missal printed from 1570 to 1962, but was unceremoniously “dumped” when the Novus Ordo Missae was published in 1969.

Indeed, the success of the liturgical re-education in producing a massive and sudden amnesia among the faithful was later verified by Fr. Frederick McManus (one of the foremost liturgists and a participant at the 1956 Assisi Congress). Without evincing the least compunction or regret at having brought about a revolution, he stated:

“The reformed Eucharistic liturgy of the Roman rite is a most extraordinary and revolutionary accomplishment. After four centuries of increasing rigidity of text and form, almost overnight the Roman liturgy changed so notably that once familiar features of the pre-conciliar rite are now as remote to us as some obscure aboriginal ritual.” (12) [emphasis added]

It does not need any very close observation to perceive in this remark the spirit of Modernism, which exalts the liturgical reforms at the expense of tradition and delights in obliterating the past. It demonstrates how swiftly Pius V’s Quo Primum (13) has been written out of the ecclesiastical script by reformers seeking to hasten its disappearance.

We can furthermore draw a comparison with the Cultural Revolution in China from 1966 to 1976 (incidentally the time when the first major wave of universal destruction was unleashed in the Church by the Conciliar Revolution). This was when the Chinese people were bullied into rejection of the “Four Olds”: Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits and Old Ideas.

Just as those who adhered to “the Four Olds” were sent to re-education camps, so Catholics who clung to the old ways were indoctrinated into accepting rapid, radical changes that bore no resemblance to the past. Priests especially were browbeaten into submission by Mao-like appeals to the “authority of Vatican II” and by having official sanctions (including excommunication) invoked against them.

The history of the liturgy as reflected in a distorted lens

Jungmann wrote what was basically a revisionist view of the Church’s liturgical development since early Christian times. He started with what he wanted to prove and then worked backwards, finding “confirmation” of his preconceived theories in the events of liturgical history.

participation at Mass

A common  sight today: priests celebrating Mass with the people's full participation

As we have seen, Jungmann was given to much rash speculation and would allow his imagination to fill in the gaps where evidence was lacking. He would also seek evidence, however tenuous, in some obscure synod or chance remark by a contemporary observer about liturgical practices in the early centuries of the Church, and assume that it was the universal practice in the Church.

Hence the existence, as we have seen, of some notable factual errors, manipulation of the historical records and even some instances of downright fakery strewn throughout his work.

Unfortunately, too many Vatican II Bishops and priests were willing to blindly endorse Jungmann’s hypotheses without bothering to look at how he actually reached his bogus conclusions. Had they done so, they would have seen that many of his theories were simply Neo-Modernism dressed up in faux academic garb.

It is an indication of how ineffective the Church of Pius XII was in combating Progressivism that there was virtually no one in the Vatican willing to hold him or his fellow progressivists to account. In the practical sphere, when it came to cleansing the Augean stables, Pius XII had all the effectiveness of a feather duster. Even though Jungmann’s thesis undermined belief in the true nature of the Mass and the priesthood, he was given a place of honor at the Assisi Congress.

In the next article we will look at some further examples of Jungmann’s use of propaganda tactics to denigrate and discredit the Church’s venerable liturgy in the eyes of the faithful.


  1. Jungmann, Mass of the Roman Rite, vol. 1, p. 175
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid., p. 194
  4. Ibid., p. 179
  5. Jungmann, ibid., vol. 2, p. 226
  6. 6. “The Church holds the principal place in offering as does the devotion of the Church in determining the value of the sacrifice.” (Mysterium Fidei, Paris, 1921, p. 32)
  7. Jungmann, Pastoral Liturgy (New York, Herder and Herder, 1962), p. 60
  8. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, vol. 1, p. 117
  9. Sylvester Theisen, ‘Liturgists at Munich,’ The Tablet, 17 September 1955
  10. ‘The Liturgical Reform of Holy Week, its Importance, Achievements and Perspectives’, La Maison-Dieu, n. 47-48, Editions du Cerf, 1956, p. 244.
  11. In George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, the memory hole was a vacuum tube into which old documents considered to be politically incorrect were dispatched and “would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces that were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.”
  12. Frederick McManus, ‘The Genius of the Roman Rite Revisited,’ in Worship, vol. 54, n.4, July, 1980, p. 360
  13. In 1570, Pope St. Pius V issued the solemn decree Quo Primum by which he codified the traditional Mass of the Roman Rite and ordered it to be used throughout the Catholic world “in perpetuity.”


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Posted January 4, 2016

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