The dawn of the year of Our Lord 2011 found Worship, a liturgical journal published by the monks of Saint John’s Abby in Minnesota, entering its eighty-third year of publication. Known as Orate Fratres before 1951, the journal was originally edited by the famous liturgical theologian Dom Virgil Michel OSB. According to it’s current website the primary aim of the journal is “to develop a better understanding of the spiritual impact of the liturgy and to promote active participation on the part of all men and women in the worship of the Church.”
The December 1958 edition of Worship finds the editorial heirs of Dom Michel prognosticating as to the new Pope’s attitude regarding liturgical reforms already well underway. In the same issue that Worship notes the proliferation of support for the liturgical reforms by citing Bishops, laity and scholars from Spain to Louvain, their concern for an unknown future is evident. “Ever since the election of the new Pope, letters and telephone calls have inquired whether it is likely that he will carry forward the liturgical reforms initiated by Pope Pius XII. Quite frankly, we wish we knew.”
Such uncertainty and hesitation in their evaluation of John XXIII would not last long. It is with great excitement (and perhaps a hint of pride) that the following report is given in spring of 1959: “for the first time in nearly a hundred years, the Pope celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s on Christmas day for the people of Rome… at his expressed wish, it was a dialogue Mass.”
Worship, during the late ‘50’s and early ‘60’s, is both a pastoral and theological journal. It’s written both for an educated and invested laity, and for those Pastors seeking practical advice on how to “revitalize” (a frequently used word) the liturgical life of their Parish. Through all of this Worship strives to hit a tone of hierarchical respect, faithful ressourcement, and attention to the changing signs of the times. It attends to the parish as the unquestioned center of Catholic culture, clarifies practical questions about celebrating Mass, and supports devotional practices – especially those associated with Our Lady.