Historic Worship In The Western (catholic) Church

Source: The Complete Library of Christian Worship, Robert E. Webber, General Editor

The Roman rite was only one of several rites that existed in the Western church prior to the time of the Reformation, as shown in these eight entries. As the Roman rite gained influence, the traditions of other regions became assimilated to it. Some of the regional rites, however, retained a distinctive character up to the Reformation era. In the Council of Trent, Catholic liturgy was standardized and remained largely unchanged until Vatican II.

Liturgical Diversity And Roman Influence

While there is a common core to historic Western Christian liturgy, there is also considerable diversity. Rites differed from region to region and from place to place. Regional improvisations on the basic framework of the liturgy led eventually to a proliferation of liturgical books in the Western church, with much variation even within the same regional traditions.

The North African Liturgy

It is thought that North Africa was the birthplace of Latin Christianity. Because of Muslim expansion, however, the church did not survive in North Africa beyond the eighth century. Since no actual texts of the ancient North African liturgy are extant, the outline of the rite can only be reconstructed from other sources.

The Gallican Liturgy

Great diversity evidently existed in the liturgies used in southern Gaul. Lack of documentation, however, makes it difficult to reconstruct some parts of the liturgy. By the ninth century, the Gallican liturgy had become fused with the Roman rite. The spread of Roman influence is clearly shown by early Gallican sources.

The Spanish Liturgy

Ecclesiastical leadership in the Iberian peninsula held the liturgy in high esteem as a means of communicating the truths of the Christian faith. Spanish liturgical creativity, therefore, was marked by a stress on doctrinal precision.

The Ambrosian Liturgy

The Ambrosian, or Milanese, liturgy shared common features with both Western and Eastern rites and served as a link between them. A central feature of the Ambrosian liturgy is its Christocentric nature, reflecting an ongoing struggle with Arian influence. Never suppressed by ecclesiastical authorities, the Ambrosian liturgy continues in use today.

The Celtic Liturgy

Celtic liturgies show the wide-ranging influence of the Irish missionary-monks, who tended to appropriate liturgical elements from all parts of the Greek and Latin churches. The Celtic liturgy emphasizes a strong personal relationship with Christ and with the Trinity.

The Roman Liturgy

The Roman Rite, originally celebrated only in the city of Rome and its environs, was adopted by other Western churches in an effort to introduce a fully organized and standardized liturgy.

Roman Catholic Worship From The Council Of Trent To Vatican Ii

The Council of Trent (15451563) initiated a period of liturgical standardization in the Roman Catholic church. Catholic worship remained largely uniform throughout the world until the appearance of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council (1963).