Jeremy Hall

Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William J. Kelly

Second Advisor

Cyril Vollert

Third Advisor

Dennis Doherty

Fourth Advisor

Keith Egan OCarm

Fifth Advisor

Edward Finn


The profound influence of liturgy upon ecclesiology, manifest in the course of the Church's experience during the Second Vatican Council, has served to inspire and focus the present study.

By circumstance rather than design, debate on the schema on the liturgy was placed first on the Council agenda. Prepared in harmony with the pastoral vision of Pope John XXIII, it had elicited acceptance in principle within a month of the Council's opening. In the course of deliberation upon this schema, many of the Fathers of the Council became increasingly formed theologically in the ecclesiology implicit in any profound consideration of liturgy. In its final form, overwhelmingly accepted toward the end of the second session of the Council, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy begins with a statement on the Church and proceeds immediately to characterize the liturgy as "the outstanding means by which the faithful can express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church." It then states forcefully: "The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the fountain from which all her power flows."

The Constitution on "the Church was to be according to the purpose of Pope John in summoning the Council and the common understanding of the Fathers, the principal concern of the Council, and the final text of the Constitution proclaimed, ''this Council wishes to set forth more precisely to the faithful and to the entire world the nature and encompassing mission of the Church." In the effort t o give adequate expression to the Church's self-understanding, however, successive texts were submitted and drastic revisions made. The text was progressively transformed from one that stressed the institutional, hierarchic and juridical elements to one that emphasized the mystery of the Church, her life as a community of faith, her concern for the unity of all in Christ. And this progressive transformation of the climactic text of the Council was due in no small measure to transformed understandings gained during the prior discussion of liturgy. In closing the first session shortly after debate on the schema on the Church had begun, Pope John observed that it was not by chance that the schema on the Liturgy had been the first to be considered--the implication was , clearly, that the Spirit was directing the course of Council deliberations. Early in the second session, Archbishop Martin of Rouen pointed out the disharmony between the first draft of the schema on the Church and the ecclesiology that had already been affirmed by the Council in its acceptance of the Constitution on the Liturgy. And at the closing of the second session, on the day on which the Constitution on the Liturgy was promulgated, Pope Paul observed: ''The liturgy was the first subject to be examined and the first, too, in a sense, in intrinsic worth and in importance for the life of the Church."

This experience of the universal Church suggested a study of the ecclesiology, largely implicit, in the early development of the liturgical movement in the United States. What self-understanding of the Church was reflected by that movement? What were the sources of that understanding? What was the course of its development? What impact did it have?

The present study, involving an examination of the experience and the literature of the early years of the liturgical movement in this country as reflected in the work of its founder, Dom Virgil Michel OSB, is an effort to distill the elements of an ecclesiology largely implicit rather than explicit in that pioneer work and, most importantly, to propose a theological construct, an articulated ecclesiology that incorporates and integrates the ecclesial insights and accents embedded in the liturgical movement in America a generation before Vatican II.

My gratitude is due, and warmly given, to many who contributed to the undertaking and completion of this study. Among these I wish to thank Rev. William J. Kelly SJ, Rev. Cyril Vollert SJ, Rev. Edward Finn SJ, Dr. Dennis Doherty and Rev . Keith Egan OCarrn, members of the Department of Theology, Marquette University, for their direction and assistance.

I wish also to extend my gratitude t o the Benedictine Community of which I am a member, a community that supported me in many ways during the term of this study. In a special way my thanks are owing to Sister Incarnata Girgen for critical reading and suggestion, and to Sister Romaine Theisen for typing the manuscript.

Abbots Baldwln Dworschak OSB.,and his successor, Abbot John Eidenschink OSB, as well as a number of the monks of St. John's Abbey were unfailingly gracious and generous in their assistance. Rev. Godfrey Diekmann, Dom Virgil's co- worker and successor, provided uniquely valuable insights and information during several interviews. Rev. Paul Marx's earlier research into the work of Dom Virgil was of great assistance, and he generously put the fruit of that research completely at my disposal. Rev. Michael Marx, presently managing editor of Worship, read the manuscript and made a number of very helpful suggestions. Rev. Christopher Bayer, Abbey archivist, made the extensive collection of the Michel Papers available t o me under optimum conditions for extended study. I wish also to thank Rev. Roger Schoenbechler for gracious assistance in collating information.

Mr. John Dwyer of the Liturgical Press made early publications and office records of the Press available to me, and the librarians of St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict secured needed research materials.

To many others, notably my colleagues at the College of St. Benedict, I have reason t o be grateful for help of many kinds.

December l, 1974 Sister Jeremy Hall OSB



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