Duffy argues that despite real advances in scholarship, many of the reforms adopted in recent generations have been strangely unhistorical in their approach to Catholicism. Preoccupied with abstract theories about the proper role of liturgy in the Church’s life, the reformers focused on the rationale behind forms of worship and devotion not on their latent vitality and potency. They failed to understand how Catholic practice actually worked; they were insensitive to the capacity of certain ritual acts to foster a sense of mystery and awe in the presence of God.
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