In the nineteenth century, as we have seen, the Church was confronted by the forces of modernism — positivism, rationalism, liberalism, socialism, and communism among others, all condemned by Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors. In response, Pius issued the summons for Vatican Council I to settle the questions of papal primacy and some revisiting of canon law to better meet the challenges posed by modernism. Regarding the liturgy, the Council confined itself to a confirmation of the Tridentine reforms, that the Church might maintain the dignity of liturgical worship. Thus it was not until the twentieth century liturgical movement that we observe the reformist impulse which gave rise to Vatican II’s Sacrosanctum Concilium. The movement’s purpose was to draw the faithful more nearer to God through a more profound attachment to the Liturgy. Dom Alcuin Reid sees as its foundation stone the wish of Pope St. Pius X:
Filled as We are with a most ardent desire to see the true Christian spirit flourish in every respect and be preserved by all the faithful, We deem it necessary to provide before anything else for the sanctity and dignity of the temple, in which the faithful assemble for no other object than that of acquiring this spirit from its foremost and indispensable font, which is the active participation in the most holy mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church.
The liturgical movement originated in an attempt to restore the liturgy to its ancient principles. Though it is difficult to discern principles of liturgical reform in the time of the formation of the Liturgy in the Early Church, Dom Alcuin has shown that the Liturgy was a living, developing entity, an “organism…capable of further growth,” a traditional principle of true liturgical reform.