Sunday, April 01, 2007

I Won't Have Them Turn Their Backs On Me

The return of the Tridentine Mass?

One big clue to the pope's thinking came in his 1997 book, titled "Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977" and written when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in which he sharply criticized the drastic manner in which Pope Paul VI reformed the Mass in 1969.The almost total prohibition of the old missal, which had been used for 400 years, was unprecedented in the history of the liturgy, he said in the book.In effect, he said, "the old building was demolished" and a new one put in its place. Thus the liturgy ceased to be a living development and was treated as something manufactured by experts, which has caused the church "enormous harm," he said.Even before he wrote those words, then-Cardinal Ratzinger had caused a stir when he said it made sense for the priest to celebrate Mass facing the same direction as the congregation, in the pre-Vatican II style, although he also said it would be confusing to turn the altar around once again.Over the years, he has sharply criticized what he sees as a tendency for the worshiping community to celebrate only itself.
I'm not going back to that.

Promulgation Of The Roman Missal Revised By Decree Of The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council

The Mass Is The Same - Pope Paul VI's Address to a General Audience, November 19, 1969

How could such a change be made? Answer: It is due to the will expressed by the Ecumenical Council held not long ago. The Council decreed: "The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, can be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful can be more easily accomplished

For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, while due care is taken to preserve their substance. Elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage, are now to be discarded. Where opportunity allows or necessity demands, other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the earlier norm of the Holy Fathers" (Sacrosanctum Concilium #50).

It is not an arbitrary act. It is not a transitory or optional experiment. It is not some dilettante's improvisation. It is a law. It has been thought out by authoritative experts of sacred Liturgy; it has been discussed and meditated upon for a long time. We shall do well to accept it with joyful interest and put it into practice punctually, unanimously and carefully.

-- Pope Paul VI


Liam said...

I hear you, Jeff. The exclusion of the laity from the service, and the narrowing of the Mass to only a priestly sacrifice is not something we should go back to in general.

On the other hand, I would call to resist the idea that unity means complete uniformity. I have no problem with the Tridentine Mass being available the way Eastern rite Masses are available or the Ambrosian or Mozarabic rite Masses are celebrated in the Basillica of St Ambrose in Milan or the Toledo cathedral. Of course, this should only happen when there is a sufficiently large community to support it, and no one is forced to forgo the regular Mass because only the Tridentine rite is being offered in a given place.

Jeff said...

Hi Liam,

Thanks for recognizing where I’m coming from. I don’t have anything against Latin. I love Latin and Gregorian Chant, and I think we need to keep that heritage alive. I’m not opposed to liturgical diversity either. Unfortunately, though, hot button politics have built up around this whole Tridentine issue. I'm disappointed to see that this restorationist-driven initiative is being made as a concession to the most extreme elements - to those self-styled uber-Catholics who believe the least in liturgical diversity.

I think this is going to be very divisive. It's troubling to me that Benedict seems in effect to being saying that his predecessor Paul made a mistake, and that he would roll back the clock if he could get way with it, but that he can't without causing "confusion", so he'll have to take things slow for now... What will be the upshot? Traditionalists will go to "the real Mass" and leave the "Novus Ordo" to everyone else, and the Mass you go to will be an indicator of who the authentic Catholics are, depending upon your viewpoint. The cardinals and Curia will be inclined to want to measure rates of attendance at each, etc...

Liam said...

Yeah, I wouldn't mind an approach to the Lefevre people as part of an approach to all sorts of people who have felt or been alienated from the church (i.e., Hans Kung, Liberation theologians), but only going one way seems to have a political agenda behind it.

I'm actually more worried about crackdowns on the normal Mass. I'm afraid B16 will insist on Gregorian chant at every mass, and the entire non-Western Church will go Pentecostal.

Anonymous said...

Seems like the Opus Dei types are 'behind this'. Meaning, that they are way into the traditionalist mentality and would like more freedom to practice the Latin rite. I am confused though... Why can't there be broader use of the Latin Norvus Ordo without changing the liturgy?

Let's not pretend that there isn't something being lost here. Our anglican and Lutheran brothers have known what it is like for a long time to not know what to expect when they walk into a church. We Romans on the other hand have had the benefit of walking into any church on vacation and feeling essentially oriented.

Jeff said...

Good remarks Liam,

Gregorian Chant at every Mass... I wouldn't mind, but I think you're
right. A lot of people would balk.

Hey, Canada!

Welcome Winnipeg, thank you for visiting.

I have to admit, I am horrified by the way this pope flirts with the
Lefebvrites. I can't imagine he'd baptize the Protocols of the Elders of Zion by making peace with that crew with no concessions on their part, but gosh, you never know. If that happens, I'm going to have a real crisis of conscience.

This Motu Proprio was supposed to happen last week, according to a lot of blogs I've seen. In fact, it was expected a year ago. The rumors I'm reading indicate that there are quite a few cardinals appealing to him not to take this step. We'll see what happens...

Garpu the Fork said...

Ugh...I hate it when "authentic" or "orthodox" comes up. A priest at my parish put it best that orthodoxy without orthopraxy (and love) is meaningless. I guess we're all good Catholics. We're all bad Catholics sometimes, too.