A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


Get Your Motu Running....

Its here.

Yes, its true that the actual publication date of the motuproprio Summorum Pontificum is not untilSaturday, but Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia has obtained an advance copy and has all the details for yourreading pleasure.

As expected, the document will make it easier for priests tocelebrate the Roman Rite according to the 1962 Missale Romanum. That form of the ritewhich the document states wasnever abrogated, is to be understood as an extraordinary form of the RomanRite. No permission is required for apriest to celebrate the extraordinary form privately and the faithful may beadmitted to such celebrations. Inparishes where desire for the extraordinary form exists stably pastors areexhorted to allow formal celebrations of it. For more details, Im going to force you to click over to Rocco. Hes done the reporting; he deserves thetraffic.

Much has been written (this is an understatement!) onthe topic of how removing barriers to the celebration of the 1962 rite wouldhelp reconnect the Church with its liturgical tradition. Fr. Joseph Fesso, S.J., for example, recentlystated that the document would be a major step toward the genuine renewal of theMass, and therefore the genuine renewal of the Church, which the Council soardently desired. Similar themes arestruck by Pope Benedict in his letter of transmittal.

It will be interesting to see if this happens, but Illadmit that I remain a bit skeptical. Itsnot as if I dont have concerns about how the liturgy is currentlycelebrated. Sometimes I think that if Ihave to sing the hymn Sing a NewChurch one more time, Iwill slam my head into the pew ahead of me in an effort to knock myselfunconscious. In recent years, Ive enduredPentecosts where the church was decorated like it was a childrens birthdayparty, Halloween masses where the celebrant wore a clown wig, and various otherexercises in liturgical creativity that ended badly. The more I study what those involved in theliturgical movement of the 20th century were trying to accomplish,the more that significant gaps between our current practice and that visionemerge.

Im still not clear, however, on how liberalizing access tothe 1962 rite is going to help solve these problems. Much of the mainstream criticism ofcontemporary liturgy focuses more on how the Roman Rite is celebratedthan the rite itself. If one perusesmany of the books, weblogs and internet sites that critique contemporaryliturgy, one finds that most of the arguments focus on the following issues: 1)music; 2) posture; 3) architecture; 4) language; and 5) vestments. Pope Benedicts book The Spirit of the Liturgy (written while he was still CardinalRatzinger) focused on many of these issues, but did notas far as I can recallspendmuch time comparing the 1962 rite to the current one.

One can certainly grant the substance of many of thecriticisms of contemporary liturgy. Butthe current rite can, believe it or not, be celebrated in Latin, usingGregorian Chant, with the celebrant wearing a fiddleback chasuble if he sochooses! What has never been clear to meis what aspects of the 1962 riteas ritethose who favor it would like to seereintroduced into the new. The prayersof Leo XIII at the end of Mass? Thefinal Gospel? The pre-conciliarlectionary? Do they want to do away with the communal penitential rite and havethe Confiteor said exclusively by the celebrant? Do they want to eliminate the three additionalEucharistic prayers?

Pope Benedict, for his part, seems to see the traffic movingin the other direction. He specificallysuggests incorporating some of the new prefacesand even the revisedlectionaryinto the celebration of the extraordinary form, a suggestion thatwill probably not be well received by some traditionalists. As to what the extraordinary form can giveto the ordinary form, it seems that its primary contribution will besacrality rather than specific ritual forms.

Its hard not to see this as confirmation of the thesis thatthe core of contemporary liturgical criticismup to and including the criticismpresently issuing from the Holy Seeis not about the reformed rite per se. The issues are things that areharder to quantify: the loss of a senseof mystery and reverence, an emphasis on the horizontal aspect of the mass tothe neglect of the vertical, and a sense that the Mass has become simply onemore thing to be subject to modern techniques of manipulation and control.

There are times when I think what many critics of contemporaryliturgy want is not so much the 1962 rite but the 1962 rubrics. They want an end towhat Cardinal Arinze once termed the do-it-yourself Mass. They want a liturgy that their parish community receives as gift rather thanas a vehicle for their collective self-expression. Fr. Aidan Kavanagh once suggested that thepre-conciliar liturgy was often less a system of worship than a system of discipline. Whatever the problems of that discipline, however,it at least bound the CEO and the charwoman together in a common experience ofworship that is much less common today.

When he wrote TheSpirit of the Liturgy, Pope Benedict indicated a hope that it might spark anew liturgical movement. Im not surewhether we need a new liturgical movement or merely a recovery of some of theinsights of the old one. We need an adequateunderstanding of active participation that does not reduce it to mereactivity and that sees the goal of such participation as enhanced openness towhat Pius X called the true Christian spirit. We need an understanding of the history of the liturgy that does notfall into the trap of seeing the developments of the second millennium as anarrative of relentless liturgical decline. We need a serious conversation about liturgical aesthetics, particularin the area of music. Finally, we needto figure out how the insights from these various conversations can beimplemented in ordinary parishes with small staffs and competing demands ontheir resources.

While the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum is not keeping me up nights, I remainconvinced that the Mass we are called to celebrate can be found withinthe rite as it exists today. We havewhat we need there to worship God in a way that is right and just. If we havefailed to do that, it is not primarily because the rite is deficient butbecause we have been deficient in excavating and bringing forth itsriches. Whatever the impact of Summorum Pontificum, that task remains.



Commenting Guidelines

  • All

Kudos to Rocco for his scoop, and thanks to Peter for his ever-judicious reflections.One corrigendum: if fading memory is to be trusted, it was not only the celebrant who prayed the "Confiteor, but also the servers/congregation who prayed it, each in turn.P.S. Jet lag accounts for the ungodly hour of this comment -- "mea culpa!".

The pope says, according to Rocco, that knowledge of the Latin language is necessary in order to use the 1962 Missal. Reading Rocco's scoop, I found myself amused by the possible scenario that that if a priest wanted to celebrate the old version, he would be required by his bishop to qualify by translating the four page motu proprio from Latin into his native tounge in, say, two hours. And the Pope himself would have to grade the translation. My guess is that this pontiff, whom Rocco affectionately calls Fluffy, in whom beats the the exacting heart of a member of the German professorate, wouldn't exactly be an easy grader.But like Bob, I'm suffering from jet lag.

Some good observations here from Mr. Nixon and a call for the examination of consciences may be in order after reading the MP.Those who regret "Summorum Pontificum" may come to understand that the hermeneutic of rupture that some of our leading liturgists have imposed on our parishes is precisely the reason this MP is necessary to ground us in our own tradition & to promote authentic renwal.In addition, I think the enthusiasm for Latin study, liturgical not conversational, will be contagious. We may recall that the previous exhortation on the Eucharist called for a revival in Latin study in our seminaries. All of that, of course, is in conformity with the will of the Second Vatican Council's document on the liturgy. God bless our Holy Father Benedict XVI for his pastoral charity and for his liturgical vision. He is living up to his name in promoting the renewal of the Roman liturgy.

One more thought: let us sing the "Te Deum" together to recognize this blessed event of this pastoral decree and recite the "Oremus pro Pontifice":Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Benedicto. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum ejus.Let us pray for Benedict our Pontiff. May the Lord keep him and give him life, and make him happy on the earth, and not deliver him to his foes.Maid

Maid, What I don't understand is how exactly this motu proprio is going to promote renewal of the more common form of worship. I understand the lofty aspirations. But could you outline for me how you see this playing itself out? Do you think so many people--in the States --will be attracted to this that it's going to have an impact on ordinary Sunday massess attended by the vast majority of people? Do you disagree with Cardinal Sean's assessment of its limited impact in the US?Cathy

Or maybe the "Maid" could start by offering a rough vernacular translation of the "Te Deum" and providing a link to the tune for us converts who got no Latin training whatever?Much as I am an enthusiastic student of church history and have no objections whatever to celebrating the Mass in Latin on occasion, or making it available exclusively in parishes that want it (as is the case with a church in my diocese). And much as I can follow most of the Latin without a book, the sudden shift into Latin songstering by the old-time cradle Catholics strikes one as somewhat smug.The "Maid" may feel as if she's got HER church back, but she and those like her are going to have to work hard to bring everybody else up to speed, and singing anthems of triumph at us aren't going to help.

Excellent post, Peter.On thing, though: much of the division seems center on the ad orientem posture. Traditionalists argue that the posture is an ancient, and reflects the faithful facing the risen Christs. Modernists see clericalism in action, with a priest with his back to the people, mumbling incoherantly. Ratzinger in Spirit of the Liturgy gave a vigorous defense of ad orientem.

Jean,The Church is Christ's not mine or yours - it is His and we have no legitimate "parties" in the Church (i.e. low Church, Broad Church, High Church, Tridentine Church, liberal Church).Whether we appreciate it or not, the 2nd Vatican Council retained Latin in the Latin Church sui iuris. I cannot fathom anyone converting to the Maronite Church and bemoaning the place liturgical Aramaic (old Syriac) has there. Likewise, consider how sad it would be for a cradle Maronite to reject Aramaic, his own tradition and the expression of generations of prayer, hopes, solace, and gratitude. Liturgical Latin is part of the Church you've embraced Jean. Perhaps our RCIA programs should do more to familiarize people coming into full communion with our traditions including the place of Latin. Ironically these traditions are often also the traditions of "new Catholic's" forbears. I am not singing an anthem of triumph but of joy. Just simple Christian joy and I admit wanting to express it, to share it, but not in the sense you infer. There is a difference between my joy and your perception of possible smugness. I cannot see any losers here.The "Hymn Te Deum" sometimes appears under the form of "Holy God we praise Thy Name".

Cathy,The organic way the two usages will influence one another remains to be seen.It does show that the rupture so many have tried to impose on the people in the pews has always been artificial. The MP goes into this specifically. Many progressives have the misperception that the Church of 1962 is substantively different than the Church of 2007 in any number of ways. It is part of their journey past the text of the 2nd Vat. Council into a subjective "spirit" not visible in the text & unknown to the uninitiated. Many experts have not hesitated to impose their vision on the laity.The MP should serve to reconnect the ordinary form of the Roman rite with its history and facilitate organic development. It also will enrich the piety of celebrants who must be colored by the disconnect from our liturgical roots after so many years of rupture (old ICEL translations & epidemic minimalism).

I think two small mistakes caused most of the problems with the liturgy, problems which the older liturgy avoided.The first was adding onto the translation of the liturgy into the vernacular a vast number of alternatives, so that no one knows whether the priest is in fact following a set pattern or just making it up as he goes along. This freedom combined with the vernacular encourages the priest to ad lib, with generally lamentable results.This adlibbing is further encouraged by having the priest face the people. What liturgists did not notice was the extraordinary influence of American entertainment. The priest, especially in churches in the round, became not the presider or the celebrant but the MC, telling jokes, doing odd things, and indulging clerical narcissism.A set ritual in Latin prevents adlibbing; having the priest and the people face the same way takes the focus off the priest and dampens clerical narcissism.Benedict hopes that a wider experience of the older rite will help infuse some sobriety and good taste in the new rite. I do not think it will work, but what else can he do?

Okay, so the motu proprio is now a fait accompli. (How's that 3-language sentence strike you?)Can we now dispense with such silliness as: Addressing God in Latin is more reverent than doing so in a vernacular language. Or, using Latin makes more evident the theological mystery and meaning of the Eucharist than a vernacular language can. Or, having the priest have his back to the congregation, whether that has him facing east or south-southwest, more clearly establishes that the Eucharistic Prayer is addressed to God the Father than having the priest face the people he is leading in this prayer. enough of this sort of silliness.Now that the motu proprio shows that using a language other than the vernacular, here Latin, does not necessarily impede full participation by the congregation in the Eucharist, and so far as I can see, that's all that it does, maybe the powers that be can begin to get serious about the shortage of priests that leads to many parishes either having no priest pastor or having priests run so ragged that they have little time to think, much less preach well.And maybe now these same powers that be will take up the question of why there is so little serious effort made to show even well-educated lay people the beauty and profundity of the Catholic Biblical and theological heritage. Surely, no one will suggest that this motu proprio is so important that the Latin Masses it provides for is a satisfactory response to this educational need.

I think Bernard Dauenhauer has it pretty much bang on. But a question for Lee Podles: By your description of the "mistakes" of the new rite, John Paul (the Great?) would be the greatest "clerical narcissist" of all time. So how does John Paul's use of the Novus Ordo (and its consequent damage to the Church, I would imagine by your logic) square with his rather sterling reputation, especially among so-called conservatives?

The cult of personality, whether by parish priest or pontiff, is not a good thing, as Benedict has recognized. It is the office, not the person, that is important. Although John Paul knew how to work a crowd, I never noticed that he behaved like a Las Vegas MC when he said mass, nor did he ad lib the liturgy and make comments about sports teams to lighten the mood. The same cannot be said about many parish priests.

Lee Podles:This is not strictly about the Latin Mass (since I assume that homilies will still be offered in the vernacular) but I wanted to put in a good word for the modern Mass--when it is done well. In more than 40 years as a Catholic only a handful of sermons stand out as being worth the time I sat there listening to them ... and one in particular would probably have driven the Moto crowd up the wall. In it the priest used the children's story "The Polar Express" to great effect, highlighting its message of "belief" ... not having children then, I had never read the story, so its inclusion was fresh, interesting, relevant and I still remember it some 14 years later. Thugh I hope this relaxation of Latin will be limited in scope, I fear (just read the triumphalist tone of people like the Maid of Kent's postings) that too many priests will try to seek favor with this Pope by turning increasingly to the old ways.

"'[A]s a matter of principle,' Benedict tells the bishops, even those priests ordained for 1962-exclusive communities, 'cannot...exclude celebrating according to the new books.' Said 'exclusion of the new rite,' he says, 'would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.'"Well said. I look forward to "traditionalist"-minded clergy celebrating the Novus Ordo. If my own experience is any indication, their celebrations should be no less or more faithful and appropriate than the N.O. liturgies I've participated in over most of my adolescent and adult life.

My only concern is in regard to "personal parishes" and the administration of the Sacraments. I would hope that either the rector or chaplain of such a personal parish would be appointed by the bishop rather than come to a Mass simply by arrangement with the party who operates the personal parish without the pastor's knowledge, especially if the celebration of the Mass is to be a continuous gathering. I mean, if someone's priest-uncle is coming in on vacation every few years, then it's a different situation.Also, if Sacraments are to be administered at such a parish, the pastor of the Roman Rite should retain his canonical authority to judge whether or not a person is worthy to receive a Sacrament within the parish and the pastor should remain the one who delegates another priest to perform the sacramental rites at a personal parish.I would hope that a bishop would not delegate one of these rectors or chaplains to perform sacramental rites without first consulting the pastor of the Roman Rite parish and assuring said pastor that he retains the authority to delegate. Even before the promulgation of this MP, there have been occasions when people bypassed the pastor and asked the bishop to grant their wishes.Aside from what I have posted here, I have no other comment.

Lee, I would agree, in the main, with your point about the cult of papal personality. In fact, John Paul's rock star style was one of the things that Joseph Ratzinger disliked quite a bit, and one of the principal characteristics that separates these two pontiffs, and pontificates.But I don't think you could have been watching too closely if you did not see how much of a ham--sports schtick and much else--John Paul was when celebrating mass at large venues, such as sports stadiums (oops, stadia, I guess now) and horse tracks. As for the MP, as we're caling it--I waver between feeling "much ado about nothing" and the realization that there are competing two rites in the church now, one of which is considered superior not only by a faction in the pews, but also in the papal apartments. Soothing words and abstract argumentations aside, one must recognize the reality of what has happened. All of the talk about "continuity" versus "rupture" etc is just a lot of tap dancing by people--including our pope--who simply don't want to admit that things change in the church. Or develop. Or whatever. Vatican II changed some things. This is a change, too. Whether it is good, bad, or indifferent is almost beside the point, and moreso if this will have as negligible an effect as I suspect. It is more a bow to right-wing schismatics, to conservatives, and to Benedict's personal preferences. Not so much wrong with that, as long as it is not used as an ideological wedge, which I fear it will be (and as the Catholic commentariat has shown already). The great fear, it seems to me, is that people will see this as a change, and God knows where that could lead. It strikes me as more intellectually honest, and thus more likely to inspire believers, to say that this is a change, just as the introduction of Latin was a change, just as...Well, it goes on and on and on and on, as Tony Soprano knows. Or "knew?"

Maid:You say: "in animam inimicorum ejus". Don't you mean "in manus inimicorum ejus"?

Maid,You keep talking as if the only way to have mass in Latin was to return to the 1962 Missal. But as has been pointed out many times and as you well know, it is perfectly possible to celebrate the Novus Ordo in Latin. So why are you so anxious to have the 1962 Rite available? It can't just be about Latin?If you would do a close reading of the text of the 1962 Ordo, you would find that the celebrant is constantly using the first person plural which must be taken to include the community of the failthful present in the prayer. Often he does this in the hortatory subjunctive. There is a problem when you exhort someone in a language he does not understand. Singing here is no more help than shouting would be. There are also the frequent addresses to the faithful in the words: Dominus vobiscum. But the faithful are not expected to answer. Most would not know how to. In a word the 1962 Ordo is in concept as much of a dialogue as the Novus Ordo. The difference is that the natural partners, the community of the faithful, are excluded from playing their destined role. In their place there used to be two boys who had memorized their parts although they mostly did not know what they were saying. Such dialogue is in a lifeless, almost a fossilized state. Is that not a little unseemly? It is mysterious only in the sense of odd or puzzling.

David: You write: "As for the MP, as we're caling it--I waver between feeling "much ado about nothing" and the realization that there are competing two rites in the church now, one of which is considered superior not only by a faction in the pews, but also in the papal apartments."I'm not sure how to understand this. From what I've seen, it's the reformed rite that is considered normative, with the unreformed rite permitted under certain circumstances. Is this the rite that you think is considered "superior" in the papal apartments, where, I suspect, the reformed rite is regularly celebrated?

Fr. Robert:And I thought I was up late last night...:-)Having no memory of my own in this regard, I will not quarrel with yours! I believe you are right that in the preconciliar form of the Roman Rite the server would say the Confiteor after the priest did. My understanding of the history, though, is that the congregation did not recite the Confiteor along with the server unless the Mass was some form of the Missa Recitata (a.k.a. the Dialogue Mass). I believe that this practice became increasingly popular in the United States--at least in some dioceses-- in the mid-20th century, although it never was as widespread as it became in Germany, for example.Tonight I'm getting to bed early...:-)

I don't know how big a deal this motu propro is. I just wonder why anyone who praises God, petitions God, thanks God and loves God in the language that he speaks and thinks in(whatyever that be) when he talks to God in private would want to come together as a community speak to God in a language that nobody in the community urderstands. Why would we celebrate the salvific act that began at the Passover and culminated in the death and ressurection in a language that nobody in the community understands unless they stick their face in a book. We can go back to saying the rosary during Mass like they did in 40's or turning the Mass into a concert in a language that nobody understands. I honestly don't understand this.

Ah yes, Peter,the mid-20th century,"my salad days when I was green in judgment, cold in blood." I remember them well (or at least I think I do).Buona notte!

quot homines tot sententiae "how many people, so many opinions."Literacy can be a problem. What did people do when few knew how to read?'

Father Komonchak--My eruption in that last post referred not so much to the categories in which these two norms (rites? not sure what to call them) are officially classified. The fact that everyone is calling them Rite A and Rite B does seem to confirm that we are in a new circumstance, in which we can opt for one form over another. My point was that Joseph Ratzinger and partisans of "restoring" (again, that's not the right term, as it was never abrogated...) always referred to the Tridentine rite as normative and the supreme expression of the Mass. He (in)famously called the Novus Ordo a "fabricated" liturgy, though that broadside has its own context. I can dig up some citations over the weekend, but he has stated that ad orientam and all of that is flatly superior. So whatever alance the MP strikes in terms of classifications of the two forms, there seems no doubt that the Pope sees the Tridentine rite as superior. And I think that superiority complex infects those who champion the old rite, especially those on the far right who Benedict is trying to draw back to the fold. That's why my concern is not so much on whether the return of the Old Latin Mass is good or bad, if it's the best thing since Pius II launched the Crusades, if it is beautiful or not, if it will save the Church, or if it is so rigidly constructed that even I couldn't mess it up. (Hah!) My concern is instead the implicit privileging of one form over another.

Mr. Gibson -- Urban II launched the Crusades; Pius II wrote fascinating memoirs and a sex comedy, as well as canonizing Catherine of Siena.Also, as to the suggestion that the mass in Latin will eliminate ad libbing on the part of the priest, I can ad lib in Latin, and I'm sure Mr. Gannon and Fr. Komonchak can do it better. I can also lose my place in a Latin text and cover it up with gibberish syllables, and I've seen priests pull that one off. The only different is that in Latin it's easier to slip by the congregation.Question that may not get an answer -- just what is the "ad libbing" that is so objectionable? For that matter, what is a "more prayerful" celebration of the mass -- that's up to me, I've always thought.

Excellent, sensible comments. The idea that the restored rite will influence celebration of the Novus Ordo is wishful, indeed magical thinking, as I point out at In our seminary we got nosalgic for Compline in Latin and so we celebrated it one evening. But it fell strangely flat. You cannot reanimate a dead past, is the lesson I drew.The only times I have celebrated the Novus Ordo in Latin has been with fellow-priests. The idea of celebrating it with a lay congregation is ludicrous, unless it should happen that all of them understand Latin.

Bte it's Missale Romanum, not Missal Romanum

Excellent comments by Mr. Nixon. Thank you. Lot of hot air above me, unfortunately...Boun Giorno, paesani...Speaking of paesani, Mr. Varese, I might suggest you are missing the point. What the Tridentine Mass brings us, is that certain Je ne sais quoi best captured in the immortal words of Aretha: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Now dont get all in a fever or something, Im not saying that Novus Ordo lacks respect, but some have [wrongly?] interpreted VCII as a signal for taking maters into their hands so they ad lib and dress down for the occasion without permission from Paris Hilton.... I remember something about transubstantiation going on here... [I think I've heard Kumbaya chanted during one Communion service...] BTW, ad libbing is objectionable because it aint up to you to ad libMy point is that some of us prefer the built-in safety valves in the Tridentine mass. It prevents liturgical abuse. Does that make one a right winger as someone said in a previous post? The commission in charge of NO perhaps naively thought we were mature enough not to disrespect the new Mass. After all, the commissioners had been raised in a Tridentine mass Church, so to anticipate we would end up throwing crepe flowers and confetti probably did not enter their minds.Mr. Gibson, regarding superiority of one form versus the other, I believe you are wrong. To follow up on the old lady comment, the old lady has been around for a while so she should get a little recognition so quit kicking her in the teeth and allow her to come out of the closet (oh, oh, Im going to rehab.). Be proud of her!Finally, Fr. (?) O Leary, I would try the Compline in Latin again. Practice makes perfect. Its not about feeling this or thatsurrender the mind and the will...Introibo ad altare Dei...

Joseph S. O Leary,Don't you recongnize the "clericalist attitude" present in your comment above? Don't you realize that we readers of Commonweal are the best educated laity in the Church's history? We have Master's Degrees and sundry professional careers. Both men and women laity are competent enough to sing the Sanctus, the Pater noster, and can handle the rest in the liturgical language of our own ritual Church.Some laity may know classical Latin better than many priests.V2 directed that we be familiar with the Latin ordinary in clear terms. Keeping it from the laity betrays the council.I am surprised that a priests can handle it but the laity cannot comment would even be written by a reader of Commonweal's blog.

I hope that my one concern has been addressed and that it will not need to be addressed again.

We'll have to see how the MP plays out--the letter accompanying the MP asks that bishops report back to BXVI in 3 years about problems in their doceses--but for the present I can't help agreeing with the following comments posted by Father O'Leary in his blog:"The document approves of the erection of 'personal parishes' for the celebration of the 1962 rites or the appointment of a 'rector or chaplain' designated for the task. This sounds like the permission of Opus Dei to have personal prelatures bypassing the authority of the bishops. The Motu Proprio seems designed to undercut episcopal authority, in line with Ratzingers views as expressed since his Theologische Prinzipienlehre in the early 1980s. It is issued over the vocal protests of the French and German episcopacies and against the misgivings of Cardinals in the Curia itself, such as Arinze and Kasper. As reported in The Independent, June 30, 'Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, has written to the Pope to say that no changes are needed. Concerns about the prospect of the introduction of the Mass were also underlined on Thursday at an unusual meeting to underline resistance to it' The Rev Keith Pecklers, a Jesuit liturgical expert, said: 'The real issue here is not limited to liturgy but has wider implications for church life.' He added that proponents of the old Mass tend to oppose the laity's increased role in parish life... collaboration with other Christians and its dialogue with Jews and Muslims. ..."The Motu Proprio will be greeted by many, deplored by many, as a blow to the authority of Vatican II. Benedict declares that the idea that the Motu Proprio 'detracts from the authority of the Second Vatican Council, one of whose essential decisions the liturgical reform is being called into question' is 'unfounded.' But in the eyes of many traditionalists the Motu Proprio will be greeted as a first step to undoing liturgical reforms they regard as near demonic."

I've been following this thread for a few days, trying to find a place to join in, when I remembered how Sister in first grade had a raffle to raise money for the missions. (My oldest daughter would jump to warn you with the two-syllable "Da-ad!".) I won and the runner-up was crestfallen because I would select the better prize, a wonderful statue of Crucification with Jesus, Mary and John. But I had my heart set on the small book that described the Mass in English and Latin. We were training to be Altar Boys and had started working on our Confiteor and I wanted to know more about what we were saying so I could be more involved in spirit as well as words. As the present form of the Mass was implemented, I got my wish to be more involved. I'm a progressive and not afraid of change. I want people to have the old rite if it comforts them, but we as a Church should not be moving back to a rite that harks to the 17th Century. We have a new rite that includes elements of liturgy from the last 2000 years and incorporates practices that have been tested and found to be good. If that point is debatable, that is all for the good! The Church is universal and timeless, not set in one era. I've experienced the present rite in Spanish in Honduras and was lost until we got to the Offertory. When I've heard it in Latin, I've been lost the whole time, so using the "universal language" would not have helped.

Reading the posts from this article, it occurs to me that many of you have completely missed BXVI's central premise: OPEN YOUR HEARTS! You're regurgitating all the obnoxious arguments from the past 40 years. The people who desire the older forms have a legitimate right to be cared for pastorally instead of having a finger waved at them and told they're stuck in the past. Are twentysomethings with three kids in tow stuck in the past because they find that the Mass of Blessed John XXIII speaks to them in a profound way? Who has the right to deny them what they need? According to BXVI, the answer is nobody. It is two different ways of offering the same Latin rite.

William Collier quotes Father O'Leary to the effect that "the Motu Proprio seems to undercut episcopal authority, by approving "the erection of 'personal parishes' for celebration of the 1962 rites."But my reading of the MP is that such erection is precisely the province of the local Ordinary: "Art 10. Fas est Ordinario loci, si opportunum iudicaverit, paroeciam personalem ad normam canonis 518 pro celebrationibus iuxta formam antiquiorem ritus romani erigere aut rectorem vel cappellanum nominare, servatis de iure servandis."

We really do not have to plug either side. Two rites are okay and people are free to choose. The problem comes when a minority in a parish will try to foist its way on the majority. Benedict's point on preserving unity is well taken. The rule we can agree on is that no one should condemn the other. Both are legitimate. We have lived and can live with both of them. To claim truth or victory on either side now become immature. Let each community work it out amicably.

Fr. Imbelli--I'm hoping you won't mind educating me, and perhaps others, about the use of "ordinary" in the MP. Not only has my high school Latin faded in large part from my memory, but I am not completely clear about the distinction between a bishop and an ordinary.Article 10 of the MP, which you quoted in Latin, has been "unofficially" translated into English as follows:"Art. 10. The ordinary of a particular place, if he feels it appropriate, may erect a personal parish in accordance with can. 518 for celebrations following the ancient form of the Roman rite, or appoint a chaplain, while observing all the norms of law."This may or may not be an adequate translation, and I trust you will know whether it is or not. In other parts of the MP, bishop appears as "episcopus" in Latin, and pastor as "parochus." It's my understanding, limited as it is, that an ordinary is a person holding an ecclesiastical office that is predicated on an inherent authority, as opposed to authority that has been delegated to a church official for a limited purpose. The Pope and the bishops are ordinaries, but can't that term also include abbotts, heads of religious orders, and the like? I take it that a pastor of a particular parish would ordinarily not be an ordinary (no pun intended), and that your point therefore is that there is no danger that a pastor could establish a parish on his own where only the Tridentine Mass would be said.Thanks in advance for any clarification you can offer.

Mr. Collier, subject to nuances that a canon lawyer (a member of which tribe I am not!) may wish to add, I think your own elucidation is workable.The Ordinary of the place ("Ordinarius loci") is the diocesan bishop who bears ultimate pastoral and juridical authority in his diocese. Thus an auxiliary bishop is not an Ordinary.I suspect that you're right that an abbot may exercise some "ordinary" authority within his monastery. But the liturgy is subject to the oversight of the bishop of the diocese in which the monastery is located.However, I too would appreciate clarification from those more instructed in such matters than I.

Thank you, Father Imbelli.If you are still at your computer, I'm wondering if I can impose on you for your thoughts about sections 1 and 2 of Article 9 of the MP, which in its unofficial English translation reads as follows:"Art. 9. (1) The pastor, having attentively examined all aspects, may also grant permission to use the earlier ritual for the administration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Marriage, Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick, if the good of souls would seem to require it. (2) Ordinaries are given the right to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation using the earlier Roman Pontifical, if the good of souls would seem to require it. " "If the good of souls would seem to require it." That seems a curious standard to me, especially the word "require." I'm wondering if you have any thoughts on how this standard would be applied? Is it a standard that appears in other Church pronouncements and that therefore has interpretive history behind it that would aid in its construction?My last questions for the day...Promise. :)

I do have to wonder about those who somehow think that using the Tridentine Mass will prevent liturgical abuse!I was raised with it as the only option available. In general Low Masses were a daily exercise in liturgical abuse! Speed was the essence of celebration, particularly on Sundays. The quicker the faithful sheep could get in, get their tickets punched and get out to do what they really wanted to be doing on Sundays, the better. The daily 20 minute special was the norm, not the exception. If you really think that is NOT liturgical abuse, then I have a little bridge across the Golden Gate that Id like to offer to you at a very good price.

The extraordinary usage is lengthier than the ordinary usage. I don't know how often Jimmy Mac attends the contemporary weekday Mass, but if hymn singing and sermon were eliminated my guess is the daily Pauline usage can be recited even more quickly than the more ancient usage. The longer confession, offertory, last Gospel and the mandatory 1st canon will more than make up for the addition of the sign of peace in the ordinary usage.My guess is contemporary youngsters raised with the ordinary usage will more than out pace any senior on this blog in a contest listing witnessed liturgical abuses.Maid

Maid of Kent said:"The "Hymn Te Deum" sometimes appears under the form of "Holy God we praise Thy Name"."I don't think that hymn would pass muster as a translation of the Te Deum according to the principles of Liturgiam Authenitcan and Vox Clara!

In the midst of this rubrical exchange it might be very healthy and right to focus on the Lord's Supper as the beautiful celebration of the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ with his people, his friends, present, in a unified offering of all that we are and can give to God in everlasting gratefulness.Such a gift is the beginning of heaven on earth. In any rite.

Hello Mr. Nixon,"Its hard not to see this as confirmation of the thesis that the core of contemporary liturgical criticismup to and including the criticism presently issuing from the Holy Seeis not about the reformed rite per se. "I used to think this. In the main, it seemed to be just a question of bad translations and do-it-yourself rubrics and music.And of course, that's certainly been a problem, and it has contributed to the maladies you accurately describe:"The issues are things that are harder to quantify: the loss of a sense of mystery and reverence, an emphasis on the horizontal aspect of the mass to the neglect of the vertical, and a sense that the Mass has become simply one more thing to be subject to modern techniques of manipulation and control."And certainly it *is* possible to celebrate the novus ordo reverently, ad orientem, with chant, mostly in Latin, with the smells and bells. I have attended two such locations, and the results have been impressive. But then if finding a traditional rite is sometimes difficult, finding a novus ordo mass celebrated in the manner I am describing is rarer than hen's teeth. And this despite the bald injunctions of Sacrosanctum Concilium desiring these rubrics - that the Latin be retained, that chant keep a place of honor in our sacred music, etc. But I suggest for your consideration that the problems with the current Pauline missal go deeper than the rubrics and abuses and bad translations. This is not (I emphasize) a question of the validity of the mass, or that it is not, in fact, a form of the Roman rite (as the Pope states today). But a closer examination of the structure and content of the missal suggests not just a "fabricated" structure (to use the term favored by Ratzinger, which certainly suggests that his dismay extends deeper than abuses). Different sacramentaries are fused together; whole prayers are sometimes made up from scratch; readings sometimes do not fit together and sometimes omit entire (and very curiously chosen) lines. More to the point, I direct your attention to recent work done by Lauren Pristas of Caldwell College: "Theological Principles that Guided the Redaction of the Roman Missal (1970)" in The Thomist (2003) and "The Collects at Sunday Mass: An Examination of the Revisions of Vatican II" in Nova et Vetera (2005). To summarize, there's a significant theological shift in the new wording of the collects of the propers - a much more anthropocentric shift, focusing much more on our action and less on God's, and a deemphasis on sin or spiritual warfare. Pristas is not screaming heresy (although on reflection I am reluctantly led to conclude that a few instances come uncomfortably close to a Semi-Pelagian thrust) but is suggesting that there is a real shift in the theology here, and it has been given too little attention. Sometimes the differences between the comparable collects of 1962 and 1970 are quite pronounced. None of which is to suggest that the traditional rite was perfect or should be frozen in amber. The new missal does have some improvements, I think. But so much was changed so hastily, an instance without precedence in the liturgical history of the Church, and it was done with too little wider examination and reflection. And that's the major reason why we're in the state we are now.

Hello Maid of Kent,"My guess is contemporary youngsters raised with the ordinary usage will more than out pace any senior on this blog in a contest listing witnessed liturgical abuses."Speaking as someone probably younger than most here...The scandalous problem of the mumbled speed low mass of the old days was just the sort of thing which spurred the genuine aspirations of the Liturgical Reform Movement for better liturgy. But bad as that was, I have difficulty imagining that the Eisenhower Administration ever presented the liturgical spectacle of a puppet giving much of the sermon and the entire benediction on a major feast day mass - as I recently encountered at a major suburban parish. Or the four rounds of liturgical dancing which accompanied it. We needed reform. What we got, in large part, was something else.

A third post - and a final one, no matter how tempted I might be tonight:Bernard Dauenhauer writes: "maybe the powers that be can begin to get serious about the shortage of priests that leads to many parishes either having no priest pastor or having priests run so ragged that they have little time to think, much less preach well."In this vein, I think it is worth noting that the two major apostolic societies in the US devoted to celebration of the traditional form of the Roman Rite (the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest and Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter) have an average priest age under 35, and completely full seminaries with waiting lists. That won't solve the priest shortage tomorrow. But I think it is worth asking why they are having so much more success attracting vocations - and whether dioceses might be able to learn anything from it.

To state that either the Tridentine Mass or the Novus Ordo has God's backing exclusive of the other is pure nonsense. Common sense would seem to argue that one's faith will not hang on a language whether in Latin or the vernacular.Clearly there were/are abuses on both sides from rushed liturgy to clowns appearing. Both positions are claiming that Benedict agrees with them while really he agrees with neither, or, as it were, both.The key has to be that as both rites are valid that no one be forced into either one. And should we not both focus on how the Sermon on the Mount is ignored by people of both rites. Note, that is people, not rites.

Hello Bill,"To state that either the Tridentine Mass or the Novus Ordo has God's backing exclusive of the other is pure nonsense. Common sense would seem to argue that one's faith will not hang on a language whether in Latin or the vernacular."Obviously not, or no one in any Eastern Rite would be saved. Among other things.But no one here is really advocating such a position, are they? Certainly you can find a few SSPX or sedevacantists who make such arguments, but this is obviously a fringe argument, explicitly rejected by the Pope, or for that matter anyone in the Catholic mainstream, be it traditionalist or not.

Thanks, Maid, for not responding to my questions! I take it you have nothing to say, but would rather not say it.

R.M. Lender,"But no one here is really advocating such a position, are they?"Mostly everyone IS usque ad nauseum! A rite is simply a method which fits into people's ways and customs. There were times when priests had no missals or texts. The Lord's Supper is not that complicated.The Lord's Supper is essentially a meeting of the disciples of Christ celebrating his life, death and resurrection where we declare our love and lives to God and to each other. I would be ecstatic if we could do just that.It is axiomatic that philosophers complicate the simplest things. So do theologians and liturgists. So much so that both sides become unwittingly revolting.....usque ad.......

Add new comment

You may login with your assigned e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.

Or log in with...

Add new comment