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Quid, me vexare?

As you can see, I learned a lot of Latin (and some of my basic outlook on life) from MAD Magazine. And it pretty much reflects how I feel about the Motu Propio--nice for those who want to hear the Mass in Latin again, but I don't worry that it'll turn the tide from the vernacular Mass by a long shot.

Anyhoo, please carry one the arguments in threads below (I think it says in the Catechism that you're not Catholic if you don't argue), but I thought it might be interesting to get some quick responses to this fill-in-the-blank statement:

"The WORST thing about giving parishes more freedom to choose the Latin Mass is [your thoughts here in no more than three lines, please.]

My guess is that the worst that can happen just isn't really that bad.



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Pastors might put the option out to bid.People will brag that they go to a "superior "Mass. "Our Mass is more real."

... musical resources may be stretched in some areas and some clergy will enter unprepared into the effort with a resulting drop in average quality.

Altar boys and girls (altar persons?) will not get bonuses for learning the new (old) language.

"...and some clergy will enter unprepared into the effort with a resulting drop in average quality. "A concern shared, as I understand it, by not a few traditionalists.Old rite - sorry, extraordinary usage - devotees have been in a curious position in recent years. Such masses are rare, but this has ensured that they are celebrated well.

The worst (and best) thing that will happen is that this MP will be a forgotten document five years hence.

Hello Michael,Nothing is impossible, but if the same is not true of "Ecclesia Dei adflicta" 19 years on, why would you so quickly assume as much of "Summorum Pontificum"? In 1988 there were (I believe) less than a dozen locations where the old rite was licitly celebrated in North America. Today there are over 600. Most of those were added in the last decade. So clearly interest is growing, not shrinking.

R.M.Six hundred locations in about 200 dioceses is still small potatoes. I live in a large diocese that tends toward the conservative side of the street and has three parishes celebrating the old rite once a week. Average attendance for each of these liturgies is 75 people that travel far and wide from this and neighboring dioceses. My parish has 12,000 people and an average Sunday attendance of 6,000 (about the national average). We have 11 Sunday liturgies (we have two liturgies going on simultaneously at 9:30 and 11:00). Even with the large size of this parish, there is not a "stable" community that is demanding an old rite liturgy to support one old rite liturgy each week. While there are people who do want the old rite, there is not the critical mass to make this MP more than a passing curiosity. Five years from now Catholics will remember this as the summer of the iPhone and not the return of the 1962 liturgy.

Back to the original contest -- "that, like seabirds or fish caught in plastic soda rings, we become so trapped in useful spatial metaphors of "progress" and "step back" there is even less informed and civil conversation on topics like the nature of God, morals, evangelization, or the use and abuse of our whole Catholic cultural heritage."

As a priest, I am stretched pretty thin now. Now I have to learn not only the Mass, but all the sacraments in Latin. Ready by Sept. 14th? Hah! If someone desired a funeral in the old rite, and died on Sept. 15th, they'd have to call the bishop for some other priest to come in a do it. The learning curve is pretty steep. BXVI is optimistic that there will be few problems, but he hasn't been the immediate pastor of a contemporary American parish. People get upset over petty things which split parishes. I can imagine hundreds of ways this could end badly. Priests that can say the old rite, unfortunately, will look down on priests that can't. Priests who love the old rite will try to foist the old rite on parishes, even if there is no stable group. (One thing that is ecumenical between liberal and conservative priests is the fact that they foist things on parishes all the time because they think it's a good idea. For example, if the pastor has a particular devotion to St. Zita, by God the entire parish is going to have it as well, with statues, novenas, prayers, special devotions, etc. etc. I doesn't matter what the people think, they're going to get it in spades. The phrase "stable group" is going to become as fluid as mercury. Don't underestimate the zeal (fanaticism?) of some of the clergy. Mark my words.

This will be one more chance for the traditional Catholic response to vexations:When in wonder, when in doubtRun in circles, scream & shout!Or ....Itis apis spotanda bigone.

Incurring a financial obligation to pay the "traditionalist" priest who is called upon by the pastor to "say" Mass every weekend.Threatening the Novus Ordo pastor with a call to the bishop every time the pastor says "No" --- for whatever reason.Pressuring the Novus Ordo pastor to learn how to "say" the old rite.Ultimately telling the bishop how to run his diocese (how many bishops will want Rome involved here?).Fr. Matthew, are you telling us you are being required to learn the old ways? Perhaps my memory is poor, but I vaguely recall reading Benedict's "word" to "traditionalist" priestly groups that, "in principle," they cannot exclude using the new rite. AND YET, he tells these same fraternities/societies/institutes/whatever that they can elect to use only the old rite if they abide by the decision-making rules of their respective groups. Am I seeing different papal rules for different categories of clergy --- rules that perhaps favor the "traditionalists" over diocesan priests?Are you a diocesan or religious order priest? Please elaborate on why you "have to learn" the Mass and sacraments in Latin? (You don't need to mention any names here.) Thanks!

1. Folks might reconsider what "the spirit of Vatican II" really means.2. Then they might read the documents.3. The legitimate but possibly sometimes inconvenient rights of the faithful will be better met by the pastors who were ordained to serve them.

Hello Michael,"Six hundred locations in about 200 dioceses is still small potatoes."Fair enough. I wouldn't argue that.My only point was - it's growing. Rapidly in some areas. Often in the face of disapproval in the larger Catholic community and the local chancery. Between them the two main traditional apostolic societies (FSSP, ICRSS) will ordain about another 80-100 priests for U.S. service over the next 5 years or so, based on current trends. It is harder to guess about diocesan priests, but interest seems to be there as well given that recent TLM workshops for such priests sponsored by Una Voce and FSSP this summer were fully subscribed. Clearly, we'd still be talking about a small minority. The fact is that the great majority of Catholics are going to be going to the Pauline missal, period. But it's worth asking how much interest will emerge now that the old form has been fully legitimized, and more people have the opportunity to become exposed to it. The fact is - we really don't know. It will also likely vary by city and region.And of course - given the vocations crisis...well, another 80-100 priests...well, every little bit helps. But in the long run, I think Benedict is more interested in how this exposure changes the celebration of the new missal. A couple of the priests that attended the FSSP workshop I visited with say it altered their entire conception of the mass and the priesthood - and it seems likely to alter how they celebrate the novus ordo.My apologies for taking things off Jean's desired track. Let me add my own crack at it: A sudden run on mozellas might ensue.

Hello Fr. Matthew,You make some excellent points. Everyone involved should reflect closely on them.Learning the old missal is not rocket science but it can't be done overnight, either. A rudimentary knowledge of Latin is needed. The rubrics are exacting. Most priests aren't exactly burdened by loads of free time.Laity who want this are going to have to step up. They need to be regular parishioners, and they have to step up to support this with their time and money and energy if they want it. If you want your priest to offer the 1962 missal and related sacraments, volunteer to serve (and learn how to do it); form a schola; pony up the money for (say) an FSSP workshop to help train your priest; obtain missals and vestments; bother to actually show up for the masses. And above all be patient and understanding. Father has a lot on his plate, most likely. It will also help if youre actively involved in the rest of parish life and not just tucked away in a Tridentine cubbyhole. In the short term I expect a lot of the slack will get handled by bishops hitting up the traditional orders for help.

Fr. Matthew, I will pray for you. Keep up the good work you are doing. Most of us "Trads" aren't so bad. The priest at the local parish, where my children attend school, has already advised, "We're stretched too thin to add a Latin Mass to the schedule." While I wish it were otherwise, I'm certainly not calling the bishop Monday morning to put him on the spot! Most people will understand this is something that will not necessarily fit into most parishes by September 14. Or even by December 14. I'll just ping other nearby parishes to check their willingness to offer the extraordinary form of the Roman rite and pray that I find one that can. FWIW, I am currently a parishoner in another diocese that requires I commute an hour each way on Sundays, but do so happily to remain in good standing with the Church.Nothing would please me more than to drive less five minutes to Mass at a nearby parish and put that extra time into one of the many good causes they support.God bless you.

-- A resurgence of the stupid jokes about latin gibberish that those of us attending secular universities had to endure from non-catholics.

One neat thing about Latin is that it belongs to nobody, so it is equally common to everybody. In an international setting, for example, Latin is the most universally welcoming language possible.It's like ecclesaistical Esperanto.

Here is Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Society of Pius X as reported by the AP:"He said he hoped `that the favorable climate established by new dispositions of the Holy See' would eventually allow other doctrinal disputes that emerged from Vatican II to be discussed, including ecumenism, religious liberty. and the sharing of power with bishops."If this is at all accurate as to the view of the Society of Pius X, I think it suggests the futility of Benedict's gesture as a road to repairing the schism. Another papal gaffe?

Jean,If the Novus ordo is really a reform, why allow a return to the unreformed version? If it is not a reform, what is the point of having it at all. Is it merely a frivolous attempt providing choice? Or that most wonderful of things, diversity?

There is an old Italian expression: "Ad ogni ucello il nido e bello." To every bird his nest is beautiful. There are substantial reasons and benefits for the reform of the liturgy developed by the Second Vatican Council. Aside from that the fact is that people from both sides of the divide are equally adamant and contemptuous of others who hold different views.This absoluteness on both sides, on what is simply a celebration of the life,death and resurrection of Christ, is most regrettable. This is not rocket science. Yet the bs that has been propounded by both sides is mind boggling.

"Bishop mourns Latin decree as Jews ask for clarity" --- so says Reuters on July 8.Article also states the Vatican is expected to issue another document Tuesday declaring the Catholic Church is the only true church of Jesus Christ. So much for Protestant and Orthodox Christians. So much for ecumenism ("Hi, I'm the pope, and my church is better than your inferior so-called Christian community :)Bennie is losing no time "reforming the reform." After all, he was a priest at Vatican II, and he knew better than all those ordinary bishops at the council :)I'm not quite sure what to make of this guy, but like him (and his ways) I don't.

O, yes, the article also notes SSPX stating that there are doctrinal matters to resolve :)Uh, hhhhhuuuuuu............

This writer at age 12 in the 7th grade (1942) had no great difficulty memorizing the latin required to become an altar boy. Not exactly rocket science. The assertion that no one understood what was going on is balderdash. ( old english for hogwash) The happy clappy Mass of the past 40 years has produced, female altar persons, moronic extraordinary eucharistic ministers, hug me peace greetings, hold my hand during the Our Father, and wonder of wonders virtually no priestly vocations.Attendance is down down down and the budget is busted paying diocesan assessments to pay for Marxcist social programs. Other than that the novus ordo is just wonderful. I suggest 40 years of failure is quite enough. 1500 years of the "old rite" worked pretty well in retrospect. Stop the baloney and give us a chance. My b s alarm is going off!

Mine is, too, except it's all about this attempt by Benedict to bring back the Tridentine.I served the Tridentine, and my memory is different from yours. People didn't understand it so they dozed off into space, fingered their rosary beads, ad infinitum."Yours" had a chance for 1500 years --- and it failed!

Hello Mr. Gannon,It's pretty much what I expected Fellay to say. The Pope's own covering letter acknowledges that the liturgy is not the only issue.In a few months, the Vatican will likely take the next step of lifting the excommunications. Then serious dialogue will ensue. In the end it will come down to how much SSPXers want to be in full communion with Rome. The Pope will say: Fair criticism of the Council is one thing, but at the end of the day you have to accept it (and the new missal) as valid. Certain progressives are not the only ones reading the Council as a rupture or break with tradition, as he has emphasized repeatedly. In the end, my guess is that some will go for it, and some won't. Some will follow in Rifan's footsteps and take the olive branch. But some of those fellows are just too far gone, I fear. It's hard to leave your own Private Idaho when you've grown comfortable in it.Lurking at the back of all this is another audience: The Eastern Orthodox. Benedict wants to demonstrate to them that we can restore tradition to our liturgy and also make a serious effort to reconcile our own internal schisms. I don't think anyone should underrate this dimension of what's going on.

P.S. Which also raises the question of this next bombshell, the CDF document on the ecclesiology of Lumen Gentium...It's remarkable how this has stayed under the radar screen so far. But my guess is that it ends up employing some very careful language where the Orthodox are concerned, especially with the meeting in Ravenna coming up. In all likelihood some of the Orthodox patriarchs already have copies with special covering letters.

I must apologize for the cynicism of my last post. I have to remember not to post after a long weekend of Masses when my brain is fried. I guess when I said I "had" to learn the new rite, I was speaking as a diocesan pastor of souls. Benedict's concern is the salvation of souls. That's my concern, too. If I have to learn the old rite to save a few souls, so be it. It's not my priesthood, but Christ's. Personally, I have experienced the old rite and I can't understand the attachment people have to it, but hey, that's just me. People have their own memories and reasons. Saints can look beyond the externals to the heart of the liturgy in whatever form it takes in the here-and-now. Both liturgies have produced saints and led to genuine holiness. I wince, however, when people exalt the old rite to the heavens and denigrate the revised rite based on nothing but their own subjective experiences of the liturgy. The lack of the Prayers of the Faithful in the old rite, I hazard, would make St. Justin Martyr puzzled. St. Athanasius would be scratching his head how the "Sunday of Sundays" was celebrated on Saturday morning! Let's not forget: Vatican II had good reasons for looking at the liturgy. However, even with glaring redundancies, encrustations and some Rococco baggage, the old rite was still the Holy Mass that nourished my parents and their parents. If someone's faith is so weak that their soul's salvation is bound up with the old rite, I will make the sacrifice to learn the old rite and the other sacraments for the sake of their soul. (I am not suggesting that all people who love the old rite have a weak faith, but my motivations are toward those who do not have a strong faith.) Prieshood is about service, not what I want. All I ask of the laity is patience, not vengeance. All I ask of the clergy is prudence.

One unhappy result of this encouragement of the Extraoaordinary Rite of Mass will be the difficulties over the coming years for the parishioners. This diocese has many priests unable to manage Mass in Latin and at least two young priests who are very enthusiastic for the TLM. This pair - friends - are proposing to offer their present parishioners extra Masses on weekdays in the Ex'y Rite. They obviously hope this will prove popular in their own area. Let's suppose it does; when the time comes for them to move on, how is the Bishop to find a suitable priest for these Pro-Tridentine Catholics? It will severely limit his choice if he has to find a Latinist to succeed these men. And what of the parishes to which these dedicated Tridentinists move? They will get a priest in strange garb, speaking a strange tongue, performing an unfamilar rite. This is not the way to resove division at the heart of the Church.The Anglicans in England have boxed themselves into a similar tight corner over the question of women priests. Where the Vicar is opposed to women in ordained ministry, he can saddle the parish with "Alternative Oversight" for the foreseeable future. It's sad and painful.

Lesson learned: Do not expect that blog readers will a) follow directions or b) refrain from arguing.That said, thanks to R.M. Lender for his thoughtful post about how the laity will need to support the extraordinary rite through energy and expenditure. I think most of us on the parish level are looking at the change in practical terms like this, and I'd like to see more nuts-and-bolts discussions like this.Also thanks to Fr. Matthew for helping lay people see this from the perspective of a tired priest.Generally speaking, it seems to me that those who want the Latin Mass think it will stem the tide of Mass-libbing. The logic seems to be that in the olden days, we didn't have hand clapping, peace hugging, hand-holding at the Our Father, banjo picking, etc.--ergo, when Latin comes back those things will disappear.What, exactly, in the rubrics of the Latin version of the Mass forbids these things?

The problem is not that the Latin version forbids these things. The problem is that while the GIRM allows for certain, limited, pastoral interjections, many further liberties are taken with the texts of the Mass. Many.These are seen by some of the people as "friendly" and by some of the priests as "pastoral." But to me, they distract from the actual Mass. (Beautiful comment, Fr. Matthew.)

Mea sententia, peissimum quod fieri potest is aliquid huiusmodi:Pater Pretiosissimus est pastor cujusdam parvae parrochiae in America. Est sacerdos "secundum modum Johannis Pauli Magni," ut ait. Maxime placet Patri Pretiosissmo celebrari missam secundum ordinem antiquiorem. Scilicet vix potest intellegere preces quas legit e libro, sed valde ei placet stare levatus super plebe humili, indutus vestimentis opulentissimis, gestus graviter agens sicut Merlin Magus in emissionibus televisificis.Indigna plebs autem anteponit missam secundum ordinem novum celebratam. Non tantum eis placet tacentes per totam horam in genibus niti, adulantes ingentes nates Patris Pretiosissimi. Etiam nonullis, peissimum dictu, nates Patris Pretiosissimi videntur donum divinum omnino non esse.Sed quis se sollicitat de plebe tam nequissima? Decernit Pater Pretiosissimus solum secundum ordinem "sanctiorem" se missam celebraturum. Obligata est quidem plebs legibus Ecclesiae ut in ecclesiam diebus dominicis iret. Alioquin, ut dicit Pater P, "descendetis ad inferos, oves stulti! Ego sum fons et culmen fidei vestra! Sic dixit Mater mea Ecclesia!" Nam re vera, populus Dei videtur malle in ecclesiam evangelicalem ire quam ad missam tam sanctam et priscam. Gradatim fiunt pauciores et simul fit levior vas nummarium, quod mox animadvertit episcopus. Episcopus iam aetate provectus vult e magistratu abdicare. Ei est igitur pondus vasis nummarii res maximi momenti. Arcessit ideo Patrem Pretiosissimum ad regiam suam et imperavit ei ut bis saltem quaque hebdomade missam secundum novam ordinem celebraret."NOLO!" clamat Pater Pretiosissimus, voce stridente. "NOLO! NOLO! NOLO! Non potes me coercere! Mihi tibi non obtemperandum est! Sic dixit Papa meus! Ego decerno quomodo missam celebrem! EGO! EGO! EGO!"Mox regia episcopi venumdata est. Per totam Romam audiuntur voces clericales gementes et flentes de exiguis stipendiis. Pater Pretiosissimus discedit e sacerdotio et fit histrionicus in teatro Cabuci. Sed gratias Deo agamus! Ecclesia tandem est minor et purior.

Balaam's Ass, have you been watching the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame again?The priest is allowed to say the extraordinary form of the Mass for those who ask for it. That does not free him from his other responsibilities; it adds to them (as many have rightly noted.)

I keep thinking about how irrationally annoyed people get when those around them are speaking in a language they don't understand -- and hope that it doesn't spawn a wave of irritation among those who are present at Latin language rites on an involuntary basis. My idea of a universal language is not one that is universally unshared.

Nothing.If nothing changes, both sides of the debate will look silly. The traditionalists for seeing it as a dramatic step, and the non-traditionalists for seeing it as - well - a dramatic step.I expect very little to actually change, other than a few more places will offer the old rite, and in particular, a few diocese where the rite has been effectively banned won't be able to continue to do that any more.And Joseph - "Bennie" aka the Holy Father was more than just a priest at VII, he was a peritus to one of the council's chair board members - meaning he probably reviewed and commented on every VII document while it was being written. I would tend to think he knows of which he speaks.

Jean:You say: Generally speaking, it seems to me that those who want the Latin Mass think it will stem the tide of Mass-libbing. The logic seems to be that in the olden days, we didn't have hand clapping, peace hugging, hand-holding at the Our Father, banjo picking, etc.--ergo, when Latin comes back those things will disappear."We don't see stuff like that in my restrained parish here in the serene Northeast. At least not at any mass I attend. What is going on in the Middle West?

Hello Fr. Matthew,"Both liturgies have produced saints and led to genuine holiness."No question - and we shouldn't forget it, either."I wince, however, when people exalt the old rite to the heavens and denigrate the revised rite based on nothing but their own subjective experiences of the liturgy."I think you're in the clover here, or near it - the problem may be that so many have not experienced the best of the new rite, thanks to excessive creativity or abuses over the years.This is not to suggest that the Pauline missal must be done as Tridentine Lite, so to speak, but Pope Benedict probably speaks for many in his assessment that - however it happened - the novus ordo departed too quickly and too far from the mainstays of the Church's liturgical tradition. The new ICEL translation aside, some of this difficulty could be addressed by reducing the number of options. A different, more sober and restrained liturgical mentality could be cultivated. (The one area where I might permit more options would be in the choice of lectionary translation, which is restricted to only the problematic NAB, one suspects, for the main reason that the USCCB derives a good deal of revenue from it since they own the rights).I wonder, Father, if a good way to start might be to start making one of the main masses more traditional - some Latin, some simple chant, maybe even ad orientem, things which can be easily done without much extra effort - to allow parishioners to have a taste for it, and to see if this satiates demand for a more traditional liturgy? " The lack of the Prayers of the Faithful in the old rite, I hazard, would make St. Justin Martyr puzzled."Or anyone else wondering why the priest says "Oremus" yet no prayers ensue at that point..."St. Athanasius would be scratching his head how the "Sunday of Sundays" was celebrated on Saturday morning! Let's not forget: Vatican II had good reasons for looking at the liturgy. "Too many of the traditionalists easily overlook the arc of major changes made to the old missal beginning with Pius X through John XXIII - there was, as Alcuin Reid (hardly a progressive) notes, a strong and growing sense of the need for reform of the liturgy. The mass was not meant to be frozen in amber. Even if the end result has not always been what Bouyer, Jungman, or the aforementioned popes may have had in mind.

Mr. Lender,Thanks for your comments. My point was that the schismatics seem to thing that the choice of rites is doctrinal, and not a matter of appropriate and liturgiacally effective practice. I doubt Benedict would agree. They also seem to think that doctrinal positions taken at V2 are negotiable. Again I doubt Benedict thinks of it this way. Clearing up misunderstandings, if there are any, is one thing; doctrinal concessions are another. The comment from the Society of Pius X suggests that they think that they have all the cards and that the Pope, anxious for reconciliation, has a weak hand. If that is what they think, I believe the Motu Proprio, albeit unintentionally, has encourage that thinking.

"And Joseph - "Bennie" aka the Holy Father was more than just a priest at VII, he was a peritus to one of the council's chair board members - meaning he probably reviewed and commented on every VII document while it was being written. I would tend to think he knows of which he speaks."More involved with some documents than others. It's generally conceded that he had a significant role in the drafting of Lumen Gentium.

Hello Joseph,It's hard to read those tea leaves. I don't doubt that some are feeling their oats this morning. Another way of looking at it is that traddies on the fence could see they now have one less reason to stay out in the cold. Not everyone likes to wear a hairshort forever.The pattern set with the case of the Institute of the Good Shepherd in Bordeaux last fall could be instructive. They are permitted to make "constructive" critiques of V2 documents, and read it in continuity with tradition, but they still had to accept it as a valid ecumenical council, and the novus ordo as a valid mass. And so will SSPX if they want to come back.That case as well as that of Campos suggests that some could be open to reasonable compromises. But I think we both agree that some won't settle for anything but the entire ranch.

Joseph Gannon of the restrained Northeast writes: You say, "Generally speaking, it seems to me that those who want the Latin Mass think it will stem the tide of Mass-libbing. The logic seems to be that in the olden days, we didn't have hand clapping, peace hugging, hand-holding at the Our Father, banjo picking, etc.--ergo, when Latin comes back those things will disappear."We don't see stuff like that in my restrained parish here in the serene Northeast. At least not at any mass I attend. What is going on in the Middle West? Jean from the Midwest replies: OK, I exaggerated about the banjo picking. But during the "peacing" in the aisles people seek out their special friends to hug and chat up. Everybody holds hands during the Our Father, and that means a certain amount of shuffling around to bridge gaps in the seating and across aisles. Most of the hymns were written after 1970. Our organist is getting old, so we have to make do with a guitarist most of the time. He's added some sort of a drum. The announcements are read before the dismissal. The deacon usually adds updates on his family health situation just before dismissal and asks for special prayers for himself and family.Dismissal goes, "The Mass is ended for NOW; let us go forth in peace." The priest or deacon offers quick hugs and hand pats to various individuals along the recessional route. (I would rather he just throw loose change; it would come in handy at coffee hour.)Wedding renewal vows always occur at the very beginning of the Mass, which may be standard procedure, but there is always time out for snapshots and applause and invites to everyone to meet up after Mass for cake in the Bingo hall.Sermons are often rambling, have little to do with the readings, and are often happy trips down memory lane, where the deacon or priest recalls being strapped with a belt if he goofed off at Mass and how we could use more of that.And that's just what goes on at Mass proper.I know I sound like a crank. The Church is Christ's community, and I don't think Jesus was without a sense of humor. I doubt he could have managed without one. He could have gently moved my parish in a different direction.But I'm not Jesus Christ Almighty, so I've taken to going to another parish.

I think a converse of Barbara's point 11:47 point is also valid -- not only do those excluded from a language others are speaking feel irritated, but those speaking a language that others can't share don't typically behave at their best. I know there have been times when that applied to me, even when the language wasn't English. I'm a little uneasy at being on the inside of the in language group.On the other hand, I might reference the number of informed and aware Protestants and Jews who expressed to me their sense that something was lost in the liturgical changes.

This isn't directly analogous to the English/Latin commentary on the Mass, but I mention it anyway because it was an eyeopener for me about the power of language. While living overseas several years ago, I used be invited to services in a mosque, especially on special occasions such as Eid. I always went as a respectful observer and not as a participant. All of the services were in Arabic, which was not the vernacular of the participants. The participants actively responded in Arabic, etc., but I was somewhat surprised to find out later that only the imam leading the services understood more than a sprinkling of Arabic words. Still, there was an undeniable power in hearing the participants, all lined up shoulder to shoulder and several hundred strong, chanting their responses loudly and in unison. Add the aerobic workout that is a Muslim service--kneeling, bowing, touching the floor, and standing, repeated over and over for up to 45 minutes--and I could understand the "high" and transcendental experience that my Muslim friends said they experienced while praying en masse in a mosque. Perhaps hearing the Mass in Latin helps some Catholics experience a similar connectedness with God. It would be hard to argue with that as something beneficial. My concern, in line with that expressed by David Gibson, is that for some excited about the MP, it is merely the opening salvo in rolling back other Vatican II reforms. One poster, for example, has already expressed his anathema for "female altar persons," "moronic extraordinary Eucharistic ministers," and "Marxist social programs." Scary!

Thanks for sharing your experience at Muslim prayer. Perhaps the Tridentine could benefit from more movement of the assembly :) Men wouldn't have time to stare off into space (or walk outside for a smoke :) . Little old ladies wouldn't have time to pray their rosary beads :)We know, of course, that Jesus addressed his listeners in their language and the Holy Spirit conferred the gift of tongues on the Lord's disciples. Ratzinger notwithstanding, this fascination with Latin befuddles me: A dead language ("foreign" might be redundant, now that I think of it :), originally a vernacular in its own right (so much for precedent today :), resulted in our religious ancestors developing devotions outside of Mass to maintain a modicum of connection to the institutional church, etc.Rolling back Vatican II? O, yes!!!!!!!But, then, our "leaders" want a fearful old man at the helm of Peter's barque.Sad.

Meanwhile, Cardinal George continues making apologies while he should be changing his behavior. Who is addressing that?

I second R M Lender's remark "Another way of looking at it is that traddies on the fence could see they now have one less reason to stay out in the cold. Not everyone likes to wear a hairshort forever."A principal problem here has been those who do want to wear hairshorts forever. The defensive, embattled "prisoner of the Vatican" spirituality found few outlets for expression in the Church of John XXIII and Paul VI, or even JP1. JP2 brought back the fight against communism as a way to be embattled and engage in "spiritual warfare".Lefebvre et seq. provided another alternative, being embattled within the Church. Wearing "hairshorts" to penitentially enforce their will on the Church in true spiritual warfare. Just look at many of the posts attacking the ordinary form of the liturgy, and/or the way it is celebrated -- they attack like a true warrior would..B16 has addressed this issue in a masterful way, by eliminating the tridentine form as a source of contention. And he did it by appealing to the norms of ecumenism, confessing the intransigence of the Church in the past. Can the anti-ecumenical "pius" types accept such graciousness toward themselves, and still reject ecumenism?Yes, but only by being irrational...BTW, I am really horrified at the thought of hairshorts. The scratchy rough shirts are bad enough. But I have probably made enough typos in my life to merit wearing hairshorts for a good long time.

If you,and scroll down the page,you will find a posting about a St. Louis pastor who has made it quite clear that the Tridentine will NOT be said at his parish as long as he's the pastor.Talk about standing up for Vatican II !!!God bless him!

Joseph,I am surprised that you would applaud a pastor publicly stating that certain Catholics will not be ministered to in his parish and the Mass celebrated daily by the Fathers at V2 will not be offered there as if there was something wrong with it. He also goes well beyond his authority if he thinks he can limit his parochial vicars to the ordinary usage.S. P. foresaw possibilities like these and gives the people the right to appeal to their bishop and beyond their bishop to the E. D. Commission to secure their liturgical rights in justice. My guess, however, is that the good and extremely pastoral Archbishop of St. Louis will protect the rights of the Catholic laity there.Your comment about Vatican II reads like a non sequitur to me. I don't see anything in Vatican II about proscribing the extraordinary usage.Maid

Within any parish there will be people whose language preference can't be accommodated. For instance, in my parish there is a contingent of Brazilians who speak Portuguese. If the priest stated that he did not have time or resources to adopt a vernacular Portuguese language service does that mean he is refusing to minister to them?

Or even a better example of a real and serious need: how about mass for the deaf? Is a sign language interpreter a sufficient accommodation or is something lost by not having a priest who can use sign language? Whose "needs" are so important that they must be accommodated however small the group asking for the accommodation?

JeanMay the Lord protect you! If I had been in your parish as described, I would have also have gone somewhere else.

I would have been personally furious at having to sit through marriage renewal vows, and at a few of the other things that Jean recited. However, I do not believe that I should be required to adopt Latin in order to avoid these things. By "segregating" people who are really offended by these things in a Latin service, the pope is furthering the divide not healing it by addressing more forthrightly abuses such as those Jean cited. In reality, we know that most people will continue to do as Jean did and choose another parish that is more suitable.

Fr. Matthew,No need to apologize; it is nice to see the truth, the real truth about priestly behaviour in print for a change. When you wrote:"One thing that is ecumenical between liberal and conservative priests is the fact that they foist things on parishes all the time because they think it's a good idea." So you have been to my parish, eh!As for the return of Latin, I thought 40 plus years ago, why couldn't we have a little diversity in the Mass but no the same kind of thinking decreed the vernacular and now I have no interest in such a Mass. So long as no one imposes it on others I can live with it, but given the propensity of religious people to believe that they have the one and only true practice this could end up as divisive as...well you name it.

Maid of Kent, you are "surprised" at my earlier comments :) ? Come on, you of all people should know better!There is NO way I am going to support this move by a pope to widen the use of an obsolete liturgy that:a. Helped sustain the sinful clerical culture in the Catholic Church, andb. Became (centuries ago) so irrelevant to Catholic laity that they ended up devising non-liturgical devotions in order to maintain some sense of connection to what should have been, after all, their church --- and Jesus.For more information on point b., please see Klaus Gamber's The Reform of the Roman Rite, Keith Peckler's Worship: A Primer on Christian Ritual, and --- get this -- Josef Ratzinger's 1966 reflections about Vatican II's recognition of the need to revamp the Mass.I also recommend the following article is "Sacrosanctum Concilium: A Lawyer Examines the Loopholes" by Christopher Ferrara.

The bishops at Vatican II knew exactly what they were doing.Nonetheless, safety in numbers?

Heaven forbid that the laity should engage in extra-liturgical devotions! The horror...The horror...

The worst thing that could happen?Repeal of Vatican II in the classic Catholic form: we forgot.

I don't believe we will forget. Not as long as we keep reading the documents.

Hello Barbara,"Within any parish there will be people whose language preference can't be accommodated. For instance, in my parish there is a contingent of Brazilians who speak Portuguese."To be sure. But then Portuguese isn't the official language of the Church, either. Again, I think the focus on language is a red herring. Take the 1962 missal and translate it straight into English with absolutely no other changes in rubrics, form, lectionary, vestments, etc., and you still end up with a liturgy vastly different than that found in most parishes. Thoughtful critics of the TLM, I think, have to bear this in mind, if they really want to come to grips with the attraction it has for some Catholics. Hello Joseph,I am perplexed to see Gamber held up as a critic of the traditional rite given his (rather famous) position as an ardent defender of the same and promoter of its restoration.He did accept some of the critiques offered by the Liturgical Reform Movement, and it was in that context that he made some of the remarks you allude to. But it is impossible to suggest he believed in the mass as "irrelevant" to the lives of the faithful for centuries. I think Ratzinger's views have developed, but then there is also nothing in his criticisms of the liturgy in the 50's and 50's which suggest that he anticipated many of the changes which actually ended up taking place. P.S. Clerical cultures seems all too alive and well now even after 40 years of the Pauline missal. Maybe there is something deeper at work than liturgical language and rubrics.

Kathy... Reading the document is always inspiring, but remembering the WHY of the council that produced the documents is as important. Not sure the American Catholic sense of history reaches back more than a decade.

Margaret, the documents are normative. Granted, the "why's" are occasionally helpful in trying to interpret the documents, but the "why's" are also open to interpretation, and, let's face it, "spin." For me, I prefer to read the documents.

R.M. Lender, MOK's raises objections are on pastoral grounds ("I am surprised that you would applaud a pastor publicly stating that certain Catholics will not be ministered to in his parish."). This isn't an official language argument. Taking the time and effort to minister to some people in Latin might actually prevent the priest from being able to minister to others (let's say, those in nursing homes or the deaf or whatever). Also, I think it's a stretch to say that Latin is the "official" language of the church for reasons set forth by others. Obviously, it is very closely identified with Church tradition and history. But to use the desire for a Latin service as a trump card for ordering pastoral priorities seems to me to be an unfair argument.

Repeal of Vatican II in the classic Catholic form: we forgot.I thing the more accurately classic Catholic form begins with: "As the Church has always taught ......", particularly when it hasn't "always taught."

See today's boston Globe article, "Goodbye Vatican II."

Maybe it's time to move on to other topics (just a suggestion ...), and there are many good ones above.I'm sorry to say that I'm really on the fence on this issue despite the 60+ posts my attempt to get to some sort of bottom line. Thanks to all and a hello to jborst, whom I've missed! I think the motu propio, which allows parishes to use the Latin form without having to get express permission from the bishop stops far short of a complete reversal of Vatican II. Perhaps Latin-creep bears watching, but I think it's premature to fortell the demise of Vat2 just now.Neither do I think Latin masses are going to prevent (though it may quell) the kind of chumminess that has crept into the vernacular masses.The priest may have to turn his back at some points, but he'll turn around to give his homily (presumeably NOT in Latin), and there will still be a peace and a recessional, and that's where the ad-libbing goes on.

To R.M. Lender:"[One of the] root cause[s] for the debacle of today's modern liturgy [is] the phenomenon of individual piety, which originated in the Gothic period [12th to 15th centuries]. During that period, the people's active participation in the cult of liturgical worship...ceased to be the central theme; instead, it was the personal, the individual relationship to God and His grace, developed in private prayer, that predominated."More and more, the actual performance of the Church's liturgical rites became the responsibility of the clergy. The faithful were present and remained silent observers following the ceremonies while praying and contemplating. Special, non-liturgical "devotional services" were introduced to the faithful; they made use of the vernacular, and were meant to reflect 'religio moderna,' the new ideal of piety."The consequence of this development was that the gap between liturgical cult and popular piety grew ever wider. The people were enthralled with all the non-liturgical devotions, which quickly expanded to include many different processions, like the Corpus Christi Day procession, which traces its origin to this time. Also, pilgrimages grew in popularity.""[This] period of a first 'liturgical movement' in the late Middle Ages, and of the radical reforms started by Luther and other reformers, was followed by a period of reaction when the Council of Trent established rigorous rules governing liturgical worship; in particular, the rule prohibiting the use of the vernacular." The result was the 'Missale Romanum' of 1570 with its "strictly prescribed rubrics."After Trent came the Baroque period (1550 - 1750). "[T]he people, although they were able to partake in the celebration of the Mass in their hearts and minds, could not be active participants in the formal liturgy. Thus, new forms of popular piety emerged, for example, the Forty-Hour Devotion during the Easter Vigil, or the many devotions Mary. They were deeply rooted in religious practice."The new forms of piety, together with the formal liturgical worship attracting the faithful with its solemnity and ceremonial splendor, were the pillars on which the Counter Reformation's newly restored Catholicism rested."Klaus GamberThe Reform of the Roman Liturgy"Traditionally [before the 13th c.], there were different liturgical books used by the appropriate liturgical minister --- the Sacramentary for the one presiding; the Lectionary for the lector; the book of the gospels for the deacon....But as those ministries were gradually subsumed [during the 13th century] into the same individual --- the priest --- the idea of a missal made sense, not only for a travelling pope and itinerant [Franciscan] friars, but also for the whole Church. Not surprisingly, the 'private' Mass grew in popularity. Even when there was a congregation present, the priest was still obliged to recite all the readings and liturgical texts silently to himself as they were proclaimed or sung by others. This concept would gradually gain ground, reaching its climax in 1570 with the promulgation of Pius V's Missal for the whole Church, which remained authoritative for four hundred years until the Second Vatican Council."The 'distancing of God' was especially acute at the Eucharist. Unleavened bread was introduced in the West in the eleventh century. Since the laity had ceased the practice of frequent communion, the bringing of bread and wine from the home no longer made sense...Increasingly, there was an emphasis on adoring the Eucharist rather than sharing it....The sanctuary or presbyterium became the 'holy of holies' where only the clergy were welcome. The lay faithful kept their distance and were separated by a 'roodscreen' made of wood, clearly demarcating the liturgical space; gradually that barrier became more opaque. Choirs replaced the laity in singing the Mass; the procession of the laity with the gifts ceased; private Masses abounded....[L]iturgy had become the property of the clergy so much so that liturgical books even failed to acknowledge the presence of the laity at public Masses. The normative way of celebrating Mass was essentially without a congregation, even when a congregation was present...."As Christian worship became increasingly distant from the faithful, it was no surprise that popular devotions grew. From the eleventh through the thirteenth centuries we find significant growth in Eucharistic adoration and benediction, forty-hours devotion and Corpus Christi processions, Marian devotions (e.g. the rosary), novenas, and prayers to the saints....Popular devotions gave the laity a role --- prayers which they could offer as the priest offered the sacrifice of the Mass...."Within the liturgy, however, the laity remained passive spectators. When communion was given it tended to occur before or after Mass but not during. Members of the faithful could make their 'spiritual communion' with the priest as he communicated himself. They were convinced that they were too unworthy to do otherwise. Miracles grew during this period, especially regarding the Eucharist. Gone were the days when the assembly saw itself as the body of Christ and received the Eucharist both symbolizing their own membership in that body and communion with one another. The Mass had become the priest's offering..."Around 1200, the host and chalice came to be elevated during the Eucharistic Prayer and a bell was rung to alert the assembly that the consecration had arrived..."In this same era, Masses celebrated with corresponding stipends for 'special intentions' grew, believing that the more Masses one could have said, the more grace would be obtained either for deceased relatives and friends or for the living. 'Chantry priests' or 'altarists' as they were called in England were kept quite busy celebrating Mass continually throughout the day to keep up with the demand; some celebrated as many as 25 or 30 Masses per day, each of which came with a stipend. The German liturgical scholar Adolf Adam notes that by the fifteenth century in Breslau there were 236 'altarists' at two churches celebrating Mass all day, every day...Greater stipends were given to priests who elevated the host for a longer time. Obviously, wealthier Christians were the ones who could afford such Masses and therefore the poorer members of the Church were at a disadvantage for obtaining grace on behalf of their loved ones. More money came to be equated with greater possibilities for grace, the remission of sin, and especially 'the shortening of one's sentence' in purgatory....""[M]agical interpretations of the Eucharist abounded and the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries witnessed further liturgical decay....The main concern was with the 'fruits' of the Mass and the application of those fruits to particular intentions and individuals. It was more advantageous to have a Mass said for one person than to be offered for individuals together with others. This opinion was fuelled by the duplication of Masses --- one intention per Mass since priests were forbidden to accept several stipends for the same Mass...Clericalism did not abate and apathy was on the rise as lay Catholics were increasingly disillusioned with their clergy."Keith PecklersWorship: A Primer in Christian RitualRegarding "the opening of the [Second Vatican] Council in Rome,...[d]id it make sense for 2,500 bishops , not to mention the other faithful there, to be relegated to the role of mere spectators at a ceremony in which only the celebrants and the Sistine Choir had a voice. Was not the fact that the active participation of those present was not required symptomatic of a wrong that needed remedy?"At Vatican II, "[m]ystery had to be restored to priority over devotion, and simple structure had to replace the rampant overgrowth of forms....Ritual rigidity, which almost obliterated the meaning of individual actions, had to be defrosted. The liturgy of the Word had to be restored...The dialogical nature of the whole liturgical celebration and its essence as the common service of the People of God had to be once more fully emphasized....""A special objective of liturgical reform...was a more active participation of the laity..."John XXIII's Constitution "Veterum sapientia." which appeared shortly before Vatican II, "showed a significant predilection for the Latin language...It was not uncommon that glowing panegyrics in favor of Latin were themselves delivered in labored pidgin Latin, while the most forceful advocates of the vernacular could express themselves in classical Latin."Melchite Patriarch Maximos Saigh said the following at Vatican II:"It appears to me that the almost absolute value which is attributed to the Latin language in the liturgy, in instruction and in the administration of the Latin Church presents a kind of anomaly for the Eastern Church; for without doubt Christ spoke to his contemporaries in their own language. He used a language which was understandable to all his hearers, namely Aramaic, when he celebrated the first eucharistic sacrifice. The apostles and disciples acted likewise. It would never have occurred to them that the celebrant in a Christian assembly should read the passages of scripture, should sing the psalms, should preach or break the bread, using a different language than that of the congregation. Paul himself says explicitly: 'If you bless with the spirit [i.e., in an unintelligible language], how is one whol is present as an outsider to say "Amen" to your thanksgiving when he does not understand what you are saying? You may give thanks well enough, but the other is not edified....In church I should prefer to speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in [unintelligible] tongues' (1 Cor. 14, 16-19). All the reasons one can bring forward in favor of the untouchaility of Latin --- a liturgical language but a dead one --- must give way before this clear, unequivocal and precise reasoning of the Apostle. The Latin language is dead, but the Church remains alive. So, too, the language which mediates grace and the Holy Spirit must also be a living language since it is intended for men and not for angels. No language can be untouchable....""For it can hardly be denied that the sterility to which Catholic theology and philosophy had in many ways been doomed since the end of the Enlightenment was due not least to a language in which the living choices of the human spirit no longer found a place. Theology often bypassed new ideas, was not enriched by them and remained unable to transform them.""In the late Middle Ages, awareness of the real essence of Christian worship increasingly vanished. Great importance was attached to externals, and these choked out essentials. "The essence of the ancient Christian liturgy in the texts was no longer visible in the overgrowth of pious additions....The Catholic reaction to Luther's attack took place at Trent. The reaction was on the whole inadequate, even if it did eliminate the worst abuses and make possible a certain measure of rebirth...."Liturgicall authority would be centralized in the Sacred Congregation of Rites, "the post-conciliar organ for implementation of the liturgical ideas of Trent....New overgrowths were in fact prevented, but the fate of the liturgy in the West was now in the hands of a strictly centralized and purely bureaucratic authority. This authority completely lacked historical perspective; it viewed the liturgy solely in terms of ceremonial rubrics, treating it as a kind of problem of proper court etiquette for sacred matters. This resulted in the complete archaizing of the liturgy, which now passed from the stage of living history, became embalmed in the status quo and was ultimately doomed to internal decay. The liturgy had become a rigid, fixed and firmly encrusted system; the more out of touch with genuine piety, the more attention was paid to its prescribed forms. We can see this if we remember that none of the saints of the Catholic Reformation drew their spirituality from the liturgy. Ignatius of Loyola, Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross developed their religious life solely from personal encounter with God and from individual experience of the Church, quite apart from the liturgy and any deep involvement with it."The baroque era [1550 - 1750] adjusted to this situation by superimposing a kind of para-liturgy on the archaized actual liturgy. Accompanied by the splendor of orchestral performance , the baroque high Mass became a kind of sacred opera in which the chants of the priest functioned as a kind of periodic recitative. The entire performance seemed to aim at a kind of festive lifting of the heart, enhanced by the beauty of a celebration appealing to the eye and ear. On ordinary days, when such display was not possible, the Mass was frequently covered over with devotions more attractive to the popular mentality. EVEN LEO XIII RECOMMENDED THAT THE ROSARY BE RECITED DURING MASS IN THE MONTH OF OCTOBER [emphases Joe J's]. In practice this meant that while the priest was busy with his archaic liturgy, the people were busy with their devotions to Mary. They were united with the priest only by being in the same church with him and by consigning themselves to the sacred power of the eucharistic sacrifice...."With the end of the baroque period, the force of the baroque para-liturgy also went into decline, although in some regions it remained very much alive. The endeavors of the Sacred Congregation of Rites to preserve old forms had obviously resulted in the total impoverishment of the liturgy. If the Church's worship was once again to become worship of God in the fullest sense --- i.e., for all the faithful --- then it had to get away from fixed forms. The wall of Latinity had to be breached if the liturgy were again to function either as proclamation or as invitation to prayer. Experiments in 'de-Latinization' by smaller groups or through the use of interpreters soon proved insufficient. It was now clear that behind the protective skin of Latin lay hidden something that even the surgery performed at Trent had failed to remove. The simplicity of the liturgy was still overgrown with superfluous accretions of purely historical value. It was now clear, for example, that the selection of biblical texts had frozen at a certain point and hardly met the needs of preaching. The next step was to recognize that the necessary revamping could not take place simply through purely stylistic modifications, but also required a new theology of divine worship. Otherwise the renewal would be no more than superficial. To put it briefly, the task only half finished at Trent had to be tackled afresh and brought to a more dynamic completion."This also meant that the problems which Luther and the reformers had seen in the liturgy had to be dealt with once again. Not the least of these was their objection to the rigidity and uniformity already evident then in the ceremonies. The point was not, of course, for the Catholic Church to somehow work toward the positions of the Reformation....[T]he amputation performed by the reformers could not supply any model for Catholic liturgical reform."But the questions the reformers raised could well serve to spur a return to the ancient Christian heritage...."If we view [Vatican II's] initiatives for liturgical reform in their historical context, then we may well consider them a basic reversal. The value of the reform will of course substantially depend on [post-conciliar developments]. The problems and hopes of liturgical reform anticipate some of the crucial problems and hopes of ecclesiastical reform in general. Will it be possible to bring contemporary man into new contact with the Church, and through the Church into new contact with God? Will it be possible to minimize centralism without losing unity? Will it be possible to make divine worship the starting point for a new understanding among Christians? These three questions represent three hopes, all bound up with liturgical reform, and all in line with the basic intentions of the recent Council."Joseph RatzingerTheological Highlights of Vatican II1966(My thanks to Fr. Komonchak for bringing this book to dotCommonweal's readers' attention a few months back!)While Gamber did not like the Novus Ordo and regarded it, if I recall, as a clear break with liturgical tradition, he did see need for making changes to the Tridentine (one historian has noted that Gamber believed that the new rite allowed for too much lay participation [!!!] at Mass). It has been said elsewhere that human products tend to take on accretions over time. Our liturgy is no exception. As one fellow blogger here put it recently, it would not take long to celebrate the original Last Supper. It was only after Christianity became legal, so to speak, that bishops took on the imperial trappings --- as well as some of the civil authoritiy over their "flocks" --- that had previously been the domain of Roman rulers. And, of course, we should not forget that Latin was a vernacular concession to Christians in Rome itself. And not least, let's not overlook the growing separation between clergy and laity facilitated by continued use of Latin and an official liturgy that pretty much left the laity to themselves in the nave while the priest was up on the altar in his own little world. Even Gamber, as seen above, notes the growth of clericalism as the Mass increasingly became the exclusive domain of the ordained. The laity had to devise their own (to use Ratzinger's words) "para-liturgical" devotions to remain connected to the church. Maybe Gamber did not use the word 'irrelevant,' but he certainly portrayed communal conditions that, by any reasonable standard, made the liturgy irrelevant to the average guy or gal in church (unless, I suppose, he or she had the financial wherewithall to pay the 'altarist' for a Mass).As for your contention that Ratzinger did not anticipate many of the liturgical changes flowing from Sacrosanctum Concilium, I don't know. Hindsight is 20/20. We do know that he "did a 180" following the 1968 student revolts in Germany. As Hans Kung noted in a recent news report, Ratzinger "got more and more conservative, more and more frightened." Let's not forget, too, that he was ONLY a priest at the council, and SC with all its "loopholes" was approved overwhelmingly by the world's bishops. Were they hoodwinked? There are those who say yes, and others who say no. As for the clerical culture, I think it stands to reason that culture develops over the long haul and cannot be changed in a mere 40 years --- especially in an institution as old and as big as the Catholic Church. And, yes, even with measures for transparency and accountability, there will always be guys and gals in positions of authority (rectories/convents/monasteries/etc.) who will succumb to psychopathological weakness and prey on the vulnerable. The Mass is the single most important "part" of the Catholic Church. As Sr. Joan Chittister notes in her column in NCR, the priest is the "mediator" in the Tridentine liturgy; everyone approaches/encounters God through this one individual. He is, in effect, elevated above the laity. He is "special." There are laity who gravitate toward this model of church, and there are priests and bishops who are only too willing to oblige. When the ordained are seen as men of divine privilege and favor, we have a recipe for human failure and scandal --- except, of course, we know how "preventing scandal to the faithful" is handled in this kind of church, don't we?We now officially have two churches under one Roman roof. Those who don't heed the lessons of history are bound to have such lessons visited upon successive generations. Quite frankly, in light of all the recent scandals and the lessons of liturgical history, I find Benedict's decision to be most irresponsible.What a shame! But, then, what else might we expect from a frightened old man?

I agree (as I find I often do) with Jean -- I find the argument that restoration of access to the Latin Mass when requested by the laity marks the demise of VII to be very premature and alarmist -- as are the arguments that it will somehow 'recover what was lost' for those who seek that outcome.Joseph, thank you for posting that extended excerpt, I found it very interesting and enlightening. I think we still arrive at some different conclusions on this issue (especially your contention that we now 'officially have two churches'), but I have no problem with that.I have 'eavesdropped' on this blog among others for some time and I have to say in the main this is one of the best, with some of the consistantly best and most thoughtful posters out there, on all sides of the issues.RM

Also Joseph I am curious, what do you think the Pope is 'frightened' of? I have an idea myself (though I'd say 'worried' or 'concerned' rather than 'frightened') but I'd be interested to hear others'.

Robert, thanks for your feedback. I think we now officially have two churches under one Roman roof because:a. The divine liturgy is the single most important reality in the Catholic Church;b. We now have two liturgical formats that, as Sr. Joan Chittister recently observed, reflect different undersandings of church and of Christianity, of one's view of one's place and role in the church, etc. (As you might gather, the significance here is not in the number of formats but, rather, in the ecclesiological and other underpinnings of these very different forms.)I believe Benedict is frightened because:a. I've read various articles that say as much and that seemed reasonable,b. I've read some of Benedict's pronouncements, formal/otherwise, that express his concern about the direction of the church following Vatican II,c. Hans Kung, who possibly knows Ratzinger as well as anybody, has mentioned his view that the pope is rather alarmed at what has transpired in the church over the past 40 years,d. I have interpreted issuances during JPII's pontificate (issuances that were, by all accounts, influenced by Ratzinger's thinking) as betraying an official church leadership turning increasingly inward --- kind of a "circle the wagons" sort of thing, ande. I pay attention to a person's body language, etc. (allowing, of course, for the influence age on the human body :).I think the pope is more than worried or concerned. Perhaps we're talking about depth of concern.

Well I agree completely that the Pope is concerned / worried / afraid about the direction of the Church post VII. But I think his real 'fear' is not of what has happened in the Church, but of what has happened in the world. The secularization of Europe, the dilution of Catholic identity and decline in church attendance/seminaries, loss of authority and credibility in the wake of the scandals -- he worries about these because he fears they have weakened the Church in the face of the real enemy, secularism and moral relativism. He does not tremble in fear of Sr. Joan or VOTF for their own sakes -- the Church has weathered far greater challenges. But the biggest challenge facing it by far today is the challenge of secularism -- I think he knows this and fears that some the VII-inspired changes (or rather, changes justified in the name of VII) have left the Church vulnerable to that.Sometimes we (especially Americans and of both stripes) forget that it's not all about us. I think the Pope realize the stakes are much higher. We can (and undoubtedly do) disagree about the efficacy of his prescription, but I do not doubt his sincerity of purpose nor do I think it charitable or accurate to reduce it the clearly belittling image of 'a frightened old man'.If it must be used, not to harp on it, but often the people on the other side of his arguments sound alot more like the frightened old people to me. RM

No one denies the societal changes you've outlined.However, JPII and now Benedict going on the offensive to restore or preserve "orthodoxy" is a sign of fear, not of courage: fight or flight. Neither approach works in addressing the matters you've identified. Benedict has, however, managed to alienate women, Muslims (trip to Turkey notwithstanding), Protestants, Jews, and not a few Catholics fed up or embarrassed with Rome. I can't speak for other "old" or "almost old" people, but I'm just plain fed up with Benedict and his predecessor's legacy. I'll try to place my trust in the Lord's promise that the church will be OK through thick and thin. Vatican II did the same. However, I, for one, shall not succumb to the handwringing and fear that pervades the corridors in Rome.Jesus instructed his disciples to "go forth," not to "circle the wagons."

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