Monday, 25 January 2016

Maintaining the Church's Liturgical traditions?

In commenting on the recent change to the rubric of the Mass of Maundy Thursday in the Ordinary Form, the Latin Mass Society statement concludes:
These concessions have moved many to reconsider the Extraordinary Form, which is not affected by this decree, or similar concessions to liturgical abuses in the past. It is in the Extraordinary Form that the Church's liturgical traditions are maintained.
And commenting on the celebrations of Christmas Masses in the Extraordinary Form:
We have a long way to go, in making the Traditional Mass genuinely available to Catholics in England and Wales. But thanks to the tremendous work of the priests who love this Mass, and to the faithful who support them - including the Latin Mass Society - we are moving in the right direction.
And more recently:
What we have seen again and again is that where the Extraordinary Form is offered every week on a Sunday morning, even in places with no previous demonstrable demand for it, it quickly attracts a growing congregation of young people and families, and can play an important part in conversions and vocations to the priesthood....Let's stop blaming people for not knowing what has too often been deliberately hidden from them, and do our best to give them access to the liturgical riches which are every Catholic's birth-right.
 1. For all the publicity associated with it, the celebration of the Extraordinary Form remains of interest and immediate value to a minority, more or less small, within the Roman Rite. The likelihood of it ever being otherwise is remote, and the pretence that it might be so is becoming increasingly frustrating. The growing congregation that appears where there has been no previous demonstrable demand is, I suspect, attracted from a wider geographical area and not correctly associated with the one location; and, as I write, I can recall two instances in the blogosphere where it is the same familiar faces that are recognised at celebrations of the Extraordinary Form. As Pope Benedict wrote in his letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum, and as I believe still applies today:
The use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often.  Already from these concrete presuppositions, it is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.
Moreover, the idea that the Extraordinary Form should be made readily available in each and every part of the England and Wales, even to the extent of being celebrated in every parish, has no justification in either Summorum Pontificum or Pope Benedict's accompanying letter.

2. As two forms of the same Rite, there is, from the juridical point of view, nothing that is more "of tradition" about the Extraordinary Form than there is about the Ordinary Form. This is the sense of Pope Benedict's words in his letter, read as they should be in the context of his remarks about mutual enrichment:
There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal.  In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture.  What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.  It behoves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. 
Whilst the traditionalist might want to read this in favour of widespread celebration of the Extraordinary Form, it more correctly refers to  the influence on celebrations of the Ordinary Form of the Extraordinary Form. It is not legitimate to assert that the Extraordinary Form in some way preserves the Liturgical tradition in a way set over and against the Ordinary Form; and those who wish to celebrate the Ordinary Form in a faithful manner cannot but resent such an assertion. Traditionalists talking among themselves might wish to say so; but they do not have a right to assert it to those who wish faithfully to celebrate the Ordinary Form.

3. This last observation is related to the idea of "mutual enrichment" to which Pope Benedict referred in his letter. In persisting in talking of the "Traditional Latin Mass", and taking little or no interest in how the celebration of the Extraordinary Form might contribute to the celebration of the Ordinary Form, the traditionalist movement is, in effect, creating a kind of enclave from which there is trumpeted a superiority of the Extraordinary Form. Those outside the traditionalist enclave are not going to be very interested. Their "birth right" would be better served by a positive engagement of the Extraordinary Form with the Ordinary Form. Both the traditionalists themselves and the Commission Ecclesia Dei appear to me to have singularly failed in this, even at the relatively basic level of showing an interest in unifying the calendar between the two forms and inserting the celebrations of new saints into the Missal of 1962.

So, dear traditionalists, do be more realistic about the scale of your enterprise .... a little less convinced of your own righteousness.....  and a little more aware of the temptation to become your own magisterium.


Catpuss said...

Whoah. I recently came across your blog and was enjoying what I thought was thoughtful, balanced, analysis - until this post. What happened? I'm puzzled by the undercurrent of anger and the lack of charity. Is it really so hard to have CURIOSITY about people who are different? You could try getting to know what makes them tick and why things matter to them. Criticising people for being superior in a tone that is, well - superior - doesn't help your argument. And "Dear traditionalists" really is in velvet-gloved fist territory. Maybe I should check out these "traditionalists" myself to see what all the fuss is about and if they they have little horns and a tail.

Joe said...

Am I not allowed, from time to time, to write in a different literary genre?

I did try some time ago to get to grips with exactly what can be understood by the term "Traditional Catholicism":

You may recognise in my post above that I don't think the Traditionalist movement has really taken on board the quid pro quos that are there in Summorum Pontificum - and shows no sign, so far as I can see, of doing so.

Hence my writing in the particular genre.....

Et Expecto said...

Just one small comment. I don't think that anyone is expecting that the usus antiquior will take over from the novus ordo to the extent that it becomes the usual form of Mass. However, it is gaining in popularity, and is likely to be found in increasing numbers of locations. One reason for this is that bishops, unable to supply enough priests from the diocesan clergy, are turning to the traditional orders to staff churches. As the supply of traditional priests increases, they will be found in more parts of the country.

Joe said...

Thank you for your comment

1. Is it correct to talk of "traditional priests", as if they are priests in a different sense than priests who do not have an attachment to the Extraordinary Form? What strikes me as being a profound implication of Summorum Pontificum is that the one form of celebration is not to be considered any more "traditional" than the other, and therefore priests who celebrate one form should not be considered any more or less "traditional" than priests who celebrate the other form.

2. So far as I can tell, priestly religious congregations who celebrate only the Extraordinary Form have been invited by Bishops to establish communities in a particular type of situation. That appears to me to be a town centre or shrine church, and without that church being a parish as such. There may be exceptions that I am not aware of.... Such invitations are going to be of limited help if a Bishop sees them as a way to provide for priests in parishes.

3. I am very wary of what is intended by the claim of "increasing popularity" of the Extraordinary Form. It might intend an increasing number of locations where the Extraordinary Form is celebrated ... and, in some of those places, more people attending Mass there. But I remain unconvinced that it should fairly intend an increasing appeal beyond those who have a particular formation and spiritual sensitivity that disposes them towards the Extraordinary Form. I just do not see it happening around me in the parts of the Catholic world that I frequent.