Sunday, 9 October 2016

The Ordinary Form in the style of Fortescue?

Visiting a parish recently, I experienced what might be stereotyped as a celebration of the Ordinary Form according to the style of Fr Adrian Fortescue. That's not to say that the celebration was authentically derived from Fortescue - in some ways it was, but, I suspect, in other ways it wasn't.

Poor Father. He definitely appeared to be more concerned with the inches between his extended hands (I doubt that centimetres, that most heinous modern innovation, would have entered his mind), the burse stood upright on the altar when not in use, and several other like things, rather than anything else. One can be irrelevantly pedantic in suggesting that a priest should "celebrate" Mass rather than "say" Mass - but if ever I have encountered Mass being "said" rather than "celebrated" this was it. It was Liturgical form without any soul; it appeared to have only the smallest regard for the congregation present who could be forgiven for feeling that they were an inconvenience; and that included the homily which was read like a prescribed script (I can't comment on content because I very quickly stopped listening and reverted to Magnificat, my resort in circumstances that are usually different in nature). I suspect that even the most evenly balanced of MCs wouldn't have coped with it (there wasn't one, and no altar servers either, which perhaps wasn't surprising).

The funniest bit for me was the three strong tugs on the maniple to stop it sliding down over the wrist - I think towards the end of Eucharistic Prayer I, though my memory fails me a little here. Oh, and much as I might want to encourage other priests to give Eucharistic Prayer I its fair use, this unfeeling recitation left me cold. I can only remember the "Through Christ our Lord. Amen" recited without pause between the end of one paragraph and the start of the next.

I tell the story because, if the Trads have the idea that this kind of thing is a model of the mutual enrichment sought by Pope Benedict XVI in his letter to bishops that accompanied Summorum Pontificum, they couldn't be more wrong. To misquote Pope Francis, it is more like an ideological colonisation of the Ordinary Form. It won't have anything to say beyond their own enclaves. (Perhaps my recent experience was untypical, I don't know).

Likewise, the persistent reference to the "new Mass" or "novus ordo", and indiscriminating reference to the "Latin Mass" or the "Traditional Mass", don't help the cause of mutual enrichment either. One of the clear points to Pope Benedict's letter, and to Summorum Pontificum itself, is that the one form is just as "traditional", in the juridical sense, as the other. Playing them off against each other was not something that Pope Benedict envisaged at all.

As with the campaign against Amoris Laetitia (much that I read of this campaign, which gains the approbation of the Trad blogosphere, appears exactly like the kind of thing that would be written by others to denigrate the teaching of the Successor of Peter, and be excoriated by the same Trad blogosphere - perhaps the appeal to Canon 212 n.3 to justify their actions being an illustrative point), there seems to be a selection of those bits of the exercise of the Office of the Successor of Peter, be that Benedict or Francis, that suit and a disregard for those bits that don't. Once one begins to have a conversation in terms that distinguish between the present day exercise of the Office of Peter and that of his predecessors, with the intention of undermining the former, I fear there is shifting sand under one's feet rather than firm foundations.

But then perhaps the Traditionalist movement has always carried with it the risk of becoming a kind of magisterium of its own....

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