Someone asked a a rather off topic question in another entry. The question was worthy of attention in its own right, so here it is.
Why is it that many Diocesan Priests that love the TLM and pray for its freedom still often still pray the Novus Ordo versus Populum, on a table altar (instead of a high altar), and utilizing lay lectors? … I understand how Diocesan Priests are between a proverbial rock and a hard place with their Bishops in being forced to celebrate the Novus Ordo, but why does it ever have to be celebrated in the manner described above?
I think the answer lies very much in the second point you made: they are between a rock and a hard spot.
Many priests I know would more than likely switch to an ad orientem celebration of Holy Mass, and get rid of all the extraneous personnel around the altar (to name just two issues), but they know that if they do, they will unleash of fire storm complaints from many lay people who will accuse them of “trying to turn the clock back” and, after word gets around, many diocesan bishops will usually side with the lay people and then hammer the priest into dust. And this he can do in a thousand ways.
Parish priests, pastors, have so many headaches to cope with already, that they do not want to court additional problems. Assistants in parishes sometimes have to deal with a liberal, aging-hippy, pastor, or at least one who is unsure of what to do in the face of a tradition they didn’t learn and forms no part of their world-view. I am sure priests who read this blog will back me up on this. (Remember, Fathers, you can post anonymously on this blog.) They may be entirely convinced about the better way to do things, but they just don’t need another problem. What would be required would be a) a place that was already priest friendly (and it is amazing how many parishes are not priest friendly) and b) a long process of liturgical catechesis and the c) a reasonable expectation that the bishop won’t decide to crucify him.
Keep in mind that a priest can be right right right all day long, he can have an ability to speak with the tongue of angels, can back up everything with flawless documentation, can have strong backing from a good number of people. None of that makes any difference if the bishop he doesn’t like it. Sometimes just one complaint letter from a person who understands nothing about anything but is expressing “hurt” or “pain” will get every consideration, leaving the priest twisting in the wind with his bishop.
At the same time, priests can go about things the wrong way and scuttle their own chances of success, no matter what the project, worthy or unworthy.
I believe that the situation I am describing is becoming less and less common, as time goes by. I sincerely hope it is. There is a new liturgical wind blowing in a new direction and more and more ecclesiastics are moving in the right direction. It is the beginning, perhaps of the new liturgical movement His Holiness hoped to contribute something to, as he stated in The Spirit of the Liturgy. Nevertheless, that is more than likely the reason why many priests who otherwise would be very interested in the older form of Mass are still celebrating ad orientem and still have more lay ministers than are truly necessary.
It keeps the peace.