It will hardly surprise anyone familiar with The Tablet that an article against the derestriction of the older form of Mass might emerge when the date of the MP ostensibly draws nearer. In finem citius after all.
The Tablet’s editorial is a response to an editorial in The Catholic Herald arguing that we should welcome the Motu Proprio and naming H.E. Cormac Card. Murphy-O’Connor as a leader in the resistance to the MP.
In the following editorial track a few things.
1) The obtuse, blithering repetition of the tired cliches about the older Mass: "back to the people… muttering" blah blah. These people are like Ambrosian Chant… forever on the same dull note.
2) The usual liberal condescension: they redefine resistance and whining on the part of progressivists as giving advice and they consider the legitimate apsirations of traditionalists as the whining of spoiled children.
3) Blanket approval for what bishops do over and against the rights of priests and lay people.
4) Sidestepping of theological importance of the gestures and active participation in the old way of doing things while reducing them to mere "culture".
5) Promotion of the party line.
My emphases and comments.
Editorial, 23 June 2007
Dangers of a narrow faith
Pope Benedict XVI has made it clear that he would like to end the almost universal prohibition [that’s accurate at least] on celebration of the Tridentine Mass. He has run into some opposition, and the reasons are worth examining. One of the few exceptions to the prohibition was an indult (the technical term for permission to deviate from Church law) obtained by the bishops of England and Wales, [This was granted by Paul VI long before the 1986 indult of John Paul II] which gave individual bishops in those countries the power to authorise the rite on specific occasions. The funeral of an elderly priest was often cited as an example [In other words, it was intended to be as rare as hen’s teeth, and by no means should it be a normal occurance.]. But the English and Welsh bishops were aware that the Tridentine Rite was regarded in some ultra-conservative quarters as the only valid form of Mass. In a wider constituency than that, it was still regarded as a flag of defiance against the whole Second Vatican Council. So they have been careful to limit its use to situations of pastoral need, ["carefull…. pastoral…"] so that it did not become the focus of an undeclared schism. [Let’s not mention parishes where year in and out they have been making things up as they go… that wouldn’t be schism, would it?]
They [English and Welsh bishops, I suppose, i.e, the resistance] are said to be passing on to the Pope the benefits of their experience of that indult, to help him shape the change in canon law that would be required [That’s is.. yah… just "passing on" their "experience". Yah… that’s the ticket. See how helpful they are?]. There is one important lesson they have learned: that the bishops must be allowed to keep control, to monitor the use of the rite, and to prevent altar being set up against altar. [Pay attention to the Donatist allusion (see below). This is where Rod Serling steps out from behind the vestment case. First, it is suggested that the bishops have practical experience and they have learned a "lesson". That phrase sounds as if they have really suffered and are now wiser. Thus, they are in a position to teach BENEDICT XVI what the real situation is, as if the Pope hasn’t been involved in this business for nearly 30 years as it is. Secondly, the editorial touches a sore spot. The Motu Proprio may not go down in history as important for the liturgy. It may also be important as the really the FIRST document to uphold the rights of priests, rather than rubber stamp everything bishops decide. Often very pious lipservice is given to how important priests are to bishops, their beloved brothers, blah blah. In the harsh light of reality, however, that is very often not experience by the bishop’s beloved priest brother.] Indeed, some of the things being said by supporters of the rite who are eagerly looking forward to the Pope’s proposed motu proprio are a warning of what could happen. Some Catholics hold to, and expect others to observe, a very narrow definition of the faith. Theirs is a kind of Catholic Puritanism [!??!] which, like the Protestant Puritanism of the seventeenth century, tends towards scrupulosity and even, on occasion, bigotry, witch-hunts and paranoia. [Does this sound like hysteria? Behold the progressivist attitude about anything pre-Conciliar. "Scrupulosity", right… the sort of narrow-mindedness that thinks you should be in the state of grace when receiving Communion, that the rubrics should be obeyed, that there is more to the Church’s Magisterium than Gaudium et spes, that active homosexuals shouldn’t be ordained, that formal heretics probably shouldn’t be teaching in seminaries and Catholic universities, that after years and years of cold and callous treatment, they might imagine that they are not wecolme or liked.]
This is not just theological conservatism but cultural too. [It is really all about culture, a world view.] They want to reinstate not just the words of the Tridentine Rite but its ambience and choreography – [get ready… here come the litany of clichÃ©s, right on schedule…. yawn…] the priest with his back to the congregation muttering in Latin; the people following as best they can in Latin Missals or just quietly praying their rosaries; no eucharistic ministers, no girl altar servers, [Apparently those are good things.] no lessons read in English, and no exchange of peace [ditto] . Given that Latin can still be used without anyone’s permission in the current version of the Mass, [And THAT is happening far and wide?] as can plainsong, and that the principal prayers such as the Gloria, Credo and Agnus Dei are the same in old and new rites, it is fair to ask what else it is the Tridentinists are after. [Hmmmm…. a neologism: "Tridentinist". Remember the allusion to Donatism (above)? The description of the "Tridentinists" as scupulous, narrow, bigoted and paranoid, is like a page taken from the "altar against altar" schism in 4th c. North Africa. This guy is implying that "Tridentinist" aren’t real Catholics if they want the use of the older Mass and the "culture" that goes with it.]
The Pope may feel [An admission that the Pope has a heart? Nooo… this is just the usual substitution for "think".] that a small gesture of reconciliation [read, "handful of dirt thrown"] towards the liturgical conservatives may wean [Because they are whiny, like 2 year olds] them away from more extreme theological positions. [What would they be? What are these theological positions?] But that has to be judged case by case [therefore, nothing "universal" can be permitted] or the opposite might happen, and the Vatican cannot micro-manage such a process from afar. [This is hilarious. For decades now John Paul II and the "Vatican" have been accused by the progressivists as SUCCESSFULLY micro-managing everyone’s live!! They have kept up the steady drum beat for an extreme sort of subsidiarity. Now they say that the Vatican can’t micro-manage? Too funny!] Bishops must remain in charge. Indeed, given that the guardianship of the eucharistic mysteries is one of a bishop’s most important duties, this is a dangerous area in which to have his authority undermined by Rome [Which defines and codifies that duty. So, I ask you, how are their Lordships doing in the UK about liturgical abuses in parishes? Is there liturgical unity and probity there these days? No problems to report or correct?]
The Tridentine Rite itself is capable of great beauty, and modern celebrations of the Mass have much to learn from it. [At the very end we seem to be drawing near to a reasonable point, in fact, probably the real reason Pope Benedict wants to derestrict the use of the older Mass.] If a sense of the mystical has been allowed to escape from the modern liturgy, [Ooohhhh nooooo, certainly that hasn’t happened!] wider acquaintance with it might point towards a remedy. But it needs handling with care – as it has been handled successfully so far in England and Wales. [This last point is perhaps the driving motive of the editorial: this is the party line for the bishops in the UK and Wales. This is precisely what H.E. Murphy-O’Connor is promoting. This is party line. However, for the holders of the party line, success means virtual supression of the rights of the faithful in regard to traditional forms of liturgy.]