The English lefty tabloid The Tablet (28 July) has a somewhat more balanced piece than the usual hysteria we can expect from the ranks of their writers. Today we read a contribution by a man who back int he day was the chairman of the Latin Mass Association. He is now a lay minister in prisons, which certain harks to Rule 4.
My emphases and comments.
A Moment of Recollection
On 7 July I went to Mass in what we must now call the “Ordinary” rite, though it was not celebrated in ordinary circumstances. There were bars on the windows of the chapel, the congregation was searched before being allowed in, and the door was locked behind us. In the world outside, 7 July was a Saturday, but for the prisoners of the Young Offenders Institution in which I work it was a Sunday, the day on which our chaplain comes in to say weekly Mass.
They look forward to it, and so does he. The atmosphere is upliftingly prayerful. That Saturday, like every other Saturday, 15 young men slipped easily into the spirit of a simple, worshipful liturgy in which they participated with unaffected fervour and commitment. When the lad who read the first reading stumbled over a word, someone in the front row helped him out. At the sign of peace, they shook hands not only with each other, but also with the officer appointed to watch over them from the back. During the period of thanksgiving after Communion, there was a stillness that ran deeper than silence. Those young men were serving all kinds of sentences, but for that hour, every one of them was free.
It’s a real gift to be able to go to a Mass like that, though I never thought I’d find myself saying so. For most of my adult life, I attended the old Tridentine Mass whenever it was practically possible, going to the new rite only when I had no other choice. Three decades ago, I was chairman of the Latin Mass Society. Today, I am an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. [of "Holy Communion", unless he is an instituted Acolyte, which he could very well be.] If anyone had predicted that, even a couple of years ago, I’d have told them they were daft. But I haven’t abandoned my devotion to the old liturgy, and I would love to be able to teach the prisoners I serve how to appreciate it. I am sure they would rise to it. On Saturday 7 July, the time that might happen came significantly nearer with the publication of the Pope’s motu proprio on the use of the 1962 Missal. When I got home I immediately logged on to the internet. I wanted to find out what Benedict XVI had written.
What I read filled me with unqualified [cf. Rule Five] delight. For years, there has been a standoff between “traditional” and “progressive” elements within Roman Catholicism, though our Christian vocation (and the documents of the Second Vatican Council) requires us to embrace both. “Summorum Pontificum” points this out clearly. With one legislative act, the Pope has shown that to reject our liturgical inheritance is as unacceptable as to deny the possibility of liturgical development. [Development! YES! This guy really gets it, doesn’t he!]
This document permits freely; it imposes nothing, except tolerance. [Nice. Heh heh, "impose tolerance".] The only thing it takes away is the right for anyone to claim that a person or a community that declares an attachment to the former liturgy is ipso facto out of step with the Church – though “priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books”.
There will, alas, be some devotees of the older use who find that condition unacceptable; but after “Summorum Pontificum”, there can only be fewer than before, because the document declares that there is only one Roman Rite and that the 1962 and 1970 Missals are both expressions of it. For anyone wishing to remain loyal to the Holy See, it is now impossible to argue that the Church’s traditional eucharistic doctrines have been extinguished by the latter, if the former is acknowledged as having equal standing. [Repetita iuvant!] Responses to the motu proprio have, of course, been mixed. Some bishops have welcomed it in the generous spirit in which it was issued; others have attempted to neutralise its impact by the cynical use of spin. [This is what I refer to as The Party Line, which has several verses in the mantra: "It won’t make much difference… Very few are want this… We’re already doing enough."]
Only time will tell what this act will bring and what chance of reconciliation there will be. I hope and pray that the motu proprio will bless us all with better liturgy, [Yes, he truly get’s it.] which is one of its intentions, for much of what has been done in the name of liturgical renewal seems to me off-beam and deeply damaging. The Pope makes the point unambiguously in the letter to the bishops that accompanied “Summorum Pontificum”: “ … in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorising or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear. I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.”
That pain and those deformations continue, but this thoroughly modern Pope sees that the way to achieve healing now and maintain unity in the future is to honour the past. [Well put!] In that same letter he gives the “positive reason” that motivated his decision to issue it:
“It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church. Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew.” Reading that paragraph reminded me of one of the most beautiful prayers the prisoners and I hear at Mass every Saturday: “Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you. Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live for ever and ever.” The same prayer occurs in the Missal of 1962.
â– Michael McMahon is a lay chaplain in a provincial prison.
I am delighted with this letter. Here is a fellow who maintains his dedication to the older form, but participates in very fruitful celebrations of the newer form in a serious environment. He sees the fruits of both. He understands that there need not be a negative competition, one being pitted against the other. He sees that the the one with influence the celebrations of the other.
In the same issue of the lefty tabloid The Tablet is a letter which shows that sour narrows minded attitude so typical of those who are negatively spinning the provisions of the Motu Proprio. This cleric sets out to defend and extend the comments of the execrable Fr. Mark Francis, the multi-cultural liturgist, who excoriated Summorum Pontificum in the same publication.
Fr Mark Francis (“Beyond language”, 14 July) drew attention to significant differences between the pre-conciliar version of the liturgy of the Roman Rite and the renewed and reformed version of it in use since 1969. But he touched only lightly upon the one, huge difference between the two. The central axiom that underpinned the great majority of the major reforms the Council required [which regarding the liturgy were very few thigs indeed!] was the development of the participation of the faithful in all our liturgical celebrations. [Here is yet another fellow who doesn’t understand what the Church really means by "active participation".] It was the driving principle in the development of a vernacular liturgy, [Which the Council said could be permitted occasionally, but that Latin was to remain the language of the liturgy] and has shaped profoundly the way we now operate as Church [don’t you love how they turn "Church" into a buzz-word by omiting an article?] with the involvement of the lay faithful in virtually every aspect of its life.
The earlier version of the Mass was composed for a priest-celebrant and a single server. [Noooo…. it wasn’t. Quite the opposite. It was really a much greater, sung liturgy, closer to the Divine Liturgy. A smaller version developed later.] It gave no part whatever to the lay faithful; [B as in B, S as in S.] indeed, it did not even acknowledge their presence. [Other than all those prayers for and about the people, and other than those moments where the priests invites responses (whether people answered them or not) and those moments when people participated in the most perfect form of "active participation", the reception of Holy Communion, and… well… you get it.] Most canon lawyers would read the final paragraph of Pope Paul VI’s apostolic constitution of 3 April 1969 as a categorical abrogation of everything in the previous editions of the Roman Missal that was not enshrined in the new one. [Then most canon lawyers would be wrong, wouldn’t they! Paul VI did not abrogate the older Mass. He immediately extended permission for older priests to use it and gave an indult to the UK. Had he meant to abrogate it, he would have said so.] To read now in the motu proprio that it was “never abrogated” is quite puzzling, to say the least: who so advised Pope Benedict? [ROFL! The Holy Father is just a babe in the woods, surrounded by canonists who either don’t know their biretta from their bum or who are whispering traditionalist propaganda in his ear. Poor Pope Benedict, as innocent as a lamb, who knew nothing about this issue before he became Pope. Riiiiight…. In any event. It isn’t "puzzling" any more. The Legislator has spoken.] The motu proprio compromises many of the principles of renewal and reform enshrined in the Liturgy Constitution of Vatican II. [About which Benedict knows nothing, right?] One wonders whether it is ever wise to seek to resolve by compromise rather than on principle [Okay, I think he just suggested that the Pope lacks principles. Am I wrong? Also, I would say that the MP is not a compromise. In its provisions the LAW is laid down, which this chap will have to obey, without compromise, like it or not.] an issue raised by those who resist change. Compromise is slippery ground. Once a compromise position is adopted, that new position becomes the new battleground until a further compromise is gained, and that in turn becomes a new battleground. Principles are further and further eroded until the original renewal and reform is completely undermined. [This is what I call "creeping incrementalism" and it has been the tool of dissenters for decades. They always seek to bump the paradigm on a degree or so at a time. But after 40 years, the paradigm has shifted so far that someone who once seemed like a freaky liberal now looks like a hardened traditionalist. The Holy Father didn’t do what is suggested.]
(Mgr) Anthony B. Boylan
Bentham, North Yorkshire
This letter, by the Reverend Monsignor, of the Diocese of Leeds, is an icon of the attitude of the left.