You might remember some weeks ago Fr. Peter Daly, a columnist for Catholic News Service (paid for by the USCCB) wrote a pretty awful article about a neighboring parish, the older form of Mass and people who go to it. It raised quite a ruckus.
He has apologized, which earns him high marks in my book.
Since I spoke about and made know that first article, it is only right that I make this one known too.
Published: Friday, October 19, 2007
Tridentine Mass II: An apology
By Rev. Peter J. Daly
Some weeks ago I wrote a column about the recent "motu proprio" from Rome permitting wider celebration of the Tridentine Mass (The Tidings, Aug. 17).
In 20 years of writing columns I never got so much angry mail. The only columns that even came close were about gun control and immigration.
On conservative Catholic blogs my name has been mud. I have been called everything from a heretic to a fool.
I’m sorry if I offended anyone. And it may surprise my correspondents, but I actually agree with many of them.
My previous column was a failure for two reasons. First, it did not convey my own affection for the old liturgy. Second, it did not recognize the good motivations of the people who want a return to the Latin liturgy.
I don’t dislike the Latin Mass. I participated in it every Sunday and many weekdays of my life until I was almost through high school. As a server I excelled in its gestures and movements. Back then I knew all the words from the prayers at the foot of the altar to the "last Gospel." My old "Layman’s Daily Missal" is still one of my prize possessions. When I hear the Latin Mass, I am taken back in my mind to a time of innocence and devotion.
In my parish today we still occasionally use some Latin and Greek. We chant the "O Salutaris" and the "Tantum Ergo" at eucharistic adoration. We sing the Agnus Dei in Latin and the "Kyrie" in Greek sometimes. They still move us.
What is it that people like about the 1962 version of the Tridentine Mass?
First, I think they are looking for reverence. The closely prescribed gestures and cadences of the old ritual evoke a sense of reverence. The sense of reverence is sometimes lost in our modern liturgy, which has, at times, been too casually celebrated.
Secondly, I think they are looking for mystery. They want a sense of the mystery of God. Good liturgy should do that.
The old ritual gives people a heightened sense of the mystery of God. The Eastern churches have preserved this sense of the ineffable quality of God. The modern vernacular liturgy has many virtues, especially intelligibility. But it has lost some of the other worldly sense of the mystery of God.
Third, I think they want tradition. They want to be connected to the great tradition of the church. They want its great music, prayers and gestures developed and refined over centuries that connected us to generations that have gone before.
In the rite of Trent there was a feeling we were connected to Francis Xavier on mission in India and to ordinary peasants like my forebears in their clandestine Masses in Ireland.
Fourth, I think the enthusiasts for the Latin Mass want to be "Catholic" in the best sense of the word. They want to be part of the universal church.
The old Latin ritual was universal. No matter where you were, from Korea to Chicago, it was the same. Its universality united us and set us apart. I still remember the thrill I felt when I visited Rome in 1967 and chanted the creed in one voice with Catholics from everywhere in the world.
This does not mean I have changed my views. I think the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council were correct and necessary. But I was wrong not to recognize the good motivations of those who love the Latin Mass. They have a deep devotion to a beautiful form of prayer.
Now, everyone, "Pax vobiscum."
Father Peter Daly is a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and a columnist with Catholic News Service.