A couple blogs, principally Rorate, have brought to the fore the wretched little pamphlet sized book by Fr. Manlio Sodi, SDB which in English would be entitled The Missal of Pius V: Why the Latin Mass in the Third Millennium?.
Sodi is also listed as an editor of the study reprint of the 1962 Missale Romanum issued by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Sodi’s little screed is pretty much ubiquitous in the Roman bookstores around the Vatican.
It is obvious that this pamphlet was hastily slapped together and rushed to print as a preemptive strike: you want to shape the opinions of those who are going to be curious about Summorum Pontificum. Also, you want to defend your life’s work even as you see the foundations of what has take decades for you to help build beginning to crack and crumble.
Here is my translation of the author Sodi’s own preface. This blather merely hints at the unabashed panegyric of Paul VI’s Missale Romanum and condescending sneer at the pre-conciliar edition which follows in the subsequent 47 blessedly brief pages.
Take careful note of Sodi’s insistence that the older form of Mass was abrogated. His word. Really. He insists on this point throughout. Thus, he tries to leave the reader with the impression that Pope Benedict has unwisely resurrected something that was wisely euthanized by the sage and benevolent Paul VI of happy memory. For Sodi, the older Mass is like a golem.
In his preface, Manlio Sodi writes (my rapid translation and emphases – and believe me, I feel like this is a half hour of my life I’ll never get back, so I hope you appreciate this sacrifice):
News sources these days have brought attention of a very vast public on a book if truth be told is not well-known: the Missal.
Two Popes (Pius v (1566-1572) and Paul VI (1963-1978) bound their own names to a Missal. The first, Pius V in 1570 published the Missal which was reworked in accordance with the directives of the council of Trent (1545-1563); the second, Paul VI, in 1970 promulgated the Missale which was "reformed according to the norm of the decrees of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council" (1962-1965).
The last edition of the Tridentine Missal was made during the pontificate of Blessed John XXIII, in 1962: this had to do with making official the last reforms carried out by Pius XII in 1951 and 1955, in light of the Code of the rubrics. This is the Missal that was abrogated ("abrogato" with the publication of the Missal of 1970.
Between 2006 and 2007, articles in newspapers and different types of publications focused on the concessions concerning the use of the 1962 Missal, with differing motivations, but in any event fundamentally united in a love and appreciation for the Latin language!
It would seem to be an odd thing: today, seeing that people don’t understand Latin anymore or study it as in the past, that some would hope for, and even with great energy, the return of a liturgy in Latin, and what’s more according to the rite that was abolished ("abolito) with the publication of the Missal of Paul VI.
In this context certain questions emerge:
What was behind the juxtaposition between the languages and the Missals that gives rise to curiosity?
Why is so much attention is given to a similar occurrence?
Is this only a question of rites or of a return of the Latin language in worship or is it something else?
And if so much interest seems to be given to the Missal, can we ask what this book is definitively?
Lot’s of space in press – without even mentioning internet sites – requires a minimum of consideration and above all precision in order to respond to the immediate questions:
What is a Missale?
Are we dealing with a book that has a particular history?
But didn’t the Second Vatican Council ask for a new Missal?
So what are the problems and challenges around this book?
Why does the Church consider a book to be so important?
These are the questions for which the following pages seek an answer.
That which laid out here is not for scholars of the history of Christian worship, but for anyone who poses questions raised either in a context of the life of Christian faith, or on the part of someone full of curiosity about so much publicity – for the most part done without research – around this instrument of prayer which is the Missal.
There is presented here a quest to respond to the questions laid out above and to show criteria for a reading of the document published by Benedict XVI on 7 July 2007. A comparison of this text, with the accompanying Letter and with the (unofficial) memo of Observations for its use, is indispensable for a initial familiarity of the problems and for knowing how to evaluate the media campaign that in general has not grasped the core of the problem, insofar as it stalled principally on the return of Latin in the Mass; but it has always been possible to celebrate the Mass in Latin! So, the problem is elsewhere. We will see how to put this all together and figure out various aspects.
Moreover, What follows aims to offer to a vast public some essential information because once the the racket that preceded and accompanied the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum has calmed down, the faithful and parish priests (bishops seemingly less involved this time) can find a common path for acting pastorally in a positive way.
Above all it is the challenge of education, of formation, of the sense of tradition which is being summoned to give a response; a challenge that will not be possible to resolve either easily or in a short amount of time.
Most of the pages that follow have the tone and depth of this liturgy professors classroom teaching notes, which he has reworked for this rushjob. I get the sense that this was rushed because of some internal inconsistencies. For example, he says that there really aren’t many real innovations in the newer Missal of Paul VI and then he goes on to list its wonderful innovations, such as the blessing of all the new Eucharistic Prayers, the for "more eloquent ritual quality" of the Novus Ordo Missal (I am not making this up … "Una ritualità più eloquente" on p. 32), the recovery of elements that had been lost through time, placing the Word of God at the center of Mass (yep!), and – again I am not making this up, how in the newer Mass the "euchological prayers" (collect, super oblata, etc.) are much richer. All these things are so much more wonderful for those who really know how to make use of them.
Sodi then gets into the huge problem that will be created by having two forms of the same liturgy. This is where I think he leaves his classnotes and had to write a new piece for this pamphlet.
Here is a taste:
The chain link which is supposed to connect the historical commentary [about the development of the Missal] with the provisions [of Summorum Pontificum] is founded on the reference to those "not few faithful" who "adhere to and continue to adhere with such great love and affection to the preceding liturgical forms…". It is with this passage that the document addresses the merit of the problem: a situation already confronted by Paul VI and by John Paul II relative to those groups who behind the facade of not accepting the liturgical reform didn’t accept Vatican II.
Then Sodi goes through the provisions of Summorum Pontificum using as his hermeneutic (his lens of interpretation) the starting point that having two forms of Mass really is a problem and at the heart of the question people who want the old Mass at least secretly reject Vatican II.
In his conclusion Sodi has the following little nugget:
Two Missals for one unique Rite? the question remains with all the problems which I wanted only to mention. Without a doubt it will be actual practice, and the courage to draw forth conclusions "three years after this Motu Proprio goes into force" (Letter) which permit an as objective an evaluation as possible about what was outlined or of a practice that is laid out as new within the fabric of the Church’s life.
Liturgists who were formed in the light of the Second Vatican Council will go forward in their service to the Church, renewing their faith to her, to all her decisions and above all along the lines that were established by the same Council.
There you have it. This pretty much states that the people who really know best (liturgists and priest s interested only in the post-Conciliar reform) are going to continue as if the Motu Proprio didn’t exist.
I have said many times on this blog that the late Pope Paul VI still runs many offices of the Curia. This applies to Catholic institutes, chanceries, religious orders, parishes, etc. Any positive interest in the pre-Conciliar liturgical forms – or theological works or discussions – is for them evidence that you really don’t accept Vatican II, which was the pivotal moment in history after the Word becoming flesh.