There is something very important in Spe salvi Let’s look at a paragraph of Spe salvi 10! Let’s take a look with my emphases:
10. We have spoken thus far of faith and hope in the New Testament and in early Christianity; yet it has always been clear that we are referring not only to the past: the entire reflection concerns living and dying in general, and therefore it also concerns us here and now. So now we must ask explicitly: is the Christian faith also for us today a life-changing and life-sustaining hope?
Is it “performative” for us—is it a message which shapes our life in a new way, or is it just “information” which, in the meantime, we have set aside and which now seems to us to have been superseded by more recent information? In the search for an answer, I would like to begin with the classical form of the dialogue with which the rite of Baptism expressed the reception of an infant into the community of believers and the infant’s rebirth in Christ. First of all the priest asked what name the parents had chosen for the child, and then he continued with the question: “What do you ask of the Church?” Answer: “Faith”. “And what does faith give you?” “Eternal life”. According to this dialogue, the parents were seeking access to the faith for their child, communion with believers, because they saw in faith the key to “eternal life”. Today as in the past, this is what being baptized, becoming Christians, is all about: it is not just an act of socialization within the community, not simply a welcome into the Church. The parents expect more for the one to be baptized: they expect that faith, which includes the corporeal nature of the Church and her sacraments, will give life to their child—eternal life. Faith is the substance of hope. But then the question arises: …
The paragraph continues to cite St. Ambrose, whom as a patristiblogger we love… but he is not the point I want to get at.
Pay attention. This is not the first time the Holy Father has used the older, traditional form of the Roman Rite when explaining something. Do any of you remember other times? (Hint: think dedication of a church).
In this paragraph, the Holy Father explains what baptism really does, what it is about. He chooses to explain it through citing the traditional form. If the newer form said the same thing – in that dialogue in the rite – as the traditional form, he would have probably used that. Right?
So, we find another reason why the Holy Father issued Summorum Pontificum: we have to refer these days to the older rites in order to understand what the newer rites mean.
This prompts a few questions.
First, if the older form says things the newer form doesn’t say, why not just use the older form? Well… we can. Obviously it was thought that the older form needed to be revised, but here we are … using it again.
Second, if the Holy Father is citing this source in an encyclical (not just an allocution or a sermon), what does that mean practically for the future? Could it be that we should take a revision of the present, newer rites into consideration? After all, when you need to use the older form to make the newer form clearer… well… couldn’t the newer form bear some revision?
I think this paragraph has far wider implications than a rapid reading might suggest.