I got this nice e-mail which I now share with my emphases and comments.
Dear Fr. Z,
Long-time reader; first-time e-mailer. [Makes me think of a call-in radio program!] Wanted to pass along this great letter our former priest (now in Macon, GA, whereas we are in Augusta, GA) put in yesterday’s Sunday bulletin at his church:
"Dear Friends in Christ,
Pope Benedict’s papacy has certain themes emerging. One of his major themes is that the Church prior to the Second Vatican Council is the same Church after the Second Vatican Council. In other words, the Second Vatican Council was not a rupture from the past but was in continuity with what had preceded. The reason the Pope has taken this as one of his major themes is that many in the Church immediately following the Second Vatican Council pursued an agenda concerning the Church that in fact portrayed the Council as a rupture from the past. The key words for people promoting this unfortunate interpretation were “the spirit of the council.” This innocuous description for what the Second Vatican Council seemingly intended led many astray, some even into heresy.
The area that touched the laity the most was the reform of the Mass. The Second Vatican Council asked that the Mass be reformed to reflect a noble simplicity, active participation by the laity and that the vernacular could be introduced, but that Latin should be preserved. The first reforms began in 1965. It had the very same form as the Old Latin Mass except for some minor simplifications and the partial use of the vernacular for the people’s parts.
It was not until the late 1960’s that the form of the Mass we have today was introduced by Pope Paul VI. Pope Benedict has described this Mass as something that was designed by a committee of Liturgists that was a rupture from the previous Mass rather than an organic development. [This fellow has been reading the right stuff!] Since the 1970’s liturgists in the church have taken the rupture even further through the design of modern churches that over-emphasize the congregational elements, for example churches in the round. Also an emphasis has been placed on the personality of the priest while celebrating the Mass, creativity and the community as the primary actors of the liturgy. In fact, the primary actor of the Liturgy is Jesus Christ crucified, everything and everyone else must be oriented to Him; this includes the priest and congregation. [Very well done, Father! Very much in harmony also with Sacramentum caritatis, especially in regard to the ars celebrandi.]
As you know, our English Mass is being revised in some rather substantial ways. We should begin to experience it within the next two years at the minimum. There may be some other changes as options. For example, the crucifix may be placed directly on the center of the altar so that both the priest and congregation face it, or to emphasize the continuity of this Mass with the previous Latin Mass, priests and people may face the same direction, the liturgical east. Only time will tell. Please note the altar arrangements when the Pope celebrates Mass in our country next week. He is coming April 15th. Stay tuned. God bless you. [I suspect Father is preparing the terrain for a shift to ad orientem worship.]
Fr. Allan J. McDonald"
He celebrated the High Mass in the Extraordinary Form Sunday afternoon as well, complete with (*very* professional, "Santo Domingo de Silos"-sounding) chant coming from the choir loft and all–it was beautiful and well worth the two hours’ drive it took us to get there! here were some 100 people present; afterwards, when we thanked him for the mass, [Thank you for thanking him! That is very important!] he told us he had been celebrating the Low Extraordinary Form once a week during Lent, with very positive turnouts and feedback from his parish church of St. Joseph’s. (BTW–The church website doesn’t do justice to the renovations he implemented at St. Joe’s when he got there several years ago, nor the renovations he undertook at Most Holy Trinity Church*, in Augusta, when he was it’s pastor for some ten years or so in the 90s.) It’s spreading!
Brick by brick.
As diocesan priests get on board with the Marshall Plan, great things will start happening.