A reader alerted me to a piece written by the director of Liturgy for the Archdiocese of Miami. He writes on the website of the Archdiocese about Pope Benedict’s emancipation proclamation, the 2007 Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. Let’s see what he has to say with my emphases and comments.
On July 7, 2007 Pope Benedict XVI published the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum by which the Holy Father allows for and promotes [Get that? Not just "allows" but "promotes"] a wider usage of the liturgical books that were in use by the Roman Catholic Church in 1962. Pope Benedict XVI seeks in this Apostolic Letter [inter alia] to reconcile “in the heart of the Church” those individuals who have demonstrated an attachment to the liturgical forms that were in place before the liturgical renewal of the Second Vatican Council. He begins by defining two forms of the rule of prayer of the Latin Church: an ordinary form contained in the Roman Missal of Pope Paul VI, and an extraordinary form, as contained [once upon a time] in the Roman Missal of Pope Saint Pius V. [But more recently in that of Bl. John XXIII.] Both make up the Liturgy of the Roman Rite.
Any priest of the Latin Church may, without permission from the Holy See or his bishop, celebrate the extraordinary form in a Mass without the people at any time except during the Easter Triduum. It is noted that he may be joined by the faithful, since the extraordinary rite is primarily a private Mass. [I think I will take gentle exception to this. No Mass is primarily a private Mass. All Masses, that is all rites of Mass, are not intended to be private.] In parishes where a group of faithful are attached to the extraordinary form of the Mass, they may approach the pastor to request the celebration of the extraordinary rite, without permissions from the Holy See or the bishop. If a priest cannot demonstrate a minimum rubrical or linguistic ability in Latin, he is not to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Mass. [However… that doesn’t mean that those people making the request are out of luck… or rather, out of their rights. First, the priest really ought to know his own Rite, right? So, he should learn the older form if he doesn’t know it. Second, if he cannot see to these people himself, he ought to take steps to find someone who can help. That is part of his role as pastor. It is understood that if the group is very small, it might be hard to take a huge initiative. Yet large initiatives are implemented for very small groups all the time. Third, if the pastor can’t get anything going, then the diocesan bishop needs to help get things going… in that parish. Not just anywhere.]
Pope Benedict XVI is very clear in his apostolic letter that the current Roman Missal (Missale Romanum) is the ordinary form of the Eucharistic Liturgy and the extraordinary form is found in the 1962 Missal of Blessed John XXIII. He points out that there is “no contradiction between the missals” […and, therefore, one form of Mass is not "primarily" private….] and that the history of liturgical books is characterized by “growth and progress, but not rupture.” In both the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Roman Missal, full, conscious, and active participation of the faithful is to be desired above all else. [Properly understood, of course. And since this included the phrase "above all else" we can most suitably begin with the person’s baptized character and then his or her state of grace. You see, true active participation is first of all an interior reality, not an outward expression. It leads to outward expression, the most perfect of which – in the liturgy of Mass – is the reception of Communion by a baptized person in the state of habitual grace. To that end…. watch what this smart writer does….] This begins with interior participation [YAY! See? Interior! This priest gets it.] in the sacrifice of Christ. The ordinary form customarily accomplishes this participation through listening and responding to the prayers of the Mass in the vernacular [well… vernacular…. okay…] and by taking part in forms of exterior communal action. The extraordinary form accomplishes this interior participation largely by listening to the prayers in Latin and following the words and actions of the priests and joining our hearts to “what is said by him in the Name of Christ and [what] Christ says [to] him.” [hmmm…. those two forms of participation sound an awful lot alike.]
From all of the above we see that the Church continues to treasure the riches of its past, [which is now its present] especially with regard to the sacred liturgy. The spirit of earlier liturgical forms, which permeated the spirit and culture of many who still remember these forms, continues in the celebration of both rites. Thus, it was through pastoral concern that Pope Benedict XVI was motivated to more easily allow for the celebration of more ancient liturgical rites and prayers by issuing Summorum Pontificium.
Msgr. Terence Hogan
Director, Office of Worship and Spiritual Life
WDTPRS kudos to Msgr. Hogan. Well done.
I think I might have added something stemming from that organic growth comment about another objective of Summorum Pontificum and the use of the older Rites. The use of these older forms will exert an influence on the way the newer forms are celebrated.
Still and all, you folks in Miami can be pleased that this priest has a clear sense of some very important concepts for a sound liturgical praxis. He has a far better understanding of active participation than we have seen coming from most liturgical offices for several decades. He speaks with respect about the older form and has not merely conveyed a reluctant tolerance toward it. He speaks of continuity and eschews clichés about the Second Vatican Council.