Someone alerted me to an article which appeared on 14 July, last, on at U.S. Catholic – publication/site to which I haven’t paid much attention.
My emphases and comments.
Two rites make a wrong
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
We are one church and we need just one Mass, this Catholic argues – even if that one Mass is celebrated in any number of languages. [I guess the Eastern Catholics are pretty much out of luck, not to mention everyone in Milan.]
At one end of the archdiocese where I live, a Mass is held in a gymnasium every Sunday, and a group of lively folk musicians accompany the assembly through a relaxed and informal liturgy. The mood reflects the music. Because it’s a gym, children seem to act less restrained, feeling free to roam a bit. Folding chairs are set up in a semi-circle around a portable altar that this group has used for many years.
There are no kneelers, of course, reflecting to some extent the impracticality of portable kneelers, but reflecting to a greater extent the theology of those gathered: These are "looking up to God in trust, not bowing down to God in fear" Catholics, [Initium sapientiae est timor Domini.] nurturing a view of church and theology that was born at the Second Vatican Council. [That is what the Council wanted for liturgy? Remember: there is a reciprocal relationship between how we pray and what we believe. Believe certain things and you will pray in a manner that reflects those believes.. and vice versa. As you pray, so you will come to have certain beliefs. ]
I know many of these Catholics and consider them to be very good people. Their liturgy is, I believe, a scandal.
At the other end of the archdiocese, a priest adorned in shimmering vestments murmurs prayers in Latin, facing the tabernacle, his voice barely audible to the assembly of worshipers kneeling behind him. [Because he is following the rubrics?] Many of these are silently and privately praying the rosary. At certain moments there is an exchange of words between the priest and the assembly. These words are in Latin. [Sounds as if there is more authentic active participation at this Mass.]
The atmosphere is reverent, reflecting to some extent the mood naturally created by silence, candles, and Latin, but reflecting to a greater extent the theology of those gathered: These are "kneeling before God in awe, not back-slapping brother Jesus" Catholics, preserving a view of church and theology set aside at the Second Vatican Council. [HUH? Who is this guy and has he ever read the Council’s document?]
I know one of the people in the assembly to be one of the finest human beings alive-my father-but his liturgy is, I believe, a scandal. [What was done for so long, and which aided saints in their lives is a "scandal"?]
An outsider observing the two rituals Would never guess they belonged to the same church. [right] And in fact, many of the participants at the respective assemblies might admit that they don’t really share a faith with the participants in the "other" group. [Given the differences in their prayer, I would tend to agree.]
This is what makes these liturgies scandalous. They represent such polarized expressions of worship that they drift from the central purpose of liturgy as stated in the introduction of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: "to be a sign lifted up among the nations, to those who are outside, a sign under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together until there is one fold and one shepherd." A church practicing such divergent forms of worship will hardly unite the scattered children of God. [The problem with this is that he doesn’t take into account that one of those expressions might actually be legitimate. Certainly the Vicar of Christ thinks that at least one of them is a legitimate expression. As a matter of fact the last Pope, John Paul II, thought at least one of them was a legitimate expression.]
Currently we are many folds under a shepherd who last year stirred the pot with his apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum (Of the Supreme Pontiffs), sanctioning wider use of the old Latin or Tridentine Mass. Besides allowing individual parishes to conduct Latin Masses at the pastor’s discretion, secondhand reports suggest that Pope Benedict XVI would like to see a Latin Mass offered at every parish. Upon hearing this, I felt a rumbling that I’m certain was Pope John XXIII, who opened the Second Vatican Council, rolling in his grave. [Again, this fellow lacks perspective. John XXIII was quite the liturgical trad. ]
The problem with the gym mass is not the gym, or the folk music, or even the lack of kneelers. The gym liturgies I’ve participated in mostly adhere to the rite promulgated by the Second Vatican Council. The scandal is the fact that 100 yards from the gym, a splendid church sits where liturgy is celebrated by the other 90 percent of the parish every Sunday.
Once, when gym repairs required the gym Mass to move back into the regular church for a while, there was some talk that the gym altar should be moved in to replace the regular church altar. Two altars at one parish screams division to me: "Our church is not your church; our worship is not your worship; we are not you." Such practices divide the Body of Christ-not the sort of thing those who led the council had in mind when they promulgated changes.
In the zeal that followed the council, many well-intentioned but liturgically ill-informed experiments cropped up in parish liturgies. Some progressive liturgies went too far [How far outside the law should they have gone?] and abused the intent of the council’s changes. [Who made them the arbiters of the Council’s intent?]
Many of these alternative practices have fueled the reaction of extremists [HUH? Why do people who want the older Mass have to be "extremists"?] who now want to [cliché alert! …] rewind church history and drop us all back into a Bells of St. Mary’s world, as black and white as the cassock and surplice of a 10-year-old altar boy. At one end of our church, progressives dance to the beat of their very own drummer, while at the other end nostalgic traditionalists turn back the hands of time. [When you read articles, be sure to watch out for the premises the writer wants you to accept without a challenge. Here the writer wants you to just accept that people want the older Mass because they want to "turn the clock back" out of some sort of "nostalgia". Is it not possible that people find something worthy in the Rite itself?]
In my judgment, the progressive, alternative Masses are much less troubling than the return of the Tridentine Mass. [Oh reallllly…. ] As mentioned, gym liturgies are mostly faithful to the changes promulgated in the council. While they may cross the line at times, at least they seem to be reaching in the direction the council members were pointing us toward. [According to whom? Certainly not Sacrosanctum Concilium. For example, SC says that Latin is to be retained, Gregorian chant has pride of place, and that no changes should be made in the reform of the liturgy unless they were genuinely for the sake of the good of the faithful. I contend that the older form of liturgy, unmarked by the reforms mandated by SC is still more in line with SC than the gym liturgy described above. In fact, the older form of Mass is more in line with SC than what we actually got via the Novus Ordo Missae. The fact is that the Consilium went far beyond the mandates of the Council Fathers.]
And let’s face it, my generation, the flower-power gang, is, well, beginning to push up daisies. [So, the writer is an aging hippie? Nah…. ] Progressive liturgies are fading away as the jingle-jangle of our tambourines increasingly exits stage left.
But prancing in stage right are the Tridentine Troubadours, flipping the altar around and turning their backs to the monumental progress of the Second Vatican Council. [And… that progress was…. ?]
What is scandalous about this practice is not the Latin. After discussing the issue with theologians and liturgists Keith Pecklers, S.J. and Mark Francis, C.S.V., [More evidence about the presuppositions of the writer. Note that he didn’t consult anyone favorable toward the older form of Mass.] both independently made the distinction between the Tridentine Mass, celebrated by Catholics between 1570 and approximately 1965, and the post-conciliar rite practiced in the Latin language. [WOW! What INSIGHT!]
Pecklers explains that the church has, since the council, always allowed the use of Latin in the reformed liturgy. Saying the Mass in Latin is no different than saying it in Spanish or Polish or English. [Well… no. That can’t be the case. There is nothing "magical" in the Latin language, but we are talking about the Latin Rite, not the Polish Rite or the English Rite. Latin means something, after all.]
The reformed liturgy is flexible enough to allow the use of Latin at times. Many parishes replace the "Lamb of God" and the "Holy, Holy, Holy" with the Agnus Dei and the Sanctus during the season of Lent. Besides being in complete conformity with the changes promulgated by the council, this appropriate use of the Latin can often deepen the spiritual tone of the liturgy and underline the gravity of the season.
The Tridentine Mass [no one really uses this term anymore mostly because it is inaccurate.] is not simply the current Mass (the one promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970) spoken in Latin. The Tridentine Mass, which dates from 1570, reflects a very different-and incomplete-understanding of the early church. [? And the Novus Ordo is somehow more complete? If that is the case, why were certain important theological concepts stripped out of the Latin orations?] Francis argues that "the 16th-century framers [of the Tridentine Missal] lacked adequate historical resources, as they were unable to refer to manuscripts dating earlier than the pontificate of Innocent III, around 1216."
A church digging in its defensive heels at the peak of the Reformation developed the Tridentine Mass, taking shots at pagans, heretics, schismatics, and "perfidious" Jews. The rich revelation of the Old Testament is mostly absent, and the participation of the laity barely exists.
The Second Vatican Council had some very good reasons to call for an end to the Tridentine Mass and to promulgate a new rite. More sophisticated research uncovered a fuller understanding of how liturgy was celebrated in the early church. Improved scripture scholarship developed into a new lectionary with a wider selection of readings. Better historical research removed fictional saints from the liturgical calendar.
Perhaps most important for the average Catholic, the Mass was celebrated in the language of the people. [In violation of Sacrosanctum Concilium the Latin langauge was jettisoned.] Interestingly, while the Tridentine Mass began to be used in 1570, [Actually… the so-called "Tridentine" form of Mass is a lot older in its essential structure and orations than simply 1570.] Masses were celebrated in Latin as early as A.D. 350. Originally, the Latin replaced Greek because people understood Latin, and using Latin allowed more people to understand what was going on. [Another problem: the Latin of the liturgical texts was not the Latin spoken in the streets.] In 1965 the church once again came to the seemingly obvious conclusion that people should understand what is being said in Mass. [They did. They had books. Also, ask people after your average Sunday Mass these days what the readings were, or what the Collect meant.]
The Mass that emerged from the reform of Vatican II is wonderful, divine, human, and sublime. It works, [And yet vocations are down, people aren’t going to confession, and churches are closing.] and it is enormously superior to the Tridentine rite. We do not need to celebrate an old rite. We need to get more people to celebrate the existing rite well. [This is just bunk. I wholeheartedly agree that the newer form of Mass must be celebrated better. But these other claims are simply specious. He has no evidence other than his personal taste for his claims that the newer form is superior or sublime. If we look at what the life of the Church was before the changes to the liturgy and what is going on now, we might have some concrete points to work with. We need more time to make judgments like this. Perhaps one day in the future we will look back and be able to make a list of the many saints who were nourished by what the Novus Ordo gave them. We can’t do that yet.]
The stakes are high. We participate in the liturgy to praise God and to be transformed so that we can transform the world. [It sounds almost as if he got that from WDTPRS.] We need to do this together. We cannot gather the scattered children of God together if we ourselves are scattered.
Actually, I spent more time on this than it was worth. But specious claims do need to be answered.
Folks… there is a POLL attached to that article. You can click HERE for the POLL. Just mentioning the POLL on the chance someone might be interested in chiming in about whether you agree or disagree with the writer.
UPDATE 13 AUG 1524GMT:
UPDATE 3 Sept 0544 GMT: