Preliminary observations and mixed metaphors about the Instruction “Universae Ecclesiae”

The text of the Instruction is under an embargo until Friday 1200 noon Rome Time (1000 GMT, 0600 EDT).  I must respect that as far as the blog is concerned.

I will put something together about it and post it here at that time.  I have also read the Latin version.

Again, to use my sports analogy from the divinely-favored game of baseball, this document is not at the level of a perfect game, but it is a no-hitter.   For analogies with cricket, results vary.  Perhaps the follow-on?   The point is that, while a no-hitter is really good and fairly uncommon, a team whose pitcher has a no-hitter can still lose.  It’s ultra-rare, but it has happened.

To use another analogy, in the television advertisements of pharmaceutical companies, when they desire to show you the effect of some cure using animation, they always leave a tiny representation of the problem remaining.  They don’t claim that that the cure is 100%.

Universae Ecclesiae won’t smooth all the obstacles thrown before those who desire the older, traditional forms (and all that goes with them).  It will, however, smooth many of the obstacles.

When it comes to the Holy See’s juridical documents, everything depends on the willingness of the Holy See actually to implement them.  The Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” can waste this no-hitter if they simply sit on their hands and dither.  But it was ever so.  Nihil novi.

Be, therefore, of good cheer.  Many of the traditional mind will be happy with this while all of the liberal bent will be irritated.

While I suspect that there was no conscious effort to associate this document with the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, it nevertheless is being issued on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.  It strikes me that when it comes to Our Mother and all that had to do with Fatima, Divine Providence seems to have a heavier hand.

Also, some have observed to me that Friday the 13th is surely nefas and a bad day for this document.  Sorry, folks.  In Rome it’s Friday the 17th which is considered back luck.  That black cat don’t hunt.

Furthermore, there is a misconception which needs some correction.  Universae Ecclesiae is not a papal document.  It is a document from the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei“.  It was approved by the Pope and its publication was ordered by him.  It isn’t the Pope’s own document, but its già molto as the Romans say: it’s already a lot.  It is Pope Benedict’s indirectly, of course.  And it is juridical.

Within it we see more clearly the mens of the lawgiver, Pope Benedict.

That’s a lot, too.

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26 Responses to Preliminary observations and mixed metaphors about the Instruction “Universae Ecclesiae”

  1. Brooklyn says:

    Be, therefore, of good cheer. Many of the traditional mind will be happy with this while all of the liberal bent will be irritated.

    That is all I need. Thank you for that, Father. I’ll be logged on tomorrow at 6:00 or as close to that as I can be.

  2. moon1234 says:

    This waiting is like hanging a perfectly seasoned steak, grilled to perfection, with plenty of buttered, mouth watering veggies and side dishes, in front of a man in jail and telling him he can have a bite in a few days.

    uhhhhh. Why not just release it when it is done instead of making us wait. Don’t they know I am an American and I need everything NOW.

    :-)

  3. Ezra says:

    Be, therefore, of good cheer.

    This is heartening to read, Fr Z. I think it’s so important that we celebrate UE. Not only because (finally!) the thing will have been published, but also because the wider perception of how a document is received, its immediate impact, almost certainly makes a difference to the extent to which it succeeds in the long term. If Catholics celebrate the document, make clear how wonderful it is to have these clarifications, interpret them in the most generous, pro-traditional manner possible, and start acting in light of them – immediately – then UE is more likely to serve as a watershed than if we start moaning about the fact that the Pope hasn’t ordered the immediate degradation of anti-EF bishops, or appointed FSSP members to the Curia. The skies may be habitually gray and gloomy in some trad. circles, but tomorrow needs to be a day of colorful jubilation.

    “Pope Benedict strikes a decisive blow against critics of the Latin Mass”… “In Catholic churches, return to traditions gathers pace”… “Despite some resistance, Pope determined to see Latin Mass everywhere”… “Traditionalists hail Vatican document on ancient liturgy”… it’ll depend on the document’s content, but those are the headlines for which we should aim!

  4. Athelstan says:

    What is striking about this discussion, here and elsewhere, is that there are different standards in play. Fr. Z’s “no-hitter” might well be another traddie’s “quality start” (a performance defined as a game in which the pitcher completes at least six innings out of nine and permits no more than three earned runs – that is to say, a decent performance, but well short of a guaranteed win). Rumors that the Instruction merely “strongly urges,” rather than commands, instruction in the traditional form sacraments in seminaries will probably leave some of us disappointed, even if it inspires disgust or despair among the fever swamps at the Fishwrap. But to say anything further along these lines is to speculate about something I haven’t read.

    But whatever standard (or analogy) you employ – So much depends not only on Rome’s willingness and ability to enforce, but how many bishops are willing to obey in the first place. The Pope and the CDF might be able to twist the arms of a relative handful of obstructionist ordinaries but they can hardly face down almost universal defiance. Perhaps most difficult will be those bishops who cagily avoid open defiance but quietly make this Instruction the dead letter that they have made of Summorum Pontificum, pleading “inadequate resources” and “lack of interest” among laity and priests.

    So in the end, Fr. Z is right that even the toughest document is going to require a robust, energetic staff at CDF and a Pope willing to back them up, and even more attention paid to the quality of new episcopal appointments. In extremity it may even require a new supplied jurisdiction, i.e., a worldwide apostolic administration for traditional societies and orders. All of us should keep that in mind.

  5. LouiseA says:

    Andrea Tornielli on his website mentions 5 pts expected in the Instruction:

    (Google Translated)

    First of education with its contents confirmed that the motu proprio is a universal law of the Church and all are bound to apply and to ensure that it is enforced. The instruction states that it ensures the possibility of the celebration in the ancient rite wherever there are groups of faithful who request it. In the text vienei not specify any minimum number of faithful who must represent the group.

    It says instead that it is good – in agreement with the post-synodal exhortation on the Eucharist – that seminarians should study Latin. But education also requires to know the celebrations following the ancient form. The “sacerdos idoneus” for the celebration with the pre-conciliar Missal is not necessary to be a skilful Latinist, but who knows how to read and understand what they read and are called to speak during the ceremony.

    The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which was incorporated two years in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was founded with the statement as the body responsible for settling issues and disputes, ruling on behalf of the Pope

    The bishops should not and can not enact rules that restrict the powers granted by the motu proprio, or they mutate conditions. They are called instead to apply it.

    It can also be celebrated the Easter Triduum in pre-conciliar rite where there is a stable group of faithful attached to the old liturgy. Those belonging to religious orders can use the missals with their own rites preconciliar.

  6. Dr. Eric says:

    I’m intrigued that Fr. Z alludes to a defensive “victory” and not an offensive victory. [Try not to over analyze. Analogies limp. A perfect game is about as amazing a sports achievement as you find. A no-hitter is really great. The fact that the team on the baseball field is the defense is less relevant.]

    He doesn’t call it a home run or a grand slam, a slam dunk, a touchdown, a hat trick, etc…

    Interesting.

  7. Fr. A.M. says:

    Thank you Father for your discretion.

    Yes, ‘Within it we see more clearly the mens of the lawgiver, Pope Benedict’. Its approval ‘in forma specifica’ or ‘in forma commune’ will be of interest, especially in indicating the extent to which it indicates the ‘mens’ of the Holy Father. But when all is said and done, I’m sure it will give greater clarity to the official interpretation of aspects of Summorum Pontificum, though the general ‘meaning’ of the document is already clear enough, especially in the pope’s letter to the bishops, which accompanied S.P. .

  8. AnAmericanMother says:

    Dayenu.

  9. MrTipsNZ says:

    Fr Z:
    in the interests of things educational and willow/leather re cricket, the analogy is more accurate as forcing a second innings declaration with only a session to spare. Teams that do that and lose are considered, well, schmucks really.

  10. ipadre says:

    This will truly be interesting!

    On a side note. How could Friday, May 13th be bad in any way, shape or form. The Mother of God came down from heaven so that her Son could “make all things new”. Sometimes new is “back to the future”.

  11. robtbrown says:

    Dr. Eric says:

    I’m intrigued that Fr. Z alludes to a defensive “victory” and not an offensive victory.

    He doesn’t call it a home run or a grand slam, a slam dunk, a touchdown, a hat trick, etc…

    A no-hitter is not a victory, but a team whose pitcher throws a no-hitter is more likely to win than a team that hits a home run, grand slam, or scores a touchdown. Slam dunks happen all the time by losing teams.

    BTW, most no-hitters are shut-outs.

  12. Tim Ferguson says:

    When people talk of Friday 13 being a bad day, I always think of my brother and sister-in-law, who married on Friday, May 13, 1978 (not coincidentally, that was also the first Mass I served). They have not only remained together in wedded bliss these past 33 years, but raised four children (a not inconsiderable brood in this day and age), all of whom have remained firm in their Catholic faith and have provided my brother and sister-in-law with six lovely grandchildren thus far. So much for bad luck.

    So tomorrow, besides the release of this document, I’ll also be celebrating the 33 anniversary of serving my first Mass and my brother’s 33 wedding anniversary. All in all, a most decidedly fas day!

  13. Luka says:

    I know what would be a perfect game. Pope Benedict offering TLM in public. I sincerely believa that this would have more effect than any imaginable document.

    What do you think? Will it ever happen, and why not?

  14. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Most scoring in baseball is dependent to some extent on base hits. In a no-hitter, the opponent’s opportunities to score are minimal and, more often than not, dependent on various miscues by the pitcher or his team — walks, hit batsmen, fielding errors, wild pitches, passed balls — or on stolen bases by those few runners fortunate enough to reach base. If Universae Ecclesiae is a no-hitter, there will be very few opportunities for opponents of the Extraordinary Form to impede its use, but there will be some. This is a significant change from the decades preceding Summorum Pontificum.

  15. Deo volente says:

    Has it gone unnoticed that in the 1962 calendar, tomorrow is the Feast of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop, Confessor and Doctor? That is what I thought of immediately after thinking of Our Lady of Fatima!

  16. Centristian says:

    “I know what would be a perfect game. Pope Benedict offering TLM in public. I sincerely believa that this would have more effect than any imaginable document.

    What do you think? Will it ever happen, and why not?”

    The Pope frequently offers the traditional Latin Mass in public, only in its ordinary form as opposed to its extraordinary form. I’m not sure what effect it would have on the Church were he to publicly celebrate a papal Mass in its pre-Conciliar form, but it would be something to see, that’s for sure. If we’re talking a full-blown solemn papal Mass in the pre-Conciliar form, it would be an enormous undertaking. Such liturgies were extremely elaborate, and I wonder if they even have the expertise to pull one off at this point.

    I think that so much of the participants and elements that once added so much color to those ceremonies have been abolished at this point, too. To date, all of Pope Benedict’s reintroductions of traditional elements to the liturgy have not included even all of the papal vestments prescribed for such a liturgy, or other elements such as the pontifical throne dais with the area between the main altar of St. Peter’s and the altar beneath the Chair of Peter relic serving as the chancel.

    St. Peter’s would have to go to the effort of reintroducing quite a number of elements that haven’t been seen since the early days of Pope Paul VI in order to simply follow the pre-Conciliar rubrics. Furthermore, think of the vast numbers of participants who would need to be trained and rehearsed to get it all right. Who would train them? Nobody knows how to do it, anymore, I’ll bet. Those still alive who may have participated in a pre-Conciliar solemn papal Mass are about 45 years out of practice. It would be no simple task, therefore. Even if we’re talking the Sistine Chapel, it was still very much more elaborate than anything that has been seen in decades.

    I suppose they might concoct a moderated form of the pre-Conciliar solemn papal Mass…but then, what would be the point of that, I wonder. That’s what we see today, in fact, only using the current missal.

    I don’t happen to be under the impression that it is the aim of Pope Benedict XVI to put the extraordinary form on a par with the ordinary form, and so I wouldn’t be surprised if he never celebrates the extraordinary form of Mass in public. I think what the Pope means to do is “reform the reform”. That doesn’t mean to end the reform and revert to the pre-Conciliar liturgy as normative, but rather to reform the way the Church approaches the ordinary form of Mass, and to lend the pre-Conciliar ars celebrandi to the celebration of the ordinary form.

    That having been said, I would love to witness the celebration of a solemn papal Mass at St. Peter’s (or even in the Sistine Chapel) according to the pre-Conciliar form…fanon, falda, flabelli, and all. It would be absolutely breathtaking.

  17. Luka says:

    “I suppose they might concoct a moderated form of the pre-Conciliar solemn papal Mass…but then, what would be the point of that, I wonder. That’s what we see today, in fact, only using the current missal. ”

    He could sometimes offer Low Mass in the EF in public. Pope st. Pius X used to offer the Mass every Sunday. It doesn’t have to be the Solemn Mass in all its glory, it could just be simple Mass in EF. Not as normative, but as an exception – say, on some special (or less special) occasions.

    What would be the point of that? Well, I believe that after that the modernist bishops would less likely openly oppone the implementation of Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae. Those bishops would think twice before they forbid the Mass which is (even occasionaly) celebrated by the Supreme Pontiff.

    Papal example has more effect than documents. We see it in his promotion of moderate Novus Ordo.

  18. BaedaBenedictus says:

    I don’t know about that, Dr. Eric. Yankees pitcher David Wells’ 1998 perfect game against the Minnesota Twins seemed pretty *offensive*… especially to Fr. Z ;-)

  19. dcs says:

    The Pope frequently offers the traditional Latin Mass in public, only in its ordinary form as opposed to its extraordinary form

    The “ordinary form” of the Roman Rite is not the traditional Latin Mass.

  20. Henry Edwards says:

    Tomorrow (OLOF) is the patronal feast day of my parish, in which it is therefore celebrated as a solemnity. So our priest announced at Mass this morning that within the parish the requirement for Friday abstinence from meat would be lifted. Quite a festive day, indeed, it’s shaping up to be. (It’s not my own practice to take advantage of these “loopholes”, but I recall a very traditional priest once saying it’s just as important to feast on feast days as to fast on fast days.)

  21. Centristian says:

    “He could sometimes offer Low Mass in the EF in public.”

    Low Mass isn’t meant for public celebrations, certainly not for public papal celebrations. If the Pope were to offer Low Mass, you’d never see it unless you were invited to his private Chapel.

    I could imagine the Pope assisting at the Throne in the Sistine Chapel as his chaplains celebrate a Missa Cantata or even a solemn Mass, however. I’m not really persuaded he would do that, but it would certainly be very feasible.

  22. MissOH says:

    An American mother, I second that Dayenu :)
    Friday 13th’s are wonderful days as they remind me of my oldest who declined to be born on the 11th but came very early on a Friday 13th.

    I am looking forward to tomorrow and will put a prompt in my phone to remind me to log on as soon as I have finished my morning Regina Coeli. I also hope and pray that the Holy Father will offer a TLM publically. I continue to pray for his health, welfare and intentions.

  23. albizzi says:

    May 13th 2011 is the 94th anniversary of the first apparition of our Lady at Fatima.
    This date is highly symbolic and our Holy Father certainly didn’t choose it at random.

  24. EWTN Rocks says:

    Moon1234, “This waiting is like hanging a perfectly seasoned steak, grilled to perfection, with plenty of buttered, mouth watering veggies and side dishes, in front of a man in jail and telling him he can have a bite in a few days.” – I literally fell off my chair laughing at this!

    Actually, I like Friday the 13th and I think it’s wonderful the Holy Father chose to wait for the feast of Our Lady of Fatima to release Universae Ecclesiae.

  25. off2 says:

    A bit over six hours, and counting.

  26. Luka says:

    Low Mass isn’t meant for public celebrations, certainly not for public papal celebrations. If the Pope were to offer Low Mass, you’d never see it unless you were invited to his private Chapel.

    Really? And what about this?

    I could imagine the Pope assisting at the Throne in the Sistine Chapel as his chaplains celebrate a Missa Cantata or even a solemn Mass, however. I’m not really persuaded he would do that, but it would certainly be very feasible.

    Sure, that would be nice. I wonder how the Masses offered by st. Pius X every Sunday looked like? It must have been some moderate celebration most of the times.