QUAERITUR: Does the debate over liturgy overlook the plight of the Church and the world?

The Instruction Universae Ecclesiae 8, on the implementation of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum (the emancipation proclamation for the older form of the Roman Rite), states that the Extraordinary Form, the Usus Antiquior, is a treasure for all.

With that in mind, take a look at the site of The Society of St. Hugh of Cluny, who have presented an English translation of an interview in the German daily Die Welt with the author Martin Mosebach.

You will recall that Martin Mosebach is the author of the fine book The Heresy of Formlessness.

These two exchanges popped out for me:

Die Welt: How can the Roman liturgy in the “usus antiquior “ be offered today “to all the faithful “ if only a fraction of the faithful understand Latin?

Martin Mosebach: At all times only a few Catholics have been able to follow the Latin Mass word for word. Europe looks back on well over a thousand years of glorious Catholic culture without the people being able to understand Latin. They understand something more important: that in the rite the Parousia – the mystic presence – of the Lord takes place. Without this understanding, a person has understood nothing of the Mass, even if he thinks he understands every word. Moreover, for a long time there have been wonderful bilingual missals with which we can pray the mass with the priest. But it is indeed correct: the Old Rite requires a certain effort, a readiness to learn.[...]

Die Welt: How do you respond to the criticism that the debate over liturgy overlooks the plight of the Church and the world?

Martin Mosebach: The plight of the Church is precisely that she has forgotten where her center lies. Her mission is to proclaim the living Christ and the living Christ appears in the liturgy. If the liturgy is made subject to the fashions of the day, the living Christ becomes invisible. Then the Church is truly in a crisis.

Do I hear an “Amen!”?

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12 Responses to QUAERITUR: Does the debate over liturgy overlook the plight of the Church and the world?

  1. wanda says:

    Amen!

  2. Henry Edwards says:

    The EF a “treasure for all”?

    Die Welt: How can the Roman liturgy in the “usus antiquior “ be offered today “to all the faithful “ if only a fraction of the faithful understand Latin?

    Martin Mosebach: At all times only a few Catholics have been able to follow the Latin Mass word for word. Europe looks back on well over a thousand years of glorious Catholic culture without the people being able to understand Latin. They understand something more important: that in the rite the Parousia – the mystic presence – of the Lord takes place. Without this understanding, a person has understood nothing of the Mass, even if he thinks he understands every word. Moreover, for a long time there have been wonderful bilingual missals with which we can pray the mass with the priest. But it is indeed correct: the Old Rite requires a certain effort, a readiness to learn.

  3. Martial Artist says:

    Amen!

  4. Die Welt: How do you respond to the criticism that the debate over liturgy overlooks the plight of the Church and the world?

    Mosebach, of course, nails it – they are one and the same.

    The liturgical crisis has so undermined Catholic identity that no small number of Catholics really do believe that “Vatican II established a new Church,” a new Protestantesque one. For example: There’s a blog that I occasionally read where there’s a great deal of complaining about the new English translation of the Roman Missal. (Keeps me abreast of what others are thinking.) The following quote is taken from a recent comment there. I share it because I think this person sums up what many (perhaps the overwhelming majority) of Catholics think the liturgy is:

    “The liturgy is about the gathering of the people of God to offer praise and thanksgiving through community prayer and song, remembering the salvation obtained for us by Jesus!!”

    And why might a great many Catholics believe as much? Because the liturgy as it is often celebrated seems to say exactly this. We have generations of Catholics who honestly know no better and it’s a major problem. Mosebach is right – peaceful phrases don’t help.

    I wonder – what kinds of “peaceful phrases” do you think he may have in mind?

  5. Mark R says:

    Dom Gregory Dix, though an Anglican, points out in his “Shape of the Liturgy” that concern over liturgy and the Eucharist in particular always went hand in hand with concern for the poor.

  6. inara says:

    Amen! If we don’t understand *where we are & why we’re there*, we don’t understand anything at all…(a point I keep trying to express to my dear Presbyterian mother who comes to Mass with us when she’s visiting, but the Lord has not yet given her ears to hear)

  7. Brooklyn says:

    It is my contention that it isn’t the Church that has been infected by the world, as much as the world has suffered the consequences of the Church not fulfilling the great command given to us by our Saviour: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. We can fulfill the great command best through prayer and drawing close to God, and that means getting outside of our own heads and realizing the greatness of God. And that is exactly what the TLM achieves, and what, far too often, the NO fails to achieve.

    Just as the people and the priest in the NO are physically turned in on each other and blocking out everything else, I think the Church has physically turned in on itself in spiritual naval gazing. The people at the NO may understand the words that are being said, but very few really understand what is going on. The EF forces you to think beyond yourself. The priest is not there to entertain you. You have to work at being involved in the Mass. You may not understand all the words that are being said, but you know something much bigger than yourself and the people around you is happening there. There is no room for naval gazing at the Tridentine Mass. In the TLM, the people and priest spiritually disappear and the greatness of God comes through.

    I adore Martin Mosebach. Few express the problems of the church better than he does.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  8. Andy Milam says:

    They understand something more important: that in the rite the Parousia – the mystic presence – of the Lord takes place.

    And that is the essence of worship. To take it to brass tacks…that is as easily put as possible.

  9. gloriainexcelsis says:

    As has been said many times over, the EF elicits true active participation – in liturgy – in the practice of the presence of God – not in a community celebrating itself.

  10. ttucker says:

    Very well put.
    Very profound.

  11. Desertfalcon says:

    ‘Amen’ except for, “The plight of the Church is precisely that she has forgotten where her center lies.”, which I think goes clearly, too far.