Peter Kwasniewski at NLM has a thoughtful piece, with which I agree, about trend over time in the celebration of the Novus Ordo. When there are options provided, there seems to be an expectation that the least traditional option will be chosen, with the result that tradition is opted out of sight and mind. He called this this an “imperialism of novelty”.
It’s a manifestation of the hermeneutic of disrupture. “Optionitis”… “Tinkeritis”….
Think about it…
- The Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I)
- Black vestments
- Gregorian chant
- Pipe Organ
- ad orientem worship
Summorum Pontificum is so important.
I was once talking with a priest about the strange phenomenon of options in the new rite of Mass and the other sacraments. He made the observation that whenever there are multiple options, one of which is traditional and the others more recent inventions, there seems to be a subtle pressure to choose the more recent inventions, with the consequence that, as he put it, the traditional practice is “optioned out of existence.”
Now we know that this happens a great deal when it comes to anything that’s longer or more complex, or requires a special effort. For example, if the lectionary provides optional readings for a particular saint or category of saint, chances are they’ll be skipped, just because it’s so much easier to march through the daily cycle page by page rather than being bothered to look up the optional reading. An example of length would be the Confiteor: it takes a little longer to pray the Confiteor and the Kyrie than to use the pseudo-troped Kyrie. And so the Confiteor often falls by the wayside.
A dangerous tendency is at work here. Although theoretically many options are put at the celebrant’s disposal, in reality there is a certain pressure against choosing the traditional option precisely because it is traditional and a certain pressure in favor of choosing the modern option because it’s modern, because it can be done, because perhaps it’s more politically correct, or it’s more feminist, or whatever it might be. One is reminded here of the arrogant vanity of modern applied science, which seems to function by the technobarbaric principle of “If we can do, we should do it.” No matter the larger questions of right or wrong, the nuclear bombs must be built, the organs must be harvested, the test tube babies produced, the embryos frozen, the animals cloned, or whatever it might be.
An excellent example would be how the missal says that the priest can say “Pray, brethren.” Nobody ever says “Pray, brethren”; they always say “Pray, brothers and sisters” (or sometimes “Pray, sisters and brothers,” although that’s not an option given in the missal).
What we see in the world of the reformed liturgy, in short, is a continual drift towards a more and more meaningless, vestigial, paper-thin permission for traditional practices — as if the traditional practices were a rare and dangerous species of delicate flower that’s being pressured out of its ecosystem by an aggressive, invasive species of noxious weeds or foreign frogs.
As a name for the phenomenon, I suggest “the imperialism of novelty,” [a manifestation of the hermeneutic of disrupture] a kind of unseeing, undiscerning, indiscriminate favoritism or advancement of all that is new and recent and shiny, the latest model rolling off the production line. Tradition has no voice with which to defend itself; it has no armies, no force. [It has Summorum Pontificum.] It compels solely by its inner rationale, its beauty, its value as something passed down to us. But because modern people don’t care about what has been passed down to us, tradition’s voice is muted; the moral force that it should have is tempered, if not suppressed altogether. Modernity is fundamentally anti-traditional: recall Thomas Jefferson talking about how the enlightened governments of his day will at last throw off medieval priestcraft and monkery and superstition as we embark on a new Age of Reason, Novus Ordo Seclorum. The only positions that have any clout are those that are espoused by people today — not surprisingly, because the people today who espouse them are alive, with muscles and vocal chords, and they will do what they want to do because they are in charge and they’re alive right now.
Read the rest there.