From a reader…
In thinking about Benedict XVI’s teaching on the liturgy it wondered me if the TLM/Usus antiquior is a dead liturgy per se? If liturgy ought to grow (be reformed?) *organically* (as opposed to post-Vatican II “reform”), is the Tridentine mass now and forever stuck in the missal of 1962? While the mass of 1962 is beautiful to be esteemed above the NO (aesthetically speaking), this missal was not written by the finger of God on tablets of stone. Is it even possible to be reformed? How would this work, etc.? Does this question even make sense? Thank you
Sure the question makes sense.
No, the Usus Antiquior, is a living liturgy, just as all the rites of the Catholic Churches, Western and Eastern, are alive. However, when we watch a Sequoia, we don’t see a lot of change unless we watch for a few hundred years.
Slowwwwly but surely, small adjustments are made.
And while the Traditional Mass isn’t on “tablets of stone”, let’s not dismiss the divine guidance which has guided it’s development. And clearly there was divine guidance and favor bestowed upon the rite for the benefit of the Church and the world. To start, just look at the magnificent fruits which it has borne over the centuries.
Yes, it is possible that the Usus Antiquior can be adjusted here and there, just as Pope Benedict’s vision verifies. This can only happen slowly. To continue your “tablets of stone” metaphor, think of liturgical organic growth as the slow movement of tectonic plates. When tectonic plates move fast, suddenly, cities are destroyed and many people weep.
Benedict wanted there to be side-by-side celebrations of the two forms, traditional and new. Over a long period of time, this would result in slight shifts and gentle changes, eventually codified.
What would be disastrous, however, would be to force changes in a sudden, artificial manner. That never results in good outcomes.
So, how would this result? The key is stability. Both forms have to be stable for a while. That means that the Novus Ordo has to have a period of stability. However, it has never had stability. Go from church to church and the variations you will see will be nearly endless. Some of the variations are legitimate options, and some aren’t. Alas, the very fact of all those options militate against stability. Hence, there is even greater urgency that the Extraordinary Form have be left alone and allowed stability for a long time.
So, change isn’t impossible. It’s imprudent for the foreseeable future. The energy that those with tinkeritis should expend, would be well spent on tidying up the Novus Ordo, working on that ars celebrandi, implementing what the Council asked for regarding Latin and music and participation in its proper sense, learning the Usus Antiquior so that they actually know their rite.
Meanwhile… if you have the stomach for it, watch this. HERE Warning: it’s nasty.