Catholic World Report editorial on the older form of Mass.

The magazine Catholic World Report has an editorial by George Neumayr its editor on the older form of Mass.

My emphases and comments.

Summorum Pontificum

It marks a new era of liturgical seriousness.

The forces in the Church most responsible for dividing Catholics from magisterial teaching are the quickest to use the word “divisive” in any controversy. A “divisive moment” is the Catholic left’s euphemism for any papal action that seeks to unite Catholics to the actual teachings and traditions of the faith.  [Well said!]

So it goes with Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, which authorizes wider use of the traditional Latin Mass. “Any liberalization of the use of the Tridentine rite may prove seriously divisive,” British prelate Kieran Conry, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, said to the Telegraph shortly before the Motu Proprio’s release. “It might send out an unfortunate signal that Rome is no longer fully committed to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council…”

No, what it signals is a welcome new era of liturgical seriousness [as in… it’s time for the adults to have their say…] and the beginning of the end to the demoralizing liturgical chaos and distortions of the last four decades. In Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict has not only revived a venerable liturgical tradition but supplied a catalyst to reform the new liturgy.  [Yes.  I think this is precisely what Pope Benedict wanted.  The older form of Mass will exert, has already started to exert, a gravitational pull on the way the newer form of Mass is celebrated.  similarly, the newer form, both our negative and positive experience of it, has exercised an influence on the way the older Mass is celebrated… for the better as well, in my opinion.]

By making the traditional Latin Mass and the new Mass two uses (extraordinary and ordinary) of “one and the same rite,” Pope Benedict is fostering a climate of healthy coexistence, perhaps one could even say healthy competition, in which false innovations may fall away and a sense of the sacred can be recovered.

In his letter to the bishops explaining Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict writes:

the two forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal.  The Ecclesia Dei Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the usus antiquior, will study the practical possibilities in this regard. The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality, which attracts many people to the former usage.

Far from ignoring the “needs of our time,” as he is often accused, Pope Benedict is responding to the most crucial one: the hunger for holiness, the simple desire for a transcendent, God-centered liturgy. Ordinary Catholics have asked for bread and been given stones, and the Holy Father is correcting the injustice:

Many people who clearly accepted the binding character of the Second Vatican Council, and were faithful to the Pope and the Bishops, nonetheless also desired to recover the form of the sacred liturgy that was dear to them. This occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear. I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.

Never too concerned about the trauma these arbitrary deformations caused in the faithful, the liturgical innovators now give voice to their own. “I can’t fight back the tears. This is the saddest moment in my life as a man, priest and bishop,” Luca Brandolini, a member of the liturgy commission of the Italian bishops’ conference, said to La Repubblica, reported Reuters. “It’s a day of mourning, not just for me but for the many people who worked for the Second Vatican Council. A reform for which many people worked, with great sacrifice and only inspired by the desire to renew the Church has now been cancelled.”

This reaction would only make sense if the Second Vatican Council had decreed a hostility to tradition. But it didn’t. All Summorum Pontificum cancels is the misapplication of Vatican II and mindless contempt for tradition, which resulted in a “fabricated liturgy,” as Pope Benedict has said previously. The Catholic left’s game of driving a wedge between Vatican II and previous councils—of treating Vatican II as in effect a mandate to start a new religion from scratch—now appears over. 

By shaking up a failing status quo, Pope Benedict has performed a great service for the Church. It is abundantly clear that postconciliar attempts to make the Mass “relevant”—which were often nothing more than a pretext to smuggle secularism into it—has rendered the liturgy increasingly irrelevant and catechetically destructive, as declining Mass attendance and gross ignorance of the faith confirm.

And he deserves great praise for having the courage to address an act of self-mutilation which treated a long and fruitful liturgical tradition as something “forbidden” or “harmful”—an act that appears all the more perverse in light of the fact that many of those who endorsed it were simultaneously using the new liturgy to advance bewildering innovations alien to the traditions of the Church.

Summorum Pontificum represents a central piece in the overall project of this pontificate: [Okay… I think this is one of the first people I have seen who have echoed clearly what I have been writting about for a long time: the MP is about more than liturgy.  It is part (a big one) of a much larger project, a kind of "Marchall Plan" for the Church in our age.] to arrest a culture of self-worship and restore God to the center of life. Many years hence, historians will likely see it as a critical turning point in the life of the Church—the moment the liturgy moved away from functioning like the invention of men and regained its splendor as the work of God.

George Neumayr is editor of Catholic World Report.

Well done! 

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  1. Bonaventure says:

    Wow. Great article. Thank you for posting it Father.

  2. Ave Maria says:

    Yes, the hunger for holiness is so incredible and for reverence and the
    sacred that hearts long for and our souls desperately need. Decades
    of ‘we are fine’ carry on’ and ‘Mass is a gathering of the asembly’ such
    that we do not recognize the Presence of God in our midst or His ongoing
    Holy Sacrifice. “We” think it is all about us!

    As far as I have been able to ascertain, no extraordinary Mass is planned
    in my diocese. One priest was training for it and is now suddenly
    leaving the diocese, leaving his spiritual children to wail with no
    recourse. But we have never even had an indult so none of this is a surprise.

    I look forward to the day when I can attend the extraordinary form of the
    Holy Mass. I also look for reverence and a return to the sacred. What
    I see is a digging in of heels and a refusal to put any Latin in the
    Mass and to continue to sing of ourselves and a refusal to preach the
    Gospel while Father tells us he is of that political party that
    supports abortion and our local representative is also of that party and
    is publicly supported by some religious, even in the newspaper. Holy
    endeavors are blocked. But one day this will change–it will all die or
    it will change.

  3. danphunter1 says:

    When Pope Benedict spoke of a,”fabricated liturgy”, he was referring to Archbishop Bugnini’s desecration of the Fine Liturgy: Bishop Bugnini’s stripping down of the overtly Sacred into a fabricated version.
    This Novus Ordo is still the August Sacrifice and we must not mock the Almighty by deploring it, but in its fabrication it actually, whether intentionally or not, mocks the Classical Rite..
    Organic is always better than artificial.
    I remain surprised that His Holiness Pope Paul IV approved of, and promulgated this dumbed down mass.
    Can anyone enlighten me as to how the “fabricated liturgy has added glory to the Sacrifice of the Mass?
    God bless you.

  4. Could I, as an Englishman, make a comment.

    Of the 19 dioceses in England, 10 dioceses have a weekly Sunday Mass in the vetus ordo :
    Westminster (2)
    Birmingham (2)
    Brentwood (1)
    Hexham & Newcastle (3)
    Northampton (2)
    Nottingham (2)
    Portsmouth (1)
    Salford (1)
    Southwark (1)

    9 diocese have no weekly Sunday Mass in the vetus ordo :
    Arundel & Brighton
    East Anglia

    Note, I say weekly Sunday Masses, not fortnightly, monthly or occasionally.

    I wonder if the situation will change after September 14th.

  5. Mary says:

    danphunter — there’s always the line quoted by Christopher Derrick in one of his books (though he doesn’t give a source, and I’ve never been able to track it down): “A liturgist is an afflication sent by God so that in times of no overt persecution, a Catholic need not be denied the privilege of suffering for his faith.” ;-)

  6. danphunter1 says:

    That does help. Thank you and God bless you.

  7. Jeff Pinyan says:

    Our lives need to be made relevant to the Mass, not the other way around. It is we who are called to conform and repent, not the liturgy.

  8. Fr. Luke says:

    It is interesting to note that when any mentions are made of the shortcomings of the Mass of Paul VI, and the criticisms of Bugnini’s committee, I hear ‘experts’ say: ‘the Pope signed off on it. It is valid. It must be accepted.’

    Funny how when a Pope makes another decision, it is explained away as a mistake.

    We’ve been told for 40 years that we must completely accept the 1970 Missal – because a Pope put his stamp on it – fine. But let’s see the same commitment to another Pope’s decisions.

  9. Tom says:

    ““Any liberalization of the use of the Tridentine rite may prove seriously divisive,” British prelate Kieran Conry, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, said to the Telegraph shortly before the Motu Proprio’s release. “It might send out an unfortunate signal that Rome is no longer fully committed to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council…” ”

    Bishop Conry is mistaken about this, as he is about a number of things. For many reasons, he, perhaps more so than other UK bishops, needs lots of prayers.

  10. Henry Edwards says:

    “Any liberalization of the use of the Tridentine rite may prove seriously divisive. … It might send out an unfortunate signal that Rome is no longer fully committed to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.”

    To the contrary, the major purposes of the Motu Proprio — instead of the general restoration of the Tridentine Mass that some might prefer — likely are Church unification and getting finally underway (after a 40-year side trip) the liturgical reforms actually intended by Vatican II. Perhaps it’s some of these grousing bishops who may not be fully committed to Vatican II. At any rate, some of them might find Vatican II and active participation better implemented at a TLM than at the typical Novus Ordo Mass in their dioceses.

  11. danphunter1 says:

    Why can’t the Vatican admit a mistake was made in the implementation of the Novus Ordo, and move forward continuing to use the Classical Rite?
    The Church hit a bump in the road which lasted for 40 years and now things must settle down.
    If it aint broke, don’t fix it and according to most saints the mass was just fine.
    God bless all.

  12. EDG says:

    This was an excellent article and very perceptive. I agree that what is causing all the howls among folks of the modernist (and simply confused) stripe is not the reintroduction of the Classical Rite itself, but their vague awareness that this is only a part of the Pope’s plan. The outraged reaction that has arisen in some parts to the restoration of the Rite – which they themselves need not celebrate, attend or even witness in passing – is actually a reaction to what this implies about the rest of the Pope’s program. For 40 years, these people have been in charge, and they really thought they had everything under control and had extinguished the past and reshaped the Faith in their own image. And then suddenly…

  13. David M.O'Rourke says:

    YES! YES! YES! I have been pulling my hair over this for years. Western civilization is essentially European civilization and European civilization is essentially Christian civilization.

    I am 65 years old now and looking back over most of my adult life I see a continuous erosian of the fundamental values that support our civilization. Without the values upon which it rests how long before civilization starts to crumble? It’s really alarming! Thank God Pope Benedict shares the same concern.

    As for danphunter’s comments I must say that I have often asked myself the same question. Bugnini’s liturgy is certainly neither invalid nor heretical and thus neither infallibility nor indefectability are at issue. A few years ago, then Cardinal Ratzinger suggested that some of the disastrous Popes could hardly have been the choice of the Holy Ghost and that maybe the role of the Holy Spirit in a Conclave was “to keep us from doing a worse job then so often we do.” (quoted from my memory so not exact). Annibale Bugnini fabricated a new Liturgy. Should we be all that surprised that the process he began should be taken up by others resulting in 40 years of “creativity” on the part of celebrants?

    Question for danphunter: What is the difference between a terrorist and and liturgist?

    Answer: You can reason with a terrorist.

  14. William J. M. Morris, Jr says:

    I am sure that I am not as schooled as many who comment here but I find it very interesting to read His Excellency Most Reverend Pal J. Swain Biography. Here is a man highly educated who converted to the faith at the age of 40, left the secular life and entered the holy priesthood who seems to understand better than bishops who have had been raised Catholic where his duties lie and what his duties are.

    May God our Savior bless him and may the Holy Gost guide him in all that he does for Holy Mother Church.

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