This year in my written articles for The Wanderer I turning my focus less on the Novus Ordo and more on the TLM. I need to work through some of issues.
Now that the older form of Mass (in Latin) has been derestricted and is growing again in strength,
a) Will the Novus Ordo simply drift more or less totally into being the "vernacular Mass"?
We must stipulate that there are precious few places that have Latin Novus Masses (e.g., St. Agnes in St. Paul, Brompton Oratory in London, Assumption Grotto in Detroit, etc.). Will use of Latin in the Novus Ordo now simply fade out? Will the places which had the Novus Ordo in Latin simply convert those Masses to the TLM? Also, will the new English translation lead to greater Latin/vernacular polarization?
and b) Given post-Conciliar devastation of Latin in the liturgy, should we simply forget about Latin with the Novus Ordo?
Some people (I am one of them) quip, and not without a firm foundation, that the more the Novus Ordo is celebrated as if it were the "Tridentine" Mass, the better it is. Of course that scomes from people who have traditional inclinations. However, there is a lot to be said for keeping the Novus Ordo rooted deeply in the Roman tradition exemplified in the "Tridentine Mass". That means Latin, right? That is, after all what the Council Father’s wanted: continuity. But if that assertion is true (that the more the NO is like the TLM, the better it is), does that not beg the question? If we admit that premise, then why not simply forget about trying to make the NO like the older Mass, and just celebrate the older Mass? Would that fly in the face of continuity?
Papa Ratzinger has desired liturgical continuity. He knew that more celebrations of the older Mass would create important lasting changes in the Church’s liturgical landscape. Changes will take place. The older Mass will exert a gravitational pull on the newer. The newer will influence the older: but in what ways and to what extent?
So we have (juridically) an ordinary and extraordinary form. What will that mean?
Here is what I think.
At the risk of being somewhat provocative, I suspect the older form, the TLM will become (at least for a while) the "grown up Mass", while the Novus Ordo, still reverent and sound in so many ways, will be lighter, less challenging.
The analogy of a parish having a children’s Mass and a solemn Mass on a Sunday limps terribly, but it is close to what I am getting at.
Think of how St. Paul speaks to his beloved spiritual children who are being fed milk by him because they are not ready for "solid food". Get my drift? This would not mean that the Novus Ordo is bad (and that is what some trads will conclude from this analogy – and they would be dead wrong and will have missed my point). Think of it this way: little children need food for children. They don’t benefit from what the adults should eating… yet. They are not little adults: they are children. Children aren’t defective. You don’t put a rare T-bone in front of a 1 year old. That is not what he needs. You don’t give pureed carrots to an adult, unless his jaw is broken or he is ill. Unless he is, in some way, defective. Once people grow up, they normally stop wanting baby food. They can survive on it for a time, but they won’t thrive.
We go from milk to chewier bland food to really chewy food with strong flavors. This is a natural progression, which individuals experience at their own pace. The Apostle knew that his spiritual children would grow up and be capable of receiving more. Similarly, there will be those who will want to move from the easier form of Mass (which is, I think, fair to say about the Novus Ordo) to something more challenging.
How this will sort itself out is hard to envision. It’ll take time. Much will depend on younger priests.
In fact, the explanation I propose above would actually help priests who prefer the TLM to continue willingly and happily to say the Novus Ordo in various states of connection to the Roman Tradition. We have to say Mass for people, after all. The congregation and what they can receive really matters! A father very properly will prefer a T-bone for himself, but happily swoops the airplane full of goop into the hanger because, right now, that is what junior really needs. This is far from "condescension" in the negative sense. It is "condescension" in the old-fashioned sense of the world: a lowering of oneself in humility to match the capacity of others. Thus, father will be joyful to give junior what he needs at every stage. Out of charity (sacrificial love) he is more concerned with junior’s true good than his own inclination. A good father will help his children grow up, leading them to new foods when they are ready for the next stage of development.
"But Father! But Father!" some of you are going to shout. "Don’t the priest’s needs count? After all, the connection priest/Mass/Church is so intimate that for the congregation to be healthy the priest himself must nourish his spiritual needs. He will probably do that better with the older Mass than the newer, right Father? Right?" Yes, friends, he has to keep himself healthy too! But Father is a priest for people as well as for himself. This will be a hard thing to balance. But the life of a diligent father is hard.
I will keep the com-box open for a while, but if the comments become overly hostile in one direction or another, or simply ridiculous, I will shut it off – which will hurt everyone. By all means discuss. I am interested in insights and well-considered observations. Don’t even think of chiming in if you didn’t read all of this entry and have also paid attention to real substance of the comments.