Benedict XVI’s popular new traditionalism

I tried to figure out how to make cuts in this, but it is all so good that I think you should read it in its entirety.

This is long, but it is good and closely argued.  You have to pay attention.

30 Sep 2008
Rediscovering traditionalism

One year after re-introducing the Tridentine Mass and two years after the Regensburg address, Benedict XVI’s popular new traditionalism has re-ignited the Catholic culture wars.

By John Casey for openDemocracy.net

On 14th June this year about 1,500 people filled Westminster Cathedral. Every seat was taken; people stood in the aisles and spilled out on to the piazza outside. The occasion was a mass, but not an ordinary mass. It was indeed a mass in what is now officially called the "extraordinary form" of the Roman rite, i.e. the mass as it had existed before the changes that followed the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). It was celebrated by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, and was the first mass in the traditional form to be celebrated in the Cathedral by a cardinal in thirty nine years.

Before the mass, Cardinal Castrillon had addressed the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, a group which had striven for forty years to preserve the ancient liturgy. He told them to `take heart’ because the new Pope sympathised with them, and he spoke of the `sacrifices’ of those members of the Society `who have not lived to be here today.’

To outsiders, all this emotion, this talk of sacrifices made by dead Catholics for the liturgy might well be unintelligible. What are the great issues at stake? [Very good.] Why should people throng Westminster Cathedral and spill out onto the street, including many too young to remember the old ways, just to experience a service in Latin conducted by a prelate with his back to the people?

In July the Pope was in Australia for World Youth Day. About four hundred thousand of the young, who had travelled from all parts of the globe, acclaimed him at a vast open-air mass in Sydney. But the mass had some new-old features Latin (Gregorian) chant, an altar adorned in the old style with crucifix and seven candles, and an attempt at solemn reverence that is not usually seen at these mass liturgical events. Something is in the air. [There were some defects in the choices at the concluding WYD Mass, but this is substantially correct.]

The truth is that the Roman Catholic Church has been in crisis ever since the Second Vatican Council, [Yes.]  a crisis not only of falling numbers attending mass, a reduction of vocations, the virtual extinction of some religious orders, but a crisis of identity of the Church itself. The confident, tightly centralised "triumphalist” Catholicism that followed the sixteenth century Council of Trent and regained many of the lands that had been lost to Protestantism, the Church that claimed to be "the one ark of salvation for all," has been replaced by the "pilgrim Church," tentatively stretching out to other faiths, often apologetic about the past, sometimes ready to play down its most distinctive doctrines.

There is a deeper issue. Hilaire Belloc had said "Europe is the Faith, and the Faith is Europe." Although Catholicism is a world-wide religion, and an Abrahamic faith, its European inheritance has been central, its philosophical theology deriving from Greece, its language and structures of authority from Rome.  [It is precisely this confluence that Pope Benedict is defending.  He is striving to undo damage of those who want to tear the Hellenic-Roman thought stream from Christianity.]  It was not for nothing that Hobbes described the papacy as "the ghost of the dead Roman Empire sitting crowned upon the grave thereof." Enthusiasts for Vatican II thought they had changed all that. Rituals, language, even theology were to reflect the diverse cultures of the faithful, and even the subjective convictions of the individual.

The attempt since the Counter-reformation of the sixteenth century to resist some of the most important developments in modern culture, with an index of books forbidden to Catholics to read that included most of the greatest philosophers and imaginative writers of the modern world, was to be seen as a sort of auto-immune disorder – an inability to cope with foreign bodies. In the light of this, an attachment to tradition seemed like a rejection of intelligence, and a scarcely defensible surrender to clerical dictatorship. The Church had raised the drawbridge against the modern world, and Vatican II would confidently lower it again. Central to that was the rejection of the traditional Latin mass. It was there that the battle lines were most obviously drawn.

The culture wars

[This next part is fascinating.]

Nearly 25 years ago, a Pole was dining in my college in Cambridge. He told us that he had been an altar boy in Poland, and had often served the masses of the Archbishop of Cracow. [Karol Wojtyla] A year or two after that prelate, Karol Woytila, [sic] had been installed in the See of Rome, he decided to visit him, for John Paul II never became too grand for his old Polish friends. The Pope (so he told the story) strode up to him, punched him lightly in the chest, and began: Introibo ad ad altare dei … to which our guest responded: Ad deum qui laetificat iuventutum meum. ("I will go unto the altar of God” "To God who giveth joy to my youth.”) This was the opening exchange between priest and server of the old "Tridentine” Latin mass, abolished in the early1970s, and the two continued it right down to the Confiteor. Then the Pope shrugged his shoulders and said: "Well, that’s no use to us anymore." His old altar boy replied: "No, Holy Father, and that’s why I no longer go to church." To which the Pope (he said) instantly rejoined: "Don’t blame me. Blame that maniac John XXIII!"  [Whew!]

Last September, a motu proprio (legislation of his own volition) of Pope Benedict XVI, liberating the old mass, and obliging parishes to provide it for those of the faithful who want it, came into effect. It was clearly an attempt to console those who were still attached to the old rite, including the followers of Archbishop Lefebvre, who rejected the new mass and many of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (summoned by "that maniac, John XXIII.") "Liberal” Catholics grimly suspect that the Pope himself has long been disillusioned with the Council, and is bent on restoration of the old order. One Italian bishop said that he actually wept when he read the motu proprio, because he saw one of the greatest achievements of the modernists, a new style of liturgy, dissolving before his eyes. He was right to be alarmed. [In sense, that’s right!  When you are on the wrong side, you are going to be afraid, very afraid.]  Benedict’s undoubted love of the old liturgy is also a love of the European culture which produced it.

On the other side, traditionalist Catholics, who were so joyously in evidence at Westminster cathedral, rejoiced mightily. Benedict XVI is on the way to becoming a hero as dear to them as Cyrus the Great was to the ancient Jews, because he freed them from the Babylonian captivity. When the motu proprio was issued, their websites [Not this one…] triumphed in the imminent defeat of the philistines and were filled with accounts of celebratory champagne parties and suggestions that everyone should send flowers to the Pope in sign of gratitude.

Not just talking to God in Latin

But what is the fuss all about? Is this just a matter of some people preferring to talk to God in Latin[Which is enough, btw.] Or is it the re-igniting of a subterraneous culture war that has troubled the peace of the faithful over the past forty years?

First of all: it is not just a question of Latin. [Right.] The "Tridentine” mass and the Latin mass are not one and the same thing. True, the Tridentine mass must be said in Latin in the Roman church. But decades ago you could attend Tridentine masses in High Anglican churches in Cornwall celebrated entirely in English. The new order of mass, promulgated by Pope Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council, was originally meant to be usually in Latin, but is nearly always said in the vernacular. But whatever the language, it is different from the old mass, in feel, liturgical gesture and some would even say in theology. The liturgy has always embodied both prayer and doctrine: it is both lex orandi and lex credendi. The ultras would argue that the changes in the mass were part of a stealthy attempt to alter doctrine. [Ehem… In the book that came out under Archbp. Piero Marini’s name, the writer states that the changes in the liturgy were about changing doctrine.]  The great Council of Trent (1546-63) marked the final separation between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism with ferocious clarity. Catholic doctrines such as the real presence of Christ in the eucharist, reaffirmed by Trent, are liturgically enforced in the Tridentine mass with no possible ambiguity.  [And Trent wanted to defend doctrine through liturgical reform.  It is always about doctrine and identity.]

The ultras have a point. A pious Catholic who had fallen asleep in 1960 and woken up forty years later would be puzzled indeed at a modern mass (unless he had been allowed to slumber all those years in Brompton Oratory or a few other traditionalist redoubts.) He would find the modern Church culturally and psychologically so altered that he might be tempted to see it as a new religion masquerading under the old name. [Yep] He might, like my Polish acquaintance, decide not to bother any more. [And many thousands of others… millions?]

The first time I was taken to mass as a child, my mother told me to watch the altar attentively, because an angel might fly across it. My hope in seeing the angel faded quite soon, well before my faith did, but the feeling that the celebration of mass marked a mystery in which Godhead was truly present on the altar, body, blood, soul and divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine was astonishingly powerful. The form of the old mass enforced it. There was an overwhelming emphasis on the mass as an actual sacrifice, a mysterious re-enactment of Christ’s sacrifice on Mount Calvary. The priest began at the foot of the altar, with prayers that he might be worthy to ascend the steps: Introibo ad altare dei. In mounting the altar steps the priest was being brought "unto thy holy mount, and into thy tabernacles.” These are the words of psalms from the Hebrew Bible, and they go with an extraordinary insistence on using the language of ancient Jewish sacrifice – "a holy victim, a pure and unblemished sacrifice." (A Jewish friend of mine, attending a Tridentine mass for the first time, said that this language, and the elaborate cleansing of the sacred vessels, took his mind back to Temple Judaism.) The ritual proceeded with the inevitability of a piece of intricate and beautiful mechanism, as the priest mounted the steps, read the epistle and gospel and came to the canon of the mass. The climax, the obvious focal point of the exercise, was the consecration. The Latin words of this were uttered in a very audible stage whisper, and were followed by genuflection, elevation, genuflection, accompanied by the ringing of bells.

Every gesture by the priest, the signs of the cross, the genuflections, the many kissings of the altar, were strictly controlled by the rubrics. There was no place for "creativity” or the expression of personality. The authority of liturgy has always been its immemorial antiquity, and this strange, intensely focussed ritual certainly took you back to the remote past. This was sometimes a cause of scandal. The Good Friday liturgy (which was not actually a mass, Good Friday being the only day in the year when mass was not said) notoriously had a prayer for the "unbelieving Jews" (perfidis Judaeis) that God would remove their "blindness” and lead them to Christ. Even worse, this was the one prayer during which the congregation did not have to kneel. (John XXIII removed the offensive words in 1962.) There were also curiosities of an innocent sort. A missal published in 1935 contains a Good Friday prayer that God will "look favorably on the Roman empire" and "render all barbarous nations" subject to the Emperor.

The curious thing about the old mass was that it did not much matter if it was performed badly. [Well…. it did, but in a sense he is right.] It often was. Some priests spoke the Latin intelligently and well. Others gabbled it. We altar boys fought to serve the Low Mass of a certain Franciscan priest because he got through it, by means of remarkable elisions, in 12 minutes flat.

The priest was a craftsman, [I wish we could shift the implication of the word "priestcraft".  Aside from the ontological issues, it would be perfect for what the priest must do as a matter of course, simply being a craftsman diligent in the details of his vocation.]  bringing Christ to the altar, and distributing Him to the faithful in communion. In many ways, it was the priest’s mass, to which the congregation were onlookers, or listeners in. Much of it was in silence, with the priest raising his voice at certain moments to indicate what point the mass had reached. In northern Europe and the United States most of the congregation followed in their missals, which were in Latin and English. But in earlier times people would instead read "prayers during mass,” rather than follow the actual words. Illiterates would simply tell their beads. Perhaps they looked for angels to fly across, or at the stained-glass windows. Yet there is overwhelming evidence that they, too, were moved, for they participated in a ritual that signified visually and in terms of movement as well as in words.

Participation theology

Vatican II decreed that the people should "actively participate" in the mass. To the older idea that active participation could take place largely in silence and stillness was opposed the feeling that the congregation should always be doing things, [Excellent.] saying prayers aloud, reading passages of scripture, presenting the bread and wine for the mass. The priest became less one who offered an awe-inspiring sacrifice, and more like one who presides over a community meal. Altars were turned round, so that the priest faced the people, rather than praying on their behalf to the East, as had been done from ancient times. (Critics of the new order often suggest – rightly – that this leads to a cult of the priestly personality.) The first part of the liturgy is now given over to scripture readings, somewhat in Protestant style, so that when the priest goes to the altar to say the actual canon of the mass, this can seem like an afterthought, rather than the focal point of the whole proceedings. The priest”s genuflections and other ritual signs of assent to the real presence, which in the old mass enacted an idea of worship and transcendence, seemed to have been cut to a minimum. For many, the remarkable beauty of the Latin text itself, set by so many great composers over the centuries, and a profound influence on the authors of the Book of Common Prayer, had helped create a sense of the sacred which had now all but vanished.

How did this happen? There had been a liturgical movement, strong in northern Europe, going back to the nineteenth century. It emphasised the intelligent participation of the laity, the use of missals, and a partial return to what were believed to be pre-mediaeval liturgical practices. This led to the half-conscious assumption that there was some golden age before the "accretions” that led to the elaborate liturgy of modern times. This was rather like the Protestant idea of the "primitive” Church before Roman "corruptions.”

There was another line of thought. This was that the Council of Trent had been a tragedy just in that it had sealed the division between Catholic and Protestant in the sixteenth century. Trent had re-affirmed the hierarchical structure of the Church, the role of the priest, and the mass as the continual re-enactment of Christ”s death on the cross. The Anglican Thirty nine Articles say that the `one oblation of Christ is finished on the cross .Wherefore the sacrifice of Masses were dangerous fables and blasphemous deceits.’ The underlying purpose of the new rite was reconciliation with Protestantism. Its chief inventor, Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, actually said: "We must strip from our Catholic prayers everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren, that is, for the Protestants.[Ugh.]

Traditionalists oppose Papal power

To undo the Council of Trent would be no mean endeavour, although to anyone with a sense of the religious history of Europe during the last four hundred and fifty years it must seem a madly ambitious one. But what really ignited the Catholic culture wars was the way it was done: by an unprecedented exercise of papal power. Hardly anything of what happened was prescribed by the Second Vatican Council, not the turning around of the altars, not the almost universal use of the vernacular, not the scaling down of the sense of transcendence and sacrifice, not the discouraging of the faithful from kneeling when receiving holy communion, not the receiving of communion in the hand rather than on the tongue. [EXACTLY RIGHT] Traditionalists point out that the Council had decreed that the Latin language was to be preserved. (And the "maniac" John XXIII had been totally opposed to the vernacular in the mass.) It had all been done by Pope Paul VI, Archbishop Bugnini and a close circle of liturgical experts. It was never even passed by a synod of bishops.

The paradoxical conclusion might have been forseen: it was the most pious Catholics, most devoted to the papacy and its prerogatives who were most outraged, but who felt most bound by loyalty and obedience. Their anguish when they were presented in 1971 with the abolition of the old rite can be imagined. (The most popular English Catholic newspaper, The Universe, informed its readers on 26th November that year that `as from this Sunday it is forbidden to offer Mass in the Tridentine rite anywhere in the world.’)

Only in France was there open rebellion. Led by Archbishop Marcel Lefevbvre, a thousand or so traditionalists occupied the Church of St. Nicholas in Paris, resisted all attempts to evict them, reintroduced all the old ceremonies, and have been there ever since. The Lefebvrists decreed that with Vatican II Rome had departed from Tradition, and had as good as apostatised.

The bitterness (even despair) of traditional Catholics ran deep. The enthusiasts for Vatican II hailed it as inaugurating an epoch of religious liberty. Yet the abolition of the old mass actually depended upon a Vatican diktat. The Anglican Church has introduced new forms of service, often distressingly banal. But it is impossible to imagine the Anglicans wishing, let alone being able, suddenly to forbid the Book of Common Prayer in all churches of the Anglican Communion. I remember in the 1970s attending out of curiosity a Tridentine mass "illegally”celebrated by Archbishop Lefebvre in the Great Western Hotel at Paddington. The atmosphere was extraordinary, like that of some improbably enormous catacomb where a clandestine ceremony was going on. Catholics had come from all over England, and many were in tears as they participated in a rite that had suddenly been forbidden them. It was tempting to see this as religious persecution[And that would be right.]

Iconoclasm and novelty

The changes were accompanied by an astonishing outbreak of what one can only call iconoclasm, for that is what it literally was. In the University Catholic chaplaincy in Cambridge, the furniture of the chapel, including a charming little baldachino, was largely destroyed at the instigation of the Chaplain. The parish priest of the main Catholic church in Cambridge proposed replacing all the pews with raked cinema-style seats, removing the stained glass, and dismantling their own noble baldachino. (He was frustrated by his congregation, which had been infiltrated by dons.) In my own old parish church, the Franciscans smashed to pieces the whole Byzantine-style sanctuary. Such scenes were replicated all over the country.

There was also liturgical vandalism, especially in America, including priests with red-nose masks celebrating "clown-masses,” Halloween masses, dancing-girls and various New Age fooleries. In England, Catholic practice plummeted, and churches were shut.

English Catholics had a special reason for attachment to the old mass. In penal times, several hundred English priests had been executed for saying it. [Lest we forget.] At the place of execution they would often kiss the scaffold, as the priest kisses the altar in the Tridentine mass (much more rarely in the new rite.). The English, more docile than the French, did not rebel. Instead they organised a letter signed by cultural luminaries, many of them non-Catholic, politely asking the Pope for an "indult” – permission to celebrate the old mass on special occasions, with the permission of bishops. But their letter did not conceal their feelings of horror: "If some senseless decree were to order the partial or total destruction of basilicas or cathedrals, then obviously it would be the educated, whatever their personal beliefs, who would rise up in horror ” The old mass "in its magnificent Latin text, has inspired a host of priceless achievements by poets, philosophers, musicians, architects, painters and sculptors in all countries and epochs. Thus it belongs to universal culture as well as to churchmen and formal Christians.” 

The Agatha Christie exception

How could the Pope fail to respond to such a letter, signed as it was by (amongst many others) Vladimir Ashkenazy, Agatha Christie, Kenneth Clark, Robert Graves, Graham Greene, FR Leavis, Cecil Day-Lewis, Nancy Mitford, Iris Murdoch, Yehudi Menuin, Malcolm Muggeridge, Joan Sutherland and the Anglican Bishops of Exeter and Rippon? The story goes that Paul VI was quietly reading through the list of signatories and then suddenly said: "Ah, Agatha Christie!” and signed his approval. Ever since, this permission has been known in traditionalist circles as the Agatha Christie Indult.  [What an amazing anecdote, which I believe is true.  But how sad.  It took Agatha Christie’s name to get the POPE’s attention over this important issue.  Thus it is in a Church in which human beings strive to fulfill roles instituted by divine will.]

But although this indult had been granted, many bishops were unwilling actually to give permission. The traditionalists, including the Latin Mass Society, were often treated as trouble-makers and rebels.

The authority to change

[This is great…]

I once interviewed the Patriarch of Antioch, in Damascus. I asked His Beatitude whether he, like the Bishop of Rome, believed he had power radically to alter the liturgy. "Oh yes, we have authority in liturgical matters. And in 1,500 years we did once alter a prayer."

Clearly the idea of virtually inventing a new rite had never entered the Patriarch’s head. (The so-called "Tridentine” rite was not invented by the Council of Trent, but was a codification of the Roman rite which dated back many centuries.) The question all along was whether pope and bishops really do have such authority. One distinguished Catholic thinker [pay attention] judged that there was no such sweeping power, that liturgy had its own authority based on immemorial tradition, and that the pope’s authority in liturgy "is at the service of Sacred Tradition." The same thinker even dared to describe the new mass as "no re-animation but devastation… fabricated liturgy… banal-on-the-spot product." The man who wrote those words is now Pope Benedict XVI. The Cardinals elected Ratzinger knowing that these were his convictions. It cannot have been done in a fit of absence of mind[Right.]

Mass and Invariance

The Catholic Church has often enforced unity with ferocity. Yet in the present culture war (officially denied, of course) real unity seems far away. As the Pope’s intentions become clear (Cardinal Castrillon said that the Pope wants to make the old rite available "in all the parishes" of England and Wales) the English bishops have fallen into a curious silence. The parish priest of a famous Jesuit church, politely asked whether he would make some traditional masses available, responded with unconcealed rage. (This church advertises a children’s liturgy, Japanese masses, services for Brazilians and Filipinos, but apparently drew the line at the ancient Roman liturgy). 

The dispute about liturgy is part of a wider battle. [YES!]  Those who want to align the Church with modernity, which inevitably means drawing on current liberal values, became influential following Vatican II. But if they hoped that the Church would change its stance on liberation theology, divorce, homosexuality, the ordination of women, they found their nemesis in John Paul II . Woytila’s [oops] reassertion of tradition in all these areas was less flamboyant than Pio Nono’s famous denial that "the Roman Pontiff can, and ought to come to terms with progress, liberalism and the modern world," but it came to much the same thing.

Pope Ratzinger is even more profoundly traditional than his predecessor, and he believes that disputes about liturgy are disputes about the very nature of the Church. [YES! YES!] He prizes a mass that develops according to its own laws throughout the ages. [not artificially cobbled together on a desk by "experts" with ideological axes to grind]  He is also attracted by the Eastern Orthodox conception of a liturgy "whose light illumines our changing times with its unchanging beauty and greatness." Those who altered the mass after Vatican II thought it possible to create a form of worship that was illumined, indeed determined by the changing times. These are two wholly incompatible visions. As Benedict puts it in a letter to the bishops that accompanied his motu proprio: "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful."

Tradition re-discovered in every age

Something unexpected seems now to be happening in the Catholic Church. Far from attachment to the old forms dying away, a generation of younger priests and lay Catholics is coming into view that is enthusiastically attached to the Tridentine mass, and to Catholic orthodoxy. In France, one in five of all priests currently being ordained is devoted to the old mass. [WOW] And this is a committed, determined minority growing up in a virtual wasteland for the French Church. Only five per cent of French Catholics attend mass regularly. [I heard 2%] In one diocese, the Cathedral attracts seventy worshippers on Sunday, while the chapel of semi-schismatic Society of St Pius X (of Archbishop Lefebvre) attracts seven hundred to a traditional mass. Indeed, it is suggested that an actual majority of church goers on a Sunday in France attend Lefebvrist services.

Pope Benedict himself is a philosophical traditionalist of a sort that is barely understood in the modern world. In a lecture to the University in Regensberg he enraged some Muslims because he quoted a Byzantine Emperor who suggested that Mohammed countenanced violent religious conversion. But what he was talking about was the relation between religion and reason. Ratzinger suggested that the God of certain Muslim theologians – like that of some late mediaeval philosophers, as well as Luther and Calvin – so transcends our categories, even of rationality, that all that is left for us is his sovereign will. If God so commanded, we would have to practice idolatry, or violence. The Pope argued that the Christian understanding of God has to be rooted in rationality: God is reason, the logos, so any attempt to convert by violence is contrary to the nature of God. This may seem an arcane dispute in theology, but what it comes to is that Christianity is inevitably tied up with Greek philosophy, is, indeed, a marrying of Judaic religion with Greek thought. [Precisely, as I said above.  And even in the famous Curia Address the Pope was working against the vision of those within the Church who are trying to strip Christian thought of the Hellenic-Roman component, so necessary to be able to express our fundamental beliefs.] Add the Roman heritage, and we can say (in Ratzinger’s remarkable words at Regensberg) that "Christianity created Europe."

In other words, Christianity is a culture as well as a set of beliefs. Equally, Europe should remember its Christian roots. (Cardinal Ratzinger once said that if Turkey were ever allowed to join the EU this would represent "the triumph of economics over culture.”) Catholic liturgies have to keep their Roman and European heritage, and cannot simply be adapted to local conditions, tongues and cultures. [We must not admit false inculturation to distort who we are.] The mass in China should not be celebrated with rice and rice wine; and in America it should not express folksy inclusiveness. For Ratzinger, this special blend of Judaism, Greek philosophy and Romanitas is essential to the Church, an idea that Luther scorned. [And a list of other, modern Catholic thinkers.] So it is almost literally unthinkable that a genuine liturgy could be fabricated, rather than grow out of immemorial tradition.

Admirers of Ratzinger insist that his traditionalism is no blinkered love of the past, no theological auto-immune disorder. As TS Eliot put it, tradition cannot be blindly inherited, but has to be re-discovered in every age, an enterprise that requires great labor. No one who reads Ratzinger can deny that he brings a very lively intelligence into his attempt to rediscover tradition. It is his critics of the ageing Vatican II generation who begin to look intellectually lazy.

In Benedict XVI, Catholic modernists meet a formidable antagonist indeed. His gentle manner and readiness to persuade rather than bludgeon conceals (from those that have not eyes to see) a philosophy of tradition that challenges not only liturgical philistines, but all those Catholics for whom history began with the Second Vatican Council. He is the immediate cause of all those joyful traditionalist Catholics congregating in Westminster cathedral and overflowing onto the pavement. The authority of a pope of Rome is not to be underestimated. When the Pope’s motu proprio became known to Catholic traditionalists, not a few of them wept for joy. At the moment his election was announced in St Peter”s square in 2005, several priests of modernist sympathies were also seen to weep – but with chagrin. Provided his health holds, then (to misquote Henry James) those tears are not the last they are destined to shed.

John Casey is lecturer in English at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Gonville and Caius College. He writes and reviews frequently in newspapers and journals. Among his books are Pagan Virtue: An Essay in Ethics (Clarendon Press, 1990).

 

Well done.  This article is PACKED.

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69 Responses to Benedict XVI’s popular new traditionalism

  1. Cristero says:

    “The priest became less one who offered an awe-inspiring sacrifice, and more like one
    who presides over a community meal.”

    Fr. Z (and anybody else),

    There are many priests who have that particular point of view, who then pass it on to the
    Faithful. To those of us who are attached to the Usus Antiquior, and would like a
    Traditional Latin Mass, what is the best approach to priests and Pastors who grew
    up in the 50’s and 60’s, but who may have some hostility to this spirituality? Thanks
    again for your blog, and all you do, Fr. Z!

    http://www.monterey-tlm.blogspot.com

  2. Ottaviani says:

    This is article is one of the best! I just love that JP II anecdote about John XXIII.

  3. Dan says:

    “was reconciliation with Protestantism. Its chief inventor, Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, actually said: “We must strip from our Catholic prayers everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren, that is, for the Protestants.”

    And lying to protestants is supposed to be a good thing?

  4. Paul Haley says:

    what is the best approach to priests and Pastors who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, but who may have some hostility to this spirituality?

    The pope has spoken and he said to the bishops:

    “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”

    It seems clear, therefore, that to fail to abide by the pope’s instructions places oneself in opposition to the Vicar of Christ and endangers their own salvation.

  5. Jack says:

    There are many comments I could make about this article, but I will confine myself to just three:

    1 – I don’t believe that story about JPII and John XXIII. I am loathed to call somebody a liar, but I just don’t believe it. Even if only because in 27 years as Pontiff, JPII made very few (if any moves) to restore the TLM.

    2 – The article says that “it is suggested that an actual majority of church goers on a Sunday in France attend Lefebvrist services.” Now, I have heard a fair few attempts at spinning the numbers on the part of traditionalists, but this one really takes the biscuit. I mean, come on!?! Just who does this guy think he’s kidding here?

    (it is obvious flaws like the ones above that destroy the credibility of otherwise interesting articles like this)

    3 – The article begins by lauding the numbers at the TLM at Westminster Cathedral this June. Yes indeed the numbers were high. I was among them. But there is a great big “however” when considering what this means. I have said before that the attendance at that Mass was the result of a huge, huge advertising effort. Every single trad blog was pushing the event for months and months with phrases (now conveniently deleted) like “we must get as many people there as possible to show that the demand is high.” It was advertised in every Church and chapel where TLMs are held, it was pushed by every local TLM/ LMS group, coaches were laid on, adverts were taken out in newspapers (even the Tablet by the way. That’s how keen they were!). In short there was an absolutely enormous advertising effort, the like of which you barely see. Estimates vary, but sensible figures put the attendance somewhere between 1000-1500, and it’s worth considering that this included people not just from the UK. I heard a number of different accents and languages as I moved around the crowd. Americans, French, Germans, to name but a few.
    When you put that number in context it seems a bit less impressive. This Mass was an absolute must and the LMS spared no expense and efforts to make sure that every single person who could be there, would be there. Given that, anything less than 1500 would have been a serious, serious embarressment.

  6. Craigmaddie says:

    To which the Pope (he said) instantly rejoined: “Don’t blame me. Blame that maniac John XXIII!”

    It’s hard to guage from the written word how the Pope meant this. It’s possible that he meant it in a very light-hearted way…

  7. Chris Altieri says:

    It is going to take awhile to digest this whole piece. Still, I can say that what strikes me about the reverently prayed OF is how like the EF it is.

    Or rather: no one who has been going to the OF assiduously for years and decades can fail to appreciate the EF on the very first try. I would say, vice versa. A person who has known only reverent prayer of the EF, who then comes upon a reverently (or merely properly) prayed OF Mass, will have no trouble in understanding what is going on, and, if he is a Catholic, will approve of (find no fault in) everything he sees. Said simply, the Mass is the Mass. Latin EF enthusiasts who have occasion to hear Mass in any of the other rites of the Church, generally have no difficulty in following the Mass, in recognizing Catholic liturgical action for and in what it is. That the OF is more easily butchered than the EF, that there seems to be more room for, and more tolerance of liturgical abuses in the OF, says nothing about the OF as such, i.e. the OF prayed as Holy Mother Church commands.

    This, it seems to me, is PBXVI’s main contention in all of this: IMPLEMENT THE COUNCIL! and not some pie-in-the-sky ideological simulacrum of the Faith. Is the OF perfect? No. Neither is the EF. Both are valid, and when they are allowed to influence one another, the faithful can only benefit.

    “[A] pious Catholic who had fallen asleep in 1960 and woken up forty years later would be puzzled indeed at a modern mass (unless he had been allowed to slumber all those years in Brompton Oratory or a few other traditionalist redoubts.) He would find the modern Church culturally and psychologically so altered that he might be tempted to see it as a new religion masquerading under the old name. [Yep]”

  8. James says:

    I am utterly stunned by the alleged quote of John Paul II referring to John XXIII as a “maniac”. I like the rest of the article (even if he did spin some of the numbers as Jack claims above). I think that this guy really “gets it” for the most part. That alleged quote from John Paul II, however, seems just too over the top.

    John Paul II took took his papal name in honor of John XXIII and Paul VI (or so I’m told). He expressed his admiration for Paul VI on many occasions! Moreover, if there was anyone responsible for the liturgical changes, it was Paul VI, not John XXIII.

    Something about that quote seems very strange. It’s inclusion takes attention away from many of the good points that he makes.

  9. dominic1962 says:

    Actually, I wouldn’t be suprised at all if the majority of people going to Mass on Sunday in places like France or the Netherlands were going to the TLM (whether SSPX or legitimate group). I would be even less suprised to find out that of all those who go to Mass at all in those blighted countries, practically all of the ones who actually believe what the Church teaches probably go to the TLM.

    It is also good to see articles written that are largely imbued with a similar ethos of what we more traditionally minded Catholics assume each other know. With this sort of information being spread beyond our circles by people who are not merely our own zealous apologists, you will hear more and more of the rank and file throwing out comments about how the TLM wasn’t invented at Trent and how the priest isn’t just “turning his back to the people”. Hopefully, with the common conversational language changing bit by bit, the old lies about the TLM perpetrated by the progressives will slowly die out with them.

  10. Jack says:

    I find this to be an issue for the traditionalists movement (of which I am not a member) at the moment. There are many of them who are putting their case with dignity and intelligence. But then every so often somebody comes out which an absolute howler, which I am sorry to say takes away a great deal of their (your) credibility.

    Normally this involves a wild spin of the numbers, other times stories that are blatantly suspect. As I say, this isn’t the norm at all, but I think that the more seasoned members of the trad movement might do well to have a quiet word with the others!

  11. The other David says:

    Going to have to agree with the others who doubted the credibility of the words of Pope John Paul II on Pope John XXIII. There is too much to the contrary stated by the Holy Father both before and during his pontificate.

    Sorry, but this article smells to me

  12. Ron says:

    Honestly, I could finish this article because I am at work and it brings me to tears. “By the waters of Babylon, we sat and wept.” The detestation at times is unbearable – honestly too much. Some people say, “Well the New Mass is just as good, its valid and you know if the Pope approves it then so do I!” I don’t understand how people who want to love God, who want to please Him, who love the Church could love the New Mass. I’m sorry. That is mean and that is probably wrong to say but the New Mass doesn’t orient my heart to God, doesn’t reinforce to me both the Divine Mercy as well as Divine Justice, doesn’t prepare me to receive my Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

    Then there is the issue of the fact that as the article says, with the New Mass CAME a new theology. No longer is Jesus the Savior of our sins, He is the social reformer Who loves us all. I just saw a CCD book today teaching on the Most Holy Trinity that is so empty and bland. There is a whole new mindset and when I talk to most people who claim to be Catholics today, it is like we aren’t even of the same Church.

    But this cross is the one Jesus has for us to take up. We have to pray for purification of the Church! Thanks be to God for Benedict XVI.

    Pax Christi tecum.

  13. mpm says:

    To which the Pope (he said) instantly rejoined: “Don’t blame me. Blame that
    maniac John XXIII!”

    I agree with Craigmaddie. If JPII were allowed to “revise and extend” his remarks,
    as they do in Congress, perhaps he would have written “Don’t blame me. Blame ‘that
    maniac’ John XXIII!” Perhaps it was something others were calling John XXIII that
    he was quoting ironically. That would jive with some of his personal remarks as
    related in Weigle’s biography of him. He was well aware that some people thought of
    a “Polish Pope” as a shocking sign that the Papacy had fallen on hard times, and
    seems to have poked fun at himself at times by using that phrase.

  14. Londiniensis says:

    Jack, I think you quoted out of context. The full quote is:

    In one diocese, the Cathedral attracts seventy worshippers on Sunday, while the chapel of semi-schismatic Society of St Pius X (of Archbishop Lefebvre) attracts seven hundred to a traditional mass. Indeed, it is suggested that an actual majority of church goers on a Sunday in France attend Lefebvrist services.

    From my own experience of France, I would not be so quick to dismiss this suggested statistic out of hand.

  15. Dan says:

    That comment about Pope John, made by Pope John Paul II sounds like something that His Holiness would say.

    I once read in an biography of Pope John Paul II that he was shocked when Pope John called for an ecumenical council, and, then Bishop Wojtyla, did not think that convening a council during a time of prosperity and great orthodoxy in the Church was a good idea.

  16. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I’m not a fan of Bugnini, but he did not say (in Italian) what he is constantly purported to have said (in English):

    Gli studiosi penseranno a mettere in luce le fonti bibliche e liturgiche da cui derivano o alle quali sdi ispirano i nuovi testi, elaborati col cesello dai Gruppi di studio del "Consilium". E diciamo pure che non di rado il lavoro è proceduto "cum timore et tremore" nel dover sacrificare espressioni e concetti tanto cari, e ormai per la lunga consuetudine familiari. Come non rimpiangere per esempio quel "ad sanctam matrem Ecclesiam catholicam atque apostolicam revocare dignetur" della settima orazione?   E tuttavia l’amore delle anime e il desiderio di agevolare in ogni modo il cammino dell’unione ai fratelli separati, rimovendo pietra che possa costituire pur lonta[na]mente un inciampo o motivo di disagio, hanno indotto la Chiesa anche a quei penosi sacrifici.

    The last part is translated better as: "Love for souls and the desire to facilitate in every way the road to union with our separated brothers, by removing anything that could possibly constitute an impediment or make them feel ill at ease, has induced the Church to make even these painful sacrifices." The change being referred to was the change in language of the Good Friday prayers, which (as the 1962 liturgy attests to) uses the terms "heretics" and "schismatics".

  17. Jack says:

    *Jack, I think you quoted out of context…*

    *…From my own experience of France, I would not be so quick to dismiss this suggested statistic out of hand.*

    I don’t think the first part of the quote changes the essence of the second, which is basically saying that more people attend Lefebvrist services on a Sunday in France than NO Mass. If anything the first part makes it even more ridiculous: A Cathedral in France with 70 worshippers on a Sunday. Yeah, right! I have been to Mass in France many many times and – well, no!

    Now, let’s look at SSPX: They apparently have 1 million adherents worldwide and about 450 priests (give or take). Even if ALL of these were in France, that stat would still be a load of rubbish.

  18. Dan says:

    Jack:
    Do I sense a bit of anomosity towards the FSSPX Catholic faithful in France?
    Or is it world wide?

  19. Jack says:

    No animosity (I hope!). And I don’t really have anything to do with the Church in France. I just hate all the number-spinning.

  20. Patrick Rothwell says:

    An interesting and well-written article, but I have serious doubts about some of his anecdotes. For one, the JPII quote about John XXIII sounds like an exaggeration and a tall tale. And as far as the Patriarch of Antioch goes – which one? Aren’t there several? And, whatever the “Patriarch of Antioch” may say, the liturgy, including the anaphoras, of the soi-disant “Church of Antioch” has undergone far more radical changes in the last 1500 years that one measly prayer. I also don’t believe the suggestion that the Lefebvrists’ masses have more bums in the pews that the official church in France – evidence please. And those are just some of the objections. (Of course, he is right about the hostility and hatred of many clergy towards the old mass which is horrifying and almost incomprehensible.)

    Finally, of course, to the extent that Casey posits a stark choice between Lefebvrist reaction and Katie-bar-the-door liberalism, it is a false one. There were viable alternatives even during the times of maximum chaos in the Church in the 70s – and that was to scrupulously follow Paul VI – even though many did not want to, understandably. (I know, this was not always possible in some communities.) Unfortunately, perception often created its own reality to the contrary. My own experiences, such as they are, of both the old rite and the new rite have been decidedly mixed bags, but I have had positive experiences with the new rite and believe that it would have been far better received had it not been accompanied by iconclasm in practice, inadequate translations, and vile music.

  21. richard says:

    Following the mass with your missal, reading prayers, telling your beads…the true active participation in the mass. At our church, several of the older women still work their rosaries or read from a tattered missal through mass. And wear their mantilla!

  22. Woody Jones says:

    The real question is just as alluded to at the article’s end: how long does the Good Lord plan to let us have the Holy Father, and who will be next? Here in Houston and elsewhere that I read about, it is hard not conclude that the local Church leadership is just enduring the moment, much like I just finished enduring 15 days without electricity, waiting for Pope Benedict to pass on/ the lights to come back on.

    The contrasting quote from the Patriarch of Antioch could not be more apposite and perhaps we Latins should consider more carefully how the Easterners have managed to survive centuries of Turkish control of their homelands without losing their faith and liturgical practice, while we in the West have seen both seriously eroded.

  23. Antiquarian says:

    Thank you, Jeff Pinyan, for saving me the trouble of clarifying the oft-quoted dishonest translation of Bugnini’s comment on the Good Friday prayer. I hate being put in the position of defending Bugnini, but this is one of those cases where the internet has done a disservice to the truth, spreading some insecure traditionalist’s lie so far and wide that it is accepted as truth.

  24. Jack: I am a bit puzzled as to the point of your labored quibbling about the attendance at the Westminster Mass. However, my reaction would be that 1500 for a special TLM in London did not seem so surprising in the first place.

    My remote little mostly rural diocese has the smallest per-capita percentage Catholic population among the 196 U.S. Catholic dioceses; it’s over 200 miles to the nearest city with an appreciable Catholic population. But at a one-time solemn TLM with essentially no advance publicity effort — compared with what you described in the U.K. — the attendance was between 450 and 500. You can get a sense of the congregation from some of the photos at

    http://www.knoxlatinmass.net/gallery/4Easter2008/HG_Centenary0.htm

    though none of them shows the whole SRO crowd (some of them could not get into the nave proper).

    My point would be that, because of the unfortunate history described well in this article, there is such a thirst for authentic liturgy that a large crowd can be expected at any such Mass almost anywhere.

  25. Jim of Maryland says:

    Father, thanks for bringing this to us. It should be required reading for all bishops and priests in the Church.

  26. Matt Q says:

    A very good article. It sums up briefly yet succinctly the truth of what has been evolving the past forty years. Those who refuse to admit this are just plain stupid or in fact LYING about it. Alas, though, I see this struggle continuing for some time. The infestation of the liberal termites are still too entrenched in the load-bearing walls of this Church for anyone even to think of relaxing at this point. The Holy Father is at least addressing the issues. God bless him.

    God bless those who continue to fight for the Truth.

  27. Joe says:

    Pope BLESSED (Maniac) John XXIII

  28. Richard says:

    What a remarkable article. Thanks to Fr. Z for bringing it to light.

    I suspect that if the JPII anecdote is true, that the Pope was speaking with tongue in cheek. That an old prelate would smile and and quote the old prayers at the foot of the altar upon meeting an old server of his certainly seems credible, at any rate.

    As for the mass-going in France – I might be able to believe that the total number of all *traditionalist* (including not just FSSPX, but FSSP, IGP, ICK, the various monastic foundations) mass-goers could be equal or greater to those attending novus ordo masses. Or that if thy are not, that they might be on track to be so before long. It is hard toget reliable numbers on that. But I do think it’s hard to accept that “Lefebvrists” alone have this honor.

    In short, Mr. Casey might overstate the case for the “comeback of tradition,” but if so, not by much, nor to such degree that it undermines the acuity of this essay. “Pope Benedict himself is a philosophical traditionalist of a sort that is barely understood in the modern world.” Indeed. Especially given how easily he is rooked in by some (ignorant) observers with Lefebvrists. That’s the sad place we’ve arrived at today.

  29. Dan says:

    There is no reason not to believe that Pope John Paul II did not call Pope John, a “maniac”.

    It is entirely possible, since Pope John Paul II was human and the dignity of his office would not prevent him from expressing himself in such a manner.

    What reason would the Cambridge professor have to lie in making up this quote?

  30. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Good post Fr Z.

    And come on y’all. “Maniac” was not a mean statement. JPII had a healthy sense of humor and exaggeration. I imagine as he punched his fellow Pole with whom he felt familiar, that the “maniac” statement was said with a broad smile and jovial air.

    What the comment does convey is that trouble with the Mass started long before we saw the evidence.

    On top of that, JPII was no master of the entrenched Vatican bureaucracy. Very different from our present Pope.

  31. Paul Rimmer says:

    Just a touch of working at the numbers.

    France has a population of about 60,000,000. About half are identified as Catholic. So if 5% attend Church regularly, we have about 1.5 million. Let’s say about half attend Novus Ordo, and about half SSPX. That would mean 750,000 people attend SSPX. Very unlikely, but not impossible.

  32. I imagine as he punched his fellow Pole with whom he felt familiar, that the “maniac” statement was said with a broad smile and jovial air.

    Very well put, Tina. Though who were jarred by this little anecdote — whose literal accuracy makes little difference — betray a paltry appreciation of John Paul II as flesh-and-blood man’s man with a sometimes impish sense of humor. I can imagine this remark made with an ironic wink precisely because of his affection and admiration for John XXIII (which I share), who we can be sure would never have countenanced either the Novus Ordo or the brutal manner of its imposition.

  33. Michael J says:

    Jack,
    Since you are certain that the Mass attendance numbers have been “spun”, and that the suggestion that more individuals attend SSPX offered Masses than dioscean offered Masses on any given Sunday are “rubbish”, what are the actual numbers?

    If you do not know the numbers, on what basis do you accuse John Casey (albeit more diplomatically) of lying?

  34. TJM says:

    This article is a tour de force. Thanks for sharing it, Father Z. All the best, Tom

  35. Dan says:

    I have e-mailed this monumental piece to a dozen chanceries and twice as many parishes.
    Thank you Father.

  36. Mark R says:

    I knew people in Lublin who were students of Karol Card. Wojtyla.
    He was the soul of charity and would have used the word “maniac” facetiously.

    I attended decent Novus Ordo Masses in my youth, for a few years attended the Byzantine rite, yet, sorry to say, the Trid. Mass doen’t “do” anything for me…sorry to phrase it that way. Is there something wrong with me?

  37. Mike Williams says:

    While the piece is indeed powerfully written, I regret the reliance on anecdote, and on inaccurate quotation,on a subject as important as this. One of the reasons Traditionalism has sometimes been so easily marginalized is the frequency with which its apologists ignore accepted standards of research and objectivity. That makes a well-expressed article such as this one a good piece of polemic, but all-too-easily ignored by those who can point to its weakness as scholarship.

    The terrible mendacity of the original translator of the Bugnini statement poisons any discussion in which it’s cited, as it so often is. Perhaps that person thought that Bugnini’s own words and actions weren’t bad enough to accomplish whatever he hoped for, and so twisted them into propagandistic untruth. But since the citation allows those who know what Bugnini actually said to dismiss argument that relies upon it (rightly or wrongly), that translator’s lies have undermined serious debate on the topic.

    Obviously this is a work of deep thought and one with which I largely agree. But I wish the writer had used fewer “stories” and more verifiable support.

  38. Martin Blackshaw says:

    A very interesting article by John Casey, exposing, as others have, the illicit imposition of the Novus Ordo on the Church.

    Some points I would like to make are: 1. I do wish Catholic writers would refrain from using terms such as “Lefebvrists” and “semi-schismatic” in relation to the SSPX. How can anyone who claims to love the old liturgy and the sound doctrines of the Church, and who recognises that the Pope exceded his Petrine authority by imposing that Protestantised Novus Ordo on the Church, and who has witnessed what the Conciliar revolution has done to the Church and to the sacred priesthood, use such terms. They are disdainful of those traditional Catholics who took the only steps they could to preserve the Faith during a time of true persecution. It is quite easy for the smug to use these terms now, but they should remember that if it had not been for Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society he founded there would be no Tridentine Mass today. Yes, Archbishop Lefevre alone put his reputation on the line and gave everything up in defence of the Mass. He alone was primarily responsible for preserving it for future generations. And as regards his disobedience to the Pope, he said: “I would have rather died than disobey the Pope.” Such was the heart-rending decision he HAD to make. So please, let us hear no more of this “Lefebvrist” stuff as though one were refering to some kind of sect. You must look to Vatican II if you want to find things of a sectish nature.

    Now as regards the old Mass and culture, I have always been struck by this truth: When Our Lord hung upon the Cross there was written above Him His Cause in Roman, Greek and Aramaic. The old liturgy preserves all three languages. Latin is obvious, of course, but the Kyrie eleison is Greek and words such as alleluia, Sabaoth, Hosana, etc., are Aramaic. This is another tie of the old Mass right back to Calvary. Surely no accident.

    Finally, can I point out here that while most speak of this present Pontiff having a great love for the old liturgy, few have commented on his failure to give example by celebrating a Tridentine Mass himself. What does this tell us. Well it tells us that this Pope, despite his kind indulgence to Catholics of the old rite, personally favours the Novus Ordo. He is the Supreme Pontiff after all, so claims that he is simply afraid to admit his personal love for the old rite for fear of creating a schism in the hierarchy don’t wash. They certainly will not wash with Our Lord. I have asserted from the time of Summorum Pontificum, and I maintain this position now more than ever, that this Pope merely restored the Tridentine rite in a limited fashion as a counter-balance to the worst excesses of the Novus Ordo. It has never been his intention to restore the true Mass to its rightful place in the Church (the ordinary rite). And we all know that one cannot serve two masters. Still, we must be greatful to this Pope for at least doing something in favour of the true Mass and we must, of course, pray for him that Our Lord will grant him the wisdom and the strength to do yet more.

    Oh yes, and let’s hear no more of the “ultra” from John Casey when referring to those traditional Catholics who refuse absolutely to walk their dogs near a Novus Ordo Mass. We are not “ultra”, we are Catholic.

  39. Flambeaux says:

    Mark R: I’ve had the opposite experience. I’ve been privileged to participate actively in numerous reverently celebrated OF masses and been left cold. Only the rites of Byzantium and the EF have ever really moved me. I’m not sure there is anything wrong with you, in this matter, that isn’t wrong with me. Holy Mother Church assures us that both forms of the Roman Rite are properly formative.

    Mike Williams: While I don’t find this essay particularly objectionable, you do raise a good point. I made similar arguments about logical and evidentiary lacuna in Micheal Rose’s Goodbye, Good Men when that was all the rage — and angered a great many traditionalists in the process. Their reaction to what seemed to me an obvious and neutral factual statement was part of what led me to rethink my involvement with “Trad” communities. I should be grateful, though. Their scorn led me to read Ratzinger. :D

  40. Martin Blackshaw says:

    Apologies folks for the few spelling mistakes in my previous post. I should have revised my comments before posting them. It wasn’t me it was my keyboard, honest!!

  41. chironomo says:

    Jack says;

    “Yeah, right! I have been to Mass in France many many times and – well, no!”

    then says;

    “I don’t really have anything to do with the Church in France”

    Which is it? I would suggest the reaction and attitude of French Bishops towards the MP would seem to argue that the numbers of traditionalist adherents is at least quite large.
    >>>>

    Mark R;

    Experiences with the Tridentine Mass can vary widely. If it were always awe-inspiring and soul shaking and unsurpassingly beauty-filled, it’s likely that we would not be where we are today with the NO. I am fortunate that my very first experience with the EF was at St. John Cantius in Chicago, with excellently trained Priests, beautiful vestments, top-notch schola, etc… this is a very different impression than one would get at a daily Mass or Sunday low Mass.

  42. Martin Blackshaw says:

    Mark R: There is nothing particularly wrong with you, but you must understand that we do not attend Holy Mass for an emotional experience. Nor can we judge the rite by its ability to “move” us. The Tridentine Mass is the Mass of all ages, the continuation of Our Lord’s Sacrifice on Calvary. We are present to participate in that Mass to worship God and unite ourselves with the sufferings of our Saviour. In a sense, then, you could say that not feeling anything at a Tridentine Mass means that you are actually receiving more grace at that Mass, for Our Lord was also desolate on the Cross. So here is the paradox: sensible deprivation can mean more grace.

  43. chironomo says:

    A correction of my above post….

    I should have said…”this is a very different impression than one might get at a less well-prepared daily Mass or Sunday low Mass”

    The way I said it implies that a low Mass is somehow less beautiful or inspiring which is definitely NOT what I meant!

  44. mbd says:

    In regard to the reported reference by John Paul II about Blessed John 23rd, what seems to have eluded all those making comments is that it was most likely that what the Pope told his former altar boy was spoken in Polish, and did not include the English term ‘maniac’. That was apparently the translation of the word or words used – a translation made either by the former server or by John Casey (depending on whether it was told to Casey in English or Polish). Unless we know the actual words spoken by the Pope, we cannot know whether the term ‘maniac’ – which, itself has various connotations — properly captures the connotation intended in the original statement. Consequently, all of the comments as to whether John Paul II would or would not have expressed himself this way are shots in the dark.

  45. Jordanes says:

    Martin Blackshaw said: I do wish Catholic writers would refrain from using terms such as “Lefebvrists” and “semi-schismatic” in relation to the SSPX. How can anyone who claims to love the old liturgy and the sound doctrines of the Church, and who recognises that the Pope exceded his Petrine authority by imposing that Protestantised Novus Ordo on the Church, and who has witnessed what the Conciliar revolution has done to the Church and to the sacred priesthood, use such terms.

    Maybe because he thinks they accurately and clearly refer to the SSPX in a way that his readers would recognise? There shouldn’t necessarily be a problem with refer to “Lefebvrists” than there is with refer to “Dominicans” or “Franciscans” or “Benedictines.” Also, the Church has refrained from formally pronouncing the SSPX to be schismatic, but does refer to what Archbishop Lefebvre did in 1988 as “schismatic,” and functionally the SSPX seems to be schismatic, operating wholly independently of the Church’s communion and hierarchy, even though not formally so.

    It is quite easy for the smug to use these terms now, but they should remember that if it had not been for Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society he founded there would be no Tridentine Mass today.

    Actually this article above provides historical evidence that your claim is not true: “Agatha Christie.”

    Yes, Archbishop Lefevre alone put his reputation on the line and gave everything up in defence of the Mass.

    Not “everything.” He didn’t give up being leader of the SSPX, for example.

    He alone was primarily responsible for preserving it for future generations.

    If you’re “primarily” responsible, by definition you cannot be “alone.”

    Such was the heart-rending decision he HAD to make.

    “With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant: they have thrown down thy altars, they have slain thy prophets with the sword, and I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away.”

    On the contrary:

    “I will leave me seven thousand men in Israel, whose knees have not been bowed before Baal, and every mouth that hath not worshipped him kissing the hands.”

    You must look to Vatican II if you want to find things of a sectish nature.

    Bosh. One must give the word “sect” a wholly new meaning to say Vatican II includes things of sectish nature.

    Now as regards the old Mass and culture, I have always been struck by this truth: When Our Lord hung upon the Cross there was written above Him His Cause in Roman, Greek and Aramaic.

    Or, as Holy Scripture says, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.

    The old liturgy preserves all three languages. Latin is obvious, of course, but the Kyrie eleison is Greek and words such as alleluia, Sabaoth, Hosana, etc., are Aramaic.

    No, they’re Hebrew — they’re Septuagintal Greek transliterations of the Old Testament Hebrew words halleluyah, tzeba’ot, and hoshiyana. Since the Septuagint was the Old Testament Bible of the early Church, those transliterations were carried over into Christian usage, as we see, for example, in the Epistle of St. James, and in other places. Aramaic is one of the sacred liturgical languages of the Church (and Aramaic closely resembles its cousin Hebrew in many ways), but those words in the Latin liturgy are Grecianised Hebrew, not Aramaic.

    Finally, can I point out here that while most speak of this present Pontiff having a great love for the old liturgy, few have commented on his failure to give example by celebrating a Tridentine Mass himself.

    No, I’ve heard many wonder why he has not yet celebrated a traditional Latin Mass as pontiff, as he has before his election.

    Well it tells us that this Pope, despite his kind indulgence to Catholics of the old rite, personally favours the Novus Ordo.

    Wholly apart from the question of whether or not he will ever celebrate a traditional Latin Mass as Pope, I think it’s clear that he favors the reformed Roman rite — otherwise for years he would have been celebrating the traditional Mass more frequently than the reformed Mass.

    He is the Supreme Pontiff after all, so claims that he is simply afraid to admit his personal love for the old rite for fear of creating a schism in the hierarchy don’t wash.

    No, we cannot so easily write off his concern to heal liturgical division and not exacerbate or provoke those who loath the old rite. Just being Supreme Pontiff doesn’t give him the ability or even the right just to do what he wants, even if what he wants is good. But the fact that he is the head of the Latin Church does explain why he celebrates according to the ordinary use of the Roman Rite — so long as it is the ordinary use, he should be expected to celebrate usually according to reformed rite. It will be very welcome if . . . when . . . he celebrates according to the traditional rite.

    They certainly will not wash with Our Lord.

    I don’t think any of us are in a position to judge what will or will not wash with Our Lord when it comes to the Holy Father’s decision not to celebrate a traditional Latin Mass.

    It has never been his intention to restore the true Mass to its rightful place in the Church (the ordinary rite).

    Whether or not that is its rightful place, yes, there has never been any reason to believe he intends, or ever intended, to make the pre-Vatican II Mass the ordinary rite of the Latin Church (assuming of course that he could even pull off something as serious and sweeping as that).

    Oh yes, and let’s hear no more of the “ultra” from John Casey when referring to those traditional Catholics who refuse absolutely to walk their dogs near a Novus Ordo Mass. We are not “ultra”, we are Catholic.

    Those who refuse absolutely to walk their dogs near a Novus Ordo Mass are not “ultra,” they are “ultra ultra ultra ultra.” ;-)

    Yes, yes, I know you didn’t mean that literally.

  46. Dan says:

    Jordanes,

    Fun, aint it?

  47. Matthew says:

    I hope the author is not suggesting that the Anglican “mass” – “Tridentine” or otherwise – is valid?

  48. Nick says:

    It is refreshing to see that Cardinal Spellman of New York was not the only prelate who had a decidedly dim view of Pope John XXIII. At times it seems that the Prime Directive of Romanitas is to publicly spin the mistakes of one’s predecessor(s) while privately being candid. None the less, Pope John Paul II had every opportunity to take the steps Pope Benedict XVI has taken and is taking. He did not.

  49. Martin Blackshaw says:

    Jordanes: “Maybe because he thinks they accurately and clearly refer to the SSPX in a way that his readers would recognise? There shouldn’t necissarily be a problem with refer to “Lefebvrists” than there is with refer to “Dominicans” or “Franciscans” or “Benedictines”.

    I am pleased that you see Archbishop Lefebvre in the same light as St. Francis, St, Dominic and St. Benedict, Jordanes, but let me assure you that the term “Lefebvrist” was not invented as a mark of honour for those who support the great man. It is generally used by modernists in a disdainful way as if to suggest that they speak of a sect instead of traditional Catholics. Any right thinking author would choose his words more carefully. He should also be able to do so without losing his readers.

    “Also, the Church has refrained from pronouncing the SSPX to be schismatic, but does refer to what Archbishop Lefebvre did in 1988 as “schismatic,” and functionally the SSPX does seem to be schismatic, operating wholly independently of the Church’s communion and hierarchy, even though not formally so.”

    Jordanes, this is a contradiction in terms. Putting aside the much-debated question of Archbishop Lefebvre’s actions in 1988, a question that is not as easily answered in canon law as many believe, how can the SSPX be only functionally schismatic and not formally so? Surely it must be one or the other? It is either schismatic or it is not. The Church has declared in the person of Cardinal Hoyos that it is not in schism. So we must not muddy the waters further by claiming that there is another position, e.g., functionally schismatic, but not formally. Rubbish!

    Now you mention “communion and hierarchy” to uphold your claim of functional schism, but here is what German Professor, Georg May had to say about that: “The SSPX is not schismatic because it neither rejects subordination to the Pope nor rejects communion with the bishops (can. 751). …Rather, the latter (e.g., the bishops) reject communion with the SSPX.”

    Dr. May is a highly regarded canonist. From 1960 to 1994 he was professor emiritus of Canon Law, Law of Church-State relations and Canonical History at Mainz University. He is also a highly-respected priest of forty years in the Archdiocese of Mainz.

    “Actually this article above provides historical evidence that your claim is not true: “Agatha Christie.”

    Well not really, Jordanes, all this proves is that there were little pockets of petitioners sending letters to the Pope in the hope that he might give a few the indulgence of an old Mass every now and then. Archbishop Lefebvre did not send such begging letters for a wee local indulgence, he took the lead, as was his duty as a bishop of the Church, in claiming that the Tridentine Mass was not abrogated and could be celebrated as a god-given right by every priest in the Church. He founded an international seminary to form priests for this purpose, thereby elevating the question of the Mass to a global question. The growth of his Society had enough Popes worried sufficiently to prompt them into forming alternatives over which the modernist bishops could retain control. If it had not been for the efforts of this Archbishop, all the little letter writers would have gradually faded from the picture, or at least faded into tiny little groups of insignificance.

    “Not “everything.” He didn’t give up being leader of the SSPX, for example.”

    Wrong again, my friend, Fr. Franz Schmidberger was superior general of the SSPX for years before the Archbishop’s death. That he continued to care for souls, however, is so very true. He simply refused to accept that a servant of God should retire to a comfortable life at age 75.

    “If you’re “primarily” responsible, by definition you cannot be alone.”

    True, Jordanes, true. The use of the word “alone” was wrong on my part. He was not alone. He had the assistance of the great bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer. He was, however, primarily responsible for what we call today the “traditionalist movement.”

    When I said “such was the heart-rending decision he HAD to make,” I did not expect you to throw two contrary quotations from the Old Testament back at me. That is you intepreting Sacred Scripture to suit yourself. Protestants do this, not Catholics. So without wishing to be rude, could we stick to debating on this subject without slipping into this error.

    “Bosh. One must give the word “sect” a wholly new meaning to say Vatican II includes things of a sectish nature.”

    I agree. This was a very poor choice of word for me to use. You are absolutely right. Mea culpa. Let’s take the word out and replace it with heretical.

    “No, they’re Hebrew.”

    You are obviously more learned than I, Jordanes, so I accept another mistake in my comments. So it was not Aramaic, it was Hebrew. This does not alter the sound reality of the point I was trying to make. I stand corrected on this minor error.

    “No, I’ve heard many wonder why he has not yet celebrated a traditional Latin Mass as Pontiff, as he has before his election.”

    Would you be good enough to quote dates and places for these Latin Mass celebrations of Father, Bishop or Cardinal Ratzinger? Indeed, if you can then it is all the more scandalous that he ceased to do so when Pope.

    “No, we cannot so easily write off his concern to heal liturgical division and not exacerbate or provoke those who loath the old rite.”

    Can’t we? Can we not expect Peter to “heal liturgical division” precisely by restoring to its rightful place the Mass whose suppression and supplanting caused liturgical division in the first place? And do we not have a right to expect Peter to exercise his God-given authority against any heretic who declares a loathing for that rite of Mass which has sanctified the saints and martyrs? What! Is it the Pope’s remit to humour heretics. What did Our Lord say to those who walked away in disbelief when He announced to them that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood if they would have eternal life? Exactly. He said nothing to them and let them walk.

    “Just being Supreme Pontiff doesn’t give him the ability or even the right just to do what he wants.”

    Oh really! Pope Paul VI didn’t have a problem in that department when he inflicted the Novus Ordo on us. He acted to the detriment of the Church. This Pope should act similarly to restore all things in Christ.

    “I don’t think any of us are in a position to judge what will or will not wash with Our Lord when it comes to the Holy Father’s decision not to celebrate a traditional Latin Mass.”

    Well I didn’t really say just his decision not to celebrate a tradtional Latin Mass, Jordanes. I did refer to claims that he is afraid to admit his love for the old Mass in case it causes schism in the hierarchy.

    You know that Our Lord said: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Well we certainly know the poisonous fruits of the Novus Ordo and we have every right to declare that those who uphold that dreadful liturgy by their aherence to it, or example in supporting it, will have to answer to Our Lord. And it is a sad fact that to whom more is given more is expected. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ on earth, so his example, good or bad, is paramount in the sanctification of souls. I pray this Pope is the one to restore the true Mass, for his sake.

  50. Martin Blackshaw says:

    Jordanes:

    Before you chide me for using Scriptural quotations after correcting you for using them, let me state that there is a difference in our use of Scripture.

    You offered two quotations from the Old Testament, which, depending on your viewpoint, could be used individually in support of either side of this debate.

    My quotations are without any such ambiguity. They are a clear Scriptural lesson in how we should view people, their words and actions, and how we should treat those who stubbornly reject the truth as revealed by God. Loathing the ancient Latin Mass, in which Our Lord’s sacrifice and Transubstantiation are so clearly expressed, in favour of a liturgy that Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci referred to as having departed in whole and in part from the Catholic theology of the Mass, and which has left many priests destitute of belief in the Mass as either a sacrifice or anything more than a meal service with signs and symbols, does constitute a rejection of the truth as revealed by God.

    While it may be valid, there is no question that the Novus Ordo is poisonous in its theology and that it eventually causes Catholics to lose their faith.

  51. Ioannes Andreades says:

    A very interesting article. The joining together of liturgical issues and the state of the church and religious culture, particularly in Europe, was certainly thought-provoking. Interesting to get both a Syrian and Anglican take on liturgical reform and outlawing of earlier forms. The auto-immune analogy is one I may use myself. The mass as the inheritance of Temple sacrifice was also quite insightful and echoes the Pope’s words in “Spirit of the Liturgy.”

    “[I]t was the most pious Catholics, most devoted to the papacy and its prerogatives who were most outraged, but who felt most bound by loyalty and obedience.”

    That’s quite a statement and one not really backed up by any data. I know plenty of pious, devoted, pro-infallibility Catholics who say they were not outraged. He also could have done without the unverifiable statistics and anecdotes.

  52. Tune says:

    This is what Pope Benedict XVI said, when it comes to motu proprio in his recent trip to French: (taken from: http://zenit.org/article-23613?l=english)

    SVILUPPO: From the planescript, the ’62 Missal segment, in full…
    Q: What do you say to those in France who are worried that the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum” is a step backward with regards to the great institutions of the Second Vatican Council?

    Benedict XVI: It is baseless fear; because this “motu proprio” is simply an act of tolerance, with a pastoral objective, for people who have been formed in this liturgy, who love it, who know it, who want to live with this liturgy. It is a small group, because it [pre]supposes an education in Latin, a formation in a certain type of culture. But it seems to me a normal requirement of faith and pastoral practice for a bishop of our Church to have love and forbearance for these people and allow them to live with this liturgy.

    There is no opposition between the liturgy renewed by Vatican II and this liturgy. Every day, the council fathers celebrated the Mass following the old rite and at the same time they conceived a natural development for the liturgy throughout this century, since the liturgy is a living reality, which develops and keeps its identity within its development…

    So which one has more credibility: Cardinal Castrillon or Pope Benedict XVI?

  53. Jordanes says:

    I am pleased that you see Archbishop Lefebvre in the same light as St. Francis, St, Dominic and St. Benedict, Jordanes, but let me assure you that the term “Lefebvrist” was not invented as a mark of honour for those who support the great man.

    Yep. But whether the archbishop is eventually honored by the Church as a sainted religious founder will depend on whether his fraternity can be regularised, or instead takes the path of the Waldenses, who could have been like the Franciscans if they had not set themselves in opposition to the bishops and so plunged headlong into schism and blinkered heretical nonsense.

    how can the SSPX be only functionally schismatic and not formally so?

    By behaving in a manner redolent of a schismatic group but without being formally declared by the Church to be schismatic.

    Surely it must be one or the other? It is either schismatic or it is not. The Church has declared in the person of Cardinal [Castrillon] Hoyos that it is not in schism.

    He has not said that the SSPX is not materially schismatic, but has sometimes said things that sound like he thinks it is, or might be.

    “The SSPX is not schismatic because it neither rejects subordination to the Pope nor rejects communion with the bishops

    In theory it does not reject them. In practice it has ordained bishops without papal mandate, and establishes chapels without the Church’s mandate and without obtaining the permission of the local ordinary. It also celebrates Mass and sacraments despite all of its priests being suspended a divinis. Now the SSPX claims it is justified in doing these things, being forced by a state of emergency, but whether or not those claims are true, these actions are functionally the things a schismatic group would do even if they technically might not be schismatic.

    Well not really, Jordanes, all this proves is that there were little pockets of petitioners sending letters to the Pope in the hope that he might give a few the indulgence of an old Mass every now and then.

    Even such an indult, though limited, would have ensured that the “Tridentine” Mass would have survived apart from Msgr. Lefebvre’s actions. But yes, it would likely have all but disappeared if all there had been were such petitions. Still, we must acknowledge that the old rite would have hung on regardless of what Msgr. Lefebvre chose to do, because in the end it is we who need God, not Him who needs us.

    “Not “everything.” He didn’t give up being leader of the SSPX, for example.”

    Wrong again, my friend, Fr. Franz Schmidberger was superior general of the SSPX for years before the Archbishop’s death.

    But his retirement was not due to, for example, an order from the Pope.

    When I said “such was the heart-rending decision he HAD to make,” I did not expect you to throw two contrary quotations from the Old Testament back at me. That is you intepreting Sacred Scripture to suit yourself. Protestants do this, not Catholics. So without wishing to be rude, could we stick to debating on this subject without slipping into this error.

    I wasn’t “interpreting” Sacred Scripture per se, I was drawing upon a biblical episode in the life of Elias as an illustrative analogy to the actions of Msgr. Lefebvre, to show whether or not he “had” to make the decision he did in 1988. Elias thought he stood alone, that it depended on him (and he seems to have been at a loss about how to accomplish what God called him to do), but God encouraged him that he still had 7,000 faithful: he wasn’t alone, and it didn’t all depend on him, even if it felt like that.

    Let’s take the word out and replace it with heretical.

    Not exactly an improvement.

    Would you be good enough to quote dates and places for these Latin Mass celebrations of Father, Bishop or Cardinal Ratzinger? Indeed, if you can then it is all the more scandalous that he ceased to do so when Pope.

    I don’t have dates and places, but I’ve seen photos on the internet from at least one of his past celebrations as Cardinal. But I don’t think his refraining from public celebrations of the old rite is necessarily scandalous. His celebrating the old rite could also be scandalous to others. I am hopeful that we will see him celebrate the old rite, but I can imagine good, or at least understandable, reasons why he is reluctant to do so just yet.

    Can we not expect Peter to “heal liturgical division” precisely by restoring to its rightful place the Mass whose suppression and supplanting caused liturgical division in the first place?

    If the old rite is ever to be restored, the Church will have to be nudged to that place. Trying to do it by a massive gesture of papal fiat, satisfying though that would be in many ways, would be likely to cause great harm to the majority of Catholics who know nothing but the new rite. It was disastrous when Paul VI imposed to the botched liturgical reform, and it would be disastrous if Benedict precipitously imposes a wide sweeping liturgical reform. The Holy Father witnessed the pastoral nightmare firsthand, and I can’t imagine he’d want to make anybody suffer through another ordeal like Paul VI made the Church go through back then.

    Oh really! Pope Paul VI didn’t have a problem in that department when he inflicted the Novus Ordo on us. He acted to the detriment of the Church. This Pope should act similarly to restore all things in Christ.

    In your words, Paul VI’s actions were to the detriment of the Church. We should not wish for Benedict XVI to act similarly, even if the intent is to restore all things in Christ.

    You know that Our Lord said: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Well we certainly know the poisonous fruits of the Novus Ordo

    No, its fruits have not all been bad.

    and we have every right to declare that those who uphold that dreadful liturgy by their adherence to it, or example in supporting it, will have to answer to Our Lord.

    Such a position is pretty extreme, Martin. Most Catholisc today have no alternative but to adhere to it, nor would they seek any alternative even if they could, simply because it is the only liturgy they have ever known.

    Loathing the ancient Latin Mass, in which Our Lord’s sacrifice and Transubstantiation are so clearly expressed, in favour of a liturgy that Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci referred to as having departed in whole and in part from the Catholic theology of the Mass, and which has left many priests destitute of belief in the Mass as either a sacrifice or anything more than a meal service with signs and symbols, does constitute a rejection of the truth as revealed by God.

    The Sacrifice and Transubstantiation are clearly expressed in the reformed Roman Missal, just not as intensely or as beautifully as in the traditional Missal. Also, we must distinguish between theology and doctrine. The new Missal does stray from the Tridentine theology of the Mass, which is bad enough, but it does not stray from the Tridentine doctrine. But the ancient liturgies of the Eastern Churches do not enshrine Tridentine theology either, while conveying Catholic doctrine.

    While it may be valid,

    Of that there is no doubt.

    there is no question that the Novus Ordo is poisonous in its theology and that it eventually causes Catholics to lose their faith.

    I think that’s going a good deal further than we can safely go. The reformed rite can hardly be identified as a sure-fire faith destroyer. When celebrated in accordance with the Church’s liturgical tradition, it helps to build and strengthen faith.

    And with that I am going to have to bow out. Our exchange has become too unwieldy, as we see by the absurd length of this comment, and we’ve also strayed pretty far from the topic at hand and have opened up a few hundred rabbit trails. This is bound to incur Father Zuhlsdorf’s just wrath.

  54. Geoffrey says:

    “But whether the archbishop is eventually honored by the Church as a sainted religious founder will depend on whether his fraternity can be regularised…”

    In the history of the Church, has anyone who has died excommunicated been “forgiven” after death or even canonized? I did not think that was possible.

  55. Art says:

    St. Hippolytus comes to mind as one who fell into schism but was eventually canonised.

  56. Geoffrey says:

    Was St. Hippolytus reconciled to the Church before his death, or did he die excommunicated and/or in schism?

    Seeing how serious excommunication is (cut off from the sacraments), I cannot imagine someone who dies without being reconciled being canonized.

  57. Art says:

    You may be right – the fact that the church reveres St. Hippolytus as a martyr may be the only clue that he reconciled before he died. The details don’t go any further than that since he did live in the ~200s. I’ll withdraw the example then due to the lack of solid facts.

  58. Peter Esser says:

    I stumbled over a very few points … e.g. that anecdote about the late Holy Father John Paul II, and I woul like to contribute this to his snese of humour – and to his lack of political correctness.

    What struck me in this article – as a »child of the liturgical reform« – was that I knew most of the described post-Concile phenomena. I know the interpretation of »participatio actuosa« as walking around in the altar room, taking smaller ministries and so on. I know by experience the meaning behind the quotation asserted to Archbishop Bugnini, that we had to strip away prayers which could be a stumble stone for our protestant brethren. (I can only hope he didn’t say that, or that he said that in some context that …)

    How much would I like to cry out and shout. »Oh no! John Casey is overdoing! Things aren’t that bad, and we can trust the architects of our renewed liturgy!« – But I have to admit that the actual discussion about liturgy truly is a discussion about the »very nature of church«. I can hardly remember having heared a preaching about the Real Presence of the Lord, about his sacrifice of Golgotha being present on the altar – if not in some very few churches.

    What to do? A german writer, Martin Mosebach, who wrote a book »Häresie der Formlosigkeit« (Heresy of Formlessness) said, that we are forced to become liturgy experts (»nolens volens zu Liturgiexperten werden mußten« Mosebach, Häresie, p.27), and I must agree. We cannot leave the battle field to academic liturgists, at least not here in the Northwest of Europe. It is not only bout liturgy, about esthetics, as some guys have presumed. It is about the nature of the church.

    That is why I will work through some standard books about liturgy, about the faith of the chuch, – and also through the works of some protagonists of the Liturgical Movement, for instance Romano Guardini. I will become expert myslf, but I hope to do it in a humility that allows me – as Mosebach said – not to »leave Holy Mass like a theater critic«.

  59. Martin Blackshaw says:

    Jordanes:

    You are quite correct about the length of the comments we are batting back and forth in this debate, so let us, in good old Vatican II style, agree to disagree and call a halt to our exchanges.

    I was tempted to answer your response, for much of it is, frankly, just not sustainable in fact, such as your claim that the New Mass is not poisonous to the Catholic Faith. But no, slap on the wrist for me, I will not be tempted further. Permit me, then, to make my last sentence one of wishing you Our Lord’s blessing and Our Lady’s protection.

  60. Martin Blackshaw says:

    Geoffrey:

    Without wishing to generate another debate I simply must address this question of Archbishop Lefebvre’s excommunication. [But you go ahead and post it anyway? Look at the subject of this entry. I will let this stand, but the rabbit hole is closed.]

    We know that Our Lord gave to His apostles the power to bind and loose and the power to forgive or retain (sins). But that power was not given to be abused, it was given to exercise the justice of God.

    Now there are many who simply accept the excommunication of Archbishop Lefebvre on the basis of what is written in the letter of the (canon) law. But what about the spirit of the law?

    It is not permissible merely to state that such and such a person has breached the letter of the law without also considering the motive behind the breach. Intent is everything in such a serious judgement as excommunication.

    It just so happens that the letter of the law can just as easily be used in defence of Archbishop Lefebvre’s 1988 actions (canons 1323 & 1324), but the debate is purely academic.

    The real question is this: What was the intent of Archbishop Lefebvre when he chose to disobey the Pope and proceed with the consecration of those bishops at Econe in 1988? Everything depends on the answer to this question.

    Now anyone who knew the Archbishop, his love of Church and Papacy, the one Pius XII called “the best of my Papal delegates”, etc., etc., knows full well that there was NEVER a wilful intention on his part to cause harm to the Church or to create a “schism”. Indeed, he was the first to say that the new bishops would not be given jurisdiction because only the Pontiff has the right to administer this. So, clearly, his intentions, even though some may conclude they were misguided, could never be considered wilfully bad. One must show oneself to have a wilfully bad intent to incur the serious penalty of excommunication.

    Now let us consider the circumstances in which Archbishop Lefebvre found himself.

    He was getting old and was, in fact dying. He knew full well the hostility in the modernist hierarchy towards tradition and he knew that the ordination of future priests for tradition was in serious doubt. Even when he signed the accord with Pope John Paul II he realised afterwards, having spoken with some senior prelates, that Rome was viewing the accord in a different light from himself. Later correspondence with Rome was to prove his fears correct. And so he acted in the way left open to him. There was never, never, never the intent on his part to harm the Church. Rather, he was trying to help the Church in a time of great crisis and during a Pontificate that was particularly scandalous in many respects.

    So we have to ask ourselves this question: If Archbishop Lefebvre was truly excommunicated in the eyes of Our Lord for disobedience in accordance with the letter of the law, is it not also true to say, then, with the sedevacantists, that Pope Paul VI was also culpable when he rejected the warning of his predecessor St. Pius V and rejected the Mass codified by the Council of Trent? Look at harm this Pope did to the Church by his disobedience. Does this make him worthy of excommunication? Was John Paul II worthy of excommunication when he permitted a Hindu priestess to sign his head with the mark of a false God, or when he permitted a statue of Buddha to be placed on top of a tabernacle and worshipped?

    The answer is no, they were not worthy of excommunication because there is no evidence to suggest that their wayward actions were INTENTIONALLY bad. There was, and is, however, sufficient evidence to prove that Archbishop Lefebvre’s intention was definitley not bad. Canon Law says no bad intention, no grounds for excommunication.

    Just as well it does consider the spirit of the law or else half the hierarchy would be excommunicated by now for disobedience to Pope Benedict in the matter of Summorum Pontificum!

  61. Chris says:

    At the end of the piece, the author brought up the point about the relationship between Europe and Christianity – namely that there would not be a Europe without Christianity. Of course, though, we have to wonder how much of the inverse is true. And what are the implications of this in regard to the spread of Christianity? If Christianity flourished in the West because of the philosophical heavy lifting done by the Greeks, to such a point that the only sui-jurus churches that exist outside of direct Greek and Roman influence are the Ethiopian and the Syro-Malabar/Malankar, then in what way is it possible to speak of evangelization of peoples without speaking of a Westernization (specifically Hellenization) of peoples?
    Again, similar points could be made about an adequate Romanization of these peoples from the standpoint of culture as a whole and not merely liturgically.
    I guess to recapitulate Regensburg – what does Europe mean? And if it is the flourishing of Christendom, how can we expect Europe to undergo a forgetfulness of self while the Church does not?

  62. EDG says:

    “The first time I was taken to mass as a child, my mother told me to watch the altar attentively, because an angel might fly across it.”

    I loved that little image! The entire article, in fact, was wonderful, and many thanks for bringing it to the attention of many of us who might otherwise have missed it.

    As for the JPII/John XXIII comment, JPII could have changed the changes at any moment, but he didn’t. And in any case, John XXIII was dead by the time the Council ended and really can’t be blamed for the things that happened after it (although it is true that some changes to the Liturgy were made while the Council was still in progress, since the liturgy document was one of the first ones issued). As far as JPII, I think we have to leave him alone and not worry about assigning blame. He died with great sanctity and faith and was an example to a world that increasingly wants to snuff out lives before people get to that state. As for the rest of it, God will decide. And then, of course, “De mortuis,” etc.

  63. Jordanes says:

    Geoffrey asked: In the history of the Church, has anyone who has died excommunicated been “forgiven” after death or even canonized? I did not think that was possible.

    Not “forgiven” after death, but it has been the case that a person who was wrongly excommunicated had that penalty rescinded after death when the Church judged that the penalty was invalid. That’s what happened with St. Joan of Arc: it was determined that she did nothing that needed to be forgiven, since she had been tried and convicted of spurious charges by an English kangaroo court.

    Art said: St. Hippolytus comes to mind as one who fell into schism but was eventually canonised.

    As you and Geoffrey indicated, St. Hippolytus, the first antipope, apparently reconciled with the Church before his martyrdom. As the old Catholic Encyclopedia says:

    He was banished to the unhealthful island (insula nociva) of Sardinia at the same time as Pontianus; and shortly before this, or soon afterward, he became reconciled with the legitimate bishop and the Church of Rome. For, after both exiles had died on the island of Sardinia, their mortal remains were brought back to Rome on the same day, 13 August (either 236 or one of the following years), and solemnly interred, Pontianus in the papal vault in the catacomb of Callistus and Hippolytus in a spot on the Via Tiburtina. Both were equally revered as martyrs by the Roman Church: certain proof that Hippolytus had made his peace with that Church before his death.

    In the early Church the understand was that schismatics or heretics who died for their faith were not genuine martyrs, but the Roman Church has always revered St. Hippolytus as a martyr, which would not have been the case had he not reconciled with Pope Pontian before their joint martyrdoms.

    With Archbishop Lefebvre, the Church will have to issue a ruling that his excommunication was invalid in order for him to be canonised. Personally I don’t find that to be very likely — Rome understandably doesn’t take illicit consecration of bishops lightly, and there is bound to be concern about the message it would send if his excommunication was deemed to have been improperly decreed — but then I’m neither a canon lawyer nor the Pope.

  64. Martin Blackshaw says:

    Geoffrey:

    If we consider the last paragraph of Jordanes’ comments of 12.43 pm to be true, then Archbishop Lefebvre is, without doubt, in eternal torment in Hell.

    Anyone who knew Archbishop Lefebvre and understood his true love of the Church and the Papacy could never believe such a thing. After all, it was not he who brought a new religion to the Church. He changed nothing of what was handed down through tradition. It was his excommunicator who was a man of novelty, not the Archbishop.

    Considering that Cardinal Silvio Oddi went to the Archbishop’s tomb in 1991 and prayed, adding “Merci Monseigneur” at the end of his prayer, tells us, I think, that Rome already accepts that Archbishop Lefebvre’s excommunication was improperly decreed. [That anecdote, even if true, is no basis for such a conclusion.] This will be announced one day, no question about it, but until then it serves as a useful bargaining tool against the bishops of the SSPX.

    Like Jordanes, I am no canon lawyer or Pope. I do, however, have my sensus fidei (sense of the faith) and I know who the real schismatic minded ones are, the ones who have already done great harm to the eternal Catholic faith with their new religion. [You you have given yourself the authority of the Church’s duly instituted shepherds.] If Cardinals, bishops and priests can preach heresy every day in all parts of the world without censure, and it does happen, then we can only wonder whatever happened to the holy indignation that Rome so keenly displayed, and continues to act out, against an Archbishop whose only intention was to keep the faith and pass it on without alteration or error. Please re-read my earlier comments about intent and remember that it is a heresy to believe in Papal impeccability. I note that no-one has addressed my earlier comments about Pope John Paul’s dealings with the gods of the Pagans. I find it tragically ironic that Catholics accept so easily Pope John Paul’s excommunication of the Archbishop Lefebvre for his faithfulness to sacred tradition, and yet pass so lightly over the same Pope’s apparent offence against the First Commandment. [That’s about enough.]

  65. Martin Blackshaw says:

    Fr. z:

    I notice that you have highlighted certain sections of my comments with interpretations that make me look like some kind of sedevacantist. [No. I didn’t. A sedevacantist denies that the Pope is truly Pope and the See of Peter is empty. I didn’t nothing to suggest you think that.] Nothing could be further from the truth. I detest sedevacantism and challenge it at every opportunity.

    As a Catholic, I have every right to view my religion in light of sacred tradition and to conclude that what has entered the Church since Vatican II is essentially a new religion, e.g., a new Mass, ecumenism, collegiality, religious freedom, etc., which runs contrary to what was taught and practiced before. This is not assuming to myself the authority of the Church’s duly instituted shepherds but, rather, assuming to myself my Catholic duty of vigilance for my soul’ sake, a vigilance which our duly appointed shepherds have neglegted these past forty years. [you have a right to your views. On my blog I have a right to have posted what I desire to have posted.]

    You say “That’s about enough” to my reference to Pope John Paul’s APPARENT offence against the First Commandment. Ok Father, you’re a priest of some learning, [what a concession!] so will you please tell me what a Catholic must take from these actions of Pope John Paul II, or are we forbidden per se from discussing scandals involving Popes? Please note the word “APPARENT.” [Ifind the suggestion that the Pope violated the First Commandment abhorrent, your use of the word “apparent” notwithstanding. That is irresponsible and I won’t have it around here. ]

    Perhaps you would also be good enough to give your view on my other comments, particularly the second paragraph beginning: “Anyone who knew Archbishop Lefebvre, etc.” I am not agitating here, [I think you are. You have referred to the Novus Ordo as bearing “poisonous” fruits, for example. I guess I must be one of those poisonous fruits. I was first attracted to the Church through good reverent and traditional celebrations of the Novus Ordo. I was ordained by John Paul II in a Novus Ordo Mass and ordination. I say the Novus Ordo when am asked, I think both validly and reverently. Yet I apparently am producing poison when I do so. I once permanently banned someone from this blog for the suggestion that no priest offers the Novus Ordo reverently and that nothing good can come of it. I am very happy to do so again. Yes… I think you are agitating, to an extent. And while that would be fine on your blog, on mine I… well… I won’t have it. I don’t have this blog so that people can call these things poisonous and suggest that John Paul II violated the First Commandment. I am happy to have various views expressed and discussed, but with reason and reasonably.] merely asking you kindly to qualify your remarks to me and to show some balance by commenting on the other sections of my post. [Sorry… I have a lot of other things pressing my time. ]

  66. Martin Blackshaw says:

    Dear Fr. Z:

    I accept by your hostile tone and your threat that it is best for charity’ sake that I do not press you further. Suffice it to say that you may have had a different view of things if you had been a cradle Catholic. [Don’t go there…] I am sorry to have angered you, I wasn’t aware that you were a convert. [It shouldn’t make a difference that Fr. Z is a convert… what you said was harmful. ] My experience is that there is a difference in the depth of emotion felt by cradle Catholics who had their inheritence taken from them and converts who only came to know the family once it had fallen into poverty. [Huh… you can’t imagine what I have gone through for this.] You need not ban me from your blog for I assure you that it holds nothing further of interest for me. Perhaps the wise and holy priest was right when he said to me recently that blogging was a scourge. [Let me help you with that.] May God bless you and keep you.

  67. Jordanes says:

    Martin said: If we consider the last paragraph of Jordanes’ comments of 12.43 pm to be true, then Archbishop Lefebvre is, without doubt, in eternal torment in Hell.

    How do we get from “not canonised” to “damned to hell”? Most saints have not been canonised: that’s why we have All Saints Day.

    Excommunication doesn’t mean “damned to hell.” Only God can say if a person who dies in a state of excommunication is condemned to hell. Assuming Msgr. Lefebvre’s excommunication is valid, even so there still would be no reason to assume that his soul was not reconciled with God at the end.

  68. Jon K says:

    “While the piece is indeed powerfully written, I regret the reliance on anecdote, and on inaccurate quotation,on a subject as important as this. One of the reasons Traditionalism has sometimes been so easily marginalized is the frequency with which its apologists ignore accepted standards of research and objectivity. That makes a well-expressed article such as this one a good piece of polemic, but all-too-easily ignored by those who can point to its weakness as scholarship.”

    This simply isn´t true. The reason why Traditionalists have been marginalized and dismissed is: ideology. And the fact that Traditionlaists were not in power and therefore could be ridiculed at whim. Sad to say, it is not any more complicated than that. Besides, in my experience, the friends of Bugnini´s reform (even those with university degrees, indeed even experts in liturgy) are not one little bit more inclined to accuracy than certain Traditionalists who overdo it.

  69. Nick says:

    Since the Church consists simultaneously of both the earthly and the heavenly, excommunication by its nature separates the excommunicated from both. The film “Becket” underscores this vividly. Although something could be said about the tone of Mr. Blackshaw’s posts, his question about Pope John Paul II’s toying with pagan religions, the resultant confusion and cause for scandal, is mundane to his point. The matter will be addressed eventually. It is understandable how one ordained by this Supreme Pontiff would be loathe to tolerate any perceived criticism on his private blog. Lesse majeste.

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