A reader sent me a link to a reaction from a priest of the Archdiocese of Seattle to the Pontifical Mass in Washington DC for the anniversary of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI.
The writer in question is one… well… here is his blurb from his blog:
Jan Larson, a senior priest of the Archdiocese of Seattle, was ordained in 1968. He received a M.A. in liturgical studies from the University of Notre Dame, and a D.Min. in pastoral liturgy from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. He has served as director of the Archbishop’s Office of Worship and as liturgical consultant for the building and renovation of churches in western Washington. For eighteen years he wrote a weekly column on various liturgical issues in The Catholic Northwest Progress, the official newspaper for the Archdiocese of Seattle. He currently assists the liturgical ministry of Our Lady of Sorrows church in Snoqualmie, Washington, and St. Anthony church in Carnation, Washington. He teaches for the Archdiocese’s Liturgical Ministry Institute, and presents various workshops.
I note from the onset he does not use the title "Father".
With that snapsnot in mind, let’s look at what "Jan" wrote, with my emphases and comments.
I watched the first part of the old Latin Mass (the Extraordinary Form) celebrated recently at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Lots of old fashioned vestments, the bishop wearing gloves, men with all sorts of capes and veils. [Here is an old liberal tactic. Liberals usually get around to suggesting that men who are liturgically traditional are effeminate.] But vesture is only one of the negatives so apparent [is it? Is it "apparently negative", as in "obviously bad"?] in the old Latin Mass. I am familiar with this form of the Mass from seminary days in the sixties, but now the rite does appear to be a museum liturgy, a ritual of mystification rather than mystery. [It certainly seemed to be alive in the Shrine on Saturday. These were people who were praying. The writer uses a nice little play on words with "mystification" and "mystery", but I am left wondering what that means… I am mystified, I suppose. I think he means that nobody could possible understand what is going on. Perhaps the writer doesn’t understand the older form of Mass as well as he tries to suggest above. It’s been a loooong time for him, after all, and he is getting older.]
I must be honest in saying that I find this rite offensive by todays’s liturgical standards. [Are these the same liturgical standards which were founded on the violation of liturgical laws and which involve such dignified elements as big puppets?] It isn’t just the endless bows, nods and genuflections, [Apparently the writer doesn’t like physical expressions of reverence to God or signs of respect to the other people who are involved.] nor even the silly dancing birettas. Nor is it the bishop preaching, surrounded by vested ministers sitting undecorously on the steps, [Why is sitting where you are supposed to sit "undecorous"? It strikes me that were that posture, that sitting on the steps, undecorous, it would have been phased out perhaps even before the 16th century. But in those days perhaps people were less concerned about themselves in the liturgical action and more concerned with fulfilling a proper role.] as if the basilica has run short of seating for ministers of the Mass. [Actually, the basilica did run out of seating….] And to whom, exactly, are the readers proclaiming the scriptures? [Here is an indication of the low opinion with which he holds the congregation: If something is not read directly into their faces, they won’t be able to participate. He also ignores the fact that the places for singing the readings have reasons. Perhaps he doesn’t know the older form as well as he thinks he does.] If it’s to the people, then this critical proclamation is in an unintelligible language. If to God, well, God already knows the readings.
I find it offensive that anyone would foster the return of a rite that is immune from the fundamental principles of good liturgy annunciated by the formal teaching of Vatican II. [So, the liturgy before the Council was bad. And the liturgical directives of the Council Fathers were "formal teachings". In that case, we might ask the writer how much effort he has put into obeying the formal teachings (what does that mean, btw? dogmas? definitions?) about how pastors of souls are obliged to teach their flocks to respond both singing and speaking in both Latin and their mother tongue? He has made sure that Gregorian Chant and polyphony has pride of place? Has he made sure that Latin is being used? After all, the Council formally mandated those things. I think the writer is simply superimposing his liberal fantasy about what the Council was about and suppressing what it really mandated.] Why would anyone return to a rite that virtually ignores the Hebrew Bible on Sundays and feasts, that requires no homily on the scriptures, that strictly exculdes any lay ministers? [What on earth is he talking about? The vast majority of those serving at the Pontifical Mass in Washington were lay people.] The Church teaches that full participation is required by all, [No. The Church does not teach that it is "required". This is a goal identified by the Council. Furthermore, what the writer is saying is that everyone should be carrying things, or singing ever word. In his view, we would have to force people to do things externally, to require them to move and sing, etc. Tell that to the old women who is mostly deaf and blind but who knows in her heart what is taking place and longs to unite herself with the Lord’s Sacrifice renewed as she sits in her pew or wheelchair. The writer has a shallow understanding of what "active participation" means. His is the old, cliche view which has so harmed the Church’s worship for decades.] that our rites should be simple, short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repitions. [Tell that to the Byzantines. I didn’t think any of the repetitions in the Mass on Saturday were "useless". Did you? They were all gestures or words of praise of God, which I think are never useless. You can debate whether they are necessary, but they are not useless. But here comes the big one. This is the part that shows his colors:] Our rites should be within the people’s power of comprehension, [Because liberals think you are stupid.] and not require much explanation. The old Latin rite ignores all these fundamental principles. It is a rite that cries out for reform, just as it was crying out the day before Vatican II began. [The Council Fathers thought the rite required reform as well.]
The Council Fathers thought that some reform was necessary. They gave some mandates and the mandates were not obeyed. Even the reforms which we got – which were not actually mandated by the Council – were disobeyed by men such as the writer of the piece above. And now they want people to obey the Council. The irony is rich.
Furthermore, the writer pits the Council against John Paul II (Ecclesia Dei adflicta) and Benedict XVI (Summorum Pontificum). I will just toss this out as a suggestion, but I suspect that both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have at least as clear a grasp of what the Council involved as the writer. Am I off base? I suspect that Benedict XVI may know as much about the liturgical vision of the Council as the writer, even though the writer did go to Notre Dame for liturgy!
I particularly liked that "required to participate". Think about that. Surely this explains why liberals are endlessly prodding and haranguing people during "liturgy".
There is a great deal more to say, but this is old stuff…. very old and getting older by the minute.