I’ve called this important Motu Proprio a key element of Benedict’s “Marshall Plan“.
It is working. Just today, for example, I read a pastoral letter of a diocese which evinces a measure of underlying anxiety: it smacks of concern that, perhaps, people are being attracted to a more traditional way of receiving Communion, and it pushes lots of standing and sticking out of hands and not preaching about Confession. Interesting.
While Benedict wrote that the two forms of the Roman Rite shouldn’t be mixed, he also clearly indicated that there should be, would be, a “mutual enrichment”. It was his desire to “jump start”, as it were, the organic development of liturgical worship which the post-Conciliar sudden imposition of an artificially created rite had snuffed out. What he called “mutual enrichment” I call “gravitational pull”. As it turns out in the observable world, the greater an object’s mass, the greater its gravitational force. The more profound and denser “mass” of tradition is producing the stronger gravitational pull on the less profound “mass” of post-Conciliar innovation and liturgical antinomianism.
Does that mean that the gravitational pull is not mutual? Hardly! I think that many traditionalists celebrate the older, traditional rites with great devotion now precisely because of our sad experiences since the Council and precisely because they have recovered an accurate application of the important Conciliar message about “active participation” from the wreckage of the intervening decades.
Great strides have been taken in the last 11 years. The number of places where the older, traditional form of the Roman Rite has grown. Importantly, many young priests have learned and are learning their traditional rite. This will have a long-term effect on how they understand themselves as priests. In turn that will change how they say Mass and preach, which will produce beneficial knock-on effects in their congregations.
It’s all about revitalizing our Catholic identity. If we don’t know who we are as Catholics, we can’t be effective as Catholics in our families or the public square.
In the next few years we will see a sharp downturn in the numbers of people going to Mass and in the number of priests and, probably, churches available. We have to start thinking about this. What are we going to do? I know one thing: where tradition is tried, tradition seems to succeed.
We need to think inside the box so that we properly think outside the box. Our sacred liturgical choices matter enormously for our future.
WE ARE OUR RITES!
Say a prayer today for Benedict XVI. Support your priests and bishops in their good initiatives to restore tradition for the benefit of the whole local Church you belong to. Promote traditional worship wherever possible. Work harder!