Today is the 13th anniversary of the implementation of Benedict XVI’s monumentally important Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. It went into force today, though it was released on 07/07/07. This document is perhaps the most important gift from the too-short pontificate of Papa Ratzinger, and we honor him and thank him for it.
On this day in 2007, I had the honor to be the guest of my good friend, His Hermeneuticalness, Fr. Tim Finigan at his parish in Blackfen. We had a Solemn Mass, I preached, there was a grand reception in the hall with laity and clergy. I recall that that is where I first me the late Marie Dean (aka Supertradmum) who commented here very often. In the evening Father and I went to Brompton Oratory for a Solemn Mass. It was a happy day.
Benedict surely choose the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross for Summorum Pontificum to take effect for a reason. The older, traditional form of the Roman Rite is, itself, a constant exaltation of the Cross. The Holy Cross of our salvation must be central to our liturgical rites. It truly is in the traditional form, while it is far less so in the newer form… especially in the way that it is celebrated far and wide. Having the Cross firmly before our eyes in our sacred liturgical rites is critically important for our identity. The Cross challenges our earthliness. It draws us into its mystery, which is simultaneously frightening and alluring.
Back in 2007, I posted here some Rules of Engagement, now that SP is in force. I think they still pertain.
Fr. Z’s 5 Rules of Engagement now that the Motu Proprio is in force:
1) Rejoice because our liturgical life has been enriched, not because “we win”. Everyone wins when the Church’s life is enriched. This is not a “zero sum game”.
2) Do not strut. Let us be gracious to those who have in the past not been gracious in regard to our “legitimate aspirations”.
3) Show genuine Christian joy. If you want to attract people to what gives you so much consolation and happiness, be inviting and be joyful. Avoid the sourness some of the more traditional stamp have sadly worn for so long.
4) Be engaged in the whole life of your parishes, especially in works of mercy organized by the same. If you want the whole Church to benefit from the use of the older liturgy, then you who are shaped by the older form of Mass should be of benefit to the whole Church in concrete terms.
5) If the document doesn’t say everything we might hope for, don’t bitch about it like a whiner. Speak less of our rights and what we deserve, or what it ought to have been, as if we were our own little popes, and more about our gratitude, gratitude, gratitude for what God gives us.
I think these Rules apply even today.
And I have a few others, which I have posted elsewhere… ma lascia stare.
I sometimes call Summorum Pontificum our “Emancipation Proclamation”. I also refer to it as a key element in Benedict’s “Marshall Plan” for rebuilding the Church as a bullwark against the Dictatorship of Relativism that so threatens us after the devastation which occurred in the wake of Vatican II.
In no way am I less convinced of that now, than I was then.