Skip to comments.The Battle Over the Mass [Catholic Caucus]
Posted on 02/23/2007 8:20:35 PM PST by Salvation
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|The Battle Over the Mass|
Why is such a battle over the Mass occurring now, 40 years after the Second Vatican Council? Because Benedict XVI wishes to restore what has been lost.
Pope Benedict XVI, against the opposition of many, is preparing to issue a "motu proprio," or personal decision, allowing wider celebration of the old Mass. We applaud his decision and urge him to publish it quickly. The time has come for the restoration of the perennial liturgy of the Church. It has been too long since the sublimely beautiful and holy liturgy of our ancestors, and of our own youth, was abandoned for light and transient reasons.
Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez has stated publicly that the document's publication is imminent, so it would not be surprising if the document were issued even before this issue of Inside the Vatican appears. It would be good if it were so.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, a "motu proprio" is "the name given to certain papal rescripts on account of the clause motu proprio ('of his own accord' or 'by his own decision') used in the document." The encyclopedia continues: "The words signify that the provisions of the rescript were decided on by the Pope personally, that is, not on the advice of the cardinals or others, but for reasons which he himself deemed sufficient... A Motu Proprio was first issued by Innocent VIII in 1484. It was always unpopular in France, where it was regarded as an infringement of Gallican liberties, for it implied that the sovereign pontiff had an immediate jurisdiction in the affairs of the French Church. The best-known recent example of a motu proprio is the instructions issued by Pius X on 22 November, 1903, for the reform of Church music."
There are those who have argued that such a papal decision will "cause confusion," will be "too abrupt." But the decision which caused our current confusion was the decision after the Second Vatican Council to change the Mass, abruptly. That decision was taken virtually overnight, without consultation with the faithful around the world. And so let the return of the old Mass be brusque, let it come quickly and decisively, as the banishment of the old Mass was quick and decisive.
Pope Benedict has argued that the profound root of the ecclesial crisis of our time is liturgical, that the crisis of the sense of the sacred, the crisis in the sense of God's presence, which has characterized our time, is a liturgical crisis. If he acts now to restore the old liturgy, he will be coherent with everything he has been saying and writing for 50 years. A decision to delay the document, or set it entirely aside, would be out of keeping with his own expressed convictions over a lifetime of reflection.
The International Federation in support of the old Mass, Una Voce, on January 29 published an eloquent manifesto in support of the Pope. "There has been much speculation in the media in recent months about the expectation from Rome of a document that will grant greater freedom for the celebration of the traditional ([so-called] 'Tridentine') Roman rite of Mass," the document begins.
"There have been some highly critical comments from certain quarters, especially from the French and German bishops, who do not agree with the prospect of loosening the very tight restrictions imposed by most bishops around the world. It is a fact, for whatever reason, that these bishops oppose greater freedom for the celebration of the traditional Mass and have no interest in the opinions of the laity or even of many of their own priests who long to celebrate this ancient rite; a rite that has never been abolished and is still valid...
"In 1971 many leading British and international figures... presented a petition to His Holiness Pope Paul VI asking for the survival of the traditional Roman Catholic Mass on the grounds that it would be a serious loss to western culture. The then Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Heenan himself appealed to Pope Paul for the continued celebration of the traditional Mass. The full text of this appeal in 1971 was:
'If some senseless decree were to order the total or partial destruction of basilicas or cathedrals, then obviously it would be the educated whatever their personal beliefs who would rise up in horror to oppose such a possibility. Now the fact is that basilicas and cathedrals were built so as to celebrate a rite which, until a few months ago, constituted a living tradition. We are referring to the Roman Catholic Mass. Yet, according to the latest information in Rome, there is a plan to obliterate that Mass by the end of the current year. One of the axioms of contemporary publicity, religious as well as secular, is that modern man in general, and intellectuals in particular, have become intolerant of all forms of tradition and are anxious to suppress them and put something else in their place. But, like many other affirmations of our publicity machines, this axiom is false. Today, as in times gone by, educated people are in the vanguard where recognition of the value of tradition is concerned, and are the first to raise the alarm when it is threatened. We are not at this moment considering the religious or spiritual experience of millions of individuals. The rite in question, in its magnificent Latin text, has also inspired a host of priceless achievements in the arts not only mystical works, but works 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. In the materialistic and technocratic civilization that is increasingly threatening the life of mind and spirit in its original creative expression the word it seems particularly inhuman to deprive man of word-forms in one of their most grandiose manifestations. The signatories of this appeal, which is entirely ecumenical and non-political, have been drawn from every branch of modern culture in Europe and elsewhere. They wish to call to the attention of the Holy See, the appalling responsibility it would incur in the history of the human spirit were it to refuse to allow the Traditional Mass to survive, even though this survival took place side by side with other liturgical reforms.'"
The Manfesto then concludes: "We appeal to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 to allow the free celebration of the traditional Roman rite of Mass, the Mass of Ages, the Mass of Antiquity, on the altars of the Church."
Inside the Vatican joins its voice to this appeal
The Novus Ordo vs. the Old Mass
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You can do a very devout Novus Ordo mass...but it is true that so much of the sense of the sacred is weak, particularly with the crop of middle-aged priests aiding and abetting the flakiness...
I haven't been to a Tridentine mass since I was about 6, and that as a visitor long before I was catholic, but they need to act before Latin is totally lost as a liturgical language, with fewer and fewer people around who could say the mass without having to learn Latin from scratch...
If people could see what true reverence looks like, they would be attracted! We want that, there's a hole in the psyche that wants the transcendent moment where we can look up to God, something so often missing with the wreckovators have done with all the liturgical committee silliness and sometimes outright heresy...I know of two churches in this town I won't go near to on Easter unless out of dire necessity because of "liturgical movement" performances.
I mean, I know I'm not the only person who's ever had to go to confession because of uncharitable thoughts about the music or other thing that should have been something that lifted me closer to God instead of causing me to sin...
I dedicated my prayer and fasting this Lent to the clergy and bishop in my diocese because of that, seeing maybe I got led here just for that sort of thing...but another one of my prayers is, Lord, if the Holy Father is going to do this, please let it be soon!
Bump for faith. The Bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese allows one church in this area to give the old mass.
Deo gratias. Let it be so.
When the Council of Trent was convened in 1545 there were so many variations and corruptions in the mass across the Church that the Council decided to root out the tendencies of local churches to make innovations om the mass (which often led to heresy) by allowing only those forms of the mass which were in use more than two hundred years when the council convened. The result was one mass that unified the entire church.
The Second Vatican Council is often blamed for the Novus Ordo, but in reality most of the controversy was not caused by the Council as many claim. The real controversy was that Paul VI and the parts of the Curia implemented something completely different than what the Council Fathers intended. The Council's decree did not order the Church to rewrite the mass and introduce the vernacular. The decrees only allowed for the vernacular in "certain prayers", not in the entire mass. In fact, the Council actually orders Latin to be maintained in the Roman Rite of the Church. The council likely would have condemned the actions taken following the council. The council did NOT order the end of communion rails, the end of Gregorian Chant, the destruction of altars, the priest to face the people in mass, the Tabernacle to be removed from the Center of the Altar, the reception of Communion in the hand, and many other things which were implemented in the name of the "Spirit of Vatican II" even when it is clear that these things are not in alignment with what the Council was trying to do. If the Council Father's had attempted to impose these things including the Novus Ordo while the Council was in session, it is very likely that the Bishops would never have signed the decree. However, it is likely that many of the Bishops had something more like the transitional Tridentine Mass used Tridentine Mass used between the Council and Novus Ordo.
You never really needed to KNOW Latin to hear Mass. If you had an English/Latin Missal, you had the responses there in front of you, and most folks learned them phonetically at first, then they learned the translation by reading the English on the facing page. It will not be a huge burden to people, it will just be different.
The beauty of the Latin Mass is that no matter where you go in the world, Mass will sound the same.
Our daughter and I went to Japan to visit friends and the first weekend, attended Mass in a Parish that was Japanese language. Our daughter understood some Japanese, and related the fact that the Gospel reading, and the sermon was about the mustard seed. My friend asked if I got anything out of the Mass, not having understaood the language, and I told her that even though I didn't understand Japanese, I knew the Mass, so yes, I did get something out of it. It actually was kind of neat, not understanding the language, but knowing what was going on, anyway.
I am impressed by a young priest in our parish who is busy teaching himself Latin, or at least enough to say the Mass. Every week we get a few more words in Latin (in the NO, of course).
There's another aspect of the liturgical language, and that's political. I go to Spain a lot, and they have long been squabbling over two minority languages, Basque and Catalan, which were really revived for political reasons. When the Mass was in Latin, this wasn't a problem, and only the homily would be in the minority language (although it usually wasn't, at that time). When the Mass went to the vernacular, then suddenly the entire Mass was said in these minority languages, for purely political reasons. It was abrupt and insulting to Spanish speakers (the majority of the congregation), and in many cases was done as an expression of the left-wing views of the clergy. It would be as if Mahony ordered that all Masses in LA should be in Vietnamese or some other language spoken in the diocese. In the case of Spain, this had even less cause, since everybody spoke Spanish and the revival of these minority languages as official languages was artificial and politically motivated. The imposition of these languages in the Mass was done for political reasons and to exclude.
I think that an unexamined aspect of the use of the vernacular in the Mass is the extent to which it aided in the politicization of the Church and its being dragged into left-wing causes in the 1970s.
Put at least the ordinary back into Latin. That won't prevent these groups from doing the propers in whatever language they wish or, obviously, the readings and the homily, but it will blunt the effect and provide at least some reminded that this is a religious act and a language is simply a vehicle for it, and not a political statement.
On the other hand, I really do get it. It's not worship in the vernacular. Especially when it comes to the NAB it's worship in English as a second language! or maybe a third language! The people who translated the Almost Sacrifice of Isaac story should be forced to listen to Hamlet translated and then recited by a cast consisting of people from the West Virginia hills, the Alabama hills, and Brooklyn. Yeah, and Australia.
On the third hand, our fabulous parish which is currently enjoying a wonderful conjunction of Dominicans is sneaking more and more Latin into the NO every Sunday. About a month or 6 weeks ago I said to the Pastor in mock consternation, "Father, it seems to me you are anticipating a rumored motu proprio from the Holy See."
He gave an excellent imitation of a cat who swallowed the canary,looked heavenwards and said, "I'm just trying to think with the mind of the Church ..."
And we both cracked up.
Ceixyz, my husband and I have gone to mass at St. Boniface several times. We have to drive 60 miles, one way, to get there. We went to the Christmas eve mass and took our 23 year old son, home on leave from the Navy. He wondered why we were going so far for mass. He could not believe how reverent and beautiful that mass was! He could not believe the difference from the bland NO mass. He was so glad we went.
If there was a Traditional Mass where I live, I'd attend that mass only. I would, however, be happy with a properly done NO. It would be almost the same except for a bit more of the vernacular.
Meanwhile, I'm still praying for the motu proprio.
Anybody who says that the Novus Ordo cannot be reverent has not seen a Mass from the Shrine in DC...or from St. Peter's in Rome.
The only thing I have against the Novus Ordo is that the custom (not a mandatory requirement, btw) is universally to celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist ad populum. That, imho, is the source of many of the problems. The celebratnt, in facing the faithful, can fall prey to the temptation to put on a pious show for the faithful, rather than re-presenting the sacrifice and offering it to the Father WITH the people.
BTW, my 13-year old daughter drags me down to St. Mary Mother of God for the 9 AM Mass as many Sundays as possible. She LOVES the Tridentine Mass. (Such a horrible position for a father to be in!!!)
"There's another aspect of the liturgical language, and that's political. I go to Spain a lot, and they have long been squabbling over two minority languages, Basque and Catalan, which were really revived for political reasons. When the Mass was in Latin, this wasn't a problem, and only the homily would be in the minority language (although it usually wasn't, at that time)."
25+ years ago I had a great deal of business in Spain, so much so that I became a virtual commuter to Madrid and Andalusia. One time I took my wife with me and one of her bags got sent to Palma instead of Malaga when we changed planes in Madrid. Iberia found the bags and got word to me that they would be on a certain bus to the village we were in. I went to the bus station and no bags. My Spanish at that point was virtually non-existent and no one there spoke French, Greek or English...but there was an old priest there who spoke very nice Latin. I had majored in Latin in college and had a misspent youth in part as an altarboy in the Latin Mass days (it was a very ecumenical time!) so we spoke Latin. The bags were in the next town down the road and were sent back within an hour. Without the Latin Mass, we'd have never found our bag! :)
I don't believe it is one vs another so much as the abuse by those who believe it is okay to 'experiment' with the liturgy. When we go to Church to worship God, we do so with an expectation built on previous experiences. Yet how many of us, 40 years after VCII, are still subjected to 'tinkering', by the liturgists. Hence the Mass this week may contain (or be missing) elements that were not there previously. This leads to confusion.
A 'fixed' liturgy, such as the Tridentine, can be afflicted with problems, as well. There are prayes in the Latin Mass that begin but lack the sequential aspect. It was 'these' problems that those attending VCII anticipated would be addressed. To do so, the liturgy frozen in time, would have to be opened for those changes to be implemented.
Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has recognized the need to call our attention to the purpose of the Mass. He hones in on it with these words:
Pope Benedict has argued that the profound root of the ecclesial crisis of our time is liturgical, that the crisis of the sense of the sacred, the crisis in the sense of God's presence, which has characterized our time, is a liturgical crisis.
I've seen some Novus Ordo Masses that were celebrated with great reverence and some Latin Masses that were hurriedly rushed and mumbled so that one could not understand, much less 'celebrate' the liturgy. Regardless of Novus Ordo or Latin Mass, the most necessary element is to restore the sense of Sacred.
Liturgy is the pivotal moment in our lives when we "meet" with God. Both the celebrant and congregation should approach Him with great reverence, regardless of which liturgy is celebrated. As my pastor often points out, "same faith, different flavor".
Too many liturgists, too many liturgy committees, and too many musical directors who pretend that we actually aren't having to go to confession for what they are inflicting on us...that's where a lot of irreverence comes from...and the clergy who aid and abet them, and believe like they do, too.
What a great story! Thank you for sharing it.
It wasn't the hearing. It was the doing I was talking about, mostly - that we have priests who can actually say the mass in Latin well, which takes at least some understanding of the language and some practice. I find since I have gotten seriously interested in old Latin prayers and hymns that I am getting better and better at understanding Latin, and I bet most people would find that is true, also.
I have a wonderful little prayerbook from the '20s which among other things was a guidebook to hearing the mass in Latin devoutly. It has the words of the mass, and what they mean and prayers the hearer can say that dovetail right into the meaning of each piece. I keep it near hoping I might get to use it some day.
Great story! Many people feared that once the Church dropped Latin in the liturgy, Latin would disappear; fortunately, it does not seem to have done so, but it has become the property of linguists and "specialists." Maybe its revival in the liturgy will bring back the days when any reasonably educated person could at least express a few basic things in it (such as, "where's my bag?"). One may hope...
"Maybe its revival in the liturgy will bring back the days when any reasonably educated person could at least express a few basic things in it (such as, "where's my bag?"). One may hope..."
You know, that priest and I had a very nice conversation that late afternoon in Almunecar at the bus station. I remember feeling that I was a citizen of a great and ancient international empire standing there speaking Latin with him.
God bless and keep B16!
**The decrees only allowed for the vernacular in "certain prayers", not in the entire mass.**
First time I have ever heard that.
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