As promised, I said that I would do a further analysis of local reactions to the MP. I have followed the tradition set by Fr Z in www.wdtprs.com/blog/ commenting line by line on this week's column by our local "liturgist" Elizabeth Harrington. My comments are italics.
What are the implications for the average Catholic parish of the recent statement from Pope Benedict XVI about celebrating Mass according to the 1962 Missal? (good start)
There will not be many Catholic parishes which meet the requirements set out in the document. The first requirement is ‘a stable group of the faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition’. (of course we need to say up front that no-one will be interested and it is all too difficult)
This does not mean a group in a diocese that goes around to different parishes telling them that they need to introduce a Tridentine Mass, or a few young people who suddenly discover the ‘wonders’ of Mass in Latin – until the novelty wears off! It means a sizable group located within the parish boundaries who have demonstrated a long-term commitment and devotion for the earlier form. (This is new - a band of marauding traditionalists going around and belting up other parishes! And what is worse some young people on speed are going to turn up and celebrate Tridentine Masses until they come down from their"trip". No - you have to do the time and show a long term commitment and self appointed people will then make sure that it is still difficult)
According to Canon Law, the bishop may allow priests to celebrate Mass twice a day or even three times on a Sunday if there is a scarcity of priests (Canon #905). Very many priests are already celebrating the maximum number of Masses allowable on Sunday and would be unable to add another Mass to the existing parish schedule. (True that is why we must pray for new priests who are knowledgeable and experienced in the extraordinary form)
Two other requirements listed in the pope’s document are ‘a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language’. There would not be many priests who would fulfil these requirements and be capable of celebrating Mass according to the 1962 Missal with dignity and grace. (See the previous para)
Suppose a parish has a sufficiently large, stable group of parishioners ‘who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition’, that the parish priest is not already committed to three Masses on a Sunday and is familiar with the old rite and had some knowledge of Latin. Even then, there are several practical problems to overcome, including the layout of the church (in the pre-Vatican II rite the priest and the assembly face the altar), which lectionary, calendar and vestments to use and the availability of people’s missals. (Oops Houston - we still have a problem! The post Vatican II liturgists have really made it hard now - the churches are wrecked! Actually many churches built before 1960 still have much of their Tridentine fittings, and many modern churches could accommodate a Tridentine Mass)
One aspect of the motu proprio that concerns me greatly is the suggestion that marriages, baptisms and funerals might be celebrated according to the older ritual. These rites are attended by people who are not regular members of the worshipping community. Celebrating them in a form and language which is totally foreign will mean that wonderful outreach opportunities for the Church are lost. (Yes we heard this last week - comments already provided in my previous blog)
As I wrote a couple of months ago, the gap between the Tridentine Mass and the current Order of Mass is not so much one of language as of theology. Since liturgy is an expression of the Church’s belief, my greatest concern is that having two quite distinct Orders of Mass in use suggests that there is division within Catholicism about the nature and purpose of the Church. (Obviously she doesnt know of the various Eastern rites in the church. Anyway my observation is that there is a great division in the local Archdiocese already about the nature and purpose of the Church. Its called the hermeneutic of rupture versus continuity. I think I know which one is winning right now)
I’ll leave the last word to an older lady who wrote to me recently to express her concern at the prospect of a return to Masses in Latin: “Having tried to pray for many years in Latin, I rejoiced when it was no longer necessary. Yes, I had a missal with Latin on one side and English on the other, but it always left me feeling like the lady in the song: ‘One eye in the pot and the other up the chimney’!” (What is this all about? Incidently I was at a corporate strategy seminar today which said that you cannot hang a whole view of the world on single statistic. This sound like she talked to one of her little old ladies in the parish and presents this as market research! Obviously this says that everyone is an idiot and will not take the time to learn the liturgy. As I have said earlier, the discussion on the MP locally has been so infantile that I have not participated).
Overall the article was a pointless bit of drivel. It makes no mention of the potential for chaplaincies, whole parishes and religious communities to serve the needs of people who are attracted to the extradordinary form. It has no idea of the fact that people do move around in the Archdiocese and go to liturgies that suit them rather than their parish, and of course that the use of the internet has mobilised a lot of people. Frankly again, I think it is aimed at the liturgical elites in the parishes, to comfort them that their way of doing things is ok, and will not be disturbed.
I think that this is it in terms of comments on the MP reactions. My next postings will reflect on both the ordinary and extraordinary forms in the light of Sacrosanctum Consilium. In the meantime, I will find time to pray more and know Christ and myself better.