Saturday, July 07, 2007

Quick thoughts on Summorum Pontificum

Well, I just finished reading "Summorum Pontificum" and the accompanying letter from Pope Benedict to the bishops explaining the motu proprio. I have to say, the document and letter were very well written and very clear. Let us pray that they are also well read and/or read well.

First, we need to get some language straight. The "Tridentine" and the "Novus Ordo" are not two different rites. They are both of the Roman rite, however they are two different "uses" within the Roman rite. This can also be understood by looking at the Anglican use, which is the form of Mass used by former Anglicans who have come into the Catholic Church. The Anglican use is also within the Roman rite. So, these are not different rites, but rather different uses. Thus I will try to now refer to them as the "Mass of Bl. John XXIII" (="Tridentine" since the 1962 Missal was promulgated under Bl. John XXIII) and the "Mass of Paul VI" (="Novus Ordo" which was promulgated under Pope Paul VI).

And so, my summary:

I would say the most important point is that the old use ("use" will be the new way to describe either form) was NEVER ABROGATED.

The Mass of Paul VI will be the ordinary form of the Roman rite, and the Mass of Bl. John XXIII will be the extraordinary form of the Roman rite. However, all priests of the Roman rite, whether ordained before or after the liturgical reform, who are qualified (i.e. properly trained) in the Mass of John XXIII and are juridically allowed (that means they are allowed to say Mass) may say the Mass of John XXIII.
Both uses are to be held with equal respect.

The motu proprio has been officially promulgated and will take effect September 14th, 2007 (the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross).

Bishops are to be very cooperative in supporting the desire of those who wish to have this Mass and are to make every effort possible. [This could be one bottleneck in the legitimate carrying out of this motu proprio].

The pope's accomanying letter clarifies things well. He addresses the two greatest negative reations or "fears" about the motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum."

1st is the fear that the document detracts from the authority of the Second Vatican Council. "This fear is unfounded," according to the pope. The ordinary form is still the Mass of Paul VI. However, the Mass of Bl. John XXIII was never juridically abrogated. Vatican II never forbade the Mass of Bl. John XXIII. The pope shows that there are many within the Church who are attracted to the older Mass and have learned much of the Faith and are able to better worship God within the older Mass. Basically, Vatican II called for a renewal and more authentic worship of all the faithful, not just those who are attracted to the Mass of Paul VI.

2nd is the fear that the motu proprio will cause divisions within parishes. The pope says, "this fear also strikes me as quite unfounded." Again, the Mass of Paul VI is the ordinary Mass, and the motu proprio in no way says that the Mass of Bl. John XXIII can be forced upon the faithful. Although, it should also be noted that this goes both ways. Priests cannot as a matter of principle exclude celebrating according to the new books, especially in places where the Mass of Paul VI is regularly celebrated.

The biggest problem I see is not the motu proprio, or either use of the Rite, rather, the biggest problem will be with the priests who celebrate either use. This will be due to the "mindset" that many priests have in the post-conciliar era that you can make changes to the Mass. Often this is said to be done for "pastoral" reasons, but really that is often a cop out to change things to make it easier or to do things the way the priest wants to do them.

My liturgical attitude is this: I should not want to do things my way, I should not want to do things your way, but I should want to do them the Church's way. Who am I to impose my own way of doing things on the liturgy? Rather, I should respect the liturgy so much, that I would not add anything or take away anything from the liturgy. This would go with even pious things. Just because they are pious, does not mean they are appropriate. Canon law says that priests may not add to or take away anything from the Mass. They are to follow the liturgical books. As someone who serves at Mass, I also should respect the rite. I may not always like some of the things in the Mass of Paul VI, but who am I to change them? This is our rite, this is the ritual, I should stick to it OUT OF RESPECT FOR THE RITE, OUT OF RESPECT FOR THE RITUAL, AND OUT OF RESPECT FOR THE MASS.

Even the pope acknoledges this: "in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear ... And even I [Pope Benedict XVI] have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church."

Both uses have their proper rite and ritual and are to be followed. No matter which use, the Mass of Bl. John XXIII or the Mass of Paul VI, we should always carry out the Mass according to the way the Church tells us. The we can be obedient and offer proper sacrifice, prayer, and glory to God.

However, let us rejoice at this motu proprio, and the reasonable solution it gives to the seeming dichotomy of the last 40 years.
The "Te Deum" is traditionally sung in thanksgiving to God for prayers answered. I list here the simple version since it is the one with which I am most familiar.

you'll definitely need to click the music to make it bigger

Overall, the motu proprio and the pope's accompanying letter are addressing an erronious mindset, something which may be an uphill battle, but will certainly be worth it overall in the Chruch.



Anonymous said...

Might I humbly suggest that folks consider putting one of these on the backs of their cars? They're a great way to show solidarity with our Holy Father. Viva il papa!

Larry B. said...

On another blog post I stated some of the following with respect to the actual implementation of the extraordinary use.

Implementation Problems:

1. Many priests today do not know Latin.
2. Most altar rails with kneelers were removed. I can't imagine receiving Holy Communion while standing at a Tridentine Mass. I suspect that older more traditional types of church buildings will be utilized first and foremost in the implementation.
3. Liturgical committees gone wild with innovation. Can they be kept in check without believing that they can actually improve on the Sacred Liturgy?
4. Tabernacles if you can find them would seem to need to be on the central axis. What percentage of Church's are constructed in this manner?
5. The area surrounding the altar must be user friendly too.
6. Seminary formation has to include Latin (maybe this is being in done in most places now - I don't know).
7. The so-called Spirit of VII reintrepreting the Moto Proprio to mean we really don't need the extraordinary use.

I suspect we will see Pope Benedict XVI celebrate the Tridentine Mass on the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross.

Jcape said...

Super mega dittos RS! Well summarized and well said. I knew the right blog to come to find out more about the issue was yours.

motoproprio said...

Surely since we now use the revised missals of Pope John Paul II, the ordinary use should be called the missal of Pope John Paul II (the Great).

Ronny said...

I must confess that the distinction between rites and uses is unclear to me. We have, after all, had multiple forms of the mass operative concurrently in the West at different points in history, and they have all been called rites: Roman, Gallican, Mozarabic, Milanese, Sarum, etc. Is there a simplified explanation of what makes one form of the mass a use and another a rite?

I wonder how long these two uses will be in place alongside each other. Long term, are we slowly moving towards a reform of the reform, after which only one use will be in place? This just has the air of the temporary about it to my mind (though "temporary" may mean "several lifetimes" in Rome's time).

Roman Sacristan said...

In response to what larry b. saw elsewhere:

1) Canon Law says they are supposed to learn it in the seminary. This is a diocesan problem, not a problem with the motu proprio. But to deal with the reality, the priests should learn it, and the diocese should teach them.

2) Most people can kneel without altar rails. That should in no way hinder the Mass.

3) Liturgical committees innovating is one of the things the pope criticized in his accompanying letter. It doesn't matter which form of Mass is said, it is to be said according the rubrics and ritual (eg "by the books).

4) The placing of the Tabernacle is a moot point. Look at the big basilicas in Rome, many of them have the Tabernacle in a side chaple and it is not in the main sanctuary of the church. The Mass of Bl. John XXIII does not have to have a tabernacle on the altar.

5) I really have no idea what is meant by "user friendly."

6) See answer to #1, Latin is already supposed to be taught to seminarians, this is Canon Law.

7) The "spirit of Vatican II" will always reinterpret things the wrong way. Just have to do the right thing and eventually the "spirit" will die out.

As a reply to ronny's comment:
I have always found that "temporary" in the Church usually means a looooong time. (Take the "temporary" trial of Communion in the hand, which I think was to be 5 years and would have ended in the early '70's. To this day I have never seen an official summary and conclusion to that "study").

Ronny said...

So, you got any insight for me on the technical difference between "use" and "right?"

Roman Sacristan said...

Umm ... use would be a subset of rite?
I don't know if I could give you a technical definition of the two.
If I had to guess, I would say the rite would be where that liturgical form began, eg the Roman rite is from Rome. The uses would be more specific derivations from that common root. In this case the Anglican use and the Mass of Bl. John XXIII are both from the Roman rite, as is the Mass of Paul VI.
That would be my educated guess.

Ronny said...

OK, what you wrote that makes sense in theory, though in practice it can get hard to pin down. As liturgies have historically developed, my guess is that most rites started off as uses in the sense that you describe. In time, organic changes to those liturgies likely gradually led to them being sufficiently different from the original of which they were variants that they warranted being called a separate "rite" rather than just a "use" of the original.

Larry B. said...

Thanks for clarifying the above points. With respect to point 3 (your reply) above, I understand that the Mass is to be said according to the rubrics however that has at best mixed results in the ordinary use up to this point. I am hopeful for a return to reverence during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in most places but this will probably take awhile.

Also, by "user friendly" I simply meant that the configuration of the steps (construction wise) is suitable for walking near and in front of the altar, etc. One Mass (Tridentine) that I attend often has wooden cutouts (one on either side) placed in and around the steps in front of the altar so that the priest and servers can easily manuever around the altar during the celebration of the Mass.