I can’t help thinking of Abp Annibale Bugnini writing the Missal of Paul VI and composing the present Lectionary through a haze of whatever was smoked in 60s. Maybe I am being unfair and he didn’t smoke anything but the Pauline Lectionary has a decided 60s feel to it. The image of God, of Jesus is not organic, it has the feel of one particular period in history, to me it is decidedly Beatnik to early Hippie. If it hadn’t been compiled after two World Wars and the Holocaust it would probably have been quite different, if Bugnini or Paul VI had been different types of men the image of God presented to us would be quite different. Because fundamentally it is their image of God, it is not the image that St Thomas Becket, St Francis, St John of the Cross, St John Vianney, or Padre Pio met every day at the altar.
The OF Lectionary presents us with a new theology; the ancient Lectionary formed the theology of the Church, it was an unchanging ‘given’. What Bugnini produced was very much the product of the Council and 20th century theology. It comes from the same school that applied the scalpel to excise the cursing psalm, that separated that bit about eating and drinking one’s own condemnation from the Epistle for Corpus Christi and so many other bits and pieces that they were uncomfortable with, that simply did not reflect the theological fashion of the time.
Yes, we now have a lot more scripture but it is carefully selected, carefully edited and from a very particular time in Church history and produced by very strange men indeed, some of whom were quite unsaintly, who had their own image of God they wanted to impose on the Church.
These excellent words reflect in a very beautiful way the problem of modern Liturgy concerning the way it transmits the Faith. It does it confusedly, wrongly, and one-sidedly.
There was a time – in the first years of comparing the Traditional Mass and the Novus Ordo – in which I thought the vastly more extensive readings of the latter would be an advantage compared with the older form.
Only slowly I have come to the conclusion that a deformed tree can never have straight branches, and what at first sight might seem good turns out after a more attentive examination to be faulty.
Yes, there are more scriptures in the Novus Ordo. But the faithful sitting in the old pews knew the doctrine much better, had a much better grasp of the Scriptures in what really counts – that is: the ordering of their own and their loved’ lives – and had less Scripture at Mass simply because the Gospel and the other readings were not there to teach the faithful what the Scripture says, but to drive home a point in a short, forceful way.
Some readings of the Tridentines are just a few lines. But those few lines drive a spear through your heart. It is a lightning, not a school lesson.
For now more than forty years, one and a half generation of faithful have been served the extensive Mass readings of the Novus Ordo, but their knowledge of the very basic truths of Catholicism is so dismal that illiterate peasants of, say, France circa 1850 would shame them day in and day out. Those simple people probably didn’t have any meaningful or extensive knowledge of the Old Testament, but they knew perfectly well about life and death, heaven and hell, sin and repentance, rebellion and obedience, normality and perversion, morality and scandal. I am absolutely sure when they died they had a better hand of cards than many cafeteria Catholics of today; and mind, it is not that they weren’t sinful, either.
Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. Again, if the tree is bad the fruits will not be good, and if the liturgy is disfigured it is only a matter of time until the faith of the pewsitter is disfigured, too.
Very probably, neither Father Blake nor your humble correspondent will ever know whatever Bugnini & Co. smoked, but I suspect that in the mixture there must have been a good dose of accommodation, arrogance, irreligiousness, or outright faithlessness.
And it came to pass that the priest announced, not without a tone of very special satisfaction, that on that particular festivity a total of seven priests would be concelebrating the Mass. Not, mind, all from the same Country, but from several of them, located in three different Continents.
Some “ahh” and “ohh” of delighted surprise was clearly audible, as if the showmaster had announced a guest of particular importance. Thankfully, most remained perfectly silent, and yours truly thought that perhaps, just perhaps, we will avoid the deepest part of the pit.
At the consecration, you would have thought it was the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games: fourteen arms stretched to make what the celebrant was doing perfectly well anyway; of which twelve, mind, belonging to priests rather perfectly inactive the rest of the time – the altar “boy”, perhaps in his Seventies, would certainly not be displaced so easily – and who at least helped by the distribution, thus showing the air fare from India or Mexico has been a wise investment after all.
Was the consecration more effective because of the fourteen stretched arms? Was it more “international” because the arms belonged to priests from three Continents? Is there a special grace in having India and Mexico represented?
On Father Ray Blake’s blog there is an interesting blog post touching on various topics.
What I found particularly worth mentioning is this section, that I allow myself to reproduce in its entirety (emphasis mine):
At the heart of St Vincent’s words is the notion of continuation, a timelessness and universality, ‘always, everywhere and by all’. The understanding of Catholic merely as ‘universal’ is a foreshortening, it is the timelessness of it that is important. In many ways the dismantling of the ancient liturgy following VII undermined the sense of ‘always’. If the worship after 1968 could be changed, so could the content of ‘the faith’ and if the changes were enforced from above, from Rome then surely this is also the source of ‘the faith’, Again, if the liturgy could vary so widely from Mass at the High Altar of Brompton Oratory, with traditional vestments and music and in Latin to Father X sitting on a bean bag wearing just a stole making it up as he went along, why could ‘the faith’ not also be variable. Despite its intention VII taught, subliminally at least, especially through the liturgy, that Catholicism was what Ratzinger would define as ‘Relativistic’, most importantly of all by Father quite literally turning his back on that which was held holy by past generations, if not smashing it with a sledgehammer.
‘The faith’ post VII, was not the faith of the previous generations, it was in a state of flux. The movement of the Blessed Sacrament in some diocese from the centre of the apse to a side chapel or a tabernacle in the corner of the sanctuary and rubrics restricting the genuflections of the priest, said what we believed yesterday about the Real Presence is not what we believe today, similarly the change in funeral rites from sombre black, the Dies Irae, intercession for the dead to Mass in thanksgiving for the life of the dead person brought in a serious undermining of one of Catholicism most important certainties about death and judgement, again it said what we believed yesterday, we do not believe today.
I agree wholeheartedly with Father Blake’s reflection.
To me, the consequence of this is brutally clear: the Novus Ordo must die.
It is absolutely true that the very fact that the Mass of the Ages has changed suggests that the content of the faith can be changed in the same way. The fact that this is simply not true does not change an iota in the collective perception; particularly if we consider that the New Rite was introduced exactly to signal the changes (not doctrinal, of course) going on in the Church.
The new mass destroyed mass attendance, and severely damaged the way Catholicism is perceived. This in turn caused the almost disappearance of the grandmother (correctly) teaching the faith to her nephews. Said nephews remained exposed to a priest that was, in many cases, a phony and a coward, desperately trying to look cool and to be popular. I could mention half a dozen of those from my youth without any effort. We all despised them and found them pathetic, and very unmanly. Then one wonders that there is a lack of vocations.
But really, the biggest bomb that was made to explode under the edifice of the Church was the introduction of the Novus Ordo. The Novus Ordo was wrong even before all the abuses that followed its introduction, because its very being “new” and its desire to signal “novelty” had to, had to, *had to* lead to those abuses and to the raping of the Catholic Faith.
Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi.
Get the Traditional Mass, and you will end up with Pope Pius XII.
Get the Novus Ordo, and you will end up with the Bishop of Rome, Jorge Bergoglio.
An interesting discussion has erupted concerning the way a conservative, or traditionalist Catholic, should behave concerning attendance to the Novus Ordo Mass. Catocon was so nice as to prepare a mini-research of sources in the comment box of this post.
There is no doubt that whilst some SSPX priest arrives at times to say not worse than that the NO “provides a deficient spiritual diet to the faithful” (something on which, I hope, we all agree), the general stance is in the end harder, oscillating between attending only in case of “social emergency” (and even then only if the Mass is very reverent) and at the other extreme the softer, original position of Archbishop Lefebvre, who said:
However, “it is an exaggeration to say that most of these Masses are invalid.” One should not hesitate to go a little further to have Mass according to the Roman Ordo; but “if one does not have the choice and if the priest celebrating Mass according to the Novus Ordo is faithful and worthy, one should not abstain from going to Mass.”
Also, there seem to be no doubt even among versed priests somewhat less friendly to the SSPX than I am that for the SSPX priests a properly celebrated NO Mass is valid.
In all cases, it appears most priests of the SSPX would demand from yours truly that he exclusively attends a Traditional Mass; actually, their own Traditional Mass, as the doubts or misgivings concerning the indult/SP masses are also clearly there.
This blog was always, as every reader knows who read it even occasionally, on a different position.
Firstly, allow me to copy and paste – out of sheer laziness – a comment I have written in answer to a description of the NO as “abomination”. The SSPX certainly do not go as far as that, but you get the drift.
I refuse to see the Novus Ordo as an abomination. I positively and squarely refuse to do so. If the NO is an abomination, the Church is a fraud. It cannot be that the Church of Christ has decided to offer an abomination worldwide, and it still is the Church of Christ. If I believed that, then I would be forced to believe that there is no Peter, that the Pope is an impostor and a masquerade. Again, I refuse to do so. In fact, as I have explained the only reason why I continue to attend the NO is that I do not want, one day, to think that the NO is an abomination. If a particular NO Mass is more than I can stomach, I can find another NO, or three. On no account would I ever think I am the one to decide that the Rite in itself is an abomination, and I am too good for what the Church offers me.
It’s good to eat hard bread in a while. It still is the bread of life, and it keeps one honest. Works for me, at least.
2. I never said I am afraid that the Society might become Sedevacantist. My point is rather that if I pamper myself with the TLM every Sunday, I might end up thinking the NO is … an abomination. Should life, then, keep me away from a TLM I would then, coherently, not attend anymore. The one at risk is myself, not them. Now, either the NO (I mean, as a Mass; in abstract; and properly celebrated) is valid or it isn’t. I truly do not think it is for me to say. I am a Catholic for a reason. Now, if I had serious reason to think some local NO is not sacramentally valid, I wouldn’t attend there. If one has a TLM, I will encourage him to go there; if one hasn’t there, I would encourage him to travel further to find one in reasonable distance. But if I heard him talking like you do, I would suggest that he attends a NO Mass every now and then, too.
3. Yes, the NO might bring less graces. It probably does. Particularly if one gets angry. But hey, I can’t have my cake and eat it. To people like me, there are dangers on both sides. Been there, done that. Let me say very frankly that I do not want to die thinking that the Mass the Church of Christ offers me is an abomination, and offends Christ. Probably 99% of the Masses offered in the Roman Rite are NO. Many of them are reverently celebrated – even in Germany I can find decent ones without trouble -. If we throw the NO qua NO out of the window, we are saying the Church is a fraud to 99%. Thanks, but no, thanks.
4. You vastly overstate my influence as a blogger; but yes, I could influence the one or the other. On no account, then, would I ever suggest to them that they stay away from a NO Mass if they cannot have the TLM; because truly, the very thought is scary. The TLM is better, but the NO is still good, because it still is the Mass.
Second choice, I agree. But whoa, pay attention what you say.
One day I might well decide to only attend the TLM. Actually, it would be the more pleasant option by far. To do so, I would have to feel very safe that no antics of our clergy will drive me to distraction. I wish I could give you this security, but unfortunately I can’t, or a part of me is afraid one day I could make such a mistake… You see, I could end up – and I say this without animosity, but with a certain apprehension – thinking like you, and I really do not want to.
I will cling to the acceptability of the NO as I cling to the Church. I do not live in Hippyland. Plenty of reverent masses around here. Actually, my “Mass tourism” also has the aim of seeing how things are, examining the lay of the land. Honestly, it could be much worse.
I belong to the Church. I love the Church even when she slaps me in the face. Already once I stopped attending because I thought I knew better, and was better. Already once I thought I do not need to go and listen to a stupid priest talking stupid waffle (obviously, no clue about the real reason why I went to Mass). Never again. If the Lord gives me less graces for that, so be it. I will accept the slap from him as I accept the love, and I will accept whatever slap I take for taking part to the Mass the Church of Christ gave me. Because, you see, the NO is still the standard Mass of the Only Church, and I can’t throw the one from the window without throwing the other.
5. Then let us think to the end. if the NO is an abomination, the priest who celebrates the NO mass is an accomplice in this abomination. Not only the Mass might well be invalid – you probably think it is – but the other sacraments are, probably, too. What then? Do 99% of Catholic priest not impart a valid absolution? How many babies are validly baptised? How many adults validly married? How many of them, actually, validly priests?
It’s a slippery slope.
P.S. To all my twelve readers. I believe the NO is okay. I truly do. Vastly inferior to the TLM, for sure; but seriously, it’s fine.
I hope it will die one day, of course; but as long as it doesn’t, it will deliver all right. It’s the Mass of the Church after all.
You would be better served and more inspired by the TLM; but probably not, if this leads you to think a properly celebrated NO stinks.
Secondly, I would like to make the further consideration that if the SSPX are right, the likes of the London Oratorians are utterly wrong in continuing to celebrate the Novus Ordo ad populum, and we should consider participating at their NO Mass only in case of, say, a marriage in the family. Their NO is clearly, if you listen to some of the voices, not reverent enough for daily attendance.
Even worse it becomes if we take literally the reservations of the SSPX about priests who celebrate exclusively the TLM, but of whom it can be assumed they would not refuse to celebrate the NO if so ordered. In this perspective, not even the FSSP is good enough that their (TL) Mass can be attended to without reservations and moral distinguos.
What is the ultimate consequence of this? As I have already stated, it is that according to this thinking the Church of Christ serves poison and evil fare, day in and day out, to more than 99% of the Roman Rite faithful; who are, once again, not exactly a fringe group, but rather around 90% of worldwide Catholics. In a word, the Church would be the most efficient tool of Satan on earth, bar none.
I don’t like Pope Francis. Actually, I do not even esteem him. I do not think he should have been allowed to become a priest, much less a Pope – the same as Pope Liberius, Pope Benedict IX, Pope Alexander VI or Pope Leo X by the way -. But, come on…
I refuse to espouse such an extreme position. I see a substantial difference between considering the NO like a hamburger compared to the TLM’s porterhouse steak, or Coca-Cola compared to the TLM’s Barolo, and considering it instead stale meat, or a poisonous drink. The difference is substantial in that the hamburger is still nourishment, and the Coca-cola still quenches the thirst.
I refuse to espouse a vision of the world that sees in the Church an almost complete evil-producing wasteland, as the only fully acceptable parts of it would then be the SSPX and their affiliates. I refuse to consider the London Oratorians not good enough for my lofty standards, and a Traditional Latin Mass with the FSSP something I should avoid if I can. With such a mentality, of course talking to the Vatican does not make sense. With such a mentality, of course it is infinitely better to have no agreement at all with the Vatican, not even if one is offered for free and without have to make any concession in return. If Rome is so evil, then they must be fought against, not dialogued with! When, and only when, one has this forma mentis, Williamson’s behaviour becomes not only understandable, but actually coherent.
Frankly, I don’t see it. I want the end of the NO mass as much as the next Traditionalist, but I refuse to consider poisonous or evil – much less “an abomination” – the spiritual nourishment the Church of Christ offers me and the other 99% of Roman Rite Catholics.
Some might say “but Mundabor, they say that the NO is evil, but they qualify by saying it that it is evil in the sense that it does not have a necessary good ” (or suck like). I answer to this that either the NO is evil in the sense that you and I understand when we hear the word evil, or the argument fails to persuade. If “evil” isn’t really “evil”, then the argument isn’t there in the first place.
I wonder how many within the SSPX truly share this view. They have supported Bishop Fellay like a man, and Bishop Williamson’s exclusion has caused not more than a dozen or so defection (less, if memory serves). It is clear they look at Rome in a way well different from the creator and distributor of millions of poisonous masses daily.
I have left the words of the Archbishop up as a quotation, so that at the end of this long post one may want to read it again. Of course the Archbishop might have expressed himself differently in different contexts, and one must take his words in the frame of his beautiful love for the Church. But exactly for this reason, it seems to me that his softer stance is more reasoned and more coherent, as he clearly gives every NO mass celebrated by a “faithful and worthy priest” dignity of – to remain by the culinary metaphor – nourishing, healthy, un-poisonous hamburger.
After an observation or two in the comment box, it is perhaps fitting to say one or two words about this little effort, so that any uncertainty that there might have been in less attentive – or less assiduous – readers is definitively dispelled.
1. Read the statement from Robert De Piante on the right hand column of this blog:
What Catholics once were, we are. If we are wrong, then Catholics through the ages have been wrong.
We are what you once were. We believe what you once believed.
We worship as you once worshipped. If we are wrong now, you were wrong then. If you were right then, we are right now.
This is probably the most famous statement expressing in just a few words the essence of traditional Catholicism. It is there for a reason. I do not exclusively employ the term “traditionalist” because I think that “conservative” Catholic also perfectly fits the bill, though in a wider sense. Since this blog’s inception almost three years ago, pretty much all of my posts have been tagged “traditional Catholicism”. If some post isn’t, it’s because I forgot. My blog “line” (the one you also read on every search engine) is also very telling: tradidi quod et accepi, another famous traditionalist “punchline” commonly associated with the SSPX.
2. My blog posts in support of the SSPX are very many, though they are certainly not enough in number or worthy enough in their quality. I do not think I have ever been ambiguous in my approval of their work both in the present time and at the time of the disobedience/refusal to close down the seminary in Econe/appointment of the four bishops. Where I stood in the matter of the preambolo dottrinale is also very clear to everyone who reads my blog with a minimum of regularity and attention, and I dare to say I have made myself clear in as open a way as I could without thinking I was failing to show the proper respect to the office – and in the case of Pope Benedict, the person – of the Pontiff.
3. I attend very often Novus Ordo Masses, and will continue to do so. This I do because I fear the effect that an entrenchment on the Traditional Mass would have on me, given my uncompromising nature and the resulting tendency to incendiary emotions and hardline militancy; emotions and militancy that can be very dangerous, and might well lead me astray unless I recognise the problem and act accordingly to counter them and soften my approach. Therefore, as long as I have no doubt that the Novus Ordo Masses I attend to are sacramentally valid, I plan to continue to do so for as long as I see the danger of slowly slipping into Sedevacantism if I don’t. I also see it as a form of penance, when I reflect that our sins (mine, and yours; not only the clergy’s) are also a cause of the present mess.
Through the participation to a second-rate – but by all means not invalid – Mass, I figure I show the Lord my loyalty to the Church even when it hurts, and at the same time keep my inner religious arsonist in check. But this does not mean I think you should do the same. The Novus Ordo is vastly inferior to the Traditional Mass (I do love to call it “Tridentine”, by the way), and if you can and want to attend it every time, more power to you. For the same reason (obedience to the Pope in as much as I can without conflicting with 2000 years of Catholicism) I go to confession to Novus Ordo priests, as I have up to now never met a priest in the confessional who was such a clown as to make me think, after due reflection, the absolution was not valid. I think most of my readers do the same. Or you can say this: as long as I think a Novus Ordo priest can provide me with a valid absolution, I personally see no reason to confess to an SSPX priest. But if had valid, constant reason to fear then I would happily recur to the services of the SSPX priest. But again, personal fears play a role in my decision: the day I decide a NO priest isn’t good enough, how far am I from Sedevacantism? You may not have the problem. I do. Novus Ordo confessor is it, then.
Still, either the SSPX have supplied jurisdiction, or they haven’t. As I am persuaded they have, after long reflection and opportune readings I have reached the conclusion that I can’t see how this should not be extended to confession. The SSPX priests also obviously think in the same way, and as I would trust my path to salvation much more eagerly to them than to the most conservative of the Cardinals, I can’t see anything wrong in that. In times in which the Popes are bad Catholics, a religious order can certainly be more Catholic than the Pope. Since March, I’d say this is not difficult at all even for a properly instructed layman. The Holy Ghost never promised the Pope would be a good Catholic, or would know the Ten Commandments, or wouldn’t be a murderer, a robber, a fornicator, an accommodating coward, or a pious nincompoop. Read the contract attentively, it’s in the small print.
4. In consequence of all the above, I think it should be clear enough to any reasonable reader what this blog is about. I notice, though, here and there a certain tendency – again, perhaps the fruit of insufficient reflection – to approve of what I write without considering what this necessarily entails. If you think that the SSPX are in formal Schism, then you must think that they endanger souls. If you think so, already the reading of the quote mentioned above and of the blog line should be reason enough for you to strongly disapprove of this blog, whose support of the SSPX is as staunch as its author can express with words. To behave any differently means either to take one’s own salvation lightly, or to read this blog because of the titillation coming from the enjoyment of my somewhat robust prose (and many thanks for the compliment!), but without sufficient reflection as to the values this little effort constantly tries to defend.
I do not write this blog for the sake of a vast audience. I have never searched popularity or approval. Wretched sinner as I am, I write this in the first place in the hope the Blessed Virgin will one day look at my effort and find it certainly inadequate and unworthy, but not entirely useless.
I take my salvation extremely seriously. I spend a lot of time thinking of it, praying for it, hoping for it, fearing for it. I have found that the best course to follow is to be on the side of 2000 years of Catholicism; no ifs, no buts, and most certainly no Pinocchios. Faithful to the Church always. Obedient to the Pope as long as that faithfulness is not challenged. Whilst I am sure the day I die many horrible sins will reemerge to haunt my conscience, I am very confident my support for the SSPX will be on my assets, not my liabilities column. You who read these lines, do you think the same?
My dear reader, please reflect on the consequences of your reading this blog. Be wise and do not follow it merely for the sake of emotional satisfaction and enjoyment of my somewhat, ahem, Italian writing style. If the SSPX is wrong, then they are entirely wrong, as is this blog. If they are in schism, then not only 2000 years of Catholicism are in schism but both yours truly and you are, with my approval of them and your approval of me, being an accessory in this sin.
Of course, I do not think they are in schism, because I do not think 2,000 years of Catholicism can be declared “schismatic” without contradicting the very essence of what Catholicism is. I think the safest way is to live and die on the side of these 2,000 years, rather than following the madness of a new way of thinking that came to power during the Kennedy/ Khrushchev era. If logic and common sense were not enough to persuade me of this, the immense devastation of the last 50 years would.
Stuff Pinocchio. I for myself will take my refuge, and put my hope, in the Church transmitted to my grandmothers and to countless generations of devout Catholics before them; then if we are wrong now, they were wrong then. If they were right then, we are right now.
Lately heard at a Catholic Novus Ordo Mass.
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do;
therefore I ask blessed Mary Ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.
And no, I am not kidding.
I’d like to say a few words about a rather strange experience of some weeks ago, in a small church in one of the Home Counties.
When the distribution of communion began, I just got up and went to take communion; then went back to my place and started to pray.
Seriously, I do not think I did anything difficult, or source of potential confusion. I could clearly see the sanctuary from where I was sitting, so there was no real danger of losing my way and having to ask for directions. Similarly, I did not experience any dangerous rabble, and I can tell you very confidently that I would not have been in any danger of being trampled even if I had been, say, a 95-years-old with a walking stick. Finally, I did not remember seeing anything atypical or having the impression of being in the process of doing anything dangerous, or wrong, or in any way needing of instruction.
I was, therefore, happily praying (sitting on my pew, not kneeling, as I did not want to be of obstacle to anyone) when a lady asks me whether I have been to communion. Strange questions, thinks I. Isn’t it not, in the end, my business? When has an obligation to go to communion every week been introduced? Should I not be free to decide myself whether I am willing – or, in fact, worthy – to receive communion?
Life being what it is, I didn’t start the discussion with the old lady asking me, and answered “yes”.
“Oh, next time you are here you must say to me beforehand if you go to communion before your turn”, more or less says the lady and I apologise if I do not remember the exact words, by such matters I never do. After which, she proceeded to channel my bench neighbours toward the sanctuary and only at that point I understood that I was, in these people’s mind, supposed to wait for my turn like a good boy, possibly in the hope of getting a pat on my back from the old lady.
I must… what? And… why exactly? I left kindergarten an awful lot of years ago, and the idea of having to tell mistress that I am going to get up from my bench is not exactly my own idea of “adulthood”. Besides, even after the most honest of efforts I am utterly, utterly unable to see what necessity should there be to have this kind of “helped” flow to the sanctuary.
It might be shocking to some of the readers, but I assure you that irrespective of how crowded the church is (and I have attended for a long time in really crowded churches; churches who would have caused the old lady to faint before she can say “you must”) people are able to do these things without any help, without anyone being injured, and without any discomfort for anyone.
Do you see such ladies helping people to board a bus, or a train? Or to buy a cinema ticket? Or to do anything else where there is some beginning of halfway less than orderly proceedings? Have you ever asked yourself why? The answer is, because people are perfectly able to do these things by themselves, and do not need any help, or helpers.
I can almost hear the objections that would be opposed to this: oh, but this is soo uncomfortable for the oooold people, who are sooo frail. There might be (let me think…..) absence of oxygen; a sudden stroke with no place for the ambulance; or they might die just standing whilst waiting to receive communion!
I grew up attending Mass in a small church (a provisionally converted stall), where two thirds of those attending mass did so in standing. As a child you were obviously expected to stand, and many adults also had to stand in order to allow older people to sit. There was no need of service personnel, everything happened out of common sense and common courtesy. The church was, in fact, always so packed that some people always ended up staying outside of the church, following from outside what was going on inside through the door left open. You can imagine the rabble.
Still, the flow to receive communion was perfectly ordered, perfectly safe and perfectly sensible, without any need of any help from absolutely anyone. No strokes, either.
Nonetheless, if I were a tired nonagenarian fearing the, say, six-minutes queue to receive communion I’d use my God-given brains and get up for communion only towards the end, when the queue has been more or less dissolved. I am sure I’m not the first or the only one coming to such genial revolutionary conclusions.
Whenever I do not attend at the Brompton Oratory I end up wondering whether at Novus Ordo Masses it is considered a deminutio not to have any particular “role” at Mass: the number of gift bearers, children gift bearers, readers, sanctuary cleaners, “flow helpers”, and what not being nothing less than prodigious.
I must now admit that, sadly, this appears to be the case.
In the last few days, two events have impacted the blogosphere:
1) The Birmingham Oratory announced the return to the Tridentine version for their sung Sunday Latin Mass. This must be, if London is any example, an old version of the Novus Ordo, very similar to the Tridentine already. I can easily imagine the other UK Oratories will follow suit in the near-ish future.
2) A high-profile blogger has announced a trial period of the Tridentine as the 9am Sunday Mass.
Both events are, in my eyes, clear indication of the following:
A) Even in the UK, the Tridentine’s march is now slowly becoming unstoppable. The more Tridentine masses there is, the more there will be, as imitation sets in and the faithful begin to know that the Tridentine mass exists in the first place.
B) The rediscovery of traditional Catholicism after the drunkenness of the post V-II years doesn’t go through a more pronounced use of the Novus Ordo in Latin (the Novus Ordo was, actually, meant to be mainly in Latin, with exceptions where allowed by the bishop), but through the rediscovery of the Mass of the Ages. This seems to be additional confirmation that within the Church there is a more and more pronounced feeling – expressed, or not – that there is no need to “integrate” Vatican II in the liturgy by rediscovering the Novus ordo as it should have been. What we had before V II was perfectly OK, and can be used exactly as it was. In particular, the decision of the Oratory seems very indicative to me, as the present Solemn Novus Ordo (Latin) very probably used is so similar to the Tridentine, that the decision to switch can in my eyes only have the ideological background I have just described.
In my eyes, this also takes care of all the waffle about the supposed liturgical enrichment brought about by Vatican II. Enrichment, my aunt. If you ask me, the fitting place for the liturgical innovations of V II is the rubbish bin. It seems to me that whilst others – particularly if religious – would not express themselves in the same way, this train of thoughts becomes more and more spread. At least I cannot detect any “renaissance” of the Novus Ordo in Latin, for sure. Not even as a by-product of Summorum Pontificum, or as an intermediate step.
In the next years, we will see an increasing number of Tridentine masses around. It will take some patience, but in time its beauty and reverence will be clearly perceived by the faithful. I can well imagine that those who will have the patience to persevere, and will make the small effort to absorb the Latin and follow the mass with a missal or bilingual booklet, will soon wonder how they could cope with the kindergarten version of the original for so long. Give them some more time, and they’ll be speechless when asked what were all those ladies doing in the sanctuary, and why exactly were people receiving from laymen.
We are not there yet, but already at this point I can’t see how the march of the Tridentine can be stopped, as its celebration is the best advertisement it can receive.
The future isn’t Vatican II. The future isn’t a desperate attempt to create some strangely concocted liturgical hybrid, either. The future also isn’t a mixture of elements of the Tridentine with elements of the post-V II era (a Tridentine with altar girls, say).
If you ask me, it is clear enough what the future will be: it will be our beautiful, solemn, reverent past.
I have already written a blog post about Bishop Fellay’s intervention in favour of Summorum Pontificum.
In the same interview, he deals with Assisi III and this is probably worth of separate consideration.
Bishop Fellay points out to the following problems:
1) That Pope Benedict heavily criticises relativism in religious matters (and rightly so, of course) but indirectly promotes the same relativism by starting the Assisi 2011 initiative.
2) That Pope Benedict is now celebrating an initiative which he himself clearly boycotted in 1986.
3) That in his idea that it be impossible for Catholic and non-Catholics to pray together, but that it be possible for them to gather together as members of different religious affiliations he is “splitting hairs”.
I find his criticism perfectly right on all points and whilst we will have to wait to see how Pope Benedict organises and shapes this meeting (that is: how he limits the damage that he has already done, the bomb of “interreligious gathering” being one which always causes a powerful explosion however orthodox your intentions), it is interesting to note that Bishop Fellay makes a supreme effort of explicate the inexplicable and theorises a desire to counteract the recent spate of persecutions as the real motive of this initiative.
Personally, I cannot see this as a real motive. Christians have always been persecuted and they always will; to water down the Christian message and to try to appease the persecutors will in my eyes only have the effect of increasing their aggressiveness. You just don’t fight religious intolerance by watering down the Christian message.
If you ask me, I can only see one – or all – of these three motives:
1) Pope Benedict wants to re-make in the right way what Pope John Paul once made in the wrong way, thus erasing as far as possible the bad memory of Assisi I and II with a theologically impeccable Assisi III. This seems to me a bit like trying to make dung smell good but one can – with a stretch of the imagination – understand the logic.
2) Pope Benedict thinks that conservative Catholics are becoming too cocky (utter and complete dominance on the Internet; vast support among young clergy; resurgence of the popularity of old, once forgotten or ignored heroes like Pius XII and Fulton Sheen) and wants to help the “other side” a bit. The beatification of JP II before the beatification of Pius XII, the oh-so-liberal sounding convocation of Assisi III and, perhaps, a restrictive interpretation of the scope of Summorum Pontificum would all be parts of the same thinking.
3) Pope Benedict is simply trying (in the wrong way, if you ask me) to promote the JP II brand as he sees in it a powerful instrument of evangelisation. Again, one understands the logic. I just wonder why he would allow himself to be persuaded to pick the most controversial of JPII’s many controversial inititatives to do so. It seems to me a bit like promoting Bill Clinton’s presidency by remembering the Lewinsky affair.
We’ll have to wait and see how all this pans out. In the meantime, I allow myself the comment that Pope Pius XII would have never dreamt of an initiative like Assisi (whatever numeral you may put to it); that Fulton Sheen would have never dreamt of encouraging interreligious gatherings of any sort, but exclusively Catholic gatherings of every sort; and that Padre Pio would have never dreamt of the necessity of a Novus Ordo mass, however “reformed after the reform” it may be.
In recent months, Pope Benedict seems to have been skating on rather thin ice. More the reason to pray for him.
This is the Ford (Europa) Scorpio Mk II. This car is remarkable for being one of the ugliest cars ever made, and one of the least successful cars ever to be produced by a mass car producer like the giant Ford.
The genesis of such an opprobrium is very simply explained: at the time, Ford Europe was led by an American, and this chap insisted that the lagging, but not gravely unsatisfactory sales of the Scorpio Mk I could be improved by giving the Mark II a decidedly american flavour. This, he thought, would spark enthusiasm and be enthusiastically received by the European crowds, now yearning for something new and impressive. The result was what you see here and now that you have survived the first shock I can show you a photo of the back without running the risk of causing you a heart attack. Predictably, the car was massacred in the showroom and its failure became the epitome of automotive seppuku.
Why do I mention the unlucky and deservedly failed Scorpio Mk II? Because this ungainly car shows uncanny parallelisms to the Novus Ordo mass.
This car was not of particularly bad quality. Its underpinnings were those of the Scorpio Mk I, a car able do honestly do its job and sold in halfway decent numbers for many years. Neither was this car very expensive and in fact it gave its owners (in pure “Detroit metal” tradition) a lot of kilos for their hard-earned money. True, it never came with prestige attached, but neither were the first Scorpio or the later Opel Kadett /Omega or the older Ford Granada, all cars which always managed to sell in satisfactory numbers.
In short, this car was perfectly usable as a car. It was a car all right. You could never deny that it was a car. But it was such an ugly way to make a car, that most potential buyers decided to stay well away of every risk of being seen at its steering wheel.
In this case, the mess was such that the reputation of the house for making big cars was damaged in such a way – and the financial hurt from the car was so keenly felt – that since then Ford never again produced a car of comparable size and market position. Not only the name “scorpio” was irreparably destroyed, but the market for Ford was destroyed too. This tells you how many clients you lose if you abuse them by trying to give them things they don’t want, just because you think they’re hip and modern.
Now, I am not saying that the Novus Ordo doesn’t have sacramental validity. It certainly has. Like a Scorpio Mk II, it fulfils the function for which it is celebrated. But like the Scorpio Mk II, it does so in such an ugly way that I am all astonishment as to why people should insist in using such a mess, when they have the wonderful Mercedes 600 Pullmann available.
The latter is not the most modern of cars. It is, in fact, very old-fashioned. It doesn’t have all the thrills and frills usually employed to attract the superficial, and the gullible, nor does it try to cut corners and be cheap to purchase. It is authentic, unmistakeably valuable and almost painfully beautiful. Every bolt in it, every screw says “I am wonderful but not easy to understand and not ready to follow the fashion of the day. I will not try to please you. You will have to deserve me.” It is, in fact, a car that requires an effort, in the purchase and in the upkeep. It is the car for those who want it authentic and serious, rather than shallow and wanna-be.
Both cars fulfil their function. Both are authentic specimens of the genus. Both are valid examples of what you would call a car; both do what you expect from them.
But do yourself a favour: take the time to find and appreciate the Mercedes, even if this costs time and sacrifice both in the purchase and in the upkeep, and ditch the Mondeo Mk II.
Believe me, once you have learned to know and appreciate this car, you’ll never look back.