Daily Archives: June 8, 2011
If you have any doubt about the astonishing acting qualities of the Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, you only need to see “The Downfall”, the oppressive and depressive but so utterly human film about the last days of Adolf Hitler and the people in the bunker. Ganz is absolutely breathtaking, leading you to suspect that he was, in a way, more Hitler than Hitler was himself (I had the same impression, it must be said to preserve par condicio, of the great Helen Mirren in “The Queen”).
Ganz conveys the desperation, the hoping against all hope, then the realisation of the approaching end and the atmosphere of Goetterdaemmerung with such clarity and beauty, with such fanatic identification with his character, with such complete realism as to lead you to think whether such a movie would have been possible at all with any other actor than himself. The man was, in fact, so good that a vast number of parodies have been created and put on youtube, all based on his stunning performance.
Why do I mention Bruno Ganz?
Simply because by reading of Archbishop Conti’s sortie against the Tridentine Mass I was instantly reminded of Hitler’s bunker, and of Ganz/Hitler ranting with all the rage of impotence.
This is, my dear readers, what it is all about: the rants of an old guard, of people who in the meantime hear, feel and smell defeat from every part of the front line, whilst the traddie front likes the smell of Universae Ecclesiae in the morning.
Granted, changes in the Church happen far more slowly than world wars, and it would be too optimistic to say that trendy bishops are already living their April 1945. They aren’t yet. But you can compare Summorum Pontificum with the D-Day and Universae Ecclesiae with the fall of St. Lo and the resulting opening of the Falaise Gap that allowed the Allied to start their march towards Berlin.
Fairly soon, then, Bruno Ganz could be asked to impersonate a trendy bishop desperately trying to save what has remained of liturgical dances, altar “girls” of, say, 67, clownish celebrants, and extraordinary ministers, whilst his adjutants tell him with faces of purest stone that one after the other all bastions of resistance are falling and the Tridentine Mass will soon – when his successor is appointed – conquer the Cathedral.
Bruno Ganz would be, of course, just the man for the job. But thinking of it, Archbishop Conti wouldn’t be a bad candidate, either.
He is rehearsing already.
If you wanted proof of how much must change within today’s Church, look no further than Glasgow, where Archbishop Conti is now approaching retirement.
Think of this: he is 77, preparing himself to go away, and still he can’t resist shooting at Summorum Pontificum. As far as I know, Archbishop Conti is a rather orthodox one, but I for myself won’t be sad when he retires.
The way Archbishop Conti chooses for his farewell gift to faithful Catholics who love the Tridentine Mass is the usual subtle distinguo that men of church use when they want to go against the will of the Holy Father, plus some random and totally gratuitous insult to the Mass they love.
Let us read his words:
even with the most recent instruction from Ecclesia Dei, there is no requirement or indeed encouragement for any of us to promote the so-called Extraordinary Form
I for one don’t like the use of the words “so-called” to define the Extraordinary Form. This might be literally true, but the words so-called are far more often used for something technically or legally true, but whose moral validity is devalued or mocked: the so-called homosexual marriages; the so-called Archbishop of Westminster, and the like. The impression is strong here that Archbishop Conti has a dose of contempt for the Tridentine Mass. If this is the case, shame on him.
Then there is the Jesuitical observation that there is no requirement to promote. Well no there isn’t. But there is no requirement to promote the Novus Ordo either, which doesn’t stop the Archbishop from defending it. This barely masked hostility, this hiding behind one’s finger to try to justify the boycott of the Tridentine, is something I hope will become more and more rare as the people of Conti’s generation go to a more or less deserved retirement.
A second controversial statement of the Archbishop is the following one:
I venture to suggest that there is no call for it, or pastoral reason to change what has become the settled practice of the Archdiocese
This is plain contradictory. You can’t declare that there should be no promotion, and then say that there is no demand. If you don’t say to your people that there is this possibility, or give them the alternative and the choice, well of course there won’t be any demand! It is well-known that the application of Summorum Pontificum all over Scotland has been dismal; to say that there is no demand after such a boycott is tantamount to a provocation.
It doesn’t end here, as the Archbishop wants to leave us in no doubt as to his profound dislike for the Tridentine Mass. He goes on – among other things – saying what follows:
The awesomeness of the holy exchange can be manifested in the way in which we celebrate the Mass, avoiding all that could trivialize the sacred, without any extravagant gestures, but on the contrary taking advantage of the rich potential within the rites themselves to enhance the significance of what we do by way of the dignity of our actions, the singing of those parts of the Mass which are marked for song and wearing vestments of noble simplicity.
This becomes now utter childish, and plain stupid.
The bishop implies (but doesn’t say explicitly) that the Tridentine:
1) trivialises the Mass,
2) leads to extravagant gestures, and
3) leads to extravagant vestments.
To 1), it is rather simple to answer that the Archbishop must be rather living on a different planet, if he thinks that it is the Tridentine that trivialises the sacred. It is the Novus Ordo that does that, Your Grace, and I hope you had a good sleep.
To 2), Archbishop Conti has evidently forgotten what a Tridentine Mass is, because if there is a rite in which every gesture of the Priest is slow, solemn and extremely dignified it is the Tridentine Mass.
To 3), it sounds to me as a mockery and gratuitous provocation that those who defend the Novus Ordo and the endless array of clownesque vestments it has originated think they have the right to complain about the solemnity and beauty of the traditional vestments. The priest is Alter Christus and during Mass the greatest miracle on Earth happens: that this shouldn’t be dealt with in a way, with a solemnity and with vestments that reflect this simple truth lets me doubt whether this truth is believed in the first place.
Once again: Archbishop Conti is going, but he is still shooting. He is obviously afraid that after him, the resistance to the Tridentine mass will crumble in his diocese, and that his successor will be chosen among those who are well disposed toward the Tridentine.
I wish Archbishop Conti a long and healthy retirement, during which he will have more and more opportunities to realise the error of his ways by assisting to numerous, reverently celebrated Masses in that form that should have been never abandoned in the first place. Thank God, Archbishops go and the Mass of the Ages stays.
The poet Horace famously wrote,
multa renascentur, quae iam cecidere, cadentque quae nunc sunt in honore.
(“Many things shall be revived which already have perished, and many things shall perish which are now held in honor”)
He was speaking, if I remember correctly, rather of words and usages in a language, but because of the beauty of the phrase his words assumed a universal meaning.
Archbishop Conti should reflect on these words: whether he likes it or not, the Tridentine is on its way to resurgence and the Novus Ordo, very clearly, on its way to oblivion.