There is a brilliant (and long) post of Father Z about a rather good (and long) pastoral letter of Archbishop Conti, the well-known adversary of the Tridentine Mass, about the new translation that will, as he says, “grace our altars” starting from Advent.
The long message of the Archbishop jumps a bit here and there, and it would not be easy, nor interesting to read, to comment on it in its entirety.
What I find rather worthy of consideration, because denoting a mentality that is spreading more and more under the blanket of “niceness”, is:
a) the position of the Archbishop towards kneeling to receive communion, and
b) his reasons why one should not genuflect even when he has been queuing in standing.
It is very surprising to read from a bishop that standing be “the” sign of reverence in the Western Civilisation. Granted, standing is traditionally considered a sign of respect, but I can’t remember it being used in preference to kneeling in matters regarding the religious sphere.
When the Headmaster enters the class, everybody stands up. When women enter the room, everybody stands up (unless the lady in question is a feminist, in which case the standing men sit down). You are supposed not to sit unless asked, and so on.
But note that this does not happen in the religious sphere. For centuries, Communion has been received in the West by kneeling and not by standing. There can be no sign that more eloquently shows the difference between respect in front of human authority and reverence for the Divine one. To ignore this means to willingly and willfully want to reduce the Divine to the rank of the human. It is surprising – not to say, scandalous – that an Archbishop would pretend not to know these simple facts.
Those who approach communion in standing are invited not to kneel, in order to be sensitive to those who can’t. This is not only plain stupid, but stupid in the most arrogant of ways: the passive-aggressive manipulation under the blanket of the protection of the old. Hostage-taking of the slimiest sort.
If we followed the genial train of thought of the Archbishop, we shouldn’t jog in the park in order to be sensitive to those who can’t; we shouldn’t drive a motorbike in traffic, out of respect for those who can’t ride their BSA anymore; we shouldn’t, actually, even go to Mass in order to be sensitive to the countless faithful who every Sunday, actually, can’t. I could go on, but you get my drift.
This arrogant manipulation and hostage-taking of old people – who certainly, for the most part, wouldn’t even dream of asking the congregation not to kneel just because they themselves can’t; and if they did, would deserve to see people kneeling particularly deep and for very long – is not heard by me for the first time and, stupid as it is, risks to become a leitmotiv of the liberal battle against kneeling by communion. I know that you think that this is too idiotic to ever take hold, but you never know what people end up believing – or not daring to contradict – if it is repeated long and often enough. Particularly if some high-value hostages are taken: the old, the children, the “environment”.
I do hope that this mentality doesn’t take hold. If it does, I’ll immediately suggest to take communion by kneeling in order to give some relief to the older members of the congregation, whom it would be insensitive to let be standing when they can get some moment of rest. Or I would suggest that everyone who can kneel also does it in a particular reverent way, offering his kneeling to the older members of the congregation, who are thus specially remembered and honoured.
As you see, the PC-whining and fake-considerate manipulation is a game everyone can play.
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.