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.
First there were the rumors; then came the bloggers; last came an open letter from the parishioners, asking the Birmingham Oratory to provide information as to why three of his members (Fr Dermot Fenlon, Fr Philip Cleevely and Brother Lewis Berry) have been sent away – several hundreds miles away from each other – for an undetermined period of time.
The Birmingham Oratory does not make any comment besides informing that there is no question of impropriety, but still the call for explanations doesn’t abate.
I do not agree with those who say that the Birmingham Oratorians should provide some form of “transparency”; nor do I believe that in these matters you have to speak in order for others to shut up. In situations like these, people never shut up. Whatever you say only gives them ammunition for the next round of rumors.
The three beloved and esteemed Oratorians are clearly above suspicion. There is therefore no question of the three being in any way slandered or compromised. Consequently, there is no need to start any crusade for their protection. For the same reason, there is no ground for concern that the spotless reputation of the Oratorians may itself suffer. There is, in fact, no problem you and I need to know.
The fundamental question here is whether one trusts the Oratorians. If one does, the need to know why certain decisions have been taken is just not there. If one doesn’t, it is not clear why the Oratorians should busy themselves giving “explanations” which would only aliment further rumors as to the “real motives” of whatever they might say.
Even in these post-V II times, the parishioners do not own a religious order. Attending Mass at their church does not give them any special right to information or control. They must decide, as everyone else, whether they trust the Oratorians and draw the consequences from their decision.
I personally support the decision of the Oratorians to remain silent on the matter and am extremely confident that this will remain the case whatever the level of noisy (and nosy) complaint in the future. It is good to see that there is at least one institution reacting to this modern mania that everything must always be put in front of the public, let alone that the public has the right to be informed of everything.
The Church is not a reality show. If the Oratory has decided that it is better to be silent on the matter, this means that they have thought this the proper conduct and in my eyes we should respect their call instead of starting the bickering and the peeping into other people’s affairs.