12 January 2011

Mutual Enrichment?

When the good Pope John Paul II was reigning, liturgically daring people including a certain Bavarian Cardinal used speak about the “reform of the reform”. Even to talk about the possibility was somewhat exciting, nay, daring.
Now the Reigning Pontiff has spoken about the “mutual enrichment” of the older and the newer forms of the Roman Rite and has given some examples of what he has in mind. That was more than three years ago. Not very long at all in Vatican time, but it probably won’t be too long before we see some of what he spoke about implemented, and perhaps some other things also.
The learned Father Hunwicke  published something about this a week ago (it was from him that the Pimpernel adapted the phrase “traditionalist fundamentalists” – it just works for them, doesn’t it?) Now, the inspiring Chant Café has published another consideration on the question.
It is certainly good to talk about possibilities, and even better to do so with one’s feet on the ground as it actually is in 2011, looking forward. It is also refreshing that the persons doing so are not insulting the person of the Sovereign Pontiff or prophesying that the next pope will be a liturgical anti-Christ or pretending that no authority exists in the Church other than their own opinion.
Realistic, respectful and intelligent conversation, the Pimpernel commends.
There is a danger though. That is that our liturgical ‘wish lists’ can become political manifestos, as they have with the pre-1962-, the 3rd Confiteor-, the 1920 missal-, the pre-Pius X breviary-, the folded chasuble-, the pre-Trent sequence-, the 1955-, etc. etc. ‘societies’ (well, small, unstable groups of individuals or an individual, actually). Each of these stances may have something to commend them, but when they become politicised, and cut people off from the worship and life of the Church, that is another matter altogether.
No. As Catholics we stand with the Church. Yes, we respectfully discuss. We may put our case strongly and clearly. But we do not stamp our feet and turn away if our own manifesto does not win the day.
If we truly believe that in conscience we must protest the abolition of the Octave of the Sacred Heart, or the reclassification of semi-doubles to the end, St Thomas Aquinas gives us guidance on how to proceed. If, however, we can accept that the Church, for her reasons, perhaps for what we believe to be badly informed or even erroneous ones, has nevertheless made a decision that, whilst not prejudicing her indefectibility, is not what I want or think best, we can still be her loyal sons. We can also, as sons before a loving mother, try and persuade her to reconsider. Tantrums and calling popes and the Holy See names won’t help.
At the time of writing it is not clear to the Pimpernel whether Fr Hunwicke is soon to rejoice in full Communion with the Holy Father (...oremus!), but his sentiments are certainly Catholic. The author at the Chant Café already does. Both have made the contributions one would hope for from loyal sons. 
More sensible and non-partisan discussion of these questions is all to the good, but the Pimpernel asks, let’s all remember that “I” am not the ultimate judge of what should or should not be. The Church is.


  1. Dear L. P.,
    I enjoy reading your posts and check in frequently. In regard to the commendable discussion of authority and obedience in the Church and her ceremonies, I was wondering if you had heard anything to corroborate or perhaps deny something I heard while in Rome recently, viz. that "Summorum Pontificum" had been mainly a response to the fact that so many priests in the Eternal City were celebrating the traditional Mass (presumably without explicit approval of their Ordinaries), so that the Holy See was, so to speak, recognizing a fait accompli. From another source (a priest), I also heard that concelebration in many collegios was all but ended, so many of the younger priests preferred offering "private" Mass (and that, often enough, according to the traditional Missal). If you have heard anything in this regard, do you think it has any bearing on the "way forward" in all these thorny liturgical discussions? With thanks and best regards,
    Fr. C.

  2. Alas Fr C. the Pimpernel can't reveal anything heard or otherwise that is relevant. Perhpaps other readers can help: but how reliable are things people hear?

  3. Dear L.P.,
    I very much agree with your warning against 'politicizing' such liturgical discussions, and there is a real risk of that happening (I remember that several years ago a website claimed that all changes up to 1962 were divinely inspired and all those after 1962 the work of the devil, and some others claim that anything ever signed by Bugnini must emit a sulphuric smell).

    Quite a few people who have some knowledge about liturgy (including myself) believe that most of the reforms after the 1950s cannot be called successful - not because they are theologically wrong but because they are badly crafted, illogical or impractical. There was probably a reason why the 1962 Missal was only in use for two years, and why some of its innovations (like all the changes of vestments on Good Friday or the reduction of lessons in the Easter Vigil) were undone soon by later reforms.

    Since now more and more faithful begin to discover the Extraordinary Form there is a danger that some of these failed experiments of the 1960s are regarded as authentic century-old liturgical tradition of the Church. I do not think that it would be very wrong to point out these problems - in all humility - and to appeal to the Roman authorities to revisit some aspects of '1962'.

  4. Understood! I suppose it depends on who is doing the talking and who the reporting. It's been said (again with the second-hand information, I know!) that a "Vatican secret" means that you only tell one person at a time. At any rate, my informants for the above have been trustworthy in the past.
    Fr C.

  5. I very much doubt at this late stage the liturgical civil war can reach an amicable resolution until another great council is convened. Pope Benedict has no choice but to call Vatican III.

    The well wherein we find the bitter water of liturgical division has been poisoned for too long. The fate of Holy Church is what is at stake now. As one side thrusts anathemas at the other. Breeding an atmosphere of suspicion and reactions of outrage, contempt, and threatened movements toward schism.

    Neither Catholic Traddies nor Novus Ordocrats can be reconciled today by taking a piecemeal approach to liturgical reform without one side convinced the other side has committed an act of treachery. Each side suspecting Pope Benedict himself to be the author.

    It will take the entire Church involved in a serious and somewhat lengthy re-examination of the Church's liturgical patrimony, where it has come, and where we envision it to be, in order to even start the healing of the divisions created since 1969.

  6. "I very much doubt at this late stage the liturgical civil war can reach an amicable resolution until another great council is convened. Pope Benedict has no choice but to call Vatican III."

    Bother he does! What sort of splendid thumping result do you think the majority of bishops today would come up with? Does Neocatechumenal Way ring a bell?

    Rather, he should immediately abrogate the Novus Ordo as a well-intentioned but disastrous experiment as a result of having exceeded the intention of Vatican II.

    The Missal of 1965 reflects every jot and tittle of Sacrosanctam Concilium, no more, no less. Even Alcuin Reid recognizes the '65 as an organic manifestation of the TLM. The SSPX themselves celebrated it until 1982.

    I would impose over it the rubrics of the 1962 Missal, but allow for its celebration, with the exception of the Canon, in the vernacular.

    Hand missals printed between 1965 and 1970 bear the statement that this is the liturgy reformed "as directed by Vatican Council II." Priests and bishops around the world at the time believed and accepted it as such, many of whom were aghast with surprise at the introduction of the Novus Ordo, including bishops who were present at the Rome Synod in October 1967, when it was presented ad experimentum.

    We don't have to convene another Council of Terror, or wait 100 years for "mutual enrichment." The means of peace is already here, and only waiting for a pope with boldness and persuasive skill to pick it up.

    ~ Belloc