“What was sacred to previous generations remains sacred and great to us; it cannot suddenly be completely forbidden or even harmful.” —Pope Benedict XVI in Summorum Pontificum, July 7, 2007
“The intentions of the new… legislation… are becoming increasingly clear: the traditional liturgy (and teaching, because that is what it is ultimately about) is to be made more and more invisible and pushed over the edge… If possible, the ‘normal believer’ should no longer come into contact with what has been Catholic for two thousand years.” —A report Saturday, February 4 — two days ago — on the German website summorum-pontificum.de on what is said to be the likely publication later this spring of an “Apostolic Constitution” which will further restrict celebration of the old Latin Mass in the Latin rite (link)
“This current information, which apparently goes beyond the status of mere rumours, also names Holy Week as the publication date of the document — i.e. probably the anniversary of Paul VI ‘s Constitutional Missale Romanum — on the 3rd of April.” —Ibid. (see also link)
“By asking that the traditional missal be completely abandoned in the near future, by convening a synod on synodality to make it impossible to go back, the current pontiff wants to definitively destroy the principle of the hermeneutic of continuity that broke down on the day Benedict XVIgave up. Instead of seeking such continuity, the present Pope is rooting for the phenomenon of rupture, which is becoming perceptible in all areas of the Church. Everything that is rooted in tradition is mocked, presented as sclerotic, accused of clericalism or immobilism… From now on, we must pray that a pope, definitively freed from the Council and the issues linked to it, will be able to write a new page of the Church, by reaffirming the eternal principles of Catholicism.” —by the Franch Catholic author Côme de Prévigny in an essay entitled “The Death of Benedict XVI: The Failure of the Hermeneutic of Continuity,” first published by Renaissance catholique, republished by Rorate coeli on January 27, 2023 (link)
“Perhaps the greatest sin that men of the Church can commit is to forget what the Church has always been.” ——Italian Catholic writer and Vaticanist Andrea Gagliarducci in his latest “Monday Vatican” column published today, February 6
Letter #42, 2023 Monday, February 6: Old Mass
There are new reports on the possible issuance (perhaps on April 3), of further restrictions on the use of the old rite when celebrating Mass.
Two articles originating in Europe over the weekend claim that unnamed “sources” in Rome have just once again “confirmed” that there does exist a draft of an “Apostolic Constitution” which would further limit the use of the old, pre-conciliar liturgy — the old way of celebrating Mass and the sacraments (for example, baptism and ordination) — which Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 said should be preserved in the Church as an honored and venerable rite.
Here are links to those two articles: here (in German; but there is a button you may click on to get an English translation)) and here (in Italian).
The intent seems to be to codify definitively the new liturgy — the “new Mass” promulgated by Pope Paul VI on April 3, 1969 (see also link), to replace the old Latin Mass used for centuries prior to 1969 — as the sole liturgy of the Latin-rite in the Church.
Let’s take a slightly more in-depth look at this argument…
Many do not regard this as an important matter. They see it as peripheral, even irrelevant.
Others, however, see it as important, even critical and central, for the future life and faith of the Church.
Why the two views?
Essentially, because observers have different views of whether the two liturgies are in such contrast as actually to affect the belief of the faithful.
In other words, because of differing views about whether one liturgy or the other is more effective in communicating what the Mass has always tried to communicate: the spirit of Christ, his very life, to those who are “in communion” with Him, and through Him and in Him, with the Father.
Some would speaks in terms of “grace”: that whatever, in liturgy or in life, is more “Christo-centric,” whatever draws souls closer to Christ, calls souls to become centered on Christ, more effectively provides and instills that “grace” which (in a mysterious way which professional theologians may debate and more ordinary mortals may simply meditate upon in silence) is the life of the soul — the energy which makes the soul, that central mystery what the core of every human being, rich, vibrant, alive, oriented toward faith, hope, and love, oriented toward the sacrifice of one’s own will and the embrace of the will of God in order to find one’s own will more completely than ever before…
Some people think the two forms of the liturgy, the old and the new, are equally Christo-centric (and so equally valid) but are simply different “esthetically.” In other words, superficially. Not essentially.
That is, some think that “older” people (people born before, say, 1955 or 1960, before the beginning of the Second Vatican Council), and people with a connection to European aristocratic traditions, and so to the venerable old Latin language, simply “like” (esthetically) the old liturgy, with its so-called “solemnity” and “formaltiy” (though an old Mass in an old chapel is able to be extraordinarily simple and accessible and thus, in some way, also “un-solemn” and “informal”), with its use of Latin (and some Greek), with its use of incense and prescribed gestures, and so forth, while “more modern people” (people born after, say 1960 or 1965, after the Council) and less “Euro-centric” people (people from the countries far from the old European “homeland” of the Catholic Church) simply “like” the new liturgy, the “Novus Ordo” promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969, with its “less solemn” aspect, its use of the vernacular (not Latin), its “informality,” its lesser use of any prescribed gestures, and so forth.
Still, others are persuaded (for many and various reasons) — in keeping with the old saying “lex orandi, lex credendi” (“the law of praying is the law of believing”) which means that the way one prays ends up affecting and shaping the actual beliefs of people — that the “new Mass” does not orient people as unswervingly and completely toward God as the “old Mass” did.
This is simply what some actually believe.
They have been persuaded it is so.
So, when they hear that Rome is progressively eliminating the “old Mass,” they conclude Rome has misunderstood something, Rome has underestimated the deep and soul-strengthening piety, and belief, that the old liturgy signified, and actuated (as Pope Benedict wrote), for millions upon millions over centuries.
They simply cannot understand why Rome would wish to break completely, suppress completely, this traditional praying, this traditional invocation of God, this traditional, Christ-centered liturgy.
And, surprisingly, Rome has up to now not really made any truly persuasive argument to these people for why Rome wishes to do what Benedict XVI said just 15 years ago could never be done:
“What was sacred to previous generations remains sacred and great to us; it cannot suddenly be completely forbidden or even harmful.” (Pope Benedict XVI in Summorum Pontificum, July 7, 2007)
And all of this causes spiritual anguish, and anguish of conscience, for many simple believers of good will, who sense that their anguish of conscience is of no concern to the men who have been entrusted with these decisions.
And so they live in a type of spiritual desolation, which is accentuated by each turn of the screw as Rome slowly but surely suffocates the practice of the old liturgy.
All comments, criticisms, suggestions quite welcome. Just send by return email. I will publish a few of the letters sent to me, with your permission. —RM