This is a salutary moment for people on both sides of the aisle to engage in a sincere examination of conscience: Have I weaponized the Sacred Liturgy, using it for ideological purposes, rather than for the glory of the Triune God?
As we approach the month’s mind marker of Traditionis Custodes, and with the benefit of literally hundreds of articles produced, including my own reflection here at CWR within 48 hours of the promulgation of the document, we are in a good position to see how we got where we did and where we might do well to head in the months going forward. Let’s consider the situation from several complementary angles.
Commentators across the spectrum have noted that the document is a potpourri of jumbled theology, canon law, history, sociology and psychology. This happens with great regularity with this Pope because, unlike Pope John Paul II, he doesn’t consult well (or apparently at all).
Francis seems to be ignorant of the Missale Romanum of 1965, simply alluding to the missals of 1962 and 1970; that text, in my judgment (and that of many others), came very close to embodying the desiderata of the Council Fathers, whereas what followed five years later, far exceeded the mandates of Sacrosanctum Concilium and even went against not a few of them. What would his thoughts be on that liturgical form? We don’t know. Nor do we know what his thinking is on other ritual expressions like the Dominican or Ambrosian Rites, or the Anglican Usage. Do they fall under the same negative verdict? Again, we don’t know.
Similarly, in drafting the motu proprio, he was apparently unaware of the power of diocesan bishops to dispense from purely disciplinary law (canon 87), which many bishops have already done. Not a few Ordinaries have taken a page out of the approach of the Jansenists and Modernists when faced with unfavorable papal decrees: “We have carefully considered the Holy Father’s concerns, thank him for his paternal solicitude, and thank Almighty God that none of his concerns prevail among us.” Except that in this instance, the approach is valid. This situation has occurred because he doesn’t have the pulse of the worldwide episcopate, which has led to what must be a very embarrassing response to him – it’s called, technically, “non-reception,” about which Cardinal Walter Brandmüller wrote quite lucidly (as is his wont).
Aside from the rambling, often incoherent style, the text is often vitriolic, perhaps exceeded only by Exsurge, Domine of Leo X (1520) in his condemnation of Martin Luther. Good fathers don’t speak that way to or about their children. Many have pointed out the irony that Francis has been kinder to Society of St. Pius X (in their irregular ecclesial status) than to those “traditionalists” in full communion with the Church. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he testified on behalf of the SSPX to gain for them civil recognition and protection and, as Pope, has accorded their priests faculties to hear confessions and to witness sacramental marriages, leading to the obvious question: Is it “okay” to pray with the Missal of 1962 if you are not in full communion with the See of Rome but verboten if you are?
When Francis appointed Cardinal Robert Sarah prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship, many of us were shocked (since Sarah and Bergoglio do not share liturgical visions). Even more amazing was the Pope’s mandate that Sarah pursue the liturgical trajectory of Benedict XVI! When Sarah began to do that, he was slapped down in a most unceremonious fashion and publicly shamed. Further, on one of Francis’ many airborne press conferences, he praised the Eastern rites of the Church for maintaining a sense of the sacred and lamentably opined that the Roman Rite has lost much of it. A man of many contradictions.
Although Francis taught Latin as a young Jesuit, he certainly exhibits an animus against the language. Strangely, he makes no mention of the possibility of celebrating the current rite in Latin. On his watch, the Vatican Press (LEV) has removed from their catalogue all Latin liturgical books of the post-conciliar era, while the Congregation for Divine Worship is denying permission to other publishers to reprint those books. Are the paragraphs of Sacrosanctum Concilium calling for the retention of Latin in the Sacred Liturgy missing from the Bergoglian editions of that document?
Finally, we are witnessing what can be called “reaction formation.” Some priests have seen the attendance double at their Masses according to the 1962 Missal. Why? When asking new-comers what has attracted them all of a sudden, a very common response has been: “I never knew much about that Mass or was much interested in it, but when I heard that Pope Francis was so opposed to it, I thought I should look into it.” That is not a very appealing response, but it is an attitude “on the ground,” one brought on by this Pope’s consistent pillorying of things he deems unworthy of maintenance. The Pope who constantly talks about the importance of priests having the “smell of the sheep” lacks that quality most evidently – or at least does so when the vox populi is not what he wants to hear.
“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’”
Words have meaning; indeed, even a single letter can have immense consequences. The Christological controversy involving Arius revolved around the little Greek letter iota (“I”). Arius argued that Jesus was homoiousios as the Father (of a similar nature), while the Nicene Fathers maintained He was homoousios (of the same nature), the difference being a single letter, giving us the English expression that something doesn’t make “an iota of a difference,” but the iota did matter.
Several problems have existed with terminology regarding the Sacred Liturgy – on both sides of the ecclesiological aisle.
The first surfaced very soon after the appearance of the Missal of Pope Paul VI. Opponents referred to the work as the Novus Ordo Missae. Its use was mischievous, at best, as it has never been used in any ecclesiastical document and was clearly intended to conjure up novus ordo saeculorum, found on the obverse of our dollar bill, with its Masonic connections. In like manner, the expression “Traditional Latin Mass” (TLM): garners “Tradition” for one form alone, suggesting that the revised rite is not in keeping with Tradition. In Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict created the terms “ordinary” and “extraordinary” forms of the Mass to describe what he wanted to be side-by-side liturgical realities. That verbiage has not been widely used by people attending the older rite because it connotes that recourse to that form would be rare (“extraordinary” – like “extraordinary” ministers of Holy Communion!).
Since we need descriptors, I think the best, most neutral, and most accurate language (with no ideological baggage) to employ, is usus antiquior (the more ancient usage) and usus recentior (the more recent usage); this language appears to be favored by Cardinal Raymond Burke.
With all due respect to Papa Ratzinger, one must admit two unfortunate facts: He did nothing to curb liturgical abuses in the “ordinary form” (in my experience, the principal reason most Catholics attend the “extraordinary form” is to avoid things like altar girls, lay people distributing Holy Communion, Communion-in-the-hand), nor did he pursue the “reform of the reform” that he had championed for decades as a theologian and as a cardinal.
That said, a careful reading of Summorum Pontificum makes clear that Benedict did not envision his “extraordinary form” to exist in perpetuity; rather, that his notion of “mutual enrichment” would bring about an organic development of a tertium quid. Which makes sense since his major critique of the liturgical revisions was not that change had been introduced but that the changes did not evolve in a natural fashion.
The current Pope grounds his objections to the “old Mass” in supposed positions of its devotees challenging the validity of both Vatican II and the “new Mass.” If that has occurred, one can legitimately ask if priests charged with pastoral care of “conservative” believers have corrected erroneous positions of laity? However, let’s dig a bit deeper.
Regarding councils: One must distinguish between asserting that a council could be valid but ineffectual or ineffective. Here we can recall that the declarations of Nicea I (325 A.D.) did not resolve all the Christological controversies; as a matter of fact, we had to wait for Chalcedon I more than a century later (451 A.D.) for something close to a resolution. The five Lateran Councils (1123-1517) all dealt with issues of Church reform, with nary any effect. On the other hand, no serious Catholic, let alone an informed one, can adopt an ahistorical approach, which would hold that any one council is any more important than another; thus, Vatican II is not more important than Trent or Vatican I, only more contemporaneous.
As far as the Sacred Liturgy is concerned, the usus recentior cannot be treated as invalid because of abuses, any more than the usus antiquior can be invalidated because of fifteen-minute Masses “in the old days.” On the other hand, criticizing abuses in one form or the other should never be seen as a rejection of its validity or an assertion of its invalidity.
John Paul II and Benedict XVI spent more than three decades together in demonstrating how Vatican II was to be interpreted through a hermeneutic of continuity – and they had both the competence and the authority to do that as John Paul was a Council Father and Benedict was a peritus. In a bizarre twist of fate, a hermeneutic of rupture has been the preferred interpretive lens by both the far Left and far Right. When that happens, amber lights ought to go off. Sadly, the current Pope has given clear signals for eight years that he holds to the hermeneutic of rupture, which is nothing other than an untenable position, precisely because it calls into question the indefectibility of the Church.
Last but by no means least, all too many adherents of the usus antiquior have given ammunition to less than honest brokers by exaggerating the success of the “TLM”: hundreds of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, along with thousands attending the “TLM.” Why do I raise this issue? Firstly, because truth matters. The so-called “traditional” communities of priests – all international – rarely ordain more than ten men a year. One blogger recently declared that his “traditional” parish has 2000 people at their Sunday Mass. Really? Someone who knows the man’s diocese asserts that there isn’t a single church in that diocese which can accommodate anything close to 2000 people! Unnecessary (and unwarranted) triumphalism bred paranoia in the bad brokers, who surely stoked similar irrational fears in the Pope.
No, whether we like it or not, there is no “traditionalist” take-over of the mainstream in the foreseeable future.
Some final thoughts
First, the usus antiquior is not going anywhere, principally because Traditionis Custodes is a dead letter, in fact, dead on arrival. No intelligent diocesan bishop is going to stir up trouble where there has been comparative peace. Here, too, Pope Francis needs to recall that the primary responsibility of the Bishop of Rome is to foster ecclesial peace, not guerrilla warfare.
Second, this is a salutary moment for people on both sides of the aisle to engage in a sincere examination of conscience: Have I weaponized the Sacred Liturgy, using it for ideological purposes, rather than for the glory of the Triune God?…
The above comes from an August 15 article by Father Peter Stravinskas in the Catholic World Report.
So people: It’s so very easy to join in the currently fashionable bandwagon called The Pope-Francis-bashing spree. The writer of the article above has been known to do this in the past, and had been called out on it. Notice the dripping negativity in this piece. People, the Pope has been more than gentle and pastoral in the manner with which he has given the bishops a lot of room to implement the principles in “Traditionis custodies” in whatever manner they desire. The writer however erroneously saw that gentleness of the Pope as “confusing.” Right.
Perhaps the biggest critique of this piece for me is his failure to think according to the mind of the Magisterium, the mind of the Church. The writer doesn’t get the inestimable necessity of unity (which is the Pope’s expressed aim in Traditionis custodes) in the plan of salvation.
Traditionis Custodies had nothing – nothing – in it that was gentle or pastoral. It was a heavy handed slap down written by bitter angry prelates against their fellow Catholics, that small remnant that still even goes to Mass.
The contempt for traditional worship was astounding and mean spirited.
DVult writes that there’s nothing in TC that was gentle and pastoral. I beg to differ. Everything in it is pastoral because firstly the Pope guarded the unity of the Church (and unity is not a mere expedient, expendable thing, people); secondly the Pope gave the world’s bishops the authority on how to implement TC; thirdly the Pope expressed abhorrence at the abuses made in some celebrations of the Ordinary Form; fourthly, the told bishops to continue to provide for those attached to the EF, but with an eye to bring them to the celebration of the OF eventually.
These are very pastoral and loving acts of the Pope, people. The fact is that many of you can’t recognize it because many have been brainwashed by irresponsible blogs and pseudo-intellectuals branding themselves as “traditional Catholics” in order to get into the speaking-circuit.
You give no credit to Catholics coming to appreciate tradition. We are not brainwashed sheep, we have made profound discoveries and I’ll thank you to keep your insults to yourself.
One of the aims of brainwashing, “Non,” is to make the victim “give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas.” There have been many in the EF-crowd who have been brainwashed because they have been made to “give up” basic tenets of Catholicism in favor of pure trash: trash such as that the Magisterium has taught heresy, garbage such as dissentious narratives, trash such as suspiciousness towards popes, and just more utter nonsense and garbage. And these people call these things “profound discoveries” or even “insights.”
See how Gnostic this “TLM movement” has become for many people? Rather, basic and solid Catholic tenets include deference and reverence to the Supreme Pontiff, acknowledgment of the indefectability of the Magisterium’s solemn teachings such as Vatican II, and faith in the efficacy and validity of the Church’s sacraments including the Ordinary Form. The fact that people like you, “Non” have been made to “give up” these central tenets of Catholicism is an indication of brainwashing. You have been made to turn your Catholic belief-system upside down by those who wanted power and your money.
Secondly, “Non,” to characterize EF-only goers as “coming to appreciate tradition” is another sign of brainwashing. There is a lot of Catholic tradition in the celebration of the Ordinary Form whether it be at Mass, at baptism, weddings, etc. Catholic tradition, “Non”, is not absent in the Ordinary Form. To believe that there’s no or even minimal Catholic tradition in the OF is another sign you’ve been brainwashed.
They have come to appreciate tradition because they grew up under the Novus Ordo. They realized something was missing and found the Mass enjoyed by All Catholics for the past several hundred years. That’s not brainwashing, that is coming home.
“Non”- As I said above, the Ordinary Form contains the fullness Catholic tradition handed down to the people from the Magisterium. To deny this is to commit heresy. Secondly, there is nothing “missing” in the Ordinary Form as you claim. The Mass in the Ordinary Form, as in the EF, contains the fullness of Being Himself because Christ is present in the Eucharist, whichever form of the Mass it is.
I’ll turn the tables on you, “Non.” If, as you claim, the EF contains what was missing in the OF, then why are many people who exclusively go to the EF divisive, hateful of the OF and the people who go there, disrespectful and irreverent towards the Pope and bishops, anti-semitic and bigoted (particularly the beloved SSPX), and cranky? My point is, you can go to the most beautiful Mass in the world, but if your soul continues to harbor hatred and animosity, then your heart needs a major revamp for which the EF has not had the desired effect.
Lastly, the last point in this article also needs correction because the writer says: “No intelligent diocesan bishop is going to stir up trouble where there has been comparative peace”. Wrong. There was division prior to “Traditionis custodies,” there was dissent against the Council, there was the thrashing of the Ordinary Form by those who go to the Extraordinary Form. All of that came into the surface when the Pope issued the motu propio. The motu propio was necessary if there is to be true peace indeed.
So the Pope’s move was brilliant. His motu propio unmasked a serious sin that was hiding under the surface that needed to be pulled out forcefully. Satan didn’t like that. He wanted the “traditionalists” to continue to be lulled in their little corner of dissent and pride, “comforted” by the silence of the TLM’s rubrics. These self-described “traditionalists” have a lot to thank Pope Francis for.
Jon, ever wonder why you posts get so many thumbs down?
The reason is because I write the truth unvarnished, and the majority of readers here cannot stand the truth unvarnished. They can’t stand being told they’re wrong and they can’t stand being presented with the right course of action. I daresay, the words of Pope Francis in his letter accompanying the motu propio aptly describes this attitude: they “widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division.”
Thanks for the shot of hubris, quite what we expected.
Right. It’s not hubris. Mine was a frank and apt answer to a question that was meant to embarrass and to mock, a question that was ungracious.
And really didn’t need your answer, as the question was indeed rhetorical. Keeping one’s ego in check is a necessary quality for Catholics and others of good will. You can achieve this through practice and humility, if you are so inclined.
Rhetorical is still mistaken because hubris and pride is thinking oneself more orthodox, more Catholic, and more knowledgable than the Pope and the rest of the Magisterium in matters of faith and morals, and even of the liturgical practices of the Church. To defend the teachings of the Magisterium in this here blog (for which one as you have pointed out receives many “thumbs down”) is never a source of hubris and pride. It is a spiritual act of mercy to inform the ignorant/uninformed.
Spiritual works of mercy abrogated by the deadly sin of pride are hollow. Disagreement does not mean ignorance, and many of the topics discussed here are open to a variety of opinion which does not mean one is in schism of heresy.
Blind obedience, even to a pope or member of the hierarchy, is not praiseworthy. Jon’s role as chider in chief does not alter this reality.
Obedience to the Magisterium’s teachings on faith and morals is never “open to a variety of opinion.” Rather, they must be adhered to with a religious submission of mind and will, per Lumen Gentium. For instance obedience to the Pope’s motu propio “Traditionis custodes” is not a matter of opinion for there is nothing unjust in the Pope’s desire to strengthen the unity of the Church against those who have sacrilegiously used and are using the beautiful Mass of John XXIII as a means to divide the Church and dissent against Vatican II.
At this moment I could care less about Pope Francis and his continued destruction of the traditional Latin mass, we must pray and pray hard for the recovery of his grace Cardinal Raymond Burke he is on a ventilator in Rome suffering from COVID-19 and pneumonia in critical condition, he’s a great proponent of a traditional Latin mass and sacraments and would be a huge blow if we lost him in the traditional cause of restoration. Cardinal Burke is a holy man and a good man he’s been persecuted by the powers that be for his defense of the traditional Latin mass I ask everybody on the site please pray for his recovery pray the rosary he has done so much for the TLM and us who love it. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano and Bishop Schneider have been praying for His Grace and asked us to pray the Rosary.
Wait, I thought you people claimed the TLM was a movement of the young not the old. You betray your propagandistic lies about the TLM’s appeal.
I prayed for Cardinal Burke, BTW. I prayed that he is prepared for his eternal reward, if it is God’s will to call him.
No more– Each year, Cardinal Burke ordains seminarians to the priesthood, of the ICKSP (Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest) in Gricigliano, Italy. The ICKSP seminary is located there, near Florence. I love to see the beautiful ordination photos, each year. The parents and entire families of the new priests, are so proud of them. The seminarians come from all over the world. I was told by several proud mothers, that their sons had to be fluent in French as well as Italian, to attend the ICKSP seminary, because all the classes are conducted in French. Their sons worked very hard to be as fluent as they could, in these foreign languages, before entering the seminary. The ICKSP is fully Catholic, under the pope, and they love the Latin Tridentine Mass. They are wonderful priests, and Cdl. Burke is wonderful, too. They have absolutely nothing to do with the “crazy, young radicals” that made the Pope so mad. I have never met any “bad radicals” at any Tridentine Mass, only good, normal, devout Catholics.
Well, “Christifidelis,” if the priests of the beloved ICRSS as you write have absolutely “nothing to do with the ‘crazy young radicals’ that made the Pope mad” (by the way, the Pope never used the word crazy), then we should all expect these priests of the beloved Institute, if or when called upon by the Holy See, to be more than willing and able to offer on a regular and daily basis the Mass of Pope St. Paul VI, including all the sacraments in the Ordinary Form in their oratories, chapels, parishes, seminaries, apostolates, etc. To date, they do not offer the Ordinary Form on a regular basis in any of their apostolates as a rule, which is a sign of divisiveness and radicalness.
jon, you need respect for Cardinal Burke and for the ICKSP.
I’ve met His Eminence several times and I have met several priests of the beloved ICRSS. I respect them; but I don’t respect divisiveness, dissent, and sin. And I daresay they’d agree with me.
Could someone please explain to me who these “crazy, young, radicals” are. From my own experience at Latin Masses I would say they are just the opposite, very respectful and decent young as well as old people, who could never be identified that way.
The issue here Ronnie is not what Christifidelis meant by “crazy, young radicals”, because the Pope never used the term. The issue here is whether or not the beloved ICRSS (Institute of Christ the King) as well as the beloved FSSP are willing to offer the Ordinary Form in all the sacraments, and not only when their priest is concelebrating at occasional diocesan priests’ gatherings or at yearly Chrism Masses. By their not offering the Ordinary Form regularly is a strong statement to the lay Catholics who go to their chapels, apostolates, and parishes. What these priests are doing by excluding the Ordinary Form in their ministry is divisive, and I daresay, radical.
By the way, just because person looks “very respectful and decent” on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean that the same person cannot harbor dissent against the Magisterium, doubt concerning the validity of the Ordinary Form, nor antipathy towards the Pope. Can’t judge a book by its cover, folks.
jon, you need respect for the FSSP and the ICKSP, authorized by the Vatican to offer the Tridentine Latin Mass.
You are not supposed to have antipathy to other Christians either.
Many people believe many errors.
Catechize and educate rather than criticize and belittle.
I think he is in Wisconsin. They have asked for rosaries for him. He also likes the Memorare.
Dr. Taylor Marshall asked us also to pray the Rosary for Cardinal Burke and to pray the Rosary daily. We need many prayers for his recovery.
This might be a dead letter, but it isn’t likely to be the end of the story. He could follow it up with more scholarly analysis, more legislation, a revisited letter a year or two down the road, a synod, or any number of other things.
“No intelligent diocesan bishop is going to stir up trouble where there has been comparative peace”. Do you know Bishop McElroy??
Yes, Dr. Taylor Marshall is where I first hear about His Grace Cardinal Burke, he has many priests with him and holy relics with him in his room, he will pull through this with our prayers and Our Lord by his side.
According to a recent study conducted by Harvard Medical School and King’s College London, those who have a plant-based diet are 73% less likely to contract COVID-19.
Probably because they are 73% less likely to go to an indoor steak house :) just kidding folks!!!!
I had covid, it wasn’t so bad, I’ll take it over fake meat vegan vegetarian diets anytime.
McDonald– Then go eat a great big “McDonald’s” “junk food” burger, fries and Coke. Ha, ha. Actually, healthy food builds up and strengthens the health of your body and mind, and strengthens your immune system. Very valuable.
People who are hard working physically usually can tolerate more meat, but as we age or are less physically active, too much red meat and dairy products (cheese.) can be disastrous to our health, leading to blood clots, overweight and other major health problems.
I had a blood clot before COVID, and I can tell just one of them is very painful. I am now on lower dose aspirin after the blood thinner got rid of the clot. I was put on a mainly vegetarian diet with a little meat, many chicken and fish. My weight is now normal – no cokes and such that are loaded with sugar or unhealthy substitutes.
Another thing that needs to be avoided is tobacco. My husband and I used to smoke cigarettes in our twenties but stopped, and I still love the smell of tobacco, which love I got from my grandfather and other family members. He passed away from stomach cancer from chewing too much snuff (chewing tobacco). It was a very painful death at that time and probably still is since it eats away at the stomach lining.
May the Immaculate Heart of Mary shine before the eyes of all Christians as the model of perfect love toward God and toward our fellow beings; may it lead them toward the Holy Sacraments by virtue of which souls are cleansed from the stains of sin and are preserved from it. May it also stimulate them to make reparation for the innumerable offenses against the Divine Majesty. Lastly, may it shine like a banner of unity and a spur to perfect the bonds of brotherhood among all Christians in the bosom of the one Church of Jesus Christ, which “taught by the Holy Spirit, honors her with filial affection and piety as a most beloved mother.”
Pope St. Paul VI
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