Sunday, September 4, 2011

Vatican II strikes back!

I am not a radical traditionalist.

I like Gregorian chant, sacred polyphony and the older English hymns; but I will sit through Masses with guitars and pianos because I'm there to receive the Body of my Lord, not to groove to the music. I don't think Vatican II was a mistake; it was perhaps ill-timed, and a lot of sins have been committed in its name, but it was a valid council nonetheless. I like mantillas and habits, but I also like t-shirts that say "What part of HOC EST CORPUS MEUM don't you understand?" and bumper stickers that proclaim, "We are Catholics. Sin is futile. Prepare to be baptized." I like fish on Fridays ... but I prefer steak. (Which is kind of the point, so I don't complain about it during Lent.)

As far as I know, I've never been to a Latin Mass ... at least, not in the last forty-three years. So I don't honestly know if I would prefer it or not. Any theological objections I had to the lame-duck ICEL translation of the Novus Ordo Mass have been answered by the new translation due to replace it on November 27th. Whichever Mass I go to, I want it celebrated reverently. That's the responsibility of the priest, who shouldn't be a doormat for his liturgists.

Nevertheless ...

I look at this first paragraph from Bp. Michael Warfel's Guidelines Regarding Celebration of the Extraordinary Form of Mass, and I shake my head in wonder:

 Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, (MPSP) article 5.2 notwithstanding, celebrating the Extraordinary Form on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation in parishes of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings as a regular Mass of obligation is not allowed at this time. [Parishioners in these instances may be drawn away from celebrating at the regular Mass for Sunday or Holy Day].
 What part of this paragraph from the Ecclesia Dei Instruction on the Application of Summorum Pontificum is giving His Excellency trouble?

The Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI and the last edition prepared under Pope John XXIII, are two forms of the Roman Liturgy, defined respectively as ordinaria and extraordinaria: they are two usages of the one Roman Rite, one alongside the other. Both are the expression of the same lex orandi of the Church. [From Summorum Pontificum: "These two expressions of the Church's "Lex orandi" will in no any way lead to a division in the Church's "Lex credendi" (Law of belief). They are, in fact two usages of the one Roman rite."] On account of its venerable and ancient use, the forma extraordinaria is to be maintained with appropriate honor.
English is my native language. So I have no trouble understanding this passage: It means that the Extraordinary form is not inferior to the Ordinary Form. The Mass in the Extraordinary Form, if performed on Sundays or Holy Days, will fulfill obligations except those of the Easter Triduum. Therefore, Bp. Warfel's expressed concern — that people will somehow not fulfill their obligations if they don't attend an NO Mass on those days — is bogus. Are there too few people at the NO Masses?

But wait! It gets better!

MPSP, article 5.3 notwithstanding, celebration of ritual Masses (funerals, weddings, etc.) in the Extraordinary Form is not allowed at this time in the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings. A priest must contact the Bishop in advance to ask for any exception to this policy and demonstrate pastoral consideration by not imposing the Extraordinary Form on a parish in these instances.
Has this been a big problem — people getting up in arms because the wedding couple/decedent requested a Latin Mass? Apparently so:


N.B.: It is important to remember that the Extraordinary Form generally does not enable full, active participation by the assembly which was called for by Vatican II. While the Extraordinary Form holds a definite place in the liturgical tradition of the Church, it does not meet the spiritual needs of the large portion of Church membership today.
Oh, so that's it! If you're not chanting responses or singing with the choir, you're not fully, actively participating! I think what Bp. Warfel has in mind is this:

Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.
In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work. ...
To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence (Sacrosanctum Concilium, §§14, 30).
Perhaps a Mass without "acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs" doesn't meet the needs of many of the people of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings. But the intent of Summorum Pontificum wasn't for the spiritual needs of everyone; rather, it was meant for those who find themselves satisfied with the Tridentine liturgy. Rather, one of its purposes, as stated in the Instruction Ecclesia Dei, was to "effectively guarantee[] and ensur[e] the use of the forma extraordinaria for all who ask for it".

... [In] some regions, no small numbers of faithful adhered and continue to adhere with great love and affection to the earlier liturgical forms. These had so deeply marked their culture and their spirit that in 1984 the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, moved by a concern for the pastoral care of these faithful, with the special indult Quattuor abhinc anno, issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted permission to use the Roman Missal published by Blessed John XXIII in the year 1962. Later, in the year 1988, John Paul II with the apostolic letter given as motu proprio, Ecclesia Dei, exhorted bishops to make generous use of this power in favor of all the faithful who so desired (Summorum Pontificum, Introduction).
Seems to me then that +Warfel, by appealing back to Vatican II, has determined that what the traditionalists, their pastors and the Holy Father want are irrelevant. The "very nature of the liturgy" demands full and active participation by the laity; it's the primary and indispensible source for true Christian spirit; so, dadgum it, they're gonna participate whether they like it or not!  

Not only are the guidelines of dubious liceity — Canon 392 pertains to the insurance that ecclesial laws are observed, but doesn't give the bishop power to override an apostolic motu proprio — they're wrongheaded and petulant.