Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Motu Proprio

I was ordained in 1988, the Marian Year. Within six months of my assignment as parochial vicar, I sent a formal application to the Ecclesia Dei Commission asking for faculties to celebrate the Tridentine Mass. Before the end of the calendar year, I was informed that Rome no longer granted these but that the request needed to be sent to the local ordinary. Year after year I asked my diocesan bishop and year after year it was ignored. Even a request for Byzantine faculties (Ruthenian church) was overlooked.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI changed everything in 2007 through his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. Deo gratias, priests and laity who love and appreicate the extraordinary form can get spiritual nourishment and sustenance. I also love the ordinary form when done properly, as at EWTN. The use of Latin and celebrating ad orientem is not limited to the ancient use.

As I mentioned on the EWTN Roundtable Discussion, Pope Benedict aptly described Catholicism as the religion of the great "et ... et" (Latin for BOTH ... AND) as opposed to other faiths which are primarily exclusive, the 'aut ... aut' (EITHER ... OR). Catholicism tends to synthesize and hence we have BOTH Sacred Scripture (Bible) AND Sacred Tradition as sources of Divine Revelation; BOTH faith AND good works as necessary for salvation; BOTH the Western (Roman Rite) AND Eastern (Byzantine Rite); and now, thanks to B16, we have BOTH the extraordinary form (Missal of 1962; Tridentine Mass) AND the ordinary form (1970 Missal; Novus Ordo of Paul VI) of the one Roman Rite.

Since it is BOTH the extraordinary form AND the ordinary form, neither one is inferior to the other. Both are valid and licit. Both will enhance each other, as Fr. John Zuhlsdorf of What Does The Prayer Really Say commented in his erudite observation. He sees both forms as having a 'gravitational pull' on each other so that mutual appreciation for reverence, adherence to proper observation of the rubrics, and dilgent care that these celebrations edify and inspire those who attend to aspire in their spiritual lives to truly seek and live HOLINESS and SANCTITY. Liturgical worship is primarily giving praise and adoration to God but secondarily it is giving encouragement and strength to believers so they can incorporate the sacred mysteries of faith into their daily living. KNOWING the faith comes from catechesis; GROWING in the faith comes from prayer and spirituality, especially the Sacraments and the Sacred Liturgy; LIVING and PRACTICING the faith comes from living morally good lives and performing the spiritual and coporal works of mercy as often as possible.

There is no contest between the two forms. The ordinary form is such because most Catholics today know and are familiar with the Novus Ordo as they were too young to remember the older form commonly called the Tridentine Mass. Nevertheless, in calling it the extraordinary form, Pope B16 is not making it a second class type of worship. In fact, his letter requires pastors and bishops to do what they can whenever the faithful express their need and desire for the ancient form, be it the Mass or even the other Sacraments. Like the Eastern Rite Churches in union with Rome, their people deserve equal treatment and equal access to their traditions. Yet, they may participate in Western liturgies and vice versa. Similarly, Roman Rite Catholics can attend Byzantine liturgies or the extraordinary or the ordinary form of the Mass in the Western Church.

Without mixing or assimilating rites, all valid and licit liturgical traditions and rituals only enhance our CATHOLICITY (universality). Eliminating liturgical abuses, innovations, and other aberrations will hopefully result in the demise of the infamous Liturgical Nazis who for the past four decades raped our churches and sanctuaries of real Catholic art and music and replaced them with pedestrian and banal noise, space and activity. We can have a real Liturgical Renaissance thanks to Pope Benedict and his motu proprio.

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