Saturday, July 07, 2007

Motu Proprio

Well, the much-heralded document opening the way to a broader use of the Tridentine Liturgy has been released. So far the Vatican has linked only the Latin document from its front page, leaving me to scramble for the English translation. To tell you the truth, I read through it (in unofficial translation) and found that it is primarily a juridical document. The accompanying letter to the bishops by Pope Benedict is much more helpful in understanding the Pope's mind. I would recommend skipping the document, unless you really need to know the mechanics of the liturgy, and focus on the letter.
Something that popped right out at me in the letter was its extremely up-front tone. Right at the beginning the Pope comments on the media's role in stirring up interest and debate about the document: "News reports and judgments made without sufficient information have created no little confusion. There have been very divergent reactions ranging from joyful acceptance to harsh opposition, about a plan whose contents were in reality unknown." (The italics are mine; I thought this expression hinted at a bit of wry humor on the Pope's part.) He was also very forthright about reasons that may have led some people to a sometimes-overwrought attachment to the Tridentine rite: the first, one that sheds a good bit of light on the situation, is that the traditionalist movement is strongest in those areas where the liturgical movement of the late 19th and mid-20th centuries was strongest. In other words, the people in those areas had a very well-formed liturgical "sense." They may have been the exception, but in a way they didn't need the reformed liturgy of Vatican II. The Pope's other observation was the frank admission that too many silly experiments in liturgy " led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear. I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church." You can hear the voice of a pastor in those words.
The Pope doesn't expect the Tridentine usage to sweep through the entire Church, though he does recognize its appeal for many young adults (a point made in the letter, but not in the document). So now we have it. One rite with two "usages": the earlier 1962 Missal as the "extraordinary" form, and the 1970 Missal as the ordinary form. And the Pope's primary positive motivation? In his own words:
It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church. Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church's leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew. . . . Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.

3 comments:

winifritz said...

HUH??

stiegler said...

He was also very forthright about reasons that may have led some people to a sometimes-overwrought attachment to the Tridentine rite: the first, one that sheds a good bit of light on the situation, is that the traditionalist movement is strongest in those areas where the liturgical movement of the late 19th and mid-20th centuries was strongest.

Might I recommend a book for you? “The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy”
http://books.google.com/books?id=JHkVarVXKXYC&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=the+new+faithful+youn&source=web&ots=vDwM5iDMJF&sig=OT6YmO_mtMUUF2YjrADh6PjU78Y#PPA1,M1

I believe you will find case studies of young people who discovered the Traditional Latin Mass almost by accident. From there they were strongly drawn to the Mass. I see this in a Traditional Church near my home. In which, a significant population of the Church are Generation X’rs who have families now Generation Y. I don’t think this can be explained by, “strongest in those areas where the liturgical movement of the late 19th and mid-20th centuries was strongest”. Finally, the Holy Father mentions this young group in His letter.

It may turn out that the Novus Ordo is still the most “popular” Mass, but if the speculative statistics are correct then that might not be the case in the future. Many people speculate that the faithful Generation X who are “Traditional” tend to have large families. While the non-traditional tend to follow National trends. Plot that on a curve and we might see a Back To The Future Church.

My Two Cents…
Cousin Rene'

xaipe said...

True about the young people, Rene', but the Pope only mentions them in a casual way. After all, it is a more recent phenomenon. The Pope gives more weight to the roots of the movement, which he sees as tied to the liturgical movement in Germany and France in the late 1800's.