11 July 2007

Benedict's Mass Changes

Benedict XVI made waves recently when he issued a Motu Proprio further relaxing restrictions on the Liturgy of the 1962 Roman Missal:

In more recent time, however, the Second Vatican Council expressed the desire that with due respect and reverence for divine worship it be restored and adapted to the needs of our age. Prompted by this desire, our Predecessor the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI in 1970 approved for the Latin Church liturgical books restored and partly renewed, and that throughout the world translated into many vernacular languages, have been welcomed by the Bishops and by the priests and faithful....


However in some regions not a small number of the faithful have been and remain attached with such great love and affection to the previous liturgical forms, which had profoundly imbued their culture and spirit, that the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, prompted by pastoral concern for these faithful, in 1984 by means of a special Indult Quattuor abhinc annos, drawn up by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted the faculty to use the Roman Missal published by John XXIII in 1962; while in 1988 John Paul II once again, by means of the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei, exhorted the Bishops to make wide and generous use of this faculty in favor of all the faithful requesting it.

Having pondered at length the pressing requests of these faithful to our Predecessor John Paul II, having also heard the Fathers of the Consistory of Cardinals held on 23 March 2006, having pondered all things, invoked the Holy Spirit and placed our confidence in the help of God, by this present Apostolic Letter we DECREE the following.

Art. 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is to be regarded as the ordinary expression of the law of prayer (lex orandi) of the Catholic Church of Latin Rite, while the Roman Missal promulgated by St Pius V and published again by Blessed John XXIII as the extraordinary expression of the law of prayer (lex orandi) and on account of its venerable and ancient use let it enjoy due honor. These two expressions of the law of prayer (lex orandi) of the Church in no way lead to a division in the law of prayer (lex orandi) of the Church, for they are two uses of the one Roman Rite.

Hence it is licit to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass in accordance with the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as the extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church. The conditions laid down by the previous documents Quattuor abhinc annos and Ecclesia Dei for the use of this Missal are replaced by what follows:

Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, any priest of Latin rite, whether secular or religious, can use the Roman Missal published by Pope Blessed John XXIII in 1962 or the Roman Missal promulgated by the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI in 1970, on any day except in the Sacred Triduum. For celebration in accordance with one or the other Missal, a priest does not require any permission, neither from the Apostolic See nor his own Ordinary.

Art. 3. If Communities or Institutes of Consecrated Life or Societies of Apostolic Life of either pontifical or diocesan rite desire to have a celebration of Holy Mass in accordance with the edition of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962 in the conventual or “community” celebration in their own oratories, this is allowed. If an individual community or the entire Institute or Society wants to have such celebrations often or habitually or permanently, the matter is to be decided by the Major Superiors according to the norm of law and the particular laws and statutes.

Art. 4. With due observance of law, even Christ’s faithful who spontaneously request it, may be admitted to celebrations of Holy Mass mentioned in art. 2 above.

Art. 5, § 1. In parishes where a group of faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition exists stably, let the pastor willingly accede to their requests for the celebration of the Holy Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962. Let him see to it that the good of these faithful be harmoniously reconciled with ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the governance of the Bishop according to canon 392, avoiding discord and fostering the unity of the whole Church.

§ 2. Celebration according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII can take place on weekdays, while on Sundays and on feast days there may be one such celebration.

§ 3. Let the pastor permit celebrations in this extraordinary form for faithful or priests who request it, even in particular circumstances such as weddings, funerals or occasional celebrations, for example pilgrimages.

§ 4. Priests using the Missal of Blessed John XXIII must be worthy and not impeded by law.

§ 5. In churches, which are neither parochial nor conventual, it is the Rector of the church who grants the above-mentioned permission.

Art. 6. In Masses celebrated with the people according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, the Readings can be proclaimed even in the vernacular, using editions that have received the recognitio of the Apostolic See.

Art. 7. Where some group of lay faithful, mentioned in art. 5§1 does not obtain what it requests from the pastor, it should inform the diocesan Bishop of the fact. The Bishop is earnestly requested to grant their desire. If he cannot provide for this kind of celebration, let the matter be referred to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.

Art. 8. A Bishop who desires to make provision for requests of lay faithful of this kind, but is for various reasons prevented from doing so, may refer the matter to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, which should give him advice and help.

Art. 9, § 1. Likewise a pastor may, all things duly considered, grant permission to use the older ritual in administering the Sacraments of Baptism, Matrimony, Penance and the Anointing of the Sick, as the good of souls may suggest.

§ 2. Ordinaries are granted the faculty to celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation using the former Roman Pontifical, as the good of souls may suggest.

§ 3. It is lawful for clerics in holy orders to use even the Roman Breviary promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962.

Art 10. It is lawful for the local Ordinary, if he judges it opportune, to erect a personal parish according to the norm of canon 518 for celebrations according to the older form of the Roman rite or appoint a rector or chaplain, with due observance of the requirements of law.

Art. 11. The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, erected in 1988 by John Paul II, continues to carry out its function. This Commission is to have the form, duties and norm for action that the Roman Pontiff may wish to assign to it.

Art. 12. The same Commission, in addition to the faculties it already enjoys, will exercise the authority of the Holy See by maintaining vigilance over the observance and application of these dispositions.

Whatever is decreed by Us by means of this Motu Proprio, we order to be firm and ratified and to be observed as of 14 September this year, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, all things to the contrary notwithstanding.

Given at Rome, at St Peter’s, on 7 July in the Year of Our Lord 2007, the Third of Our Pontificate.

(My emphasis.)

B16 also issues a letter to the bishops of the world addressing the issues that were re-kindled by the Motu Proprio:
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.

This document was most directly opposed on account of two fears, which I would like to address somewhat more closely in this letter.

In the first place, there is the fear that the document detracts from the authority of the Second Vatican Council, one of whose essential decisions – the liturgical reform – is being called into question. This fear is unfounded. In this regard, it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy. The last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration. It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were "two Rites". Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.

As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted. At the time of the introduction of the new Missal, it did not seem necessary to issue specific norms for the possible use of the earlier Missal. Probably it was thought that it would be a matter of a few individual cases which would be resolved, case by case, on the local level. Afterwards, however, it soon became apparent that a good number of people remained strongly attached to this usage of the Roman Rite, which had been familiar to them from childhood. This was especially the case in countries where the liturgical movement had provided many people with a notable liturgical formation and a deep, personal familiarity with the earlier Form of the liturgical celebration. We all know that, in the movement led by Archbishop Lefebvre, fidelity to the old Missal became an external mark of identity; the reasons for the break which arose over this, however, were at a deeper level. Many people who clearly accepted the binding character of the Second Vatican Council, and were faithful to the Pope and the Bishops, nonetheless also desired to recover the form of the sacred liturgy that was dear to them. This occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently 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.


In the second place, the fear was expressed in discussions about the awaited Motu Proprio, that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities. This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded. The use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often.


There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.


Furthermore, I invite you, dear Brothers, to send to the Holy See an account of your experiences, three years after this Motu Proprio has taken effect. If truly serious difficulties come to light, ways to remedy them can be sought.
(Emphasis mine.)


The National Catholic Register has an analysis of the why's and wherefore's of Benedict's decision:
Its primary and explicit purpose is to advance the cause of unity with traditionalist Catholics who have gone into schism — for example, members of the Society of St. Pius X, founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.


In 1984, and again in 1988, Pope John Paul II allowed the 1962 missal to be used if the local ordinary gave permission. While it further showed that the Tridentine Mass was not abrogated, it remained an exception to the norm.

Benedict’s decree now speaks of one Latin rite with two “uses” or “forms” — the ordinary form is the Novus Ordo, last updated by John Paul II in 2000, and the extraordinary form is the missal last updated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962.

In North America, where the number of traditionalists in schism is relatively few, the impact of the new decree will likely be limited. Indeed, the new decree will have no direct impact on the vast majority of parishes.


Yet in some countries — France, Germany, Switzerland — where there are substantial numbers of Catholics who follow the old Mass and are not in full communion with Rome, the decree liberalizing use of the 1962 missal is hoped to have a reconciling effect.

Whether that will happen remains to be seen, as the Holy Father himself concedes that the roots of the division are “deeper” than the liturgy, even if it remains a potent sign of “identity” for traditionalists in schism.

Clearly though, the Holy Father’s initiative is one of great goodwill done explicitly as an opening to the Lefebvrists.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, was quoted July 8 saying, “This is really an historic day. We convey to Pope Benedict XVI our profound gratitude. His document is a gift of Grace. It’s not just any step, it’s a step in the right direction. It’s an act of justice, extraordinary supernatural help in a moment of grave ecclesial crisis.”


There is another dimension though, left largely unsaid in the publication of the decree. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has for many years complained that while the Novus Ordo of 1970 was valid and holy, the way it had been introduced created the impression of a rupture in the Church’s tradition, in which the Latin Mass and everything associated with it were simply discarded.

That wasn’t the intent of the Council Fathers, but the idea took hold, even as it became common to refer to the pre-Vatican II Mass and the post-Vatican II Mass.

In restoring the old Mass as an extraordinary form of the Church’s liturgy without requiring special permission, it is certain that Benedict hopes to replace the theme of rupture with one of continuity.

The simple fact that the 1962 Mass, with its long history, is now a legitimate option will lead to more priests and liturgically-minded lay people studying it, bringing it in from exile, so to speak.


Several critics claimed that the decree would bring into wider circulation the Good Friday “Prayer for the Jews” which describes them as “unbelieving” and prays for their conversion.

But the decree specifically excludes the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum, including Good Friday, from its provisions, so nothing at all has changed in that regard.

The Register also has a an op-ed type article about growing up Catholic in the immediate wake of the Novus Ordo:
While not all of his people need or want the old Mass, there is a significant constituency for whom the lack of this familiar and time-honored form of worship has been a hardship, and Pope Benedict’s action is that of a genuine pastor.

I am 50 and can barely remember the liturgy that started to drastically change when I was 8, in late 1964.

I first discovered the old Mass by coming upon pictures of President Kennedy’s funeral Mass in an old issue of Life magazine.

Later, I found a pre-Vatican II missal and was fascinated by the color photos of a young priest at various stages of celebrating a Mass.

Despite growing up in the 1960s in an “updated” Church, I was eager to know more about the Latin Mass and longed for it despite never having really known it.

By the time I was in college, this was largely behind me as I concluded that the door had been closed on the traditional form of Mass.

This was reversed in a meaningful way some 20 years ago as Pope John Paul II allowed for limited use of the Tridentine Mass. I found that my original attraction had been warranted, and that my occasional assistance at the old Mass is a great aid to prayer and faith at every level.

I am not alone — and most of the people attracted to the Latin Mass that I know are younger than me.

A now-elderly former colleague called me just this week to tell me how Sunday Latin Mass and daily Rosary are now sustaining her and her husband as he faces cancer treatment. They had been away from the sacraments for decades.

It was not as easy for a childhood neighbor of mine, a gentle and charitable woman who spoke lovingly of the Mass of her youth but who no longer went to church. Over time, it became clear to me that this she was put off by the changes. She was too estranged (and too frail of health) to ever come back.

Based on what I have read and seen for myself, many fallen-away Catholics were disaffected by the drastic change in our liturgy — some without fully grasping that this was such a significant factor. Others avoided naming the reason so as not to appear out of step.

The editor of a glossy trade publication, a man of 57 and a connoisseur of modern music, recently told me that, as a high school student, he simply lost his faith at the sight of Mass in English accompanied by folk guitar.

The late and legendary rocker Jerry Garcia was lost to the Catholicism of his childhood, drawn away by other things, no doubt, but he fondly remembered “the wonderful Latin Mass with its resonant sonorities and mysterious ritual movements.”

Many, like the poet Tito Casini, novelist Agatha Christie, and a host of other artists and intellectuals, were of an elevated sensibility, deeply appreciative of the beauty that all readily ascribe to the old Mass, and did not hesitate to identify the nature of their difficulties.

Through it all, God’s ways are not our ways. He tests us — and cares for us — in a variety of ways. I like to think that Pope Paul VI and his collaborators were doing the old Mass a great favor by insisting on a full switch to the new Mass.

It was in those years, the late 1960s, when the western world experienced profound tumult — a true cultural hurricane. When a hurricane is bearing down, you wrap your old treasures up and find a safe place for them, usually the attic, and you leave them hidden until the storms have certainly passed.

English Jesuit Father Hugh Thwaites is especially fond of this analogy because much of the blame for the collapse that Catholicism experienced in many places in those years would have fallen disproportionately on the Latin Mass — had it been around to take the hit.

Instead, the classic form of the Mass was out of sight and safe, and now those who remember it and those who are just discovering it, are reaping what the poet Casini foresaw in 1976 when he predicted the return of the Tridentine missal with the same confidence that he placed in tomorrow’s sunrise:

“It will rise again, ... the Mass will rise again … because it is the sun, and God thus established it for our life and comfort.” When it happens, he said, our eyes will be found “guilty of not having esteemed it worthily before the eclipse; our hearts guilty for not having loved it enough.”

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