Tuesday, December 28


I am presently writing an introduction for the revised form of the Ordo Karolingianus, the hypothetical reform of the Mass I presented on the Shrine last September. I've tidied the Mass text up somewhat since you last read it, ommitting unnecessarily archaic language (but not stooping to the level of ICEL), adding footnotes giving my sources and explaining my reasons, and also correcting some mistakes in the text. If anyone is interested, I can email you a PDF file of the new revision; eventually, I hope to compile it into a larger pamphlet with the preface, several essays, and a number of appendices detailing previous proposals to reform the Liturgy. One section will consist of Twelve Articles for Realistic Liturgical Reform, an attempt to codify the principles I tried to go by in my own proposed revision and also suggest how to go about improving the celebration of the current Pauline Ordo. Here are the first three. More will come in time. Please let me know what you think:

1. Ubi Petrus, Ecclesia est. Any lasting reform of the liturgy must be accomplished within the mind of the two-thousand-year-old Church and with obedience to Christ’s vicar on earth, the Pope. All debates and controversies must be waged in the spirit of charity and fealty to the Magisterium, under the principles proclaimed in the constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium of the Second Vatican Council and the encyclical Mediator Dei of Pope Pius XII.

While the mass is eternal and timeless, the congregation that participates in it nonetheless bound by time. All immediate actions to reform the mass should and must be realistic in recalling the pastoral well-being of the faithful. Through catechesis, they should be prepared for change, lest the celebration of the Eucharist lead to even greater division within the Church.

2b. While the wholesale restoration of the liturgical patrimony of the Roman Rite would bring great joy to many, at this late date this may simply not be immediately possible in the Church at large. Tradition-minded liturgical scholars, in advocating proposals, must be guided by prudence, a sense of proportion, and an ability to discern which battles can be won, which require compromise, and which require a tactical retreat. Better that a portion of the reform be enacted than the whole be thoroughly lost. Also, certain positive reforms enacted in the last 30 years (the public Penitential Rite, or the simplification of the order of the Priest's Communion at Mass) should not summarily dismissed.

3a. A clear sense of both the original intention of the Council Fathers and of the true content of and possibilities offered by the rubrics of the Missal of 1970 needs to be achieved, and furthermore, inculcated at the parish level. A thorough study of the rites with a liberal orientation towards tradition and a good sense of Christian imagination is necessary.

3b. A careful examination of the liturgical life of particularly outstanding parishes and cathedrals should be undertaken. Customs now largely forgotten but nonetheless licit, such as (i) the eastward position, (ii) the silent Canon, under appropriate circumstances, (iii) the celebration of fully solemn masses with greater frequency in a parochial setting, preferably every Sunday (iv) the maniple, the amice, the biretta, and the cassock worn with mass vestments and the wearing of cassock and surplice when distributing the other Sacraments, (iv) full use of the rubrics for the solemn Mass presently in force, including the use of incense, taperers, bells and torch-bearers, when possible, (v) the celebration of Vespers and Benediction and other devotions outside of mass, and (vi) the fostering of seasonal customs and specific local traditions such as processions and public blessings must be disseminated beyond traditionalist enclaves. If priests will not take the initiative, laymen should encourage them in the manner prudence demands.

3c. However, rites, texts and customs explicitly forbidden by local authority (if it be within their competence) should not be further encouraged, lest scandal be given.

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