Wednesday, December 29


I've been very impressed by the commentary I've received on the last post, and our as-always erudite and well-behaved Dear Readers have stirred up a few more thoughts in my mind.

I think that in general getting a sense of exactly what the Missa Normativa is and cand be before jettisoning it is important, especially to show people ritual is not against Vatican II or is some scary, alien thing. Furthermore, the Church will need to come to some conclusions about quite a few unsolved problems and questions involved in the reform, such as chant, the vernacular, and other concerns. Detailed study of the Liturgical Movement of the last two centuries, especially from 1930 to 1960 is also crucial to give a sense of how reform is undertaken and also to get a sense of the mix of "traditional" and "liberal" ideas--some quite good, others less prudent in hindsight--the reformers advocated.

The Tridentine indult, if liberally applied, will also generate a general atmosphere of reverence, though we need to ensure it exposes itself to the public at large rather than remaining a curious sidelight in most dioceses. This may require a change of ethos among the Bishops and also to some degree the faithful attending the Tridentine Mass.

Liturgical catechesis about the Tridentine Rite, the Eastern Rites and also the mass of the Pastoral Provision is necessary to "explain ourselves" to the people in the pew, who are unaware of most of the issues at stake. I wouldn't even mind if they allowed some priests to use, in some places, a translation of the Tridentine Mass into English to make its beauties more accessible to Joe Catholic, though this would probably mostly serve to confuse some and infuriate others. That being said, we need to remember after 30 years, the vernacular Mass is simply not going to disappear and actively work towards a reverent and accurate translation.

The other thing is, like the Vernacular, the Missa Normativa is not going to go away. While something similar to Trent (with some minor simplifications) is the final goal, the Missa Normativa (which has some virtues to it, mind you) should be our starting point for the reform, and slowly "built up" towards the goal. Drastic change, however good, risks confusing the faithful even further. The way Trent pruned and polished the old rite is a good example (though the current rite requires more emendation than pruning), as are Pius XII's comparatively cautious reforms of the late 1950s.

Two Specific Notes

1. I believe the silent Canon is licit. Some of the rubrics in the original text of the 1970 Missal seem to presume it; it seems to have been forgotten, however, like the maniple. That being said, I think it shouldn't necessarily be silent all of the time.

I am familiar with the whole debate between whether the present Rite is a new creation versus viewing it as a continuation of the old rite, and there are quite a few notable sources, Nichols, Monsignor Gamber, and Cardinal Ratzinger to back up the argument against continuity. They do have some important points, but I there is still a great measure of continuity between the rites which is important to recognize.

There is, perhaps, not as much continuity as we might like, but the continuity is still there; it seems to me more evident when the Mass is properly said according to all the rubrics, facing east and also when you study what parts of the old Mass would have to been heard by the laity andwhat prayers were originally priestly and private. To some extent I think this question is a bit of a red herring, as whatever its origin, the Mass we use today could stand some measure of reform.

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