Saturday, July 17, 2021

On the Extraordinary Form Mass, the Benedictine Office, and enduring hardship

We woke up today to the purported abrogation of the right to freely say (for priests) or attend the Traditional Latin Mass, the ending of the rights clarified by Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae.

Does it apply to the Office?

For what it is worth though, the new Motu proprio, Traditionis Custodes, does not explicitly refer to the Office, and so it can be argued I think, that, consistent with the canonical principle that restrictions should be read narrowly, permissions broadly, these changes do not apply to the Divine Office.

But even if it does, for those who use the Benedictine office, my understanding is that the 1962 books remain the only actually approved official books of the Benedictine order. The 1975 Thesaurus and Offices developed from it by individual communities are based on the ad experimendum permissions granted to religious orders post Vatican II. So there is no official Benedictine Office of Pope Paul VI...

This means, I would suggest, that monasteries can continue to say the traditional Benedictine Office, and so too can oblates.

Assuming I am correct , that will be cold comfort if we are then denied access to the Traditional Mass that is so integrally linked with the Office.

What possible justification can there be for this action?

It is hard to understand what possible justification this attempted suppression of the Traditional Latin Mass (EF) could have.

In my own diocese, as in many, the Traditional Mass community is the most vibrant parish in the diocese, with the youngest demographic, and a wide range of charitable, catechetical and social activities.  

In my country (Australia) it is our two traditional monasteries that are attracting young people to test their vocations, while older monasteries with an ageing population of monks and nuns are either struggling to survive or actively winding down and turning over their apostolates to lay people.

So is the aim to see the collapse of Catholic practice altogether?

And how can there be an issue with 'church unity' around having different forms of the Mass in use?  

The Mass of Paul VI, after all, provides for multiple options, and is said in many languages; and what about the Eastern Rite churches, such as Maronite, Melkite, Ukrainian, Chaldean and Syro-Malabar?  Or will these too, next be required to say the mass only in English or perhaps Italian, and in the form of the Missal of Paul VI?

As for the claim that Traditional Mass attendees might reject the Second Vatican Council, again I call bullshit.  Many do of course legitimately debate the level of authority it has and even its relevance some fifty years on: it was after all, proclaimed to be a pastoral council, and the last decades have seen the world transformed.  But that is hardly a ground for suppressing a legitimate form of the Mass that has nourished so many saints down the ages!

On the face of it this legislation marks one last deaththrow of that ageing generation of 60s clericalists trying desperately in cement in a destructive cult that has done so much to harm the Church.

Practical problems

But regardless of its claimed rationale, the Motu Proprio does not seem to be very tightly drafted and it has some serious practical problems.  

If a bishop were to deign to give permission for the Extraordinary Form Mass to be said, for example, apparently it can't be done in a parish church.  

So just where is it to be said?!  

In some places I suppose cathedrals, monasteries and shrines may be an option, but are the rest of us to be banished to house Masses?  

Could that in itself not have perverse outcomes, diametrically opposed to what is surely intended!

And in other places, where bishops are not generous, this move will surely drive some into open schism.

Perhaps it is time. 

I for one am sick of going, as I occasionally or even regularly have had to do in the past, to a local Novus Ordo parish (since any Mass is better than none and for health and other reasons can't always get across to the other side of town for the TLM) and being shocked at the outright heretical things preached in sermons, and the liturgical abuses that continue to be perpetrated, often, it seems at the direct direction of the diocesan authorities.

In the early centuries of the Church, Catholics refused to attend Arian parishes, perhaps we should too?

The call to obedience?

I think we all need to think and pray through this, and let some time pass before we decide decisively how to react.

But as followers of St Benedict, I would suggest that our first instinct should still be to obedience, even  - perhaps especially - if it brings with it hardship and suffering.  

St Benedict's instructions on humility, after all, urge us to meet obedience even when we face difficulties and contradictions, and even injustice.  He tells us to hold to obedience, and neither tire or run away but endure all things, however contrary.

Rather than being dejected, we should be pleased that God is putting us to the test, for it he who fights and endures who will reap the reward.  As St Ambrose puts it in his commentary on Psalm 118:

"Victory is the ornament not of soft and pleasure-loving people, but of those who are toughened by hard toil and diligent exercise...[he who]  accepts sufferings for sins.  He is neither overcome by weariness nor broken by fear.  He does not faint from labour.  He is not ungrateful nor is he downhearted."

Let us remember those years St Benedict spent in the wilderness of Subiaco, not even knowing, until God sent a priest to him, that it was Easter Sunday: with the aid of our patron saint we can ensure.

But we must pray hard and work for this appalling legislation to be ignored by our bishops, and quickly overturned.


Marc in Eugene said...

Thank you for this. "The call to obedience? I think we all need to think and pray through this, and let some time pass before we decide decisively how to react. But as followers of St Benedict, I would suggest that our first instinct should still be to obedience, even-- perhaps especially-- if it brings with it hardship and suffering." But reason and a lively faith may suggest other options, even while hardship and suffering is endured.

EA said...

I wonder if Pope Francis missed something important here. The text of his document reminds me of those texts written in the 1970’s in which the idea was to reject and subdue some hard headed group or individual. In other words, it feels like the document is written from that mentality according to which Paul VI’s rite is the only true rite and everyone else is fanatic or nostalgic and doesn’t want to adjust to a new era.

The mark is missed, in my opinion, in the consideration that the composition of those that are considered “traditionalists” is actually quite different, if not radically different, from that of 50 years ago. Today, the vast majority of traditionalists are of post-conciliar generations and is not part of that group that allegedly does not want to obey to the pope or the Council (see Lefebvre as he didn’t accept the Council etc).

The truth is different: the vast majority of traditionalists are faithful individuals that actually obeyed the pope and the Council when in 2007 Benedict said that the old rite was legit, good, and he actually invited people to participate. The exponential growth of the faithful happened after the Summorum Pontificium was released.

In other words, the typology of anti-Council faithful is not exactly what forms the core of current traditionalists. While the former might want to deny the Council, the latter approached the Tridentine Mass by choice, as a personal devotion, and do not want to reject the Council just for nostalgic or political reasons; yet the document is still clearly written with anti-Council people as its focus.

Let’s also consider another thing. Compared to the Council, in the decades between it and the Summorum Pontificium everything has changed. Today, we have the internet. This means that everyone can and does get informed , everyone can find texts and study, etc. Also, everyone can now discuss and share ideas on forums and, on socials, and on Reddit. The importance of this is that - if we want to be honest - it can be claimed that the Church doesn’t really have a coercitive power on the faithful, if not only on those who decide to self inflict this or that consequence just to respect authority.

Obviously, bishops will always have some coercitive power on priests, however they won’t have much power on those faithful that had the opportunity to see and experiment the various shelves of the liturgical bazaar of the past few years. Bishops won’t be able to say “well, what you freely chose is now forbidden”. Some bishops and cardinals wanted the liturgical bazaar, and this is the inevitable result.

If the old monolithic Church could say “my way or the Highway”, now the Church has many offers: the Neocatechumenal Way, Tridentine rites, Anglican exceptions, various renewals, and - let me add - even some shamanism (remember Pachamama?). These days someone will simply investigate, see the best fit, evaluate, and choose. We have many more ways to get informed on a topic and form a meaningful spirituality than 50’years ago.

With all due respect, it’s ridiculous that Francis forbids that people should be allowed to think like traditionalists. The result of it? Now those traditionalists that didn’t hate him or the council, will actually hate them and react.

mzala said...

Bp Athanasius Schneider was interviewed by Claire Chretien (lifesitenews) where he mentioned that the faithful don't have to attend Mass (on Sundays) at parishes where there is (serious) abuse esp if it impacts the faith of our children, even if that is the only parish available. The good bishop referred to these actions/abuses as a "persecution".
Note: the above is as I recall the gist of what BP Schneider was saying. If the video could be found.

Shaun Davies said...

I used to go to a Church where the priest was unable to preach any kind of sermon without mentioning Vatican II. He once pointed at some young people and asked them something about Vatican II; of course they had no idea what he was talking about. Most young people (under the age of 70 !!!!) know nothing about V II and aren't interested. It's only elderly Churchmen who talk and think about it.I knew someone who was at school during the VII times who told me how they were indoctrinated about how V II was going to be the glory of the church,renew the church,change everything and NEVER were they told about how or why this would happen; it was just an often repeated mantra - the more you repeated it the more likely you were to believe it. When anyone asked about it they were told,sharply, that it just would [change everything]. It was the same in the clericalist Catholic papers - they were "psyched up" for V.II - no-one can bear to say they were tricked.

Thiago Santos de Moraes said...

"But as followers of St Benedict, I would suggest that our first instinct should still be to obedience, even - perhaps especially - if it brings with it hardship and suffering."

We must always remember that obedience is a moral virtue, not a theological one. The theological virtues the more we have them, the better; only their lack is a problem. With the moral virtues the picture is different: we can sin against them by excess or lack. The fault, in the case of obedience, is disobedience; and excess, subservience. Pope Francis clearly abused his authority, so we cannot obey him. That simple.

PM said...

But if the perpetrators of that Pol Pot Year Zero mentality had ever bothered to read the decrees of the Council they would have been shocked to find that it says nothing of the sort.

Teilhard M. said...

It has taken me a long time to make a comment because I had been praying for guidance. You may take offense, for which I do apologize, but I think it worthwhile to express "the other side" of this issue.

I think the recent legislation of Pope Francis regarding what was once the "Extraordinary Form" was absolutely correct... for certain places. Here in the United States of America, for example, certain Latin Mass communities (I am referring to those in communion with the Holy See) have actively cultivated a counter-culture of ideological paranoia and manufactured rabidity against perceived political enemies, which unfortunately includes Pope Francis and the Council for these folks. I was a sedevacantist for decades and, when I reconciled with the Church, I joined an FSSP parish: I was shocked and scandalized to note the infinitesimal difference in the rhetorical and ideological rage of my former apocryphal sect and this parish. Even though Pope Francis had permitted these folks to avail themselves of the Holy Week rites prior to the reforms of Pope Pius XII, these individuals and groups were still extremely hostile to the Pope for perceived political differences. There and then I knew that such crass ingratitude would have dire consequences. I had endeavored to warm some people that their behavior would not go unnoticed, that they could not continue as petulant children who believe they would get their way with tantrums and extortions. It only got worse after Trump became president.

I know that this does not describe all Latin Mass communities, but, at least here in America, afore-described situation is prevalent enough to warrant the recent reform of Pope Francis.

I believe the humility that our Holy father St. Benedict expounded demands a certain degree of self detachment that could allow us to see beyond our desired worldview and personal biases. Unfortunately, American traditionalists have mostly reacted to Pope Francis's Motu Proprio in such a manner that patently justifies everything that the Pope said and did in the document.

The supposed irrelevance of the Second Vatican Council that you have mentioned is news to me, since traditionalists both in the Church and outside of it won't shut up about it. The statistical figures of the growth of the Latin Mass communities and religious congregations has been largely exaggerated. The differences between the Mass of Pope St. Paul VI and the Mass that existed prior to his reforms have also been grossly exaggerated. When truth gives way to tribal lore, it does not bode well for the future of any community or society.

Traditionalists would do well to take this precious opportunity for radical self examination. Just as the Babylonian exile proved to be the ultimate inoculation against the lure of idolatry for the Chosen People, perhaps recent events might prove the very necessary inoculation against the lure of self-destructive rhetoric and ideological violence for the traditionalists (again, I have in mind those in the United States). At least this is my prayer.

As those who profess to follow the Rule of St. Benedict, let's keep in mind this rule of thumb: if our reaction to events is anything that would not be conducive to prayer and recollection, then we ought to reconsider.

Kate Edwards said...

Honestly, Teillhard, what you have said is utter nonsense.

First, as far as I can gather, the real push for this measure was not in response to America, but longstanding agendas mainly amongst the (mainly) Italian liturgical mafia and the bishops there, plus a few others who have been waiting for the day for a long time.

Secondly, I don't live in America so my observation of what is going on there is entirely secondhand. I do find the political rhetoric and confusion between politics and theology that emanates from there in many cases over the top, but there are other, far more apt solutions to that problem rather than a worldwide action that targets everyone, not just those who may be at fault.

I'd also suggest it is entirely hypocritical to target the traditional liturgy for the sins of a few while completely ignoring the outfight heresy that often flourishes in novus ordo land. Liturgy should not a tool for punishment - we should not have to be 'grateful' for being allowed to use the liturgy the church has used for centuries; nor are we required to agree with every word the pope says as a condition for being able to make use of the right the 1983 Code of Canon law established, namely to make use of the treasures of the church that are aligned with our own particular form of spirituality.

And if you truly think that the Mass of Paul VI as it is celebrated in most parishes around the world has much resemblance to the traditional Mass, then I would suggest you haven't actually attended a novus ordo parish regularly! Because the reality is that priests who try and say the novus ordo mass in Latin, offer the mass ad orientem, or even reverently, most often get driven out by rabid baby boomer parishioners and/or bishops.

As to how we as followers of St Benedict should react, I'm still in two minds. I don't think there is a lot to gain by debating it ad nauseum and becoming obsessed with current events at the expense of our prayer lives.

But I'm looking forward to reading the essays in From Benedict's Peace to Francis' War, and may change my view once I've read!

Marc in Eugene said...