What will that Big Ben guy do next?!

ratzingertlm9as 02You know that Pope Benedict XVI, he is such a wild and crazy fundamentalist.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand precisely why the Tridentine Mass is such a flashpoint for so many modern and postmodern Roman Catholics. Perhaps that is because we are dealing with a premodern rite, but that’s a whole other discussion. Maybe I have trouble grasping this controversy because, well, you know, I go to a church that still celebrates the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that the Tridentine stories have something to do with fears that the “spirit” of Vatican II has been crushed and I know that this is connected to battles over the ordination of women, the sexual revolution, academic freedom for “Catholic theologians” who disagree with Catholic teachings and a bunch of other stuff. But if diversity is a good thing, what is wrong with offering Catholics the Tridentine Rite (if that is what they choose to attend)?

But we have another media storm coming, if Damian Thompson of the Telegraph has this story right, passing along news from The Tablet:

Speculation is growing that Pope Benedict XVI will soon celebrate the traditional Latin Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, from which it has been banished for decades. The date suggested is the first Sunday in Advent, December 2.

If the Pope does use the ancient liturgy, it will be a moment of huge significance for the Church. And it will infuriate the trendy Tablet magazine, whose Rome correspondent Robert Mickens is in a terrible flap at the prospect.

Mickens is famous as the Catholic commentator who dissolved into tears of disappointment when Joseph Ratzinger’s name came booming over the loudspeakers after the conclave. These days he wanders around Rome with the pursed lips of a maiden aunt, pinching his nostrils to keep out the clouds of traditionalist incense that come billowing out of the Vatican.

“People who are interested in such things continue to speculate that Pope Benedict will soon celebrate the Tridentine Mass in St Peter’s Basilica,” he announces in his Tablet notebook this week. What a deliciously snooty turn of phrase. I hate to remind you, Robert, but the “people” in question include the Pope. Here, borrow my hanky.

This is snark about snark, and I know that. But you know that a media storm is on the way if Big Ben does approach the high altar in St. Peter’s and elects to face east.

Meanwhile, worship stories do seem to be confusing to many journalists, since they concern rites that are connected to complicated issues of canon law and tradition.

Here is another strange story that I have wanted to mention for some time that is linked to another hot-button issue, which is Rome’s stance on worship with other churches and other faiths. Check out this reference in a recent Religion News Service piece:

The pope will offer an ecumenical Mass in Naples’s main piazza, then have lunch with about 200 religious leaders, including the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, the chief rabbi of Israel and the Muslim rector of Al-Azhar University in Egypt.

Uh, I’m confused. What in the world is an “ecumenical Mass”?

Is this a Mass that involves Eastern Rite Catholics, Anglican Rite Catholics and representatives of other rites that are in communion with Rome? A Mass in which leaders of other churches attend, but do not take Communion? Did the reporter mean “interfaith” instead of “ecumenical,” which would open up another set of questions?

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Julia

    Some things about the new Mass and the old Mass. Sorry for the length – there is much to say.

    I attended an open house at a local Eastern Orthodox church a few years ago. The guide asked us to each give our religious affiliation. There were Baptists, Methodists, an Episcopalian and me – a Catholic. When one of the Baptists asked what services were like, the guide turned towards me, grinned and said “much like the Catholic Mass used to be”. That was a stunner.

    But then I remembered that a Lutheran Missouri Synod friend had recently told me that his services were almost exactly like my Catholic Church. I listened on the radio to the services from Concordia Seminary in St Louis the following Sunday and he was right. I was shocked.

    Then, in the last few years the word got out to folks outside the inner church circles that in the late 1960s a certain Bugnani (sp?)of Bologna was given the task of coming up with a new Mass by Paul VI. This was during the giddy ecumenical days when the “progressives” were just sure that the Reformation was going to be healed toute suite if only we got rid of some things bothering the Lutherans. So – Bugnini invited a bunch of Lutheran theologians to work on the new Mass committee. They got rid of language that the Lutherans found objectionable and our Mass now is bland – no or little mention of sacrifice, sin, etc. There are now 3 or 4 choices for the words of the consecration part of the Mass – some are so devoid of historic Catholic formulae that they probably could be used in Lutheran churches. And there are entire phrases left out of our Gloria.

    Since that time the prospect of re-uniting with Protestants has come to naught. It is much more likely that we heal the rift with the East. One of their problems with us is our new Mass. You said it yourself

    Maybe I have trouble grasping this controversy because, well, you know, I go to a church that is still celebrating the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

    That’s exactly the point. Our long history has more in common with the Orthodox than with Luther’s progeny. The ones who are fighting against the old Mass (N. Europeans and some N Americans) feel more in common with Lutherans and Methodists than they do with our brothers to the East.

    The word is that Benedict is hoping that celebrating the old Mass will influence our new Mass and eventually restore the elements that are missing. This needs to be done before all who remember the old Mass are gone. I’m 63 so I grew up with the old Mass. It was loaded with citations from Scripture and allusions to Scripture. All the poetry is now gone even though more readings is a plus. Irony: the biggest supporters are the young priests.

    By the way, Vatican II never called for a new Mass or having the priest turn towards the people instead of toward the altar. In fact, Vatican II called for making Gregorian chant the primary music for our liturgy. VII also wanted more use of Psalms. It provided that the vernacular was an option at the discretion of the local bishop. It was never meant to wipe out Latin. Many of these things, including dancing girls at Mass, were the result of irrational exuberance of the 1960s zeitgeist.

    Remember that in 1968, the universities (students and professors) throughout Northern Europe and France went wild for socialism and communism and were attempting to wash Western civilization’s slate clean. In this country all the hippy be-ins and flower children influenced the 3rd rate folk music we started having in our new English Masses. Nobody would have tried that in a solemn Latin Mass.

    Anyhow, my parish choir uses a mix of classic Catholic music, new good music, and chant. But we use an organ and are shunned by the folks who like the “contemporary” Mass on Saturday night – which has Protestant “praise music” badly done with a middle-aged band. And the kids don’t like it – it’s the baby boomers who show up for it and like to think they are still hip.

    Just saying. The above is mostly just my opinion. Since this was off the top of my head, I’ll look for some more authoritative articles that address the making of the new Mass and post links for those who might be interested.

  • Dale

    Julia:

    Many of these things, including dancing girls at Mass, were the result of irrational exuberance of the 1960s zeitgeist.

    I like the irony of using “irrational exuberance” to describe the counterculture of the sixties, as that phrase was most famously used by Alan Greenspan to describe the behavior of capital markets in the 1990s.

    You’re postmodern without even trying! :-)

  • Jerry

    academic freedom for “Catholic theologians” who disagree with Catholic teachings

    How does distinguish “theologians” from theologians? Are these non-Catholics who call themselves Catholic theologians, Catholics who think they are theologians or theologians who gasp, shudder, may have different views than the established orthodoxy?

  • Michael

    I cannot, for the life of me, understand precisely why the Tridentine Mass is such a flashpoint for so many modern and postmodern Roman Catholics.

    Which illustrates how much this is really about the predisposition of the journalist.

    What you see as a flashpoint for modern and postmodern Roman Catholics is seen by many as a flashpoint for orthodox and traditional Roman Catholics. What you see as keeping a mass out is seen by man as forcing a mass in. While some see this as postmodern types causing troubles is also seen as orthodox and traditionalists causing trouble.

    That’s why it is so complex to write about and requires everyone to keep their biases in check.

  • Dan Berger

    Jerry, I’ll use small words so you’ll understand.

    What tmatt meant is theowhatsits who claim to be Catholic while teaching things that call the Magisterium a liar.

    Oops, I used a big word. But that “Magisterium” thing is an important part of being Catholic, as opposed to “Catholic.”

  • http://www.angelqueen.org John Grasmeier

    Julia,

    Bravo and Amen. Can’t add much to what you’ve posted.

    Catholics had to learn the hard way that trying to appease the world is not merely counter-productive, it’s disastrous. Funny how in trying to be hip, relevant, dynamic, forward-thinking and (insert revolutionary-sounding keyword here), the young, along with nearly everyone else, fled Holy Mother Church. Yet now, post bomb-crater, we see the young – and their many beautiful children – flocking to traditional venues. Vocations, schools and seminaries opening, conversions, reversions, the works.

    Along the same lines, the more “ecumenical” we became, the less effective we were at evangelizing. Why on earth should anyone wish to convert to a religion that purports itself to be a lacking copy of that which one already practices?

    Now that we’re rediscovering tradition, Anglicans (laity and clergy) are considering converting en-masse, Eastern Orthodox are patting us on the back, traditional Lutherans are popping their heads up and other unintended good “ecumenical” fruits are beginning to pop, all without having to engage in ecumenism.

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com Mattk

    “…worship stories do seem to be confusing to many journalists…”

    I’m a little confused by the Mass stories I read. Is it the Tridentine (I can’t say that word without thinking of a retiarius) Mass or is it the Latin Novus Ordo Mass that is being written about? I ask because, here in silicon Valley there are a couple of Roman Catholic parishes that serve the Novus Ordo in Latin, yet the news stories usually report on the “traditional Latin Mass” or the “Tridentine Mass” as this story in the Telgraph does. I wonder, do the journaliss covering the story know? Do most non-Latin-speaking Roman Catholics know?

    As an aside, I think “Traditional Latin Mass” is always the wrong name to give whatever Mass the reporter is talkingabout. There are several versions of the Mass in Latin and they have all been passed down (tradited, if you will), though some for not as long as others.

  • cheryl

    I think the reference to an “ecumenical Mass” is an especially silly error on the part of the reporter/editor affliated with “Religion News Service,” who ought to know better.

    The Pope will celebrate Mass in the piazza in Naples. I’m sure the interfaith leaders are welcome to attend, but it doesn’t appear to be a ceremony they will participate in (the Vatican website (AKA the horse’s mouth) refers to it simply as Holy Mass:

    http://www.vatican.va/news_services/television/multimedia/live-week_en.html

    The interfaith/ecumenical meetings come later in the day.

    I think the writer goofed.

  • http://www.msu.edu/~chasech5 Christopher W. Chase

    tmatt, I would suggest looking at this story in the light of the depth of institutionalism Vatican II achieved. There are very large segments of the Roman Catholic community that have a lot of power invested in the changes brought by Vatican II, and the seismic shift that Vatican II wrought in the American Catholic community can hardly be understated. When talking about the Papacy celebrating the Tridentine Mass, we are talking about large segments of the RC community now feeling that the hard-wrought gains of VII are being undermined. This was the single largest seismic shift in American Catholicism in the 20th century..perhaps in all of American Christianity—one that alienated major segments of the Catholic community. When the Papacy undertakes the Tridentine Mass, its not about offering Roman Catholics the option..its about once again lending the imprimatur of the Magisterium to pre-Vatican II ideology.

  • Brian Walden

    The reason there’s so much fighting over Catholic liturgy is because the people who have forced watered-down Catholicism on us for 40 years see that the spirit of Vatican II is giving way to the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the Council and they refuse to go down without a fight. St. Peter’s is an extraordinary Basilica and the Pope is an extraordinary Bishop, why is it even controversial that he’s choosing to use the extraordinary form of Mass there? Is it newsworthy if Rowan Williams says a high church service in Canterbury? The story here isn’t the form of liturgy being used, it’s the clash of cultures within the Catholic Church.

    As Julia pointed out, Vatican II did not call for the radical changes which have occurred in the decades following it. The irony of it is that if the people who hate the Traditional Latin Mass had followed Vatican II rather than use it as an excuse to develop their own innovations, the desire for the TLM would dying off insstead of growing rapidly like it is today and I highly doubt Pope Benedict would have issued his motu proprio in July.

    I’m an under-30 Catholic. I think that many young Catholics are poorly catechized, which means that those of us who practice our faith today do so because we’ve taken the initiative to learn it on our own. We’ve studied the great meaning and mystery behind the Mass, yet when we go to church on Sunday most parishes celebrate the liturgy in a way that lacks reverence and depth of meaning. It doesn’t portray the truth of what the Mass really is. This is the reason why there’s such a push for the TLM.

    While I support the liberal use of the TLM, I’m not a Traditionalist. I believe that all forms of the Mass whether Latin or vernacular, Novus Ordo or Traditional, can be celebrated reverently and in a matter that conveys the mystery of the sacrament (to be honest if I’m going to go to a Latin mass I personally prefer an ad orientem Novus Ordo over a TLM). I just want to see the truth go back to being absolute and the liturgy go back to being divine. Those who subscribe to the “spirit of Vatican II” want the truth to be relative and the liturgy ordinary. The real battle isn’t over rubrics and missals, its over the very nature of what truth is and what the Church is.

  • Brian Walden

    Mattk,

    This article refers to the Traditional Latin Mass, not the Novus Ordo in Latin.

    I agree with you that TLM might not be exactly precise, I think it’s become the most widely accepted – at least in ordinary language – in the months since the Motu Proprio.

    While terms like the extraordinary form of Mass or the Missal of John XXIII are more technically correct, the average person on the street (and maybe even the average Catholic) will have a hard time figuring out what they’re referring to.

  • Fr. Serge Keleher

    Saint Peter’s Basilica is so constructed that the celebrant of the Mass at the Papal Altar when facing the East is facing the entrance of the church – so there is no reason to expect the Pope to change his physical position if he cares to celebrate Mass at the Papal Altar according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Liturgy.

    Note that this has nothing to do with “facing the people” or “not facing the people”; it has to do with facing the East.

    Fr. Serge

  • Julia

    Here are some good links about the Catholic Church that might be of use to the press and anybody else who is curious.

    http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/32668?&eng=y
    A particularly good explanation of how the Church presents itself to the world through its publications and a bit on the Vaticanisti – the approximately 450 reporters who cover the Vatican full-time. The article was written June 7, 2005 before Benedict made changes in personnel, but should help reporters evaluate things read in Vatican publications and unofficial publications influenced by the Vatican. The second to last section on how the press reportage helped to polarize Vatican II is particlarly interesting.

    http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/7033?eng=y
    Essay on one of the roots of the Progressive campaign – the belief that the West was given to the Church to govern by Constantine when he moved the capital to Byzantium. This never actually happened; the basis for belief in it was a forgery called “The Donation of Constantine”. Some of the distress over the return of the old Mass is that it is seen as a return to a Constantinian “imperial” style with its robes, incense, etc. that the Progressives thought was gone forever. Latin presumably was another connection with the Roman Empire the progressives wanted to eliminate by going with the vernacular.

    The “conservatives” think that the baby was thrown out with the bath water after V II, which was never meant to be a clean break with the past. But since V II, after Paul VI, the Pope no longer wears a tiara or gloves, he is not carried on a platform by nobles waving ostrich plumes and Benedict had the tiara on the coat of arms changed to a fancy bishop’s hat. The Church works better taking baby steps in shedding outmoded practices.

    http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/96802?&eng=y
    This is an informative piece on the resistance to a more liberal use of the old Mass. The article relates the proceedings at a meeting of bishops in France, where the battle is the greatest due to local conditions but somewhat transferrable to the rest of the Catholic world.

    Latin was never abrogated. At my parish we have an entirely Latin new form of Mass once a year at Lent. The choir sings in Latin from time to time all year – and entirely in Latin during Lent.

    At the time of Vatican II, a Cardinal warned that if you wed the current zeitgeist, you will soon become a widow. I think Benedict wants to retain the core that has been weakened. Then sprinkling in current music and current vernacular from time to time isn’t a problem. We are already on our 3rd translation of the new Mass into English, and there is a fight every time there is a new one. There are benefits to retaining Latin and chant – which developed from temple and synagogue chant. The New Christy Minstrels left the building a looooong time ago, but we are still singing that type of music and ignoring our connection with the ancients. I wonder if Heavy Metal or Disco were the “in” thing in the 1960s, we might be having very different “contemporary” Masses.

  • http://estamos-vivo.blogspot.com/ Jeff

    Quote:

    But if diversity is a good thing, what is wrong with offering Catholics the Tridentine Rite (if that is what they choose to attend)?”

    I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it. It’s a sop to the element that believes the least in liturgical diversity.

    It won’t change a thing, either. They will remain Vatican II recusants, and will now only feel emboldened.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    MICHAEL:

    Wait, wait. What did I miss?

    Who is being forced to do the Tridentine or to attend?

    I was on the beat fulltime during the era when many US bishops were literally banning the Latin Novus Ordo.

    Who is forcing the Tridentine to be observed?

  • http://estamos-vivo.blogspot.com/ Jeff

    First things first. Can’t do it overnight without “causing confusion”, as he puts it.

    The seeds are being planted. Extraordinary today, with a view towards mandatory someday in the future.

    But don’t take my word for it. Read the trads.

  • Brian Walden

    I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it. It’s a sop to the element that believes the least in liturgical diversity.

    It won’t change a thing, either. They will remain Vatican II recusants, and will now only feel emboldened.

    I’m no fan of radical traditionalists who deny the authority of the Pope or Vatican II, but in my experience the people who believe the least in liturgical diversity are on the other end of the spectrum.

    You want to follow the rubrics? No, it must be our way.
    You want better hymns? No, it must be the theological fluff and terrible arrangements that make us feel warm and fuzzy.
    You want altar bells, incense, statues? No, we don’t want those “Catholic” things.

    And have you ever been around when the priest gives a homily they don’t like? Probably not because they’ve already scared him into not saying anything that’s not puppies and roses.

    I think the most important thing the extraordinary form of Mass does is prevent faithful Catholics who are sick of putting up with abuses at Mass every single week from becoming recusant. It provides an outlet for them without having to go to the SSPX. I also hope that over the decades it will lead to the reform of the ordinary form of Mass so it will be celebrated to both the letter and spirit of the rubrics.

  • http://www.bombaxo.com/blog Kevin P. Edgecomb

    First things first. Can’t do it overnight without “causing confusion”, as he puts it.

    Right, because the changes in 1970 were implemented with such consideration for not “causing confusion” among millions. [/scoff]

    Aside from that silliness, one wonders what was on the menu for the post-”ecumenical mass” interfaith luncheon. Such a variety of dietary concerns to take into consideration must’ve made for quite an interesting affair.

  • Michael

    No one is forcing it be observed, but you’ve presented the issue as if there are specific villains and heroes in the story and you’ve already decided who they are.

    Many would argue that the Tridentine Mass is a flashpoint because orthodox and traditional Catholics have politicized it to a point that the Vatican issued made its recent announcement to appease the tiny group of people who turned it into such a big drama. That competes against your narrative, where it is the modern and postmodern Catholics who are creating the controversy.

    Arguably, both narratives have merit and should be the focus of good journalism. Understanding what the mass symbolizes–both liturgically and politically–to all sides is important.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Whenever I see (very frequently) a phrase like “ecumenical mass” –of which there is no such thing but which colors and sets the tone for the whole article–I wonder if that is also the level of incompetence we are getting in our international and political news.

  • Jerry

    Jerry, I’ll use small words so you’ll understand.

    It’s so nice that you spoke for him, Dan. After all, we just had some questions about the use of quotes around words, so I was trying to validate that the use of quotes in this case meant what I thought it to mean.

    Since you used the extreme phrase “a liar”, does that mean the ordinary magisterium as well as the solemn one? Is that what Terry meant since you’re speaking for him ex cathedra?

  • http://estamos-vivo.blogspot.com/ Jeff

    I’ve seen too many traditionalists and other boosters of the Tridentine Rite questioning the “validity” of the “Novus Ordo”, or telling apocalyptic stories about clown masses, liturgical dance and mimes (as if they were commonplace) to buy into the argument that they believe more in liturgical diversity than people on the other end of the spectrum. Just look at the disparaging terms in which the Paul VI Rite and the Council are being spoken of in this very thread.

    Regarding villains and heroes. Matt quoted Damian Thompson, who sees villains and heroes in the story. So have other commentators here, waiting for the aging, graying, Vatican II boomers to die out so they can fix the Church. Why single me out for presenting villains and heroes?

    Right, because the changes in 1970 were implemented with such consideration for not “causing confusion” among millions. [/scoff]

    Do you remember that? I do. There was no confusion, only resentment among a small subset people who were still obsessed with the French Revolution. Scoff all you like. Paul VI was responding to the will that was overwhelmingly expressed by the council fathers in a Constitution of the Church, not his own personal musings about what was causing harm in the conciliar era. Said Paul VI:

    How could such a change be made? Answer: It is due to the will expressed by the Ecumenical Council held not long ago… It is not an arbitrary act. It is not a transitory or optional experiment. It is not some dilettante’s improvisation. It is a law.

    Paul also knew Lefebvre, Ottaviani, and the rest of the obstructionist curial mandarins well enough to know that he couldn’t do this with a halfway measure. That could be done once. Can it be done twice? You’d think that precedents set by his worthy predecessors should be very important to Benedict. Does this action advance that?

    Now, you can read that passage of Paul’s and pretend that Benedict didn’t turn Paul on his head. I’m not fooled. In fact, he wasn’t exactly shy about saying Paul was wrong while he was still a Cardinal. He’s had a tendency to make himself the sole, infallible interpreter of the Council, long before he became the Pope. Take the whole flap over the word “subsists”, for example. Would others who wrote widely on the Council, such as Konig, Willebrands, and Rahner have agreed with his interpretation? Of course not.

    As for “Spirit of the Council” vs the texts. What I find interesting is this… In the Vatican II constitution for the reform and restoration of the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, it says:

    26. Liturgical services are not private functions, but are celebrations of the Church, which is the “sacrament of unity”, namely, the holy people united and ordered under their bishops.

    27. It is to be stressed that whenever rites, according to their specific nature, make provision for communal celebration involving the presence and actual participation of the faithful, this way of celebrating them is to be preferred, so far as possible, to a celebration that is individual and quasi-private.

    This applies with especial force to the celebration of Mass and the administration of the sacraments, even though every Mass has of itself a public and social nature.

    32. The Liturgy makes distinctions between persons according to their liturgical function and Sacred Orders, and there are liturgical laws providing for due honors to be given to civil authorities. Apart from these instances, no special honors are to be paid in the Liturgy to any private persons or classes of persons, whether in the ceremonies or by external display.

    Now, what does the Motu Proprio say?

    It says that any priest may celebrate Mass, without the presence of others, either according to the John XXIII Missal of 1962 or the Paul VI Missal of 1970 on any day except the Sacred Triduum. No permission is needed. Those lay people who spontaneously request are allowed to be present at these private celebrations.

    In other words, a private function that can be held without a bishop’s permission. Is that consonant with both the spirit and the letter of the text? This is the sort of thing that is being increasingly agitated for among conservative groups and causes these days. Institutes and personal prelatures that answer only to the Holy See. No meddling allowed from “liberal” bishops…

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    JEFF:

    That’s hilarious. You are joking, right?

    If you are serious, what you are predicting is schism in the Roman Catholic Church. There is no way that the Tridentine Rite folks are a majority in the US Episcopate and in seminaries.

    Also, Michael, I am well aware that there are Tridentine extremists. I’ve covered them for years, too. That does not appear to be the crowd that is showing up this time around.

    But my question remains and it is sincere. I have always wondered why this issue is such a flashpoint on the Catholic left. I mean, let the traditionalists have their Masses. As we say in DC, hang a lantern on your problem. Get it over with.

  • http://estamos-vivo.blogspot.com/ Jeff

    Matt,

    That’s hilarious. You are joking, right?

    Well, that was a convincing argument. Guess you told me.

    If SSPX schismatics are being mollycoddled and catered to with this Motu Proprio (and that is who it was written for… the stated purpose was to reach out to that group…. to appeal to young “reasonable” people was secondary) and progressives get nothing but the continued back of Benedict’s hand, and theologians who are arguably more talented and pastorally sensitive than he is continually suffer from censures and notifications… Well, if you can’t understand why progressives consider that a flashpoint and an ill omen for the direction he’s moving in, I don’t know how else to get the message through to you.

    I’ve got nothing to get over. It’s going to be a long struggle. It always is in the decades after councils. No crying here. Sure, let the traditionalsist have their Tridentine mass, just don’t expect the rest of us to enthusiastically embrace by what has unfortunately been politicized by the worst of the extremists.

  • http://estamos-vivo.blogspot.com/ Jeff

    Michael,

    My apologies re: heroes and villains… Initially thought that comment was directed my way.

  • Michael

    But my question remains and it is sincere. I have always wondered why this issue is such a flashpoint on the Catholic left. I mean, let the traditionalists have their Masses. As we say in DC, hang a lantern on your problem. Get it over with.

    From a journalism perspective (assuming this is still about journalism), you seem to be asking the wrong question.

    Since it is American and European orthodox and traditionalists who pushed the Vatican to issue the statement and because it is American and European orthodox and traditionalists who have made the Tridentine Mass the centerpiece of the conflict with the church, asking the left why it is a flashpoint seems to be an odd journalistic place to start.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Frankly, I can’t understand the fury and angst on either side. I love going to Maronite, Ukrainian, or Armenian.etc. Eastern Catholic Masses. Latin Masses have a timeless aura and mystery around them. The Novus Ordo Mass is basic and simple–and also reverent when done right –with good music and without being turned into a circus.(Apparently, unlike Jeff, I have seen too many “far out” Novus Ordo Masses and Masses with abysmal music).
    In all cases it is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and at communion time we are nourished by consuming the Body and Blood of Our Lord.
    There will always be a “left” and a “right” wing in the Church pulling in opposite directions. Keeping these together is what keeps the Church from being stagnant or, in the opposite drection, from flying apart into bits and pieces built around nationalities or narrow religious-political partisanship.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    MICHAEL:

    It does not surprise me that people who want the Tridentine Mass want the Tridentine Mass. In fact, there are lots of people who — as many have pointed out — what this Mass for different reasons (and that’s an interesting story).

    So there is no mystery there for me. Please note the word mystery.

    The mystery — please note the word mystery — for me is on the opposition side.

    One more time: It does not surprise me that people who want the Tridentine Mass want the Tridentine Mass.

  • Brian Walden

    Now, what does the Motu Proprio say?

    It says that any priest may celebrate Mass, without the presence of others, either according to the John XXIII Missal of 1962 or the Paul VI Missal of 1970 on any day except the Sacred Triduum. No permission is needed. Those lay people who spontaneously request are allowed to be present at these private celebrations.

    In other words, a private function that can be held without a bishop’s permission. Is that consonant with both the spirit and the letter of the text? This is the sort of thing that is being increasingly agitated for among conservative groups and causes these days. Institutes and personal prelatures that answer only to the Holy See. No meddling allowed from “liberal” bishops…

    Jeff, are you purposely twisting Pope Benedict’s words or are you honestly mistaken in your interpretation? Priests have always celebrate private masses. Many priests are not pastors; if they don’t serve a parish they may hold their own private masses. They may also invite others to those masses. The only new thing here is allowing them to use the extraordinary form.

    Since when do Catholics need the bishop’s permission to hold a private function. My Knights of Columbus council holds a private meeting in our church basement once a month – better call in the Bishop. If Bishop’s had followed Ecclesia Dei, Pope Benedict wouldn’t have issued the motu proprio.

    The extraordinary form of Mass is a valid Mass in the Latin Rite. Why should priests need special permission to celebrate a valid form of Mass? Pope Benedict has expressed his wishes – you’re Catholic, get behind him. What sickens me in this fight is that the extremes on both sides are heretical. The radical modernists are just as bad as the radical traditionalists.

    If SSPX schismatics are being mollycoddled and catered to with this Motu Proprio (and that is who it was written for. . . the stated purpose was to reach out to that group. . .. to appeal to young “reasonable” people was secondary) and progressives get nothing but the continued back of Benedict’s hand, and theologians who are arguably more talented and pastorally sensitive than he is continually suffer from censures and notifications. . . Well, if you can’t understand why progressives consider that a flashpoint and an ill omen for the direction he’s moving in, I don’t know how else to get the message through to you.

    Are you kidding me? Have you read God is Love or Jesus of Nazareth – and his next encyclical is about hope. Instead of being the head-cracking enforcer everyone painted him out to be he’s been extremely gentle and accomodating to all sides. It looks to me like the problem isn’t that Pope Benedict’s not pastoral enough for you, it’s that he’s not heretical enough for you.

  • Julia

    Check out the Techno Cosmic Mass put on by an ex-Catholic priest. This is what a lot of regular Catholic feared our Sunday Masses were going to become. Having the old Mass around might convince people not to go that route whether they go to the old Mass or not.

    http://thecosmicmass.org/

  • http://www.geocities.com/hohjohn John L. Hoh, Jr.

    Uh, I’m confused. What in the world is an “ecumenical Mass”?

    Is this a Mass that involves Eastern Rite Catholics, Anglican Rite Catholics and representatives of other rites that are in communion with Rome?

    Actually, isn’t St. Peter’s basilica the Major Basilica for the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch?

    From Wikipedia:

    Major basilicas

    To this class belong just four great Papal churches of Rome, which among other distinctions have a special “holy door” and to which a visit is always prescribed as one of the conditions for gaining the Roman Jubilee. Pope Benedict XVI renamed these basilicas from Patriarchal to Papal.

    * St. John Lateran is the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome: the Pope and hence is the only one called archbasilica (full name: Patriachal Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour, St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist at the Lateran). It is also called the Lateran basilica.

    * St. Peter’s Basilica is symbolically assigned to the now abolished position of Patriarch of the West as opposed to the Patriarch of the East that seats in Constantinople. It is also known as the Vatican basilica.

    * St. Paul outside the Walls is assigned to the Patriarch of Alexandria. It is also known as the Ostian basilica.

    * St. Mary Major is assigned to the Patriarch of Antioch. It is also called the Liberian basilica.

    While the major basilicas form a class that outranks all other churches, even other papal ones, all other, so called minor basilicas, as such do not form a single class, but belong to different classes, most of which also contain non-basilicas of equal rank; within each diocese, the bishop’s cathedral takes precedence over all (other) basilicas. Thus after the major basilicas come the primatial churches, the metropolitan, other (e.g. suffragan) cathedrals, collegiate churches etc.

  • http://estamos-vivo.blogspot.com/ Jeff

    The holy sacrifice of the Mass is an act of worship offered to God in the name of Christ and the Church; of its nature, it is public, regardless of the place or manner of its celebration. Thus, the term “private Mass” should never be used. De Musica Sacra, 1958

    God is Love was a wonderful encyclical. Benedict is a serious and superb scholar, but he has admitted that his book on Jesus reflects his own opinions, and others can feel free to contradict him. I wish he had such humility in other matters.

    I consider myself to be in neither the traditionalist nor the liberal camp. I must say, however, that I can certainly understand the frustration on the part of progressives in recent decades. I don’t have a problem with Latin. I don’t have a problem with the historical legacies of our Church, although I do agree with traditionalists that Vatican II was in fact a revolution. It was not a revolution in the sense that they mean it, in that the values of the French Revolution infected the Church. It was a revolution in the sense that the assembled bishops finally stood up like men and acted like real bishops, and were not cowed by the coterie of extreme anti-modernist integrists in the Roman Curia who equated the Church with themselves. The bishops had the support of the Pope in that regard. The Curia has been fighting a rear-guard action ever since, and unfortunately, Joseph Ratzinger, once a progessive architect of the Council, developed a severe sense of cognitive dissonance over it (call it buyer’s remorse), and has been part of that restorationist effort.

    I understand the frustration of progessives on matters related to the liturgy, because a lot of this was SSPX-driven, and there is a lot more wrong with the SSPX than the illicit consecration of a handful of bishops in defiance of the Pope. In addition to their non-acceptance of the Council is their obnoxius anti-semitism (which should be roundly condemned by all Catholics everywhere) and inane, crackpot theories around Judeo/Masonic/Communist plots. These Jansenists are still obsessed with the French Revolution and the Ancien Regime. These are the people Benedict is extending an olive branch to, while progressives, concerned about more lay involvement in the governance of the Church, a wider role for women, a reconsideration of celibacy, and a recognition of positive aspects of Liberation Theology, are shunted to the side, or investigated, censured and disciplined.

    Whats’s hard to understand about that?

  • Courtney E

    But my question remains and it is sincere. I have always wondered why this issue is such a flashpoint on the Catholic left. I mean, let the traditionalists have their Masses.

    Tmatt, this thread illustrates why this has become such a flashpoint, and not just for the left, but on both sides. Peoples emotions run high about what they think matters most about celebrating the central mystery of our faith, the Eucharist. For some, it is an emphasis on community and belonging; thus the liturgy is adapted to emphasize these things. For others, it is an emphasis on tradition and mystery; thus the liturgy is adapted to emphasize those things. Oddly enough to me, I don’t find these things as diametrically opposed as some others do. However, because celebration of the Eucharist is at the core of the Catholic faith, any disagreement about how to celebrate the Eucharist also cuts to that core and raises peoples hackles.

  • Julia

    Actually, isn’t St. Peter’s basilica the Major Basilica for the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch?

    No.

    Originally,there were three Apostolic Churches with Patriarchs: Rome, Antioch and Alexandria. Then Jerusalem was given an honorary Patriarchate at Nicea which was made an actual Patriarchate at the Council of Chalcedon.
    Here’s what the Catholic Encyclopedia has to say about Constantinople:

    Because Constantine had made Byzantium “New Rome”, its bishop, once the humble suffragan of Heraclea, thought that he should become second only, if not almost equal, to the Bishop of Old Rome. For many centuries the popes opposed this ambition, not because any one thought of disputing their first place, but because they were unwilling to change the old order of the hierarchy. In 381 the Council of Constantinople declared that: “The Bishop of Constantinople shall have the primacy of honour after the Bishop of Rome, because it is New Rome” (can. iii). The popes (Damasus, Gregory the Great) refused to confirm this canon. Nevertheless Constantinople grew by favour of the emperor, whose centralizing policy found a ready help in the authority of his court bishop. Chalcedon (451) established Constantinople as a patriarchate with jurisdiction over Asia Minor and Thrace and gave it the second place after Rome (can. xxviii). Pope Leo I (440-61) refused to admit this canon, which was made in the absence of his legates; for centuries Rome still refused to give the second place to Constantinople. It was not until the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) that the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople was allowed this place; in 1439 the Council of Florence gave it to the Greek patriarch. Nevertheless in the East the emperor’s wish was powerful enough to obtain recognition for his patriarch; from Chalcedon we must count Constantinople as practically, if not legally, the second patriarchate (ibid., 28-47). So we have the new order of five patriarchs — Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem — that seemed, to Eastern theologians especially, an essential element of the constitution of the Church

    Contrary to what the Wikipedia says – there are 5 Patriarchal churches in Rome, which doesn’t mean much any more. Very few Christians in union with the Pope live at Alexandria, Antioch or Constantinople anymore and Benedict has eliminated his title of Patriarch of the West. There is a Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, but I’m not sure he really has any connection to the basilica of St Lawrence in Rome any more.

    Here’s what the old Catholic Encyclopedia has to say about the current situation.

    The titular Latin patriarchs have only certain ceremonial prerogatives. The Roman patriarchia are five basilicas, one the pope’s own cathedral, the others churches at which the other patriarchs officiated if they came to Rome, near which they dwelt. The papal patriarchium was originally the “Domus Pudentiana”; since the early Middle Ages it is the Basilica of Saint Saviour at the Lateran (St. John Lateran). The others are, or were, St. Peter for Constantinople, St. Paul Without the Walls for Alexandria, St. Mary Major for Antioch, St. Lawrence for Jerusalem. These are now only titles and memories.

    The Eastern Catholic churches each have a Patriarch, but, as far as I know, they are not connected to any of these ancient Patriarchal basilicas. The Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople often visits Rome but he would certainly not be assigned a Latin Catholic Church for his use while in town.

  • Brian Walden

    John L. Hoh, Jr,

    I’m as baffled as you about what an ecumenical Mass is. Since anyone is welcome to attend Mass, I would think that it’s ecumenical by it’s very nature. If the reporter meant that there is some type of ecumenical prayer service, then it is not Mass.

    About the Patriarch of the West, this was a title of the Pope until he dropped it recently for ecumenical reasons. The title dates back to before the Great Schism so in a sense you’re not far off in wondering if it refers to an Eastern Orthodox Patriarch.

  • liberty

    But my question remains and it is sincere. I have always wondered why this issue is such a flashpoint on the Catholic left.

    In my experience I think it is because they can’t stand the thought that maybe – just maybe – they were wrong to so fully reject historical Catholicism in the name of ‘The spirit of Vatican II’. And maybe over time all their ‘advances’ will be rejected just as thoroughly as they rejected everything that went before them.

    I am in my late 20s and was born long after Vatican II, I was raised in a thoroughly Novus Ordo Church. Yet still I crave the Tridentine Mass and traditional expressions of Catholic devotion which I was never exposed to.

    Most of the people I grew up with who were catechized in the post Vatican II world ended up as atheists. Those of us who have stayed in the Church, or reverted to Catholicism have chosen to not follow the path ‘blazed’ by the generation which embraced Vatican II.

    In NO WAY do I reject Vatican II. However, instead of accepting that things (like removing all statues, or rejecting the Rosary) are in the ‘Spirit’ of Vatican II I ask where exactly in the documents we can find that. In my experience that drives the liberal who have been doing these things CRAZY.

    They just can’t imagine why my friends and I would like to have Eucharistic Adoration, or meet and pray the Rosary. These were things that were rejected by their generation and it upsets them that there is nobody picking up their (felt) banners and continuing the charge.

  • http://www.bombaxo.com/blog Kevin P. Edgecomb

    Jeff, yes, I do remember, having been quite a devout altar boy in the midst of implementing all the changes throughout the early to mid seventies. It was massively confusing, with things changing nearly every week, for both the people and the servers. It wasn’t just old folks having trouble adjusting, but everyone. Some were just more vocal about it. And a whole lot of people simply left, too. That’s the reality of it. I scoff because those changes led directly to the death of the vibrant church I recall from childhood, one that didn’t need vernacular masses (with or without the guitar and/or dancers) to inspire members to build cathedrals and churches and hospitals and schools and to pack them full of Catholics. There’s something about the older mass that was and is powerful (to simply judge by their fruits) and it’s good to have it more available again.

  • http://onlinefaith.blogspot.com C. Wingate

    … which is where I come in. Regardless of how badly the liturgy was changed (and the current English translation is dreadful, making the 1979 American BCP sound positively Jacobean), the changes are the symbol of everything that is unhappy now about the American RC church. Would sticking to Latin have prevented the angst? The world will never know. Will changing back fix things? ALmost certainly not.

  • Larry

    Tmatt, is there a reason you disrepected the Roman Pontiff by calling him “Big Ben”. Do you likewise disrespect your own Patriarch by calling him Philip Bin Laden or some such nonsense?

  • Dan

    I am a highly over-sensitive Catholic who loves the Pope but I took no offense at the “Big Ben” reference — I thought it suggested affection (but maybe I’m mistaken?).

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    I first saw that nickname on conservative Catholic blogs. No disrespect intended and I am not aware of anyone else considering it a slight.