Saturday, December 5, 2009

So A Guy Walks Into A Mass . . .

And sees the priest facing the altar, smells incense burning, and hears chanting in Latin. Does he turn around a walk out?

You have to wonder. Yesterday marks the 45th anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Vatican II constitution on the liturgy. This weekend, we'll start our ongoing study of this document, but I wanted to just throw out some items that have been written in recollection of this event.

Eric Sammons seeks to defend the Pauline Mass, allegedly the product of Vatican II (we'll see about that). He points out that how the Ordinary Form is often celebrated really isn't a rubrical requirement. Valuable points, to be sure.

Kenneth Wolfe gives a brief description as to how the Pauline Mass came to be, perhaps in spite of Vatican II's discussion of reform. He concludes with optimism springing from Pope Benedict's liberation of the Traditional Roman Rite.

Then you have Fr. Michael Ryan, who is angered by even the idea of a new translation for the Pauline Mass. This is kind of funny, since he spends some time blasting others for "rubricism" and inflexibility. Anyways, he comes this () close to advocating schism. He says that it really just "smacks of insubordination." I guess that makes it ok, then. What he proposes is "market testing" and "dialogue" on what the liturgy is and how it's done.

I wonder why contemporary Catholics should be granted such authority, given that Catholics forty years ago were basically told, "This is the new Mass. Shut up and deal." Here's the reason. Because back then, the progressives were running the show and had convinced the Pope that this was what was best. No dialogue, no exchange. Just imposition. And most Catholics, being obedient, went along.

Fast forward a few decades. The progressives are dying off. The movement towards tradition is increasingly being driven by the young. The Pope is a liturgy guy who understands the problem. Now, the idea of top-down imposition is some sort of disservice to the laity. Concessions must be made. We need market testing to see how this is going to work. It's a death march for Fr. Ryan and his ilk.

We come back to the original question, though. Will people walk away? Fr. Ryan's article shows the seeds of such a possibility. Disobedience has been so legitimized lately, I think we have to consider this. If someone is willing to write this kind of article when the issue is just a translation, think about what the reaction would be if the Pauline Mass was derogated (sort of like what happened to the TLM) or, even further, suppressed completely? The progressives, and probably the secular world at large, would think such an event worse than the reign of the AntiChrist.

Here's the thing. If a Catholic is willing to walk away from the Eucharist or enter into schism over what would be nothing more than a return to the liturgical tradition of the West as it was known for over 1500 years, what does that say for the average Catholic these days? Or his/her bishop who let the perception of obedience deteriorate that far?

Would the formal manifestation of what should probably be described as de facto schism be a bad thing? Scandal is bad. You've got the wheat and tares problem from Matthew 13. The Fathers would usually do everything they could to prevent open schism. There was always the tipping point, though.

I'm saying we're there yet, but we're a lot closer than we used to be.


Roisin said...

Good question. I think you're correct in basically asking that, if a Catholic is willing to separate himself or herself from the most important thing there is, the Eucharist, then perhaps he or she may want to reconsider membership in the Catholic Church.

The church that I was formerly a parishoner of in Chicago went nuts when they heard this was going to happen, about two years ago. And they were a much older generation. It was such a strange situation, to be 25 and more orthodox and traditional than the 70 year olds.

Turgonian said...

The sixties are over, et antiquum documentum novo cedat ritui.

Chants a Lot said...

I know one priest who has already said he will refuse to use the new translation. He doesn't "like it," he says. I'll leave it to you and your readers to guess his age.

Rachel said...

hi--first time commenter...

I read Fr Ryan's opinion piece. I wanted to gag. And then I read the comments.

To those who think that the Church is a democracy, get a grip. It never has been, it never will be. AND THAT IS A GOOD THING.

For those who feel that the young will feel "disenfranchised", or won't 'get it'. Hm. So now you are telling us we are incapable of understanding change, and you know better than we do, as to what we know/can learn?

Hm. Frankly...and this is not a very Christian attitude to have, I suppose...I will be grateful, when this crowd of reformists have gone on to their eternal reward. I pray, of course, that they will consider the tack they have been taking in regards to the Church over the past several decades...and repent of it.

But I doubt it.

As a mid-30s aged convert, I'd rather see more formalized, demanding language in the Mass. Shoot, I'd rather have the Latin and Gregorian chant, get rid of the plethora of Extraordinary Ministers...the hand holding...ugh.

So whose opinion should "rule"? Mine, and those like me, or those who think the exact opposite? Who is "right"? If they don't want to leave themselves open to a massive horde of folks like me, who'd rather see a ramped up increase in formalized, reverent, Masses in this world, then they'd be best not leaving it open to debate.

May God's will be done, and may He come soon!