Traditional Mass

Friday, July 13, 2007

VATICAN - THE WORDS OF DOCTRINE - Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum cura is an invitation to return to the Catholic form of the liturgy,
Rev. Nicola Bux and Rev. Salvatore Vitiello

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - The Holy Father in his Book Jesus of Nazareth underlines the “understanding” which in Luke's Gospel - unlike the other Gospels - Jesus demonstrates towards the Jews: (p 216-217). Is this not an apologue applicable to the debate between the old and new form of the Mass, provoked by the publication of the Motu proprio of Benedict XVI? A ‘reform’, or a ‘renovatio’ is not a ‘revolution’, that is, something different, instead it is an ulterior development of the same; so valid are the new skins with the new wine, but also still precious and valid are the old ones with the old wine.. Attention to the form of the Liturgy would prevent the de-formations of which the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship (2004) supplied an amazing list (for further study see: J.Ratzinger, La festa della fede, Milano,, in specie p 37-54).

Observing the rites of liturgies, Anton Baumstark noted more than sixty years ago that some of the earliest elements co-exist with the new ones, and if the latter undermine they tend to disappear; or they are kept for the most solemn periods of the liturgical. Various examples are found in the Roman Missal of Paul VI: the rite of the Cross on Good Friday can have two forms. Therefore, the solution to the need to safeguard the old rite, proposing it rather then imposing it, had already been found. Why the surprise then that the Motu proprio should speak of a “A twofold use of the one and the same rite”? It already happens - we are sorry for D. Manlio Sodi( Avvenire, 8 July 2007, p 6) - that the same rite is celebrated in two different ways. And the historical interpretations with regard to the work of Pius V and Paul VI are correct. On the one hand Benedict XVI re-launches the pluri-form nature of the Latin Rite (varietates legitimae), the reason by the Roman Missal (of Saint Pius V revised by John XXIII) was never abolished, - a rite is not a norm which is abolished, because it can only disappear when the subject is exhausted - on the other he re-launches Catholic unity which is found precisely in mutual comprehension of the different rites.

For example, the Byzantine Rite most of the time uses the liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, but in Lent and other recurrences the Liturgy of St Basil and the Pre-sanctified is used. Therefore, also in the Roman Rite, most of the time we could use the Novus Ordo of Paul VI and, exceptionally, for example a few days during the "special Seasons" Advent-Christmas, Lent-Easter, the Antiquus Ordo di S. Pius V. It is strange than in a climate of liberalisation some are against this. Haven't the Liturgists always said that another option is a sign of modernity?
The basic principle is Catholic unity and the Motu proprio mentioning the Introduction to the Roman Missal (n 397) says this at the start: every Particular Church must conform with the universal Church doctrine of the faith, sacramental signs and liturgical practice. This is demanded of the liturgy as the epiphany of the Church, which is a hierarchical communion, as the words of the anaphora in which are mentioned the pope, the bishop, the clergy and the people living and dead, state. This is demanded by the bonum animarum. The manifestation of the Church is the heavenly Jerusalem which descends from on high with at the centre the immolated Lamb, where the Father is adored in spirit and in truth. The Liturgy is essential an act of adoration on the part of the ‘body of Christ' as a whole, head and body: the Body is the subject of the Liturgy which in this way cannot be particular in essence, but Catholic. The Liturgy ascends towards the mystery and the sacred and at the same time descends towards mankind, it is not the product of a community. The Liturgy makes the descent of the Word come about, but it demands also the ascent, the offering of ourselves, logikè latreìa (Rom 12,1). The Liturgy without this twofold movement is not effective.

These are the principles of the Constitution on the Liturgy of Vatican II which must be observed whether one uses the Antiquus ordo or the Novus ordo. Both forms of celebration must express the same faith and the same mystery, in the link between lex credendi which is one and lex orandi which is pluri-form. Saint Cyril and Methodius translated into Slav the Byzantine Liturgy and perhaps something of the Latin liturgy; they made small adaptations but never distorted it. Still today in Russia one sees the same liturgy of Byzantium with the ancient Slav language and insertions in the vernacular. The serious difficulty today is that the Liturgy is not the expression everywhere of the One Apostolic and Catholic Church. Now it is time for apostolic and Catholic unity to prevail over particular differences. So the two Roman Missals should encourage the use of Latin together with the local language, without fear of contamination between old and new. All this will promote Catholic universality and, above all, as the Motu proprio says frequently, reverence for the mystery of God who is present.

The opening of the heart to the mystery and the comprehension of the history of the Liturgy will produce that patience which is a form of love. Let us not be afraid of discussion in the Church, as long as everyone is obedient to the truth and charity. More than ever today men and women need Christ and the Liturgy serves to foster their encounter with Him.

(Agenzia Fides 12/7/2007; righe 66, parole 999)