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I was born, I'm currently living, and will eventually die. After that I face my judgment, and we'll talk then.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Thinking about Summorum Pontificum

As anyone who's been reading my blog this summer knows, I'm kinda excited about Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio Summorum pontificum. It should be a great thing for the Church, and I hope that Benedict's prayers come true, shown in the double meaning the letter holds: To promote the use of the Traditional Mass as well as restore dignity and glory to the Novus Ordo. However, I remember something from a couple years ago that has me kinda worried. During my Sophomore year at the College, Draper wrote an article for the Rambler about the Novus Ordo (at least I hope it was Draper. If not, I'm sorry). He discussed its validity, something which, hopefully, I'll post on in the future.

But that's not important right now. Here's what is. Draper, in his article, noted that the arguments against the Novus Ordo that are based solely on aesthetics are not valid arguments. He gives several reasons, mainly that they don't necessarily apply to the Novus Ordo itself. These arguments include: the direction the priest faces (although in the Novus Ordo he usually faces the people, with altars that do not face that way, such as the ones in, say, St. Peter's in Rome, he does not, yet a Novus Ordo is still offered there), the use of Latin (the Novus Ordo can and is often said in Latin, and the Traditional one can be said in the vernacular), and the music.

Music is an important part of any Mass (except for Low Masses, where there is no singing; that applies to both Traditional and Novus Ordo Masses). It is one of the most immediately noticeable part of the liturgy. And, unfortunately, it is one of the most abused aspects ofthe Novus Ordo (it might even the most abused, but I'm not sure where liturgical dancers fit in the picture). Music in a Novus Ordo varies from traditional Gregorian chant (Christendom is a classic, but by no means the only, example of this) to more traditional choral pieces ("Lift High the Cross" anyone) to the much less traditional, which ranges from more recent songs written by Catholics for Catholics to things like songs from Godspell. The music behind the words can be absent (as in chant and polyphonic music), played on an organ ("Lift High the Cross" again, but other songs can be played on the organ. However, "Our God is an Awesome God" sounds kinda weird on it), and more recently, guitars.

Guitars. So much debate over a guitar. The debate will not be held here and now, so stop sharpening your axes.

So anyway, there's this video on Youtube that somebody put together in praise of the Traditional Mass. It does so by showing some pretty bad Novus Ordos (complete with Liturgical Dancing and what looks like badly constructed tables for altars), then contrasting it with a normal Traditional Mass. It gets across the point: The Novus Ordo tends to be disrespectful and sloppy, while the Traditional is beautiful.

And since I'm sure somebody is still reading this post, I'll get to my actual beef. Remember that article by Draper i mentioned earlier? Well, in it Draper brought up a good point. Things like Latin, ad orientem and chant are possible in the Novus Ordo. Similarly, it is possible for a Traditional Mass to be said with guitars, dancing, etc.

Which finally leads to my fears. So lets say the Traditional Mass is widely said, and priests who might not normally want to do so find themselves saying the Traditional Mass. Is it possible that these priests could bring into the Traditional Mass something newer, such as guitars and Kumbyas?

When I hear traditionalists slam the Novus Ordo (not the priests who are abusing it), I think, what if it had not come about? What if there wasn't a Novus Ordo? What if the same priests who have, lets face it, desecrated the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass were left with only the Traditional Mass to play with? What would come of it? Will we ever know?

I hope not, but I still dread that we might soon find out.


  1. Matthew, you and I have spoken often about the abuses in the way the Novus Ordo is celebrated in certain places. Are these abuses transferrable to the ancient Mass? Yes. I believe His Holiness foresees this, which is why in part he has invested Ecclesia Dei with extra power to deal with such abuses, should they arise, God forbid! His Holiness also makes it clear in the decree (Art. 5 § 4) that priests who say the old Mass must be competent (idonei) at what they are doing. We might infer from this that they must be willing to undergo training and be trained to say the old Mass.

  2. Yea! D-Rod's Commenting on my blog!!!

    Yes, you are correct, his holiness (man this guy really thought this through) has included the condition that those saying the Mass must be idonei, but together with the rest of the clause ("idonei esse debent ac iure non impediti") seems to define the idonei in a canon law sense, in that a competent priest is one that is in good standings with the Church and is within the Church from a canon law stance, i.e., not excommunicated or forbidden for another reason to say Mass.

    Of course, i could be wrong. This is, after all, my own interpretation.

  3. Of course, part of the reason for these abuses is the rotten timing of the 2nd Vatican Council. It's correlation with the 60's rebellion allowed many people to use it as license to commit said abuses. Abuses existed in the old Tridentine Mass even before the Novus Ordo, but they didn't explode into the mainstream until the just after V2. It is possible that if V2 didn't happen, or if it had been better timed, that the abuses would not have been so widespread or so grave. Even still, it's not the fault of the Novus Ordo, but of the people who adopted it for the wrong reasons.

    God Bless.

  4. To quote the Holy Father, the old Mass "presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often" (Letter annexed to Summorum). The American bishops will interpret this to their favor. They will mercilessly contort the Holy Father's words, ridden, as it is, with countless loopholes and ambiguities. It's been only a week and the bishops are already drafting their provisos, precisely on this point we are discussing.

  5. It seems to me more that the bishops are saying "sure people can ask for the Trid Mass, but nobody's gonna ask for it, not like any priests know how to."
    What some bishops might do, and this is something I also fear , but should expect, is not provide seminarians the means to learn the Trad Mass, so as to nip it in the bud, in a way.

  6. Well, I think that's nothing to worry about. All seminaries will be affected by this. The fact that the liturgy is dual-faceted means that if secular seminaries want to produce priests capable of becoming bishops, they'll teach both facets. Also, seminaries are going to be held responsible for being able to say that they teach the whole liturgy. I don't foresee seminaries saying, "Well, we don't want you to have options as to how you celebrate the Mass." After all, the attitude you're worried about is one that encourages fluidity and options (even ones that aren't approved). I think they'll at least teach the ones that are approved.

  7. John wins. Its time for a new post.