Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Well, is there one rite or two?

The "Summorum Pontificum" of Benedict XVI states two points that are a mystery to me: the first is that it states that the Mass of John XXIII was never surpressed when the words of John Paul II's Ecclesia Dei and Quattor Abhinc Annos seem to strongly indicate that it was indeed surpressed (we will examine this question tomorrow). The second mytsery of the document (that I propose to deal with today) is why Benedict asserts that the Mass of Paul VI and the Mass of John XXIII are two expressions of the same rite when Paul VI clearly says that the two are different rites. Consider the words of the motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, which say:

"Art 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the 'Lex orandi' (Law of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite. Nonetheless, the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an extradordinary expression of that same 'Lex orandi," and must be given due honor for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church's Lex orandi will in no way lead to a division in the Church's 'Lex credendi" (Law of belief). They are, in fact, two usages of the one Roman rite."

So there we have it in the last sentence: "They are, in fact, two usages of the one Roman rite." Now, let's look at Pope Paul VI's General Audience, Changes in Mass for Greater Apostolate, given on November 26t, 1969:

1. We ask you to turn your minds once more to the liturgical innovation of the new rite of the Mass. This new rite will be introduced into our celebration of the holy Sacrifice starting from Sunday next which is the first of Advent, November 30

2. A new rite of the Mass: a change in a venerable tradition that has gone on for centuries. This is something that affects our hereditary religious patrimony, which seemed to enjoy the privilege of being untouchable and settled. It seemed to bring the prayer of our forefathers and our saints to our lips and to give us the comfort of feeling faithful to our spiritual past, which we kept alive to pass it on to the generations ahead...This change will affect the ceremonies of the Mass. We shall become aware, perhaps with some feeling of annoyance, that the ceremonies at the altar are no longer being carried out with the same words and gestures to which we were accustomed...

4. We must prepare for this many-sided inconvenience. It is the kind of upset caused by every novelty that breaks in on our habits. We shall notice that pious persons are disturbed most, because they have their own respectable way of hearing Mass, and they will feel shaken out of their usual thoughts and obliged to follow those of others. Even priests may feel some annoyance in this respect... So what is to be done on this special and historical occasion? First of all, we must prepare ourselves. This novelty is no small thing. We should not let ourselves be surprised by the nature, or even the nuisance, of its exterior forms. As intelligent persons and conscientious faithful we should find out as much as we can about this innovation... As We said on another occasion, we shall do well to take into account the motives for this grave change. The first is obedience to the Council. That obedience now implies obedience to the Bishops, who interpret the Council's prescription and put them into practice.

And later on, he speaks of the loss of the Latin language:8. It is here that the greatest newness is going to be noticed, the newness of language. No longer Latin, but the spoken language will be the principal language of the Mass. The introduction of the vernacular will certainly be a great sacrifice for those who know the beauty, the power and the expressive sacrality of Latin. We are parting with the speech of the Christian centuries; we are becoming like profane intruders in the literary preserve of sacred utterance. We will lose a great part of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing, the Gregorian chant.

9. We have reason indeed for regret, reason almost for bewilderment. What can we put in the place of that language of the angels? We are giving up something of priceless worth. But why? What is more precious than these loftiest of our Church's values?

This document is amazing. Notice that, in contradiction of Benedcit XVI, Paul VI in article two clearly calls the Novus Ordo a "new rite of Mass" and calls it a "liturgical innovation." The new Mass is twice called an "innovation." It is a "change in a venerable tradition." Perhaps most amazing of all, it is described as a "many sided inconvenience," a "novelty," an "annoyance," a "nuisance." He refers to the Novus Ordo as a "grave change." After expressing the beauty of Latin, Paul VI says those who alter the Latin terminology are like "profane intruders."

Now, if Paul VI (who by the way, is the one who promulgated the Novus Ordo that is named after him), if even the promulgator of the Novus Ordo calls it a "new rite", a "grave change"and a "liturgical innovation", what are we to make of Benedict XVI's bold assertion that it is not a new rite? It looks like he is trying to pull the liturgical wool over our eyes. There can be no true reform until there is some kind of admission of the failure of the Novus Ordo and the acknowledgement that the Mass of St. Pius V (the Mass of Gregory the Great, really) is the normative Lex orandi of the Church. One thing is certain: this bunk about the Novus Ordo faithfully preserving the riches of Catholic Tradition is just that: bunk.

Click here to see Summorum Pontificum.
Click here to see Paul VI's General Audience

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