The National Catholic Review

Elizabeth Scalia (aka The Anchoress at First Things) is someone who is always worth reading even if you sometimes come at things Catholic from a different angle than she does.  Her she is over at Inside Catholic on the "New" Mass(es). 

The Novus Ordo isn't going anywhere, but many Catholics who appreciate its music, relaxed standards, and the dicey creativity of parish liturgists are wary of Pope Benedict XVI's 2007 motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum. They worry that the "traditionalists" who have longed for greater availability of the Tridentine Rite and more traditional worship will try to inflict what they perceive to be dead forms onto the newer Mass.

In truth, their worries, while probably excessive, are not baseless. Many Catholics perceive over-corrections within post-conciliar liturgies and devotions, and the pendulum is, predictably, swinging back. The weaknesses of the vernacular translations of the Mass, particularly from Latin to English, have been recognized and are being addressed. Bishops are gently discouraging the liturgical excesses that a decade ago affected a great deal of Catholic worship and often led to eye-rolling in the pews and angry letters to the Vatican. Most notably, there is an increasing trend among Catholics -- particularly young Catholics, who got a taste of a fuller, more solemn liturgy with the funeral mass of Pope John Paul II -- to seek out the so-called Old Latin Rite. Summorum Pontificum is Pope Benedict's happy recommendation that their bishops oblige them in their desires, but whether the promotion of the 1962 Missal and a greater availability of that Mass has any discernable effect on the primacy of the Novus Ordo remains to be seen. For those of us raised in a religious environment that was half Tridentine and half free-for-all, I suspect we will continue to straddle the chasm.

Read the rest here.


James Martin, SJ

Comments

Thomas Piatak | 1/8/2010 - 1:18pm
A great piece, thanks for linking to it. I think we need a reform of the reform, and we are moving there, slowly but surely.

And a great picture, too: what a tragedy that glorious altars like that were, far too often, mindlessly dismantled after Vatican II, in a fit of iconoclasm that would have gladdened John Calvin and Oliver Cromwell.
John Smythe | 1/12/2010 - 9:31pm
Wow, Beth, thank you for sharing that!  That is very scary, to say the least.  That alone should be enough to send people running from the Novus Ordo back to the Tridentine Rite!!!
 
Two people, supposedly Priests, "celebrating" something they do not really know, but one assumes it to be a "Mass" of some sort possibly by some type of false religion (Anglican "clergy", like those of any other sect claiming to be "Christian" outside of the Catholic Church are not validly consecrated to the Sacrament of Holy Orders therefore have no power to wave their hands in the air or over anything and say anything and have no supernatural powers whatsoever, no matter what they want to believe) - as can be read, more in-depth, here:
 
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070629_responsa-quaestiones_en.html
 
These two "men" should have known better (and from the writing it is obvious they really did, but they had the desire of rebellion in their hearts (where else have we seen that - someone, an angel, who rebelled against God thinking he knew better ...) - the faithful look to them for guidance and direction - not confussion, temptation and loss of true Faith.  They are like two young adolescent boys who never had any parental guidance who are now out experimenting with something they know is wrong but, yet, at the same time, it feels different and unique to them so they want to see what it is like without knowing what damaging effects it can have and afterwards attempt to justify their actions. 
 
Absolutely shocking.
Beth Cioffoletti | 1/11/2010 - 8:25am
Since I am a Merton aficionado, I thought it might be interesting to add some of Merton's thoughts on the changes that Vatican2 brought to Mass liturgies.
 
"Dan Berrigan arrived by surprise Tuesday – I was not expecting him until the end of the week. We concelebrated twice – once in the regular present rite, and today, with a new Mass he found somewhere which is very fine and simple. I don’t know how legal we were. It was a very moving simple English text (Canon and all). I think it was composed by Anglicans and has been used by them. Contrast to the Mass I said for Jacques [Maritain], old style, last week. That was very sober, austere, solemn, intense. This very open, simple, even casual, but very moving and real. Somehow I think the new is really better – and is far from anything we will be permitted here for a long time. I have nothing against the old." (Learning to Love, p. 149)
 
[from an entry on the louie blog.]
Anthony Tramontano | 1/9/2010 - 7:07pm
The picture of Boston's cathedral says it all: A beautiful but dismantled high altar, steps removed - its base covered in carpet and surrounded by chairs, now serves as a candle/plant-stand-backdrop for a small wooden table.

Fr. Martin and company tried a similar ''renovation'' to the beautiful St. Ignatius Loyola church in NYC. It was, thank God, stopped after protests reached the archbishop. You may still enjoy the Tridentine grandeur of this church despite the felt tapestries, plastic candles, polyester chasubles, communion cups, masculine-pronoun-free-liturgies and numerous ''ministers'' sacheting about the sanctuary.

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam indeed.
John Smythe | 1/9/2010 - 3:24pm
There is no doubt that everything connected in the message of the Blessed Virgin of Fatima, what is referred to as the Secret of Fatima, has not yet come to an end. Certainly, what we are living is per force part and parcel of the events that will end one day, eventually, with the triumph of Mary. What will happen? How will we recognize it? In any case, it will at least entail the conversion of Russia according to the very words of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
 
In 1917 at Rome, the foes of God were celebrating the 200th anniversary of Freemasonry and the 400th anniversary of Protestantism with parades of special violence against the Holy See. The demonstrators boisterously proclaimed the reign of Satan over the Vatican and the Sovereign Pontiff. Maximilian Kolbe, still a seminarian, witnessed these painful events and said:
 
This mortal hatred of the Church, of Christ, and of His Vicar on earth is not just an outburst of misguided individuals, but rather a systematic action that proceeds from the principle of Freemasonry: the destruction of all religion, but especially the Catholic religion. [Pisma Ojca Maksymiliana Marii Kolbego franciszkanina, Niepokalanow, maszynopsis, 1970; English tr. from The Immaculata Our Ideal, by Fr. Karl Stehlin (Warsaw, 2005), p. 39]….
 
Is it possible that our enemies should deploy so much activity so as to attain superiority while we stay idle, or at best apply ourselves to prayer without getting to work? Might we not have more powerful arms—the protection of Heaven and of the Immaculate Virgin? The Immaculata, victorious and triumphant over all heresies, will not yield to the advancing enemy if she finds faithful servants obedient to her command: she will bring off new victories even greater than can be imagined. We have to put ourselves like docile instruments into her hands, employing all lawful means, getting the word out everywhere by the diffusion of the Marian press and the Miraculous Medal, and enhancing our action by prayer and good example. [Testimony of Fr. Pignalberi reported during the process of canonization].
 
He founded the Militia of the Immaculata just a few days after the October 13th apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, when the great miracle of the sun took place. It was in fact on October 16, with six fellow seminarians, that he consecrated himself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the purpose of leading the whole world to God by the Immaculata.
 
One cannot but be struck by the affinity between the message of Fatima and the response of the Polish Franciscan while reading his act of consecration:
 
O Immaculata, Queen of heaven and earth, Refuge of sinners, our most loving Mother, to whom God deigned to entrust the entire order of mercy, behold I, N., an unworthy sinner, cast myself at Thy feet and humbly ask Thee to deign to accept me completely and utterly as Thy property and possession; and do with me as it pleases Thee: all the faculties of my soul and body, my entire life, my death and my eternity. Dispose of me as Thou willst, so that what has been said of Thee might be fulfilled: ‘She will crush the head of the serpent,’ and also, ‘Thou alone hast vanquished all heresies throughout the world.’ Make of me an instrument in Thy immaculate and merciful hands, which serves Thee, in order to increase reverence for Thee as much as possible in so many fallen-away and lukewarm souls. Thus the benevolent reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will spread more and more. For whatever place Thou enters, Thou shalt implore upon it the grace of conversion and sanctification, for all graces come to us from the Sacred Heart of Jesus only through Thy hands. [Scritti di Massimiliano Kolbe, new ed. (Rome: ENMI, 1997), Vol. I; Eng. version, The Immaculata Our Ideal]
 
 
John Smythe | 1/9/2010 - 3:22pm
The 'Novus Ordo Missae' (New Order of the Mass) is like the rules given at Fatima by the Mother of God, which were quite simple: if the world does not convert, it will be punished: “There will be a second war, more terrible than the first.” The world did not convert. And God’s answer was not long in coming. Since the Second World War, the world still has not converted. And if people think Russia has converted, they will have to explain to us in what it has converted, and to whom— economic liberalism?
 
Almost one hundred years later, we observe that the world has surely not become better; quite the contrary. The war of the unbelievers rages harder than ever, but it has taken an unexpected turn: the demolition of the Church is being carried out especially by subversion, by infiltrating the Church. Our holy Mother the Church is in the process of being transformed into a pile of spiritual ruins while the exterior façade remains more or less intact, thus deceiving the multitude about its real condition. And it has to be admitted that this subversion acquired an unexpected increase of efficacy on the occasion of the Second Vatican Council. It doesn’t take an advanced degree in theology to figure this out; today it is an historical fact.
 
What part of the responsibility should be attributed to the Council itself? This is a difficult question, but it is clear that this Council was not without effect, and its consequences have been well and truly disastrous. Because of it, the Church fell in step with the world. “We, too, in fact, we more than any others, honor mankind,” said Paul VI at the Council’s conclusion. And the man-centered orientation of Vatican II was harped on by John Paul II. But this orientation is indeed odd for the Church of God, supernatural in its essence, having received from Our Lord Jesus Christ not only its constitution and means, but first and foremost its end, which is nothing else than the continuation of His own redemptive and salvific mission: “Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned.” (Mk. 16:15-16).
 
And now, here is the tragedy: the divine mission of the Church has been replaced by a purely human one. It is a great mystery that leaves one astounded. Salvation now comes second, to say the least.
 
Few men—very few men, unfortunately—understand that the terrible crisis of the Church since the Second Vatican Council is a chastisement more terrible than any other, for this time the catastrophe is spiritual: what is wounded, what is noiselessly killed in the midst of an indifference worse than death, are souls. The loss of grace in a soul is the most terrible harm that can happen to it because it makes no noise, it is not felt. And the voice of the watchmen has fallen silent. The call to conversion, to penance, to the flight from sin, temptations and the world has given way, if not to indulgence, then at least to sympathy with the world. There is a real will to make peace with the modern world.
 
The mission of salvation has given way to a new sort of humanitarian mission; it is a matter of helping men of every condition and religion to live well together on earth.
Jeff Bagnell | 1/9/2010 - 12:25pm
it is no secret that since the advent of the novus ordo, mass attendance has plummeted in most parishes.  Poor or non-existent catechesis for the last 40 years, combined with a loss of a sense of the sacred in the novus ordo, probably has something to do with this.  I don't know if the extraordinary form (the ordinary formfor more than 500 years) will reverse this decline but we should take a big tent approach to worship.
Joseph Farrell | 1/9/2010 - 12:23pm
Jerry, you do bring up an excellent point. There is an enormous need for better education of Catholics, especially Catholic adults. We definitely should spend more time ensuring the lay faithful are informed.

The Liturgy of the Mass is a vital point of disucussion as it is source and summit of our Faith, but these squabbles over accidentals, while important, often become a distraction and, sadly, often lack charity.
Anonymous | 1/9/2010 - 12:00pm
I think the Catholic hierarchy should be more worried about what the faithful think the Mass is other than the Eucharist.  I would bet that less than 2% or 1 in 50 could tell you what the various parts of the Mass are about and what each means and why they are there.  I may be generous in this assessment because I have never met another Catholic except those who have studied Catholic theology who could tell me what the various parts of Mass are about other than the Eucharist.
 
Catholics just know to stand, sit and kneel at certain time and then they often get it wrong.  One person in the front standing or kneeling at the wrong time can sometimes get the whole congregation to follow.  They know there are some readings, a homily, some prayers, the Credo and Communion and they dutiful reply some times to the words of the priest.  The Church should develop an education program so that every month of so the various sections of the Mass are discussed in their meaning and their history at a Mass.  And in 3-5 years we may have fuller pews as the worshipers know why they are there and what they are doing.
 
I wouldn't worry about the Tridentine being restored or the Novus Ordo being modified.  I would worry about the people in the pews knowing why and what they are doing there.
Beth Cioffoletti | 1/8/2010 - 5:20pm
"For those of us raised in a religious environment that was half Tridentine and half free-for-all, I suspect we will continue to straddle the chasm."
 
I will never forget the Masses that we used to have in the lobby of my dormitory at the University of Dayton in about 1970.  The few of us sat around on the couches and passed the bread from one to the other.  I loved the intimacy and the very realness - this mystery is here and now, us! - that the new format brought to my spiritual consciousness.
Winifred Holloway | 1/8/2010 - 4:46pm
I vaguely remember a few goofy liturgies from the 70s, but honestly, I haven't seen any since.  I think many folks, including the ones at the Vatican, are addressing problems that have not existed for decades.  Could the ''reform of the reform'' be a retrenchmant and not a reform?  When the going gets tough for the credibility of an institution's leaders/governors, the response seems to be just dig in your heels, secure your power base and proclaim victory.  This ''reform'' is another example of the Emperor fiddling while Rome burns.  So sad.
Mike Evans | 1/8/2010 - 3:51pm
Jesus wept! When he gathered his faithful disciples around him he did not need an elaborate altar, communion rail or pretentious acts of piety. What he wanted was a simple heartfelt desire to return his love, to spread the good news, and to contribute to the task of healing a broken world. We seem to be stuck in a never ending war about accidentals and not the essentials of our worship activity together. Vive the differences that make each culture and village unique. Praise God for the diversity.
Michael Bindner | 1/8/2010 - 3:29pm
The topic of the "reform of the reform" is also under discussion at NCR, where the Papal liturgist suggests that how the Pope celebrates Mass may provide guidance for the whole Church (including placing a cross on the Altar and kneeling communion on the tongue.

I have no problem celebrating text from the old form, provided that it is said in the venacular rather than in barely intelligible Latin and with the Priest facing the people with a cross on the altar. (of course, the latest Missal may be doing this already). I also have no objections to bringing back the Communion rail, although Communion in the hand should still be allowed locally (if only for hygene) at the national level. Additionally, because of what St. Augustine said about the entire assembly in Communion becoming the body of Christ by that Communion, after reception the congregation should be seated for that period of intimate time with the Lord. If the Lord is one with us at that time, we should not make Him kneel. There should also be more quiet and less music during this interval.

Oh, one more thing. Women should be allowed to celebrate Mass.
Joseph Farrell | 1/8/2010 - 2:43pm
There's little doubt that younger Catholics in America at least tend more "traditional." There were certainly many abuses following Vatican II, but that often occurrs after councils throughout history. The piece is absolutely correct in cautioning against over-correcting.


I for one prefer the Ordinary Form of the Mass. However, there is a sizable minority of Catholics whose spirituality is more in line with the more traditional Extraordinary Form. I have no problem with the old liturgy being made available to them. I don't feel there is any real danger of losing the "Novus Ordo."


The Catholic Church is a large family with a many spiritualities and worship styles and there's room for everyone.
Anonymous | 1/8/2010 - 1:42pm
The Anchoress posts "Most notably, there is an increasing trend among Catholics - particularly young Catholics,' liking the Tridentine Mass. I live in the inner city San Francisco, with 100s of thousand young people [about 25% were baptized Catholic] and see zero wanting an 'Old Latin Rite" Mass.. How about in Rome itself? My son and grandaughter just returned from Rome and saw no young people at Mass.