"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Uh Oh...Now What Do We Protest?

Scott Carson over at An Examined Life has posted a spot-on reaction to the Pope's pending order that all priests, anywhere, be allowed to celebrate the "old" or "Tridentine" Mass in Latin, which apparently means by the Missal of 1962. (The two sources I have for this are the Times of London and a report this morning by Sylvia Poggioli on NPR.)

My earliest memories as a Catholic are of Mass according to that form. It's not my favorite form by any means; even after I learned Latin well, and had been attending Mass regularly for years, the Tridentine Mass always made me feel more like a spectator than a participant in liturgy. (This is emotion and aesthetic preference talking, not theology, folks.) After all, the very term 'liturgy' comes from the Greek leitourgia, meaning "work of the people," and I've loved those occasions when I've been granted the privilege of being a lector or extraordinary eucharistic minister; yet it's impossible for laity to do that, or indeed much else, in the older rite. So I prefer the Novus Ordo, the currently normative form that would be better still if celebration ad orientem were allowed in practice (it's not forbidden by the current Roman Missal) and if both Latin and Gregorian chant were more widely used (especially for the Ordinary). But I don't at all object to placating trads by no longer requiring the permission of the local bishop to use the old Mass.

Of course Benedict's move won't be good enough for purists of either Right or Left. The rad-trads of the Right won't like it because their critique of Vatican II and its aftermath goes far beyond liturgical change, and they don't want concessions on that point thrown at them as a sop. (And then there's the problem that, the further Right you go, the less agreement there is even about what form of the old Mass is acceptable; the full-grain purists would have us go back to the pristine Mass of Pius V, and nothing else). The progs of the Left won't like Benedict's move because they tend to see any concession to the trads as an attempt to roll back Vatican II and restore the bad old days under the guise of pastoral solicitude for right-wing cranks.

That purists of both wings will dislike it is why I rather like it.
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