Seven Years Later

For very understandable reasons, a number of people are today celebrating the seventh anniversary of Summorum Pontificum (SP), though the document didn’t enter into force until September 2007. I already wrote some thoughts on SP here. Contrary to certain claims, I do not believe SP is a flawless document, but my quibbles with it are minor. In fact, they are so powerfully overshadowed by the real problems of SP’s implementation and the active hostility of bishops, priests, and layfok toward the Tridentine Mass that I really see no point in discussing them. Were SP met with open arms by the hierarchs of the world and every diocese on earth committed to offering the vetus ordo regularly, I doubt very much that anyone, even nitpicking traditionalists, would care that much about SP’s marginal tensions. But that is not the case. I can’t remember a week going by since I entered the Catholic Church in 2011 where I didn’t read or hear some Catholic, conservative or otherwise, popping off about SP, the Tridentine Mass, those who attend it, or all of the above. Their criticisms, more often than not, were visceral, not intellectual. And in those rare circumstances where some degree of intelligence was applied to the alleged “problem” of the old Mass, the arguments often rested on rickety premises (“Only old people like it…”) or (potentially false) claims which utterly miss the point: “Nobody understands Latin!”; “The old Mass creates too much distance between the priest and the faithful!”; “What do you mean we can’t sing ‘On Eagle’s Wings’?”

A new, more serious, line of attack has been opened up against SP and those faithful Catholics who perceive that document as a life raft in troubled waters. Whether it takes the form of recklessly charging certain clerics with “crypto-Lefebvrianism” (whatever that means) or implying that there is a spiritual disorder to be found among those faithful who not only “prefer” the old Mass to the new but, because they have eyes to see and minds to think, believe that the Tridentine Mass is superior to the Novus Ordo. It’s a deranged charge, but one that is finding a lot of currency in certain circles which have become emboldened by our current Pontiff’s rather callous and flippant remarks about those under his care and protection who regularly attend the TLM.

Going back to what I noted earlier concerning my quibbles with SP, it is true that some of the document’s language could lead one to assume that Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI made a magisterial pitch for the substantive equality of both forms of the Roman Rite currently in use. Here I am thinking about SP’s “equality” and “dignity” language. While juridically speaking SP, and its follow-up instruction Universae Ecclesiae, demand dignity and equality for both forms of the Mass, neither document goes to any length to determine which one ought to be endorsed by a particular Catholic or why. It’s agnostic on preferences. After all, if SP was committed to promoting the substantive equality of the two Masses, why does it not call on the faithful to regularly attend both forms or request that Catholics deny that one Mass is liturgically superior to another? Perhaps the reason is because a motu proprio is not an appropriate instrument to resolve debates which are, in many respects, quite academic (even when they are centered on aesthetics).

You have to be careful, though; talking too freely about the defects in the Novus Ordo Mass while calling to mind the absence of such defects in the vetus ordo will get you into hot water. You’ll be called an ideologue who uses the traditional Mass as a weapon (or something). When such nonsense breaks out, I admit I feel a tinge of jealously over the relatively free capacity of my Eastern Catholic brethren to laud the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom/St. Basil the Great over the Novus Ordo Missae without fear of reprisal. In fact, some in the Catholic East who follow the Byzantine Rite argue, with some force, that their rite is superior to the Roman Rite—old and new—on substantive grounds. Even if I am strongly inclined to disagree with those Eastern critics on that score, I do not reject their right to hold to and argue for that view so long as it does not come packaged with some of the specious claims of certain Eastern Orthodox who reject the validity of any Mass which doesn’t come accompanied by a Byzantine-style epiclesis.

Because their near-apocalyptic predictions of what might happen to the Church following SP never came to pass, the opponents of the Tridentine Mass and those Catholics who embrace it have resorted to spiritual name calling. It’s childish and uncharitable, but it’s to be expected. The perpetuation of the old Mass in the “new Church” is a strong sign that mistakes were indeed made in the late 1960s when a committee of supposed “experts” devised what we might today call, with a heavy drip of irony, “The Mass of the Springtime” or “The Mass of the New Pentecost.” Given how far certain Catholic apologists will go in trying to deny that there is a legitimate crisis in the Church today, it’s not surprising that they will also go to incredible lengths to bury the old Mass, even if it often means avoiding substantive engagements in favor of armchair psychological evaluations of traditional Catholics. As harmful as such behavior can be, it does not wipe away the great gift our previous pope gave us nor, I pray, weaken our resolve to see its undiluted implementation throughout the universal Church.

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  1. Diane
    July 7, 2014

    I have absolutely no beef with people who assert that the TLM is superior to the Novus Ordo. I object only when people claim that the Novus Ordo is diabolical or that N.O. parishes are satanic. I would suggest that it is this sort of unhinged rhetoric that is hurting the TLM cause. (I know you have never countenanced such craziness, Mod, but I have seen it hin and yon — more and more recently, in fact.)

    There is a way to conciliate hostile bishops and jittery priests. Dissing the N.O. as diabolical is not that way. A soft answer turns away wrath. Asshattery and insanity tend to have the opposite effect.

    Reply
    1. Cojuanco
      July 7, 2014

      Ironically, I think the nuttery is the unintended success of SP in certain places. As the sane trads became however imperfectly a fact of diocesan life, the remnant (no pun intended) were left as a vocal minority.

      And yes, the problem is that some vocal minorities seem to go beyond expressing preference to calling one Mass or another diabolical. And because the loudest, nuttiest voice gets the attention…

      Andvat least to the FFI debacle the issue, at heart, seems to be how to reconcile SP with the mechanisms of how a Franciscan community works, which ended up blown out of proportion by certain laymen on both sides of the controversy.

      Reply
  2. bernardbrandt
    July 7, 2014

    As Diane seems yet again to be mischaracterizing what I (or Fr. Chadwick) have said in the past, please permit me to correct the record. Most of those corrections can be found in my comments to your earlier entry on Summorum Pontificorum, and so I will not repeat those here.

    Nonetheless, in the years that I have been weblogging and commenting, I do not believe that I have ever said that I thought that the Novus Ordo was ‘diabolical’, or that N.O. parishes were ‘satanic’ for serving them. To the contrary, I have on any number of occasions said that the N.O. could be said reverently and well. If I gave any thought to the matter, I would say that the N.O. has the advantage as regards the wealth of Old Testament readings in its lectionary, and more anaphoras than either the old Mass or the Divine Liturgy, but otherwise, the N.O. is more truncated than the Mass, and the Mass is more truncated than the Divine Liturgy, with its wealth of antiphons, litanies, and hymnography. It really depends on whether one’s priorities are ‘noble simplicity’ or ‘the beauty of the Lord’, I suppose.

    That said, however, Modestinus, I believe that the current situation is a bit more complex than trads who favor the old Mass and modernists who prefer the New one. What his former Holiness, Benedict XVI, has charitably termed ‘a hermeneutic of reform or rupture’, I would instead call a ‘culture of disobedience’ in many post-Vatican II clergy. Little things such as the use of Latin in the liturgy, Gregorian chant, polyphony, the tradition of architecture of the last nineteen centuries or even incense were never forbidden in the documents of the Second Vatican Council or later official pronouncements. But just try to ask that clergy to re-introduce any of those in their services. Even though His former Holiness gave permission to make use of the Old Mass, just try to get any of the new clergy to implement any generosity towards those who ask for that Mass.

    Of course, in circumstances such as those, it is wise to apply Napoleon’s maxim: “Never ascribe to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence.” It has been my observation that the priests and bishops (particularly on the West Coast, where I live) who appear to so hate or at least to disregard the various fruits of Holy Tradition, appear to have no knowledge that Vatican II did not outlaw the Mass, or the practices mentioned above. And no willingness to attempt to learn, either.

    Reply
    1. Diane
      July 7, 2014

      Um…you’re so vain, you probably think my comment is about you.

      Seriously…what is it with these delusional people who think I’m obsessed with them? Lol.

      I can’t even remember the name of the person who called the Novus Ordo diabolical. Good grief, Bernard. I prefer not to engage you. Why on earth would I keep supposedly baiting you?

      Reply
      1. Dale
        July 7, 2014

        Diane, best to leave Bernard to his own juices…on other blogs, he now simply refers to be as “The Troll”…nuf’ said…

        Reply
        1. Dale
          July 7, 2014

          Sorry, refers to ME as “The Troll.” I do wonder if Fr Chadwick knows that he is now using his name; he tried to suck someone else into his rudeness on Fr Chadwick’s blog who took offense and his response was a rude, nasty rejoinder…seems to be his normal modus operandi…

          Reply
          1. Diane Marie Kamer
            July 8, 2014

            Hah, Dale. 😀 Yes, I glanced at that blog and noticed the ad hominems.

            Fr. Chadwick apparently thinks I’m a regular visitor over there, but actually I’m not. I didn’t even realize it was an Anglican blog until recently.

          2. Bernard Brandt
            July 10, 2014

            Okay, Dale, put up or shut up. Please cite the other weblogs where I call you ‘The Troll”. I certainly don’t recall doing so, and anyone can google “Bernard Brandt” Dale and Troll, and falsify your statement themselves.

            Although, if you continue your malicious lies in this and other regards, please don’t be surprised if others (myself included) start calling you the “T” word.

          3. Diane Marie Kamer
            July 10, 2014

            Touche’. 😉

    2. modestinus
      July 7, 2014

      I agree with you that the situation is complex. I don’t see the NO vs. TLM quarrel in clear black and white terms. Also, there are plenty of folks who attend the NO who are indifferent toward, or distantly appreciative of, the TLM; they just don’t care for it personally. Fine. What I am concerned with is those who are pro-NO still viewing the TLM as a marginal concession made by Benedict XVI to appease some right-wing nutballs who ought to just shut-up and appreciate that they’ve been given anything at all. If these folks should ever frame their adherence to the TLM in substantive terms, that is, on the grounds that there are defects in the NO, they become anathema. However, pro-NO folks are routinely given a free pass to make all sorts of uncharitable and misleading statements about the TLM.

      Reply
      1. bernardbrandt
        July 7, 2014

        Modestinus,

        I think that we are in complete agreement here. There are double standards galore here, particularly among the dwellers of and in Novusordoville or Kumbayaland. Thank you for pointing them out.

        Reply
    1. Diane
      July 7, 2014

      That is the very same video I posted recently for Owen White. He’s the other character who apparently suffers under the delusion that I am obsessed with him. His delusion is even more unhinged than yours. Such a pity. What a waste of a fine mind.

      Meanwhile, everyone who knows me is aware that I am actually obsessed with my dog.

      And right now I am stuck in stop-and-go traffic in southern Virginia, so…later, gator.

      Reply
      1. Bernard Brandt
        July 10, 2014

        Whatever. Actually, Diane, I have little concern for or regard of you. My only interest in commenting is to call out your B.S. whenever you utter it, particularly when you do so about me.

        If you want me to stop, then stop bearing false witness. Otherwise, I’ll continue to punch back twice as hard, which is what I do to liars, bullies, and trolls. Get used to it.

        Reply
      2. Dale
        July 10, 2014

        Diane, please do not waste your time on this fellow. He has insinuated that I am a liar, and I posted where he called me The Troll, but shall refuse to play into his games after this. Poor fellow in the end.

        Reply
  3. M.Z.
    July 7, 2014

    I’m afraid you and I have different memories over the prophesies announced when Summorum Pontificum came about. I was very sympathetic to the Vetus Ordo prior to SP. I even attended a few.masses. Now that I think about it, every Vetus Ordo mass I attended was prior to SP. Anyhow, as follows are my memories:
    1) There was incredible frustration among traditionalists that people who went to the Novus Ordo didn’t immediately see the intrinsic superiority of the Vetus Ordo.
    2) Where the Vetus Ordo and Novus Ordo were to be offered at the same altar, there were controversies over whether the reserved Sacrament from one should be used in the other.
    3) Some traditionalists were convinced that people who had left the Catholic Church would return with the greater offering of the Vetus Ordo. It was only logical since Vatican II had been completely responsible for the loss of vocations and disaffection from the Church.
    4) The grievances in the comboxes were overwhelming. The pastors weren’t moving fast enough to devote resources they didn’t have to a population that didn’t exist. Where pastors attempted imperfectly, they were derided for their incompetence.
    5) It was thought that Pope Benedict was offering a repudiation of Vatican II and the Novus Ordo. He didn’t offer Summorum Pontificum because “no small numbers of faithful adhered and continue to adhere with great love and affection to the earlier liturgical forms.” He offered it because it was the key to the renewal of the Church.

    Reply
    1. Diane
      July 7, 2014

      I think you are on to something here. We have a very traditional pastor at our little rural NC mission. In fact, he once helped spearhead the TLM in Newark, NJ. But here in NC he has a parish and mission half an hour apart — one inner city, one rural, and both with large Spanish-speaking communities. He has enough to do just to take care of his parishioners’ pastoral needs. He has done yeoman’s work restoring tradition to our parish — he is even eliminating EMEs — but a Latin Mass isn’t even a gleam in his eye. I know he would like one, because I’ve asked him. But he is so overwhelmed by the pastoral needs of a rapidly growing missionary diocese that he barely has time to floss his teeth, let alone plan a TLM. I wish some of the rad-trads would try to understand these practical realities.

      Reply
  4. georgeinbandon,oregon
    July 8, 2014

    don’t know if this connects directly with the Pope Emeritus’ move to help protect the “old” liturgy but here in Oregon our new Archbishop Semple has been a strong advocate for respectful and beautiful liturgies and apparently this has started to filter down to the parish level in such isolated places as our parish here on the s.w. Oregon coast—our newly installed parochial vicar has of his first mass “retired” the extraordinary ministers of communion and sings/chants much of the (“novus ordo”) mass. this likely won’t lead to TLM or even ad orientum orientation of the priest seen or heard here anytime soon but it at least (IMHO) may help promote a spirit of the Mass as something more than a simple coming together of the “gathered community” for fellowship in the risen Lord (a good thing for sure) but also promoting the sacramental and sacrificial depths of the sacred liturgy as well. just sayin’ and hoping, too.

    Reply
    1. Diane Marie Kamer
      July 8, 2014

      That is wonderful, George!! Yep, the bishop makes all the difference. Slowly but surely, we are returning to tradition. It varies from diocese to diocese, but eventually (I hope and pray) it will spread to all dioceses.

      We were in Louisville, Kentucky, over the holiday weekend for a family reunion. Louisville has been a very liberal archdiocese for years now, but the tide is beginning to turn. There is a weekly Latin Mass at a downtown (actually inner-city) parish and very reverent Novus Ordo Masses at several other older parishes. However, my father-in-law’s parish, Holy Trinity, is still stuck in ’70s-vintage Felt Banner Purgatory. I got a taste of what all my northern friends are talking about…I felt as if I were in an auditorium with a Crucifix. Well, not quite that bad, but it really didn’t feel Catholic Churchy. It made me doubly grateful for the Diocese of Charlotte!

      Oh, and the music. Mamma mia. I had never before been exposed to “Sing a New Church Into Being.” What the hayell does that even mean? And why on earth did the creators of that dreck have to ruin one of the all-time-great Protestant hymns (“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”) by setting their atrocious lyrics to the same sublime tune? :p

      Nonetheless, even given all that…the new assistant pastor, a late vocation, celebrated Mass reverently and gave a solidly orthodox homily. So, there’s hope, even in suburban Louisville.

      Reply
      1. Diane Marie Kamer
        July 9, 2014

        Hah. A propos of all this, a colleague just sent me this article:
        http://liturgyguy.com/2013/09/30/new-priests-and-the-old-mass/

        Reply
    2. modestinus
      July 10, 2014

      Yes, all of us here in Michigan mourn the loss of Archbishop Sample to the rainy Pacific Northwest. We want him back.

      Reply
      1. georgeinbandon,oregon
        July 10, 2014

        your loss is our gain apparently and thanks for letting him come to our help. that said and FWIW,, the PNW (as we call it) is only rainy during the winter and generally from mid to late june thru mid sept. we are very very DRY averaging less than half an inch/month during july and august—any webs we (or archbishop Semple) may grow between our toes in the winter are long gone by now, LOL.

        Reply
  5. georgeinbandon,oregon
    July 9, 2014

    Diane, it’s still all over the place liturgically out here in so far as outward appearances might indicate. however,, when push comes to shove, the important thing is if ANY liturgy “nosebleed high” or “snakebelly low” (as some of our anglican friends refer to these things) that anybody attends, hears,, “actively participates in”, or otherwise, experiences whether novus ordo or usus antiquator is if it leads to the increased sanctification/conversion of life of those that were there (which BTW, was one of the threads of our new priest’s sermon, LOL). may God help us all in that.

    Reply
    1. Diane Marie Kamer
      July 9, 2014

      AMEN!!!!!!

      Reply

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