Since I wrote “1962” a week ago, Fr. John Hunwicke has offered a few posts — peppered with his trademark wryness — on the 1962 liturgical books and slavish adherence to them: “Leading By Example,” “Prefaces,” and “Today…” As usual I find it difficult to disagree with Fr. Hunwicke’s critiques of the 1962 missal and office. In fact, as I made clear in my earlier post, I am sympathetic to individual priests and fraternities gradually shifting back toward certain pre-1962 practices and texts, especially the pre-1955 order for Holy Week.
With that noted, I am still concerned that too much acrimony over the 1962 books will yield unsatisfactory results. The worst thing that could happen right now to the restoration of the Roman Church’s liturgical heritage is for “experts” in Rome to step in and “clean up” and “correct” the currently authorized books even if those “corrections” carry plausible justifications. Such top-down adjustments would, more likely than not, cause further rifts among traditional Catholics who, out of either ignorance or honest objection, don’t see the utility in touching the 1962 texts at this time. Even reform-minded traditionalists who would like to see some elements of the 1962 books go to the wayside are not out of place to ask for a moratorium on liturgical changes until after the vetus ordo has had more time to flower throughout the Catholic Church.
None of this is to say, though, that certain fraternities of traditional priests couldn’t undertake to establish their own uses of the vetus ordo which incorporates pre-1962 elements. As an commenter on this blog noted, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest retains certain pre-1962 elements in their liturgical life. Other groups, like the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius and the Fraternity of St. Peter, are also not blind to the fact that the ejection of the third Confiteor was a rather inane move under Pope John XXIII, especially since it is retained in the 1962 order for a pontifical high Mass. Moreover, some of these groups also prudently retain the celebration of certain feasts which were — again rather inanely — removed from the 1962 calendar, including the Feast of St. Peter’s Chair on January 18 and the “other” Feast of St. Michael on May 8.
Regardless of what happens (or doesn’t), I am not inclined to get too bent out of shape about it. It’s incredibly tedious to watch two (more like ten) people duke it out over liturgical minutiae on online forums. People who fret over the idea that there are priests and religious in good standing with the Holy See who use a 1945 Breviarium Romanum and a 1954 Missale Romanum need a new hobby (or a good thrashing). Similarly, those who aren’t afraid to use the H-word (or worse) with respect to those who faithfully adhere to the books of ’62 need a good thrashing (then a new hobby). Fr. Hunwicke has provided some sensible ways clerics of the Catholic Church may want to proceed on things liturgical going forward. They’re all well worth pondering.