Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The prospects of the Tridentine Mass in the light of the impending new indult

A conversation about this and other related issues.

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the Holy MassFolks, I am involved in a very charitable and also interesting conversation (which you may access here) with Tridentine Mass Traditionalists regarding the future prospects of this ritual in light of the rumored directive from the Holy See liberalizing its use. This dialogue evolved from my previous posting on the issue which I also crossposted to my friend's message board. My friend's comments are in blockquoted, blue italics. My responses are in normal text.
Even though we are using the term, "universal indult," I don't think the Pope is going to use "indult" terminology. He desires to accomplish three things, IMO:
We'll have to wait and see what develops. I speak of "indult" because that's the precedent. Anything higher would require greater consultation. Then again, I don't know how much consultation has taken place, so I don't know.
1) Convince the Orthodox of the west's respect for its own liturgical traditions. See Archbishop Burke, Bishop Rifan comment: Will classical liturgy aid reunion with Eastern Orthodox?

This is about far more than to simply "minister to the pastoral needs of certain people at a given time and place."
I respectfully disagree with Bishop Rifan. The Orthodox have various objections to the Tridentine Liturgy, particularly its weak epiklesis. The few groups of Western "Orthodox" who had joined a canonical Orthodox jurisdiction with permission to celebrate the Tridentine Liturgy have been forced to import the epiklesis from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom into the Tridentine Mass lock, stock, and barrel, in order to correct this glaring "defect." Ironically, this prayer has been "fixed" in the Novus Ordo liturgy, in part in response to Orthodox observations.

Besides, Orthodox traditionalists--and they do exist--will say that everything produced or developed in the West since Rome left the One True Church is tainted with Aristotelianism, a wrong conception of authority, and permeated by "filioquism," a fundamental confusion in the nature of the Trinity and unilaterally interposed in the Creed that has thrown Latin theology into a headspin.

The Orthodox traditionalists may not hold many of the power levers in their Church, but everyone in their communion at least tacitly recognize that they provide their communion with a "reality" check. If and when the Orthodox hold their pan-Orthodox Council--the only organ according to their canon law that could authorize an ecumenical dialogue with Rome--the Orthodox "trads" will hold a heavy sway over that assembly, enough that they might force their Church to demand concessions from us that we will be unwilling to give.

Therefore, no, I disagree with Bishop Rifan. I don't think he understands the Orthodox. As for Archbishop Burke, whom I have quoted extensively in Vivificat! and for whom I have but the deepest respect, I think he overstates his case in this instance. Orthodox objections to the Latin Liturgy started shortly after the sack of Constantinople by our soldiers in the IV Crusade. They would ask, and they had asked, how a people calling themselves "Christian" could engage into so much depredation against fellow Christians.

Orthodox Hierarchical Liturgy of St. John ChrysostomFor many Orthodox, the problem with the West is so radical that some jurisdictions receive Latin Christians by baptism! For them, Latin sacraments have been graceless for almost 1,000 years and as far as the See of Rome is concerned, it has been vacant that long since the Roman Bishop stopped being Orthodox.

Much of this mentality still exists in the Orthodox Church and it hasn't been brought into the open there for discussion at any significant internal forii. What we should do is to foster this internal dialogue in the Orthodox Church and worry about the Liturgy later. I don't believe that solving the "liturgical problem" in our Church will have any serious impact on the Orthodox Church at this time.
It was JPII's greatest wish to see a reunion between east and west. BXVI wants to help fulfill his predecessor's desire. If Rome doesn't show extreme respect and liberality to its own traditional liturgy, it has no hope of ecumenical progress with the Orthodox. BXVI knows this.
I can't speak for the Pope, but for what I know from direct experience is that most Orthodox chuckle privately at our naiveté when we think that restoring the Old Rite would make us more likeable to them.
2) The SSPX represents the only "schism" of JPII's pontificate. (Of course, Rome has since rejected the use of the term "schism" in regard to the SSPX, stating the SSPX is in an irregular juridical status, not schism.) JPII greatly desired to fix this division. BXVI has made it a priority to complete this process.
If Rome has deemphasized to term the SSPX's situation a "schism," is because the SSPX seems to be wanting to talk about reconciliation. But the fact of the matter is that the excommunications against Abp. Lefebvre "and all his followers" have not been rescinded. The schism continues, even though they don't term it so, in order to keep negotiations on track.
The SSPX rightly demands that Rome acknowledge that the Tridentine Rite was never abrogated. To continue to use a terminology of "a permission, privilege, concession, and dispensation, given to a limited group of people and not forever" will prevent the full communion of the SSPX as well as the full restoration of traditional Catholicism that BXVI appears to embrace.
Again, I am going to wait and see what Rome comes up with, noting also that it is not the Church that has to return to the SSPX, but the SSPX to the Church, and that this must involve remorse, conversion, and repentance for the scandal of schism they brought about.
3) The Latin Mass will be the Extraordinary form of the Latin Rite, and for the time being, the Novus Ordo will represent the Ordinary form.

Either the ongoing "reform of the reform," or the global reintroduction of the Latin Mass, or both, will eventually blot out the imprudent and banal Novus Ordo liturgy as it is known today.
I certainly support the "reform of the reform" but to refer to the Novus Ordo as "imprudent and banal" without qualification misses the fact that those pushing for the full-fledged restoration of the Tridentine Mass are but a tiny minority in a 1.5 billion people Church, and that practically no one in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, where the Church is growing the fastest, is asking en masse for its reinstitution, in part because their translations--and I readily concede this--have been better than our English translations. Of this I also have direct experience.

So, since the "traditionalists" are but a tiny minority, whatever comes from Rome will be oriented to minister to the special needs of this group, to those coming back from schism as well as those that, by God's grace, chose to persevere within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
At that point, all this "indult" terminology will be seen for what it is: nonsense.

The Latin Mass was never abrogated, therefore no priest needs to beg a bishop for a "permission" to offer it.

THAT will be the reality of BXVI's coming document, IF the modernists and liberals do not succeed in derailing his goal.

And that alone is what will start the healing of a sick Church.
I am pretty sure, though, for what little I know of canon law, liturgics, and ecclessiology, that no decision from Rome will undermine the power of local ordinaries, that is, Bishops, to govern their local dioceses, including liturgical matters, and to impose judgments and decisions if they see it fit. Priests may have greater freedom to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, but Bishops will still be responsible for ensuring that it is celebrated correctly, in an orderly fashion, in its correct setting, and that it is not improvised, or misused, or abused; and that the faithful participating in this Mass understand the level of active participation that is expected from them according to the directions of the Second Vatican Council. This will not go away.

One interesting thing that I learned from the Orthodox during my sojourn with them is that their priests readily recognize that without the Bishop, they are NOTHING. This is part and parcel of Orthodox ecclessiology. While you say that a priest shouldn't have to "beg" from his bishop for permission to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, an Orthodox priest would ask "and why not," since a priest is nothing without his bishop. "Begging" is a religious expression of humility they understand better than many of us. They would say that it is appropriate for a priest to beg from his bishop out of awe and filial love.

That's another example that indicates to me why Latin Mass traditionalists overstate the Orthodox angle. Seeing priests defying their bishops turn the Orthodox into blocks of ice, and many think that reunion with the Latins would create more problems for them than what it would solve for us, precisely because tof these attitudes. We can defintely learn from the Orthodox a couple of lessons too.

Finally, I want to say that I am not the enemy here. I've been an extreme, schismatic "trad," with all its attending snotty, bratty, and judgmental attitudes against the Church of Rome who once went all the way to Byzantium to stake my claim--and these sentiments, born of the sin of pride, poisoned my soul.

I am a "traditionalist" in the full Catholic sense, because I endeavor to draw from the fullness of Revelation as handed down to us from the time of the Apostles, which is what "Tradition" really is, and I do not identify it with a specific set of rubrics and liturgical uses forged at different times and places. These are the vessels and expressions of Tradition and although, these are extremely valuable precisely for those reasons, they should not be confused with Tradition herself. This distinction should be crucial for all of us.

I've come to terms with one fact about my life and experiences and it is that one aspect of my vocation is to serve as a warning to others because of my numerous sins of words, thoughts, deeds, and omissions, on this issue and on many others. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea magna culpa is my only claim to "authority" that the reader may dismiss as he or she may see fit, for whatever is worth.

Gloria tibi, Christe

-Theo

Edited on 11/14/2006 at 0835 EST.