Friday, June 29, 2007

Motu Madness

As many of you have probably heard by now the Holy Father is set to release a document (called a Motu Proprio) making it easier for Priests to provide the Tridentine Mass for the faithful on July 7th.

Surely there will be alot of questions, wailing and gnashing of teeth, and celebration, depending on what one's thoughts are about this.

For those of you who might have questions about what is going on, Fr. Martin Fox of Bonfire of the Vanities has a wonderful post addressing many of the questions that Catholics might have.

One thing to remember, however, is that at this point, only a few (a very few) people have actually seen the document and guess what, they aren't talking about it. So anything that someone might say about what the document actually says is speculation or rumor. That being the case I reserve judgement and comment untill it is released on July 7th.

If you want to check out Fr. Fox's post you can check it out here. Just to give you a little taste of what he says here is a little quote:

Why is he [the Holy Father] doing this?

I see three reasons -- again, let's wait and see what he says -- but meanwhile, here are my reasons:

1. Aiding reconciliation with those "traditionalist" Catholics who are seriously disaffected with the Church over the implementation of Vatican II.

These are those folks who frequent chapels associated with groups known as the Society of St. Pius X and the Society of St. Pius V, and others. There is presently a serious division between these groups and the Church, to the point many call it schism, but that term provokes irritation and arguments about legalities; but I mention it to highlight the seriousness of this.

The pope very rightly is concerned that this rupture not become permanent;
there are those who argue it already has, and I see signs of that, as well. How often we look back and wonder, if only this or that had been done, perhaps the ruptures of the Protestant Reformation could have been avoided. Only God knows.
But the pope, as a shepherd, must be concerned that it is up to him to see if he can prevent something that may have long-term negative consequences for the Church.

2. Reconciliation with the Orthodox. The divisions between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches go back about a thousand years, and there has been much ugliness in the whole mess. But the good news is that in recent decades, both sides have come to recognize there is not as much dividing us as we once thought (although I don't want to overstate that--many in Orthodoxy are still very pessimistic about this), and there are folks on both sides talking seriously about eventual reunion.

One of the key issues is the liturgy. As important as it is for Catholics, the liturgy is vastly moreso for the Orthodox, who see it as the main bearer of tradition -- a point Catholics would probably agree with, except we fail to emphasize the point.So the Orthodox were very troubled by the way we Catholics seemed to treat our liturgy in the wake of the Council. So radical, so contemptuous, so freewheeling in changing it,
and worse, allowing so much abuse of the new form. (Again, many Catholics feel the same!)

That leads to the third item here:

3. The right understanding of the Catholic liturgy per se.

The pope has said many times that we've interpreted the liturgy, and the Council itself, the wrong way -- from a stance of "discontinuity" or "rupture," versus one of continuity. I.e., why did the liturgy change so much? Ought it to have? Did the Council really call for that? Is this a good thing?

The pope (among many others) believes not; so he is aiming for a reconciliation, as it were, between the current rite and the old rite themselves.

This isn't about abolishing the Council or the reforms that arose from it, but about rethinking them with a view to the full tradition -- and if that sounds like a strange thing to do, then the pope's point is completely proved. I.e., as Catholics, you would think that we would already have wanted to interpret the Council, and its changes, in the context of our full tradition; and if we didn't to any degree, we simply have to get back on track.

1 comment:

Montana Catholic said...

I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by Archbishop Raymod Hunthuesen who is among the few remaining alive who actually attended the Second Vatican Council. He stressed the importance of realizing that the goals of Vatican II have not yet been reached and that we should continue to strive for the ecumenism and participation in Mass (rather than observation) that this Council prescribed. Also, there is a very interesting article from Sister Joan Chittister in the National Catholic Reporter on her thoughts of what the return of the Latin Mass might mean to Catholics. I encourage you to read it: Thank you for posting this alternative view.