Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Collaborative brilliance.

The following comments appeared on Fr. Powell's scary-good blog. This is based on a Curt Jester post and, combined, it addresses many of the points I have been hollering about since, seemingly, forever. (Jeff's comments are in bold, and Fr. Powell's in italics.)

Here are the top five surprising results to Summorum pontificum:

Progressive liturgists and others are now finally concerned that priests properly know and use the rubrics. At least for the extraordinary form of Mass in the Latin Rite. This is probably the most immediately predictable result of the M.P. Knowing that few priests ordained after the Council will know the intricate rubrics of the Extraordinary Form (EF), anti-M.P. bishops and liturgical commissions will highlight this loose requirement and elevate it to a Deal Breaker. How many post-VC2 priests know the rubrics of the Ordinary Form and how many actually follow them? Why the double standard?

A new concern for the number of people attending Mass. Declining numbers at experimental liturgy did not invoke a similar concern. This is more about projecting a fear of the Extraordinary than anything. I think the PLRC is truly fearful that normal Catholic folks, especially young people, will flock to the EF, leaving the distinct impression that the OF is passe. It isn't, nor should be ever be, but the passive-aggressive opposition to the EF that we're seeing is simply going to force the Papal Hand to correct these intentionally nit-picking interpretative errors. Wasn't it the stinginess of the bishops in the first place that forced the Holy Father to give us the current M.P.?

That priests more than adequately know Latin. At least if they want to be allowed to celebrate the 1962 missal. And to top this, we're going to see some bishops and religious superiors simply refuse to allow priests, seminarians, and religious students to learn Latin, claiming that there are more important concerns to occupy their time or more vital classes for them to take (i.e., "Social Analysis of Race, Class, and Gender"?).

The word "extraordinary" is finally coming to a proper understanding of what it means. Now if only they can learn to take the same view towards Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Here's the thing: language means what we want it to mean, right? Words don't actually refer to anything outside themselves (i.e., "texts") but rather only refer to other words and then only as slippery metaphors. So, "extraordinary" means whatever we want it to mean given our ideological preferences. Easy cheesy.

Some bishops are now much more concerned about how liturgy is celebrated in their diocese and even want to test their priests capability in this regard. Maybe even one day the same concern will be applied to the ordinary form of the Mass. Another passive-aggressive double standard disguised as an authoritative interpretation of the M.P. Priests just need to read the M.P. and do what the Holy Father has given them permission to do. When the bishop tries to discipline them, they can take it to the Curia for adjudication. Yes, it will likely doom them in their diocese, but what's right is right.

Now, some are going to hold up as absolute the claim that the bishop is the chief liturgist of his diocese. This is, of course, absolutely correct. However, not even a bishop can change or violate universal law, even liturgical law, in his diocese. For example, Bishop Smith cannot order his priests to consecrate chocolate chip cookies instead of unleavened bread. There are limits to what the bishop can and cannot do. The M.P., a legislative text authored and signed by the "supreme legislator of the Church," our Holy Father, has given individual priests his permission to use the E.F. of the Roman Rite. The M.P. says nothing about testing for Latin competence or rubrical knowledge. The M.P. says nothing about the exact number of people required before the EF can be used with a congregation. The M.P. says nothing about whether or not the E.F. can or cannot "replace" a regularly scheduled celebration of the O.F. (except during Holy Week, etc.) The M.P. says nothing about waiting for the bishop to add on or subtract from the document.

Does this mean that the bishops have nothing to say here? Of course not! Their job, as the Holy Father makes clear, is to make sure everything goes smoothly in implementing the M.P. Let's keep in prayer those bishops who have greeted the M.P. in obedience and humility and even for those who are struggling in conscience. And especially lift up those who have been less than thrilled with this papal initiative!For those out there who want to see a stronger M.P. in the future, one that perhaps radically reforms the Ordinary Form, pray that the bishops who are opposing the current M.P. continue to do so. . .I have a feeling something Bigger, Meaner, and a whole lot more Extraordinary is waiting in the wings somewhere, just waiting for another decade or two of the [same] lack of episcopal generosity that greeted John Paul II's M.P. in 1985!

Thanks to both of these guys!