Monday, July 9, 2007

Is the Motu Proprio a big deal?

A reader's question:

Hey, Franz:

Great blog. I read it almost daily, but I really don't get what the big deal is over His Holiness' new lettter, as I was under the impression that it was up to the local Bishop to decide whether or not the Old Latin Mass was offered or not in their Diocese. As far as I know, it has been available/offered going back as far as Bishop Treacy in our Diocese, and as for me personally, Mass is Mass is Mass, regardless of language or rubric or whatever.

So help me out, is this just a case of people making a mountain out of a mole hill or what? Actually, I was under the impression that Vatican II made "today's" Mass the norm.... am I wrong? I've never been one real keen on rules for rules sake, but you know me, obedient to the end, even if I disagree.....


Why is the Motu Proprio a big deal? I'm trying to think of a way to write this in a paragraph. I certainly don't think it's people making a mountain out of a molehill. Instead, I think there is a certain sacredness that should exist in worship and in liturgy. Much of that sacredness seems to be lacking in the celebration of the New Mass, while certain elements present in the Old Mass are very conducive to creating a sacred atmosphere -- ie, Latin, chant, symbolism, silence, etc. I myself am more of a supporter of these elements than I am of the Old Mass. Latin, chant, symbolism, silence, can and should be part of the New Mass, too. It's just that they don't seem to be present very often. Their absence, I think, is directly responsible for the general decline in people's belief in the Real Presence, in our absolute need for God's grace, and even in belief in God. You are right, though, about a licitly celebrated New Mass being the norm; according to the Holy Father's letter, the Old Mass is to be considered an "extraordinary" form of the Roman Rite.

Come to think of it, Franz, can't it be said for either Mass, that you "get out of it what you put into it"? It seems to me that those who insist on all the elements you cited below for the sake of having them, contradict what Jesus' intent truly was, and could be interpreted as turning them into modern day Pharisees, which, as I understood New Testament at Mundelein, Jesus sought to "prevent" people from becoming and doing in their own lives.

Don't get me wrong, I understand where you are coming from, and I can agree that there are Masses where the sacredness of it (Mass) has been non-exisistent. But, I think, too, that you can have a very reverent, sacred, New Mass that incoporates some (but not all) of these points and still retain the solemnity and sacredness that is deserving of Mass.

My response:
I agree that there are many liturgical Pharisees, but being a stickler for the rules doesn't necessarily make one a Pharisee. Rather, the rules exist to prevent abuses from occuring. If the rules are safeguarded, then the liklihood of reverence increases dramatically. I also agree completely with your "you get what you put into it." Remember, though, that, in addition to the people attending the Mass, there are also the celebrant and the other ministers. True, if you attend a validly celebrated New Mass, regardless of how it's celebrated, you will receive Jesus Christ. At the same time, no matter how much you put into it, you by yourself can't make the Mass a sacred moment, which makes it harder for people to enter into the mystery being celebrated, and subsequently to get less out of having attended. Mass is a communal event that depends on everybody -- especially on the priest, who act in the person of Christ. As such, you yourself can only put in so much. The rest depends on the priest and how he celebrates. And yes, as I said originally, a New Mass can be celebrated reverently, worthily, and with a great deal of sacredness. I simply haven't seen it done often!

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