Tuesday, July 10, 2007

More reader comments on the motu proprio

Here's a post from another reader interested in contributing to the "Is the motu proprio important?" conversation. In the future, let's have conversations like this taking place in the comments box. As of yet, I haven't put any restrictions on comments. And, until I learn the hard way, that's the way it will be. By the way, my inclusion of comments/posts from readers does not in any way indicate that I agree with them in their entirety.

Here are the reader's comments:

Strictly speaking, it is true that you "get out of it what you put into it" when it comes to either Mass. However, the crucial point is that the Tridentine explicitly makes it easier to get Catholicism out of it. Bold words indeed. Let me explain.

It isn't just the sacred atmosphere that is important at a Mass, but what you are actually praying. The very prayers of the Tridentine Mass explicitly reinforce over and over that the Mass is a sacrifice offered for our redemption. The priest in persona Christi is re-presenting the offering of the spotless Victim to the Father. Sure, Eucharistic Prayer I of the Novus Ordo Mass uses sacrificial language, but it is only one of the options and I can't remember the last time I actually heard it at a Novus Ordo Mass. The other options have a diminished use of sacrificial language that is more ambiguous This is not accidental. The Novus Ordo was specifically created to reduce obstacles to Ecumenism. Protestant theologians were brought in to consult on it. (you can read that in a positive light or a negative light depending on your point of view). The end result is that if you bring your Catholicism with you (assuming you are properly catechised to begin with), you can interpret it in a Catholic way. If you are a protestant, you can interpret it in a protestant manner. However, the Mass itself no longer offers the same explicit catechism.

An excellent illustration is provided by the complaint of the Simon Wiesenthal Center about the Motu Proprio.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center laid out the 1962 Good Friday prayers along side the Novus Ordo prayers and urged Benedict to publicly point out that such 1962 phrases "are now entirely contrary to the teaching of the church." (Interestingly, the Center has changed its original announcement to a condemnation of the SSPX and is no longer making this statement. Unfortunately, I did not save a copy of the original and Google doesn't have a cache).

Here are the prayers laid out by them which appear to be accurate:
***From the 1962 Good Friday Mass Liturgy:For the conversion of the Jews. Let us pray also for the Jews that the Lord our God may take the veil from their hearts and that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ.Let us pray: Almighty and everlasting God, You do not refuse Your mercy even to the Jews; hear the prayers which we offer for the blindness of that people so that they may acknowledge the light of Your truth, which is Christ, and be delivered from their darkness…
From the Post-Vatican II Good Friday Mass currently in use:Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his Name and in faithfulness to His covenant.Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your Church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
In the 1962 version the Church clearly teaches the need for Christ. In the Novus Ordo, no such need is present. If you bring Catholicism to the new prayer (eisegisis), you can interpret it as praying for conversion, though the phrase "fullness of redemption" implies an existing adequate redemption. If you are a Jew, you can interpret this prayer as a call to be a better Jew and to be faithful to the old covenant. No need to convert. No need to acknowledge Jesus as God. The Novus Ordo Mass has this type of weakness throughout. You need to bring the Catholic intepretation to the Mass.

As an aside, however outrageous the original demand of the Center is, quite frankly the Center has real cause to ask this. Cardinal Kasper, President of the Commission for Relations with the Jews, has written that the Old Covenant is salvific for Jews and that the dialogue with the Jews is not intended to convert them.


"Therefore, the Church believes that Judaism, that is, the faithful response of the Jewish people to God’s irrevocable covenant, is salvific for them, because God is faithful to his promises."

"In a similar way, the term mission, in its proper sense, refers to conversion from false gods and idols to the true and one God, who revealed himself in salvation history with His elected people. Thus mission, in this strict sense, cannot be used with regard to Jews, who believe in the true and one God. Therefore – and this is characteristic – there exists dialogue but there does not exist any Catholic missionary organisation for Jews."
Hopefully, the Gentle Catholic Reader will recognize for themselves the problematic aspects of these statements. McBrien's article on converts from Franz's previous post is right on track with Cardinal Kasper and the Pontifical Council.

I affirm that the Novus Ordo Mass can be said reverently and solemnly. I know this for a fact--I saw it said reverently once on TV. But it does not provide, in and of itself, the same degree of Catholic instruction. You must bring your own. Worse, still, the rubrics of the Novus Ordo Mass do not provide the same protections against abuse that the rubrics of the Tridentine Mass do. The same rubrics, depending on the priest, can provide a wide variety of experiences for the Novus Ordo. The Tridentine Mass, too, can be abused. But it is significantly more difficult to make this evident to the faithful if the priest follows the rubrics.

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