Saturday, July 14, 2007

Summorum Pontificum

Anything I could say about this has probably been said already in the seemingly countless postings and comments on the topic that I have seen since I started blogging in late 2005.

That aside, I do think SumPon represents a certain concession to both the liberal and conservative extremes: that the Missal of Paul VI was not, in fact, a continuation of and a legitimate development of the pre-V2 Missal, but a substantial departure therefrom.

*sigh*. I really like B16. I love how he has been a different pope, and a more popular one at that, than many at first imagined.

But, this makes me scratch my head a bit, and at the end of the day, I am actually not sure I like it.

It seems to me a better plan might have been to change the current Missal to allow the modern Mass to more closely resemble the pre-V2 one. I mean, really, the modern Mass can already look and act a lot like the old one. I think some lose sight of this. Moreover, the pre-V2 Missal can be celebrated just as irreverently as the modern one can be.

Why not a letter openly encouraging clergy to employ ad orientem posture? That is something that might have affected a much more substantial number of Catholics.

Why not really enforce Canon 249, which mandates that seminarians understand Latin well? I’m better with Latin than my pastor, and I’ve never had a single class in it! (Heck, could we at least teach seminarians how to pronounce Latin?!??)

But, many SumPon is how Benedict plans actually to lay seeds for the accomplishment of these goals. Maybe centuries from now the multiple rarely-used options from the Missal of Paul VI will be dropped and the two Missals merged into one. Maybe the desire of priests to know “both forms”, not to “be just a one-former” will encourage more knowledge (and, thus, use) of Latin. Maybe the duplicity of rites will lead people to look into just how awkward the versus populum posture is from the perspective of Christian liturgical tradition.

Here’s hoping.


At Sunday, July 15, 2007 6:47:00 PM, Blogger HilbertAstronaut said...

I understand SumPon best in the context of "Christian unity," which for B16 seems to be defined as "minimizing lossage to SSPX [on one side] or Episcopalians [on the other]."


It was said: "I mean, really, the modern Mass can already look and act a lot like the old one. I think some lose sight of this."

s/some/just about everyone except for classically trained liturgical musicians and a few priests influenced by them/

It seems like you're trying to understand this situation rationally. Most people aren't that bright, my friend ;-) For some, "Novus Ordo" induces a gut-level emotional association with "hamburger Mass;" for others, "Tridentine" or "Latin" brings up the whole body of emotional associations: bitter hateful old nuns beating up little kids, creepy old priests, crazy old ladies mumbling their rosaries in the front row, the Spanish Inquisition, the Cold War, Franco and his friend the founder of Opus Dei, etc. None of this, on either side, has ANYTHING to do with liturgy. It's all about emotional associations. In a way, I think SumPon implicitly acknowledges this, by giving parishes the freedom to choose.

At Sunday, July 15, 2007 11:28:00 PM, Anonymous alice said...

That aside, I do think SumPon represents a certain concession to both the liberal and conservative extremes: that the Missal of Paul VI was not, in fact, a continuation of and a legitimate development of the pre-V2 Missal, but a substantial departure therefrom.

Please explain this in the light of the following sentences from the Pope's "cover letter":
There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.

Many people seem to be looking to this motu proprio as a document to propel the "reform of the reform". Perhaps, in a hidden way it is, but a full 19 years after the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei was released, many Catholics are still wondering what a "wide application" of the indult is. I have known several people who "went SSPX" because they were tired of driving long distances for approved Masses and were tired of their requests falling on deaf ears. A motu proprio concerning which way the priest faces and what language he uses will not solve this problem.

Most (if not all) of the people taking the drastic step of "going SSPX", are well aware of how reverently the ordinary form of the Mass can be celebrated. These people are attached to the extraordinary form, or at least, certain parts of it. Some are attached to the prayers of the Offertory, only 3 of which were retained in the ordinary form of the Mass. For some, the silent Canon links the re-presentation of Calvary to those 3 hours 2000 years ago when the Savior really and truly died. I have even heard people who wanted the old prayers at the reception of Communion. (May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto life everlasting.) There are many other differences, small and large, that keep the ordinary Mass in Latin ad orientem from being a solution to the SSPX problem.

At Monday, July 16, 2007 8:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not a letter openly encouraging clergy to employ ad orientem posture?

Because no one would pay attention to it.

Do understand, I'm quite the opposite of a trad. I think the ordinary form is great and I think it ought to be the standard mode of worship for the Latin Rite. So if I were pope, I'd just do away with the old Mass and say "Gosh, priests, it'd be swell if you could say Mass mostly in Latin facing East." The problem is that no one would listen and it would only encourage those taking extreme interpretations of Vatican 2.

Although my opinion is still changing often, it seems to me that the old Mass just MAY exert some "peer pressure" on popular celebrations of the new and make a change. I mean look at those opposing it.. Sr. Chittester said "This eliminates any work of the church to reconcile with women!" I don't know what "reconciling with women" is, but whatever it is, if the document put a stop to it then that's a good result.


At Monday, July 16, 2007 10:45:00 AM, Blogger PrayingTwice said...

An ad orientem issue: Cantor, think of the church in my current position. If we all faced east, it would look ludicrous. The church runs north-south, as do many churches (St. Peter's runs west-east the wrong way). What to do in that situation?

At Monday, July 16, 2007 11:40:00 AM, Anonymous Klaus der Große said...


Enter what I like to call "liturgical east," where "east" is towards the apse.

At Monday, July 16, 2007 1:00:00 PM, Blogger Dad29 said...

If you look at the long-term (a habit in Rome, I guess) it seems that B-16 is likely to have a formal "reform of the reform" meeting 3-5 years out from here.

Then there can be informed and serious discussion about what to reform, and why.

Meantime, he'll have a few million people making observations and comments--some of them clergy!

At Tuesday, July 17, 2007 12:13:00 PM, Blogger Dad29 said...

Just found your site through another link (Amy, IIRC.)

Thanks for some great discussions!

At Tuesday, July 17, 2007 2:40:00 PM, Blogger Cantor said...


You bring up some good points that I hadn’t thought about, esp. the Offertory prayers. Another I would offer is the “softened” Lectionary readings in the new Mass, as discussed here about a year ago circa Pentecost.

I do still hope, though, that the use of two forms of the Roman Rite is a temporary fix to the problem of the need to align the celebration of the Roman Rite more closely with liturgical tradition.

At Tuesday, July 17, 2007 9:14:00 PM, Anonymous brandon field said...


I, like Alice, also don't understand how you can say that SP can be saying that the Paul VI Missal was a substantial departure. I read it exactly the opposite way, to be saying that the two rites are a unity, and the lifting of the ban on the Trentine liturgy is the acknowledgment of that. It would be like giving universal permission to use the Byzentine liturgy (or any of the other two dozen approved Roman rites) by any parish; currently we are not able to do that freely.


When you have a divine promise that you will remain until the end of time, you can afford to look to the "long term". In fact, you probably can't afford not to.


I can't believe that the only problems that people who "went SSPX" have are with the liturgy. Obviously they weren't catechized any better about the Catholic Church than those who "went Episcopal". And I say this as an ex-Protestant. Some Baptists say they are the only valid Church, because the Roman Catholics lost the way before (or during) the Holy Roman Empire. So they got the jump on the SSPX by over 1900 years! If you want to make up your own definition of "church", that's fine, but don't then don't try to call yourself a Roman Catholic.

I am a huge Benedict XVI fan, and I'm sure that he's paying close attention to what the Spirit has been telling him. I am interested to see how it all plays out, but I trust him (and God) to know what he's doing.

Remember, true Liturgy draws us out of ourselves... It's not about comfort and warm fuzzies. You can go to a Willow Creek service for that if your preferences are one way, or an SSPX service if your preferences are for the opposite. Divine Liturgy is to draw us Upwards.

At Tuesday, July 17, 2007 11:28:00 PM, Blogger Cantor said...


In response to your post, consider: why free up only the 1962 Missal, and not the 1970 one? Before SumPon, one could say that the 1970 Missal was seen as a development of the pre-V2 one. Now, the radical degree of change is acknowledged, that the 1962 Missal is a more different “thing” from the 1970 one than the modern Missal is from the 1970 one.

At Wednesday, July 18, 2007 2:11:00 PM, Anonymous alice said...

While I agree that joining an SSPX chapel is an incorrect -even potentially damning- decision, I do think that you make a mistake when you characterize the people that do as poorly catechized since most of them are far more knowledgeable about the Faith than other Catholics of their age and education. I do not know how each and every person who attends an SSPX chapel got there, but bad (even invalid) liturgy and lacking preaching are definitely high on the list of reasons cited. Other times personal study made them nostalgic for the rite of Mass that grew up through the centuries. I know that all of the adults whom I know personally petitioned for Indult Masses and their petition fell on deaf ears before they started attending the SSPX chapel.

Also, using Willow Creek as an equivalent to the SSPX is probably not the best comparison. A closer analogy would be the ex-Catholics who become Orthodox; however, since the SSPX officially believes that Pope Benedict XVI is the infallible successor to St. Peter, the vicar of Christ on earth, and head of the Catholic Church, it is a little different. I have yet to see anyone from the Vatican claim that the SSPX does not have a valid priesthood, so they have the physical presence of our Savior in the Eucharist. They disobey lawful authority only when it goes against traditional practices, so you will not find people "going SSPX" to marry after a divorce or to use birth control without "Catholic guilt".

The 1970 Missal and the 1962 Missal are rather different, but there is not a rupture between the two. The 1970 is definitely based on the 1962; however, there are some fairly obvious departures.

At Thursday, July 19, 2007 8:29:00 AM, Anonymous brandon field said...


I am not aware of the differences or similarities between the 1962 and the 1970 missals, and so I wasn't aware of the significance of only making available the 1962 missal. So I plead ignorance.


Maybe the comparison between SSPX and Willow Creek is a bit further towards hyperbole than I really wanted to go, but I think that anytime that a group caters exclusively to the "attachments" that individuals have towards the accidental component of worship, that falls short of true liturgy. Willow Creek does this for people who are "attached to" Shine, Jesus, Shine, and SSPX does this for people who are attached to the Trentine Liturgy, or any parts thereof that you mentioned in your original email.

Many Saints have had their pleas for reform fall on deaf ears. St. Padre Pio was not allowed to appear publicly for several years at the command of his Bishop, and he endured it patiently. Martin Luther (who had some valid points in his call for reform of the Church) was censured by Rome and he did not endure it patiently, and you see what has happened since. SSPX has some valid points about the Trentine Liturgy, but they have apparently chosen the path of Luther in their disagreements. (Note that I am not implying that all is lost. There is a Dominican Saint -- I can't remember who -- who backed the Anti-Pope during the Great Schism, and who later became instrumental in convincing the anti-Pope to resign and resume conversations. So obviously, this is much less worse than that, although it does make you wonder why it is always the French that start this stuff?)

As for whether or not the Lefebvrites view the modern papacy as valid, I've seen differing opinions on that. For the sake of this comment box, I will take you word for it. As for the valid priesthood, yes, they certainly do, but I thought that they are currently excommunicated (at least the Bishops). I don't know what it means for an excommunicated priest to be celebrating the Sacraments.

At Thursday, July 19, 2007 11:39:00 AM, Blogger Cantor said...


The 1970 Missal is the first edition of the post-V2 Missal.

My point was/is that this is the first time an acknowledgement has been made that the 1970 Missal was not a development of the Roman Rite consistent with other changes that occurred in the Rite in the 20th century, like the Holy Week reforms of the 1950s and Bl. John XXIII’s changes in the 1962 Missal.


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