Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Critical Mass: Indult Revisited

I want to thank all the people who wrote in (well, both of you) about yesterday's post entitled Critical Mass: When is an indult not an indult?

Mariette writes: "I can't help but think that all this concern for details is like worrying about the arrangement of chairs on the Titanic. Isn't the Catholic church tanking big time?"

"Lex orandi, lex credendi." The law of praying is the law of believing. We pray what we believe. If, as you suggest, believe in the Mass as a Sacrifice is diminished, it is all the more reason to be concerned. Some of the great Protestant reformers knew, that if they could destroy the Mass, they could destroy the Church. As Luther himself said: "Tolle Missam, tolle Ecclesiam."

Is the Church "tanking"? Yes, and it isn't the first time. On the night Our Lord was betrayed, the Apostles went running scared. Their successors have been running scared ever since. There is a little known custom that when a bishop is in procession, the crossbearer carries the cross with the image of the Crucified facing the bishop -- as a reminder.

At a time when there were more than one claimant to the papal throne, one saint followed one, the other followed the other. (My library is still in boxes, or I'd look up the details for you.) Obviously, we've had it worse. In fact, the current scandals are not the first time the Church has dealt with pedastery in the priesthood.

Anonymous said: "I fail to see how the Old Mass is adverse to 'Organic Development.'"

It is not. But as Dom Alcuin's book on the subject demonstrates, Rome has not been above micromanaging that development at one time or another. (This is a common complaint of certain learned Roman Catholics who convert to Eastern Orthodoxy; their concern goes beyond Vatican II, all the way to Trent.) A case in point is the centuries following the liturgical reforms of Trent. Some rites of the West that were more than 200 years old (the Ambrosian in Milan, Italy, and the Mozarabic in Toledo, Spain, to name two) were preserved. But many were not, including some in France that had been in constant use beyond living memory at the time. Their persistent use, in spite of Rome's directives, continued even into the nineteenth century.

I can't recommend this book enough (see link in previous post). A good many students of the traditional Roman liturgy have been picking it up lately.

As to the future of the Roman liturgy, I have a unique theory about that, which I hope to present in the weeks to come. Stay tuned, and stay in touch.


Jeff said...

I'm sticking this on the more recent post and deleting it from the earlier one.

Hi David! Great post. Very thoughtful and informed by experience and good judgment, as usual.

It will be very interesting to see what eventually DOES happen. I suspect there will be something LESS than a Universal Indult and something MORE than just a bit of henpecking by Rome. Just henpecking isn't going to get the job done, bishops just will continue to invent difficulties and excuses. Rome is not going to replace them for something like that. No, there has to be some kind of general intervention. And I think, too, the Pope has a guilty conscience about forbidding the Old Rite. He thinks it's wrong to do so and that simple justice is on the side of Catholics
who want to celebrate mass in the way their ancestors did.

Though, of course, time is on the side of the modest spread of the Old Rite, parallel to the New. In a generation or two, people will wonder what on earth all the FUSS was about!


David L Alexander said...

You're too kind, Jeff. Don't let that stop you though.

As to the Old being "parallel" to the New, everything I've ever witnessed leads me to believe that one will always be treated as the poor stepchild of the other in any given situation. There are exceptions, such as St John Cantius in Chicago, but sadly they are not the rule, and I am convinced that a "reform of the reform" is the only long-term solution.

How that might happen is a subject I hope to bring up later. Till then...