Friday, May 16, 2008

Critical Mass: The Future of Our Past

It is an oft-repeated claim here at mwbh, and it bears repeating again.

But it is presented here in the context of a recent interview with His Eminence Virgilio Cardinal Noè (pronounced "NO-eh"), former papal master of ceremonies to Paul VI, John Paul I, and (early in his pontificate) John Paul II. Now 86 and living quietly in retirement, Noè spoke with Bruno Volpe for the Italian periodical Petrus. A translation of that interview was rendered by Father Zuhlsdorf, and can be found at his weblog What Does the Prayer Really Say?

In the interview, Noè recalls what Paul VI shared with him regarding the qualities of a good liturgical master of ceremonies, which was of particular interest to the ongoing apostolate of yours truly. "The MC must foresee everything and taken everything on himself, he has the task of making the Pope’s road smoother... An MC, he stressed, must remain also the master of himself and be the [celebrant's] shield, so that Holy Mass can be celebrated in a dignified way, for the glory of God and His people."

Noè also spoke of what was meant by Paul VI as he warned that "the smoke of Satan" had entered the Church: "Papa Montini, for Satan, meant to include all those priests or bishops and cardinals who didn’t render worship to the Lord by celebrating badly (mal celebrando) Holy Mass because of an errant interpretation of the implementation of the Second Vatican Council. He spoke of the smoke of Satan because he maintained that those priests who turned Holy Mass into dry straw in the name of creativity, in reality were possessed of the vainglory and the pride of the Evil One."

Over the years, many Catholics have witnessed all manner of novelties introduced to the Mass, which neither the Holy See nor the Second Vatican Council ever intended. We read of other Catholics, particularly those who author blogs, presenting their dilemma of whether to leave their home parish for an island of sanity elsewhere. Many drive for nearly an hour simply to attend a Mass celebrated according to the mind of the Church. I know that feeling, as to this day, I am loathe to attend Mass at the parish of my hometown where I was raised. While there is still some semblance of reverence there, it is punctuated by the "creativity" of the few, which is foisted on the many, who are lulled into a stupor to believe whatever they are told. It is as if the naked Emperor himself were to process down the aisle, adorned such that only the truly enlightened may have eyes to see.

But this will change, and right soon, and it brings us to the aforementioned claim. The introduction of the Traditional form of the Roman Mass will be an influence upon the Church as a whole. But even if it were not, the English-speaking world will be introduced, in the next few years, to a revised translation of the Roman Missal, one that will eschew pedestrian language, in favor of a more formal and sacral form, better suited to the occasion. Over time, the way in which the Mass is celebrated will be forced to shift its paradigm. There is simply no getting around this. The earliest we can expect this to happen is the end of 2009, although yours truly would submit that it will be more likely around 2010 or 2012. It would take well over a year simply for the publishing industry to make a complete and proper adjustment.

Faithful Catholics who have been discouraged would pray the words of the psalmist: "How long, O Lord?" For the first time in nearly half a century, there is now a timetable.

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