Thanks be to God that Pope Benedict has always had the Eucharist at the center of his life. This meant he always gave caring attention to the method of the celebration, for celebrating the Mass is truly an art. The former pontiff at the same time always made note of other parts intrinsic to the rite, such as its texts and gesture.
It is clear now that every Roman Catholic priest had the right to use the Missale Romanum promulgated in 1962, for it had never been abrogated. What an amazing feat that was too, considering the efforts necessary to attempt its suppression and the fact that Paul VI considered it suppressed. Remember, an indult was required for priests in England and Wales to use the missal under its 1967 modifications (the so-called "Agatha Christie" indult). Obviously, he thought it suppressed without giving a mechanism for its suppression.
|CMAA Colloquium; Solemn Mass of the Visitation; |
I am assistant MC, to the deacon's right
Of course, God saved the traditional Mass. Not Pope Benedict, not the great cardinals of the last forty years (Ottaviani, Strickler, Mayer, etc.). Not Archbishop Lefebrve, contra the claims of his supporters. No, it was truly an act of God, for the Popes managed not to suppress it. Really, that's incredible...I mean, sure, Italian bureaucracy is painfully inefficient, but everything possible happened in rapid succession to allow for the Novus Ordo Missae, and painfully much was done to keep the older missal under wraps.
While I'm not going to hold Quo Primum as a totally binding standard, there is something interesting there. Pope St. Pius V of blessed memory gave a standard of two hundred years' observance of another rite. Fr. John Hunwicke (whose blog I recommend for regular reading!) mentioned, and I concur, that preserving authentic and legitimate (ones that were not heretical, contrived, or unlawful and ones that were beneficial) liturgical rites that differed from that of Rome was so important that St. Pius made it very hard to change missals. The whole chapter's vote was required. That didn't stop the Discalced Carmelites from changing, but that's another story...of more import is that the ancient rite dates back just about 1,500 years, building upon the traditions passed down from Ss. Peter and Paul.
I hope to give a more detailed reflection on Pope Benedict's letter to the bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificum, but for now, I leave you with this. He wrote, "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." Indeed, and the situation today is marvelous. It is not free of hindrance, true. It is not necessarily a less confusing time. Au contraire. But we are celebrating the traditional rite and better than was done before the Council in certain areas, and one day, probably not in my lifetime, it will be revised appropriately (e.g. the Graduale Romanum will be finished, the propers, the calendar, Holy Week, perhaps the Office...) and it might even be normative again.
P.S. Yeah, I've been gone for almost a month. I have had long hours, and Fr. Blake had a post on the downtick in blogging. Schedule, lack of inspiration, concern about the Church and her ministers and my own life. Yep, that's me. And yeah, I made another promise. I've been meaning to blog about that letter for a while anyways.