Friday, 31 December 2010

Is Tradphobia Endemic in the Church?

Are Priests celebrating Mass in the Extraordinary Form victims of tradphobia?
It strikes me that the words of Bishop Tom Burns betray a distrust of Priests who celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass grounded in little but suspicion and fear, even though Pope Benedict XVI has used his pontificate to explicitly encourage the celebration of both rites of the Church.

Pope Benedict XVI sees the liberation of the traditional Roman rite alongside the Novus Ordo only as a positive - something that enriches the life of the Church, of the Church's liturgy and the Church's worship. In His Holiness's own words, the two rites "are, in fact, two usages of the one Roman rite." In particular, His Holiness remarked upon the attraction of the Usus Antiquior to young people.

It is, perhaps, only natural for more senior members of the Hierarchy and Clergy to recoil from the promotion of the Latin Mass, seeing it as threatening, or perceiving it as a polarising introduction into the life of the Church, at a time when all they have seen is continuity in terms of the Novus Ordo. Unfortunately, this would be a gross oversimplification of the real outcomes of Vatican II in terms of the scandalisation of many of the Faithful in the wake of its implementation, the weakening of the Faith, fidelity to the Magisterium and of the perception of authority and trustworthiness of the Church, from the Priesthood to the Pontiff. This is why I find this part of his homily particularly confusing.

"There are those who go to extremes to express the Mass in a particular way, whether it is in the Ordinary Form or Extraordinary Form, in a so-called VAT II rite or Tridentine Rite, through the "People's Mass" or the "Priest's Mass"."

At first glance, the Bishop seems to be condemning Priests who favour either of these "two usages of the one rite", because they fail to recognise the 'hermeneutic of continuity', but then he goes on to say...

"Some want to put the priest on a pedestal, whilst the people are consigned to be privileged spectators outside the rails. Flamboyant modes of liturgical vestments and rubrical gestures abound. Women are denied all ministries at Mass: doing the Readings, the serving, the Bidding Prayers, and taking Communion to the Sick. To many in our Church and beyond, this comes across as triumphalism and male domination..."

Which makes it quite apparent which rite has his own preference. He doesn't go on to condemn liturgical abuses by Priests who introduce their own innovations into the sacred liturgy or to condemn what Pope Benedict XVI has condemned, namely that Mass sometimes risks being reduced to a kind of 'show'.

It is saddening to read that the Bishop's words reveal not so much that he thinks that the traditional liturgy is a 'step back to the bad old days' as is thought by some in the Church, but rather that he doesn't appreciate the 'spirit of the liturgy' itself, which has little to do with male roles and female roles, vestures and even gestures, but  the worship of God "in spirit and in truth", something which the Traditional Latin Mass manages to convey and something that can 'rub off', if you like, on the celebration of the Novus Ordo. That is, essentially, why it is becoming more popular and why, I assume, some Clergy and some Laity prefer it - because the liturgy teaches us how to worship and adore God.

Whether you are inside or outside 'the rails', the worship and adoration of God is what all men and women truly seek. That could also be a reason why some figures in authority in England and Wales find it to be a threat, rather than a blessing and an enrichment of the Church's liturgy. Personally, I knew I wasn't a Priest before I started attending the Traditional Latin Mass. After I started attending the Traditional Latin Mass, I still knew I wasn't a Priest, but I did begin to appreciate more fully just what a Priest is. If I wanted to become a Priest, or rather thought I was being called to become a Priest, I would apply to become a Priest. Perhaps, inadvertently, His Lordship has hit the nail on the head of the vocations crisis in England and Wales. That's why vocations to the Priesthood are so abysmal, you see!  If a proportion of the Laity are taught, in an over-simplified manner, to believe or to think that they are Priests, or are a bit like Priests already, then why bother applying to become a Priest! Happy New Year to all!


Jackie Parkes MJ said...

I very much dislike the term Trad..& I think another blogger mentions "mods"..I'm just Catholic. I think the Bishop makes some good points..

georgem said...

"Outside the rails." What rails?

Happy New Year, Bones. May God bless your efforts in 2011.
May you also find an employer who doesn't defraud you.

Anonymous said...

The traddie Catholics are slowly destroying our church. Constantly haranguing our Bishops and any cleric who does not give in to their endless demands for the TLM.
We all remember the Latin Mass, but we did have Vatican II and we moved on. This faith belongs to all of us not just the traddie chosen few who consider themselves superior. Just because a Mass is not in Latin, it is no less a Mass. It is very sad that the traddie element in the church today seek to devalue the OF Mass. The Mass is beautiful, for me the simpler the Mass the better , the less of a distraction there is the more I can concentrate on Our Lord.
Bishop Tom spoke his mind and while we may not agree with everything he says. We should bear in mind that he is the Bishop, the authority. What gives anyone of us the right to pick over the bones of everything he writes. Do we all really know better than he does? All said and done…. We are not Bishops and we don't walk in his shoes!

georgem said...

I think a correction is needed here. I don't think any practising Catholic wants to devalue the NO Mass. The Mass is the Mass whether it be in Latin or the vernacular.
The problem is its devaluing by so many priest/performers who have forgotten why they are at the altar. It is something we have all witnessed.
In response to the "endless demands" point, there's one way to stop it, ie adherence to the Pope's directive.

Here's something of interest:

"Despite every effort to keep them in the dark about Summorum Pontificum, when apprised of its existence and provisions by the pollsters 30-40%+ of practicing Catholics in each country (i.e. more than one in three, and in England twice that number) indicated they would gladly attend the traditional Mass weekly if it were celebrated in their parish.

"All similar scientific polls have confirmed these findings. A very strong tendency which is even more impressive considering the Novus Ordo's longstanding monopoly of parish life."

Christian Order

For polling figures scroll down to just below halfway. But the whole piece is worth a read.

Invictus_88 said...

An objectively mistaken bishop is an objectively mistaken bishop, and an anonymous poster isn't going to alter that.

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