|Are Priests celebrating Mass in the Extraordinary Form victims of tradphobia?|
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!