Sunday, July 08, 2007

Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum Released

Dear friends... don't rely on CNN and other news sources to tell you about the pope's latest motu proprio regarding the 1962 Missal (aka "Tridentine Latin Mass"). Read the document from the source.

Here's the document

While I am not personally heavily attached to the older (aka extraordinary) mass, I think this may go a long way to heal some division in the Church as well as bolster greater appreciation for the healthy celebration of the modern (aka ordinary) liturgy. But some folks have been anticipating the coming of this motu proprio almost as much as (and in same cases, more than) the Second Coming itself. I'm not in that boat. There's a problem there. I appreciate the gentle souls over at the New Liturgical Movement blog who love the older mass and desire others to appreciate it without tearing the Church down from the inside, in contrast to other Catholic bloggers (including some recent converts to Catholicism) who are given to throwing tantrums when things aren't just they way they desire or expect in their parish, diocese, or wider church. (Don't get me wrong - I am no fan of liturgical abuse, particularly when it is egregious. I just believe that sometimes we let silly things obscure our sight of what is intrinsic to the mass itself, and what God has done and is doing, and why indeed we are there). Ultimately it is an awesome mystery of grace. It is what nourished and captivated me when I entered the Church in 1997, and it does the same today.

Yet while the motu proprio has the potential to heal divisions, I'm not sure that this motu proprio will result in a lot of differences over night. It may be that most Catholics may not notice anything different. But I trust the Holy Father's sense of proper liturgy. If a wider celebration of the older mass helps bolster a desire for a more healthy, reverent celebration of the liturgy in general, then bring it on. My personal hope is that it will inspire greater appreciation for a number of elements of the modern mass that have fallen by the wayside, including: good vernacular translations, greater appreciation for the role of Latin in the liturgy, better appreciation for our Church's vast and rich treasury of sacred music, and, of course, celebration of the mass ad orientem. The Second Vatican Council never called for any of these things to be done away with in the first place. But, as I said, I am primarily just happy to have the opportunity to participate in the mass regularly and engage the sacramental life of the Church. That is something, sadly, that many Catholics in the world do not have regular access to.

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