Catholics who love the Church's timeless liturgy and timeless teachings wait anxiously, yet hopefully, for the release of the Motu Proprio confirming the rights of Priests and Faithful alike to the Traditional Mass and Sacraments.
Meanwhile, this weekend in St. Louis, there took place an event that highlights what is at stake in this Motu Proprio, and exemplifies the spiritual and practical benefits of the restoration of the traditional Mass to the Catholic Church.
We in St. Louis are extremely blessed to have available to the faithful of the Archdiocese the traditional Mass, Sacraments, devotions, spiritual guidance and a total Catholic community and culture in one place.
These centers of spiritual life were once common, and were called "parishes". What exists at St. Francis de Sales Oratory is simply a good Catholic parish. The fact that the beauty, truth and sanctity found there happens to exist in conjunction with the traditional Sacramental forms is not an accident.
The Catholic who belongs to the Oratory can expect to assist at Masses celebrated according to their prescribed rubrics, with dignity, mystery and with the end of offering fitting worship to God in the propitiatory Sacrifice of Calvary. He can expect to have priests who strive to live the call to holiness-- who are available to him for spiritual direction, absolution of sins, and most importantly to administer the Sacraments, which are the lifeblood of the Church.
The local bishop, in this case His Grace, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, is unwavering in his support for the mission of the Oratory. The Oratory is unwaveringly loyal to him. It is as it should be. Souls are saved. The lost are found.
It seems as if the ordinations of Fr. Talarico and Fr. Avis of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest by His Grace yesterday, and the surrounding liturgical and community celebrations at the Oratory, are both the culmination and the genesis of the traditional Catholic "Parish" in the postconciliar or, at least, post-Ecclesia Dei era. You may have read in other places about the events, and have seen the images. Many people have expressed their amazement, their emotion, and most of all their gratitude for this event.
But there is no reason that this Oratory, this "parish", need to be a rarity. This is where the Motu Proprio comes in.
The Institute of Christ the King and many other traditional societies are the vanguard of restoration. But every Catholic has a right to this. Every Catholic has a right to the Truth-- the Truth Who is after all, a Person. They have a right to worship Him fittingly. To give Him their best. They have a right to sound doctrine, sound teaching, and a solid Catholic community in which to raise their children, and to prepare themselves for eternity.
There are those who maintain that no Motu Proprio is needed for these things to occur. What may be true intellectually does not always translate into experience. This Motu Proprio is necessary to achieve practical progress towards the renewal of the Church. The real availability of the traditional Mass will ensure this. The novus ordo as it is experienced by the typical Catholic cannot stand the comparison. It will either be reformed itself, or fall into disuse.
The demographics of the situation are well-known. Where tradition thrives, the Church thrives. Look at the average ages, the average family size, for instance. There are other indicators more subjective, too.
So I for one will celebrate when the Motu Proprio is published, even though it won't change anything for me. As I sat in the Cathedral on Friday, I prayed for all of my fellow Catholics for whom such an occasion is still just a dream. I pray the Motu Proprio will be that proverbial first step to a holy and revitalized Catholic Church.
Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, Miserere Nobis!