07 July 2011

Four Years Later: Gratitude for Summorum Pontificum

In the wake of the Council of Trent, when Pope St. Pius V standardized the Roman Missal-- the Roman Rite, with minor discrepancies in various places, which had pre-dated Trent by more than a thousand years-- he made his wishes very clear in the great Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum:
...whereas, by this present Constitution, which will be valid henceforth, now, and forever, We order and enjoin that nothing must be added to Our recently published Missal, nothing omitted from it, nor anything whatsoever be changed within it under the penalty of Our displeasure. 

...in virtue of Our Apostolic authority, We grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment, or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used. Nor are superiors, administrators, canons, chaplains, and other secular priests, or religious, of whatever title designated, obliged to celebrate the Mass otherwise than as enjoined by Us. We likewise declare and ordain that no one whosoever is forced or coerced to alter this Missal, and that this present document cannot be revoked or modified, but remain always valid and retain its full force...

I can only imagine that the great saint was very displeased with the way things turned out in the late 1960s.  The Novus Ordo Missae certainly was a change.  And yet some will cling to the amusing notion that there were significant changes to the Roman Missal from 1570 to 1955, when Bugnini began the demolition process through the "restored" Holy Week ceremonies.

Those events of the sad past did not work to undo the fact that the Paul VI did not effectively suppress or abrogate the Roman Missal, which had most recently been published in 1962.  This position was legally correct, even being confirmed by a commission of Cardinals convened by Blessed Pope John Paul II:  the Roman Missal was still in force, and any priest could say it.

We know, however, that the many modernists in the Church, both clergy and laity, practically suppressed the traditional Mass, and acted as though it were lawfully suppressed.  Surely many did this in good faith as they saw it, and in ignorance.  But some did not possess that good faith.  And so, without any mandate from Pope or Council, without any direction to do so in the new Missal or from any authoritative Church document, the altars were smashed, altar rails ripped out, sanctuaries whitewashed, the truths of the faith that so naturally informed the Church's liturgy, and which liturgy supported them in return, were discarded.  And people went away.  And souls were lost.

Even John Paul II, who in some respects made the traditional Mass more available, phrased access to it in the terms of "indult" (as though it were a permitted deviation from the law), first  in 1984, and then again in 1988 as he sought to calm  the waters after the stand-off with the SSPX over the episcopal consecrations of that year.

From 1984 to 2007, there was progress in the spread of the availability of the traditional Mass, but this progress was halting, and could reasonably be described as glacial in pace.  And yet...

It did spread.  

The liturgy of the Church compels.  It is the most perfect combination of beauty and truth that we shall see in this vale of tears.  The irregular situation of the SSPX put the issue in a political bind, but the truth was always the same:  The Mass had never been abrogated or suppressed.  The SSPX kept the Mass going.  Other priestly societies with clear canonical faculties arose:  the FSSP in 1988 as it split with the SSPX over the consecration dispute; the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in 1990; Campos, Brazil was granted an Apostolic Administration for the traditional Mass and sacraments.  There were others, too, some societies of priests, some religious orders, and the few courageous parish priests who braved the displeasure of their ordinaries, the scorn and derision of their confreres, and even the anger of their flocks, to keep the Mass alive.

The struggle of the outcasts, the faithful Catholics who kept the traditional Mass alive in hotel rooms, funeral parlors, private homes, and in Churches, too, is one to which I was very late in coming.  By the time I was drawn to the timeless Mass-- and knew that I had to let others know about it-- the iceberg was already beginning to break apart.

To give homage to those people upon whose shoulders we now stand, I quote from today's post on Rorate Caeli:

The beautiful words of that great French hero of the Traditional Mass, Jean Madiran, who has lived to see the miracle, remembering the names of some who died in the battlefield:

"For thirty seven years, a whole generation of militant Catholics, religious or lay members of the Militant Church (a generation reaching from 7 to 97 years of age) suffered, without giving in, openly defying the arbitrary interdict on the Traditional Mass. We think of our dead: Cardinal Ottaviani, Father Calmel, Father Raymond Dulac, Monsignor Renato Pozzi, Monsignor Lefebvre, Father Guérard. And, among the laymen: Cristina Campo, Luce Quenette, Louis Salleron, Eric de Saventhem. The pontifical goodwill is for them as a light breeze, which sweetly brings peace to their tombs. Wherever they are now, they do not need it anymore. But it is their memory amongst us which is appeased and elevated."

And also: Bishop Castro Mayer, Father Gamber, Michael Davies, Tito Casini, and so many, many others (priests, laymen and laywomen- God knows their names!), each of whom placed his own brick, large or small, in the great dam built for decades against the tumultuous tides of the late twentieth century. Thank you, thank you, thank you dearly! The heat of the battle has caused so much personal attrition, exaggerations, and misunderstandings... Yet, justice cannot be denied: gratitude is owed to those who did not live to see, on this earth, the glorious date of July 7, 2007.

I cannot end this post on the anniversary of Summorum Pontificum without expressing my gratitude to the Most Holy Trinity: God the Father, Who so cares for us; God the Son, Who did not abandon His Church; and God the Holy Ghost, Who despite our efforts preserves the Church from error and from the gates of hell.  

In the temporal realm, I must also thank Pope Benedict XVI for his great act of justice, for his mercy to his flock, and for his efforts to restore the great guardian of truth in the Church-- her liturgy.  

Furthermore, I would like to express my gratitude for our beloved Cardinal Burke, who, when he was Archbishop and to this day, understood and understands the necessary connection between the Church's celebration of her liturgy and her adherence to the truth.  He anticipated Summorum Pontificum by bringing the Institute to La Crosse, then to Saint Louis, and by personally ordaining priests in the traditional ordination rite in his own See.  No one who was there can forget the event that was the 2007 ordinations of Canon William Avis and Canon Matthew Talarico at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis-- three weeks before the motu proprio was released.  The Cathedral was packed with more than 1,300 faithful from all over the country who witnessed what many thought might never be again; the traditional Mass in all its glory in an Archdiocesan Cathedral and the ordination of priests in the beautiful and ancient form that so greatly emphasized the love and sacrifice inherent in that priesthood. It was a watershed moment.

Finally, I give thanks to God for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, because it has been an instrument of God in the deeper conversion of my family and me.  And at the core of all of it has been the Mass.  The loving care for souls that the Institute shows flows directly and immediately from its loving care for the liturgy.

So, today is a day to celebrate.  If you have never read Summorum Pontificum, read it here.  And then read the document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Universae Ecclesiae here.

God bless you all.  St. Pius V, pray for us!


Mother Crab said...

And, don't forget to pray for the 4 young men with the Institute of Christ the King who will be (have been already?) ordained today: Rev. Messrs. Federico Pozza, Bertrand Bergerot, Matthieu Thermed and Brieuc de la Brosse.

Deo Gratias!

Anonymous said...

How lucky we are here in Saint Louis!

Anonymous said...

Timman, I totally understand the joy that this day brings to you. Awesome.

However, I still don't understand why you feel the need to make this an either/or situation. Our church his 'catholic' in the sense that it is universal, and can hold many traditions and spiritualities.

To stress your point, did you really need to use these words about the modern celebration of the sacred Eucharist: "displeased ... sad past ... smashed, ripped out, whitewashed, discarded ... vale of tears?

Do you really need to make those who hung in there into martyrs of their own church, "courageous ... braved ... [facing] displeasure, scorn and derision, anger ... outcasts?"

Reading this, one might assume that God the Father, God the Son, and God the "Holy Ghost" [really?] stopped guiding our Roman Catholic church in 1962, but only now are returning.

Repeat after me - BOTH spiritualities and BOTH forms of the Eucharist are holy, valid and perfect. Just don't see the need to state that this movement "preserves the Church from error and from the gates of hell."

dulac90 said...

I just started reading Fr. Bryan Houghton's "Mitre and Crook". I haven't read such a clear and concise description of the liturgical transformation that happened in the Church.

Put your preconceptions aside and open your mind. It was a terrific sequence of events that nearly succeeded in extinguishing an immemorial custom of the Church. Regardless of how you view the forms of the Mass, that this could have come to pass is incredible.

I'll leave to others to decide if the methods used were inspired by the Holy Ghost.

JBQ said...

In regard to Mother Crab and the ordinations, look at the names. They are all European. I am an AB Burke supporter. However, he does not have very many. The American Church marches on.