09 September 2011

The Charter of Manumission: Summorum Pontificum

I was traveling for work earlier this week, so I am a little late in linking to this post from Rorate Caeli about diocesan priests who choose to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass exclusively.  It is part testimony, part invitation.

The post begins by referring to three diocesan priests in Italy to began, in the wake of the motu proprio in 2007, to begin to celebrate exclusively the Extraordinary Form.  The Mass that our Holy Father reaffirmed "was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted."

And yet to dare to celebrate this Mass of great antiquity--to follow the explicit legislation of the Vicar of Christ-- is for a priest to invite persecution.  And to celebrate it, and it alone, well, that takes courage.

There are many approaches to encouraging liturgical restoration, and with it, the restoration of the Catholic faith within the Church.  Some belong to religious communities that are dedicated to the traditional form, some try to incorporate the Extraordinary Form into the life of the parish alongside the Ordinary Form.  I do not criticize the good faith effort of any such priest, bishop or faithful.  What I do sincerely believe is that over time, one Form will achieve the principal place and the other will greatly recede.  I won't spoil the ending for readers by telling you which one I think will win out.  Time will tell, of course, but without the traditional Mass of the Church gaining strength there is not much chance that the Church (and I speak here of the temporal side only) will regain the vitality of faith so desperately needed as we (in the words of a holy priest) "descend into a new age of persecution." 

The post and the links therein are worth reading.  Take some time to do so.  As a provocation an invitation, I post this short excerpt from an interview with one of these priests:

Q. Why have you refused the so called “biritualism” in contrast to other priests who have welcomed Summorum Pontificum?

A. I shall be brief.  I find the obligation of biritualism absurd.  If one has found that which is authentic, which is best, that which expresses the Catholic Faith more completely, without dangerous ambiguities, why would there be the need to celebrate something much less? With biritualism, in actual fact, one rite dies and the other stays. With biritualism, the priest gets weary, with the sadness of a sort of schizophrenia, and the people are not edified, instructed, consoled in the beauty of God. I shall avoid discussing the theological liturgical aspects - an interview is not the place for that. I will say only that whoever stays with biritualism sooner or later abandons the Old Rite and manufactures reasons to stay in the world of the reform, lived perhaps in a conservative way, but with an interior sadness, like one who has betrayed the love of God since his youth.  I have to add that it was very helpful for me to read “The Anglican Liturgical Reform” by Michael Davies – a fundamental text which is very clear: the ambiguity of the rite leads to heresy in fact. Is it not this that has happened?


Rory said...

Timman. Hi.

Biritualism means that both liturgies are as equally good. Almost nobody thinks that. Some conservative Catholics in the highest places are trying to convince themselves that the choice between the two is like the differences between a Whopper and a Big Mac. I confess to liking both of those. I don't care which I eat when I want a fast food burger. But I despise the "Ordinary Form". Dog food might have a vitamin in it somewhere, but that doesn't mean I will voluntarily eat it.

Isn't it interesting that Michael Davies, an English speaking Welshman, is having an influence on Italian priests? Michael Davies is brilliant and balanced and he is faithful to Rome. I do not know that he was a saint, but God used him in our time, and his legacy is incomplete.

Davies' writings are devastating to the biritualistic balancing act that Pope Benedict is apparently going to promote through the end of his pontificate. I do not think the truth can be hidden forever. Davies shows clearly and without exaggeration how the Novus Ordo is a deliberately watered-down travesty. Whether it was self-consciously or not, the Novus Ordo authors fall into the same ditch as the arch-heretic Cranmer in England when he composed his ambiguous masterpiece. The parallels are so strikingly similar as to make one confident that if the Novus Ordo wasn't a self-conscious copy, they both were inspired from the same source.

AndrewK said...


The problem with this post is that this goes against what the Holy Father is trying to do with SumPon. The Extraordinary Form is meant to remind priests, who primarily say the Ordinary Form, of where the latter form comes from. To help them see the long standing liturgical tradition that is thankfully kept alive in the EF. It is almost like a child who has forgotten his faith, and in reconversion remembers the faith of his parents and uses it as the model to start reliving his faith. I don't think it is wise to pass this off so quickly. Are all of the things Fr. Secci described in his interview (ad orientem, communion on the tongue, the Roman Canon, Gregorian Chant, etc.) incompatible with the OF? Moreover, his comments about the SSPX as preserving the "Mass of all ages" and soon the "everyone will see what he was doing" seems a little arrogant.

Andrew K