|" UNEASY LIES THE HEAD THAT WEARS THE CROWN"|
Henry IV Part II
The anguish of Pope Paul VI as he implemented the Novus Ordo is patently obvious in his acknowledgement that the changes made those effecting the changes"almost intruders and desecrators". His Holiness was in great distress for much of the post-Conciliar remainder of his life, on this and other counts. We need only consider his "mention of the "smoke of Satan"- address 29th June, 1972" to see the depth of that distress. The Holy Father looked with the greatest sorrow upon the mass desertions of Clergy and Religious as the false " spirit of the Council" spread its dark shadow.
There are two aspects under which I would like to consider the present situation :
. the experience of the worshippers,and
. the Liturgical requirements of the Church
The Experience of Worshippers
Some forty four years on we are mostly now a people brought up on the Novus Ordo.Though there are those of us who still recall the days before the Novus Ordo they are not anything like a majority.And there is as a consequence a dwindling folk memory of "the way we were".And coming on we have generation after generation of youngsters brought up in the Novus Ordo culture, but more significantly and absolutely destructively in a " Catholic " Education environment that is grossly defective and in fact subversive of the Faith. The cumulative effect of these influences should inevitably be a " Faith community" that would blow away in a breeze, let alone in a gale of hostile opposition.
But wait! We are not alone! Throughout the Church, and the very Internet you are using to read this confirms it, we are finding a strong element of young Catholics committed to the fullness of Catholic Doctrine and authentic tradition. Very many of them come through association with the various Extraordinary Form communities, but not all, and many show a good respect for both the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form.Their existence and activity can only be accounted for by the action of the Holy Spirit.
For the general run of Catholic worshippers,the daily or weekly experience of the Sacred Liturgy seems to be characterised by a moderate reduction in the level of Liturgical abuse, as the more outrageous practices are worn down by the effect of more effective Instructions, better Bishops, younger more orthodox Priests and a better educated laity at work .In general it could be said that the " climate" is less receptive to Liturgical abuse. We are not saying that it no longer exists - far from it - in some places it is entrenched very firmly.
The level of acceptance of the new corrected translation of the Order of Mass has been exceptional and we have evidence of this in several Dioceses around the Country. It does require a more deliberate pronunciation than the preceding translation, but with those Clergy able to appreciate that fact, it provides a greatly enhanced celebration of the Liturgy, for it cannot be easily speed read .
The Liturgical Requirements of the Church
The formal Liturgical requirements of the Church tend not to change too often. But there are times when they do.One of those times was the 7th July, 2007 ( Yes! 070707) the date of Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio " Summorum Pontificum". This was a landmark event. It completely unshackled the Mass as it had been for almost 500 years before the Novus Ordo and much as it had been for the 1,000 years earlier still. This was a glorious dawn of a new age.
Pope Benedict had very clearly over the years , and most carefully, presented the case for this development. He had made the point compellingly, that it could not be that the Mass as celebrated and experienced by most of the Saints in Heaven was suddenly no longer worthy of celebration. Its shackling to make way for the Novus Ordo had been a serious error of administration. Equally, he expressed the desire to see the co-existence of the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms come to work to the benefit of both. For it is equally clear that the Council Fathers saw some limited need for reform of the 1962 Missal and there is no doubt that the Novus Ordo would benefit from Celebrants gaining the experience of the expressed sense of the sacred in the original Rite.
The Motu Proprio has worked well, even if its operation has been hampered in some cases by recalcitrant false " spirit of the Council" Bishops( some of whom in a few countries have been truly appalling).But generally speaking, the availability of the Extraordinary Form has expanded quickly and whereas pre 070707 one might have feared that it would die out as existing trained celebrants went to their reward, it is now clear that no such thing will happen. Indeed, even apart from the religious Orders dedicated to its celebration - The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter(FSSP) and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest(ICRSP) and those like the Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius (C.R.) who are dedicated to both the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms to mention just a few, the number of young Priests newly-ordained who are seeking and obtaining proper training in the Extraordinary Form celebration has expanded massively.
All of this, is having a marked effect on the way Holy Mass is celebrated and the " ars celebrandi" (the art of celebrating) is now a common matter for legitimate discussion - no longer is improvisation thought in any way respectable. So the Motu Proprio has produced ample fruits already and its ripples are still spreading.
Not that the path has been universally smooth. Indeed the recent weeks brought news that unnerved some.
It transpired the the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate had by a large majority decided to move toward concentrating their celebration of the Sacred Liturgy on the Extraordinary Form . This they were entitled to do and they were proceeding in accordance with their Rule. However a small minority in the Order were vigorously opposed to this course and appealed directly to the Holy See for intervention. Perhaps surprisingly, this was granted and an outside Priest was appointed to assume control of the Order. In due course he secured from the Holy See an Instruction forbidding the Friars from using the Extraordinary Form without the approval of the (unspecified) " competent authority". There is really nothing too unusual about this formulation which is common in Canon Law.But the Order had been proceeding in accordance with its Rule and, in the circumstances of this external intervention, just who the " competent authority" is, leaves many scratching their heads.
Those dedicated to the Extraordinary Form were alarmed that this represents the first time the Holy See has countenanced, indeed mandated, a restriction of any sort on the provisions of Summorum Pontificum.
In the present state of fevered discussion about the reform of the Curia there is much uncertainty about precisely what is going on, or is intended. Time will tell.