Pope Benedict XVI kneels before the Blessed Sacrament
IT IS THE LORD ! (John 21:7)
At the heart of the Catholic Faith is the greatest treasure imaginable: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We can truly exclaim , with Saint John "It is the Lord!"
Is it any wonder that through the last 2,000 years the Catholic Church, reflecting on , and endeavouring to come to terms with, this great miracle as best she could under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, had developed a Liturgy that sought to bring every ounce of honour possible to the Presence of God among us?
This process was entirely natural and organic, that is to say, the growth was consistent with every previous stage, whilst developing it further. It could not be otherwise because it stemmed from authentic faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Eucharist.For who would seek to diminish the honour given to God amongst us by his forebears?
And yet......and yet....in latter days, only in the last 49 years - since the closure of the Second Vatican Council on 8th December, 1965, it seemed, as the Venerable Pope Paul VI said on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul in 1972, as if "From some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the Temple of God".
Venerable Pope Paul VI
We now know , through the revelation of his close confidant and Papal Master of Ceremonies, Cardinal Vergilio Noe, that what he had in mind was the widespread liturgical abuses which spread like wildfire in the wake of the Council, as radical elements invented the false "spirit of the Council" and ignored the letter of its teaching Documents.
But through heroic struggles on the part of Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI we have seen the dawning of a new era of piety and devotion, drawing back from the abyss to which Satan had been driving so many clerics and laity, like so many Gaderene swine to destruction.
What they termed "vibrant" Liturgies
The Novus Ordo Missae - the New Order of Mass approved and implemented by the Venerable Pope Paul VI caused a massive reaction throughout the Catholic Church. Like no other event, it served to make the foundations of the Faith of so many people to quake. It also lead to a certain free for all in liturgical abuse.For just as the Novus Ordo itself largely ignored the letter of the Second Vatican Council's document on the Sacred Liturgy - " Sacrosanctum Concilium", so many clergy who had absorbed the false " spirit of the Council" largely ignored the letter of the Missal of the Novus Ordo, now dubbed the Sacramentary (rather than the Roman Missal), and went their own willful way in producing what they termed "vibrant" liturgies.
Gradually, through the Pontificates of Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the runaway horses were reined in with steadily increasing effect. And, in due time, even ICEL the International Committee for English in the Liturgy which had given the Novus Ordo an initial banal and inaccurate translation of the Missal was itself reformed. The new ICEL operating under a proper set of translation guidelines, in time brought forth with the aid of the Vox Clara Committee chaired by Cardinal George Pell, a new corrected translation of the Order of Mass restoring sacral language to the Liturgy and purging errors.
But the process of reform was never better served than by Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio " Summorum Pontificum" of 7th July, 2007, which unshackled the pre Novus Ordo Mass, enabling every Priest - without further permissions - to celebrate Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal.Here , in his own words , spoken 10 years earlier, we find the reason that motivated him :
" I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It's impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden, and when it makes longing for it seem downright indecent. Can it be trusted any more about anything else? Won't it proscribe tomorrow what it prescribes to-day?"
Mass celebrated in the Vetus Ordo
The results of the Motu Proprio have been dramatic. Strong communities of worshipers according to the Vetus Ordo have multiplied around the world, despite obstacles and rear-guard actions by some recalcitrant Bishops. And, contrary to the predictions of hard core "liberals", they are not composed of nostalgic old timers, but are flourishing centres of young families and young adults in the main. They find in the Vetus Ordo the sense of the sacred is worked into the very fabric of the ritual.
From the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar to the Last Gospel, they see the great Truth is recognised in every movement and gesture:
"It is the Lord!"