Saturday, December 21, 2013


"Quis venit? - Christus exemplar omnis sanctitatis, atque virtutis, quod olim in monte calvariae monstratum est, et nunc quotidie in Eucharistia monstratur: cui debent omnes electi conformes fieri." (Mensis Eucharisticus, ed. D. Giuseppe Santoro, LEV, 2011)

Of late there have been a goodly number of marvelous pieces published by some of my favorite bloggers on some of my favorite blogs. They share in common a defense of the Mass of the Ages and the importance for liturgy of continuity with the tradition. They are all works of depth, which merit our attention and respect. Priests and bishops should read them and reflect on the implications of what is being said for the Catholic Faith. At some point, I want to come back and single out the series which Joseph Shaw is publishing over at Latin Mass Society Chairman for particular attention.

For now I want to send out, well not a call for help, but an invitation for directions toward further insights into the matter of the organic development of the liturgy. I ask this for a very simple reason: there seems to be a diversity of opinion concerning just how free the supreme legislator (the Pope) is when it comes to liturgical law (this is the canonist speaking, but I cannot help it). It is a theoretical question, because much of what ails the Novus Ordo today stems from abuse. The abuse cries out to heaven, but the question remains how far a Pope can go with liturgy. Obviously, as self-assured "Romans" we'd never hold him to a Council document, but the issue is historical and the point would seem to be that departures from the tradition in matters liturgical have consistently over the centuries been remedied by later popes. Without even touching the Missal, there are numerous issues which could be addressed concerning the Divine Office going back to reforms made by Pope St. Pius X.

Nobody wishes necessarily to condemn anyone, but as I have said before, I think the late Laszlo Dobszay has much to say to us about how a pastoral reform of the Divine Office could have been accommodated without venturing so far afield.

As those who have read me know, I'm convinced that nothing better could be done for the Novus Ordo than quickly to restore celebration ad Orientem, than slowing down the Communion procession through the restoration of Communion at the rail and on the tongue, by banning all but truly sacred music from the Liturgy and reviving chant as eminently singable not only by scholas and choirs, but by anyone's children with a bit of training and explanation, as we children did once upon a time.

As my reading on restoring Catholic culture of recent date has brought home to me, liturgy alone cannot heal what ails the Western world today, but by restoring beauty and right order in the sanctuary we extend one more invitation to people to step out of the shadow of death and walk. While some would say that the difference between a reform of the reform and a restoration of the liturgy is only semantic, I think there is no getting around a restoration as the sine qua non for jump-starting a living liturgy capable of organic development as willed by the Council Fathers. That might mean that our present Holy Father is obliged to do a course correction on his predecessors. If so, let it be so!

I would never call into question the wisdom of Pope Benedict XVI's exhortation to follow the path of mutual enrichment for the two forms of the Roman Rite. Perhaps noting that correcting the abuses which plague the Novus Ordo seems to be going nowhere would indicate that a more aggressive therapy just might be needed.

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