Out of the Liturgical Ghetto

July-August 2011

No matter what direction the “new liturgical movement” envisioned by Pope Benedict XVI takes, and before any “mutual enrichment” between the two extant forms of the Roman rite can take place, the Tridentine Latin Mass must experience a significant revival. If only for the sake of the liturgical patrimony of the Church, it cannot remain restricted to a handful of Masses scattered about in far-flung parochial outposts. Unfortunately, four years after the release of Summorum Pontificum, Benedict’s motu proprio liberalizing the celebration of the Latin Mass, hard data on its growth during the ensuing years is hard to come by.

All we have to go on at this point — aside from first-person accounts of isolated circumstances that appear periodically in Catholic media — are a few surveys commissioned by Pax Liturgique, a French group in communion with Rome that works to promote the spread of the Latin Mass. The results of its surveys, conducted in late 2009 and early 2010, were published in the traditionalist British Christian Order (Oct. 2010). Insofar as surveys are useful, these provide insight into the situations in Germany, Italy, England, and Portugal (a survey of French Catholics was completed in late 2008 and is thus too dated to be relevant).

Of the German Catholics who were asked whether they were aware that the Pope had issued a document allowing for wider celebration of the Latin Mass, over 43 percent said yes. Word of the motu proprio’s release traveled farther in Italy, where 64 percent of the Catholics surveyed responded that they had heard of it. But only 39 percent of British respondents claimed to be aware of its release, as did an abysmally low 26 percent of respondents in Portugal. Pax Liturgique comments that the widespread ignorance of Portuguese Catholics about Summorum Pontificum (74 percent had never even heard of it) “is due, on the one hand, to the Portuguese media’s lack of interest for liturgical issues. On the other hand, however, it is due also to the indifference of the episcopate and a good part of the Portuguese clergy towards…the liberation of the traditional Mass.”

On the bright side, a majority of respondents in Germany (50.6 percent) and Italy (a whopping 71 percent) said they would consider it “normal” if the Latin Mass and the New Mass were celebrated regularly in their parish. Less than a quarter of respondents in either country (24.5 and 24 percent, respectively) said that such a situation would be “abnormal.” The remainder had no opinion. The results were mixed in England and Portugal: 44.9 percent of Englishmen would consider this situation “normal” (opposed to 21 percent who said it would be “abnormal”), as would 44.7 percent of Portuguese (with a full 40 percent calling it “abnormal”).

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New Oxford Notes: July-August 2011

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My problem with the "Liturgical Ghetto" is that the Church in general, and here in Baltimore in particular, has done little to promote the Tridentine Mass and, on the contrary, appears to be holding it back for some strange reason.

I am a late returner to the Tridentine Mass. After being raised in the Tridentine Rite during the forties and fifties and graduating, marring, moving, traveling and starting a family in the sixties and seventies, I pretty much accepted (a few horror stories excepted) whatever the parish priest said and did with the Liturgy and was quite content worshiping God with the Novus Ordo as it was being said wherever I was attending Mass.

However recently, in 2007, after discovering an opportunity and desire to learn Gregorian Chant, I found myself gradually relearning Latin and the Mass once again so as to be able to participate in the Liturgy with the song of the Church. This relearning process has led me to a getter appreciation and respect for the Liturgy and the Faith than I have ever had. Now I am quite 'hooked,' shell we say, on the Tridentine Mass.

It seams to me that if Rome (Pope Benedict XVI) has said that the Tridentine Mass and Novus Ordo Mass is equally valid worship of God and both should be offered in every parish that we should be seeing more of the faithful worshiping God with the Tridentine Mass. I was wondering why there has not been a significant effort on the part of our priests and the archdiocesan hierarchy to educate the priest and the faithful on the holiness of the Tridentine Mass? I have the impression that the priest and the archdiocesan hierarchy are ignoring Rome and are simply waiting for the people to discover and/or rediscover the Tridentine Mass by themselves and demand that the priest and the archdiocesan hierarchy do something about it. How can the faithful see and feel the beauty of the Tridentine Mass if it is not taught and offered? Is this 'sit back and wait' posture what the Church should be doing? Or, should they be taking a leadership role in offering more opportunities for educating archdiocesan priests and the faithful in Latin and the Tridentine Mass and making it more available in accordance with Rome's pronouncements?

Regards to everyone,

Posted by: Leon
August 04, 2011 01:09 PM EDT
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