Monday, July 9, 2007

Summorum Pontificum

Long rumored, Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday released his apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, providing a general Indult allowing the Tridentine Mass. While I am a child of Vatican II, I find this a positive step. The old Mass still has a following amongst older Catholics of course (my parents for example always spoke longingly about it).

However, having attended Mass at St. John Cantius here in Chicago, which has a general Indult to use the 1962 Missal, I was surprised to see mostly younger Catholics. There is a beauty, mystery and universality to the Tridentine Mass that is missing from the New Mass so I think we will see a large number of younger Catholic attending.

There are a few roadblocks on the way. For one, most priests will have no experience with the Mass and little faculty for Latin. I also could imagine many priests not being happy with the Latin Mass on theological grounds. Some in the media along with the ADL are also misunderstanding the Good Friday prayer claiming that the old Mass contains anti-Semitic language. The problem is that the language in question (referring to "Faithless Jews") was removed by Pope John XXIII in 1959. The current prayer is very similar to the post 1959 Latin prayer, though couched in more politically correct language.

Another problem is the physical layout of the Churches. Churches built or renovated after 1970 were designed with the New Mass in mind. They may feature a shortened nave, an open sanctuary, and a congregation seated around the altar. The Old Mass will be difficult in such circumstances.

One problem which should be easily solvable is the matter of readings. The Old Mass has two readings on an annual cycle while the New Mass three readings on a three year cycle covering a larger part of Scripture. The should look to broaden the scope of readings in teh New Mass so that the readings in both the New and Old Masses are on the same cycle. This will allow congregants easily move between the Old and New.

Finally, this should be seen as an opportunity for the Church to revisit liturgical music. The Catholic church has a rich history of Latin liturgical music that has been forgotten in the move to vernacular forms. Now might be a good time to incorporate the old Latin hymns into the New Mass.

Already, a blog devoted to the letter is up and running.

1 comment:

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