Monday, March 26, 2007

Benedict the Servant of Tradition

Amy Welbourne, like some others are anticipating the Motu Proprio, they are expecting it this week or next, maybe even tomorrow, from all she has to say I was particularly struck by this piece, (see below) it reflects very much what The Pope said at the Lateran, when he took possession of it, which was more or less, "It is not the Pope's role to put forward his own ideas, but merely to re-present and serve the Tradition of the Church".

As much as I love and admire the holy Popes of the last 150 years, there has been a certain personalism that has crept into the office, which is seen in Pius IX's, "Tradition? I am Tradition" and Pius X's re-ordering of the Sacraments of Initiation (Confirmation after Holy Communion). For me Paul VI's liturgical revisions epitomised the idea of a Pope intervening with his own agenda, in a particularly singular and triumphalistic way in the Tradition of the Church. For me this Motu Proprio, allowing the ancient with the modern to move side by side, is actually a way back to THE Tradition. Paul VI obviously had the right to change the Liturgy, but it was at the very limits of his rights, and frankly I think the exercise of such a right has caused a great deal of damage, as any excessive use of such rights does.

I have never really known the Old Rite, I love the celebration of the Pauline rite when done within the Tradition of the Church, I admit I am horrified by some celebrations of it, and some of the recent innovations allowed by the Holy See are that, innovations. I pray that Pope Benedict will bring the Pauline rite firmly within The Tradition of Catholic/Orthodox worship. I would like to think of myself not so much in terms of the Reform of the Reform, but of the Rooting of the Reform, within what has been handed on to us, which I am sure Benedict can and will do, or at least begin.
For Ecumenism, for the Promotion of Justice, for the health and well being of the Church, I pray that future Pope's hold firm to this Benedictine attitude of being the "servant" to The Tradition, and certainly not its author or its master.

".........And for him, the answer is Christ. A recent editorial in the NCR(register) lays it out: The Key to Benedict - which is not, as some would have you believe, nostalgia, a desire to "roll back" Vatican II, authoritarianism, control, or anything like that:
Pope Benedict, also, is simply and deeply devoted to the person of Christ, in all of his clarity and depth.
When secular newspapers write about Pope Benedict’s new post-synodal apostolic exhoratation Sacramentum Caritatis (The Sacrament of Charity), they say things like “Pope Refuses to Yield” or “Benedict Loves Latin” as if the Holy Father were merely imposing his personal preferences on the Church.
But, from the very beginning, Benedict has been telling us exactly what he would do, and why he would do it. He started before the conclave that elected him, when he spoke about friendship with Christ, a concept he has returned to several times.
Noting that Jesus defines friendship as “the communion of wills,” he cited the old Roman definition of friendship — Idem velle idem nolle (same desires, same dislikes) — as the model of our friendship with Christ.
In his first message after becoming pope, he applied that lesson to the Eucharist. “I ask everyone in the coming months to intensify love and devotion for Jesus in the Eucharist,” he said, “and to express courageously and clearly faith in the Real Presence of the Lord, especially by the solemnity and the correctness of the celebrations.”
He wanted us to show our friendship with Jesus in the Eucharist not just by good feelings, but by a communion of wills — “by the solemnity and correctness” of our Masses.
This love for Jesus, which is both practical and passionate — we should say practical because it is passionate — is the key to Pope Benedict’s thinking. It is front and center in is private works (such as “On the Way to Christ Jesus”), in his official works before becoming Pope (Dominus Iesus — “The Lord Jesus” — foremost among them), and in his first encyclical and latest document on charity and the Eucharist


Fr John Boyle said...

I have celebrated the Traditional Roman Rite just twice - and have been converted. One of my (traditionally inclined) parishioners recently said how I used to be "quite sniffy about the Old Rite." I now realise how poor the Novus Ordo is.

I would disagree with you about the Pope's right to alter the liturgy. He has the authority, but not the right. The Pope must serve the tradition, not alter it. Dear Paul VI was, I believe, a holy man, and I no less than any other would rejoice to see him raised to the altars, if for no other reason than his courage in defending the Church's teaching on life, and the suffering he went through in seeing the disunity within the Church. But I think he was wrong to so radically re-order the liturgy.

Benedict XVI is truly a marvellous man - simply proposing the love of Christ to all mankind. Long may he reign.

Fr Ray Blake said...

You are correct authority is, perhaps, a better choice of word than right. As a Catholic priest though I would have to say that that authority comes from God rather than is simply a moral or temporal authority.

Don Marco said...

Brilliant, dear Father!

Andrew said...

You are very brave to say what you did about Paul VI and the liturgy. It's so refreshing to hear this, especially with the papolatry that "conservative" Catholics spout nowadays.

The Pope is the guardian of tradition - not the owner of it.

Btw: the quote from Pius IX of "I am Tradition" was said to a dissenting Cardinal who had the nerve to say to the Holy Father that he disagreed with the pronouncment of papal infallibility. There is a quote from Pius IX when a group of Catholic priests who wanted drastic changes in the mass along the lines of Rosmini, "Change the mass? How can I change the mass? I am ONLY the Pope."

David said...

I posted this on The Cafeteria is Closed to express my feelings about the liturgy as a newbie Catholic (1st anniversary of my Reception coming up at Easter!):


A priest friend of mine who understands my love of the old rite recently gave me a copy of an essay he wrote at seminary comparing the new and the old rites of Mass. Other than the suggested use of the Asperges for the penitential rite, which I find a good amendation (although one which I have never heard being done in practice), the changes consisted of prayers in the Ordinary being snipped because they were "medieval accretions". The working paradigm that Cardinal Bugnini and the reformers followed seemed to be an abandonment of everything that they saw as having crept in after a Golden Age of the liturgy (of which in reality very few records exist and was thus based on that same "archaelogism" condemned by Pius XII in Mediator Dei). There was a strong prejudice against the previous 1400 years as being an era of degeneracy and spiritual stagnation. In fact, the reformers seemed to share much the same prejudice against the Middle and so-called "Dark Ages" as the Reformers.

And we now know through historical research by people like Eamonn Duffy that the Middle Ages were an era of deep spirituality and profound faith - and also of a high degree of lay participation. And one we could do well to learn from.

I think I've heard most of the arguments in favour of the new rite over the old rite (including the idea that "Africans" don't like reverence and that to favour the old rite was to impose my own tastes on them - so a neat implication of racism to win the argument!) but I have just not been convinced.

BTW I go to the new rite of Mass 9 times out 10. But it wasn't until I first went to a Mass offered by an FSSP priest that I began to understand the sublimity of the Sacrifice of the Altar. In fact, it has helped me appreciate the new rite but does it take some concentration to see the Unbloody Sacrifice in what remains of the Roman rite of the Mass.

And, of course, the new rite can be celebrated very beautifully. But Gregorian chant, incense, and beautiful vestments cannot hide the impoverishment of the prayers of the new rite.

I think when it comes down to it: if a person doesn't like the old rite of Mass then that's fine but please allow those who find that it draws them closer to Christ to have the opportunity to attend such a Mass. The lack of charity towards those who favour the old rite can be very distressing (and, of course, the lack of charity of some "traditionalists" can be equally unedifying). We have come to a situation that those who grudge the liberalisation of the old rite resemble the proverbial dog in the manger "who neither eats nor allows others to eat".