Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"They need the Mass, don't worry about the rubrics"



It is all very easy for some of us to get wound up about rubrics and liturgical niceties, or lack of them. Some clergy simply don't seem to understand liturgy, some do; compare and contrast Pope Francis and Pope Benedict.

I love our present Pope, I love what says, I love his delight in people, his call to go out to the poor, his revelling in being a priest but liturgically the old adage "as lost as a Jesuit in Holy Week" comes to mind. I think what he said about his need for Mgr Guido Marini as his Master of Ceremonies is an insight into his deep humility. There seems to be doubt about the translation, "I prefer him to even benefit me by his traditional formation and at the same time, so he is formed in the same way by my emancipated formation", quite what is meant by "emancipated formation" I am not sure. Personally, I imagine a grin and a slight hesitation, even an "err...", before the Holy Father pronounced the phrase. On informal occassions the Pope's facial expression should always be reported along with his words.

One of the things that Pope Benedict taught us is that the Pope can be "several persons", I mean he can as Pope still write as Joseph Ratzinger the scholar and enter the debate on how to interpret scripture, offering his own personal view rather than a Magisterial interpretation. In the same way Pope Francis seems to be doing the same at his week day Masses in Santa Marta, where his homilies aren't Magisterial but paternal advice about the spiritual life and discipleship. Here they are obviously extempore, full of hesitations, here he is doing what he feels comfortable doing, celebrating Mass with friends, not quite bothering too much about rubrics, not bothering too much about theological precision, which is one of the reasons, probably, why the texts are never made available and just reported in terms of "the Holy Father said ...".

He is a Jesuit, as one of my parishioners who was a penitent of Fr John Edwards SJ says, "having Francis as Pope, it is just like having Fr John as Pope". As much as I personally loved Fr John, he was rigidly orthodox but his liturgical understanding was putting it kindly "idiosyncratic", or should we call it "pastoral", as of course was that other great and saintly Engish Jesuit, Fr Hugh Thwaites, who 20 years ago trying to persuade me to celebrate the Traditional Mass amid my protests that I didn't understand the rubrics said, "They need the Mass, don't worry about the rubrics". So typical of a Jesuit!


7 comments:

Anita Moore said...

Sigh. Without the rubrics, what we get is barely recognizable as the Mass! That's what too many of us get every Sunday. Liturgy must be on the agenda of any Jesuit reform. Loosy-goosy liturgy is a path to the very errors the Jesuits were founded to combat.

Incidentally, someone has posted a lot of Fr. Thwaites' talks on YouTube. What an amazing priest. I never realized a priest like that was alive and walking the earth in my own time.

Physiocrat said...

In this post-modern world where signs are consciously manipulated, there is a need in turn both for ecclesiastical bling and for ecclesiastical restraint.

But, if liturgy is about removing what gets in the way of coming into the presence of Christ, then the Tridentine Mass is the superior form, regardless of how highly decorated the vestments are, or are not. The Novus Ordo needs to become the rarity, not the other way round. Even at its best, it has too many awkwardnesses, and it leaves too much room for priests and congregations to do their own thing.

Sue Sims said...

An American priest I met at the weekend told me that he'd taught for some time at a seminary, and used to say to the students: "Rubrics are there to protect the people of God from you!" I thought that was both witty and profound.

Steve Calovich said...

Years can pass and then one day you hear a person speak and you say to yourself, I really like this guy. I liked Ronald Reagan and Herman Cain. Maybe someday a Pope will suggest global reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On that day I can imagine myself saying, I like this Pope.

Gratias said...

It unwise for a Pope to say whatever comes to his mind, every day. Small snippets of this are then propagated by Osservatore Romano to the entire world. Overexposure is a bad idea. Discussing the future employment of Mgr. Guido Marini with visiting bishops is in very poor taste. Anyone who has run a company knows this is a manager's mistake.

Every word the Pope says counts, he is the Vicar of Christ on earth. Every time Pope Francis eliminates a tradition, this weakens the Catholic Church. On the other hand he has great charisma and public opinion loves the poor and redistribution of wealth on earth.

Katalina said...

I tend to agree with Gratias about the way the new Pope has been behaving since his election. Another tradition from the last 2 Popes happened on the Corpus Christ Procession when Pope Francis did NOT kneel down but instead walked behind the truck. He also did not kneel when it came time to show reverence to the Blessed Sacrament in the Monstrance but instead incensed it. I am tired of all of the INNOVATIONS

Physiocrat said...

I think we should all stop looking so hard at what is going on in Rome and focus on our own doorsteps. How many parishes even celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi on the right day ie Thursday 30 May? Or sang, or will sing, the liturgy for the day, composed by St Thomas Aquinas?