Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Westminster: I am going

Pontifical High Mass at the Throne to be celebrated in Westminster Cathedral by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos (President of the Ecclesia Dei Commision and Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy) in Westminster Cathedral at 2.00pm on Saturday 14 June.

Sorry, this is a bit of ramble but...
I think it is very important, if you can, to go. There is a petition on the web calling on the bishops to comply with the Pope's request for more celebrations of the Traditional Mass, it seems to imply they are dragging their feet. I am not convinced. In my diocese there are no more than half a dozen priests who would consider themselves idoneus, competent, to celebrate it. Even they are not going to celebrate the ancient form, which would attract less than 50 in preference to the new form which will fill a Church, certainly not at prime time on a Sunday. My own bishop has been searching for priests to celebrate the older form, in order that he might respond positively to requests.

I think the Pope's Motu Proprio is more than just about about reconciliation with groups like the SSPX, or even offering the Mass to those who prefer it, whether they are are the old with a deep nostalgia for it or the young who have newly discovered it. It is reconciliation with the past that is important. The unity of the Church is central to Ratzingerian thelogy, a unity with legitimate diversity, a unity that is not just horizontal but vertical uniting us to Christ and his saints. For him the liturgy is central to this both the extraordinary form but also the bringing out from the treasure chests the things of the past. For re-union with the Orthodox diversity but also fidelity to the past is crucial.

I love the concept of Low Mass, the prayerful silence but I have difficulty with the reality, great if I was celebrating with just a server every day but with a congregation, I am unconvinced. Solemn High Mass, or even Sung Mass is different, I love both concept and reality, where everything leads Godward. I am sure VII's intention was to open up its treasures. I think that what the Pope is trying to do is get us to look where we have come from, the root of western Catholic liturgy is High Mass, in all its splendour, not the trivialising experimentalism that still passes for the Novus Ordo, owing more to Anglicanism or Protestant Evangelicalism than to Catholicism. Again and again Ratzinger has spoken of the "rootlessness" of the Novus Ordo. I think that is a metaphor for the rootless of western ecclesiology, theology in general but also of the rootlessness of western culture. Catholic music and liturgical prayer is based on the ancient chants, we have done people a serious disservice by substituting meringue rhythms, gospel choruses, folksongs or even Hymns Ancient and Modern, frankly they ain't Catholic.

I disagree strongly with bloggers like Damian Thompson in their suggestion that the bishops are dragging their feet in following the Pope, they are following their people. The problem is that for the last 40 years, our bishops in common with almost every other bishop throughout the world has encourage a fracture with past but they have done so in good faith, assuming it was the will of the Holy See. Here Eastern Orthodox see a great flaw in Catholicism and Benedict sees it too, it is that bishops have been forced to choose between between being faithful bearers of the Tradition and loyalty to Rome, see his sermon when taking possession of the Lateran, where he speaks of the Pope as being the servant of Tradition rather than its master.

Saturday's Mass at Westminster is a great sign of reconcilliation with our heritage, I hope there are going to be hundreds of priests in choir and a few bishops, would it not be wonderful if they had to open up the galleries just to get people in?


Anonymous said...

absolutely agree 100% with you.
EF low mass is less than ideal, much prefer a simple OF mass. EF high mass alongside more solemn celebration of the new rite is the way forward. i think most of the bishops would be sympathetic to this road-map but there are many practicalities to be overcome. constant bishop-bashing and critical chatter often verging on paranoia and hystericalism is totally counter-productive. whereas large numbers for events like this cannot go un-noticed and demonstrate loyalty to the church and bishops.

final comment: i predict mgr mark langham will be made auxillary bishop in the next few days and good appointment (see his blog). i'm wondering if it's in westminster or further afield, what the implications will be. my bets were on nicholls for westminster but now i'm not so sure. i can't see langham going straight to archbish of birmingham (but suppose its possible) or he could be at the end of a wider re-shuffle? anyways looks like an announcement could be v soon. anyone else heard any further gossip???

Anonymous said...

I think the cultural obstacles to appreciating a truly uncompromising EF low mass for many Catholics used to the current liturgical culture are indeed great. (But how uncompromising does Low Mass have to be. Vernacular scripture readings? Dialogue mass? All possible and effective, and normal at the EF in France.)

But I do not wholly agree with you on some points.

(1) Bishops not obstructive? May be not in Arundel and Brighton directly. But in Westminster, oh yes, very much so, definitely. One Westminster priest I know was rung up and reprimanded by an auxiliary bishop just for mentioning the Motu Proprio and people's rights under it in his parish news letter. This supposedly constituted an attempt to canvass attendance at the EF, and as such was supposedly 'against the rules'. The clerical peer pressure not to be seen as associated with the EF is also still very great - though there are signs that this is beginning to change.

(2) If the English bishops are trying to be so helpful, and seeking clergy who are idoneus, I take it that they are all training seminarians in the celebration and spirituality of the EF, as many US seminaries are doing? Somehow I don't think this is happening in the English church.

(3) If the cultural obstacles to the EF are so great, how come so many Catholic university students I meet happily attend the EF, Low as well as High ? To say nothing of massive youth attendance at the Chartres pilgrimage in France. A lot of the obstacles come from a certain older generation in the laity, a generation dominant in many parishes especially outside London and university towns, but bound to pass - hence the obstacles may be great now, but more transitory than some suppose.

(4) If it's all so difficult for the English bishops, how come US bishops like Burke of St Louis find it so easy? Weekly celebrations of the EF at his seminary - intake at his seminary up by 50% since he came to St Louis.

My own view is that the English bishops and much of the management class of the English church are trapped in a culture of defeatist managed decline - part of which involves, as you rightly say, Fr Blake, a vision of Vatican II that incorporates and even complacently celebrates cultural and theological rupture, a vision they share with many active lay Catholics above the age of 40. But are all the world's bishops trapped in this? See again remarks above on US church. Things don't have to be this way.

I agree on the main point - come to Westminster Cathedral on Saturday afternoon!

Anonymous said...

I think low Mass is simply wonderful. It is really so intimate. For a parish Sunday Mass I would agree that the high Mass would be more suitable. I take your point about people voting with their feet. However the purpose of the Bishop is to lead too and not simply go with "the people". If they simply follow the people on this one then we are all heading for disaster that is for sure! However, I think it is very hard to be a Bishop in these times.

I'm delighted to hear Bishop Conry is intent on seeding tradition in his diocese. It will be quite a challenge but I'm confident that if he perseveres God's good grace, blessings and wisdom will be showered upon him. Our family prayers are with him to fortify and sustain his good efforts please God.

I am really looking forward to Saturday too. There is a meeting at 11 am. While I'm not a member of the LMS I'm hoping to gain entry anyway. My priest has encouraged us all to come so you might pop along to that too if you like.

While the service starts at 2:oo pm we were told to be there from 1:30pm. There will be some choral delights beforehand I think.

Sadie Vacantist said...

I disagree with EF low (M)ass being "less than ideal". I am quite happy with it. The problem is and always was High Mass. The OF High Mass (in Latin with English dialogue) or EF High Mass can easily degenerate into 3rd rate classic concerts. It is most distasteful and the Church has a long tradition of being opposed to this. I would further suggest that OF Mass with English dialogue and sung parts in Latin is the worst of all worlds. The English plus the form itself are terrible and I find myself only interested in the music and nothing else. Evelyn Waugh adored low Mass in Latin by the way. It is a myth that he liked "bells and smells" something he associated with the C of E. The OF Mass sung in English has been an unhappy experience for everyone these last 40 years which is why many cathedrals, for example, now opt for the Latin option: banal liturgical form interrupting the music rather in the manner of a disk jockey on Classic FM.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Tom, I agree, peer pressure amongst the clergy, priests and bishops, is so demoralising. Do you remember what the Pope said years ago in the Ratzinger Report on Episcopal Conferences?

There is problem when bearers of the Tradition have lost confidence in the Tradition and rely on mutual affirmation.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, in the Archdiocese of Glasgow we have the situation where there are priests who wish to learn and celebrate the Extraordinary Form but are reluctant to 'out' themselves as the Archbishop has made it clear he has no wish to encourage the return of the traditional Latin Mass in his archdiocese.

The Bishop of Aberdeen also recently said that there would be no "Latin Mass" in his diocese - he said this at Pluscarden Abbey, of all places.

So, I'm afraid in Scotland most bishops are, sadly, on this point wilfully dragging their heels.

Paulinus said...

To continue your analogy :The people have been led out into the liturgical desert for 40 years and then the bishops expect US to lead THEM into the liturgical Promised Land. We need a combination of Moses and Joshua in Westminster. Likely? Hmmmmm.

Anonymous said...

Agree completely.

On the tangential point Big Benny raises, I too fleetingly thought the episcopacy might be a possibility, given what Mgr Langham said in his final post. However, there is only one vacancy as far as I know and he won't be getting that, othwerwise he wouldn't have regretted leaving the cathedral.

I doubt there will be a big re-shuffle of the type Benny suggests - word would have got out before now. It's more likely that the good Mgr is being shunted sideways as his punishment for allowing Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos into the Cathedral in the first place. If Benny is right, however, Tuesday is usually the day such appointments are announced.

Meanwhile, let's turn out in huge numbers on Saturday for Cardinal Hoyos and the Church. I will certainly be there.

Anonymous said...

As a layman, I find the Low Mass wonderful - in reality as well as theory.

The prayerfulness, the feeling of closeness to the mystery of God - everything that I usually fail to find in any other Mass.

A diet of regular High or Sung Masses would be too rich for me; glorious for a special occasion, and a wonderful way to worship God, but so grand that I find that much is lost.

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