3 March 2007

Another Motu Proprio Update

Taken from Envoy Magazine, thanks to Rorate Caeli)

Monsignor Michael R. Schmitz, U.S. Provincial Superior for the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, said the popularly called “reform of the reform” of the Novus Ordo missal is distinct from, and “does not concern the old missal,” indicating that this fact has recently been affirmed by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (PCED).

For the moment, at least, it also appears that fears in some Catholic quarters that the Traditional liturgical calendar would give way to the reformed liturgical calendar, as well as some possible modifications to the Traditional liturgy itself, will not in fact be part of the expected motu proprio easing restrictions on the Traditional Roman rite.

“The missal we use will be left unchanged,” Msgr. Schmitz said.

Msgr. Schmitz also reaffirmed that because the Traditional rite has never been abrogated, every Latin-rite priest currently has the right to offer it privately. In other words, there is no indult, or specific permission from any diocesan bishop necessary for a priest to offer the Traditional Latin rite privately, as many traditionalist Catholics have held for dozens of years.

He also said that the long-awaited and expected motu proprio, at least to his understanding of its most recent contents, allows for every Latin-rite priest to offer the Traditional liturgy publicly.

According to various news reports, the exception would be if a bishop who desired to forbid a particular priest from offering it, he would have to put the reasons in writing and gain approval through the PCED. Msgr. Schmitz added that priests who were forbidden from offering the Traditional rite by their diocesan ordinary could appeal to the PCED for recourse.

Motu Proprio is with the Pope
He also expressed a hopeful confidence that the Pope will issue the motu proprio easing restrictions for all priests to offer the Traditional Latin rite of Holy Mass, although without speculating on the timing. “I can tell you that the document is ready,” he said. “The person who is responsible for it does not want to discuss it any longer,” Schmitz added.

Msgr. Schmitz’s revelation corresponds with the February 7 Mexican daily Milenio article, although citing no sources, which reported the PCED had delivered the document to the Pope in January for his review, consideration and eventual promulgation.

During his nearly hour-long talk on the renewal of the Sacred Liturgy to members of Tradition, Family, Property and guests in McLean, Virginia Monday, February 19, Msgr. Schmitz said that any renewal of the sacred liturgy specifically for the Novus Ordo missal will probably include an encouragement to move it more into line with Sacrosanctum Concilium and the intentions of the Second Vatican Council Fathers.

These two main restorative aspects are also features of the so-called Missal of Pope St. Pius V (Traditional Roman rite), he said, and include the priest again facing the resurrecting Christ toward the East and an increase in the use of Latin, the language of the Church.

Post-Synod document surprises?
There have been some subtle signs that these two specific encouragements — offering Mass ad orientem and using a Latin canon and Gregorian chant during the ordinaries of the Novus Ordo liturgy — may indeed be part of the post-Synod on the Eucharist document, expected to be promulgated soon.

Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, in a recently-published interview for Inside the Vatican, as well as in several previous newspaper interviews in late autumn 2006, alluded to these same themes, although he did not explicitly say that they would be part of the post-synod document on the Eucharist.

Msgr. Schmitz also indicated that there may possibly be an introduction of the offertory prayer from the Traditional Roman missal as an option for the Novus Ordo, as well as an encouragement of the use of Latin, especially for the canon of the Mass, although he did not indicate whether or not this would be part of the post-synod document.

This information corresponds with an interview with Cardinal Medina Estevez, member of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, who attempted to get this offertory added as an option to the Novus Ordo when he was prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Sacraments, but reportedly was blocked by other curial forces at the time.

In an interview in autumn 2005, Cardinal Medina said, “For example, I find that the formulae for the offertory in the missal of St. Pius V are very educational for emphasizing the sacrificial character of the Mass, an essential aspect of the Eucharistic celebration.”

Pope’s liturgy MC replaced soon
Another notable newsworthy item that Msgr. Schmitz delivered at his February 19, hour-long presentation during the question-and-answer period was that Archbishop Piero Marini, whom many had speculated would have been removed long ago, has finally accepted another assignment.

“The Pope is before all else, a gentlemen,” Msgr. Schmitz said, clarifying for many Catholics in the room why this particular step has taken as long as it has. Vaticanists have expected this move ever since the beginning of Pope Benedict’s pontificate. Msgr. Schmitz did not give any details as to the nature of Archbishop Marini’s new assignment.

As Cardinal Ratzinger, the current pope was openly critical of the style of many of the public liturgies for large gatherings of people during Pope John Paul’s world travels throughout his pontificate. Archbishop Marini, a reported disciple of Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, the primary architect of the post-conciliar liturgical reform, was the mastermind behind these creative” liturgies.

Msgr. Schmitz said that those opponents to easing the restrictions on the celebration of the Traditional Roman rite, who say the Church would be taking a step backward or giving in to those who reject the Second Vatican Council, had forgotten something of utmost importance.

“The Traditional Latin Mass, from the beginning to the end, was the liturgy of the Second Vatican Council,” he said. “Not one of the Fathers celebrated any other Mass privately or publicly [during the Council], and the great liturgies during the Council were the pontifical High Masses, if the Pope was involved,” he said.

The Mass is not about us
Finally, one of the other key themes of Msgr. Schmitz’s talk, “The Classical Roman Rite and the Renewal of the Liturgy,” was that many good-willed, sincere Catholics believe that the liturgy is primarily “for us.” This is a serious theological mistake, according to Msgr. Schmitz. “But be assured that it is totally wrong to believe that the Mass is for us,” he said.

“The consequences of the Mass are for us because we are poor sinners and God knows it, and therefore sacrificed Himself on the cross knowing that the re-establishment of the glory of God would heal this sinful world,” Msgr. Schmitz said.

“But the first step, the first sense of the sacrifice of the cross is to re-establish the glory of the Father.”

Of course the validity of the reformed liturgy, if celebrated with the proper form and matter and with the intention of the Church, is a valid liturgy. The Holy Ghost protects that, and Msgr. Schmitz vigorously affirmed that.

“But if God in 2,000 years takes time and effort and grace to really instruct us in every detail how He wants to be glorified, how could I, because I have read one or two books, believe I could do it better than the Holy Ghost?” Msgr. Schmitz queried rhetorically.

“If I do it, I will be rewarded with my own stupidity.”

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