What this Motu Proprio does
Effectively it levels the playing field for people who want to use the older liturgical forms.
Remember: the MP applies to all the sacraments as they were before the Council, not just Holy Mass. It concerns the liturgy, not just Holy Mass. Thus clerics (bishops, priests, deacons), who are obliged to recite the Liturgy of the Hours can use the older Breviarium Romanum as it was in 1962. Benedict is establishing the older form of liturgy, as in was in 1962, as an extraordinary form (forma extraordinaria). The Novus Ordo of the Roman Missal and all other liturgical books remain the ordinary way of celebrating the liturgy.
“Extraordinary”, here, does NOT mean “rare” or “unusual” or “special”. It simply means “out of the common order”. If we turn to how the Church uses Latin in, for example, a pretty good Latinist, St. Jerome, the adverb extraordinarie means “with excessive frequency” (cf. On Ephesians 1 ad. 2, 13). It cannot be argued legitimately from the word “extraordinary” that use of the older forms must necessarily be “rare”. It can be quite regular, depending on the circumstances, while in the larger scheme of things the Novus Ordo remains now the usual way things are done.
The Motu Proprio responds to THREE GROUPS of people:
1) Followers of the SSPX, for whom this form of Mass is a “mark of identity”, even though there are also deeper theological reasons for that break.
2) There are many lay people who also remember the older form of Mass from before the changes. And you don’t have to be to 80 to remember those days. There are people in the 40’s and 50’s who remember living with the old Mass. They have always remained attached to the old Mass or have regained a longing for it.
3) There are those who were neither in a separated group nor remember the pre-Conciliar Mass. These are younger people who have discovered the older form.
As a result, it is unacceptable to suggest that these provisions were made merely to accomodate a bunch of nostalgic old foggies who can’t get with the program. The provisions were made with anyone in mind who wants older forms, for any decent reason. People who want to avail of this extraordinary use are not second rate citizens.
They may not be treated any longer like the nutty aunt in the attic.
There are a few things to dispell.
- In the explanatory letter the Pope invites bishops, “I invite you, dear Brothers, to send to the Holy See an account of your experiences, three years after this Motu Proprio has taken effect. If truly serious difficulties come to light, ways to remedy them can be sought.” This does NOT impose an expiration date. What it does is ask for information about what is going on. If, in light of experience, the provisions need to be changed, they can be changed based on experience. However, I hasten to point out to the whiners who will say this weakens the Motu Proprio, that this invitation is NOT in the Motu Proprio itself. I will remind those who see the glass always as half empty that if the experiences are POSITIVE, the provisions could be adjusted positively. So, in a way, it is up to you. Open hearts. Work together. Save the Liturgy – Save the World, as we say around this blog.
- The bishops retain authority in their dioceses. Can it be any other way? This is entirely normal, good and proper. However, the Pope has with this Motu Proprio made many things that were once rather vague far more concrete and clear. Remember, bishops can be allies. You must approach them properly, which is only common sense. It may be that Fr. Guido O’Brien at St. Ipsydipsy doesn’t want to or in incapable of celebrating Mass in the old way. In that case, the bishop could be helpful in resolving the dilemma.
- Private Masses/liturgies in the old form can’t be celebrated in private in the Triduum. That is normal and reasonable. that is the way it is in the Novus Ordo. In places where the older form is established in a parish for the older use, the Triduum CAN be celebrated with the older books. However, in parishes where the newer forms are the usual fare, and there is a regularly scheduled Mass with the older form, when the Triduum arrives, the older, extraordinary liturgy must give way to the ordinary. That is logical. In the Novus Ordo, as in the older days, there cannot be two Masses of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, two Good Friday liturgies, or two Vigils. So, in this case, the ordinary takes precedence.
- The issue the Triduum and this reasonable restriction has nothing to do with the prayer about the Jews on Good Friday. This is simply a matter of what the Church’s logical practice is based on the sacred nature of those Triduum liturgies. The Jews were not part of the equation. Remember also that the 1962 Missale Romanum is used for the Triduum in those places where it will be permitted to use the older form at that time. The 1962 edition and not some earlier edition before the changes to those Good Friday petitions.
- As stated above, the 1962 Missale, the Missal of Bl. John XXIII is to be used, and NOT some earlier edition. Priests who are not adhering to the 1962 rubrics should be now ready and willing to adjust what they are doing. Lay people must be ready and willing to adjust their expectations.
- The Motu Proprio does NOT set a minimum number of people who must ask for the older form of Mass before it can be conceded. It does talk about stable groups for regularly scheduled Masses.