Wednesday, June 18, 2008

All Rite! -- They Really Are Two Rites

Now we're cooking with gas! The liturgical counter-revolution is in full swing, with a wonderful new development popping up just this week.

I have had it in mind for a few weeks now to write a blog entry about Article 1 of Summorum Pontificum and its reference to the Novus Ordo and traditional Latin Mass as "two usages of the one Roman rite":

Art 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the 'Lex orandi' (Law of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite. Nonetheless, the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an extraordinary expression of that same 'Lex orandi,' and must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church's Lex orandi will in no any way lead to a division in the Church's 'Lex credendi' (Law of belief). They are, in fact two usages of the one Roman rite (link).

I and many others have been in the habit of speaking of the Novus Ordo and the traditional Latin Mass as two separate rites. Some speak of the "traditional Roman Rite" or the "classical Roman Rite" or perhaps even the "Gregorian Rite" in reference to the traditional Latin Mass and, sometimes, of the "Pauline Rite" in reference to the Novus Ordo. For me this distinction flows naturally and surely from the common sense observation first verbalized by my friend Dr. Arthur Hippler, namely, that Different Words + Different Rubrics = Different Rites.

This leads me to the point I wanted to make with regard to the Holy Father's statement in Summorum Pontificum. It seems to me that if his words were taken to mean that the NOM and TLM cannot be spoken of as different rites, then Article 1 would need to be interpreted strictly. Very strictly! If one is speaking of the Novus Ordo in Latin, said ad orientem, using the traditional Roman Canon, with all male servers, Holy Communion delivered on the tongue of kneeling recipients by priests, etc. as it is at St. Agnes in St. Paul or St. John Cantius in Chicago then yes, I suppose that one can see enough correspondence in word and action between the NOM and the TLM that one can speak of them as "two usages of the one Roman rite" (I think some difficulties remain, but they are best addressed by experts who know a lot more about liturgical intricacies that I do.)

This very distinction was addressed by Cardinal Ratzinger himself:

An average Christian without specialist liturgical formation would find it difficult to distinguish between a Mass sung in Latin according to the old Missal and a sung Latin Mass according to the new Missal. However, the difference between a liturgy celebrated faithfully according to the Missal of Paul VI and the reality of a vernacular liturgy celebrated with all the freedom and creativity that are possible - that difference can be enormous! ("Ten Years of the Motu Proprio")

An "enormous" difference. So then are we really talking about the same Rite once we branch out into the New Mass said entirely in myriad vernacular translations (containing myriad theological and linguistic problems), facing the people, with one of the optional "Eucharistic prayers", taking all sorts of other options in terms of both text and rubrics, altar girls (serviettes), Holy Communion distributed into the hands of standing recipients by "extraordinary" (who's fooling whom?) Eucharistic ministers, etc.? How would we contend with the common sense Different Words + Different Rubrics = Different Rites? Well, let's just say that I'm highly skeptical that in the latter instance we really are talking about "two usages of the one Roman rite" in the sense that it is impermissible to speak of them as two separate rites. Indeed, I would say that if a sung traditional High Mass and the celebration of the Novus Ordo I just described aren't two different rites, then there's no such thing as different rites in the Church.

So in light of Article 1 of Summorum Pontificum are traditionalists wrong to continue to speak of the traditional Latin Mass as a distinct liturgical Rite? It would appear not. Earlier this week, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos gave an interview in which he spoke openly of the traditional Latin Mass as the "Gregorian Rite". He stated that:

Many of the difficulties [in the reception of Summorum Pontificum] come out because they don’t know the reality of the Gregorian Rite – this is the just [correct] name for the Extraordinary Form, because this Mass was never prevented, never (my emphasis).

Father Zuhlsdorf's blog entry on this, with his additional commentary, certainly deserves to be read. The upshot is that if the Cardinal put in charge of the implementation of Summorum Pontificum by the Holy Father can speak of the Gregorian Rite, I guess that I can too.

Ultimately (you read it here first?), I think that Article 1 of Summorum Pontificum will come to be seen as some romanita designed to prevent undue alarm in liberal circles at the promulgation of the document. But I think that, in time and as the divergence of the two rites is made more obvious by the wider celebration of the Gregorian Rite, this way of thinking will give way to the common sense acknowledgment that we really are faced with separate rites. (Well, more than two really, because the Novus Ordo is very far from being one unified rite.)

And this isn't really that big a deal. In a talk given to Una Voce on 24 October 1998 then-Cardinal Ratzinger had already spoken of the Novus Ordo and the Gregorian Rite as "two rites". But he pointed out that there is plenty of historical precidence for multiple liturgical rites coexisting within the larger umbrella of the Latin Rite:

We must now examine the other argument, which claims that the existence of the two rites can damage unity. Here a distinction must be made between the theological aspect and the practical aspect of the question. As regards what is theoretical and basic, it must be stated that several forms of the Latin rite have always existed, and were only slowly withdrawn, as a result of the coming together of the different parts of Europe. Before the Council there existed side by side with the Roman rite, the Ambrosian rite, the Mozarabic rite of Toledo, the rite of Braga, the Carthusian rite, the Carmelite rite, and best known of all, the Dominican rite, and perhaps still other rites of which I am not aware. No one was ever scandalized that the Dominicans, often present in our parishes, did not celebrate like diocesan priests but had their own rite. We did not have any doubt that their rite was as Catholic as the Roman rite, and we were proud of the richness inherent in these various traditions. Moreover, one must say this: that the freedom which the new order of Mass gives to creativity is often taken to excessive lengths. The difference between the liturgy according to the new books, how it is actually practiced and celebrated in different places, is often greater than the difference between an old Mass and a new Mass, when both these are celebrated according to the prescribed liturgical books. ("Ten Years of the Motu Proprio")

The last sentence sounds just about like what I'm saying. Indeed, it appears that in Summorum Pontificum Article 1, the Holy Father is using the phrase "Roman Rite" in the same way that he used the phrase "Latin Rite" in the paragraph above. In fact, that may be the hermeneutical key to Article 1. In the paragraph above, he speaks of "forms" of the "Latin Rite", and then of these "forms" as the Roman rite, Carthusian rite, Ambrosian rite, etc. all existing within that one Latin Rite. In Article 1 of SP, he speaks of "usages" of the "one Roman rite". But that would not preclude us, as Cardinal Hoyos has done, of speaking of the Gregorian rite, the Pauline rite, etc. within that one Roman Rite. The vocabulary is different, but the references are the same. I think I've solved my problem.

The long and short of it is this: First, I don't think that Article 1 of SP locks us into speaking of the Novus Ordo and the traditional Latin Mass as the "ordinary" and "extraordinary" forms of the Roman Rite, lest we be charged with infidelity to the Holy Father. And second, the interview by Cardinal Hoyos is one more indication that this Pope is dead serious about work for a widespread restoration of Catholic Tradition. Deo gratias!


Thom said...

St. Agnus? You really need me as your smart-aleck copy editor.

PalmHQ said...

Like a hole in the head I need that..... ;o)

Thom said...

But to comment on what you have to say and not just how you misspell it, one could almost say that within the Pauline Rite there are as many rites as there are priests celebrating it. Maybe we could come up with categories to help keep them straight: e.g., the 1970s Faux-Folk Music Rite, the Somewhat Solemn but Assiduously Post-Vatican II Rite, the Handholding and Helium Balloons Rite, the Improv Rite, The Liturgical Dancing Rite, the Landspeed Record Rite (celebrated in no more than 15 minutes), and last but not least, the Call to Action Rite, complete with Potato Head priests.

There, that simplifies things, doesn't it!

Oh, one more: the Reform of the Reform Rite, though the number priests celebrating this Rite are few and far between.