Monday, June 30, 2008

All Rite!, Part 2

Some reflection and some feedback on my note below concerning whether the traditional Roman liturgy (Gregorian rite) and the Novus Ordo (Pauline rite) really should be considered two separate liturgical rites has prompted me to visit the topic one more time.

A fellow going by the on-line name "Jordanes" made an excellent observation here, namely, that the language of Summorum Pontificum fundamentally answers a juridical question and not primarily a liturgical one. It establishes the legal basis on which a priest of the Roman Rite can say either rite without "permission":

The word "rite" has different shades of meaning. Juridically, the 1962 Missal and the 1970/2003 Missal are two uses of the one Roman Rite -- but in the sense that the differences between the uses are much, much more numerous than the similarities, one can distinguish them as two different rites.

The decree that they are two uses, not two separate juridical rites, is supremely important, because if they were two different rites in the eyes of the liturgical law, then priests in the Latin Rite would need an indult to celebrate according to the 1962 Missal. However, since the Pope has made clear that they are two uses within one rite, all Latin Rite priests have permission to celebrate according to either the 1962 Missal or the 1970/2003 Missal, without having to obtain an indult from their bishop. In other words, if a Latin Rite priest wants to celebrate a "Tridentine" Mass, he may do so -- he doesn't have to ask his bishop first, and he doesn't even have to wait for a group of lay Catholics to approach him and ask him. He has that legal right as a Latin Rite priest with faculties to celebrate Mass according to his own rite, the Roman Rite. (This is better than the "universal indult" that traditionalists had desired -- the Pope says Latin priests don't even need an indult, whether universal or not.)

All the same, the debate about whether or not the two juridical uses are de facto different rites remains open.

Another fellow in that same combox characterized my argument thus:

In order to maintain the opinion, he argues that various practices (read: abuses) in how the Pauline Mass is observed amount to it being a different rite (at least in those instances). Pope says no. Palm says yes. I go with the pope, because he is the head of the Catholic Church.

In a soon-coming post I will have a few words to say about my participation in that discussion (the short take is that I shouldn't have been there or done that). I think most readers will see that I did not directly contradict the Pope, as charged. And it is only fair to point out that I did not argue in my posting below that the Pauline rite is a separate rite based on abuses of it--everything I cited as examples are approved by the Vatican.

Ultimately my position is derived from the much more complete presentation and much greater expertise of Msgr. Klaus Gamber in his very important book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background (bottom line is, if you're going to engage the traditionalist position on the liturgical reform, you have to read this book: period.) Msgr. Gamber goes well beyond the common sense approach of "Hippler's Law" (Arthur would kill me for calling it that), that Different Words + Different Rubrics = Different (Liturgical) Rite. Msgr. Gamber provides a detailed definition of what a liturgical rite is and why the Gregorian rite (or, as he calls it, the ritus romanus) must be considered a different liturgical rite from the Pauline rite (ritus modernus; and for Gamber this would be true even when the Pauline rite is celebrated entirely in Latin using the more traditional options.) I strongly urge a thoughtful reading of this book by an author whom none other than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger called, "the one scholar who, among the army of pseudo-liturgists, truly represents the liturgical thinking of the center of the Church."

Which brings us again to Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict. Quite contrary to this position being flatly contrary to Summorum Pontificum, I really do think that the 1998 talk to Una Voce provides a hermeneutical key to the document. At the very least it helps us understand how and why Cardinal Hoyos, whom the Holy Father himself put in charge of the implementation of Summorum Pontificum, would continue to use language that suggests that the traditional Roman liturgy really is a separate liturgical rite from the Novos Ordo. If someone really has a problem with speaking of the TLM and NOM as distinct liturgical rites then by all means take it up with Cardinal Hoyos. I just agree with him.

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!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

On Androgyny and Modesty

This week I took my kids to an event for a day of instruction and fun. I was both bemused and chagrined when the instructor took the question of a young boy at the back of the class and proceeded, then and throughout the rest of the day, to refer to him as "her" and "she". Why the confusion? For two reasons, at least. First, the unfortunate lad sported one of those dual-purpose names that are given in approximately equal proportion these days to baby girls and boys. And he wore his hair down around his shoulders. Indeed, in this family mom, sister, and brother were more or less interchangeable--long hair, pants, neutral colors.

I felt sorry for the kid. The first time it happened he shot an anguished-angry look at his mother, who just smiled and shrugged. I'm hoping that the incident shakes him up just enough that he goes out and gets a crew-cut this summer, but not enough that he either a) starts to question his gender or b) decides to ditch all the hair and becomes some sort of angry skinhead.

I couldn't help but reflect on the contrast with my own children, especially my oldest daughter who was with me. Out of at least fifty girls and women at this event, my daughter was the only one not wearing pants/shorts. She was stylish, cute, modest (there's no need for modest to be synonymous with frumpy and ugly), but unmistakably feminine. In fact, she got several compliments on her outfit from the other girls.

Pretending that gender doesn't matter is one of the more laughable neuroses of our modern "culture" (gotta put that word in quotes, because it's not really much of a culture.) But it's not really a laughing matter because an enormous amount of social decline can be traced directly to gender confusion. But of course everyday experience and simple common sense tell us in innumerable ways that gender distinctions are hard coded into our genetics and into our souls. And the connection between body and soul has one of its most obvious expressions in the way we dress. Traditionalists have been in the vanguard on this, emphasizing lost virtues such as modesty and maintaining gender distinctions in dress in the face of an increasingly vulgar, sexualized, and androgynous society (although a lack of charity and prudence when discussing these points with others can easily degenerate into rash judgment; we're all feeling our way forward on these issues and we need to cut each other some slack as we sort things out.)

I don't think we need to dress like the Amish (to the contrary, as I said I do not think modest and feminine need equate to plain and frumpy) but I do find it very encouraging to see a trend in both traditionalist and neo-conservative circles which takes modest and gender-distinct dress seriously. To rebuild a culture requires a serious eye toward living a counter-culture.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Resurrecting the Rite

Almost exactly one year ago my family drove down to St. Louis to witness an historic event, the ordination of two priests for the Institute of Christ the King in the classical Roman Rite by Archbishop Raymond Burke. It was historic because it was the first time since Vatican II, as far as I know, that priests had been ordained in the traditional Rite by the ordinary of a major metropolitan See in his own cathedral. This ordination occurred about a month before Summorum Pontificum was promulgated, so it was all the more in the groundbreaking category.

Archbishop Burke has been a major supporter of the traditional Latin Mass since his start as "just" Bishop Burke in my diocese, La Crosse, WI. When asked by one of the faithful here why he was so supportive of the traditional Latin Mass he replied, "Because it's the Mass that made the saints."

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is extremely beautiful and was a most fitting place for this incredible event. The place was absolutely full, which had to mean well over a thousand people in attendance. The entire ceremony ran over four hours and I was extremely proud of my two older children (they were 12 and 9 at the time), who not only wanted to attend this historic event but sat through it attentively and without complaint.

Interestingly, the event was covered by St. Louis Magazine and the author happened to interview my wife Lorene, who was then quoted in the piece. The resulting article, "Resurrecting the Rite", was really quite good for a piece in a secular journal. The on-line version unfortunately lacks the beautiful pictures that accompanied the print version, but there is a gallery of great photos on the site of the Institute of Christ the King. The author was plainly sympathetic to the Latin Mass. She found my wife in the vestibule during the ceremony:

Out in the cathedral vestibule, a mother rocks an infant too young to find solace in these phrases. Lorene Palm has come all the way from rural Wisconsin with her husband and children. Why, I ask, thinking of that road trip on a weekday with kids in the back seat. “Because we love the institute,” she says. “They have provided the Latin Mass for us, and it is the joy of our life.” Tears well up. “When the world is crazy, and you don’t know what is going to happen from day to day, you have someplace that is ordered and peaceful,” she says, her voice cracking, “and you know that God is there, and you can be with Him.”

Another young woman was also quoted favorably (I love the way she deftly turned the charge of ignorance of Latin back onto the naysayer......Come on, Father, even a kid can learn this....):

“Young people are starved for this,” says Keri Frasca, who went to her first Latin Mass at 28. “I had been raised Catholic, but I really wasn’t practicing my faith. I went to the Latin Mass and—it was sublime. So beautiful, so supernatural. I had made a lot of mistakes in my early twenties. I thought this would give me self-discipline, inner peace, a higher purpose—a way to live beyond this world, with all its disappointments.

“I’ve heard the same words every Sunday for seven years, and I never tire of them,” she continues. “It touches a place inside you that nothing earthly can. I think when you have the Mass in the vernacular with the priest facing the people, it becomes more about the people than it does the real presence of God. It allows greater variation, more abuses. Some of the hymns are just so—I hate to use the word, but banal. There are a lot more distractions; there’s a greater immodesty in dress. Talking out loud. Communion in the hands.”

What about one St. Louis priest’s objection, that “most priests in the United States have not studied Latin, and it’s awfully close to blasphemy to presume to offer a Mass in a language in which you don’t understand a word”?

“We all have English-Latin missals,” Frasca points out serenely. “And when you see tiny little altar boys who are able to follow and understand, it’s quite humbling.
It is more than telling that the traditionalist Catholic was said to answer "serenely", while the feminist who was interviewed for the article "snaps" her reply:

Others see the shift as more political than psychological. “It’s a power thing,” snaps a devout Catholic with a graduate degree in theology and strong feminist sensibilities. “Only the boys who know the language know what’s going on. They’re saying the words; if you can’t answer, so what? They’re battening down the hatches.” She takes a deep breath. “Yes, the mystique of Latin takes people to another world. But it’s a world that doesn’t exist.”

[Mark Shea notes in a recent article that in the secular media dissenting Catholics, no matter how totally they reject and even revile the Church's teachings, are always "devout".]

The article restates a few common myths about Vatican II, such as that it authorized the celebration of the Mass entirely in the vernacular and authorized the priest to say Mass facing the people. And of course there's the obligatory quip that current interest in the classic Roman Rite is all just a bunch of naive nostalgia:

Now the Vatican II Mass was the universal Mass—“and that hardened the positions on both sides,” the scholar says. “The Latin Mass became the symbol of resistance to many of the other changes of Vatican II. And today, conservative Catholic families are seeing in the Latin Mass a way to protect their children from the dangers of the world. The desire is to be commended. The means, I think, is foolish. I think the archbishop is pursuing a chimera, a figment.

“I also worry that this will just further encourage the younger seminarians who are increasingly conservative, almost cultic,” he adds. “Psychologically, that is a most interesting development. There has been so much upheaval. People can take only so much of that, and then they seek solace in something they have heard was an established, definite, beautiful certainty. The bells of St. Mary’s.”
There is one quote from someone less than fully sympathetic that warrants a little bit of thought. It's a topic that I'd like to address in a future posting, that of "noble simplicity":

“What we used to talk about—but it’s a hard thing to teach—was ‘worship in noble simplicity,’” he continues. “The trouble is, instead of noble simplicity we got casual simplicity. Now those moving toward the Latin Mass are saying worship has to be truly noble. And they have lost the simplicity.”
He is, of course, referring back to Sacrosanctum Concilium 34 which says that:

The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they should be within the people's powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.
Hmmmm. That statement has engendered a great deal of mischief. One is tempted to reply, for example, that there is no "useless" repetition in the classical Roman Rite. [Indeed, one is further tempted to point to the two-fold repetition of the Kyrie-Christe Eleison in the Novus Ordo as truly useless, whereas the three-fold set of three invocations in the traditional Rite is obviously Trinitarian and therefore very useful.] And while the texts of the classical Roman Rite are indeed already "within the people's powers of comprehension" (there is, after all, even a comicbook-format introduction called Know Your Mass especially for kids), it escapes me exactly why the Church's most sublime treasure, her sacred liturgy, "should not require much explanation". I recall a passage from the memoirs of then-Cardinal Ratzinger in which he speaks of delving deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the traditional Roman Rite as if peeling layers from an onion, with always one more layer of depth to plumb. Surely dumbing all of that down so that it "should not require much explanation" isn't necessarily a good idea. But then again, such dumbing down is probably not what the majority of Council Fathers had in mind anyway. So this topic really requires a bit more thought. I'd be interested to know, for example, what the very traditionally-minded Council Fathers thought they were approving when they read about this call for "noble simplicity". I'd value your ideas and observations in the comment box.

Anyway, back to the St. Louis Magazine piece. It is obvious that the author was very sympathetic to and even moved by what she saw and heard that Saturday afternoon and I commend her for writing a very fine article on the topic.