It's official. The Catholic Knight is retired.  I'm hanging up the helmet and passing the torch. There will be no more articles, no more commentaries, no more calls to action. THIS BLOG IS CLOSED. I've spent a very long time thinking about this, I believe the time has come, and is a bit overdue.  I want to thank my readers for everything, but most especially for your encouragement and your willingness to go out there and fight the good fight. So, that being the case, I've spend the last several weeks looking for bloggers who are fairly active, and best represent something akin to the way I think and what I believe.  I recommend the following blogs for my readers to bookmark and check on regularly. Pick one as your favourite, or pick them all. They are all great..... In His Majesty's Service, THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pope Begins Phase 2 of Liturgical Renewal

(CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has no intention of launching a liturgical "return to the past" but would like to recover some important elements that have been lost or forgotten in recent decades, the Vatican's liturgist said.

Msgr. Guido Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, made the comments in an interview Jan. 19 with Vatican Radio. He was asked about fears that the pope wants to abandon the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council.

"These are certainly incorrect inferences and interpretations," Msgr. Marini said. The path of Catholic liturgy is "development in continuity," in which change never loses touch with the church's living traditions, he said.

"This may also require, in some cases, the recovery of precious and important elements that along the way have been lost or forgotten," he said....

read full story here

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Pope Benedict XVI's liturgical reform has been the subject of much confusion in the Catholic Church. This is mainly because so many Catholics don't know this pope, have never read his works, and do not understand his intentions. I've had several conversations with clergy in my diocese, and I've found this to be no less the case here in Southern Missouri. It seems there is an overarching fear, even among the clergy, that this pope seeks to undo the reforms of Vatican II and take the Church back to the pre-conciliar period. Personally, I believe their fears are unfounded, and I am reminded of Pope John Paul II's first words to the world upon his instillation in 1978: "Be not afraid."  Those words could just as easily be applied here.  Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, was John Paul II's close personal friend.  Though they differ radically in style, they are virtually the same in ideology.

At the heart of concern is Pope Benedict's motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, which liberalizes usage of the pre-conciliar Tridentine liturgy (traditional Latin mass). What many Catholics don't realize is that this was just Phase 1 of the pope's agenda for liturgical reform. Since issuing the motu proprio, the pope has revealed that his reasoning was a bit different than what many thought. Turns out, Summorum Pontificum was not the result of an overwhelming affection the pope had for the Tridentine mass, but rather the result of overwhelming abuse of the Novus Ordo liturgy (new mass). In other words, the pope revealed, liberals who abuse the new mass, brought this motu proprio upon themselves. The implication being that Summorum Pontificum would have never come about, if only liberals in the Church hadn't abused the new liturgy, and tried to marginalize Catholics who (in frustration) wanted to return to the old. Summorum Pontificum was in effect, a chastisement of the liberal wing of the Catholic Church, for failing to show Christian charity to the conservative wing, and for abusing the treasure of the new mass.

The purpose of Summorum Pontificum now serves to complete the original intention of Pope John Paul II's motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, which was to allow the two forms of the mass to exist side-by-side, and thus influence each other. This was designed to cause them to eventually grow together organically. The idea was that while the reforms of Vatican II were perfectly legitimate, and necessary, their implementation came about in a very defective way -- especially in the English-speaking world.  As a result of that many abuses of the liturgy crept in, and consequently, there evolved a "rupture" of sorts between the liturgical tradition of the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. Such a rupture is unnatural, and harmful, both to the liturgical health of the Catholic Church, and to the spiritual health of individual Catholics. Pope John Paul II sought to correct this problem in a gentle way, allowing the rupture to heal itself. His efforts, however, were met with significant resistance, further liturgical abuse, and the open suppression of the Tridentine liturgy by many bishops around the world -- especially in English-speaking nations.

Pope Benedict XVI fully understands the meaning of that Latin saying: Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, which means "the law of prayer is the law of belief." He knows swatting down heresies and abuses in the Church isn't enough by itself. If the root cause of these things is allowed to remain, the problems will continue to resurface over and over again. The liturgical rupture in the Church has become a root source of the problem, and this rupture must be healed if the Church is to put down many of the modern heresies and abuses that plague her.

Now that the pope has enshrined the free celebration of the Tridentine liturgy into Church law, the effort of liturgical orthodoxy can no longer be suppressed. Its influence will not be limited to the celebration of the traditional Latin mass. As the older form of the mass expands, it will directly compete with the celebration of the new mass, especially as portions of the old mass begin to be celebrated in the vernacular languages. This competition will force celebrants of the new mass to return to a greater sense of solemnity and reverence, effectively bringing back many of the ancient customs of the pre-conciliar period to accomplish this.

The pope has wasted no time in guiding the reform of the new liturgy by leading through example. This is where Pope Benedict XVI's heart really lies. Make no mistake about it, the pope's love for the new mass is the primary force driving this whole thing. He has no desire to abolish the Novus Ordo, but rather renew it, and energize it for the next century. Now enters Phase 2 of the pope's agenda.

The pope begins Phase 2 by turning back toward the Lord. By this I mean ad orientem -- in which the celebrant of the mass faces "east" with the congregation during the liturgy, in accordance with the most ancient custom of the Church. The idea here is that the priest leads the congregation toward the Lord, representing them, by facing the same direction. Many Catholics mistakenly believe the priest is "turning his back to them" when he does this. Such a statement reveals a profound misunderstanding of the liturgy. Priests never "turn their backs" to the congregation. Rather, they "turn their faces toward the Lord" together with the congregation, acting as a leader and a representative of the congregation. This simple but profound act, is something that has been virtually discarded since the Second Vatican Council. It is an example of "throwing the baby out with the bath water," an act that played a key role in the rupture of the Church's liturgical tradition. It is the first step in a long marathon of renewal. The pope is showing the priests and bishops of the world, by example, how to heal the rift in the Church, and energize the new liturgy for the 21st century.

In the English-speaking world, the changes coming to the new mass will be more profound than in other places, primarily because the English-speaking world has drifted so far from the historical tradition of the Church. For starters, the Vatican has determined the English translation of the mass we now celebrate is "defective," and has revoked the American Church's permission to keep celebrating it. A new missal has been completed now, and is under review. It will more faithfully render the Latin text of the new mass into English. So English-speaking Catholics can expect a whole new translation of the new mass in the near future. This combined with the ad orientem posture of the priest, the return to kneeling for communion, the use of Gregorian chant, among many other things, will give English-speaking Catholics a sense that the old and new have been re-married in a new format, something much more familiar to the liturgical development of the Catholic Church over the last 2000 years.  In other words, prepare for a greater sense of solemnity, reverence and mystery in the new English mass.