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

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Roman Rite and It's Abbreviation


"I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is, to a large extent, due to the disintegration of the liturgy."
- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
now Pope Benedict XVI
(Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977)

"I am of the opinon ... that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It's impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent."
- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
now Pope Benedict XVI
(Salt of the Earth, 1997)

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The time has come for traditional Catholics to take control of the conversation. We do this by the words we use. We traditional Catholics (myself included) have for years boxed ourselves in with a vocabulary that in effect labels us, and the mass we so dearly love. The particular words I'm talking about are "Tridentine" and "Novus Ordo." Now don't get me wrong. The word "Tridentine" is a very descriptive word and very accurate. It alludes to the mass that emerged from the Council of Trent and was promulgated by Saint Pius V in 1570. The Latin phrase "Novus Ordo" is also very descriptive, in the sense that it describes the "New Order" we typically see used in the Church after the promulgation of the Missal of Pope Paul VI in 1969. However, when we use these words, in some ways we decrease perception of what this mass really is. We lessen it, in a way. We also label ourselves, as "Tridentine Catholics," as if that somehow makes us some kind of "ethnic minority" - an obscure group which the Catholic Church is merely trying to accommodate.

Now with all due respect to the Holy Father, the terms he used in Summorum Pontificum to describe the difference between the two forms of the mass ("ordinary" and "extraordinary") also have their problems. The term "ordinary," in reference to the Missal of Pope Paul VI, gives one the impression that this is the original everyday version of the mass. Though that certainly was not the Holy Father's intention, it is the common perception, and it's a perception that is entirely inaccurate. I happen to attend a cathedral parish where the Missal of Saint Pius V is used almost as often as the Missal of Pope Paul VI. So in my parish anyway, the so-called "extraordinary" mass is almost as ordinary as the so-called "ordinary" mass.

Another problem arises with the term "extraordinary" in reference to the Missal of Saint Pius V. In the mind of the average Catholic, something that is "extraordinary" ought to be reserved for extraordinary times and circumstances. For example; a fellow traditional parishioner was telling me about an experience he recently had with another parishioner who occasionally attended the Pius V mass, but more frequently attended the Paul VI mass. When asked why, she responded that she thought the "extraordinary" mass was great, but it ought to be reserved for extraordinary occasions, such as first communions, confirmations, etc. and we really had no need to celebrate it on an "ordinary" everyday basis. Sadly, I think her mistaken point of view is widely held by many within the Church.

So if the terms "Tridentine" and "Novus Ordo" somehow mislabel the mass, and us, in a negative way and the terms "ordinary" and "extraordinary" somehow lead many people to the wrong conclusion about the nature of the two forms, then we've got to use terms that are more descriptive, accurate and avoid complications.

Recently I had a conversation with a priest who was considering the possibility of learning the Missal of Saint Pius V. He had been celebrating the Missal of Pope Paul VI all of his career, but felt as if he was missing out on something. I explained to him my perception of the post-conciliar situation. I told him that the Missal of Saint Pius V is essentially the "Roman Rite." That IS the mass - period. What they did with the Missal of Pope Paul VI is strip down the Roman Rite, abbreviate it, and then redress it in a way that included more Scripture readings, some alternative prayers, a couple extra responses, with the intent of using SOME vernacular. In other words, the Missal of Pius V (Tridentine or Extraordinary Form) is the Roman Rite. That's it. There is no other Roman Rite other than the Missal of Saint Pius V. Now as for the Missal of Pope Paul VI, that was in effect intended to be an additional revised liturgy, something used on the side, drawing from the depth of Catholic tradition anchored in the Roman Rite (Tridentine, or Missal of Saint Pius V), but free to move on it's own as needed to accommodate the general population and their needs. So the "ordinary form" of the mass (Novus Ordo or Missal of Pope Paul VI) is essentially an abbreviation of the Roman Rite. (see comparison of the two liturgies here)

In my conversation with him, I likened the whole thing to the way the moon orbits around the earth. We know that both the moon and the earth are made of the same elementary stuff. Scientists also tell us the earth was made first, but primordial meteor impacts caused the earth to eject large quantities of matter into space, creating another celestial body that would forever remain in orbit around it. That other celestial object is the moon. So long as the moon remains anchored to the earth's gravitational well, it will always orbit the planet in harmony. The earth benefits from this harmony by the moon's influence on tides, and it's reflection of solar light in the night sky. However, without the earth, the moon is a derelict celestial body, having no direction or purpose, falling through space and tossed about by the gravitational pull of anything it comes in near proximity to.

With this analogy I gave a space-age observation to the liturgical situation in the Catholic Church today. The earth represents the Missal of Saint Pius V, while the moon represents the Missal of Pope Paul VI. I made the case that in order for a priest to truly say the Novus Ordo "ordinary" form of the mass correctly, the way Vatican II and Pope Paul VI intended, he must be rooted in the Tridentine "extraordinary" form of the mass. He must not only be familiar with it, but celebrate it, at least privately, and on a regular basis. Only by doing this will he get a true sense of instinct for the rubrics of the mass, and how they ought to be applied to the Missal of Pope Paul VI. Why? Because the Missal of Saint Pius V (Tridentine or Extraordinary Form) effectively IS the Roman Rite of the Church, anything else is just an abbreviation of that rite.

So this is the new paradigm we must create and enforce among our own ranks. The Missal of Saint Pius V, effectively IS the "Roman Rite," and so that is exactly what it should be called. We shouldn't call it the "Tridentine Mass" because that labels it and us. We shouldn't call it the "Extraordinary Form of the Mass" because that has unfortunately caused some unintended confusion. We should call it exactly what it is - The Roman Rite. Meanwhile the Missal of Pope Paul VI, which is what we typically see used in most Catholic Churches today, is effectively an "Abbreviated Form" of the mass. This "Abbreviation of the Roman Rite" MUST be well grounded in the Roman Rite (Tridentine or Extraordinary Form) itself. So from now on 'The Catholic Knight' will attempt to refer to the Missal of Saint Pius V simply as "The Roman Rite" because that is exactly what it is. The Missal of Pope Paul VI is like the moon, orbiting the earth. It is an "Abbreviated Form of the Roman Rite" essentially made from the exact same stuff, but fully anchored by the gravitational well of the Roman Rite. The Roman Rite itself can benefit from this, much in the same way the earth benefits from the influence of the moon, but only when this Abbreviation Mass remains in it's proper orbit.

The reason why so many liturgical innovations and abuses occur these days is simply because the overwhelming vast majority of the clergy don't even know the Roman Rite. They've never been schooled in it! How is it that a Catholic priest cannot even know his own Rite? Yet nevertheless, that is the situation that currently exists in the Latin Church today. Most priests are well schooled in the Abbreviation of the Roman Rite, but they know very little (to nothing) of the Roman Rite itself. It's like the moon having broke free from the Earth's gravitational pull and falling through space aimlessly, occasionally being pulled (influenced) by whatever foreign celestial body it gets in close proximity to. Essentially, the chaos we currently experience in the Abbreviated Mass is the result of the priest, and liturgy coordinators, not being anchored in the gravitational pull of the Roman Rite.

The solution to this problem is simple. Every single priest must be schooled in the Roman Rite Mass - period. They must not only be familiar with it, but they must regularly celebrate it, at least privately, even if it's in solitude. Then, and only then, will they understand the nature of the Abbreviated Mass, and how to celebrate it properly, avoiding all the innovations and abuses that are typically associated with it in this day and age.

Now I understand there will be some priests, particularly some of those ordained in the 1960s through 1970s, who won't care. Even if they did learn the Roman Rite, their inclination is to abuse the liturgy no matter what. There really is nothing that can be done with priests like that, other than disciplinary measures, and that is something that must be worked out with the local bishop. However, I am certain that for a growing number of younger priests, under age 50, learning the actual Roman Rite, will solve the problem. It's a solution that doesn't involve having to make any liturgical changes, either by Rome or the diocesan bishop. All it takes is encouragement of your local priest to learn the full Roman Rite (Missal of Saint Pius V).

So 'The Catholic Knight' would like to encourage all my readers to start referring to the Missal of Saint Pius V as the "Roman Rite" and the Missal of Pope Paul VI as the "Abbreviated Form of the Roman Rite" or just "Abbreviated Liturgy" or "Abbreviated Mass." Then encourage our priests to learn the full Roman Rite, even if it is just to help gain a better understanding of the Abbreviated Liturgy. Many of our priests may have to be reminded of their clerical rights under Summorum Pontificum. All priests everywhere, are entitled to learn the full Roman Rite (Missal of Saint Pius V) on their own with instructional videos, or through workshops, and they may celebrate it at any time privately, even in solitude, without permission of the bishop or their superiors.