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

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Restoring Tradition In Your Diocese -- Methods and Strategies

Elevation During The Tridentine (Exraordinary Form of the Roman Rite)
Missal of Pope John XXIII
THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: As we have now passed the fifth anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, and are quickly approaching the third anniversary of Anglicanorum Coetibus, it is clear the Catholic Church is steadily moving toward a restoration of tradition. However, the process is slow at times. This is especially true in liberal dioceses with stubborn bishops and priests. Often traditionally-minded Catholics complain in frustration and defeat in these situations. As I pointed out in a previous article, there is no need for a defeatist attitude.

First and foremost, let me make this perfectly clear. The spirit of defeat is outdated and obsolete. It is completely unnecessary now. You, as a Roman Catholic, living today, have much more available to you than you did just before 2007. If you're fortunate enough to live in the English-speaking world (Anglosphere), as of 2009, you actually have twice as many tools at your disposal than Catholics in non-English-speaking countries. A spirit of defeat is completely and totally unwarranted.

Before we get into it, allow me to define exactly what the problem is, what our goals should be, and the available tools at our disposal.

The Problem...
The real issue that plagues local parishes today is a general misunderstanding of the liturgical reforms called for by Vatican II and what was intended by the 1970 "Novus Ordo" Missal of Pope Paul VI. The general (albeit misguided) idea, motivating many people at that time, was to bring the mass down to the people in a folksy kind of way. It was believed (or misunderstood) that by "dumbing down" the mass to the lowest possible level, it would effectively make the liturgy more accessible and personable to the general public. It was in effect, the extreme opposite of a high Latin mass celebrated according to the 1962 "Tridentine" Missal of Pope John XXIII. Now while it is true, the Second Vatican Council and the "Novus Ordo" Missal of Pope Paul VI (1970), was intended to bring the mass closer to the people, there was nothing in the Council or the Missal, that called for "dumbing down" the mass. That was just how the general population interpreted it, and as a result, Western Catholics had to suffer everything from bad vernacular translations to banal celebrations that stripped the liturgy of her rich tradition, followed by church renovations that changed the look and feel of Catholic worship, ultimately leading to strange and bizarre liturgical abuses that were designed to "spice up" a bare-bones mass that had already been "dumbed down" by poor vernacular translations. I want to stress here, this is NOT what the Second Vatican Council intended, and this is NOT what Pope Paul VI intended when he promulgated his 1970 Roman Missal in its original Latin text. These things are the product of a huge misunderstanding, and in some cases intentional abuse, of what was meant to come out of the 1960s Catholic Church. The height of this wacky liturgical situation also happened to coincide with the worst period of clerical sex abuse during the late 1970s through early 1990s. What we are dealing with today is the residual effects of both, and thankfully, they are both on the decline.

Today, as of 2012, reports of clerical sex abuse are at their lowest levels since before the 1950s. The liturgical chaos is fading at a much slower pace, yet nevertheless, it is definitely on the decline. The English translation of the 1970 Missal has been vastly improved.  The Church is trending toward traditionalism, and the only thing slowing her down is stubborn clergy, who for whatever made-up reason, refuse to implement the pope's plan. Much of this is the result of a learning curve. The vast majority of people resistant to reform are simply ignorant. They are on the low end of the learning curve. They can change, but it's taking them longer to catch up with others. This can be especially problematic when this person happens to be a bishop. Granted, there are always people who are not ignorant, or creatures of habit, but are instead insistent on their own agenda which is anti-tradition (i.e. Modernist), but this is the exception, not the norm. The fast majority of problems out there are caused by people who perhaps should know better, but sadly and regrettably, they do not.

The Solution...
The solution of course is a simple one. We simply need to help local priests understand that the people crave tradition, but what makes this complicated is a good number of people don't know that yet. The ultimate goal is to start getting every priest celebrating the Novus Ordo mass the way it was intended to be -- with reverence, solemnity and awe, drawing upon the traditions of the past. This can be a challenge, but once this goal is obtained, in every parish of every diocese, the liturgical crisis in the Catholic Church will effectively be over. So how is this done? Well, simply going up to your local priest and asking for more solemnity and tradition probably won't work, even if he is a good man who means no harm but is genuinely ignorant. The problem is, he simply won't agree with you that that is what the people really want. Why? Because his experience tells him otherwise; starting from his seminary training to the voices of his parish council that have been telling him the opposite for the last two or three decades. No, to get the priests on board, we are going to have to get a sizable majority of Catholic laypeople exposed to tradition. That doesn't mean we have to make traditionalist out of them, far from it, we simply need to expose them to tradition, and in doing so, most of them will gain an appreciation for tradition, and this in turn will motivate local parish priests to sit up and take notice.

How do we do that? Simple. We have two tools at our disposal, given to us by Pope Benedict XVI himself.

The first is Summorum Pontificum and the second is Anglicanorum Coetibus. From Summorum Pontificum, Catholics gain the tools they need to force a return of the Traditional Latin Mass to their diocese. This would be the return of Latin Traditionalism. From Anglicanorum Coetibus, Catholics gain the tools they need to introduce the Traditional English Mass to their area. Between both the influences of Latin Traditionalism and English Traditionalism in any given diocese or region, it will cause two things to happen. The first is that two islands of safe refuge will be provided for those of a staunchly traditionalists mindset. The second is that regular Novus Ordo parishes will be forced to live in close proximity to these traditionalist communities, and in time will be forced to adopt some of their ways, lest they be perceived as "Modernist" and lose members because of it. So how do you go about doing this in your area?

The Strategy...
The way to reintroduce tradition to a diocese is either through Latin Traditionalism, or through English Traditionalism, but preferably through both. Both will effectively bring about change much faster, putting a tremendous amount of pressure on priests and bishops to bring traditional features back to their regular celebration of the Novus Ordo mass.

How To Restore Latin Traditionalism...
If your local bishop is not already hosting a Traditional Latin mass in your area, five years after Summorum Pontificum, then I'm afraid you're likely dealing with a very stubborn bishop. Here is what has likely been happening these last five years.

You see the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, says the bishop only has to provide a Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) if there is a small but steady group of people asking for it. Problem is, when various indivuals ask for it individually, a stubborn bishop can sweep all of these individual requests under the rug and tell the Vatican there have been no "groups" in his diocese asking for the TLM, thus getting away with suppressing the TLM in his area on a manufactured technicality. So to get around this, Catholic individuals must themselves organise into a group on their own. UNA VOCE is probably the best organisation out there to help Catholics do this. Once you have a list of names, and you meet once a month in a home or library or something, UNA VOCE can help you together draft a group letter addressed to your bishop, bearing all your names and signatures, requesting a TLM, and then forward a copy of this to your bishop and Ecclesia Dei at the Vatican, letting the bishop know a copy was sent to Ecclesia Dei.  Now the bishop is under pressure from Rome, because Summorum Pontificum says he HAS TO provide a TLM if a "stable group" asks for it, and he can no longer hide the fact that such a group exists. Rome is now watching. If the bishop does not respond in the affirmative within a few months, your local group can now start writing to Ecclesia Dei directly and regularly (the squeaky wheel gets the oil) with the help and advice of UNA VOCE. If the bishop says he doesn't have the resources to provide, Ecclesia Dei will direct him to the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP), or something similar, and advise him to use their resources to fix the problem ASAP, because after all, the bishop is now officially in violation of canon law. Rome now has legal justification to act in accordance on this issue. Checkmate! From this point, it will just be a matter of weeks to months before a TLM will be provided in this area.

How To Introduce English Traditionalism...
The process of introduction of the "Anglican Use of the Roman Rite" is a bit different than the restoration of the "Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite" otherwise known as the "Tridentine" Missal of Pope John XXIII. In restoring Latin Traditionalism, the process is to legally checkmate a stubborn bishop who for whatever reason has so far refused to implement the Holy Father's will in his diocese. In introducing English Traditionalism, the process is to effectively bypass a stubborn bishop all together, but not necessarily in any kind of adversarial way. To do this, the implementation of Anglicanorum Coetibus is required. How do you do this? Simple. Locate some Anglican converts to Catholicism in your diocese. Chances are you probably already know one or two. See if they are interested in seeing Anglcanorum Coetibus implemented in your area, and introducing the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite into the diocesen territory. In other words, ask them if they are tired of the Novus Ordo, and if they would like to bring in some Vatican approved, "high church" Anglicanism into their regular worship. Once you've found just one or two families interested in this, you're ready to go. The process will require those former Anglicans (now Catholics) to petition the regional Anglican ordinariate within the Catholic Church for membership. This can be done in the United States for example, by filling out this application form for individuals and families to the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter.

Once that is done, a group may be formed, and there are two ways of going about this. The group can be a "private group" or a "public group." If it is a "public group" you will need the blessing of your local diocesan bishop. If it's a "private group," meeting privately in somebody's home, then permission from the local bishop is not usually necessary. However, if you decide to go the "private group" way, you will be unable to get the word out to the general public though websites, advertisements, news articles and public listings. It is by nature a "private group" which means PRIVATE. Letting people know about it is spread by private invitation only. It is not necessary to have a large "public group" if one fears persecution by local diocesan officials. A "private group" will suffice to get the job done eventually. Just keep in mind, should you ever decide to go "public" before the ordinariate has accepted your membership applications, you will need permission from the local bishop.

Why create a group and have regular meetings (monthly, bi-weekly or weekly)? Because by doing this, it opens membership up to Catholics without an Anglican background. For example in the United States, on the ordinariate membership form for individuals and families, there is a provision for Catholics to join the ordinariate who are already members of an Anglican Use community. If you have a private or public group that is regularly meeting for Morning or Evening Prayer according to the Anglican Use "Book of Divine Worship" (download PDF here), you effectively have an Anglican Use community in operation. Membership in this community, may likely qualify such persons for membership in the ordinariate. When the ordinariate is ready to accept your group, and possibly supply it with a priest, they will be in contact and inform you what to do next. Be advised, this process can take several months to a few years, depending on your location and the availability of ordinariate priests.

Upon reception into the ordinariate, both you, and all the members of your group, will be transferred to the episcopal oversight of the Anglican Ordinary for your region. The local diocesan bishop will have no more power to persecute you. Henceforth, your group will be allowed to celebrate English Traditionalism to your heart's content.

Now please be advised; if you do not believe your diocesan bishop will attempt to persecute you or your group, please don't hesitate to at least write him a letter to let him know what you are doing. You might be surprised at his level of support! There is no sense undercutting a bishop who has done nothing to cause you to fear. He may not be a Traditionalist-friendly bishop, but that doesn't necessarily mean he is anti-Traditionalist either.  Remember, an Anglican ordinariate group can also be sold as an ecumenical outreach, under the banner of Vatican II.  That is after all, its primary purpose.  If you can help some traditionalist Anglican families, persecuted by their Episcopalian bishop, then you'll be doing a good service.  Chances are, you know your bishop better than I do.  You know his history and his likely tendencies. Only you can decide what to do in regards to this.

We are not helpless victims of the liturgical crisis that currently plagues the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. The Holy Fathers, both Pope Benedict XVI and John Paul II, together have given us the necessary tools we need to fight back in an orderly and lawful way. Please keep in mind, the enemy is NOT the Novus Ordo mass, but rather its systematic abuse.  If the Missal of Pope Paul VI is ever to be suppressed, that is a decision for Rome to make, not us.  Our goal is not to eliminate the Novus Ordo mass, but rather provoke its reform and subsequent renewal.