an argument comes full circle

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jul 17, 2007

Sometimes if you alter an argument just a little bit, you can gain a real insight.

Take, for instance, this argument against about the post-conciliar changes in the liturgy. I'm going to change the sentence just bit; my amendment is in italics:

The celebration of the Novus Ordo Mass compromises the coherence of the Church’s self-understanding and threatens to reduce the liturgy to a simple matter of individual "taste" rather than what it is meant to be: an accurate reflection of what we believe as Catholic Christians.

You've heard that argument before, right? But now watch what happens when I restore the sentence to its original form:

The official proclamation that this medieval rite is "extraordinary" compromises the coherence of the Church’s self-understanding and threatens to reduce the liturgy to a simple matter of individual "taste" rather than what it is meant to be: an accurate reflection of what we believe as Catholic Christians who live in the twenty-first century.

It's from an anti-papal diatribe that appeared in The Tablet, in which Father Mark Francis, a noted liturgist, condemns the use of the old ritual.

Noteworthy, isn't it, how both extremes can use the same arguments? Noteworthy, too, that they are quite explicitly rejected by the Pope with his insistence that both forms belong to the authentic treasury of the Roman rite.

[Tip to Father Z.]

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  • Posted by: - Jul. 23, 2007 12:43 PM ET USA

    Popesgirl, my NO priests say mass letter-perfect! There is a sign in the sacristy that reads: "Priest of God: Celebrate this Mass as if it is your first Mass, your last Mass, and your only Mass." My parish is a nonterritorial Marianist church and people come for miles to be there every weekend because the NO Mass is done reverently, correctly, and with Jesus at the center.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 19, 2007 7:11 AM ET USA

    Is he saying the Tridentine mass is NOT an accurate reflection of what we believe in the 21st century? Ah, I get it. This ties into what Phil said in a recent excellent forum. People like Fr. Francis want to delude themselves into thinking that what the Church teaches and believes has actually changed.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 18, 2007 2:09 AM ET USA

    I've often wondered if the average NO Catholic, who no longer uses a Missal even knows the Priest is ad-libbing?? I didn't own a NO Missal until I'd been Catholic for about 4 years. Boy! was I surprised when I saw what the Missal contained didn't meet up with the words out of the Priests mouth. This led me straight into St Gregory's Latin Mass Community. Where we remain happily after 6 years - no ad-libbing there.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 17, 2007 4:39 PM ET USA

    May I second what Leo XIII says? I have run into Masses so badly mangled that, from time to time, I have come home and written very polite letters to the celebrant, pointing out Sacrosanctum Concilium 22:3 ("...even...a priest...may [not] add, remove or change anything....") and the things that he added, removed or changed. I once got a brief note saying Thank you for your comment but resulting in no change. Otherwise I have always been completely ignored.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 17, 2007 4:37 PM ET USA

    But, Di, the N.O. liturgy has become a simple matter of individual taste. Choose your language; choose your vestments; choose your sacramental species; choose your Eucharistic Prayer; choose to genuflect or not; choose to stand or kneel; choose to ring bells or not to ring them; choose your “Mystery of Faith;” etc, etc, ad nauseam. That, it seems to me, goes well with the cafeteria system of Catholic belief that is all the rage since the council.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 17, 2007 10:51 AM ET USA

    " believe as Catholic Christians who live in the twenty-first century." Once again, the fatuous notion-become-irrefutable-argument that merely by living in a later century than X did makes you smarter than X. Reminds one of the noted sage of the Episcopal church, bp. Spong. Bp. Spong derides the conservatives of Nigeria because they don't have to wrestle every day with the legacy of ... Einstein.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 17, 2007 10:49 AM ET USA

    Maybe I'll quote the good Father the next time I'm subjected to liturgical dance.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 17, 2007 10:14 AM ET USA

    Why do I emerge angry after mis-celebration of a NO mass? Departure from rubrics "threatens to reduce the liturgy to a simple matter of individual 'taste'." It's the little departures that are especially irksome: "May almighty God bless us" vs. "May almighty God bless you." The change of just one word (you to us) signifies rupture from what the Church teaches: that the priest, as successor to the apostles, is giving his blessing. We are not blessing each other.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 17, 2007 9:59 AM ET USA

    When the movers and shakers of contemporary liturgy make statements like this, it's only more evidence that the liturgical revolution of the past forty years was indeed motivated by a hermeneutic of rupture. Why else would reintroduction of this "medieval rite" cause such protest?

  • Posted by: - Jul. 17, 2007 9:12 AM ET USA

    I might well assume, given this incrediblly silly statement, that Father Mark Francis, ...noted liturgist, received much of his training at Second City's 21st Century School of Improvisation. The problem with much of Novus Ordo Mass is not the mass itself, rather many of the celebrants, who take it upon themselves to interpret its meaning wherever they feel that they can add that personal touch. As is so well exemplified by what happens whenever Cardinal Mahony is celebrant.