Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Summorum Pontificum : 1
Looking Forward and not Back

For those who love the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the promulgation in 2007 of Pope Benedict's motu proprio was an occasion of the greatest joy.

Is Summorum Pontificum a document that intends to make Tradition anew for the future, or a document that wishes to re-create the past?

This issue is, in fact, a tension that has been manifest in the Old Mass movement all along.

Summorum Pontificum is not only about clarifying the status of the 1962 Missal; it has been suggested that it was also intended as a means to reform the sometimes horrid state into which the Church's Liturgy has fallen. The revival of the Extraordinary Form is intended to enrich the Church: our ancient Traditions are never more needed. But this doesn't require our getting into a time machine back to 1950 or 1750.

When I saw a headline on the internet Return of Latin mass sparks old vestment hunt, in September 2007, I felt slightly uneasy. In these almost six years since the motu proprio came into effect, there has been an explosion of pictures on the internet of the celebration of the Extraordinary Form,  a majority of them shewing lacey albs, fiddleback chasubles, birettas, baroque mitres etc. In the first few years, it was as if suddenly the doors of an 18th century lolly shop were broken down and everyone had got in to gorge themselves.

Do people believe that the true expression of the Extraordinary Form must be with Baroque styles of vestments? If so, why? Is this Tradition or Re-creation?

Two photos are attached of Pontifical celebrations of the Extraordinary Form. Adjacent, the former President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, Cardinal Hoyos and his assistants are vested in a frightful dark red set of 18th century "Roman" vestments; in the other, at the top of this post, a French bishop celebrates an Ordination at the Benedictine Abbey of Fontgombault in 2004. Celebrant and ministers are vested in a beautiful early 20th century set of red Gothic revival vestments.

The contrast between these two expressions of Tradition is overwhelming.