Saturday, 23 July 2016

Lord to whom shall we turn?
Part Four

When the New Order of Mass was introduced on the First Sunday of Advent in November 1969, the experience was not one of massive disruption and radical change, but of continuity with what had been experienced over the five years previous (1964-69). Most celebrants at that time had been ordained to offer what is now referred to as The Extraordinary Form and the manner in which they celebrated this New Order gave evidence of continuity. This was not the experience everywhere, of course. During the later 1970's and 1980's gradually the manner of celebrating the New Mass came less and less to resemble the Old. The invasion of the sanctuary by various lay ministers in that period further made those differences stark.

The divide is so profound today that to celebrate the New Order of Mass with any trace of Extraordinary Form rituals often raises opprobrium. Entire ecclesiastical careers and ecclesiological thinking have been based on the rejection of what was celebrated before 1969, as so many learned authors have observed. One wonders whether this is in large measure the reason for the knee-jerk reaction to Cardinal Sarah's recent remarks. For a comprehensive discussion of such issues, this post on the blog Foolishness to the World may be read with profit.

The Sacred Liturgy celebrated at the
Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham
Houston Texas.
Younger priests, however, who never knew the 1960s and 1970s, are much more interested in recapturing a reverent and transcendent atmosphere during Mass by the manner in which they celebrate it. Those who have sneered at such priests as "neo-Tridentinists" (an absurd and hysterical remark) haven't grasped that these are tomorrow's leaders of the Church, who will not be constrained by the various Liturgical Gurus and agents of Political Correctness who presently hold sway. Instead, they will be increasingly focussed on Tradition.

Tradition does not equate with the universal restoration of the Extraordinary Form as the normative Mass of the Roman Rite, nor does it concern re-creating the 1950's (or 1750's). Tradition turns away from facile novelty and the search for contemporary "relevance" and looks instead to continuity with the Church's ancient practices - both Eastern and Western Christendom.

In addition to these young men, who are both secular priests and those in Religious Life, there is another charism now enriching the Church, namely the Ordinariates which were established by Pope Benedict's Anglicanorum Coetibus as an outstretched hand to those Anglicans who wished to embrace the fullness of Catholicism. The celebration of Mass ad orientem is normative for the Liturgy of these Ordinariates.

The final part of this series of posts will include some practical suggestions as to how the celebration of the New Mass can – gradually – reintegrate ad orientem.