Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tridentine Mass 4.00pm this Sunday

Thinking more about the Tridentine Rite: whenever I have encountered it on the continent, rather than being something for the elderly, seems to be filled with young people. We struggle with filling our seminaries, whereas wherever the old rite is celebrated I get the impresssion the problem is building seminaries, or at least ensuring that there are enough places for students. The priests who celebrate this rite, on the continent, and apparently in the US, are not the elderly, but men in their twenties and thirties and even in this country they seem to be the zealous, devout and learned. Far from dying out there seems to be a serious growth in the Tridentine Rite. One could talk about it as a youth movement. Indeed there seems to be a fecundity about it that is lacking in the sterility of "mainstream" liberal European Catholicism.

Cardinals like Ratzinger, Castrillon de Hoyos, Medina Estevez and many others have been happy celebrating the "Old" Rite, even before the setting up the Ecclesia Dei Commission to reconcile Archbishop Lefebvre's followers. So many people have been seriously concerned about how the Mass is celebrated, there were several documents by the late Pope on the celebration of the Mass most of which were ignored by the bishops to a greater or lesser degree. Pope Benedict has always been involved in the Reform of the Reform, in his book "The Spirit of the Liturgy", which is really a manifesto for Reform, he wrote about the importance of priest and people facing east, the ancient direction for Christian prayer (not forbidden by the council), recovering the sense of the sacred, the need for silence, the need for a sense of continuation.

The bishop's have not responded to other forms of encouragement to reform the liturgy. Any liberation of the "Tridentine Rite" would be intended to encourage a groundswell movement to reform the present rite of Mass, with the emphais being placed on the choice of priests, rather than the permission of bishops. This would seem to be a winning course of action, as liberalism by its very nature shows itself as being sterile, as far as practice, catechesis, vocations and even the growth in family are concerned.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Groundswell is how all the nonsense came into the Church, I think it is a brilliant solution of B16 to use the same methods to overcome it. I think you are right.

Anonymous said...

was this the rite that Jesus used at the Last Supper?

Anonymous said...

I think that one of the problems is that the current rite does seem to be a commemoration of the last supper, if the Church, even St Paul, writing less than 20 years after the resurrection (see I Corinthians where he talks about eating and drinking at home) had wanted to do that we might as well go of to a restuarant or sit at home and have dinner. Mass is the sacrifice of Calvary, it is the re-presentation of his own eternal offering on the Cross, it is the summation of all the sacrifices of the Old Testament, it is the New and Eternal Covenant made in his blood.

Maureen Pickering said...

The Mass is the sacrifice of Calvary, it is also the liturgy of Heaven.
The liturgy described in the Book of the Apocalypse was what the Church tried to emmulate from very early on, that being judged by Christians as being what Jesus did. It was not the Last Supper but in His triumphant death and Resurrection that he actually gave himself up to the Father.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused did,nt he say at the Last Supper Do this in memory of me, on the Cross i thought he said it is accomplished.

Michael Petek said...

Maureen, you miss the point when you say that Jesus offered Himself to the Father only on Calvary, and not at the Last Supper.

In the Bible a covenant between God and man is always sealed with an oath, and where there is no oath there is no covenant. The words of consecration, "this is my body given for you . . . . this cup is the new covenant in my blood, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" when first spoken by Jesus were not a dramatic prediction of what would happen to Him. As God He was in sovereign control of all the events which attended His life and death. They were - and are - words of His solemn undertaking to die to take away sins, a promise which, because made by a divine Person, was necessarily an oath..

Since Jesus is God it was entirely lawful for Him to intend his own death on His oath. His absolute incapacity for perjury made the covenant oath (sacramentum) identical to the sacrifice He would offer the following day on Calvary, uniting it with its object in a single indissoluble reality. Once He had sworn it, he could not shy away from the Cross - indeed, we read in the Gospel that He began almost immediately to suffer interiorly (Matthew 26:36-38).

This is the essence of what the Protestants took away when they denied the sacrificial value of the Eucharist, for the magisterial Reformers had no insight that the words of consecration are indeed an oath which is of a piece with Christ's sacrifice of Himself. Although Protestants of course affirm His divinity and His faithfulness to His covenants, their doctrine of the Eucharist, and indeed of the Church, is inconsistent with this. What it is consistent with is a supersessionism (see my earlier post on the subject) which induces into the Church a tendency to fissiparity.

If Jesus were not God it would have been an appalling blasphemy for usurpation of God's exclusive right over human life. So when Jesus commanded His Church to swear as He had done, He was effectively commanding Christians through the ages to implicate ourselves in His oath, whether by re-swearing it in the case of the ministerial priest, or by being present at and consenting to it as in the case of the congregation. In other words, we testify on oath that Jesus is God, asking God to disown us if He is not!

It is appropriate that men ordained to swear an oath of such grandeur be ordained in a sacramental rite, so that there is certainty beyond all doubt whatsoever that God has given them the same power and authority to do so that He gave His incarnate Son.

Cappodocian Sister said...

Thank you father for your most helpful analysis on this comments page and blog posting --- an exciting moment for The Church

Anonymous said...

If the celebration of the traditional Roman Mass does indeed become, as is hoped, radically expanded at the Pope's initiative, there are a number of benefits I would expect to see. (1) Even if the New Rite remains the normal form of worship (as most of us expect it will), the priests and people will be put back into contact with the "Mother Rite," so to speak. That may help the New Mass to regain its Roman birthright and the gravity that can sometimes go missing. (2) It will help clarify in people's minds the traditional understanding of what Liturgy is for: Christ the Head leading His Spirit-filled Body, the Church, in the perfect, sacrifical adoration of the Eternal Father, Whose mercy there descends upon us. All of that is present in the New Rite, even though the past few decades have forced the Mass occasionally to serve other purposes. As part of this, familiarity with the classical Roman Rite will make the Eastern Liturgies seem much less foreign. (3) It will finally shatter the silly, Orwellian attempts (which have been steadily crumbling these last ten years) to regard traditional Liturgy and its accoutrements as taboo and not to be mentioned in correct ecclesiastical company. (4) Tied to the prior item, a freer use of the Old Rite will de-politicize it. As it returns to mainstream use, the Old Rite will cease to be the preserves of the fringe (where that has happened).

tc said...

All these learned comments about the Tridentine Mass make me ashamed to say that l know virtually nothing about it. I suppose being born in the seventies l grew up on a Catholic diet of evangelized guitar and happy clappy masses. I probably sang the Beatles 'let it be' more times at mass than anything vaguely traditional. I actually thought that it was only the Anglicans who were allowed to incorporate the wonderful masses of the Baroque and Classical periods into their services. I would love to hear more Latin in mass, even though my knowledge is worse than limited. I have recently learnt the Our Father in Latin and l have to say it makes much more sense to me now than the English translation ever did.

Woulld anyone like to run Latin classes in Brighton? I bet loads of people particularly from my generation would be interested.

ffn said...

Anonymous,you are so right to stress that the liturgy is an act of Christ;many of the problems with the liturgy come from the misguided notion that the liturgy is the work of the people alone.

sj said...

I wonder what God's views are regarding the Latin Mass?! Jesus Himself certainly didn't utter a single word of Latin - He spoke only in Aramaic; thus His words at the Last Supper were spoken in the vernacular.

Also, the pomp and ceremony associated with the Tridentine Rite is surely at odds with what Jesus preached - He was a man of simplicity: He denounced the scribes and Pharisees for widening their phylacteries and lengthening their tassels, thus making these evidences of piety more noticeable.(See Matthew 23).

The theatrical nature of the Tridentine Rite obviously appeals to many people, both priests and lay, and the Roman Catholic Church is wide enough, at present, to cater for all liturgical tastes. However, to have the Tridentine Rite foisted upon Catholics when they attend Mass in certain parishes is unfair(and note the word 'attend' here, for the Tridentine Rite is a non-participatory liturgy, unlike Mass celebrated in the vernacular).

Jesus Himself wasn't giving a 'performance' at the Last Supper; He didn't dress up in ornate vestments - cloth of gold, brocade, etc - or speak in a language unknown to His followers.

The performance and theatrical nature of the Tridentine Rite doesn't appeal to everyone and if a priest in parish A says the Mass in Latin and a priest in parish B in the vernacular, then a lot of Catholics will be shopping around to find a Mass which suits their particular liturgical tastes.

Anonymous said...

"Jesus Himself certainly didn't utter a single word of Latin - He spoke only in Aramaic; thus His words at the Last Supper were spoken in the vernacular."

sj,
Did he use Hebrew at all. What was the relationship between Hebrew and Aramaic in the first century? Was it just a liturgical language? Did the disciples use Hebrew?

Anonymous said...

"Also, the pomp and ceremony associated with the Tridentine Rite is surely at odds with what Jesus preached"

Are you saying that all that happened for such a long period in the Church's history was at odds with what Jesus preached? How come so many saints?

Anonymous said...

"then a lot of Catholics will be shopping around to find a Mass which suits their particular liturgical tastes."

Isn't shopping what happens now? I don't go to one parish because I hate the music there, songs for five year olds.
I don't go to another because the priest preaches so poorly. Another because the ceremonial is so poor, A friend of mine travels miles because she is a charismatic and likes a Mass that reflects this.

With fewer priests we need a standard product.

sj said...

anonymous -

I stand by what I say: whether He spoke in Aramaic, Hebrew or whatever, Jesus did not utter a single word of Latin.

And yes, I am saying that a lot of what happened in the Church's history was at odds with what Jesus preached. I stand by my comments that Jesus was a Man of simplicity and that the Latin Mass, with its associated pomp and ceremony, is at odds with the Gospel message.

I find it sad that so many Catholics already 'shop around' for a Mass they like; the spiritual supermarket mentality is another example of being at odds with what Jesus preached. We are meant to be building community together in our parishes, surely, and not picking and choosing where we go because we don't like Father's preaching in parish A or the hymns in parish B.

I don't agree that we need a "standard product" with regards to the Mass - the Mass is not a "product" in any sense of the word!

tc said...

I choose my church because of the people there. i don't care whether the liturgy is in Latin or Icelandic, the experience should be the same. The bonds and friendships l have made at church have brought me far closer to Christ's teachings than any order of mass could ever do. To me the church is about the people in it, not the books we are holding.

pjb said...

I go to Mass to be close to God, I found the Latin helps, bad music doesn't. It is only that closeness to Christ, that helps me to do my job.

Demetri said...

It is not what we want, it is what will serve the Church best, maybe not even that, but what will serve mankind's salvation best. What will help Christian men and woman find meaning in service of Christ in the poor. What will help people realise that their faith is worth living or even dying for.

My opinion is the the ancient rites of the Church produced saints, precisely because they are not me centered! Maybe this is why they also produce vocations, fruitful families, thinking Catholics, zealous priests and a clear catechesis.
As a Greek Rite Catholic, I am not sure that the modern western rite would produce the martyrs that the previous rite produced.

(By the way, the ancient Roman rite was the most austere of the ancient rites. Compare it to the Ethiopian or Syro-Malabar rite. I cannot see a connection with the modern roman rite and these, indeed protestantism seems to be its parents, rather than the rites of the ancient apostolic churches)

Petrus said...

I think the Pope is allowing the "Old Mass", simply because it is rite and just. So many people were seriously confused and hurt when it was banned in England. My mother was so hurt, all the religious certainties had ended, she didn't go to Mass for forty years. Though she said her prayers and ate fish on Fridays, she refused a priest on her deathbed. It is hurt like this the Pope wants to overcome.
If our bishops can scoot out of Mass on a child's scooter, or use the forbidden pottery chalice, make up there own rites, I see problem with the so called Tridentine Rite.

Petrus said...

should be "right and just"

Fr Ray Blake said...

"I wonder what God's views are... ?" For Catholics its simple, listen to the Apostles in communion with Peter.
Isn't that the point of Apostolicity?
Doesn't the Lord say, "Whoever listens to you listens to me...".
Don't we believe this is true in our own time as it was in the Lord's?

Pastor in Valle said...

I'm intrigued by the comments of SJ; our Lord grew up in Galilee, called even then 'Galilee of the Gentiles'. It had only recently (in the time of the Maccabees) been converted to Judaism. Greek and Latin would have abounded there. Without the shadow of a doubt our Lord would have known both at least reasonably well, and no doubt used them.
As for the Last Supper being as described; well, this is absurd. The idea was common in the sixties that the Last Supper was celebrated on bean bags with a guitar. If you have ever been to a Passover meal you will know that it is highly ceremonious, and non-vernacular (except among modern Liberal and Reformed Jews, and this is a very recent thing). There is not the slightest shadow of a doubt that the Last Supper was celebrated in Hebrew with precious vessels and traditional music. But to this you have to add the idea of Sacrifice. Consider the temple sacrifices; never did you hear our Lord utter the slightest reproach of the temple liturgy. Liturgy belongs essentially to sacrifice. And just look at the book of the Apocalypse (Revelation). There you will read a long description of just how God plans to be worshipped in heaven; incense, liturgy, singing, special clothes (let's call them vestments). Oh, I could go on for pages!
Please, let's leave the sixties behind!

Anonymous said...

"...for the Tridentine Rite is a non-participatory liturgy, unlike Mass celebrated in the vernacular)."

SJ,
I don't think you understand the meaning of participatory liturg. Isn't it more about "heart, soul and understanding" rather than tambourine banging. This seemed to be what Cardinal Hume used to speak about and certainly what the Pope has been speaking about.
If we are not participating in a prayerful way, we are not participating at all. The liturgy is about celebrating salvation, not about celebrating us, except in the context of God's grace.

Michael Petek said...

Pastor in valle, I couldn't have put it better myself. However, I look a little askance at your remark that Latin would have abounded in Galilee, unless there was a special reason for a Latin-speaking community - or Roman garrison - to be there.

Greek was the lingua franca in the eastern part of the Empire, and the the New Testament as we have it today was first written only in Greek for the Greek-speaking churches of the eastern Mediterranean and the city of Rome.

This suggests there were yet no Latin-speaking communities to write for.

Henry said...

Although the use of Latin is tangential to the use of the Tridentine rite, this is an issue which is becoming of increasing importance.

I have travelled widely in ex-Lutheran northern Europe this year and attended masses in various places. Typically, we find liturgies in several different immigrant languages, often celebrated by priests whose grasp of them is sketchy, to congretations whose grasp of them is also pretty patchy. The most ridiculous was in Tallinn, Estonia, where I went to mass celebrated in broken English with a congregation in which I was the only native English speaker. The situation is particularly bad in Sweden where the many of the priests are unfamiliar with Swedish, a language in which comprehension depends on the accurate pronunciation of vowels.

The use of the vernacular is dividing congregations and obscuring the catholic nature of the church.

At a time when people are moving from one country to another on a huge scale, the need to use a transnational language for the liturgy has never been greater.

Related to this is the need for uniform musical settings which everyone knows and can join in - this was an inspiring aspect of a mass I attended in Gothenberg where everyone sang the Missa de Angelis, Credo III and the Pater Noster, even if they did not know the Lutheran hymns sung in Swedish which also featured.