Friday, October 12, 2007

Ranjith: TLM an antidote?


Fr Z has this from Archbishop Ranjith, the Secretary for the Congregation for Divine Worship from a talk given in English then translated into Dutch, then retranslated into English.


“The motu proprio Summorum Pontificum on the Latin Liturgy of July 7th 2007 is the fruit of a deep reflection by our Pope on the mission of the Church. It is not up to us, who wear ecclesiastical purple and red, to draw this into question, to be disobedient and make the motu proprio void by our own little, tittle rules. Even not if they were made by a bishops conference. Even bishops do not have this right. What the Holy Fathers says, has to be obeyed in the Church. If we do not follow this principle, we will allow ourselves to be used as instruments of the devil, and nobody else. This will lead to discord in the Church, and slows down her mission. We do not have the time to waste on this. Else we behave like emperor Nero, fiddling on his violin while Rome was burning. The churches are emptying, there are no vocations, the seminaries are empty. Priests become older and older, and young priests are scarce.”


What I find interesting is that he, and in someway the Pope, see the return to the older form of Mass as a antidote to emptying churches and seminaries.

The Mass and how we celebrate it is obviously the public face of the Church, the implication here is that the Traditional Mass is superior to the modern rite. I think the Archbishop would have difficulty convincing most of my people.

I would certainly agree with him on certain issues:


  1. We need to re-orientate the Mass: priest and people should all face the same direction. The Church needs to learn to see itself itself as "turned to the Lord".

  2. We need to recapture the idea of sacred silence. The Pope in "The Spirit of the Liturgy" suggested a return to the silent canon (or Eucharistic Prayer). That would certainly suggest that prayer is central to the Christian life and that Mass, and therefore the Church was about worship rather simply teaching.

  3. The wider use of Latin and Gregorian Chant too would underline that the Church is universal.

  4. Regaining the idea of the intercession of the saints and angels, would give a renewed sense of the sacredness of the Church and its communion with the saints.

  5. The restoration of the Traditional Mass is reconnection with our history and theology, really with Catholic culture of the last 2000 years.

But... well I am still not entirely convinced, I love High Mass, but there is something cold about Low Mass, fine to whisper the liturgy when there is a Church full of priests all saying their own Mass at there own altar. But in a parish.......?


Summorum Pontificum, I am sure is the Pope's most important work, he has gambled an awful lot on it, so many bishops throughout the world are trying to "restrict the de-restriction", he has created a grassroots movement amongst younger priests, and it is only time, and the death of older generation of older bishops and priests, that is going show whether it is going to be fruitful.


In a way he has shoved his pastoral staff into liturgical experimentation by saying in effect, if you are with the Church then look at what has been passed onto us in Catholic worship, the way forward is not endless novelty but an enrichment and deepening of our spiritual lives, it is seeking the face of Christ, not increasing the entertainment value of celebrations!

16 comments:

Moretben said...

This is genuinely momentous. Archbishop Ranjith, a hand-picked appointee of the Pope, has publicly identified "empty churches...empty seminaries...no vocations" with the post-Conciliar reform. Whatever one's view of how the remedy may best be applied, there it is, in black and white: the winter of denial is over.

Benfan said...

Father, do you find the low mass a little cold as a priest saying it or as a person witnessing it?

Anonymous said...

Is there a deeper point in the restoration of the TLM which is particularly significant coming as it does from a Pope who as Cardinal Ratzinger was then more a champion of "The Reform of The Reform"? By this I mean that the Holy Father is warning us against the very notion of novelty liturgy whether it be of a liberal style or indeed of a traditional appearance. By seeking to "appropriate" the liturgy we are denying it its ability to speak to us across the centuries. The Holy Father has restored the TLM to the Church to remind us all priests and laity of the mystical nature and power of the liturgy as well as the trascendent nature of Catholic truth and to invite us to reconnect with our Catholic heritage so as to draw nourishment from it. This will never be accomplished to the same degree by "traditionalising" the Novus Ordo to our own tastes. I think the Motu Proprio was aimed at priests first and foremost to nourish their vocations and I predict it will have a similar effect on the laity and in particular men who have left the Church in droves since the NO was introduced.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Moretben I agree with your analasys, as usual. Yes it is significant. I wonder who else shares this opinion, I suppose an answer will come at the end of the month.

Benfan, saying it, at the moment I am only practicing saying it, I am not confident enough to actually do it, is an incredible moving thing. I meant witnessing or being present at it.

Anon, I am sure you are right, it is the Reform of the Refoprm that interestes me. I am not sure what you mean by traditionalisng the Novus Ordo.
Recent documents and CDW notices would suggest:
It should be said in Latin (though it is possible to do so in the vernacular)
It should be said with the Proper Chants ( though appropriate hymns and may be substituted at various parts but we should maintain our musical patrimony)
It should be said ad Orientem (but maybe said ad populum)

Anonymous said...

Fr.Ray. By "traditionalising" the NO I mean what I see as the intriguing question of what actually constitutes the "normative" celebration of it? I agree with you that there have been great strides by the Vatican since the new General Instruction to move the NO closer to what the Council actually intended (if that is capable of being discerned after all this time). These initiatives while they are to be welcomed still do not address the texts of the NO itself and the underlying theology which inspired its authors(who I am distinguishing in this regard from the decrees of the Council). Is the problem in fact that the NO itself was specifically designed to be what it in fact became and consequently it does not easily accommodate the sort of traditional interpretation we would like to give it? One could argue that the kind of celebration in which it is now most often found in the average parish is actually closer to what was intended for it by the Bugnini Committee than we would like to concede. Consequently this format is not a liberal or misguided interpretation of a traditional form but rather is in fact its "normative" form. A good example of what I mean is the way the London Oratory Fathers have since 1970 valiantly attempted to present the NO in a "High Mass" format which they manage to achieve but not without certain rubrical somersaults which suggest banging a square peg into a round hole. This is why one of the key questions for me is whether any "Reform of the Reform" can properly start with the New Missal and rubrics as its basis or would be better doing so from the 1962.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Anon,
Interesting comment, I have always thought that LO is as you put it. Perhaps a more adequate interpretation of the Novus Ordo would be Quarr where many of the monks were involved with the reform of the Liturgy under Bugnini and the present Abbot, Cuthbert Johnson, was the undersecretary under Cardinal Noe. There I find the concelebrated Mass and the rest of the liturgy, using chant and as much Latin as the community can handle very beautiful and conducive to prayer, similar to most French monastic liturgy - as far Quarr is concerned one has to remember that it is the Solemnes congregation which has always had a fierce sense of loyalty to the Holy See and the monks are brought up in the Gueranger tradition.
How it is to be interpretted in the parish, I don't know.

Ottaviani said...

I applaud the honesty of this great prelate of the church. He has been one of the very few to not give into this "emperor has new clothes" syndrome, that many bishops and cardinals have done.

As predicted by Cardinal Ottaviani in 1969, the new rite will turn out to be a failure. It is built on false premise and as a concession for Protestants to come into the church.

Dr. J. Moorman, Protestant bishop of Ripon, and Anglican “observer” at the Vatican II wrote:

"Reading the scheme on Liturgy and listening to the debate thereof, I could not help but think that, if the Church of Rome continued to improve the Missal and the Breviary for a long enough while yet, one day she would come up with the ‘Book of Common Prayer"

And even more frank admission comes from Br. Roger Schutz. When asked by Louis Salleron why Taize was more comfortable with the new rite than the older form, he replied:

"...the notion of sacrifice is nowhere clearly affirmed."

How can one possibly envisage a reform of something that is acceptable to Protestants and as a consequence, contradictory to Catholic truth?

Dominic said...

I'm interested in what you say about the Low Mass. I have not attended even a dozen low Masses, so maybe my problem is partly that I'm not properly accustomed to the rhythm of it. My main disappointed is as someone who understands and loves Latin, but finds that at a low Mass it is so difficult to hear anything, and when you can hear, the priest rattles it off so quickly you cannot keep up sufficiently to ponder the beauty of what is being said.

While it is to be hoped that the extraordinary form positively influencees the ordinary (e.g., please can we have Mass celebrate ad orientem, communion rails, etc.), it seems to me that the ordinary form could have some positive influences on the extraordinary. While some prayers are specific to the priest, surely many prayers (to say nothing of the readings and Gospel) could be read in such a way that the laity is able to participate - in mind and spirit - more fully.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Dominic,
I agree with you. The Latin surely must be intelligible. That is another reason I find High Mass so beautiful, the Liturgy of the Word is intelligable.
It is important to allow the Old to influence the New, and maybe for people like you and me to try and influence that.
The Old was not all good and the New is not all bad.

Need the Low Rite said...

Please Father, don't dismiss the Low Mass. As a struggling Catholic it is the one thing that I can still feel connects me to God.

I realise that it isn't for everyone, and it does take 2 or 3 prayerful exposures to it to fit into its rythmn, but the atmosphere of devotion, the stillness in the presence of God, is unobtainable anywhere else.

Sadly I can hardly ever experience it, as it is virtually unobtainable in my parish or for 100 miles around; I just wish that more priests would offer it.

Dominic said...

Fr Ray, thanks for your response to my comments. I find very often that as soon as I make even the slightest expression of interest in the older form of the Mass that I am regarded as someone who disparages the newer form - when I am not.

There are things that are very positive in both forms of the Mass, and things that could be improved upon. Assuming that you are proficient in Latin (or aren't you?), is it really so difficult to celebrate Mass in the older form? I hope you manage to do so before too long!

Thanks for your blog!

Fr Ray Blake said...

I don't dismiss it, I love its silence.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Dominic,
I have some Latin, but I never speak it.
Praying it, the rubrics, understanding it, pronouncing it, I can do any two but not all four. I do find it diofficult, especially in public when I get nervous too.

need the low mass said...

My apologies, Father. Some of your comments ("there is something cold about Low Mass, fine to whisper the liturgy when there is a Church full of priests all saying their own Mass at there own altar. But in a parish...?" and "Latin surely must be intelligible. That is another reason I find High Mass so beautiful") made me jump to the conclusion that you were dismissive of the Low Mass. I am delighted to read that you are not, and I am sorry for saying otherwise.

But I can't help wondering what your comments do mean. Do you feel that it is unsuitable for a normal parish congregation (a self-fulfilling prophesy, since most of the men who would want it no longer attend)? Or is it more that you feel isolated as the priest saying it?

Fr Ray Blake said...

need the low mass,
I suppose it is a cultural thing, I can't see much wrong with High Mass; with low Mass, yes I do want to hear the Epistle and Gospel, I suppose that is what Pius XII wanted too with the introduction of the Dialogue Mass. I suspect that was what the Council Fathers wanted in their reforms.

Gillibrand said...

Catholic Church Conservation: Full text. Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith to the Dutch Association for Latin Liturgy