I have caused a bit of consternation, possibly even hurt in the diocese, by inviting some of the local clergy to my Silver jubilee celebrations. After discussing it here, and worrying about it for some time, I have decided to celebrate a Solemn High Mass.
I know that some of the brethren will have read my email and decide I have finally “flipped”, by the time the news reaches people in the diocese who have never spoken to me there will be rumours of holocaust denial, suggestions of schism, rumours that I am going to join the SSPX, or worst.
The truth is I am just taking advantage of a liturgical option, one of the many the Roman Rite now gives priests. Those who criticise me most strongly will most probably be those who experiment with liturgy in a more uncontrolled way than I will ever dream of doing. One of my parishioners who objected most vehemently to an occasional ad orientem celebration revels in going off to various retreat centres where priests make up Eucharistic prayers, say Mass using leavened bread with pottery chalices on coffe tables which is not a legitimate liturgical option.
Many priests receiving my email this morning will ask why I am using the Extraordinary Form. A legitimate question considering I was ordained to celebrate the Mass of Paul VI and it has formed my spirituality, it has been my life and until recently I have never celebrated in any other way.
I have certainly no intention of imposing the Traditional Latin Mass on my parishioners but I do think they should be exposed to it.
People will ask if I am making a statement, the answer is “yes”. As Pope Benedict says “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too”. For all of my priesthood, maybe because I have always been a disciple of Joseph Ratzinger, the hermeneutic of continuity has dominated my thinking; the Church being firmly rooted and at a peace and ease with its past, I have always seen as incredibly important. As Cardinal Murphy O’Connor said in another context, “one can’t have the fruit without the root”. The Tridentine Liturgy in the context of continuity, is the root of our modern liturgy, and the Missal of Paul VI should be seen as the fruit of all that has gone before. I do not believe one can understand where we are now without understanding where we have come from. I have always deplored that unquestioning, "all was bad before 1970 and all is good afterwards", it is as ridiculous as, "all was good before 1970 and that has come since is of no value".
Since the publication of Summorum Pontificum our liturgical landscape is one of “both and” not “either or”. The theology of Joseph Ratzinger is about legitimate expressions of plurality, this is nothing new, it is, perhaps, the central theme of Vatican II.
I have left the inviting a bit late but if you are free at 7.30pm on 12th May come along, you will be very welcome, if you are a priest, or prelate come and assist in choro but let me know so we can make provision for seating.
It is the feast of the Carthusian Martyrs, has anyone got a spectacular set of red vestments I can borrow?