Friday, July 01, 2022

"Let us abandon our polemics to listen together to what the Spirit is saying to the Church….”

Not anytime soon.

People will out-talk me, outsmart me with scriptural-liturgical-theological knowledge, but as an ordinary Catholic man, let me tell you there is nothing wrong with the Ordinary Form of Mass.  Many who despise Pope Francis are bending over backwards to pick apart his latest Apostolic Letter "Desiderio desideravi” in their effort to promote the TLM.  They out rightly reject Vatican II and the subsequent liturgical reforms.  There is no hiding that fact.

" I do not see how it is possible to say that one recognizes the validity of the Council — though it amazes me that a Catholic might presume not to do so — and at the same time not accept the liturgical reform born out of Sacrosanctum Concilium, a document that expresses the reality of the Liturgy intimately joined to the vision of Church so admirably described in Lumen gentium. For this reason, as I already expressed in my letter to all the bishops, I have felt it my duty to affirm that “The liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, are the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.” (Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes, art 1)" - Desiderio desideravi

Fr. Z and those like him are on the offensive, dissecting every line of the document for error and lack of clarity.  Many ordinary people without a strong formation in liturgy are gravely misled by their 'resistance' to the Pope and the Council, sowing doubts in the legitimacy and validity of the Novus Ordo sacrament and rites.  

He is talking about the TLM, not the Novus. It is an ERROR to think of the TLM in those shallow ways. - Fr. Z

It seems to me people of good will would see rather, that the Apostolic letter could help put to rest the claims of  priests such as Fr. Charles Murr and promotion of the Archbishop Annibale Bugnini sabotage stories involving Freemasonry and the Novus Ordo. Yet diehards continue to promote the allegations which have circulated since the initial implementation of the Novus Ordo. Wasting no time, they immediately attack the simple intentions of the Pontiff as expressed in the current Letter.

61. In this letter I have wanted simply to share some reflections which most certainly do not exhaust the immense treasure of the celebration of the holy mysteries. I ask all the bishops, priests, and deacons, the formators in seminaries, the instructors in theological faculties and schools of theology, and all catechists to help the holy people of God to draw from what is the first wellspring of Christian spirituality. We are called continually to rediscover the richness of the general principles exposed in the first numbers of Sacrosanctum Concilium, grasping the intimate bond between this first of the Council’s constitutions and all the others. For this reason we cannot go back to that ritual form which the Council fathers, cum Petro et sub Petro, felt the need to reform, approving, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and following their conscience as pastors, the principles from which was born the reform. The holy pontiffs St. Paul VI and St. John Paul II, approving the reformed liturgical books ex decreto Sacrosancti Œcumenici Concilii Vaticani II, have guaranteed the fidelity of the reform of the Council. For this reason I wrote Traditionis custodes, so that the Church may lift up, in the variety of so many languages, one and the same prayer capable of expressing her unity.[23] - DESIDERIO DESIDERAVI 
No doubt in the discussions surrounding the Holy Father's Letter "Desiderio desideravi” one encounters the name of Archbishop Bugnini over and over, as the scoundrel who concocted the Novus Ordo. Fr. Louis Bouyer is often mentioned, conveniently noting his lack of esteem for the Archbishop and his reputation. That is true of course, nevertheless it doesn't cancel out the Ordinary Form/Novus Ordo as the normative rite in the Church.  The other day a former Catholic on Twitter complained, 'how can you attend the NO, a reform based upon lies?' He was referring to Bugnini and an exchange between Paul VI and Bouyer, among other things.  The critics of the OF and devotees of the EF frequently harbor similar sentiments.  Some go so far as to say if they can't attend an EF they won't attend Mass at all.

"But this myopic view must at least be challenged." - Fr. Z

As I said before, I'm not a liturgist and I very much like the OF as it is properly celebrated in my parish. So I have no problem with Pope Francis and his effort to unify the lex orandi of the Roman Rite. I'll just say it might be good to acquaint ordinary fellow Catholics with Louis Bouyer, who ought to be known for much more than his disappointment in protégés at the time and subsequent developments in liturgical reform.

[NB While a novice at New Melleray, Fr. Bouyer gave conferences to the monks, as well as a separate mini conference for the novices.]

A good, quick resource for an introduction to the life and work of Louis Boyer, click here:
Rev. Louis Bouyer: A Theological Giant | An Interview with Dr. Keith Lemna | Ignatius Insight | November 12, 2010.
  Just keep in mind that the Ordinary Form of Mass, the Mass of St. Paul VI was indeed approved and promulgated by Pope Paul VI and his successors.  It is the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.

Ignatius Insight: What influence did his work have on the Second Vatican Council?

Dr. Lemna: It is difficult to assess the precise influence that Bouyer's work had on the council. By the time that the council had convened, many of Bouyer's ideas had become common currency among some of the theologians who were present at the council, even if they were not influenced by Bouyer. Bouyer was a theological expert relied upon by the Church in the period surrounding the council, and he was greatly trusted by Paul VI, who appointed him to the first International Theological Commission after the council and who had wanted to name him a cardinal. Bouyer refused the offer, arguing that it would cause too much trouble for the Holy See. He had been engaged in fierce polemics with the later generation of liturgists in France, and his reputation had suffered as a result. In our own day, especially with the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, Bouyer's reputation should be restored, as his liturgical vision coheres with that of the Holy Father.

Certainly, if Dom Hugh Gilbert is right about the singular importance of Bouyer's book on the Paschal Mystery, then we might go so far as to say that Bouyer's work was a decisive influence on the council, if only indirectly so. Also, it is difficult to measure just how influential Bouyer's writings and teachings on liturgy and spirituality were in the period leading up to the council.

At any rate, there is no doubt that Bouyer's general approach to Scripture, theology, spirituality, the Church, and liturgy were canonized by the texts of the council. It would perhaps be better to say, rather than speaking in terms of influence, that Bouyer's work enables us to interpret the council through the lens of a "hermeneutic of continuity." Bouyer's work is very much in line with the theologies of both John Paul II and Benedict XVI. He provides further support for their joint effort to inspire the Church to read the council in terms of the meaning of the actual texts of the council rather than according to some "Spirit" that is presumed to have little connection to the texts. Bouyer: Interview

Beware of the online scholars who frequently depend upon undocumented rumors, gossip, hearsay and conspiracy theories to make their case against Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, The Novus Ordo and the Popes.  



  1. Why do we always get hung up on the form of the liturgy and overlook the substance? I have experienced both the old and the new. Both have value, but one is for observation the other participation. I imagine we will have a wide variety of liturgical forms. The role of the Diocesan Ordinary is to limit abuses. In this world, in our current climate compromise is impossible. That leaves suppression as the only option. Sad and totally alien to the mystery, sacrifice and graces the liturgy is meant to deliver to the faithful.

    1. It *is* sad, isn't it, Mr. H?! Everyone is defensive on this subject, one way or the other, and view the others as the enemy. This is not how we are meant to be, as I see it. As you say, one Form is for observation and the other for participation. I just turned 61, and I have absolutely no memory of any Latin at Mass. I remember relearning certain parts of the Mass when I was a preschooler, but I don't think it was a big deal for me. The beautiful music is more of a memory - I can remember some of the melodies.

      I attended a TLM once, since I had heard so many good things about it and wanted to see for myself. I didn't get the memo on the dress code, so I did not wear a skirt nor a hat and got the stink eye from many in attendance. And I was completely at sea with the liturgy. I did not feel I had attended Mass really, so I went to the late Mass at my home parish and never went back.

      Just a matter of preference, I guess. But it makes me nauseous every time I hear someone disrespect the Novus Ordo Mass, or if anyone says it isn't holy like the TLM. Both forms are valid, licit, and worthy of great respect and devotion.

    2. Susan, I read your comments with interest and great respect. You come across as sincere. I always benefit from your observations. I am a generation older then you. This is why I did experience the Latin Mass and truely loved it. I served as an altar boy through Senior year in high school. As the changes slowly came I remember being confused about why it was necessary. Weddings, furnerals, baptisms, Benedictions and every service had a different emphasis; not better just different. The motivating factor seemed, in a word we often, ecumenical. We were moving toward a reunification with Protestant denominations. Anyway I have come to experience great peace & many graces in the Novous Ordo. Ironic we must pray to get along with fellow Catholics never mind the Protestants. Keep writing Susan and I will keep listening. .

    3. My dear Mr. H - my comment was not meant to be disrespectful to anyone who loves the TLM. I have the greatest respect for it and for those who are devoted to it. It's just that for people like me - 60ish and younger - who have no memory of the old Mass, it simply doesn't fill my heart as the Novus Order Mass at my home parish, which is celebrated beautifully. And so many my age and younger do truly love the TLM and have gone to the trouble of training themselves to participate fully.

      Which is the point I tried to make in the second comment. I think if the Church would establish a Extraodinary Form Rite, the angrier/more antagonistic proponents of both the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form would chill out, so to speak. For me and perhaps others, it is painful to hear either Form discussed with disrespect and to witness our family insulting one another so viciously.

      I enjoy your comments as well, my friend! God bless you!

    4. Susan, I never interpreted any of your comments as disrespectful of anyone. No not at all. I think the fault is mine in being rather unfocused in my comments. Yes, tonight I will remember you and your intentions in my nightly rosary. Terry, sorry to take up so much space. I will stop now!

    5. You are a dear man, Mr. H, and I am blessed to be your friend! Thank you so much for the prayers - I certainly need them! Will likewise pray for you!

  2. I very much agree, Terry. My parish, like yours, has faithful priests who reverently celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass every day in our stunning parish church. And I love the Mass and them, and I am perfectly happy if nothing changes in the Mass or in our pastoral staff.

    I have dear friends, formerly fellow parishioners, who are similarly devoted to the TLM. They are not antagonistic, which is how Fr. Z and many others strike me in their disrespectful comments about the Novus Ordo. We respect one another and realize we are all Catholics who yearn to worship God at Mass and to perfect ourselves in His service.

    What I would like to see is an Extraordinary Form Rite, just as we have a Byzantine Rite, a Maronite Rite, a Melkite Rite, etc. They would still be answerable to a bishop and the Pope and would be brother and sister Catholics to us in the Latin Rite.

    I think it would go a long way toward eliminating a great deal of the cruel, divisive bickering and insulting comments between the TLM and the Novus Ordo Catholics, in which, I am sure, Satan revels. It is unworthy of all of us to descend to the level of jeering at either valid Form of the Mass. And it would serve to specifically recognize that one Rite is not holier or more valid than another - that we are equally members of the Holy Catholic Church, just as members of the other Rites of the Church are.

    Thank you for permitting me to put my often disjointed thoughts down on your page, my dear Terry. I remembered you at Mass today, at the Consecration. I know we will never know one another as real friends, but your story touches me and I admire you and many of your commenters very much. We help each other on our journey to Heaven, I hope!
    God bless and protect all here!

  3. I also attend a very reverent NO mass. We have a professional Schola and I attend the choral mass. Gregorian chant propers and polyphony as well- when schola there mass setting is a polyphonic setting like Lasso or Palestrina or more recent. A large Dominican Church in NYC (St. Vincent Ferrer). When full choir not there, we chant the ordinary in English using ICEL chants(monks or reduced choir still chants the propers). Of course, I can go across the street to a happy clappy NO with no antiphons, no chant, 3-4 hymn sandwich (and lucky if sturdy singable hymns), no traditional options, BUT no abuses. And you feel like you have attended a completely different liturgy. To me that kind of significant difference is a bug not a feature of the NO - just too much optionality and so a barrier to catholicity within the same rite. But to me the TLM is not the "answer" - for example, I really don't think highly of the "low mass." At least chant everything in monotone or something(a sung mass). And the people should join the ordinary chants across the board unless they are polyphonic pieces that are too difficult. And I also think a "dialogue mass" in the TLM is desireable.

    The oft promoted idea that the NO is deficient (even without abuse) to the point of actually being "harmful to the faith" itself borders on being "contrary to the faith" (I think it more than borders - I think such charges against the NO are in fact contrary to the faith).

    My biggest criticism of TC is that it once again lamented the abuses in the NO, but also once again provided no "teeth" in terms of disciplining those abuses. But plenty of teeth and directions to the Bishops in reigning in the EF/TLM(to the point if micro-managing parish bulletins ) And so in that sense TC loses some credibility with many.

  4. For me the TLM & NO are different branches of the same tree. Why cut off one or the other when both are perfectly healthy? The Lord rejoices when his people praise him. I remember attending a joyful Mass in the Caribbean. It was very different for me, but reflected a great love for God.


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