Monday, July 30, 2007

OPEN LETTER TO PRIESTS (Mostly in English)

Reverendi Domini:
Reverend Gentlemen:

Haec citatio ex documento concilii Vaticani II "Sacrosanctum Concilio" obtinetur.
A) Normae generales
22. § 1. Sacrae Liturgiae moderatio ab Ecclesiae auctoritate unice pendet: quae quidem est apud Apostolicam Sedem et, ad normam iuris, apud Episcopum.
§ 2. Ex potestate a iure concessa, rei liturgicae moderatio inter limites statutos pertinet quoque ad competentes varii generis territoriales Episcoporum coetus legitime constitutos.
§ 3. Quapropter nemo omnino alius, etiamsi sit sacerdos, quidquam proprio marte in Liturgia addat, demat, aut mutet.

In the past month I have been subjected to a deluge of acrimony from Catholics who are fed up with the "desacralization" of the Mass. I have this collection of vitriol smoking and smoldering on the Google Gmail server because I would not want to have it in my personal office. All I have done to deserve this is to be brave enough to come out and decry the the pope's action of allowing the celebration of the Mass in the ritual as defined by pope John XXIII in 1962. I even composed some sarcastic blogs in the Latin Language spoofing the Latin Mass. It is interesting that no one, not a single one has dared to come back and make a Latin Language comment. No, not even a priest or bishop. Why? Because only about 5% of you can even understand even
"Dominus vobiscum", that's why.

So why do we have this tsunami of faithful dancing in the streets because the "traditional, dead-foreign-language Mass" is coming back? Here's what they say, and I am not making this up.

The reverence for the Sacrifice of the Mass is gone.
The worshipful attitude of the Temple has been diminished.
The dancing girl procession down the center aisle is not proper.
Indecent dress has taken over the pew and the priest says nothing.
People talk in church like it is a meeting hall.
The music is horrible.
The priests take too many liberties with the official language of the liturgical text of the Missal.
Altar girls? Yuk!
Lectors who can't read.
Extraordinary ministers at every Mass, even if there are only 25 communicants?

Is that enough for you? Notice what is conspicuously absent here... not one single complaint about the vernacular as such. Once again, I am not making this up. In fact, here is an oft repeated quote: "I am not looking for the Latin language, I am seeking the reverential environment." I have two quotes that put the exclamation point on the attitude described here: "The Anglicans have had liturgy in English for centuries now. Their "Mass" is a reverential high. We Catholics have gone astray."

Reverend sirs, I want you to know that I am on your side. I understand Latin, you don't. I even am well versed in the 1962 liturgy of the Roman Missal, you aren't (for the most part). I don't agree with all of the acrimony coming from the "traditionalists". I am, however, telling you this, that unless we get our liturgical act together and tighten our cinctures, the trip back to 1962 may gather steam and we will find ourselves back in 1662. Don't do that to me. I am >70 years old. I was around when Pope Pius XII changed the rules of the Eucharistic Fast. Imagine, we could drink pure water after midnight before going to communion! Enough already, I don't want to go back there. Except for a fringe, ultra-right-wing group of activists, not many want to go back there. But there are many who are demanding more reverence for our sacred worship experience (the Eucharist) than we are presently getting.
Even the Pope gets it. Benedict XVI is no dummy. He's older then I am. He grew up in Nazi Germany. He lived through the West-East German split and reunification. He knows division and unity more deeply than many of us. I trust him more than a lot of the traditionalists do. I don't agree with Summorum Pontificum, but I am convinced that we deserve it, we've earned it fair and square. Furthermore, I ask you, "Why do you think that Benedict XVI did not authorize an 'official' translation of the document? Why do you think that he wrote a collateral explanation to Summorum Pontificum in the vernacular (Italian) himself?" He wanted to prove to you and to the world that it's not the language that is important, it is the faith and its liturgical expressions that spring from the heart that are important. He and others are worried that our present liturgical prayers are not consonant with what our faith really is.

I am not going to translate the above quote from Sacrosanctum Concilium, #22. You can look it up yourselves. I am going to give you two examples of forbidden liberties that take place against the instructions of the second Vatican Council and the General Instruction on the Roman Missal.

Allow me to show you the only three options that the priest has for the opening greeting to the Mass:
1. Priest: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2. Priest: The grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
3. Priest: The Lord be with you
Does any of these sound like "Good Morning" to you?
Is "good morning" better than any of the three?

The invitation to the Sign of Peace:
: Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you. Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live for ever and ever.
All: Amen.
Priest: The Peace of the Lord be with you always.
All: And also with you.
Deacon or Priest: Let us offer each other a sign of peace.
[The ministers and all the people exchange an embrace, handshake, or other appropriate gesture of peace with those near them, according to local custom.]
Does anything here sound like "I love you"? or "let's give each other a nice, warm hug?"

It has been made clear to me by the reaction of the *center* of the Catholic Community that we have some soul-searching to do and some restitution to make to those who have been proven correct much to our discomfort. The reverence due the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass must be reinstated. There is a wave of demand for corrective action sweeping over us. It is the Spirit of God making a course correction. It is not a LANGUAGE correction, it is a worship correction. Like the Israelites in the desert, on the road between Egypt and the Promised Land, we have to listen to Moses telling us what God told him on Sinai. We have to thank God for the blessing of His unity through the diversity of the Trinity. We have to exercise our faith in God as disciples of His Son Jesus, not as seekers of personal comfort. If it takes a Motu Proprio from Sinai to jerk us back 45 years and bring us to our senses, so be it.

Like I said a little while ago, I don't agree with the Motu Proprio because it is retrogressive. I do think that we deserve it because we were losing our Unity. With that, I leave you with the assurance that no one will call upon me to preside over a "traditional" 1962 Mass, despite my linguistic and liturgical abilities. I leave you with the assurance that I will perhaps not live long enough to see where Summorum Pontificum will bring the Church. When I do leave, I want a Mass in English, in the briefest form possible.
Rest assured that I am relaxed after a month-long paroxysm of disappointment. I have now come back down to earth and can assure you that you have absolutely no need to cry at my funeral. God has sunk His fist into my nape and I am back in line.

There is one way that you can all make God and me happy. Go out and buy yourself a copy of "Sacrosanctum Concilium" and the "GIRM", read them and abide by them and you may not have to go out and learn Latin after all.

"Quid dixi, dixi." (Pontius Pilate, Governor)
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