Basil Loftus (Vatican Counsel, 17th February) misrepresents the law of the Church and the will of the Holy Father when he suggests that permission is given for the Extraordinary Form for ‘those who, exceptionally, are so conditioned by the pre-Conciliar liturgy that they need it for their spiritual good’. Pope Benedict XVI made it clear that there he had no such limited group in mind when he liberated this form of the Mass in 2007: since the Council, he wrote, ‘it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them.’
Everyone can benefit from experiencing the ancient liturgy, because, as the Holy Father again wrote, ‘It behoves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer’. These riches should not be hidden away, even if not everyone wishes to base their spiritual lives upon them.
Mgr Loftus’ suggestion that there is something improper about the other sacraments being celebrated according to the 1962 is absurd, and clearly contrary to the legislation embodied by Summorum Pontificum (see Article 9).
What Mgr Loftus is perhaps unable to understand is that a liturgy celebrated in Latin, in part silently, and with some rituals partially hidden from view, can engage the Faithful just as deeply, though in a different way, to a vernacular liturgy celebrated in words of one syllable. As Bl. Pope John Paul II pointed out in Dominicae Caenae (1980), the ancient Latin liturgy is ‘an expression of the unity of the Church, and through its dignified character elicited a profound sense of the Eucharistic Mystery’. That unity, and that sense, constitute the most important kind of ‘full, active’ participation, ‘as befits a community’.
Dr Joseph Shaw