|Bishop Egan kneels before the Altar at the Consecration, in his Cathedral in Portsmouth|
Following on from my last post, here's another suggestion: insofar as there is a contrast between the two forms of the Mass, do all sound people need to stick with the the ecclesiology, sacramental theology, etc. etc. of the Novus Ordo? The claim that they do doesn't work, and here's why.
It is possible to have different legitimate theological schools of thought within the Church: Augustinians and Thomists and what have you. There are also, of course, illegitimate schools of thought, or schools with illegitimate aspects. One possibility, at first glance, is that the contrast between the theological emphases of the two forms of the Mass amounts to the kind of difference which implies that only one can be orthodox: they can't both be right. The point is that the supporter of the Novus Ordo has better hope this is not the case.
There are two reasons why. First, the theological emphases of the Traditional Mass are simply those of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church since, let us say, at least the 12th century. On specific issues we can take it much further back, but the 12th century will do just fine. Everyone in the debate about the liturgy recognises that the way things are in the EF is the result of theological attitudes and ideas of the 12th century and before, in all important respects. Since that date, these have become fixed in the liturgy of Rome which spread throughout the whole of Europe and much of the world. The Church's endorsement of these liturgical forms is an extended act (or series of acts) of the Ordinary Magisterium.
Is it conceivable that the Ordinary Magisterium should be seriously mistaken on an interconnected set of issues fundamental to the Christian life over the course of 8 centuries? Of course not. If you disagree, you are simply rejecting the concept of the Ordinary Magisterium. What this means is that there is not and and there cannot be a real theological problem with anything in the EF.
The second reason is to do with the Second Vatican Council. Opponents of the EF always take their start from the Council. But the Council did not know the Novus Ordo, the Novus Ordo didn't exist at the time of the Council. The 'Mass of the Council', as Pope Benedict called it, was the EF, the Missal of 1962, and a bit the revisions of 1964. What the Council said about the liturgy has to be seen in this light. It is simply historically impossible to see the Council as supporting the theology of the OF over the theology of the EF. Yes, there are specific reforms which the Council suggests. But it never does so because of any theological problems with the old books. It is explicit and repeated in its insistence that pastoral considerations are the only ones at issue, and that after all was what the Council was all about. All the beautiful things the Council said about the liturgy, as being for example the 'source' and 'summit' of the 'Christian life', were said in the context of the Traditional Mass.
On the other hand, the actual reform which followed the Council did not have the Council's approval. It couldn't, the Council was over. It may, or may not, have followed the lines laid out by the Council. But - to spell this out - while the Council endorsed the theological exactitude of the 1962 Missal, we can only speculate what the Council would have made of the 1970 Missal. From the point of view of magisterial authority, such speculations are neither here nor there: they have no weight.
|The Gospel, proclaimed towards the pagan North, Our Lady of Willesden|
For these reasons, the supporter of the Novus Ordo, if he has any sense, must say that there is no theological dissonance between the two Missals. If there is a dissonance, the Novus Ordo is in trouble: unlike the EF it is neither endorsed by the Ordinary Magisterium over 8 centuries, nor by the Extraordinary Magisterium of a General Council. It is endorsed by the Ordinary Magisterium of a few decades - a bit like the Breviary of Quignonez. The one which was promulgated in 1536 and abolished in 1568. Yup, liturgical reforms carried out by the highest authority of the Church are not guaranteed to be successful.
Supporters of the Novus Ordo should stop trying to claim that people who like the Traditional Mass are heretics: that really isn't the language of the Church of Today, is it? They should be working to make it a pastoral success. And there is really no reason why they should be jealous of the pastoral successes of the Vetus Ordo, when they happen. We are all working for the same Kingdom, aren't we?
I am reminded of a passage in that forgotten document, the Ratio fundamentatlis about Seminary education produced by the Congregation for Catholic Education in 1980.
|The extinguishing of the candles at Tenebrae, St Mary Moorfields.|