|The Traditional Mass is about the Peace of Christ.|
In my last post I wrote about the bewildering variety of issues which those involved in the Reform of the Reform movement are concerned about - or should be. These issues are urgent: whether through liturgical abuses, some of them reluctantly authorised after years of conflict, or through ill-conceived aspects of the Reform which Cardinal Ratzinger criticised, sometimes with considerable force, these aspects of the Novus Ordo (as it is usually encountered) are doing damage, year by year, to the Faith of Catholics in every country in the world. It is not surprising that the Church is having problems proclaiming the Gospel.
The obstacles to dealing with these issues are, however, huge. While keeping a grip on the seriousness of the problem, we also need to understand the impossible situation conscientious parish priests are in. At its simplest, going too far can simply end the priest's tenure in the parish, with nothing achieved. e.e. cummings expressed it nicely:
Don't go too far, said she.
What's too far? said he.
Where you are, said she.
It's not so different for the Monsignori in the Curia. There are good, as well as lazy, stupid, and bad people in Rome - like everywhere else. They tried, especially from the mid 1990s to the end of St John Paul's pontificate, to put a brake on abuses with a series of official documents. These weren't pointless, because they drew attention to the problems and stooped the abuses from being seen as de facto permitted, but they made no discernable progress in stopping the abuses. Since then, we've had the new English translation of the Missal, Summorum Pontificum, and the Anglican Ordinariate: top-down reforms which made an important difference. But they also demonstrated the problem of opposition from bishops around the world. We aren't going to have more things like that because Pope Francis does not want a civil war in the Church over the liturgy. That, I should say, is a perfectly understandable position.
Movement, outside of a handful of parishes, on the issues I discussed in the last post, is not going to happen unless there is a change of mood among the Faithful themselves, and ideally the Bishops as well. This is not going to happen as a result of the Reform of the Reform, because it is a precondition of the Reform of the Reform happening in the first place. It's not going to happen as a result of ordinary Catholics reading scholarly books, or even blogs, either, because only a tiny percentage do either.
|Is it offputting to children?|
The Reform of the Reform agenda strikes directly at the spiritual lives of Catholics completely unprepared to go down the path of tradification. That is why its supporters see it as such an opportunity, because - they say - these Catholics need better liturgy more than anyone, but it is also why it is not going to work. Catholics - and there are many - who see their attendance at Mass largely in terms of human contact with the priest and their fellow worshippers, are driven up the wall by each and every one of the items on the Reform of the Reform wish list. Not only that, but these Catholics often sense their power as representatives of a dominant ideology, and are willing to use that power to make their priests' lives impossible. If the Reform of the Reform is going to work, this group needs either to be converted or somehow made less significant within the parish.
The thing which can be done, in a parish, to bring this about is the introduction of the Traditional Mass. Yes, obviously, the liberal die-hards will hate it. They may even complain to the bishop. But he is much less likely to listen, for two reasons. First, the rights of the priest and any traddies in the parish to have the Vetus Ordo are settled by Summorom Pontificum, and secondly, the complaints are much less reasonable.
Let's consider things from the Bishop's perspective. Bishops are not solely motivated by ideology. They respond to complaints because, ultimately, they are concerned about people's spiritual welfare. If a priest drives his flock away by praying in Latin with his back to them, this - it is natural for the Bishop to think - is a problem. But if busybodies are complaining because other people in the parish are doing something which those other people find spiritually beneficial, which is permitted by the Church, that is not a real problem. The liberals should perhaps learn to live and let live.
Once established in a parish, the Traditional Mass can start to have an effect. Some people will attend it. Their numbers will gradually grow. If it is at a reasonable time, and above all if it is on a Sunday, it can easily become as big as one of the other Sunday Masses over a few years - this has happened in many places. People will discover it by accident, when it is convenient for them one week. It will make them think; it may stimulate them to read up on it. It has the power to change them. It has more power, because it is not just an improvement on the unreformed Reform in one respect, but in a whole lot of ways, looking at it from the Reform of the Reformer's perspective.
If it changes enough people, the balance of political forces in the parish will itself begin to shift. The possibilities start to open up. This is not the work of a moment; this is something which takes years, but difficulties are bearable if one can make progress.
Ultimately, the knowledge, even a slight one, of the Traditional Mass, and the understanding that it is legitimate, valuable, and represents many centuries of Tradition, on the part of the Novus Ordo congregation, will make them far more amenable to the Reform of the Reform type changes than they were before. It is important to remember that many Catholics have been educated not just in ignorance of the Tradition, but to vilify it.
The Reform of the Reform is not an easier, more practical, more politically astute alternative to introducing the Traditional Mass in a parish. It is more difficult, less practical, and less politically astute. The Reform of the Reform is not the only way the Traditional Mass can be made acceptable to the average Catholic in the pew. The Traditional Mass, as part of the liturgical life of the parish, is the only way the Reform of the Reform is ever going to become acceptable to the average Catholic in the pew.
|The Rosary Walk at West Grinstead|