Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Reform of the Reform: a brief reply to Fr Hugh

Fr Hugh Somerville-Knapman has done me the honour of replying to my post on the fall-out from the Sacra Liturgia conference. At the risk of appearing engaged in too incestuous a discussion - Fr Hugh is an old friend and fellow student and I've had a similar discussion with him on this blog before - I wanted to pick up on a couple of his points.

First, I should apologise for the offence I've caused; I did get a little carried away. I don't mean to impugn the good intentions of people like Fr Hugh who promote the Reform of the Reform, and indeed I did try to explain the reasoning behind their position in in a sympathetic way.

Second, I should say to Fr Hugh that I certainly didn't have his blog in my sights when I talked about the damage caused by the hype over Cardinal Sarah's words. His blog, like mine, is not, I fancy, primarily responsible for the way things are perceived in Rome, Washington DC, or Archbishop's House in Westminster. I had more in mind banner headlines in the Catholic Herald.

But to business. Fr Hugh makes a surprising assertion about my position. He writes:

Yet, if the full restoration of pre-conciliar worship is the goal, how to achieve it? By fiat, an imposition on the Church as violent as that in 1969 which made mandatory a Mass that few if any laity were really prepared for?

The answer to that rhetorical question is 'Obviously not', but Fr Hugh appears to imagine that I think the answer is 'Yes', and goes on to criticise me quite harshly for a proposal I have never made, never intend to make, and do not agree with. Indeed, I thought the tenor of my post was clear enough: that I envisage progress (at any rate for the foreseeable future) as nothing more than the organic growth of the celebration of the Traditional Mass, a continuation of the progress it has made particularly since 2007.

That is just a misunderstanding. More substantively, Fr Hugh reacts to my criticism of the tactical blunder of the Sacra Liturgia conference people in a somewhat confusing way. What I had said was that the volume of hype forced Cardinal Nichols, Fr Lombardi, and others to react publicly: that is, it made them feel they had to react. This seems undeniable, since they didn't react in this way on the previous occasions Cardinal Sarah has made his point about the desireability of celebration ad orientem, as he did in an interview back in May.

Fr Hugh wants to have this both ways. First, yes there was nothing in the Cardinal's remarks which justified the reaction, because there was nothing very new or startling about them; but at the same time they were worthy of the hype because they were new and startling after all.

Well, whatever you say Fr. The point remains that the reaction came because the remarks were being presented (hyped) as significant, and in the present situation in the Church the reaction was, if not completely predictable, at least very likely. The saddest thing in the whole sorry story is Fr Hugh's assertion, which I am sure is true:

'the organisers did not have any expectation of response'

Fr Hugh is here pleading guilty, on behalf of the organisers, of serious naivity. 

My friends, this is not a good time to be naive

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  1. The TLM pleased God. Why don't we?

    1. Ana.Because the Modernists don't believe in God ,The Devil,or the afterlife!Only in this world.They should be afraid of dying,but they are not.They are set for their fate.

    2. This man is 100% correct. A simple assertion but so correct.

  2. I have some experience of the Reform of the Reform for over a year now. At first I was impressed, but sadly not so now. I suspect this particular effort will simply end up where the shambolic New Mass is now typically is. It might be a bit closer to the real meaning of the Sacrifice of Christ commemorated, perhaps a bit closer to how the the Pauline Mass was intended, but still just another series of variations which will tend inevitably towards a “Protestantised “mass.

    As for Fr Somerville – Knapman's comment, the New Mass, the Pauline Mass, is not and cannot be mandatory. The normal Mass, but not the mandatory one, since others were and indeed still are permitted, is the Gregorian Mass as formalised by Gregory the Great and and established by St Pius V in the form of the Tridentine Mass.

    As for Fr Somerville-Knapman's remark about how to achieve it, well the answer to that is simple. Individual priests, whether they be members of the traditional orders or just inclined towards the Gregorian Mass, should just get on and say it, perhaps as one of two Sunday Masses. Very few of the congregation will leave and few bishops will put up anything other than a mild resistance .

    They have other things to worry about.

  3. Anonymous10:42 am

    And a reply from me! One, I hope, which is constructive and not antagonistic. Pax.

  4. This turf war between TLM supporters and RofR is something I knew nothing about until to-day and I find it truly sad. I am in a Parish where our Parish Priest is said to be an expert on liturgy. Nothing I can say or do will deviate him from his bizarre experiments. Fortunately there is a local convent where we have an anodyne version of the OF and the nuns wear habits and ring the bell at the consecration so I go there and never to our Parish Church. I cannot see the TLM coming to our Parish in the foreseeable future so we are stuck with this arrangement. I would just like to see a better celebration of the OF.

    Cardinal Sarah's 'God or Nothing' is for me the most brilliant book of this century and most of the last. I find it sad and presumptuous for anybody to criticise what he said in London. He is a Giant in the Church; I regard VN, Spadaro and Lombardi as mere fleas. Let us just wait and see what happens!