Monday, August 02, 2021

Ruff and Shaw on Traditionis Custodes and the Reform

Simultaneously with this post I publishing on Rorate Caeli a post consisting of nine questions, and the answers to these by Fr Anthony Ruff of the Pray Tell blog, and by me. It is also being published on the Pray Tell blog.

This was not a dialogue, but simply juxtaposes our answers to the same questions. I am grateful to Fr Ruff for the opportunity to take part in this exercise. Fr Ruff's answers, which are from a very different place from my own, are characterised by respect and charity, and give a coherent account of the reasoning of at least some of those who welcome Traditionis Custodes. This makes them interesting and useful to those who want to try to understand this position; I hope my answers will be useful to the readers of Pray Tell.

Here are some quotations from Fr Ruff which are worth pondering.

"The question of whether it’s appropriate for the Church to prohibit the previous rite is identical to the question of whether Vatican II’s statements on the liturgy are legitimate and correct – and I think they are."

"He [Pope Francis] did not say that the 1962 Missal has no lex orandi, or is opposed to the Church’s lex orandi. The 1962 Missal reflects the Roman rite’s lex orandi to the extent that it reflects the Church’s liturgy as found in the 1970 Missal."

"the primary argument of TC is not a pragmatic one about whether or not traditionalist communities are guilty of the vices Pope Francis names. Even if traditionalist communities are coexisting in perfect peace with the rest of the church, Francis’s primary argument is that their liturgical practice is not in line with the Church’s intentions."

I think this expresses quite clearly a line of thought which explains Traditionis Custodes, and indeed the thinking of this document only makes sense in the context of this or something very like it.

First, the 'nasty trad on social media' is besides the point. I never bought the idea that this phenomenon, real as it is, has the influence that some have attributed to it. I seriously doubt anyone in Pope Francis' inner circle spends time reading sede vacantists on Twitter.

The view rather is that, in the context of Vatican II, the reformed liturgy has an exalted place in the Church's self understanding, and that what does not sit comfortably with this is for that reason theologically problematic.

My response to this would be to ask whether the Vatican II/Novus Ordo Missae marked a real change of doctrine. It would seem problematic to say so, since the Church's teachings are supposed to be unchanging. Pope John XXIII expressed the mandate of Vatican II in his opening speech, in this way:

The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another. And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character.

If there has been no change of doctrine, then the lex orandi of the older liturgy would remain valid and useful, notwithstanding the insights brought forth by other rites, reformed or not.

I say more about the kind of view expressed by Fr Ruff in a podcast which will be released on Thursday.

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  1. Stop the mealymouthed nonsense. Like Francis, Ruff is a full-blown Modernist, and should called out as such. As “the synthesis of all heresies,” Modernism is rabidly anti-Catholic. In no sense does Ruff speak for Catholicism here. He speaks for Vatican II.

  2. Father Ruff’s arguments basically are “Francis can do what he wants, so get with the program.” But many of his justifications for the Mass of Paul VI are unintentionally funny.

    (My comments in parentheses. I have attended the Latin Mass for thirty of my thirty-five years as a convert.)

    Did the lifting of restrictions on the 1962 Missal promote unity in the Church? Did it produce spiritual fruit?
    (Father)RUFF (PrayTell blog): I don’t have enough familiarity with the communities and individuals involved to make a judgment. I’m more familiar with online blogs and television broadcasts, where I see plenty of bile, negativity, exalting of 1962 over 1970, promotion of historical and theological misunderstandings, and harsh criticism of Vatican II and the Church’s reformed liturgy.

    (In other words, “I don’t know any ‘Trad’ communities and I never bothered to do so.”)

    I don’t know to what extent attendees at preconciliar worship are influenced by these negative forces. I know that many of these attendees are very devout and live lives of real Christian commitment, and that many vocations to religious life and priesthood come from these communities, which is to be commended. If only all this spiritual energy were brought into alignment with the reformed liturgy!

    (But it is precisely the reformed liturgy that disfigures and suppresses “all this spiritual energy.”
    The Post-Conciliar church is not fruitful because her liturgy is ugly, haphazard, subject to whim and experimentation. It is not the solid rock of the TLM.

    “By their fruits you shall know them” doesn’t seem to apply when there is very little fruit to examine.)

    The goal is that the entire Roman rite celebrates the liturgy of Vatican II in all the spiritual profundity and sacrality which remains to be discovered in the 1970 Missal, so that there is less reason for people to seek out the 1962 alternative.

    (It’s been fifty years! What remains to be discovered? One can’t discover something that simply doesn’t exist.)