Sunday, May 01, 2005

I actually meant to publish this post yesterday, on the Memorial of St. Pope Pius V, the wonderful Dominican Pope (why the Pope now wears white) who did so much to implement the teachings of the Council of Trent, and gave us the Tridentine Mass which we celebrated for over 400 years. However I was busy with two sections of First Holy Communions yesterday.

I subscribe to the "BCL Newsletter" (the BCL is the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy), and as I was reading the most recent one, I started to do a slow burn. The US Bishops, in their wisdom (read the sarcasm) re-elected Bishop Donald Trautman as the BCL Chairman. Bishop Trautman likes to make himself out as a liturgist supreme, but that would only be true if the concept of liturgy was only invented since the late 1960s and had nothing to do with the Divine. It was largely due to his political agenda when he was first the BCL Chairman, in the early 1990s, that relationship between ICEL and the US BCL, and the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments went from bad to worse, resulting in the fact that there are many important, liturgical works which has been promulgated by the Vatican which we still do not have an English translation of. The two most distressing for me are, the Liturgia Horarum, editio altera ("Liturgy of the Hours" which was published in 1986) since as a priest I am celebrate teh Liturgy of the Hours everyday for the welfare of the Church, and the Ordo Celebrandi Matrimonium, editio altera (1990) for the celebration of Marriage. Rather the BCL seems more interested in cranking out things like "Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest," of which we have had TWO editions published in the USA since 1989 (hmmm, maybe that is part of the agenda, to do away with the priesthood completely. Seems to fit since the two liturgies which priests are called to celebrate daily, the Mass and the LOH are two which has been so delayed in getting a worthy English translation).

Anyway, in the recent BCL Newsletter, it is noted that at the March meeting of the BCL it was decided to request from the Vatican a number of adaptations to the Order of the Mass in the new Roman Missal. These are all adaptations which were approved for the 1985 Edition of the Sacramentary (which we still are forced to use since ICEL is still, after 3 years, working on an English translation of the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal). These include the seven additional versions of Penitential Rite form C (for Fr. Tharp, I checked my Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, and the only form C is, using the English, "You were sent to heal the contrite, Lord have mercy. You came to call sinners, Christ have mercy. You plead for us at the right hand of the Father, Lord have mercy."), four alternative intoductions to the Lord's Prayer, etc. None of these greatly upset me, but the reasoning was laughable. I qoute, "The Committe suggested that since the use of these options has shaped the liturgical formation of two generation of Catholics, their disappearance from the Mass could cause confusion and consternation as people try to adjust to new translations."

Now, maybe it is just me, but that seems like a load of something. First, let's set aside the whole "two generation" bit (since it seems like 20 years is only one generation). Are you telling me that most Catholics would even know that there was a difference? After all, too many priests just make up the parts which they are mostly talking about (Penitential Rite, Intro to the Lord's Prayer, Dismissal), so most people would not know what the "approved" variants are. Secondly, what about the hundreds of years of Gregorian Chant and Latin being an integral part of the liturgy of the Mass, forming truly generations of Catholics, and which the Second Vatican Council, and nearly every Pope since, has said must not only be preserved, but all things being equal must be given a place of pride and priviledge? Liturgist of the ilk of Bishop Trautman, did not show one ioda of concern for the "confusion and consternation" of the Catholic people when they ejected them from the Mass. As a result of their hasty ejection of the true liturgical traditions of the Roman Catholic Church Sunday Mass attendance has plummetted from over 75% prior to the liturgical changes of the late 1960s to less than 25% in the USA. It is only worse in Europe which seems to pride itself on being "post-Christian." Now, I am not saying that we need to return to the Tridentine Mass. There were accretions, and need for some renewal. I actually believe that the Novus Ordo, if done as the Second Vaitican Council prescribed, with an appropriate mix of Latin and the venacular, and truly SACRED music is a beautiful, deeply spiritual encounter with Christ. Just look at the beautiful liturgies for the funeral of Pope John Paul the Great, and the Installation of Pope Benedict XVI.

St. Pius V, pray for us.

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