My first article produced a tempest of comments regarding the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form of the Catholic Mass of the Roman Rite. The purpose of my article was to serve as an introduction to articles about the new translation of the Ordinary Form which will be used starting the First Sunday of Advent 2011.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - My first article produced a tempest of comments regarding the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form of the Catholic Mass of the Roman Rite. The purpose of my article was to serve as an introduction to articles to come about the new translation of the Ordinary Form which will be used starting the First Sunday of Advent 2011, not to cause a lively debate about liturgy.
The best comment, however, within the debate came from a Catholic blogger and a lawyer who stated, "I am an ardent lover of the Tridentine Mass, but I appreciate the benefits of the Novus Ordo Missae while recognizing its liturgical shortcomings. I am also a stickler for the rubrics, regardless of the form or rite one uses. What one form gives in participation, the other takes away. What the other takes away in sacredness, the other gives.
In the debate between the two, I always try to remember St. Lucian (a third century priest), who after being imprisoned and tortured for days, with broken bones and dislocated joints, had the opportunity to say Mass while in chains, bound to the ground, using his chest as an altar when some Christians brought him some bread and wine. I should think that if Mass on St. Lucian's chest is valid and licit, we ought to be a little less intolerant on the matter of form.
Recall also, that the Church has had dozens of rites or uses, from Sarum, to Ambrosian, Gallican, African, Syrian, and a whole slew of Eastern liturgical rites. Choose your enemies and befriend your allies. For all their personal preferences the conservative, orthodox Novus Ordo priests and the Tridentine priests ought not to be fighting, especially when the new translation is a step in the right direction and our common enemies are legion.
The Tridentine, for all its tradition, is not quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est. Jesus in the Upper Room in the First Mass, for one, or St. Peter or St. Paul or any of the other Apostles, or a whole slew of Saints for centuries, never uttered the Tridentine rite. Aren't we in communion with them?"
My dear friends, the new translation of the Novus Ordo Missae, the Ordinary Form, corrects all of the objections that Traditionalists have regarding the text of the Novus Ordo Missae. We all recognize that the implementation of the liturgical reform of the Council has been a disaster in America.
For example, during the summer of 1988, Bishop Walter Curtis, past Ordinary of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, invited me for a visit to his office. I had grown up in his diocese. Now that I had returned to the United States, having completed my studies for the priesthood in Europe, he wanted to congratulate me on my ordination, which took place on December 24, 1987.
Our visit was cordial and rather informal. He asked me where I had grown up, and I told him in Ridgefield, and that my home parish was St. Mary's. I told him he had confirmed me, and that when my sister Donna was confirmed, I had served the Confirmation Mass and met him in the parish rectory. Our conversation brought back many memories, but my telling Bishop Curtis I was from Ridgefield made him aware that I had experienced first-hand the terrible tribulations our parish had undergone shortly after the close of the Second Vatican Council.
Early into 1968, St. Mary's became a battleground. A very holy and wonderful pastor, Msgr. James McLaughlin, had been transferred, and a new pastor, Fr. Martin J. O'Connor (1968-1974), came onto the scene with a new Assistant Fr. Nicholas Nicodem.
Although Msgr. McLaughlin did little to prepare his parishioners for the liturgical changes of the Council, the first few years of the changes were seemingly well received by the parishioners and there was peace in the parish. All seemed well.
Then the lid came off. It was 1968. Msgr. McLaughlin had left, Fr. O'Connor was in, and all of a sudden, madness struck. Numerous families left the parish and took refuge in other parishes in the neighboring city of Danbury.
As the chaos and polarization continued, the Tridentine Mass movement began to take shape. Close to Ridgefield, just over the state line, Fr. Francis Fenton and Fr. Robert McKenna of the Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement began to say the Tridentine Mass every Sunday in a converted barn on the property of Bob and Doris Cleary in Brewster, New York. The two priests were later assisted by the first priests ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre who were just beginning their apostolate on Long Island, NY. Years later, the Society of St. Pius X purchased the Jesuit Retreat House in Ridgefield, which presently functions as a very successful retreat center.
As I told Bishop Curtis that I was from Ridgefield, I sensed from his reaction he was only too well aware of this sad history. He looked embarrassed. Bishop Curtis died in 1997. He had attended the entire Second Vatican Counciland was known as an excellent orthodox moral theologian. Why, then, did his diocese fall apart after the Council?
At the end of our meeting as we stood at the threshold of his office door, Bishop Curtis turned to me and said: "Well, Jim, I never thought that it was my place to tell my priests what to do."
Just think for a moment. When parents are permissive and don't educate or correct their kids, family chaos takes place. The same thing happens with the Church. When a bishop does not correct and educate his spiritual sons; i.e., his priests, there is chaos, too.
Sacrosanctum Concilium, the first of the 16 documents of the Second Vatican Council to be approved by the Council Fathers, did not come out of a vacuum. Pope Pius X had initiated the liturgical movement, which was then intensified by Pope Pius XII. The history of the liturgical movement is documented in a scholarly work by Alcuin Reid, O.S.B., entitled The Organic Development of the Liturgy, an essential read for anyone who wishes to fully understand the reason behind the reform of the liturgy brought about by the Second Vatican Council.
I am more than confident that the new translation of the Novus Ordo Missae mandated by the Vatican document, Liturgiam authenticam, will return reverence to the Mass, sacredness to our music and beauty to our architecture."Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation" (Novus Ordo Missae, First Eucharistic Prayer).
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