Today marks the third anniversary of the coming into effect of the provisions of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. It is a day to celebrate.
I first became interested in the Extraordinary Form in 1982. It happened through reading books. I was a Carmelite novice at the time and just felt something was wrong. I found old copies of Christian Order in the cellar at the Boars Hill priory and thought I wanted to find out more so I got in touch with Miss Pond who ran the Oxford SSPX Mass centre. However shortly after that I decided to leave the Carmelites as I became more convinvced it was not for me and returned to Newcastle where I went to the SSPX Mass centre at the Station Hotel for a while until I was accepted for seminary. On seeing the Latin Mass I felt immediately at home. I didn`t make too much of a secret of my preference at seminary at Ushaw but somehow survived and said my first public Mass in the EF on a visit to Wigratzbad in 1989 and first public Mass in the diocese at St Dominic`s in Newcastle in 1992 on my return from further studies in Rome.
What difference did 2007 make? Well I now say an EF Mass every day but Sunday (!) and say the 1960 breviary. The EF is slowly getting ito the mainstream although still in the face of opposition and apathy. One of the best bits of news recently was the decision by the Dominicans of Province of St Joseph in the east of the USA to ensure that all students for the priesthood learn the traditional Dominican rite. I`m sure others will follow and seminaries will start teaching the EF as a normal part of formation.
I used to joke that instead of being born in 1959 I wished that I was leaving the world then. However recently I`ve been thinking about that and have my doubts. After all there was an expectation of liturgical change through most of the 20th century up to the introduction of the Novus Ordo. My seminary rector told me that people who spoke about a vernacular liturgy in the 1950s were regarded as cranks but I`m sure anyone who at that time kept up to date with the latest thinking would have known what to expect at Vatican II. Rubricarius is good at reminding us of this. However in recent years new scholarship has called into question many of the assumptions of the reformers. The work of Mgr Gamber, CIEL and others has led the way. We probably now know more about the EF or `Gregorian Rite` than ever before and understand more deeply why things were as they were. I`m enjoying reading at the moment Margaret Barker`s The Great High Priest: the Temple Roots of the Christian Liturgy whose title speaks for itself and gives a view of Christian liturgical origins wholly different from what I was taught at seminary.
The present time is probably one of the most exciting times to be around as the tradition is explored and new findings applied. Progress can be very slow but it is happening.
In all this Joseph Ratzinger has given the lead. That is why I am very excited about his visit to this country and looking forward to Mass at Westminster cathedral on Saturday.