Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What difference will the Motu Proprio make?

A friend raised this question with me yesterday. I`m sure there are those who will hope it will make very little. Often we are told when a new document comes out from Rome that it doesn`t really apply to England. That was famously said at the time of the publication of the 1997 document On certain questions regarding the collaboration of the non-ordained faithful in the sacred ministry of the priest despite it being remarkable for bearing the signatures of the heads of numerous Vatican dicasteries. Apparently it was designed for abuses which happen somewhere else but not England. A bishop was known to say that any document from Rome is filed away in his bottom draw, apparently oblivious to the precedent he might be setting for any of his own `guidelines`. Already the opinion has been offered that the Motu Proprio won`t really make any difference in England as the bishops are already so generous with their permissions. I look forward to the interpretation of word `extraordinary` as in the 1962 missal being the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite and will be keen to see if that interpretation comes anywhere near that used in the term extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

However the same friend raised with me yesterday the practical outcome we can look forward to. For example, this

is not about to be transformed into this!

However what I hope it will enjoy is the momentum of something new. It will be harder for parish councils to declare themselves against any regular use of Latin in the liturgy, even if only a small amount, as I know does happen. There will, I hope, be a greater openness to the `hermeneutic of continuity` and we might see a more balanced approach to worship so that there is a place for that which speaks of tradition alongside the new. Of course nothing will be more powerful than a lead from the top. It would be useful for example for papal Masses to use the Graduale rather than the responsorial psalm if only now and then. A papal celebration of the traditional Mass will also be useful.

So far this papacy has been rather disappointing for those of us who read and were inspired by Cardinal Ratzinger`s books on the question of liturgical reform. However reports say that the Holy Father is determined to have the Motu Proprio see the light of day and is also frustrated by the delays. Let`s pray he gives us all something to celebrate on his 80th birthday.


Hebdomadary said...

Actually Father, it has been my experience that where and when the Traditional Mass is celebrated, whether in the utterly oppressive housing estate church of St. Ethelburga's, Barking, or on a portable altar in a French field, architecture and aesthetic surrounds either disappear, or appear commensurate with the quality of the liturgy. I mean this as an encouragement, not as a disputation. The traditional mass will have its effect in whatever surroundings you place it. After all, severe, barely decorated, mediaeval romanesque architecture is about as plain as some modern churches of the early '60s anyway. It's ALL about (Christ in) the liturgy.

Fr Ray Blake said...

The difference seems to be that the shift will be from the Bishop to the Priest, on this issue.
It is almost as if the Holy Father wants to create a groundswell at parish level, that will somehow bypass their Lordships.
A sort of tipping the scales in favour of tradition and the presbyterate, interesting form all sorts of points of view.

Anonymous said...

'So far this papacy has been rather disappointing for those of us who read and were inspired by Cardinal Ratzinger`s books on the question of liturgical reform.'

No doubt you would have been somewhat underwhelmed by aspects of Jesus' earthly ministry if you had been a contemporary!

ali mata said...

" However what I hope it will enjoy is the momentum of something new."

around my circle of friends (most of us in our 20s) we are expecting the Motu Propio with that ''momentum of something new'' because most of us have NEVER seen a Tridentine mass.

I think that amongst those of us for which the Tridentine mass has never been the rule it will change our understanding of the mass as a Mystery. Of course, we will need to be catechized about it so we understand what is going on!

by the way, just started a blog, and I would be honored if you pay it a visit and impart your priestly blessing :D

Fr Michael Brown said...

Hebdomadary, I`m sure you are right. The most beautiful church counts for little without the Mass.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Fr Blake, I agree it could be very interesting but I wonder whether the bishops will not still have some control in limiting the number of Sunday Masses a priest can say. However it`s all speculation until the thing is finally published.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Anonymous, at least in the earthly ministry of Christ there were miracles! Up until now very little has happenend in this pontificate. On Monday the first ten chapters of the Pope`s new book will be published. He is publishing them early as he thinks he may not live long enough to complete the book. While I`m sure the book will be interesting, we already have quite a number of books by him and it would be nice to see some of his ideas being put into action now he is the Supreme Pontiff.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Ali, thanks for alerting me to your website. I have always thought I would enjoy St Francis de Sales but whenever I start reading the Introduction to the Devout Life I always get so far and then get stuck so reading your blog may well be a help.

I hope you get to a Tridentine Mass before too long. Last Sunday a twenty-something year old turned up at one of our indult Mass locations and was absolutely captivated by it, never having seen it before.

ali mata said...

same happened to me when I first tried to read Introduction . I would actually recommend reading his personal letters first. Same teaching can be found, the language can be a little ''old'' but it is much more readable and enjoyable.