I've been reading various blogs and webpages where the discussion is fast and furious about the expected decision by Pope Benedict to allow a wider use of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962. There are folks who are eager for it and who have a lot to say about it.
Surfing the 'net is a great way to keep abreast of many more subjects than one could otherwise do by subscribing to journals; and a lot cheaper. It's entertaining, too. And you do meet lots of friendly, intelligent people.
You also meet a lot of dyspeptic people who have heaped up grievances the way some, in deep financial trouble, pile up debt. Folks who are angry about any number of things, including Catholic things, especially liturgy.
So a lot of that boils over on various blogs; and woe betide the blogmeister who tries to pour oil on troubled waters! Shawn Tribe at the New Liturgical Movement made a modest proposal in that direction the other day concerning some of the sarcastic, vitriolic polemics tossed around by those more traditional or conservative, and it drew umbrage from some bloggers.
It amazes me that anyone thinks this is an effective way to persuade anyone not already convinced -- but then, I suspect we have at least part of the reason some of these folks bitterly complain of their pastors and parishes not giving them the time of day. Funny how that works -- like shooting fish in a barrel.
There's something else I'm picking up on, more concerning.
Mr. Tribe's excellent site is deeply interested in a "reform of the reform" -- he and his collaborators are advocating a reverent, traditional celebration of the Mass as promulgated by the Council. There are many who are interested in this -- this is a growing movement -- and it's central thesis is, I think, unassailable: we didn't get the mandates of the Council right; and they want to get it right. Of course, many of the folks who visit his site, and others like it, are very dedicated to the celebration of the Missal of 1962 -- the so-called "Tridentine Mass" or Pian Rite.
What is coming clear, now, is that a parting of the ways is coming: I predict the pope's expected Motu Proprio will expose a fault-line -- between those who genuinely want to pursue the "reform of the reform," and those who really couldn't care less about that, but rather are focused on the restoration of the old rite. Many of these self-styled "traditionalists" are being very plain: entirely scrap the Rite of Vatican II they derisively call Novus Ordo, a title they claim the Church herself gives the Mass (true in the barest technical sense: Paul VI used the expression, in a speech, once). A number of these folks, with little prodding, will proceed to tell you how heretical and evil the current rite of Mass is. And they don't stop there.
I said before I wondered if this new permission will not end up hindering the "reform of the reform"; because it would shift energy from improvements in the current rite of the Mass, to more celebrations of the classical rite. As I've said before, I'm neutral--I have neither any particular attachment to the old rite, nor any animus to it. But I don't know it -- you don't just pick up the old missal and start offering Mass that way.
But I think we're about to see folks who thought they were pulling in the same direction, part ways or even actively disagreeing. I predict: as soon as the permission comes, a lot of these folks are going to insist priests drop their "reform of the reform" efforts as a waste of time and simply pursue the Pian Rite.
Does this mean the proposed permission is the wrong move? No, of course not. The holy father is obviously thinking far bigger. We have to wait and actually find out what he says his reasons are for the "freeing" of the old rite, but the assumption is that he's doing it to be pastoral to those attached to it, to aid reconciliation with the breakaway "traditionalists" of the Society of St. Pius X, to foster ecumenism with the Orthodox, as well as aid the reform of the reform.
The interesting hypothesis some offer is that the pope aims, way down the road, to see the normative Roman Rite become something that could be described, oversimply, as an amalgam of the old and current rite. Something, in fact, that was, I recall, promulgated briefly at the time of the Council along the way to the current Missal. And one wonders if those most dedicated to Missal of 1962 will have the slightest openness to that? Just as I wonder if there will ever be an openness from 1962-Missal folks for revisions in the calendar and lectionary, indeed, any revision at all. You only need note the occasional complaint about Pius XII for revising the Holy Week rites to see why I wonder.
Anyway, we'll see what the New Year brings.