Saturday, December 30, 2006

'Traditionalists' v. 'Reform of the Reform'

A follow up on my post below.

One of the reasons I get animated about this is that I do want to pursue the "reform of the reform," and I, too, don't want the abuses.

More than that, I believe there are questions of reorienting the celebration of the liturgy to where it is meant to be, but isn't; this is where the issue of music comes in -- and why it's more than bare questions of orthodoxy, but also simply what music.

And all this takes tremendous effort, and patience, both because of ordinary inertia at work in moving any organization, but also because so many of our fellow Catholics are used to what's not adequate, they are attached to it, and so, there will be resistance from other than ideologues.

. . . And you see, this is where a pastor needs help -- and he sure could use the help of anyone of a "traditional" bent.

And guess what? He won't get it from a lot of so-called "traditionalists" -- at least, not as they are (mis)represented online.

There is a set of self-described "tradionalists" who can't and won't be bothered; they're happy in an enclave somewhere, or they prefer to nurse their grievances, or they don't want to get into the mess of struggle.

And that's fine; but if things don't get better the way you want them to, this may be part of the story. (And please don't post horror stories about pastors or others in control going the wrong direction or protecting the status quo. I'm not talking about those situations. I'm talking about where the pastor wants to do good things.)


Adoro said...

Thank you for this post.

I would consider myself to be a "traditionalist", but not by the common definition. I am a cradle Catholic, a "revert" of sorts (having fallen away and returned by God's grace and lots of reading!). I've found that I love the Novus Ordo, and I love the Novus Ordo Latin Mass...and I've never been to a Tridentine Mass but I'm aware, at least academically, of what it consists. It's on my list of things to do.

But what I see as the first thing to do is to get rid of rock music in the sanctuary during Mass and to reintroduce simple Latin phrases...the Agnus Dei, the Sanctus, and maybe a couple other things. Nothing major, but at least let's be consistent with what V2 actually SAID.

People do resist change and it's understandable, but the Mass MUST change to be more consistent, and really, the music might be the first thing. I actually don't hate Haugen/Haas, but they are overdone and some of their stuff is theologically confusing for people and completely unsingable. Some of it is ok.

I attend the largest parish in our archdiocese, and our Pastor, poor guy, was asked to be Pastor only 1 year after his ordination. I believe he agonizes over every decision and has been slow to change things, praying over every decision. He has commented that it's not possible to keep everyone happy, and over things such as Holy Thursday (washing of feet), he got blasted on all sides before it even happened!

Father, I don't envy you your job. We live in such a charged time period and the pendulum from "left field" is coming back again now that we see what doesn't work. And yet the baby boomers are absolutely vitriolic about even the MENTION of something Latin.

I began teaching RCIA this year, and I'm also on the Liturgy Commission in my parish. Somehow, in a meeting, the Latin Mass came up and we discussed it briefly, and this conversation carried beyond the meeting. One woman, a baby boomer, very sweet, mild, and motherly, a "good Catholic" by all estimation, nearly bit my head off when I mentioned our Latin Mass conversation. I was completely taken aback at her sudden anger.

And her misunderstanding of what "participation" means.

I think one of the biggest obstacles to true reform is going to be in the definition of terms. "Participation" being primary among them. People think participation has to do with speaking and moving, but they seem to have no concept that something has to be going on interiorly as well.

I can think of many Masses where I've "participated" according to the popular misunderstanding...but I can certainly tell you my heart and mind were elsewhere. Where is the true "participation" in that? I'd rather go to a Mass I can't understand with a prayerful heart, than spend an hour or so "participating" outwardly without any real engagement.

Sorry so long. I didn't realize I was going to write a novel about this.

So I'm going to link to you as this is an important and timely issue.

May God be with you! And may you find many helpful, faithful people.

Anonymous said...

Father, I can appreciate your concerns, but I truly believe that a wider availability of the Traditional Latin Mass will be a great force for good and will contribute to the reform of the reform. Any of us who have been involved with the Traditionalist cause know well that there are some of us who can be very difficult. Some are bitter at what they regard as the destruction wrought by the "spirit of Vatican II"; some are bitter because of the cynical contempt which they have been shown by their bishops and priests. Some are just precious, obsessing about the arcana of ecclesiastical dress and protocol.

But many, many more are devout and faithful Catholics who find in the Traditional Latin Mass the reverence of worship that they crave.

Some Traditionalists believe that, once freed from the petty restrictions that bishops have placed on it, the Traditional Latin Mass will sweep the Novus Ordo away. Most of us do not. Rather, we believe that the wider availability of the Traditional Mass will inspire those who attend it, will improve appreciation for good liturgical practice and and liturgical music, will promote vocations, and will reconcile a large number of hard-working and faithful Catholics.

Some will seek their own full-service Traditional parishes; others will be grateful to have one of the 3 or 4 weekend Masses in the Traditional Roman Rite.

I would predict that if your parish offered a weekly Traditional Latin Mass, you would have some people who would attend just to have that experience. Some would attend that Mass and no other and would offer no encouragement to you in "reform of the reform". Others would be great supporters, offering to work with you to improve the whole parish and being generous in their support of your pastoral initiatives. If Tradiitonalists are made welcome in the parish, most of them will respond enthusiastically in their contribution to parish events.

Personally, living in a diocese in which the Traditional Latin Mass has not been celebrated for years, I seek it out whenever I travel, and I am always inspired and fulfilled. That said, there are some things in the Novus Ordo that represent genuine improvements (though the hard-core Traditionalists will never agree), notably the new Lectionary (despite the wretched translations to which we have been subjected) with its broad range of scriptural readings, particularly the incorporation of key Old Testament texts.

The "reform of the reform" will go nowhere unless those schooled in and sensitive to Catholic musical and liturgical heritage are contributing to it, and a disproportionate number of those with that expertise and sensitivity are drawn to the Traditional Latin Mass. Let them (us) come in.

Anonymous said...

I'm on a wait and see, myself. In our diocese the overwhelming concern right now is which church will be closed, which will be merged, which will be left alone.

As a musician--a badly catechized musician born in 1965 and raised on Paul Simon tunes IN CHURCH--I will be thrilled to be introduced to reverent and historic church music.

Mary Martha said...

I think there are people out there who want to help... but it can be quite an intimidating prospect.

The entire structure and all the 'old guard' of the Parishes in my are are made up of people who are quite hostile to the idea of anything in Latin or that isn't in their self defined 'spirit o' Vatican II'.

It doesn't seem particularly worth it for me at the moment to try and work for something that I know most parishoners don't care about and that I will lose on.

If the 'reform of the reform' happens - great. If it doesn't happen down at my parish level I am not going to drive myself crazy. At this point it's better to just go the 'Pray, pay and obey' route at my local Parish.

Maybe that means that I am bad person because I am not willing to fight for the reform of the reform. But I just can't face it. I will pray for my pastor and pray for the reform of the reform... but that's about all I have in me at the moment.

Anonymous said...

The 'reform of the reform' will only go as far as the USCCB allows it to go. It chances of happening have absolutely no connection with the will of the Vicar of Christ on earth or the needs of the faithfull which he seeks to bring to the Lord of the Universe.
Save a small handfull, good men all, the US bishops will stall, defer, wait, analyse and put off anything which might change the status quo.
That is simply the reality in this country at this time. This is what AmChurch is all about. Pray hard.

Gavin said...

I agree with your first post, as I've said much the same thing. Namely, that the risk with the Tridentine Mass is that it will undo the legitimate reforms. As your very first commentor on that post revealed, the issue isn't the abuses of the Pauline Mass (Is that the "correct" term? It's hard to not say NO!), it's that they want the Pian Mass back. I do NOT like the Tridentine Mass. I'm not a far-left loon who wants drums and guitars, I'm not someone championing a democratic church, I just don't like it that the majority of the Canon is secret. You sit there in silence, there's no encouragement to congregational singing, and all you can do is sit with your Missal going, "I think he's doing that now... or is he?" I suspect that's something the council fathers did NOT want, and like it or not they're in charge.

Those who say a "reform of the reform" won't work have their eyes closed and their ears plugged. You're doing it. I'm doing it. Assumption Grotto in Detroit has been doing it. The Pauline Mass is showing signs that it may be a success, and people irrationally attached to the Pian Mass don't like that. It may even take a couple generations dying out, but it will be a success. All it takes is obedience.

Anonymous said...

First let me say that it's great that there are priests out there who actually care about this issue. I do notice that they are mostly younger priests, but that in itself is encouraging.

For me, the root of the problem with the free-for-all that ensued after Vat2 was that many of those charged with implementing the reforms really wanted to take things much further. In a way, the ritual nature of the Catholic Mass got in the way. Rituals depend on codified texts (and music to some degree) and actions. The loosey-goosey attitude of the 1960s-70s to this ritual diminished its power to create a sense of the sacred. Of course that was just what some folks wanted--not a "sacred" God, but an approachable one like the Pentecostals have. This is where the charismatic movement came from, after all. So, what Traditionalists seek is a return to the sacred, the predictable (or perhaps age-old), and the ritual that provides a real sense of something beyond this world (not of it). Many of us are just so uncomfortable with the holding hands and rocking and swaying to Kumbaya (ok extreme example) that so-called progressives would point to as evidence for participation.

All that said, I agree with Gavin and Fr. Fox. The current Mass can be done well and beautifully. There is really nothing wrong with it. Most parishes just don't, and can't, take advantage of the beauty that is already there. If given the authority, I'd promptly require the singing of the Propers at all sung Masses by the choir or to a simple formula by the congregation. Hymns would be reserved for the Preparation of the Gifts, after Communion or the Recessional. In fact, I'd like to have hymn singing before or after Mass.

As for the Tridentine Rite, I absolutely adore it. There is nothing more awe-inspiring than a Tridentine high Mass. I was not so thrilled with the rapid-fire low Mass I attended. I tried to follow along, but I couldn't hear the priest well enough to know where he was most of the time. In the truest sense, I felt like I was "attending" Mass only. I'm all for having it available nonetheless.


Anonymous said...

What really bothers me about the whole thing is I feel lost in all of this liturgical confusion. The people that go to the local parish that has daily Tridentine Mass are so staunchly “attached” to THEIR understanding of how things should be that they will not even bother to read the Second Vatican Council documents…and if they do, they throw in a bunch of controversy that fills in blanks for them (like freemasons designing the new mass..get real ok). In the mean time, they remain completely ignorant of what a really properly celebrated Pauline Mass is all about. They have CREATED a kind of subculture that really did not exist in 1962 or at any other time. They are defensive and cold often times and are very judgmental of everyone’s behavior and actions. Example: 1. Woman who do not wear head coverings or dresses/skirts in church are immodest and are snubbed. (how come they don’t wear bonnets all the time then?) 2. Couples who use NFP are contracepting…etc… Liturgically speaking I see no reason why the Tridentine Mass should not exist and be perpetuated. Unfortunately, it sometimes seems to draw people who are escaping from something else or are maybe hiding from themselves. I appreciate it for what it is: an authentic liturgy that gives me Christ and makes present the sacrifice of Calvary. So do the other liturgical rites in the Church. (Maronite, Byzantine, Coptic, etc…) But the Church made the decision to revise some things. Fine. Just do it. Don’t whine about it, don’t disobey, don’t argue…Just do it. If it had been done like that in the first place we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in today. So now what? You have got folks that belong to HUMUNGUS parishes who are used to drivel and are teaching their kids drivel in the crummy overcrowded over priced Catholic school and who set up their parish fireworks display at the local Masonic lodge on one side of town…and you’ve got the tradies who are acting bizarrely on the other side of town and the whole variation of liturgical gymnastics in between….Ah, thank you Lord for making me a member of your Church and thank you for allowing me to share in Your Cross and thank you for saving me and thank you for giving me your Most Holy Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist. Thank you Lord Jesus for the Holy Father. Thank you for the Holy Priesthood. Thank you for the Mass. Thank you for Your Precious Blood. Thank you for saving me. Thank You, thank You, thank You! I am sorry for complaining Lord. I should be thankful for Your coming to me at all as miserable as I am and undeserving too…who am I to complain…I could be in a foxhole or in a prison or forced to go underground with my Faith like so many poor souls who are persecuted. I am sorry for whining. Just help Your Church Lord and help us to help one another. Amen.