Monday, December 25, 2006

The Mass of John XXIII?

Fox News in St.Louis reports an upsurge in the traditional mass in Latin among younger Catholics. The New Liturgical Movement reports this and provides a link to the actual broadcast.

The broadcast seems to be talking about the pre-1969 Latin liturgy not the current mass (sometimes referred to as the Novus Ordo mass) celebrated in Latin. It is not always 100% clear. The broadcast is pretty good however. Anytime I have been quoted in the media and they got half of it right, I have considered it a victory. The perfunctory "balance" by Fr. Richard McBrien is predictable. Like so many aging "progressives," he is increasingly irrelevant.

That said, there is a real difficulty in nomenclature.

The current mass is based on the missal that was issued in 1969 by Pope Paul VI. It was claimed to be necessary to implement the reforms mandated by the Second Vatican Council. It is variously called the Mass of Paul VI, the Novus Ordo mass, or the mass of the Missal of 1969. Fr. Martin Fox (Bonfire of the Vanities) even suggests at one point calling it the Pauline Mass. (Read Fr. Fox's very useful discussion of the issue.)

Referring to the "Latin mass" is ambiguous. The current mass can be celebrated in Latin, in fact that is the clear intent of Vatican II. Certainly the current mass in Latin with both the people and the priest facing God together would be a vast improvement over what many people suffer through in too many parishes today.

Many people want the restoration of the so called "Tridentine mass," typically by reverting to the Missal of 1962. This mass is sometimes called the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), the Pian mass (after Pius V who issued the Missal implementing the reforms of the Council of Trent) or the Tridentine mass. The 1962 Missal was the latest (prior to Vatican II) revision of the mass in the form it took under Pius V's reforms. But do not be deceived. There was not some new rite developed after the Council of Trent. Calling it "Tridentine" is misleading. Pius V modestly and respectfully pared back to basics a 1,000+ year old rite. There was no break with the past. It developed organically from the practices of the Church in Rome in Peter and Paul's time and from the Jewish ritual that preceded it.

After the second Vatican council, a new missal was issued in 1965. One could argue that this Missal issued in 1965 (right after the Council) already met the requirements of the Council. If you hold to this position, you would argue that the very dramatic changes made in 1969, were not necessary.

Traditionalists who argue for going back to "The old Latin mass" typically call for restoring the Missal of 1962. This Missal was promulgated by Pope John XXIII. This was the mass as it was celebrated during Vatican II.

Rather than calling this the "Tridentine Mass," maybe we should refer to it as the Mass of John XXIII!

1 comment:

Father Martin Fox said...

Good thoughts.

FYI, I don't deserve credit for calling the current Mass the Pauline Rite -- I picked that up from someone else.