Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It Was Sad And Disheartening

St. Ignatius of Loyola presiding at Mass at Rome's Jesuit Collegio at the Gesu'.
It was strange and foreign. Even though I was very familiar with the Tridentine Mass from my childhood, it seemed remote and distant. The Mass seemed to focus on the priest whose words for the most part could not be heard (they were in Latin anyway!) and who rarely faced the people. The choir performed well and their singing overrode the priest, who had to wait several times until they finished singing. In my mind I could not but think back to the Second Vatican Council, and all that the Council and subsequent documents tried to bring about – active participation, emphasis on the important things, vernacular, elimination of accretions and repetitions, etc. It was sad and disheartening. What happened? Why would the Catholic faithful seek out and attend this older form of the Mass? Is the Tridentine Mass an aberration? What does it say about the reforms of Vatican II? After the Mass, I was tempted to talk with some of those present. But I decided not to as I feared I would have been negative and perhaps controversial. My feelings were still very raw. One thing I know: I myself will never freely choose to celebrate the Tridentine Mass.
Link (here) to the April 2012 article at America Magazine


Fr. Jean-François Thomas s.j said...

Being also a Jesuit, I cannot share the same view than the one expressed in this article. I am in my fifties, but very much attached to the liturgy according to the 1962 books. Celebrating daily the Holy Mass that way is a deep consolation and helps me to deepen the sense of sacred. And when I celebrate with the 1969 books, I always try to put into my way of celebrating this spiritual dimension leading both celebrant and faithful to a better contemplation of the divine mysteries. Thanks to the Holy Father Benedict XVI, every priest is now free to celebrate with the traditonal Latin rite for the good of the Church and of the faithful. To react only with personal emotions and opinions is not the right thing to do. The best is to approach the rites of the liturgy in trying to see how rich and nourishing they are for the soul and for our communion with the Lord.

L40 said...

Thank you for the wonderful reply, Father.

I noticed this piece on America the other day and while I first thought something like that par for the course for that publication, I was suprised to notice the many commentary replies by readers countering the article.

What I find very interesting (sincerely) is the absolute hatred of the old Mass on the part of some that do remember. Yet, when I go to an old Mass, most I see never knew the old Mass because they are so young. Why are some so driven to shut down or prevent a form of the Latin Rite that the Holy Father has permittted? If I attend a TLM, how do I hurt one who is against it yet strives to attend only a Novus Ordo Mass? (And I do usually attend the NO). Why not try to shut down or prevent the Byzantine Catholics and their Divine Liturgy? Yes, I am sure there were times and places where in the old days liturgical abuse took place. But so does the Novus Ordo (look at all the indults resulting from it).

The hate for the old Mass by those that would in no way ever be impacted by its amazing recovery in recent years can only be due to one thing: fear.

Anonymous said...

America Magazine always leads the charge against the present Pope and his orthodoxy. As soon as I saw the headline I knew it was a Jesuit from America Magazine.
An old Jesuit used to say the inmates were running the asylum now. Sadly he was so right

Anonymous said...

"To react only with personal emotions and opinions is not the right thing to do."

Oh good grief--it was a thoughtful article and included some positive notes about some aspects of the Mass. He didn't endorse any changes in policies about allowing the Tridentine Mass etc.

Please deal with the fact that not everyone agrees with you.

Catholic News and Issues said...

Fr. Thomas, I appreciate your reply. I was raised in the era of the Tridentine Mass. I have come to a different conclusion from Fr. Schineller, after the years of turmoil brought about by the Vatican II era and the consequent disaster much of the reform has been for the Church. This "springtime" of the Church has proven as deleterious as the Protestant Reformation in terms of decimating attendance in the pew, exterminating the population of priests, and dumbing down the understanding of the average Catholic as to what the Church really is, what it teaches and how it transforms the life of the individual. The change in the Mass has brought about a degrading of the Church as a whole. No longer is the Mass a compendium of the beliefs of the Church as it has been edited and re-edited again. It has gone from a rich and meaningful exposition of faith, to the Cliff Notes version of the Mass.

Latin, if nothing else, was a preservation of Catholic theology within the Liturgy. It pains me to hear the ad lib versions of the Mass which are as numerous as the priests who celebrate it. To be frank, many priests prior to Vatican II were chafing under the mandate of orthodoxy and viewed the Council as a release, an excuse for unbridled change. This revolt of the clergy has acted on the Church much as the French Revolution acted on France, heavy on the guillotine, hard on the people. The confusion surrounding the Mass is only made manifest by the number of various English translations that have been produced since Latin was abandoned. They just can't seem to get it right. 

I also find that the average Catholic has no idea what the Church has taught for 2000 years. Their understanding is fragile and superficial. The confusion in the clergy has brought about an attitude of pick and choose (the literal meaning of heresy) which is echoed in the conversation among Catholic laypersons. The attitude that the individual Catholic has a right to choose his set of beliefs, setting aside those mandates which he/she might find difficult or distasteful, is ubiquitous. That is to be expected as priests have modelled like behavior before them and often been derelict in their duty to inform the faithful of the beliefs of the Church, leaving catechesis to any person in the pew with a volunteer's heart. No need for any qualifications. In my parish, it is often the new convert who is entrusted with this job. A convert, by the way, that was told not to read a catechism for information, but rather to be led through a process of candlewax, blindfolds, and other outworn Sixties classroom devices meant to mold the individual without imparting any real information.

It is not surprising that this subject has come up on Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit, a site I love to read, because I remember the good Jesuits of my youth and am disheartened by the quality of many Jesuits I meet nowadays. It's sad that as great an institution as the Catholic Church can become so dilapidated in a matter of 40 some years.

Anonymous said...

I was born after the Second Vatican Council and came to like the Tridentine Mass around 2002 when I discovered it by chance. Unfortunately, in my country - Malta - traditional Catholics loyal to Pope Benedict XVI are continuously being discriminated. Priests who dare speak in favour of the Extraordinary Form are mocked and silenced by the church hierarchy. In fact, very few Masses take place. In a recent case, just before a Tridentine Mass was to be held, the celebrant received a call and told to cancel it when the congregation had already gathered. Such is the situation. Pray for us in Malta!

David Werling said...

Spoken like a man who wasn't participating.

What a travesty to have to afflict such a Mass on the People of God. How can there possibly arise from such liturgy anything resembling sanctity.

Poor, poor... every single saint of the Catholic Church!

Ray said...

Let us not be close minded Catholics. The author and some readers seem to have become taken over by tunnel vision. Mother Church has authorized both types of Mass as licit. I for one believe that the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity are present regardless of the form of Mass that is said. I get upset when deviations by the priest are inserted at their whim, no matter which form is being used. As priest, try and remember that you are the Alter Christos, especially when saying the Mass.

Qualis Rex said...

I will be happy the day dinosaurs like this author finally die out. As someone born long after Vatican II, I adore and "seek out" the Tridentine mass. The author is not only ignorant but hypocritical (the quip " The choir performed well and their singing overrode the priest, who had to wait several times until they finished singing" was especially telling...since this is more the norm at ANY Novus Ordo mass). If you do not know how to "actively participate" in the Tridentine mass, then it is YOU who are damaged in your theology. Don't visit that on the rest of us.