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Bishop Lucas Of Springfield Il Responds to the Motu Proprio

Bishop Lucas on the diocese of Springfield Il. has responded to the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. I reprint his response here with some of my emphases and comments.

Two forms of Mass meant to enrich each other

On July 7, Pope Benedict XVI published an apostolic letter by which he allows for the wider usage of liturgical or worship forms that were the norm in the Catholic Church in 1962. As middle-aged adults will remember [I guess he assumes we are all middle aged ;-)], the form used for the celebration of Mass and the sacraments was changed around 1970, according to the broad outlines for reform [Some would say very broad] of the sacred liturgy given in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. In the popular mind, the changes in the manner of our worship have come to be characterized by the position of the priest, who normally faces the congregation across the altar, and by the use of the vernacular, or common language of the people, in the liturgical prayers. [He is right, besides all the other distinctions you can make, this is the perception of the popular mind.] In the years following the official reform of the sacred liturgy, it has been the hope of the pope and bishops that the new forms would encourage the full, conscious and active participation of everyone present at Mass and the celebration of the sacraments. [A hope realized?]

In recent years, the previous form of the Mass, often referred to as the "Tridentine Mass," could be used only with the permission of the diocesan bishop. Up to the time of the Second Vatican Council, this was the form of the Mass known to Catholics worldwide, and it has been a rich and long-standing part of our tradition. [As Borat would say, "Very Nice!] A number of Catholics who were familiar with this form of worship remained attached to it for good spiritual reasons. [Right] Others are drawn to it as a valid expression of their faith and desire for spiritual nourishment.[Right again, not just those previously attached, the young too!] The Holy Father now wishes to emphasize the value of this liturgical tradition and to make it more widely available to those Catholics for whom it is a genuine help to their growth in holiness.[Very nicely and generously worded]

The pope now grants permission for a priest who is in good standing to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass, according to the missal promulgated in 1962. The priest mayprivately, and he may allow members of the faithful to join him celebrate this "extraordinary" form of the Mass . Further, in parishes where a group of faithful [no limit] are attached to the extraordinary form of the Mass, they may approach the pastor for a public celebration of this form. The pope instructs pastors to support these requests willingly. So, while the post-Vatican II form of the Mass that is familiar to us will remain the "ordinary" experience, there is also wider provision now for the "extraordinary" form to be celebrated. The pope's clear desire is that these two forms will enrich each other, and that this richness will draw us all more deeply into communion with the true sacrifice that Jesus offers to the Father. [This whole paragraph is very nicely done. It gets the major details right where so many others have not without the spin]

I anticipate our proper implementation of these liturgical norms in this diocese, as we always attempt to do. There are a couple of practical challenges that we have to face in doing so. It is important that priests be able to celebrate the extraordinary form of the liturgy with understanding and reverence [Yes, understanding and reverence, not mastery], and that will require training on the part of the priest. A number of our priests have indicated their desire for this training and it will be provided as soon as it can be arranged.[Excellent, what more can you ask for?] There will then be priests in various parts of the diocese who would be able to meet requests for the extraordinary form.

Any such requests that are made point to a second challenge. Our priests are faced with trying to meet pastoral needs that can be almost overwhelming on ordinary days. The celebration of Mass in particular requires the presence and the action of a priest. For good reasons, canon law limits the number of times that a priest can celebrate Mass on weekdays and Sundays. I stand in admiration of the generous and creative ways that our priests find to respond to your pastoral needs and to your desire to come to Jesus Christ. They are asked to serve large congregations and to cover great distances. We are straining to meet the pastoral needs of our Spanish speaking neighbors. Legitimate requests for the extraordinary form of Mass (which would often mean the addition of a Mass) will be considered with many other requests for pastoral service. [This is fair and practical without the usual negativity]

In all circumstances, the Holy Spirit provides what we need. We seek to worship in spirit and in truth, in the communion of the church, as we make our pilgrimage to our heavenly Father's house. Like the wise steward of the Gospel, we value what is ancient and what is new in our Catholic life.

This is a very reasonable and positive response and I for one am grateful. Coming right on the heels of the response from Raleigh, I cannot help but wonder if this is the new trend. Those not favorably inclined were generally quick to issue responses that offered faint praise and while placing obstacles to implementation always noting that nobody really wants it anyway (The party line as Fr. Z calls it). Perhaps those Bishops who understand the motu proprio and its context, are now emerging. They note the practical considerations without condescension of obstruction. They are actually 'wide and generous'.

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