This one is special folks. This is literally one of the worst responses to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum yet. Were I to put in my own comments, this might be my longest post ever. Further, I do not think that my comments are at all necessary, this piece speaks for itself. I will however emphasize a few items.
This piece comes to us Rev. Denis Dougherty OSB, Pastor of St. Josephs Church in Springfield MO. Read it and weep, yell, scream, cry, and sigh.
PASTOR’S REFLECTION by the Rev. Denis DoughertySo what do you think, do we have a winner?
I think that Pope Benedict’s recent decree reviving the old Latin Mass was a step backwards in the implementation of the decrees of the Second Vatican Council, which were approved and promoted by Pope Paul VI. The Council never intended there to be two forms of the Roman rite existing simultaneously. Latin at Mass, yes, but the old rite stemming back to the 16th Century, clearly no. To keep a group of objectors in the Church, Pope John Paul gave permission to have the old Mass on a very limited scale in 1984 despite the nearly unanimous opposition of the bishops throughout the world. Now, Pope Benedict has given permission to go over the heads of the bishops as long as a “stably existing” community requests the old Mass and the pastors can prevent a disruption in their communities. The Council clearly wanted to give such power to the bishops, but in this too the Council’s teaching is being reversed.
I don’t anticipate having a Latin Mass problem in our parish [Surprise! Sorry, I couldn't help myself], although a group of people who formerly sought to introduce such a Mass here has sought to do so again. We will follow Pope Benedict’s instruction and not introduce the Latin Mass here because we do not have a stable (longstanding) group of active parish members requesting it. You are aware that to be an active member of our parish requires current registration, regular Mass attendance, and tithing to support the parish, as I have told you at least once a year. Very few of those suggesting the Latin Mass here are active members of the parish. The vast majority clearly do not qualify as a stable existing group of parishioners. I also perceive that the group would he disruptive if they came here with the idea of ‘gritting their teeth (as one described it) until they could dominate the parish again. Also, should we ever be required to introduce a Latin Mass in the future, such a Mass would fall under the supervision of the pastor and the appointed Liturgical Committee, like all other liturgical matters, not under the direction from some other group requesting it.
We should all ask ourselves questions like the following: Do we really want to introduce a liturgy emphasizing sin and its expiation in preference to the celebration of the paschal mystery centering on the death and resurrection of Christ. Do we really want to exclude women from the sanctuary, go back to the old lectionary, which had only a one year cycle of readings rather than the three year cycle we enjoy now; Do we really want to go back to the celebration of a Macs in which we do not understand the language in which the priest is praying and reading, and doing so with his back to us. Do you really want to reintroduce the disruption the parish previously experienced from some of the very people now requesting the old Latin Mass?
The old Mass has been called the “traditional” Mass but that is erroneous because the tradition of the Church from the most ancient times was to celebrate the Mass in the language understood by the people. That is the reason the Mass, probably first celebrated by Jesus in Aramaic, was soon celebrated in Greek, and then in the 4th or 5th Century celebrated in Latin in the Roman Church. The “tradition” of the fathers of the Church was to celebrate the Mass in the language of the people. The fathers of the Second Vatican Council were simply returning to this traditional Catholic practice in providing us with the Mass in the various languages which we understand.
So we at St. Joseph’s will follow the ancient tradition of the Church and continue to celebrate the Mass in the language of the people, as we follow the practice given us by Pope Paul VI and the Vatican Council and in doing so we will not be violating the decree of Pope Benedict because we do not have a request from of a “stably existing” community and our parish and because the pastor doesn’t feel we can do so in a non-disruptive way.
I just thought I would explain.
God bless you all!—Fr. Denis