CNS picks up on the buzz today. I suppose that means the traditionalists had it right all along, only the wrong year for implementation. A few observations:
1. I’m sympathetic to blunders made in implementing the 1970 Rite. But I remain concerned that timid curialists and liturgists of today seem to have put the lid on some of the more important aspects of serious reform. We all concede a better job can be done with liturgy, so let’s get on with it, rather than go the safe route of regurgitating what didn’t really work in the past.
2. Organic development wasn’t an issue for traditionalists before Vatican II. It didn’t merit more than one mention in all the council documents. The council bishops, and rightly so given the situation of the faith in Europe, seemed to be well aware that the spiritual and pastoral needs of the time dictated significant, if not radical change. The traditionalists know that their 1570/1962 Mass will remain, at best, a peripheral portion of the Roman Catholic liturgical picture. Their appeal to organic development sounds rather hollow to me. If the motu proprio puts into place a charge to reform the 1570/1962 Rite according to the guidelines of Sacrosanctum Concilium, I would find that a praiseworthy development. One has to give more than lip service to the Magisterium as expressed in a council.
3. According to the CNS story, Pope Benedict is not all that excited about the Tridentine Low Mass:
In one revealing speech to Catholic traditionalists in 1998, he said bluntly that the old “low Mass,” with its whispered prayers at the altar and its silent congregation, “was not what liturgy should be, which is why it was not painful for many people” when it disappeared.
The pope’s take seems accurate to me. In fact, I wonder what purpose the Tridentine Low Mass could possibly serve. If the pope were to loosen restrictions a bit on High Mass and just do away with Low Mass, it would seem to aim closer toward the notion that a classical liturgy might have a laudable effect on mainstream Catholic worship. I certainly doubt that classical musicians or liturgists working in the 1970 Rite would consider the Low Mass as any sort of inspiration. If I were a pre-conciliar Catholic, I tend to doubt I would attend a Low Mass by choice.
4. Will the motu proprio promote unity in a better way than the current situation does? I wonder if this is the sticking point for the pope. Clergy morale also has to be an intelligent consideration for him, too. Perhaps the long delay has been due to the agonizing over possible pitfalls. Maybe there’s simply no good decision on the table at all.