TC Letter 10: Abrogation

Whether it was 100%, 50, 15 (the various figures I’ve seen) the bishops of the world apparently gave Pope Francis ample input, and this is how he presents it:

Responding to your requests, I take the firm decision to abrogate all the norms, instructions, permissions and customs that precede the present Motu proprio, and declare that the liturgical books promulgated by the saintly Pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, constitute the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.

So, in the Roman Rite, there is one “law of prayer” as of last month. Pope Francis seems careful to emphasize the positivity of the modern Roman Missal. He cites historical precedent:

I take comfort in this decision from the fact that, after the Council of Trent, St. Pius V also abrogated all the rites that could not claim a proven antiquity, establishing for the whole Latin Church a single Missale Romanum.

And reminds us of the unity of Roman Catholicism with the Missal promulgated during the pontificate of Pius V:

For four centuries this Missale Romanum, promulgated by St. Pius V was thus the principal expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite, and functioned to maintain the unity of the Church.

The Tridentine reform was something to affirm in 1545-1570 and the years following. But the world’s bishops asked for reform. Not new experimental rites to celebrate side by side. But a renewal of what was:

Without denying the dignity and grandeur of this Rite, the Bishops gathered in ecumenical council asked that it be reformed; their intention was that “the faithful would not assist as strangers and silent spectators in the mystery of faith, but, with a full understanding of the rites and prayers, would participate in the sacred action consciously, piously, and actively”. [Cfr. Sacrosanctum Concilium 48]

Through the endorsement of SC 48, the bishops wanted lay people to experience the Mass as they did, taking an active part. When the people are not present, there should be a loss, as many clergy have felt during the pandemic. And when we are absent, we also should feel the loss, an emptiness within us and also because of the absence of others.

Pope Paul VI is cited often on many sides. The legendary story of tears at the end of the Pentecost octave: I once read a traditional Catholic who wrote in commentary that he didn’t care if it was actually uttered by the Holy Father; it just had to be true.

St. Paul VI, recalling that the work of adaptation of the Roman Missal had already been initiated by Pius XII, declared that the revision of the Roman Missal, carried out in the light of ancient liturgical sources, had the goal of permitting the Church to raise up, in the variety of languages, “a single and identical prayer,” that expressed her unity. [Paul VI, Apostolic Constitution “Missale Romanum” on new Roman Missal, 3 april 1969, AAS 61 (1969) 222] This unity I intend to re-establish throughout the Church of the Roman Rite.

We get to the crux of it: a unity revived not only in the externals of ritual, but in the interiorization of the reform in all places for the church, especially the laity.

Here are the important links:

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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