Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Marini and the New Mass

Reading this article today made me, in all honesty, quite angry. It appears to me that Archbishop Piero Marini - one of the key figures involved in the institution of the New Mass - is right out deceiving people with his words. When speaking of the traditional Latin Mass and the wider permission given for it by Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio, he says,

"The pope's decision has so far not produced any change in the celebrative practice of our ecclesial communities. His gesture was only one of service to unity," Archbishop Piero Marini, who arranged papal liturgies for more than 20 years, said in an interview April 25 in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.
Notice how (1) Marini is referred to as an expert since he has "arranged papal liturgies for more than 20 years" [nevermind the objective splendor or lack thereof in said liturgies] and (2) the Motu Proprio was "only one of service to unity." If you can recall, or if you read it, there was an interview with Archbishop Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship. Here is a comment he made concerning the Motu Proprio:

The Motu Proprio, in my opinion, also operates in this sense. This is a possible boost for a necessary course correction. In fact, in certain choices of the liturgical reform effected after the Council, orientations were adopted which have overshadowed some aspects of the liturgy, better reflected in the previous praxis, because, for some, liturgical renewal was understood as something to be made ex novo. But we know well that that was not the intent of Sacrosanctum Concilium, which underlines that "any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing." (SC, 23).

There is a noticeable difference of outlook here. Marini wants the Motu Proprio to simply be a concession to those traditionalists who are locked into the past and causing "division" in the Church. Archbishop Ranjith sees it as a necessary "course correction" and that in no way can we discard the traditional Liturgy for, as he says elsewhere,

"It seems to me that there is a strong desire by the Pope to correct those temptations [which are] visible in some circles which see the Council as a moment of rupture with the past and of a new beginning."
This point is absolutely necessary. One of Pope Benedict's main goals has been to state that the Second Vatican Council can in no way be understood as a rupture to the past, as a rupture from the Tradition. Many, as we know, have taken just that perspective on the Council - that it intended to create a sort of "new church" that was breaking from the past and forging new, bold and novel practices and beliefs. Marini betrays this perspective:

"Therefore let's look ahead and let's continue with enthusiasm the path undertaken by the council," he said. [...] "Therefore this is an irreversible path," he said.
It is amazing to me how the path for the New Mass must be "irreversible" but that the traditional Mass, which nourished some of the greatest Saints and was declared could never pass away from the life of the Church by the Magisterium, could somehow be done away with, only allowed as a "service to unity" (in Marini's own words). If anything is irreversible, it is the reverence and splendor and majesty afforded to so great a God in our traditional Liturgy.

Marini also states:

"Everywhere, the liturgy desired by the council was celebrated with lively participation and enthusiasm. Everyone understood the liturgy as proper to the local church and at the same time as an expression of the universal church," he said.
It sounds as if the New Mass has just built up the Faith and that the Church is stronger than ever because of it. Everyone is full of enthusiasm about it, right? (If you've ever been to a Novus Ordo Mass that is not even remotely reverent or proper then you know as well as I do how false this "enthusiasm" can be.) Let's consider the statistics that to many of us are well known (quoted from SSPX):

Apart from marriages and baptisms, Mass attendance is the most accurate guide to the vitality of the Catholic community. The figure has plunged from 2,114,219 in 1966 to 1,041,728 in 1999 and is still falling at a rate of about 32,000 a year.

In 1944, 178 priests were ordained; in 1964, 230; and in 1999 only 43-----and in the same year 121 priests died.

In 1985, twenty years after the Second Vatican Council, bishops from all over the world assembled in Rome to assess the impact of the Council. This gave them the opportunity to admit that their implementation of it had been disastrous, and that drastic measures must be taken to give the Faith a viable future in First World countries. (emphasis mine)

Now, I am not a big defender of the SSPX and I think they should do more to be in regular communion with Rome but they are right in many of their arguments (but not all). We can see that following the Second Vatican Council, and following the allowance of the New Mass, priestly ordinations as well as attendance at Holy Mass dropped off significantly - and continues to drop. We hear so often of the vocation crisis. However the traditional groups within full communion with the Church are full of vocations! Why? Because where Christ is there is life.

All of these things could cause us to despair and to worry. If anything they should cause us to pray. But there is hope! Christ is for us and He is helping us! Look at the Pope he has given to us to lead His Church who has given us the Motu Proprio. Look how the traditional Latin Mass is now appearing in places in hadn't in so many years and how many people are flocking to them! With the traditional Latin Mass comes a strong orthodoxy in preaching and in the faith of the people which builds up the Church. The Holy Spirit truly is at work and through perhaps one of the darkest ages of the Church (which paradoxically many speak as if it were a springtime) there can yet shine new, brilliant Light!

Pax Christi tecum.

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