Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Love of Liturgy and Liturgy of Love

Many people had been waiting, with either great hope or great anxiety, the document that was finally issued by the Holy Father last Saturday. Summorum Pontificum greatly relaxed, effective September 14, the restrictions that have for some time been in place on the use of the Tridentine liturgy. The Tridentine liturgy is often mistakenly refered to as the Latin Mass, but that is a misnomer. The New Order of the Mass (called the Mass of Paul VI) was also written in Latin, as most international church documents are. In 1963 the Second Vatican Council had given permission for certain parts of the Mass to be translated into the spoken language of the local congregation. Directives issued together with and after the two revisions of the Mass of Paul VI (in 1969 and 1971) expanded that permission. Those directives were carried out with respect to the Mass of Paul VI, but not with respect to the Tridentine Mass since it had either fallen out of use or was supressed.

In their more notable features, the Tridentine Mass and the Mass of Paul VI are not necessarily very different at all. The Tridentine Mass must be conducted in Latin; the New Order can be conducted in vernacular languages, but could always be conducted in Latin by any priest. The Tridentine Mass is generally conducted with the priest at the head of the people, facing the altar of God together with them. Yet, it need not be so - in St. Peter's Basilica itself, right in the heart of Catholicism, the Tridentine Mass was conducted with the priest facing the people because of architectural concerns. The New Order is generally conducted with the priest facing the people, usually out of pastoral concerns. Nonetheless a priest has always been permitted to conduct it facing the altar, particularly if architectural concerns require. Most importantly, both the Tridentine and the New Order contain the same basic actions, in the same basic order. The Word of God is proclaimed, and the Creed recited as a response of faith. Bread and wine are brought to the altar, where the priest by the power of the Holy Spirit transubstantiates them into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. In this event, the One Sacrifice of Calvary is made manifest anew, and the priest and people receive communion in that Sacrifice.
The formal differences between Tridentine Mass and the Mass of Paul VI are mostly matters of overall style. The Tridentine Mass tends toward the elegant flourish, whereas the Mass of Paul VI tends toward "noble simplicity." Prayers are sometimes said in different places, or even different numbers of times, or minor ones may be omitted, and so on.

It is a beautiful thing that there are so many people in the Church anxious to celebrate the Tridentine liturgy again. It is for us a symbol of reverence, prayerfulness, and transcendence. Many times we witness sloppiness or laziness at celebrations of the New Order of the Mass. It can be easy to forget that there were many occasions of such abuse at Mass before 1963, too. My great hope is that when mainstream Catholics walk into church one day and unexpectedly bump into a Tridentine liturgy, they will have an understanding for what is going on because of their experience with the vernacular liturgy. When they return to their more accustomed vernacular liturgy, it can be hoped that they will appreciate it more, too: its depth and mystery, often overlooked because of the New Mass's easy approachability. These two liturgies are really only two usages of, ways of doing, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We can hope that with this understanding the Catholic Church, so full of every sort of diversity, will be enriched in a yet fuller way. The liturgy, Christ's saving work in our midst, is the undivided source of our love and unity with each other as baptized Christians. God forbid that having two liturgical usages at our disposal to celebrate the One Sacrifice of Jesus Christ should become a source of division.

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