I tend to agree with Martin Mosebach that we have all forced to become liturgists when ideally we should just be focusing on worshipping. And we could probably all try and relax a little, and stop worrying about things like whether or not the celebrant has incensed the altar 26 times (or whatever it is!)!
However, the time when we can truly stop worrying about the liturgy clearly hasn't arrived just yet, and it is in fact one of the key strategic issues that the traditionalist movement to grapple with over the next few years.
So one more post then I'll move onto other things!
The issue and the two camps
One of the themes coming through in comments both here and on other blogs in recent days has been the issue of to what extent we should regard the 1962 Missal as the gold standard and insist strictly on its use.
In effect there are two schools of thought.
The first says that 1962 is what the Pope has approved, we've had more than our fill of liturgical innovation, so let's let things lie for the next twenty years or so before countenancing any further fiddling. I have to admit I was in this school but I've changed my view.
The second basically says there is nothing magical about 1962 - the wreckovators had already started work at that point and we should fix up the problems in it while we have the chance.
More to the point, the argument goes that we are probably going to have to face up to at least some changes to the Mass given the Pope's endorsement of exploration of this in Summorum Pontificum so we may as well advocate for what changes we do want, lest ones we don't want be imposed on us (though of course the big risk is that will happen anyway)!
The current situation
In reality the current situation is much more complicated than many people realise.
Firstly there is already a lot more diversity around than people think. Although everyone talks about using the 1962 books, in practice both the Fraternity and the Institute use the earlier Easter vigil for example. Some of the traditional monasteries use the old Mass but the modern calendar. Some of them use rubrics from 1964 or even 1967. And of course many in religious orders, such as the Dominicans and the odd Cistercian, are starting to dump the use of the Roman Rite altogether and go back to their traditional rites.
Secondly, although the rubrics for the TLM are a lot stricter than for the NO, there is still quite a lot of leeway for different practices. Some communities, for example, have the readings also read in the vernacular, others don't; some have dialogue masses, others don't. Both of these are permissible variants.
Now some traddies get very upset by these kind of differences: after all, isn't the part of the point of the movement the rejection of the liturgical creativity of Novus Ordodom?!
But I'd like to argue that a bit of diversity, provided it stays within proper bounds, might be a good thing.
Say the black, do the red....
Let me be clear though that I'm not advocating making up your own rubrics, or ignoring those that do exist. Part of the virtue of the TLM is surely that the priest and ministers are subordinate to the demands of the ritual, not vice versa!
But I do think we need to remember that the tight insistence on uniformity of rite and rubrics was in large part a reaction to the Protestant Revolt, a way of differentiating Catholic liturgy from that of heretics. Today, unfortunately, liturgical rigidity is no longer an indicator one way or the other about orthodoxy!
So why allow for some diversity?
I also think there a few reasons why some diversity of practice is desirable.
The first is the needs and circumstances of the particular community. My own preference, for example, is to have the readings only in Latin. But in a migrant or Aboriginal community with poor literacy levels, there may be a case for having them at least repeated in English.
Similarly, some communities have several priests on tap, others don't. The 'semi-solemn' or diaconal mass (ie no sub-deacon), is often dismissed as a '1965' innovation, but in fact was originally an indult for mission territory. It is now used in some of the traditional monasteries for weekday feasts, giving another possible grading of solemnity in a context where the Mass is sung everyday. Personally, I'd be quite happy to have a semi-solemn mass in preference to a mere missa cantata!
Finally, if we are going to have to endure a process of 'mutual enrichment', better that we attempt to set the agenda (rather than allowing it to be about things like concelebration) and do a little discrete experimentation ourselves to test out what works!
So how do we decide what is acceptable and what isn't?
One obvious criterion for such testing is what is within the rules (perhaps loosely interpreted!). Some communities have Churches with particular dedications or devotions attached to them, for example and reflect this with an extra prayer (like the Sub Tuum) or a sacramental of some kind on at the end of mass. That's legitimate (after all mass has ended).
I'm somewhat less comfortable though at the ideas like simplifying the Pontifical Mass in the interest of getting more bishops to say it, for example (discussed recently on NLM in the context of Cardinal Vingt-Trois' latest TLM offering). After all, watering things down is part of the problem with the novus ordo. Surely it is better to agree that bishops can if they must for pragmatic reasons (such as the lack of ministers, lack of knowledge, or lack of voice), say a low mass, or do a mass at the throne. Or maybe we need TLM training courses for bishops!
Another criterion, it seems to me, is that we shouldn't be inventing anything new, just looking at what previously existed and preferably can be accommodated within the rules. One possible example of this might be adding back a few sequences for example - after all, there is scope for the choir to sing other non-liturgical texts at mass, as generally happens at the Offertory for example.
We need to avoid doing our own archaeological raiding sessions however - using now defunct monastic rubrics in a non-monastic context, or looking for goodies from the Sarum Rite (as some have suggested), for example, strike me as of doubtful merit.
A slightly trickier issue is the calendar. I think it is inevitable that an attempt will be made to update the traditional calendar (and adding in a few new saints would be no bad thing) and bring it more closely into line with the novus ordo.
The reality is that the differences between the two are causing tension, and are no easy to juggle in the increasing number of parishes using both forms of the Mass (something we want to encourage!).
In any case, let me make it clear that I'm not advocating mass experiementation: just a little more tolerance for the diversity already out there and permissible (subject to its careful and continuing assessment), and some thoughtful consideration and assessment of the problems inherent in the 1962 missal.
The problem is that, sensitised by novus ordo experimentation, we've all (myself included) come to apply a 'hermeneutic of suspicion' to anything we haven't seen before in a TLM as well. But in reality, there is a big difference between the 'make it up on the spot' or archeological explorations endemic to the Novus Ordo, and the kind of minor rubrical and custom variants that sometimes occur in a TLM context.
And in terms of more substantive changes, such as tweaking to the calendar, for example, the tactical question we need to ask ourselves is whether or not it is really going to be feasible to hold the line on changes whatsoever to the 1962 missal for the foreseeable future given the type of approach that the PCED has been taking. But there are risks in being open to limited potential changes, and these need to be assessed too.