Today is the Feast of the Exaltation of Holy Cross, and thus the anniversary of the coming into effect of Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.
And as I flagged last Sunday, I'll use the 'octave' of the feast to post something of a round-up of the state of play on the liturgy in Australia, focusing on the availability of EF (TLM) Masses. Please do send in any comments or information about EFs (or other liturgy of note) available wherever you are (or whinges about the absence thereof!).
But first a few comments about the importance of the liturgy, and tradition more generally.
Cardinal Pell: the culture wars are over!
There was a rather piece by Barney Zwartz in The Age this week, unsurprisingly lauding the Vatican II revolution.
What was curious about it were some comments from Cardinal Pell that looked to me at least like potshots at traditionalists.
Now it is entirely possible that his comments were taken out of context.
But Cardinal Pell is quoted as making a few fairly bizarre sounding claims. The first is that the 'culture war' within the Church, between 'progressives' (read dissenters) and conservatives over things like priestly celibacy, the ordination of women, and more has been won.
Really? A casual read of outlets like Cath News, The Swag, V2Catholic and more, not to suggest the experience of the average parish mass would suggest otherwise!
Pockets of resistance?
Or was he in fact not talking about liberals but traditionalists?
A lot of the article is in fact about the debate between traditionalists (represented by Professor Tracey Rowland, who attacks Kumbayah style liturgy) and progressives such ACBC employee Bob Dixon who lauds what he sees as the switch from a 'sin and grace' focus (ie getting people to heaven) to a pelagianesq focus on 'life and the world and society and social justice'.
After a paean of praise for Vatican II, the Cardinal offers this comment:
''It changed the life of the church. It was an immense achievement. The change was not doctrinal but pastoral. When I speak to young Turks today who look back fondly to an idyllic church before the council, I point out some changes we take for granted.''
He goes on to claim, apparently in the context of the progressives:
''There are pockets of idiosyncratic and possibly cranky resistance, and everything is not nailed down even now, but the battle is over. The real challenge now is to hand on the faith to young people and resist the rise of anti-religion.''
So if what we have now is how things really should be, I'm thinking you and I, dear reader, are amongst those the Cardinal regards as the cranky resistance.
Because honestly, a Church that is failing to get people to come to Mass, failing to get enough vocations to maintain the current level of priests and religious, failing utterly to persuade the majority of those who claim to be catholic to actually follow the moral and other prescriptions of the faith is not cutting it for me!
Liturgy is crucial
Bob Dixon's comments in The Age article point to the real problem, namely a loss of any sense that our first duty, and our first privilege is the worship of God.
When it comes down to it, people don't go to Mass because the typical parish Mass is not about bridging the divide between heaven and earth. It is not about recalling Christ's sacrifice on the Cross for our salvation. It is not about the praise and worship of God.
Instead, it is all too often a celebration of ourselves, an opportunity for narcissism. And above all, it is typically turgid and trite: something to be endured rather than looked forward to.
The importance of the Extraordinary Form
The Extraordinary Form - and those splendid Eastern Rite services that have resisted the inroads of 'modernization' - are important because they do show us what liturgy is supposed to be about.
They remind us that we are Church that was born 2,000 years ago, not 50!
They remind us that we are a Church where the Tradition - and traditions - have been handed down over centuries.
If we truly want to win the culture war - and still have a Church in this country in fifty years time - we need to start by reclaiming the liturgy from the liberals. And it won't happen, in my view, unless traditionalists actually adopt a missionary attitude towards the rest of the Church.
So I invite you to reflect, this week, on how you can contribute to the re-evangelization of the wider Church...