Tuesday, 30 July 2013

EF Mass threat, the abuse crisis, 'whimsical' liturgically dancing bishops: so what can we do?

I posted last night, on the decision to outright suppress, or severely restrict, the use of the EF Mass by the Franciscans of the Immaculate.

Naturally some have sought to explain the force of this decision away.

I thought I'd offer a few rebuttals to those comments.

But more importantly, I thought I should talk about what I think we can and should do in response to this and other things that have the potential to impact on our practice of the faith, such as the abuse scandal, that can cause us to doubt our Church, and even consider leaving it.

And the bottom line is that no matter how damaged the Church is, we must cling to it, for to leave is to risk hell.

The Franciscans of the Immaculate: nothing to worry about?!

Some, such as Fr Z, have attempted to offer some 'tough love' to traddies, and argue that the suppression of the EF for the Franciscans of the Immaculate should not be taken as a sign of things to come.

I'm not in the least bit convinced.

One line of argument offered by some is that they were not specifically founded with the intention of using the traditional Mass, and so it is not part of their charism.  Really?

On that logic, all those orders that were founded before Vatican II should be forced to revert to the EF, because clearly the Novus Ordo is not part of their charism!

It is true that some religious orders and secular institutes do arguably have a particular rite, use or form of the liturgy as part of their charism.  But the fact that a particular order didn't start out using both or either form specifically surely doesn't mean that a particular shape of the liturgy isn't particularly appropriate for them.  And if you look at everything else about the Franciscans of the Immaculate, such as their commit to penance, you can see why their now deposed founder sought to move in the direction of tradition!

Secondly, Fr Z and others have suggested that some within the order sought to impose the EF on those who didn't want it with undue zeal.  But there is absolutely no evidence in the public domain to support this.  And experience suggests that some people will oppose the use of the Extraordinary Form regardless of whether or not other options are open to them.

In fact all the evidence - such as the fact that the use of the traditional liturgy by them is the result of the vote of their chapter - suggests that a small minority of dissenters within the order are trying, and now succeeding, in dictating their preferences to the majority.

Eponymous Flower reports that the complaint came from six people.  LMS Chairman shows that in England at least, they are offering Mass in both forms.

And if there really was a problem, why not just specify that both options have to be available rather than outright prohibit one form?

Those who oppose the EF have a pretty consistent modus operandi.  It is not enough for them that they don't have to attend it; rather they want to stop anyone else attending it too.  Consider by way of example, the case of blogger Fr Tim Finigan's parish.  By all accounts he was extremely careful when introducing a more reverent liturgy and the option of attending Mass in the Extraordinary Form, engaging in extensive catechesis to his parish.  He continued to offer Mass in both Forms, offering a choice of times for parishioners.  But that didn't stop a disgruntled group of parishioners complaining about the EF Mass being offered to the pseudo-Catholic media resulting in a beat up job on him.  Luckily, he had the support of his bishop.

Thirdly, Fr Z urges us to devote ourselves visibly to good works in response, to 'out Francis Francis' as some have put it.  I do support a greater, visible focus on the works of corporal mercy on the part of EF communities.  But let's not pretend that will in any way protect us - hard, after all, to be more visible about the works of charity than the Franciscans of the Immaculate.

Finally, Fr Z urges us to keep our heads down and stop criticising Pope Francis and/or Vatican II.  Yet Vatican II itself, and the Code of Canon Law that reflects it enshrines our rights in this regard.  We need to be appropriately respectful of those in authority (though there are obviously limits: if you put on a clown mask, or do fitness exercises at Mass, you bring it on yourselves!) , and we do need to consider the common good when we speak.  We need to ensure our criticisms and questions are considered, not just ill-informed rants.  But we do have a right, even a duty to speak up at times.

Cultivate righteous anger

More fundamentally, decisions like this - and other wacky comments and actions by Popes and others - will simply compound, for many, our anger and sense of despair at the Church's hierarchy.

Our anger at the continued inability of the hierarchy to understand why the laity are so angry about the abuse crisis.

Our anger at the refusal of those who make serious errors of judgment or worse to resign and do penance.

Our anger at the continuing liturgical abuses we suffer when we go to Mass, and persecution we face when we try to do anything about it.

Our anger at the denial of access to the genuine spiritual treasury of the Church.

Our anger at the continuing indifference to the Holy Eucharist manifested almost every time one enters a Church.

There is nothing wrong with righteous anger.  It was righteous anger that made Christ cleanse the Temple.  It was righteous anger that made Christ denounce the Pharisees and Scribes in the most direct terms possible.

We shouldn't delude ourselves that expressing our anger will lead to any change of heart: Christ, after all, died as a result of the revenge plots of the Pharisees and priests.

The challenge for us, though, is to ensure our anger stays righteous, and directed at forcing positive change, and not turn to a more negative form, and to recall also Christ's perfect obedience.

The devil lurks...

So what can we do?  There are, I think five things to consider.

1. Remember the devil is seeking to seduce you away from God

It is natural to have problems when things happen that are enormous breaches of our trust.  Many waited years for the EF Mass to be regularised, and reacted with joy when it was.  For things to go backwards now seems a horror scenario.  Similarly, the appalling decisions made on the abuse crisis on the part of the hierarchy that we keep hearing about, and the continued lack of self-awareness on the part of many of them hardly serves to rebuild trust.

Remember, though, that the devil will always seize on such opportunities to attempt to seduce us away from the truth; whispering in our ear in an attempt to undermine our chance of happiness in heaven.

This life is short; our hope is for an eternity in heaven.  But as St Peter warns us, "your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some to devour."

The solution is grace.  If we ask for it, God will always gives us enough grace so that we can "resist him [the devil], firm in your faith..."

Let us, then, as St Benedict urges, when evil thoughts come into our heart's, dash them at once on the rock of Christ.  He also urges us to manifest our thoughts to our spiritual father - so if you have a spiritual director or priest you can trust, try seeking his advice.

2. Remember you are not alone: pray for each other, and ask for the aid of the saints

All too often though, it can seem that there is no help for us.  Too often we are faced with a leprous hierarchy, arrogant Pharisee-like priests, parishes and communities that can seem more intent on driving us out than inviting us in.

We can gain strength though from each other.  Social media provides a way of linking up with others of a like mind.  And, too, we are part of a Church that spans time and space.

However fallible its individual members in the here and now, the Church struggling here on earth remains the body of Christ, and we too are united with the saints in heaven.

Let us therefore pray for each other to God, and implore the saints to aid us as well.

3.  Remember that God always brings good out of evil

Our sufferings and those of others do not have to be negative experiences: rather they can help bring us and others to perfection.

It is worth remembering that many of the great saints suffered at the hands of their superiors.  But what makes them saints is their embrace of obedience and willing suffering, even in the face of unjust accusations and unfair punishments, a sign of their obedience to God and offered up for the redemption of others.

What we do have to constantly remind ourselves is that God always brings good out of evil.

The Emperor Julian, for example, apostatized from the faith and persecuted the early Church.  But as the bishops of the time were virtually all Arian, his persecution in fact served to cleanse the Church of heresy.

In our time, the Australian Royal Commission on child abuse may well end up promoting a similar cleansing not so much of heresy as of unorthodox practice and morality.

Where the current threat to the traditional liturgy will lead, it is hard to see at the moment, but all the same, we can be confident in God's care for us!

4.  Pray for the gift of discernment

When we consider our possible actions and reactions, we need to pray for the gift of proper discernment.  There are always three possibilities: something comes from God, the devil, or ourselves. Be sure to know the signs of which is which.

Whatever the answer is, our first instinct, I think, should always be to seek to obey proper authority, not to reject it, lest we merely be following our own desires, or worse.

All the same, the saints did not always passively accept what was done to them: proper discernment of what the Spirit is asking of us is essential in such circumstances and there are no general, immutable rules I think.

St Mary McKillop, for example, received Holy Communion, courtesy of some Jesuits, even after she had been unjustly excommunicated; St Athanasius fled from heretics rather than accede to their views; yet other saints accepted the authority of superiors to act even when their decisions were licit, albeit harsh.

And for those who love the EF, the Eastern Rite Catholic Church is always a fallback option...

 5.  Remember that God is just

When injustice and even outright evil seems to triumph - such as when we read the outrageously delusional self-justifications offered up for immoral and outright illegal behaviour in the abuse cover up, or when those who seek a more reverent Mass find it suddenly prohibited to them, - we are shocked and appalled.

Justice may yet prevail.

And we should certainly do everything in our power to bring that justice about, not least by shouting out in horror.

But even if we don't see justice prevail in this world, remember that those responsible will be held accountable in the next.


In another place quite unconnected, I just stumbled across this poem, source unknown, and thought I'd share it because of its possible appositeness:

"The soul perishes not of dark
But of cold.
The soul in deep distress
Seeks not light but warmth,
Not counsel but understanding."
-Author Unknown


Maureen said...

415 yxtreatI've been waiting to see what you would have to say about this upsetting report; I am wondering what will be said at Mass this Sunday.
Thank you for an encouraging post.

Fr. A.M. said...

Thank you for a thought-provolking post. I think the decision to limit the availability of the Usus Antiquior to the FI was 'most unfortunate'. I am friendly with a contemplative group of sisters of FI, and I am edified at their love of God and neighbour - they use the Usus Antiquior. Let us pray for healing, peace and harmony in FI, and, indeed, for justice and truth. I think we should try to remain calm, though, and carry on doing our best with God's grace.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for your thought provoking post, most welcome. I too since hearing yesterdays news am saddened and angered. Would you consider as I am doing writing not to our local Bishop who I know is not supportive but to the Papal Nuncio and ask him to reflect the concerns we have? Is this protocol?

In Domino,


Kate Edwards said...

Good suggestion Patrick.

I have to admit I'm not sure of the protocol on this one, but it sounds sensible - I agree that our local bishops probably can't do much (though perhaps Cardinal Pell, in his position on the committee advising the Pope on Church governance might also be worth registering views with).

GOR said...

Well said, Kate. And your ‘bottom line’ is, as the media says here in the US: “the money quote”. We must always stay with and cling to the Church – no matter what.

It’s useful to recall the travails our forbears went through in former times: persecutions, heresies, schisms, scandals – yet they still stood fast in the Faith. This may not be the best of times, but it is surely not the worst of times either.

And no matter what anyone else does or says, our salvation is in our own hands with the help of God.

Kate Edwards said...

Please folks, as the instruction says, give yourselves a moniker - anonymous comments will be rejected.

Byzcat said...

You left out one point - pray the rosary daily.

LeonG said...

Trust in Sacred Liturgical Tradition. The pre-conciliar papacies and Councils on the liturgy have given us all the infallible guarantees necessary for supporting our priests who faithfully keep to this beautiful Rite of Holy Mass.

We do not need any pope or future council to restore or confirm these. The ones we have already are perpetual. Therefore, we have to be firm and resolved in our intentions.

Many Catholics, for example in Henrician England, have even given their lives for the perpetuation of The Holy Mass of the Latin Rite Church (currently Latinless with a pope who knows no Latin!). Are we ready to do the same? Please God, we will be determined, persevere and triumph. The enemy quakes with fear at this Rite of Mass which is why he wants it destroyed and all the Latin prayers which do him & his diabolical cause most harm.

Support the local priest and ordinary who in turn support our liturgical cause sanctified by nearly 2000 years of use and at least 1,500 of papal codification and guarantees. It is now our turn to defend The Holy Mass in its proper authentic sacred language and guaranteed to all Roman Catholic priests & lay "in perpetuum" by Pope Pius V's Papal Bull "Quo Primum".

Kate Edwards said...

I'm afraid you are wrong on this LeonG.

The 'in perpetuity' formula used in Quo Primum is one used in many papal documents and only means it remains in force unless specifically overruled (abrogated). Summorum Pontificum found that the old missal had not in fact been abrogated - but that doesn't mean it couldn't be, at least in theory.

Indeed, in Quo Primum Pius V suppressed a number of existing rites used in the Western Church (ie any less than two hundred years old), witnessing to the power of popes to do just that.

I don't seriously think Pope Francis or a successor will go all the way down that track - but he could certainly reimpose restrictions on when and where it can licitly be said, as he has on the FI's.

Tom Verso said...

"So what can we do? There are, I think five things to consider."
You list five options. but, there is sixth - SSPX. They have been saying from the beginning Vatican II is the heresy. The Pope calls 'us', i.e. Traditionalist, heretics i.e. Pelagianism. So the lines are clearly drawn ... who in fact are the heretics?

GOR said...

LeonG, where do you get the idea that Pope Francis “knows no Latin”…? Just because he hasn’t celebrated Mass in Latin…?

He was born in1936, entered the archdiocesan seminary in 1955, became a Jesuit novice in 1958, took temporary vows in 1960 and was ordained in 1969 – the year vernacular Masses were introduced.

So for the first 33 years of his life he would have participated only in Latin Masses. I don’t know about Argentinian schools in the 1950s, but I suspect Latin and Greek were taught there as they were in Irish schools of the period.

Additionally, as a speaker of a latin language – Spanish – Latin would come more easily to him than it did to us of the Anglo-Celt persusasion…

LeonG said...

No Kate, on the contrary you are wrong. When the pope and the Trent Councils made definitive statements of this nature tnists hey meant and intended "in perpetuum" to signify just that.

Only post-conciliar modernist parametres insist that meanings evolve with the age in which we live. The Latin Mass as codified by conciliar and papal has all the guarantees of infallible doctrine & its use as a traditiona liturgical Rite we require to insist it can never be abrogated nor obrogated.

This is why Pope paul VI and his post-conciliar sucessors have floundered in their manoeuvres to oust and then hybridise it. Those odf us with the necessary liturgical training and experience know what is meant and what can and cannot be done or undone. To attempt to unhinge this liturgy is not going to succeed. St Pio of Pietrelcina knew this Rite of Holy Mass intimately enough to know the NO was a tool of the enemy. Padre Luigi Villa has also written about this too as one who was encouraged tyo follow his true vocation by the great stigmatist.

Any pope who tries to combat The Latin Mass will fail.

Kate Edwards said...

Leon - No serious theologian will support your view. One has to distinguish between dogmatic declarations with anathemas attached, and pastoral legislation.
Popes have the power to change the latter. That is not to say that they can do anything they like when it comes to the liturgy, but they can change it. Indeed the 1962 missal itself contained many changes compared to what Pius V approved.

Tom - Becoming a deserter is not a legitimate option in my view. We are required to be members of the Church - and that means accepting the governance of the Pope and Bishops. The SSPX priests are still all suspended and do not accept the jurisdiction of the bishops in communion with Peter. True, the schism has not yet been formally declared (though one has to suspect that will happen soon now). But that doesn't make it any less a reality.

And please spare me the 'but Rome don't say the SSPX are in schism' line - it is a line that makes traddies look no better than the undeclared liberal heretics, willing to argue semantics to justify disobedience.

Catherine said...

It is useful to remember that Catholicism is a 'both-and' religion and that we often hold two things at the same time, eg faith and works, virgin and mother, human and divine etc. Summorum Pontificum has given permission for us to be both extraordinary form and ordinary form with regard to the sacred liturgy. The great hope is that each form will be enriched by the other. Now that just can't happen if there is no cross pollination, with an 'extraordinary form or nothing' mentality. One of the traditional virtues is detachment, which implies being equally willing to participate in the Mass whatever approved form it takes. I believe it was the concern for this value of detachment which is the real reason for the Vatican decisions with regard to this branch of the Franciscans. When you have religious saying they will only celebrate in one form and not the other, there are obedience issues as well as detachment issues. Should this be the case, then the Vatican directive was very prudent.

Kate Edwards said...

Catherine - Couldn't disagree with you more!

First our first duty when it comes to worship is surely not detachment, far from it: we must cultivate fervour, the sense of the sacred, joy and the right dispositions to receive the sacrament fruitfully. Many of us think the vetus ordo helps do that better than the novus ordo.

Secondly, while it is true that Pope Benedict talked about 'mutual enrichment' it wasn't just about that, but also about making a treasure of the Church more widely available on the what was once sacred and holy is always sacred and holy principle.

And about providing unimpeded to a legitimate rite (I agree that we can now talk about 'rite' given the Pope's reference to the "vetus ordo")to those attached to it.

Thirdly, even if you accept the 'mutual' enrichment argument, surely not every single mass has to be 'mutually enriching'. Though Pope Benedict did say mutual, let's be honest: most of the enrichment he hoped for was in one direction, namely the hope that the EF could spur a more reverent approach to the OF over time. In particular, the EF can enrich the NO simply by being said, by priests learning it and people attending it, and thus influencing their perceptions and actions when they attend an OF Mass. Pretty hard for that to happen if it is forbidden altogether though!

More fundamentally, most of us find it hard to see anything in the NO that could possibly enrich a form of the Mass that has been used for centuries. Pope Benedict seems to be in the camp of those who think a fresh attempt at a rite of the Mass could be made that more genuinely reflects the principles set out Sacrosanctum Concilium and what we now know of liturgical history (as opposed to the prevailing, now discredited academic consensus of the 60s). Maybe there is scope for a novus ordo MkII attempt down the track, but I for one don't think there is any scope for substantial changes to the EF.

In particular, I've yet to be convinced that there is anything at all about the novus ordo that one would want to import into the EF. What precisely would you suggest? The fake kiss of peace that disrupts the sense of solemnity? The concocted offertory prayers that laud the work of men rather than God? The dumping of a lectionary that actually ensured Catholics knew key Gospel stories?

When I attend an NO, I certainly have to practice the virtues of detachment and obedience. If the EF is forbidden at some time in the future no doubt I'll have to the chance to cultivate those virtues to the extreme.

But I desperately hope pastoral good sense will yet prevail: I'm praying that permission to say the EF will be given with generosity and the decision will be reversed; and I'm praying that no further moves in this direction happen.

tstanton said...

I think the OF can enrich the EF in terms of a greater variety of prefaces, new feasts for more recent Saints - even Cardinal Burke has referred to this. The EF Mass cannot stay frozen in the very arbitrary (historically speaking) cutoff point of 1962. I'm not suggesting substantial changes, just an accretion of small ones - the old liturgy is no stranger to that happening to it.

Kate Edwards said...

New feasts is not strictly speaking mutual enrichment - it is just unfreezing the calendar, and I agree that needs to be done.

And I'm not suggesting the rubrics of 1962 don't need a bit of an overhaul - there are some oddities there that ideally do need to be fixed. But again, that's not strictly speaking enrichment, just the normal process of maintenance of the rite that has been neglected for assorted reasons (not least the incorrect assumption that it had been abrogated).

The value of new prefaces, however, are a matter of debate!

LeonG said...

Modernist theologists sit on the quicksands of changing significations, paradigms and sentiments. How can we trust those who are swayed by contemporary norms, values and mores?

The entire purpose of the liberal modernists such as Bugnini in the liturgical restoration movement was to produce a revolutionary liturgy with illicit experimentation going on at the time. They were slowly ousting those who thought tradition would be maintained. Eventually, Montini (later Pope) supported this radical tendancy for non-organic change with vernacularised liturgy.

With masonry rife in The Vatican and the postmodernist post-conciliar media pumping out endless propaganda to the contrary, even the pope has to hand on to us what was handed down to them....hence rupture in 1960s as both the liturgy and doctrinal emphases were radically altered. Yes, as Cardinal Suenens declared at the time, The Church was having its French Revolution. Pope Paul VI was about to let the smoke of Satan enter the sanctuary with his new protestant liturgy: as he was to allude with much regret later.

The 1962 books do not radically alter the liturgy but many traditional priests still say Mass according to the pre-1962 books if you listen & watch carefully. this is what many of us are pressing for as a restoration.....active INNER participation at Mass intended by Pope St Pius X and padre Pio, incidentally, not lay people walking all over the sanctuary with women doing their own thing as well.

The pope has to obey too...imagining he can do as he pleases and we must obey whatever is tantamount to papolatry. He has become your idol and you will do anything he says. Shame!





LeonG said...

Having worked intensively with both Rites of Mass over much of my life time, I can state unequivocally, the NO has absolutely nothing of value to add to The Latin Mass.

Among other factors, it is divisive linguistically (babel); it lends itself to exponential forms of abuse (QED); it is anthropocentric; it is protestantised in its essence as it was intended to do be; it does not embody The Roman Catholic faith and it was created by liberal modernists to seriously minimise ecclesiastical tradition and it was part of the liberalist attempt to "raze bastions" as the radicals desired at The Councils, the Holy Mass being one of them.