Though I did not feel that he was obliged to, Dr Shaw has offered a timely reply to my previous post. In it he implies what I feel as well, that this is not personal but a discussion, a debate even, concerning the ways and means to a shared goal.
Dr Shaw does not address the whole of my post, just some issues he felt needed clarification. While I take on board what he says, I am not sure I find things much clearer.
I hypothesised that if the restoration of pre-conciliar worship is his goal, and wondering how this would be achieved, then one way that seemed to present itself would be imposing such a change much as the new Mass was imposed in 1969. We do not want a repeat of that. Cheeringly, Dr Shaw said that this was “obviously not” the way to proceed. He clarifies how he sees progress advancing:
I envisage progress (at any rate for the foreseeable future) as nothing more than the organic growth of the celebration of the Traditional Mass, a continuation of the progress it has made particularly since 2007.
One is left to conclude that he means that this organic growth is of those communities dedicated to the traditional rites. Indeed I can see that happening. My question has been, how is this growth achieved outside exclusively traditional communities? For the normal parish, the Extraordinary Form would not be an organic growth from their Ordinary Form norm. If, in fact the Ordinary Form, is not an organic growth from the pre-conciliar Mass, but represents a rupture, as many argue (with justification), then how does the Extraordinary Form organically grow within such a community or parish? Would it not involve another rupture, however worthwhile it might be?
My concern is not to foster separate communities of those dedicated to the traditional rites, however laudable and even necessary these may have been for those involved. Rather, my concern is that all the Church should return to a proper sense of worship and a celebration of the Mass that orients them to God and to Christ’s return in glory, anchors them in the saving sacrifice of Christ and nourishes them out of it, and gives them a taste, however small, of the heaven to which we are making our way through this world as pilgrims.
Those in traditional communities are already catechized in the traditional Catholic understanding of worship and its principles. But so many in the rest of the Church are not so catechized, through no fault of their own by and large, and if they are to share in the renewal of worship, as they have a to right to do, then they have to be re-catechized. This will take time. This is where the reform of the reform is indispensable for the majority of the Church that exists beyond the exclusively traditional communities. Dr Shaw has not moved me from that belief.
Perhaps Dr Shaw, or someone from the Latin Mass Society, could spell out a vision of how to engage the vast majority of the universal Church beyond their communities in their vision of the renewal of worship. If the post-conciliar liturgy needs reform and renewal, and clearly it does, then it cannot be a project for small communities of initiates alone, but something that must be offered to all the Church.
The second point Dr Shaw takes me to task for is my apparently wanting to eat my cake and keep it:
Fr Hugh wants to have this both ways. First, yes there was nothing in the Cardinal’s remarks which justified the reaction, because there was nothing very new or startling about them; but at the same time they were worthy of the hype because they were new and startling after all.
This is not an accurate representation of what I said or believe. As Dr Shaw rightly points out, Cardinal Sarah had already gone on record in advocating a return to priestly orientation at the altar. He did so most prominently in a French publication which did not get very wide coverage in England. As Dr Shaw said, the reaction had been muted, if there had been one at all, because a small French publication is not the vehicle to do much more in an anglophone society.
But there was something new. Here the cardinal was sticking to his guns, and doing so in English and not just in the relative distance and calm of a foreign publication, but in person to a live audience. There is a qualitative difference here. There was a further difference: Cardinal Sarah made a specific appeal and set a date. No longer could his previous statements be seen as another abstract opinion. There was some clear and achievable action proposed, though not mandated and not certainly presented unconditionally, being modified with “wherever possible”.
So I find I take exception to Dr Shaw’s conclusion:
The saddest thing in the whole sorry story is Fr Hugh’s assertion, which I am sure is true: ‘the organisers did not have any expectation of response’Fr Hugh is here pleading guilty, on behalf of the organisers, of serious naivity.My friends, this is not a good time to be naive.
He pushes his point too strongly. The “response” was not envisaged because, as Dr Shaw himself admits, Cardinal Sarah’s previous statements had passed without reaction. I do not think it naive to have failed to foresee that The Catholic Herald* (which Dr Shaw names) would be so influential as to provoke Westminster, Washington and Rome into knee-jerk reactions against the cardinal. I think it quite reasonable, given past performance, to have expected the cardinal’s appeal to have been largely ignored by the English and American hierarchies and certainly by Rome, ridiculed by the The Tablet and Commonweal, and otherwise left to the reformers of the reform and their sympathisers as a source of encouragement and inspiration.
So, the charge of “serious naivety” is not accepted. Rather, as one looks at the hasty reaction by a heavy, though velvet-clad, hand, one concludes not that we have been naive, but rather that “an enemy hath done this” (Matt 13:28). A nerve has been touched, fear has been excited, an existential fear among those who know that all is not well as things stand. A fear, too, that it is getting harder and harder to justify the reforms enacted after the Council, reforms enacted in the name of the Council but not according to the Council’s own decrees. That the reaction justifies itself with mis-translations of official texts harms their cause yet more.
So, in sum, the reform of the reform has not been set back 20 years. Rather it has captured, one way or another, the attention of prelates and people, and brought into sharp relief one of the two most damaging changes to the worship of the Church (the other being Communion in the hand). There may be pain and angst, but maybe there has to be, at least to some degree. Our prayer must be that these pains are growth pains, and nothing worse.
The next post here will remind us of the many other excellent things to have come out of Sacra Liturgia 2016. There was far more to it than Cardinal Sarah.
* Kudos to The Catholic Herald for apparently punching well above its weight!