Saturday, July 6, 2013

A most happy anniversary

On July 7, 2007, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI published Summorum Pontificum, the Emancipation Proclamation for the Traditional Latin Mass after nearly forty years of liturgical Jim Crow. It's difficult to overstate the hatred and contempt for Tradition held by many who are within the pale of Holy Mother Church. Catholics who wanted nothing more than to worship the way their grandparents worshipped were slandered, libeled, abused, persecuted, and hounded out of their parishes. Catholic prelates who wanted to celebrate the form of the Mass which was never formally abrogated were tarred as reactionary extremists, transferred to their diocesan equivalents of Siberia, and told that they could only celebrate the Mass of all Time in the basement of the local mental ward on the third Thursday of every alternate month.

Our Blessed Lord told us that all Christians would suffer for their faith. For the committed Christian, it's an especially bitter trial to suffer at the hands of one's own brothers and sisters in Christ. It was the sacrifices and suffering of my elders who made it possible for me to attend the TLM whenever I wish. It was their prayers and offering of themselves alongside our Lord on the cross that made Summorum possible. Of course this is not to say that all Traditionalists suffered heroically. Trads are fallen human beings like everyone else. Some of them reacted to the contempt of their pastors and fellow parishioners with anger and bitterness. Trads are stereotyped as being dour, joyless Pharisees. All stereotypes are true to a certain degree so there are Trads who fit their stereotype like a glove. Do you think you would have done better if you had been in their shoes? Suppose that some future pope announced that the Novus Ordo was going to be formally abrogated within a year and you had that time to reconcile yourself to attending nothing but the TLM. Would you be angry? Would you be upset? Sad? Discouraged? Would you lobby your bishop and the Vatican to keep the Novus Ordo?

It's a pity that better men than I didn't live to see that glorious day. I think especially of the late, great Michael Davies, a Traditionalist who was deeply pained by the self-destruction of the Church but who remained within her fold until the end, and whose work has had an enormous influence on my own thinking about the Mass. Men like him, both lay and clergy, are the reason why we johnny-come-latelys can enjoy the traditional liturgy to a degree they could only dream of between 1969 and 2007. When Benedict passes on to his eternal reward, I think he deserves to be remembered as "Benedict the Great" just for SP.


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