Archbishop Sample of Portland, Oregon, is definitely one of our best bishops. Articulate, energetic, and intelligent, he is an outspoken defender of the traditional liturgy and celebrates it regularly. In addition, he contributes in concrete ways towards improving the celebration of the Novus Ordo. His participation in this Gregorian Chant workshop held at a Brigittine Monastery is a case in point.
We can certainly go a long way with the sermon he preached in this video. It’s a plea for unity of mission and purpose in the Catholic Church. More specifically, though, he’s saying that adherents of TLM should not be needlessly divisive; that we should be joyful and filled with charity towards our fellow Catholics; that we should refrain from harsh and bitter language; and that we should strive to remove any exaggerated divisions that are the result of liturgical sensibilities. All good advice in a Church where the “angry trad” stereotype makes the job of good bishops that much more difficult. But he also suggests – rather strongly – that traditionalists should not view the Novus Ordo as inferior or defective, and should refrain from criticizing problems in the Novus Ordo milieu. These remarks begin at 13:05 and continue for the rest of the video.
Unfortunately this last bit is asking too much. The Novus Ordo is without question an inferior and defective liturgy, and its defects have had enormous consequences. That doesn’t mean we should always be shouting this from the rooftops – there is a time and place to discuss such things: discernment and prudence is needed – but it would be wrong to give the impression that the TLM is a mere personal preference without any qualitative content. There also needs to be a realization that unity is pointless (or even harmful) unless it is unity in the truth. Unity does not exist for its own sake. The “gospel” preached these days by even the best in the hierarchy, going all the way to the top, is so weak and empty as to be an embarrassment. Are we to be united in the “gospel” of social work, of being nice to people, or even of loving our neighbor? Not even the so-called “gospel of life” counts as the real Gospel. There’s nothing wrong with unity around these admirable things, but it’s not unity in the Gospel or in the mission of the Catholic Church! The Church exists fundamentally for the salvation of souls. Nothing else is even a close second. I’m sure Archbishop Sample would agree, but the point is that Catholic unity is not possible until Catholics actually believe in the tenets of their own religion once again.
There does seem to be a heightened sense among many prelates that division in the Church is, today, reaching the level of a crisis. Catholic unity is threatened as never before. Division in the Church is certainly a scandal, and many of our divisions can be healed with the exercise of simple charity. But there is another kind of division that charity alone cannot bridge. We need to understand that doctrinal dissent and bad liturgy have made certain divisions insurmountable. Mutual love between orthodox and heterodox Catholics doesn’t create unity in the Gospel. Only a return to God and a reverence for all of His gifts, bequeathed to us in the Church, will end the division. The Novus Ordo liturgy and the revolution that followed was, more than anything, a rejection of those gifts. It’s not too late to lay down our arms and receive His gifts again with gratitude.
One of California’s most significant Latin Mass communities worships at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Oakland’s lower hills. On Sunday, we were privileged to witness the baptism of our godson’s baby sister at this venerable old church. A glorious day. Please forgive the amateur photography; the place is more beautiful than my poor photos let on.
When it comes to the Second Vatican Council, traditional Catholics are of three minds:
1. “Hermeneutic of continuity”: i.e., twist yourself into a pretzel in a never-ending effort to interpret Vatican-II as harmonious with tradition. This is often accompanied by the hope that, one day, a pope will issue a document clarifying the Council’s ambiguities and (real or apparent) discontinuities.
2. Repudiate the Council entirely. It is permeated with Modernism throughout, even in its expressions of orthodoxy.
3. Forget the Council. It has too many problems to be useful, but none of them rise to the level of needing an embarrassing public repudiation. So, just ignore it and move on. Fr. John Hunwicke makes a strong case for this approach in his latest post:
“When an elderly ball has been kicked around for long enough, sensible schoolboys leave it to settle quietly into the nutrients at the bottom of the ditch, unobserved except by the water voles, and agree to move on together to newer games. Whatever was of permanent value in Vienne … and Vatican II … has merged and disappeared gradually into what one might call the Church’s general background noise (dogmatic decrees and anathemas of dogmatic councils are, of course, a different matter). What was unhelpful in the Conciliar texts or their consequences … and when the Templars were led out to be burned, they probably thought that was unhelpful … Time has purged away; or will purge. Why cannot Roman dicasteries, and the SSPX, be content with that?”
I must say that this strikes me as culturally a very English solution, and I mean that as a compliment. Option #3 also has the advantage of allowing many good Catholics to save a little face.
By the way, if you aren’t reading Fr. John Hunwicke – a priest of the Anglican Ordinariate in England – you need to be. His last four posts are important enough that I will link each of them here –
SSPX: Is it ecumenism or is it not? (1)
SSPX: Is it ecumenism or is it not? (2)
(Crypto) Lefevrianism (1)
The Traditional Latin Mass Society of San Francisco has posted an extremely detailed and informative booklet by Richard Friend titled “Understanding When to Kneel, Sit, and Stand at a Traditional Latin Mass: A Short Essay on Mass Postures”. The essay is available in a PDF file here. After reviewing much history and scholarship on the subject, the author concludes:
“Whether the Mass is Low or Sung, ideally people in the U.S. should (i) stand for the Introit, Kyrie, Gloria, Collects; (ii) sit for the Epistle, Gradual, Alleluia (tract, sequence); (iii) stand for the Gospel; (iv) sit for the homily; (v) stand for the Credo, and Oremus; (vi) sit during the Offertory; (vii) stand at Orate Fratres; (viii) kneel after the Sanctus; (ix) stand at Per omnia sæcula sæculorum at the end of the canon just before the Pater Noster; (x) kneel after the Agnus Dei and throughout Communion; (xi) sit for the ablutions; (xii) stand at Dominus vobiscum before the Post-communion prayers; (xiii) stand during Post-communion prayer and the dismissal (Ite Missa est); (xiv) kneel for the final blessing; (xv) stand for the Last Gospel; (xvi) and stand for the recessional.”
Quite honestly, this seems much more intuitive to me than the current practices for Low Mass as proscribed in the ubiquitous red missalettes published by Coalition Ecclesia Dei (a group which should be thanked profusely for its immense contribution to the traditionalist movement in the United States). I’d be delighted to see this implemented in TLM communities, but I think it will take the leadership of priests to make this happen. It definitely won’t do to have individual worshipers taking this up on their own while everyone else follows the red missalettes!
In the light of Summorum Pontificum and the return of the traditional Latin Mass, now might be a good time for Catholics to get re-acquainted with what the Church teaches about the Latin language. Here’s what Blessed John XXIII – the Pope who convened the Second Vatican Council -wrote in his great Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia:
“Of its very nature Latin is most suitable for promoting every form of culture among peoples. It gives rise to no jealousies. It does not favor any one nation, but presents itself with equal impartiality to all and is equally acceptable to all.
Nor must we overlook the characteristic nobility of Latin’s formal structure. Its ‘concise, varied and harmonious style, full of majesty and dignity’ makes for singular clarity and impressiveness of expression …
Furthermore, the Church’s language must be not only universal but also immutable. Modern languages are liable to change, and no single one of them is superior to the others in authority. Thus if the truths of the Catholic Church were entrusted to an unspecified number of them, the meaning of these truths, varied as they are, would not be manifested to everyone with sufficient clarity and precision. There would, moreover, be no language which could serve as a common and constant norm by which to gauge the exact meaning of other renderings.
But Latin is indeed such a language. It is set and unchanging. It has long since ceased to be affected by those alterations in the meaning of words which are the normal result of daily, popular use …
Finally, the Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular.”