Accept or Reject the New Mass?

Just days after Pope Benedict XVI issued Summorum Pontificum, Italy’s Bishop Luca Brandolini—who had been a close collaborator of Archbishop Annibale Bugnini—stated, “This day is for me a day of grief. I have a lump in my throat and I do not manage to hold back my tears…Today, a reform for which so many labored, at the cost of great sacrifices…has been canceled.”

Hard as it may seem to avoid laughing at the absurdity of claiming that allowing the ancient form of the Roman Mass the rather second-class and exceptional status of an “extraordinary” liturgical usage while the Novus Ordo Missae remained in overwhelmingly predominant use, Bishop Brandolini’s statements point to the difference between a traditionally Catholic understanding of “accepting the reformed liturgy” and the way that same phrase is used by liturgical ideologues from Bugnini to Cardinal Arthur Roche.

For minds grounded in classic theology, “accepting the Novus Ordo Missae” is a rather modest business—mere recognition that it has been properly promulgated for use in the Church by a competent authority, contains all that is needed for the validity (matter and form) and integrity (offertory, anaphora and priest’s communion) of the sacrifice of the Mass and contains nothing that is in strict, technical contradiction of Catholic doctrine.

Most Catholics who attend the Tridentine Mass accept the Novus Ordo Missae in just that way and—together with numerous bishops, priests and writers who have no more than a pastoral interest in the ancient rite—have spent the last three years arguing until they are blue in the face that they do so and that claims to the contrary are absolutely false.

The problem is that the anti-Tridentine liturgical ideologues do not consider normal Catholic accepted of the Novus Ordo Missae sufficient—do not even consider it sufficient for Catholics to believe that the Tridentine Mass should perpetually remain an “extraordinary form” used a relatively small percentage of the time with the Novus Ordo Missae as both the “ordinary” liturgical usage of the Roman Church in law and that preponderantly used in practice.

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