Some may ask, what was the purpose of the recent Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum? There certainly has been no groundswell for the Traditional Latin Mass. Sure it is now available more and that is a good thing, but will it have any lasting effect? What does this mean for the “reform of the reform?” Well after reading the commentary of Fr. Kevin Christofferson of Montana, I am more convinced than ever that Pope Benedict (and the Holy Spirit) know exactly what they are doing.
Fr. Christofferson offers his thoughts about how the motu proprio has had some of the mutually enriching effect that the Pope intended.
In his Motu Propio, Summorum Pontificum, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI expressed a certain hope that the two forms or usages of the Roman Rite would “mutually enrich” each other. What exactly the Holy Father meant by this will be a point of much speculation until we see first hand the unfolding of the mind of the Church in this regard. However, I can only say that for me personally I have experienced how the Traditional Latin Mass has “enriched” the way in which I approach and offer the Novus Ordo.
He goes on to clearly stipulate that this enriching does not mean mixing of the rites. His studies have of the Latin Mass have lead him to one inescapable conclusion, it is not about him.
The point of discussion I have in mind regarding the way in which the usages of the Mass mutually enrich each other centers around the relationship between the liturgy and the personality; priest and laity alike.
In my study of the Traditional Latin Mass over the past several years, and in the many “dry runs” I have walked through in order to prepare to say this Mass “for real,” one thing became strikingly obvious, there is no provision for the public or social personality of the priest.
Cult of Personality
Let me phrase it this way. When I was in the seminary one of my professors of liturgy used to lament from time to time with these words, “why is it that whenever you give a microphone to a priest he suddenly thinks he is Bob Hope?” His point was that when you take a priest, give him a sound system, orient him towards the congregation, the temptation to consider the sanctuary as a “stage” becomes very compelling and difficult to resist.
And how his study of the mass had clarified his role as a priest, to be in persona Christi.
In the Traditional Latin Mass the priest has no choice, so to speak, than to step into his proper role; in persona Christi Capitis…in the person of Christ the Head. The rubrics of the Mass really do not give the individual priest provisions for his personal tastes, but rather shapes and provides for his public role as one who offers sacrifice.
And this leads to greater awareness of what he is doing in the Novus Ordo.
I can only speak for myself when I say that the Traditional Latin Mass has taught me a lot, or rather reminded me of things I already knew, but were not always obvious in the rubrics of the Novus Ordo. As I say both usages now I am grateful for what each has to offer, and as I receive from one, the other benefits and I believe that this is precisely what the Church has in mind.
This is part of the “reform of the reform” that I think the Pope intends. Read the whole wonderful thing here.