27 April 2021

On Banning the Tridentine Liturgy, and Selling the Edsel

The liberals like Fr 'Ban the Youth From the TLM' Reese are running scared, and Mr Lawler points out why.

From Catholic Culture

By Phil Lawler

We’ve been hearing the claims for years now: “The Tridentine rite is unattractive.” “Young people are turned off by the old Latin Mass.” “Nobody wants it.”

Gee, is that why liberal Catholics are so anxious to ban the old rite?

Try this: Drop in on a local car dealer’s showroom, and ask the boss whether he’d like Congress to outlaw sales of the Edsel. He’ll laugh, of course. Why? If he were worried about competition from the Edsel, maybe he’d be tempted to endorse a Congressional ban. But he’s not worried about competition, because the truth is that nobody wants to buy an Edsel. Nobody ever wanted to buy an Edsel.

But Catholics—more and more Catholics every year—are moving toward the Extraordinary Form. And the trend is all the more evident because so many Catholics, especially young Cathoilcs, are moving away from the parishes that have fully embraced the liberal approach to the liturgy: the guitars and balloons and felt banners and breezy homilies and extemporaneous Eucharistic prayers.

When he issued Summorum Pontificum in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI explained that he hoped for a renewed appreciation of the ancient liturgy, which might spark a revival of reverence in the Novus Ordo as well. The growing trend toward the Extraordinary Form demonstrates that his first wish, at least, is being fulfilled—to the increasing consternation of liberals who find that trend troublesome.

So Father Tom Reese now suggests that Summorum Pontificum should be retracted. He writes: “The church needs to be clear that it wants the unreformed liturgy to disappear and will only allow it out of pastoral kindness to older people who do not understand the need for change. Children and young people should not be allowed to attend such Masses.”

Our Jesuit friend calls for “a transparent and collegial process” to restore what he considers appropriate liturgy. It wouldn’t be terribly “collegial” to institute a ban on the ancient liturgy. But I’ll give Tom this much: it certainly would be transparent.

You’ll notice that, in his pastoral kindness, Father Tom suggests that the Extraordinary Form must remain available “to older people who do not understand the need for change.” That is a puzzling statement for several reasons:

  • For more than 50 years now, we older Catholics have been besieged with propaganda promoting the Vatican-II reforms. If we still “do not understand the need for change,” isn’t it time to recognize the acknowledge that the liberal propaganda has not been convincing?
  • And as anyone who has stopped into a traditionalist parish knows, the Catholics most attracted to the ancient liturgy are in fact not “older people;” the pews are packed with young families. These are people who do understand the need for change, and it’s not the sort of change Father Reese has in mind.
  • By the way Father Tom himself fits into the “older people” category, so we might ask whether possibly he doesn’t understand the situation.

“In the 1960s and ‘70s, Pope Paul VI implemented revolutionary liturgical reforms laid out by the Second Vatican Council,” Father Reese writes. Actually the reforms endorsed by the Council were fairly modest, but it’s true that “revolutionary” changes were imposed by a cadre of liberal reformers. And since that time, how have things been going in a typical Catholic parish? Mass attendance has plummeted, priestly and religious vocations have plummeted, and young people are leaving in droves. So our hero proposes a “transparent and collegial” solution: lay down the law.

“The church needs more and better Eucharistic prayers based on our renewed understanding of the Eucharist,” Father Reese tells us. But poll after poll reminds us that Catholics today do not understand the nature of the Eucharist, do not understand the Real Presence in the sacrament.

And why do we need more Eucharistic prayers? Why this never-ending demand for something new and different? The Novus Ordo liturgy has already produced a bewildering array of options. Isn’t it revealing, though, that the one liturgical option liberal Catholics cannot abide is the option for the ancient liturgy? You don’t feel the need to ban the competition unless you’re trying to sell the Edsel.

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