31 August 2022

Liturgical Shipwreck 25 Years of the New Mass 1969-1994 - Part XII

By Michael Davies

It would also be dishonest to pretend that traditional Catholics do not have good reason to be disillusioned with the effectiveness of the Ecclesia Dei Commission established in 1988 to safeguard their interests. It would be euphemistic to state that the Commission has been reduced to the status of a lame duck. But nonetheless we must rejoice in the positive results derived from its establishment. The number of so-called indult Masses now authorized is pitifully small when compared to the total number of parishes in the U.S.A., but is nonetheless a tremendous improvement on the situation before 1988. The large congregations and the resurgence of faith generated in some of the indult parishes must be seen in order to be believed; among such parishes are those of St. Agnes in New York, St. John Cantius in Chicago, St. Joseph's in Richmond, Virginia and St. Mary's in Washington, D.C. We must also rejoice in the growth and effectiveness of the Society of St. Peter in the U.S.A., particularly in the fact that it now has an American seminary. In France we can rejoice in the spectacular, almost miraculous resurgence of traditional Benedictine monasticism in the Monasteries of Fontgombault and Le Barroux, which I visited this year, as well as that of Randol.

In 1994, the unhappy anniversary of a quarter of a century of catastrophic liturgical experimentation, I had the privilege of participating in an event which convinced me that the Tridentine Mass is indeed the Mass that will not die. You would also have been convinced of this-----and convinced too that the future of the Roman Rite lies in resurrecting its past-----if you could have been in the world's most beautiful cathedral, that of Chartres, France, on Pentecost Monday and seen it packed to the doors with young Catholics for a Solemn High Tridentine Mass, which they sang with one voice, cum una voce, and with tremendous enthusiasm, after having marched there in pilgrimage almost seventy miles from Paris in three days, camping out at night, and if you had seen the thousands who could not find a place inside the cathedral and who sang the Mass outside. There were at least fifteen thousand present in all, with an average age of twenty! This was not an illusion, but a reality. Let anyone who doubts this report simply join the pilgrimage next year, or in succeeding years. It has been held now since 1983.

The critique of the New Mass which I have presented to you here has been, I hope, a legitimate exercise of the right accorded to every Catholic by Canon 212 of the New Code of Canon Law [1983] to manifest to the sacred pastors his opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make his opinion known to the other Christian faithful. I am absolutely certain that I am manifesting my love for and loyalty to the Church by suggesting, with the utmost respect for the Holy Father, that-----to paraphrase Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci writing in 1969 [The Ottaviani Intervention]-----as the reform has proved harmful for the subjects for whom it was promulgated, we have the right and the duty to ask him to abrogate it. The New Mass is something which-----as Dietrich von Hildebrand expressed it-----the common Father of all Christians, the Holy Father, should regret and take back, so that, as Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci requested, we can be given "the possibility of continuing to have recourse to the fruitful integrity of that Missale Romanum of St. Pius V," which is as certain to be the Mass of our children as it was the Mass of our fathers in the Faith.

Let me conclude by quoting the words of Msgr. Klaus Gamber, whose book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy contains written endorsements by three cardinals, and who was, it is worth repeating, considered by Cardinal Ratzinger to be "the one scholar who, among the army of pseudo-liturgists, truly represents the liturgical thinking of the center of the Church." With his unrivaled knowledge of the liturgy and with the pastoral concern of a true good shepherd, this was the message that he left for the Church that he had loved so well and served so faithfully:

In the final analysis, this means that in the future the traditional rite of Mass must be retained in the Roman Catholic Church. ..as the primary liturgical form for the celebration of Mass. It must become once more the norm of our faith and the symbol of Catholic unity throughout the world, a rock of stability in a period of upheaval and never-ending change. 41

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