Thursday, November 26, 2015

Blessed Paul VI's address on the Novus Ordo Missae

The below is an interesting address by Blessed Paul VI given 46 years ago. Given on the eve of the introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae, the concerns and arguments expressed by the Pope are still relevant half a century later (emphasis ours). And some of his words were not heeded, especially as far as Sacrosanctum Concilium is concerned.

Changes in Mass for Greater Apostolate
Address to a General Audience, 26 November 1969

Our Dear Sons and Daughters:

1. We ask you to turn your minds once more to the liturgical innovation of the new rite of the Mass. This new rite will be introduced into our celebration of the holy Sacrifice starting from Sunday next which is the first of Advent, 30 November [in Italy].

2. A new rite of the Mass: a change in a venerable tradition that has gone on for centuries. This is something that affects our hereditary religious patrimony, which seemed to enjoy the privilege of being untouchable and settled. It seemed to bring the prayer of our forefathers and our saints to our lips and to give us the comfort of feeling faithful to our spiritual past, which we kept alive to pass it on to the generations ahead.

3. It is at such a moment as this that we get a better understanding of the value of historical tradition and the communion of the saints. This change will affect the ceremonies of the Mass. We shall become aware, perhaps with some feeling of annoyance, that the ceremonies at the altar are no longer being carried out with the same words and gestures to which we were accustomed—perhaps so much accustomed that we no longer took any notice of them. This change also touches the faithful. It is intended to interest each one of those present, to draw them out of their customary personal devotions or their usual torpor.

4. We must prepare for this many-sided inconvenience. It is the kind of upset caused by every novelty that breaks in on our habits. We shall notice that pious persons are disturbed most, because they have their own respectable way of hearing Mass, and they will feel shaken out of their usual thoughts and obliged to follow those of others. Even priests may feel some annoyance in this respect. 

5. So what is to be done on this special and historical occasion? First of all, we must prepare ourselves. This novelty is no small thing. We should not let ourselves be surprised by the nature, or even the nuisance, of its exterior forms. As intelligent persons and conscientious faithful we should find out as much as we can about this innovation. It will not be hard to do so, because of the many fine efforts being made by the Church and by publishers. As We said on another occasion, we shall do well to take into account the motives for this grave change. The first is obedience to the Council. That obedience now implies obedience to the Bishops, who interpret the Council's prescription and put them into practice. 

6. This first reason is not simply canonical—relating to an external precept. It is connected with the charism of the liturgical act. In other words, it is linked with the power and efficacy of the Church's prayer, the most authoritative utterance of which comes from the Bishop. This is also true of priests, who help the Bishop in his ministry, and like him act in persona Christi (cf. St. Ign., ad Eph. I, V). It is Christ's will, it is the breath of the Holy Spirit which calls the Church to make this change. A prophetic moment is occurring in the mystical body of Christ, which is the Church. This moment is shaking the Church, arousing it, obliging it to renew the mysterious art of its prayer.

7. The other reason for the reform is this renewal of prayer. It is aimed at associating the assembly of the faithful more closely and more effectively with the official rite, that of the Word and that of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, that constitutes the Mass. For the faithful are also invested with the "royal priesthood"; that is, they are qualified to have supernatural conversation with God.

8. It is here that the greatest newness is going to be noticed, the newness of language. No longer Latin, but the spoken language will be the principal language of the Mass. The introduction of the vernacular will certainly be a great sacrifice for those who know the beauty, the power and the expressive sacrality of Latin. We are parting with the speech of the Christian centuries; we are becoming like profane intruders in the literary preserve of sacred utterance. We will lose a great part of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing, the Gregorian chant. 

9. We have reason indeed for regret, reason almost for bewilderment. What can we put in the place of that language of the angels? We are giving up something of priceless worth. But why? What is more precious than these loftiest of our Church's values?

10. The answer will seem banal, prosaic. Yet it is a good answer, because it is human, because it is apostolic.

11. Understanding of prayer is worth more than the silken garments in which it is royally dressed. Participation by the people is worth more—particularly participation by modern people, so fond of plain language which is easily understood and converted into everyday speech. 

12. If the divine Latin language kept us apart from the children, from youth, from the world of labor and of affairs, if it were a dark screen, not a clear window, would it be right for us fishers of souls to maintain it as the exclusive language of prayer and religious intercourse? What did St. Paul have to say about that? Read chapter 14 of the first letter to the Corinthians: "In Church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue" (I Corinthians 14:19).

13. St. Augustine seems to be commenting on this when he says, "Have no fear of teachers, so long as all are instructed" (P.L. 38, 228, Serm. 37; cf. also Serm. 229, p. 1371). But, in any case, the new rite of the Mass provides that the faithful "should be able to sing together, in Latin, at least the parts of the Ordinary of the Mass, especially the Creed and the Lord's Prayer, the Our Father" (Sacrosanctum Concilium n. 19).

14. But, let us bear this well in mind, for our counsel and our comfort: the Latin language will not thereby disappear. It will continue to be the noble language of the Holy See's official acts; it will remain as the means of teaching in ecclesiastical studies and as the key to the patrimony of our religious, historical and human culture. If possible, it will reflourish in splendor. 

15. Finally, if we look at the matter properly we shall see that the fundamental outline of the Mass is still the traditional one, not only theologically but also spiritually. Indeed, if the rite is carried out as it ought to be, the spiritual aspect will be found to have greater richness. The greater simplicity of the ceremonies, the variety and abundance of scriptural texts, the joint acts of the ministers, the silences which will mark various deeper moments in the rite, will all help to bring this out. 

16. But two indispensable requirements above all will make that richness clear: a profound participation by every single one present, and an outpouring of spirit in community charity. These requirements will help to make the Mass more than ever a school of spiritual depth and a peaceful but demanding school of Christian sociology. The soul's relationship with Christ and with the brethren thus attains new and vital intensity. Christ, the victim and the priest, renews and offers up his redeeming sacrifice through the ministry of the Church in the symbolic rite of his last supper. He leaves us his body and blood under the appearances of bread and wine, for our personal and spiritual nourishment, for our fusion in the unity of his redeeming love and his immortal life.

17. But there is still a practical difficulty, which the excellence of the sacred renders not a little important. How can we celebrate this new rite when we have not yet got a complete missal, and there are still so many uncertainties about what to do?

18. To conclude, it will be helpful to read to you some directions from the competent office, namely the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. Here they are: "As regards the obligation of the rite:

1) For the Latin text: Priests who celebrate in Latin, in private or also in public, in cases provided for by the legislation, may use either the Roman Missal or the new rite until 28 November 1971. If they use the Roman Missal, they may nevertheless make use of the three new anaphoras and the Roman Canon, having regard to the provisions respecting the last text (omission of some saints, conclusions, etc.). They may moreover recite the readings and the prayer of the faithful in the vernacular. If they use the new rite, they must follow the official text, with the concessions as regards the vernacular indicated above.

2) For the vernacular text. In Italy, all those who celebrate in the presence of the people from 30 November next, must use the Rito della Messa published by the Italian Episcopal Conference or by another National Conference. On feast days readings shall be taken: either from the Lectionary published by the Italian Center for Liturgical Action, or from the Roman Missal for feast days, as in use heretofore. On ferial days the ferial Lectionary published three years ago shall continue to be used. No problem arises for those who celebrate in private, because they must celebrate in Latin. If a priest celebrates in the vernacular by special indult, as regards the texts, he shall follow what was said above for the Mass with the people; but for the rite he shall follow the Ordo published by the Italian Episcopal Conference.

19. In every case, and at all times, let us remember that "the Mass is a Mystery to be lived in a death of Love. Its divine reality surpasses all words. . . It is the Action par excellence, the very act of our Redemption, in the Memorial which makes it present" (Zundel).

With Our Apostolic Benediction. 
(L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English 4 December 1969)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Pope St. John Paul II on Prayer page with prayers in Latin and English has been added on this website. It is interesting to read also the below piece by Pope Saint John Paul II:

What is prayer? It is commonly held to be a conversation. In a conversation there is always an “I” and a “thou” or “you”. In this case the Thou is with a capital T. if at first the “I” seems to be the most important element in prayer, prayer teaches that the situation is actually different. The “Thou” is more important because our prayer begins with God. In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul teaches precisely this. According to the Apostle, prayer reflects all created reality; it is in a certain sense a cosmic function.

Man is the priest of all creation; he speaks in its name, but only insofar as he is guided by the Spirit. In order to understand profoundly the meaning of prayers, one should meditate for a long time on the following passage from the Letter to the Romans:
For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. (Romans 8:19-24)  
And here again we come across the Apostle’s words:
The Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. (Romans 8:26)
In prayer, then, the true protagonist is God. The protagonist is Christ, who constantly frees creation from slavery to corruption and leads it towards liberty, for the glory of the children of God. The protagonist is the Holy Spirit, who “comes to the aid of our weakness”. We begin to pray, believing that it is our own initiative that compels us to do so. Instead, we learn that it is always God’s initiative within us, just as Saint Paul has written.

Much as been written about prayer, and further, prayer has been widely experienced in the history of humankind, especially in the history of Israel and Christianity. Man achieves the fullness of prayer not when he expresses himself, but when he lets God be most fully present in prayer.

(Crossing the Threshold of Hope, pp 16-18)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

EXCLUSIVE: Benedict XVI to celebrate Tridentine Mass?,_2013.jpg

He may do so during this Holy Year of Mercy. One has to admit that if a celebration of the Tridentine Mass by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI indeed takes place, this would raise the question, once again, of what is Pope Benedict's true position on the Tridentine Mass.

A number of distinct personalities (including Dr Alice von Hildebrand) have asked him, over the years, his opinion on this Mass, but Benedict XVI never gave a full, unambiguous answer. 

Prior to his election as Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger celebrated at 07:00 each Thursday in the Teutonic College church inside the Vatican walls, and those Masses were always of the Novus Ordo, celebrated in a very simple, solemn way.

Cardinal Ratzinger repeatedly expressed a certain sorrow, even indignation, over the way the conciliar liturgical reform took place, saying that the liturgy was developed in a non-organic way by professors sitting around a table and that, as the new liturgy was introduced, without sufficient explanation, the ordinary faithful were often confused, and sometimes scandalized. This is the position that Ratzinger took quite explicitly in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy.

At the same time, Benedict XVI personally does in some ways favor at least certain aspects of the conciliar liturgical reform as an improvement over the traditional liturgy.

The German writer Martin Mosebach once stated that Pope Saint John Paul II celebrated the Tridentine Mass on several occasions privately. Bishop Bernard Fellay of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) also had said that someone in the Roman Curia told him that Pope Benedict, too, has celebrated the Tridentine Mass on several occasions privately. It is, in any case, a known secret that when he was a Cardinal, Benedict XVI celebrated on a number of occasions the Tridentine Mass, including for the Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP).

But why would Benedict XVI celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite? 

One can here attempt a number of reasons:
  • The traditional Latin Mass was, and is, the organic expression of the faith of Catholics in the Risen Lord, from the first generation to the present time. 
  • This Mass was never intended to be the Mass of any political or cultural regime. And that it came to be seen as the expression of a certain political or social culture is one of the unfortunate reasons that the Council Fathers felt they had to approve a reform of the liturgy. 
  • However the reform that was produced was not the reform that the Council Fathers called for.
  • This has meant almost two generations of liturgical confusion, and the consequent crisis of belief which inevitable follows liturgical confusion, for it is true that lex credendi lex orandi
  • Worse still, some overzealous people stripped our churches of statues, broke stained-glass windows, and turned against our heritage.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Useful advice from St. Charles Borromeo

“I admit that we are all weak, but if we want help, the Lord God has given us the means to find it easily. Would you like me to teach you how to grow from virtue to virtue and how, if you are already recollected at prayer, you can be even more attentive next time, and so give God more pleasing worship? Listen and I will tell you. If a tiny spark of God's love already burns within you, do not expose it to the wind, for it may get blown out.

Keep the stove tightly shut so that it will not lose its heat and grow cold. In other words, avoid distractions as well as you can. Stay quiet with God. Do not spend your time in useless chatter.”

St. Charles Borromeo (1538 – 1584), Cardinal and Patron Saint of Pro Tridentina (Malta). Today is his feast day in both Forms of the Roman Rite.