Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The Liturgy as a source of division

This last July 7th saw the 10th Anniversary of the publication of Benedict XVI's motu proprio 'Summorum Pontificum', which liberalised the use of the Liturgical Books used in the Roman Rite before the liturgical reforms following the Second Vatican Council. The anniversary saw many a piece on the liberal side of the Catholic media, attacking Summorum Pontificum as the major cause of division in the Church today. Reality shows that this simply isn't the case.

If one were to ask the regular Sunday Mass going Catholic if they thought Summorum Pontificum was a source of division, they would probably look at you rather quizzically for a moment, then say they hadn't read the Lord of the Rings. It's difficult for something to cause division in a Parish, if hardly no one has ever heard of it.

When I was growing up in South Africa, our Parish on Sunday had 3 Sunday Masses. One in English, another in Afrikaans, and the third in Portuguese. The Parish here is divided. It is divided along language lines. It is as if there are parallel Parishes in the same Church, and guess what, this has nothing to do with Summorum Pontificum. The sweet irony is that when the Mass was said in Latin, these divisions did not exist.

The same was the case when I lived for a time in the United States of America. The Parish I attended had Mass in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Again the Parish was divided on language lines. Those who attended Mass in English never interacted with those who attended Mass in Portuguese. It is as if the curse of Babel had been unleashed on the Universal Church.

The sin of Babel incurred the wrath of God, who as punishment, due to their sins, created a variety of languages. I guess the Reformers, and contemporary liberal Catholics, seem to forget that the there was once a time when the entire human race spoke but a single language. The hubris of the city of Babel, probably matched only by Bugnini and the liturgical reformers.

When I immigrated to England, again I noticed how the endless 'flavours' of the reformed Mass sowed division within a Parish. The first Parish I attended had a Folk Mass, a Children's Mass, and a Youth Mass. Each with a unique demographic; baby boomer generation, young families, and the latter, a handful of rather bemused (bored) young adults. Again the division here has nothing to do with Summorum Pontificum.

I have seen a number of critics of Summorum Pontificum raise the objection that in Parishes where it has been implemented it sows a theological division. What would amount to sacrilege in the Traditional Latin Mass; Communion in the Hand, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, utraquism et cetera, is norm in the average celebration of the Ordinary Form. The division here stems from the fact that in one Form of the Mass the catechesis flows from the Mass, in the other Form the catechesis has been removed from the Mass. The division stems from this lack of catechesis, and not the usage of the Extraordinary Form.

Catechesis, or the lack thereof, has led many to believe that Mass is primarily 'performed' for their benefit, for their tastes and whims. Many have long forgotten that the primary purpose of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, is the worship of Almighty God. This should never be forgotten.

I do prefer the Extraordinary Form, but I can't exactly pinpoint why. It's probably the silence. That's probably the same reason I enjoy attending Mass at the Polish Mission in my town, when I cannot attend the Traditional Latin Mass. I don't understand a word of Polish, but prior to Mass the Church is absolutely silent, Communion is received on the tongue and kneeling, and only under a single species.

On the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, I attended a Traditional Latin Mass, Portuguese Missal in hand. I knelt in the pew behind a Korean family, the gentleman next to me used a Polish Missal. The majority of people in attendance were English. The Mass united young and old, large families and single people, rich and poor. All united in the worship of Almighty God, in the same language St. Peter offered the same Holy Sacrifice in Rome. The curse of Babel had been lifted.

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