Nov 26, 2007

"Hybrid" Mass? An Analysis by the St. Joseph Foundation

Since July 7, 2007 when Summorum Pontificum was issued by Pope Benedict XVI, I've been mulling over the Holy Father's suggestion that the two forms of the Mass be adapted to "enrich" each other. Specific "enrichments" to the old Latin Mass are mentioned in the Pope's explanatory letter, yet specific "enrichments" to the new Mass of Paul VI are lacking:
For that matter, the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal. The "Ecclesia Dei" Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the usus antiquior, will study the practical possibilities in this regard. The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage. (from Explanatory letter to Summorum Pontificum)
The St. Joseph Foundation has published "The 1962 Mass with Post-1970 Innovations: Is It Likely?" in its Christifidelus newsletter. The Foundation was begun in 1984 by Charles Wilson "to defend Catholic truth and uphold Catholic rights." My husband and I believe their canon law work has been invaluable in keeping traditional Catholics, especially priests, from being massacred by their superior officers while manning the front lines of the battle against Modernism in the Church.

A November 9, 2007 article written by Wilson discusses the possibilities ( and dangers) of a "hybrid" Latin Mass that would incorporate "enrichments" from the Novus Ordo Mass:
  1. "two concerns.... The first is the issue of using various techniques to delay or, if possible, to entirely prevent celebrations of the Traditional Mass. The second is the possibility of vastly diminishing both its benefit to souls and its value as a of liturgical expression by introducing practices... that began as abuses but became accepted, such as altar girls.... some...threaten to become accepted, such as standing for the Eucharistic prayer."

  2. "It seemed that for almost forty years a campaign of annihilation was carried on against not only the Traditional Mass but any liturgical practices that even remotely reminded the faithful of it."

  3. "the practice [of the priest facing the people] has in North America become unwritten law, which diocesan authorities have not hesitated to enforce harshly whenever necessary. I am not able to discuss actual cases, except for one on the public record that is instructive..." [There follows an important review of the Birmingham's Bishop's prohibition of EWTN-televised Masses celebrated in the traditional way, ad orientem, the Vatican overturning of his decision, and the Bishop's rebutting action. A footnote states: "The Foundation provided extensive advice to EWTN in this matter."]

  4. Quoting favorably from Duane Galles, JD, JCD. "The experience of the last three decades does not give much hope for a two-way enrichment..."

  5. Wilson identifies a possible "hybrid" Mass, with "practices that would involve--but would not necessarily be limited to--(1) Communion received standing, (2) Communion received in the hand, (3) Communion under both species, and (4) female altar servers."

  6. He reminds readers. "If these practices should become part of the celebration of the Traditional Mass, will it still be the Traditional Mass?"

  7. He notes "universal ecclesiastical laws that are found outside of the Code of Canon Law. This is especially true of liturgical law...."

  8. He discusses the "many questions [that arise from Summorum Pontificum, including] "the proper interpretation of coetus and idoneus ['stable group' and 'qualified']....There is some concern that these terms as they appear in the 'unofficial' English translation of SP will make it possible to erect overly difficult barriers to the realization of the Holy Father's wishes."

  9. Wilson is concerned about the USCCB Committee submitting five dubia to the Holy See. "Recent news reports indicate that the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei is in the process of preparing a clarifying document...which would apply to the 1962 Missale Romanum."

  10. A reference to Fr. Z's website that discusses the 'can of worms' observations by Mr. Paul Inwood, the Liturgical Director of the Diocese of Portsmouth in England. "Some of the liturgical laws in force in 1962 have been abrogated or superceded....For example, a priest may not deny the reception of Holy Communion in the hand if someone requests it.... A community that wants to make use of girl altar servers... may do so, even though females were formerly prohibited from ministering in the sanctuary under the previous legislation."

Charles Wilson invited comments on Mr. Inwood's full statement, including two consulting canonists and members of his staff. Acknowledging that he rarely publishes in-house legal communications, he makes an exception by including comments on "enrichments' of the old Latin Mass by consulting canonists Philip Gray and Duane Galles. See Wilson's full article at Christifidelis.

After adding a historical overview of "theological tumult" from Philip Trower, Wilson concludes:
The title of this article asks if it is likely that problematic practices will occur in celebrations of the Traditional Mass. My answer is not only is it likely; it is certain. We will also need the assistance of our readers and other faithful Catholics in reporting specific abuses to us. Much hangs in the balance and the months ahead will be critical.

May St. Joseph be our guide, may Saint Michael the Archangel defend us in battle


Alison said...

For some reason, this blog always sends me to my book shelves to look up something to satisfy some thought you have brought up. Do you remember the book "Mitre and Crook" by Fr. Bryan Houghton? He has the reforming Bishop Forester take up the question of the Hybrid Mass. He states is his first letter of the book:
"A Hybrid Mass. Is such to be allowed in the diocese? Yes, I see no reason, why the Pre-Mass, up to and excluding the Offertory, should not be said in alb and stole according to the New Ordo and calendar, facing the people from the ambo. The clebrant would then ascend the altar, don the chasuble and celebrate the Mass itself with his back to the people and in Latin, according to the Immemorial rite, up to and including his own Communion. For the Communion of the Faithful, he could revert to the vernacular and, after purifying the chalice and fingers, end the Mass according to the New Ordo."

He goes on to comment on the Hybrid Mass. I found this interesting at the time and I always did love the book and Fr. Houghton's other book, "Judith's Marriage." Still, I think a Hybrid Mass might drive me over the edge.

Dr. Bombay said...

This idea of "mutual enrichment" is the weakest point of SP in my opinion. New prefaces and feast days inserted into the old Missal? Methinks not. For the foreseeable future, the 1962 Missal must remain exactly as it is. The Conciliar Church is simply incapable of doing anything to that Missal that would improve it.

And if one of the goals is reconciliation with Lefebvrists and like minded traddies, monkeying with the "Extraordinary Form" isn't the way to go. They'd best just leave it alone, else there's going to be hell to pay.

As for influences on the "Ordinary Form" I'd be happy if they'd just eliminate all the stupid options.

And also, this opinion from the 1970's, which I believe is an addendum to the GIRM, should be overturned:

"When the rubrics of the Missal of Paul VI say nothing or say little on particulars in some places, it is not to be inferred that the former rite should be observed. Therefore, the multiple and complex gestures for incensation as prescribed in the former Missal are not to be resumed."

The new rule should be, if something isn't specifically prohibited in the new Missal, the priest should feel free to revert to the prior usage. Using the logic of the above quote, the priest could swing the thurible above his head like he's trying to rope cattle, but should never resume the "complex gestures" of the traditional Mass. That's idiotic.

Sadly, I'm convinced that most in the Church would be happy if the "enrichment" was one way only, from Ordinary to Extraordinary, and not vice versa. With the goal being to eventually turn the Extraordinary into the Ordinary. Hey, it worked before. That's what they'd no doubt call "organic development."

Dust I Am said...

It's been a long time since I heard from Dr. Bombay. Welcome back! Your comments are appreciated. I had forgotten about the GIRM and the addendum, and am particularly pleased to know a young person is so knowledgeable. You're part of the generation that must fix and repair the broken-down ordinary liturgy of the Church.

And I always know that Alison will submit an interesting comment. It's been a long, long time since I read "Mitre and Crook." It's missing so it must have been loaned out many years ago.

Dr. Bombay said...

Thanks, Dusty. One way that a priest could begin to fix the OF is to get the lay people out of the sanctuary and tell them to keep their hands off the Mass altogether. The Universal Call to Holiness of Vatican II had little to do with laymen assuming formerly exclusively priestly functions. Rather, it was a call for all members of the Mystical Body to become a leaven in the world. It doesn't matter a whit if you hand out Communion on Sunday if on Monday you revert to a backstabbing, grasping, contracepting sinner. Bringing the proper focus to this misunderstood aspect of the Council will do a lot, IMO, to correct the liturgical deficiencies of the OF.

I read Mitre and Crook awhile ago. I remember being troubled at the suggestion of a "Hybrid Mass." Struck me as too much like liturgical experimentation. That's why I'm not enamored of "mutual enrichment" either.

Anonymous said...

I read your blog frequently, however I've never responded. I am curious--it appears the "trads" desire the traditional Mass to remain exactly the same, yet in conversations I've had with a few Latin Mass lay people (not too many admittedly) who remember the transition to the Novus Order, they state that some changes were needed and were also anticipating positive outcomes from Vatican II, but not the debacle that resulted. What positive changes were expected by the traditional minded? If changes had been designed and implemented that were truly holy, would that have had the same result as the "enrichment" that is referenced here? Thank you.