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