Thursday, September 25, 2008
Roma Locuta Est, Causa Finita Est
No doubt the reason many of our Catholics receive communion irreverently, dress inappropriately and chew gum at Mass, talk in church, skip Sunday Mass for trivial reasons and a long list of other maladies is because of the poor example and teaching for forty years or more in the breakdown following upon Vatican II.
But the time is now over for tolerating these abuses. Priests must now use all the tools at their disposal to reclaim the sacred, which is the great project of the pontificate of our Holy Father Benedict XVI. The unique identity of the Church is as the Spouse of Christ founded by the Lord and given life by the Holy Spirit. The Church is the Lord’s Body on earth whose greatest task is to worship God. The liturgy is the apex of the Church’s work and the greatest manifestation of her identity. There can be no limit to the worship that is due to the all-holy, all-powerful everlasting God, therefore liturgy can never be too beautiful for God.
The first tool in the great project of reclaiming the sacred, placed by our Holy Father himself into the hands of all priests and bishops, is Summorum Pontificum. Whether or not a priest chooses himself to offer the Extraordinary Form, or Usus Antiquior, of holy Mass, a study of the immemorial liturgy will aid him in understanding how the ordinary form can and must be offered. Whether or not a pastor is himself attached to the ancient rite, he is called in obedience to support free and unfettered access to this liturgy for all his people and priests.
During his apostolic visit to France, just completed 15 September, our Holy Father addressed the French Cardinals and bishops, calling them to implement Summorum Pontificum “within reasonable time”:
“Liturgical worship is the supreme expression of priestly and episcopal life, and also of catechetical teaching. Your mission of sanctification of the faithful people, dear Brothers, is indispensable for the growth of the Church. I was prompted to detail, in the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, the conditions for the accomplishment of this mission, in that which relates to the possibility of using both the missal of Blessed John XXIII (1962) and that of Pope Paul VI (1970). The fruits of these new dispositions have already seen [the light of] day, and I hope that the indispensable pacification of the spirits is being accomplished, thank God.
“I comprehend your difficulties, but I do not doubt that you will be able to reach, within reasonable time, solutions which are satisfactory to all, so that the seamless robe of Christ is not torn anymore. No one is excessive within the Church. Everyone, without exception, must be able to feel at home, and never rejected. God, who loves all men and wills that no one be lost, entrusts us with this mission of Pastors, making us Shepherds of His sheep. We can only give Him thanks for the honor and the confidence He places upon us. Let us endeavor to always be servants of unity.”
Why is it necessary for the Holy Father to remind that his letter, already over a year old, was to be implemented beginning a year ago as of 14 September? As shepherds of the flock, the bishops are “pontiffs”, or bridge-builders, between the Lord and His people. The great charge and duty of a shepherd is to preserve, nurture and defend the flock: “Everyone, without exception, must be able to feel at home, and never rejected”. The Holy Father has now decided there is more than one lane of liturgical traffic on the bridge and there is no further discussion to be had on the subject. Has disobedience within the Church reached a new and horrifying high tide?
Perhaps a refresher as to the Church’s teaching on just who the Pope of Rome is might be helpful:
“Canon 331 The bishop of the Roman Church, in whom continues the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the pastor of the universal Church on earth. By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely.
“Canon 333 §1. By virtue of his office, the Roman Pontiff not only possesses power offer the universal Church but also obtains the primacy of ordinary power over all particular churches and groups of them. Moreover, this primacy strengthens and protects the proper, ordinary, and immediate power which bishops possess in the particular churches entrusted to their care.
“§2. In fulfilling the office of supreme pastor of the Church, the Roman Pontiff is always joined in communion with the other bishops and with the universal Church. He nevertheless has the right, according to the needs of the Church, to determine the manner, whether personal or collegial, of exercising this office.”
Restoring the sacred in our churches and in our liturgies will likewise restore the sacred in our lives. The Roman Pontiff in these days is using his power of the keys, “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power” to serve our salvation by calling us to a more reverent and worthy worship of God, particularly in the holy Mass. Let us pray that, under the patronage of the Archangel Michael, the malevolent spirit of insubordination and disobedience in the Church will be vanquished. Let us beg that, in the Holy Spirit, a submission of intellect and will will be restored on the part of all to the Pope’s authority granted by no less Christ Himself, the One with the “name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2.)
Roma has spoken, the case is closed.
(Photo Forest Murmurs.)