Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Power of Participation

or better to say, Hardness of Heart. The guy thinks the Latin Mass cannot be publicly promoted.
Earlier this summer, Pope Benedict gave permission to all priests who so desire to use the Latin Missal of 1962 “in Masses celebrated without the people.” He also indicated that such Masses may be “attended by [the] faithful, who of their own free will, ask to be admitted.” Since there is no such thing as a “Solemn High Mass” celebrated without the people, I am confused by the publication of your invitation to such a Mass in Kingfisher. I don’t remember reading anything in the pope’s document that made provision for the public promotion of this rite, but I’m sure the archbishop has the authority to do so if he chooses. I’m concerned that it is likely to cause confusion, or at least curiosity, among so many Oklahoma Catholics who have little or no knowledge of such a rite. They could understandably ask, “why would anyone want to celebrate Mass in a language no one understands,” or, “is there something wrong with the Mass we have been celebrating all or most of our lives that we should want to go back to an older form of it?” And among those of us who remember that older form well, we could ask, “Why would we want to celebrate a Mass with the priest looking away from us and in which he says all the prayers himself save for a few responses by an altar boy?”

From my reading of the motu proprio (on his own authority), the pope wished to make it clear that the former rite, because of its usage over hundreds of years, continues to be a legitimate expression of the church’s fundamental law of prayer (“as the church prays, so does she believe”). He was primarily motivated by his desire to reconcile Catholics who continue to revere this form of the Mass and wish to have freer access to it. But while the Mass we have been celebrating since 1970 may be no more valid than any of its predecessor rites, it came about as the result of a great church council (Vatican II) which called for a renewal of the Mass and all the sacramental rites of the church so that their rich meaning may be more readily accessible to all the faithful. The council called upon the “pastors of souls [to] realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.” The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy stated unequivocally that the Church “earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people, is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.” Wherever the revised rites of the Mass and the other Sacraments have been celebrated with both reverence and enthusiasm, Christ’s faithful have been empowered to live out their baptismal calling by loving and serving the Lord.

I respect those who express nostalgia for “the good old days,” but there can be no going back to the future. I think I speak for many priests and a great many of the faithful when I say that I am profoundly grateful for the many positive fruits that were generated by the Second Vatican Council. Chief among them is a deeper appreciation of why the bread and wine become the very substance of the body and blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is no less than this: Christ becomes fully and truly present so that we who receive him can become the very substance of his Body — the Church — so that in us and with us and through us he can continue to transform the world. Deo Gratias!
Father Jack Feehily

Your soul in their hands


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