Saturday, 13 June 2015

Mass is Mass is Mass

So with university now finished and behind me, and now approaching graduation, I must return to the proverbial desert of the post-conciliar church. Now, I am very blessed in Leicester to be able to attend a celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass on a daily basis. I serve these masses and I gain a great deal from attending.

I am persistently told that "mass is mass" and I need to not have a strong preference, but I can't help but feel a strong parallel to a quote I once heard (attributed to Mrs Thatcher):

(paraphrased) "Being a woman is a lot like being powerful. If you have to tell everyone you are, you're probably not."

It's something I've never heard anyone ever having to justify with the usus antiquor masses. They are obviously what they are that there is no necessity of justification. The sacrifice is self-evident in the actions and the motions of the priest.

I am not here however to discuss the validity of the Novus Ordo sacraments. Hearing the voice of Fr. Gregory Hesse in my ear ("Canon law states that if there is any doubt as to the validity you must assume it is valid" - in his usual thick style, glass of wine in one hand, biretta on his head).  This is a matter of faith. One must look at the Novus Ordo sacraments with the same eyes that one looks at the traditional sacraments. Clearly a sacrament is "Ex opere operato" - being that the intent and faculties of the priest supersede the form and what is going on. This being said, if the form is particularly bad, it can certainly place a barrier on the reception of the sacrament.

But going back to my initial point, I am constantly told that it doesn't matter what form the mass is in. However if this were really true, I'd like to propose a hypothetical situation:

What if a priest was to declare that he was only going to celebrate according to the missal of 1962. Only celebrating tridentine masses, undertaking the unreformed forms of the sacraments.

Would such a situation be possible? Immediately, I can hear the complaints of 1960s born parishioners in my head. "We don't understand what the priest is saying!!" "How can I connect with the mass if I can't make eye contact with the priest?" et cetera. Well, what if the priest were to respond with the same indifference that I often hear from those who deride the traditional mass.
"Mass is mass. You're still fulfilling your sunday obligation." "If you don't like it you can go to somewhere else." "I don't believe that the church should be about x, it should be about y."

In this situation, I can only imagine that the Bishop or ordinary would intervene and convince this priest that the ordinary form of the mass is suggested as the general use and the EF be a backburner.
Yet, what of those of us who hold the traditional faith? Are our needs not important?

I can think of two problems, two things that need to be rectified. And they sort of correlate to one another so please bear with me if I seem to be repeating myself. The first is the nomenclature. The use of the phrasing of "Extra-ordinary form" implies that this is a form reserved only for special circumstances. It could almost be considered to be off putting. This is a social problem generated by a failure of understanding of what is truly meant by extraordinary. Extra ordinary being outside the ordinary form, which is what it is. However because of this naming, it is often pushed to the back and is not made generally available. Which leads to my second point. That due to it being not made available, many grow ignorant of it. They seem to lump it into the same category as the sale of indulgences, and stern nuns beating children. Something we should move on from. The reality, as anyone who regularly attends the Traditional Mass will tell you, is far from this. That it is as relevant now as it was 50, 100, and 400 years ago.
The only way to lift this veil of ignorance is to expose people to it. To show people (cf. 1-John 3:18) love is better than to just talk of it. 

So the crux of what I'm trying to get at here is that in order for more to access the traditional Mass, more must attend it. It must also be more widely available. This idea of it being a niche product is nonsense. If it is truly just a mass, then why is it not gracing every parish across the country? Priests should just put them into their calendars in the same way that masses celebrated in Polish, Italian or Malayalum are? Or is there something more sinister at work here? I pray not.

Novus Ordo Mass celebrated at Holy Cross Priory (This is not an EF mass)