Whither Summorum?

How should faithful Catholics respond to the latest rumors?

We are more intrigued than worried by recently published unsourced rumors that the Holy See is considering how and when it might nullify the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, issued by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, which reaffirmed official Church support for the Traditional Latin Mass.

While we have observed with sorrow the wanderings of the Vatican over the past four years. its euphemistic evasiveness on foundational matters of Catholic belief has ceased to surprise us very much. Challenges to doctrine, such as that on marriage and the Sacraments, are not called such but rather are characterized as evolutions of “discipline”; concessions to apostasy, heresy, and the secular State are framed as “dialogue and encounter”; “study commissions” are set up occasionally on various topics but produce little direct output; one papal confidant rants ignorantly about American “integralism,” while another talks of “building a bridge” that bypasses the eternal verities of human nature and sexuality. We would expect any official intervention (as distinct from off-the-cuff papal remarks) regarding the Traditional Mass to be similarly oblique.

That said, it is worth considering whether the Rite of St. Gregory the Great—which developed organically into the universal Eucharistic celebration of the Roman Rite until abruptly suppressed in the 1960s—might be in danger of abrogation should Summorum be nullified. Our considered opinion is that it is not.

The Christ-centered TLM is immersed in perpetual Catholic Truth

Article I of Summorum correctly makes reference to “the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal, which was promulgated by Blessed [now Saint] John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated.” No reversal of Summorum would invalidate the truth of that statement. And no abrogation of the Traditional Latin Mass could be undertaken without severing the Church, once and for all, from the liturgical traditions that have sustained Her for two millennia and without which She could not survive.

Some would say that severance was already accomplished by the imposition of the Novus Ordo in 1969. Though we are sympathetic with the arguments of those who hold this position, we cannot agree with their conclusion. Our reasoning is based, not upon stylistic preferences or the musings of “liturgists” of one era or another, but upon the very nature of the Mass.

Holy Mass, at its core, is not a script or ceremony subject to human whim. It is the immersion of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ into the unbroken, timeless sacrifice of Calvary, as instituted by Our Lord at the Last Supper. Christ-centered by its very nature, the Mass is the organic fullness of Catholicism in liturgical practice.

The human-centered artifices introduced by the Novus Ordo and its endless variants in practice, as well as the accompanying neo-Gnosticism now rampant in the Church, may obscure this essential truth of our Redemption. But they cannot invalidate it.

It is a logical impossibility that a faithful Catholic priest competent in the language and rubrics could be lawfully impeded from offering the organically developed, Christ-centered Traditional Latin Mass. We, too, as faithful lay Catholics, enjoy an intrinsic and unshakable right to this essential element of our liturgical patrimony, as well as an obligation to guard the unimpeded exercise of that right by all Catholic priests and faithful.

What, then, is to be done?

Our duty—for our own good and that of our neighbor—is not merely to bemoan the focal displacement of the Mass and the Church during the past half century. It is, rather, to work actively and tirelessly toward the extinction of that displacement, through the full restoration of traditional worship and devotion.

So we pray. We frequent the Sacraments and the Traditional Latin Mass. We fast and, as Our Lady of Fatima entreated, we do penance. We perform the works of mercy. We resist usurpers, to the face if (and only if) need be. And we support our traditional priests and Religious and faithful prelates with every resource at our command.

More importantly, we offer all our works and prayers to God the Father, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, for the restoration of His Church and the conversion of sinners.

And most importantly of all, we place our total reliance upon the grace and mercy of Our Lord and the intercession of Our Blessed Mother. If we but turn contrite hearts to them in simple, childlike faith—no matter the depths of our past failings, infidelities, and torpor—we can be assured that they will not fail the Church Militant in Her hour of need.

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