A couple of days ago, I wrote a short post about the Motu Proprio (Summorum Pontificum) in which Pope Benedict XVI authorized any Catholic priest in the world to say the Tridentine Latin Mass without the permission of his Ordinary (bishop) and I also managed to outline some problems that were faced by the Motu Proprio. Continuing with my blog post from yesterday, I would like to reflect some more on what the Motu Proprio means.
First of all, the Motu Proprio is a giant step forward in the Vatican’s policy of reconciling traditionalist Catholics to Holy Mother Church. Many traditionalists, of course, have scoffed at the idea of the Motu Proprio from the time that it was promulgated by the Vatican on July 7, 2008. Fr. Anthony Cekada, a priest affiliated with Bishops Daniel Dolan and Donald Sanborn, likened the Motu Proprio to a mouse trap. While it is good for the Church to bring back the Latin Mass, he notes that there are several cautions that should be taken by anybody who attends the Indult Masses.
One of the realizations that Fr. Cekada writes about is the notion that these Masses are invalid because they are being said (or sung) by priests that have received Holy Orders that are not valid. Now let’s hold it right there. First of all, all Latin Masses that are said by any Roman Catholic priest in union with Rome are valid. Those that are said by priests in the SSPX, SSPV, the CMRI, and any number of other sacerdotal organizations and Orders that are in schism with the Vatican are also valid. But (and this is a big one) not one of those Masses is licit. I don’t care how many of you choose to argue with me on this point, but it is the truth. There is no such thing as a valid and licit Mass in the traditional movement unless a priest was ordained and had express permission from the Vatican to celebrate that Mass and those Sacraments.
Now the argument the Latin Mass offered by Roman Catholic priests being invalid is a bunch of trash. It seems to me that we can all agree that any priest ordained by the Vatican is a priest that was ordained validly and licitly within the Roman Catholic Church. That being said, this priest’s Masses are valid and licit because they are legal within the confines of the Roman Catholic Church. Here is another thing to think about which is often brought to the fore by any number of traditionalists: the fact that the priests are not properly ordained.
Let’s think about this in terms of our Baltimore Catechism and Sacred Tradition. As many of us were taught years and years ago, the thing that signifies that a priest has been ordained to the priesthood is the laying on of the bishop’s hands on the ordinand’s forehead. This signifies the matter of the Sacrament, as the Catechism puts it. Now, many traditionalists will argue that the priest’s hands are anointed and that this no longer takes place. I won’t argue here about this because I don’t have the information, but I would like to say that the essential matter of the Sacrament of Holy Orders is the laying on off the Bishop’s gloved (or ungloved) hands on the head of the ordinand. Nothing more and nothing less than that. If you don’t believe me, the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles state simiar things.
Here is something else that Fr. Cekada also brings up in his blog post. He mentions that the Modernist teachings will be disseminated via the Tridentine Latin Mass. Okay, that’s a good point. There are a lot of liberal priests out there who will use the pulpit to disseminate Modernist type propaganda. But the thing is that these priests would also probably be the same ones that would jump all over the Motu Proprio and say, if they are bishops, “Not in my diocese and not in my town. Go and take the TLM somewhere else.”
As far as I know from my own extremely limited experience, there are many priests who are conservative and who say the Latin Mass. If you went to their Masses, you would not hear anything that even remotely smacks of Modernism. Rather, what you would hear are sermons about how to live one’s faith better and how to live a life that is pleasing to God. There is nothing Modernist in any of that. If Modernism necessarily means that certain dogmas are denied and these priests uphold these dogmas for their faithful, then doesn’t this statement smack of circular logic? A dogma is a dogma is a dogma is a dogma. There is nothing more or less than that.
The one thing that we must realize, however, is that the Mass has been restored. Albeit not in a way that many people would like to see it. There are those out there in the Church that believe the Mass should be a pre-1962 Missal or even that it be combined with the Novus Ordo to form a hybrid. My answer to the second question is that the Novus Ordo already exists in Latin and this hybrid Mass is offered every day in many different countries throughout the world. For those of us that can’t attend them, there is always EWTN which has such a Mass at various times during the day and night. On the first question, I would like to ask why people believe that the 1962 Missal is so awful? Things were change. Yes, that is true, but why? I would like to have some answers before I proceed
Anyway, I will try to answer more objections to the Motu Proprio in the future. Perhaps, we may get another colum or two out of this in the near future.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Brother Juniper, pray for us!