Sunday, December 6, 2009

The 1998 Address, Further Proof that Ratzinger Does not Disapprove of the "New Mass"

In November, I provided on this blog a translation from French of the Gamber Preface, written by Cardinal Ratzinger, because people often misquote that short essay in order to "prove" that our current Pope, Benedict XVI, finds the Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite "banal", "fabricated", a "spur-of-the-moment production". While these phrases and words can be found in that essay, they are never used there to refer to the "New Mass" of Paul VI. They are always used to describe the sorts of "shows" (an English word the Cardinal does use) which one has grown weary of finding in the last several decades as they have been invented by "the liturgical guild". The translation may be found here: (Gamber Preface). The English edition dates from 1993.

In the 1998 address presented elsewhere today on this blog, we can see more of the same from the future Pope, although here he simply mentions the "bad actors" as "certain liturgists". In fact in this address, Cardinal Ratzinger explicitly says:

The difference between the liturgy according to the new books, how it is actually practiced and celebrated in different places, is often greater than the difference between an old Mass and a new Mass, when both these are celebrated according to the prescribed liturgical books.

An average Christian without specialist liturgical formation would find it difficult to distinguish between a Mass sung in Latin according to the old Missal and a sung Latin Mass according to the new Missal. However, the difference between a liturgy celebrated faithfully according to the Missal of Paul VI and the reality of a vernacular liturgy celebrated with all the freedom and creativity that are possible - that difference can be enormous!
Oftentimes, one gets the impression that the only offenders are these liturgical positivists, who specialize in "showmanship". However, the Cardinal justly points out here that when externals are pushed to the extreme amongst those who are more attached to the Extraordinary Form, deformities can result also, and some of them were addressed by the Vatican Council.
On the other hand, it must be admitted that the celebration of the old liturgy had strayed too far into a private individualism, and that communication between priest and people was insufficient. I have great respect for our forefathers who at Low Mass said the "Prayers during Mass" contained in their prayer books, but certainly one cannot consider that as the ideal of liturgical celebration!
In these times when many Catholics are curious about the TLM -- even, or perhaps especially among "the young" -- I think it is important that priests and laity who already are familiar with it give not just good, but excellent, example. The points Cardinal Ratzinger makes in this address, together with his insights about the Origin of the liturgy in his Gamber Preface, are an excellent place to start examining our consciences in that regard, so as to remain within the orthodoxy of Catholic liturgical practice.

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