Sunday, July 7, 2024
17th Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum

Today, the Church observes the 17th anniversary of the publishing of Summorum Pontificum, the long-awaited motu proprio of Pope Benedict XVI replacing all former "indults" and declaring that the Tridentine Latin Mass was never abrogated and all priests had the right to offer this Mass at any time, in public or private, without any "permission" from a bishop. Despite the errors of Traditionis Custodes, the truth expressed in Summorum Ponitificum remains: the Rite of Mass that was celebrated for centuries leading up to the 2nd Vatican Council – was never abrogated and never can be.

Called the Mass of the Ages, the Most Beautiful Thing This Side of Heaven, the Mass of John XXIII, the Tridentine Latin Mass, and most recently, the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, this Mass truly is one of the most beautiful forms of worship for the Catholic Church. Below are links concerning the Tridentine Mass. On July 7, 2007, the motu proprio by Pope Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum, was issued, allowing wider usage of the Sacraments according to the 1962 Missal.

Quoting from the text, pay particular attention to the following line: "It is, therefore, permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church."

The Traditional Latin Mass Is More Than Just “Mass in Latin”

It is all too common that Catholics unfamiliar with the Church’s Traditions may think that the Traditional Latin Mass is simply the same as the standard Novus Ordo Mass, albeit said in Latin and with the priest having his “back to the people." It is, after all, simply called the “Latin Mass” by many traditionalists. Yet even attendance at one Traditional Latin Mass (frequently referred to as the Tridentine Mass) shows this is not the case.

Indeed, the Tridentine Mass does have different externals – whether it be more ornate vestments, a more beautiful altar and associated decorations in the church, more beautiful and timeless chant, and other such externals. But the externals are not what separates the Tridentine Mass from the Novus Ordo. The battle for the restoration of the Tridentine Mass and the suppression of the Novus Ordo is not about externals – it is about restoring to God the worship He is due. And this is seen chiefly in the prayers and rubrics of the Mass itself which were radically changed in the 1960s. The single greatest source of these rubrics in the English language is The Celebration of Mass: A Study of the Rubrics of the Roman Missal,  which is available for purchase online.  

As a result, the movement to restore Tradition is not chiefly about the change in externals. There are Novus Ordo Masses said in Latin, in an ad orientem position, and with beautiful Gregorian chant, all offered in ornate parishes. Even if these are a rare exception to the norm, they are still vastly different from the Tridentine Mass due to the very prayers at the heart of the Mass. To understand why, an examination of the various prayers exorcised from the Tridentine Mass is in order. For a list of these changes, click here.

The Fight for the Tridentine Mass is a Fight for the Theology of the True Faith

Consequently, the fight for the Tridentine Mass is about far more than just the sacred language of Latin. We may refer to the Tridentine Mass as “the Latin Mass,” but when we do so, we are not fighting principally for the use of Latin or for the return of the externals which accompanied the Tridentine Mass. Yes, these externals are important and are worth fighting for, but what we fight for most is for the worthy worship of God, which is attacked by the watered-down prayers, replaced readings, and omitted prayers in the Novus Ordo. Even a Novus Ordo Mass said with external pomp and circumstance lacks these internals. It is, after all, more than just the “Latin” Mass. It is the Mass of the Ages, the Mass of the Saints, and the Most Beautiful Thing This Side of Heaven that we seek to have restored to every altar in the entire world. 

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre famously said, "The Novus Ordo Missae, even when said with piety and respect for the liturgical rules, is impregnated with the spirit of bears within it a poison harmful to the Faith." He was right, and the rotten fruits of fifty years show us this.

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