“The traditional Latin Mass brigade is finished.”

This is an interesting point of view.

A Vatican diplomat assured me yesterday, “The traditional Latin Mass brigade is finished.”

Do I detect a note of triumphalism and schadenfreude? This, if truly said by someone in the know, could mean several things. It could mean a return to the days of Paul VI and a reversal of Benedict XVI’s legislation, the persecution of priests for using the old rite, or even for using an eastward-facing altar and giving Communion ion the tongue – but I doubt it. Perhaps the target of an “anti-Benedictine” reaction would be a second abolition of using items of choir dress and liturgical vestments that were out of use since the pontificate of John XXIII. The in-style is to be something like what we saw in the 1980’s and 90’s under John Paul II. I have no need to describe it as I am less interested in this side of things than some might think.

What I would find difficult to follow, if I were a Roman Catholic, is this notion of dichotomy or opposition between beautiful liturgy and the Franciscan spirit of pastoral proximity to the people and in particular the poor and infirm. Surely, Vatican II brought up the notion of noble simplicity – a style that is found in the monastic liturgy. I don’t use lace either, and my vestments are very simple, yet I keep a monastic spirit in my celebration of the liturgy according to the old English pre-reformation rite. Does our liturgy have to be of the loud and brash style favoured by the Charismatics? I would like to see greater diversity and respect of difference in the cause of Catholic and Christian unity.

conical1940sbrugesPerhaps it would be good to see the back of high-church campery, but not of the liturgy itself and the quiet and contemplative spirit of which Benedict XVI often wrote in his books. This would seem to be a vitally important distinction to make. My most formative influence has been my time spent with Benedictine monks.

We’ll see what happens, but many of us are likely to serve God in obscurity and silence away from the din and noise of the kind of liturgies we saw in the 1970’s and 80’s. It really is all about serving God – and yet so is the Franciscan papacy. I come back to the respect of diversity and tolerance, and judging ourselves by God’s standard.

We could discuss this subject forever, but it seems that the goalposts are moving and we have to keep a careful watch.

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