The Mass of Ages
Firstly, there's yet another report speculating about the seemingly imminent Universal Indult (I'll only believe this when I see it on the Vatican website). The article contains the inevitable howlers:
- 'few British Catholics under the age of 50 will have attended a Tridentine Mass' - hmmmmm, a surprising proportion of young Catholics I know either frequent it regularly or have at least some experience of it.
- 'during most of the service, the priest has his back to the people' - see Fr Lang's book, Turning towards the Lord. Need I say more?.
- 'in England and Wales, there is not much demand for the Tridentine Mass' - yet the Latin Mass Society and other bodies organise plenty of celebrations around the country, especially in London, which are well attended.
- 'very few English priests have gone through the long and complicated business of learning to say the old Mass' - again, more than you might think. Many have studied the rubrics simply to inform their celebration of the Novus Ordo, even though they may not say the Old Mass publicly. And anyway, I wouldn't call the process of studying the rubrics unduly 'long and complicated' (though certainly more so than the Novus Ordo).
The Universal Indult would, indeed, be most welcome. Some may dream but I don't think we'll ever go back to an exclusive use of the pre-Conciliar liturgy (at least in my lifetime). Too much has happened over the past forty years and the best we can realistically hope for is a 'reform of the reform' and better liturgical training. However the 'Old Rite' remains a vital reference point and a profound part of the Church's Tradition.
The point is that the matter shouldn't be a big deal. This is the 'Mass of the Ages,' which has been around for centuries, has nurtured the lives of great saints and is a clear demonstration of lex orandi, lex credendi. It shouldn't even be an issue that some people value this Mass - seminarians have even been known to risk expulsion because they have an interest in the ancient rite of Mass. Removing the current constraints would make the 'Old Rite' a normal and natural part of Catholic Life. And that has to be a good thing.
I doubt any priests I know will go berserk once the Universal Indult is promulgated and start abolishing the Novus Ordo in their parishes(even if they might like to!!!). The bishops should not be afraid of an Indult - it would foster ecclesial unity and make the Church's tradition more accessible to the people.
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A letter from Count Nicolai Tolstoy to the Telegraph also caught my attention: 'Sir, Can anyone identify a fashionable vice to which the Church of England is opposed?' Answers on a postcard, please.