10 March 2015

Dear Pope Francis, Going "Back" is Not a Mistake

"It was in fact a courageous gesture of the Church to draw close to the People of God, so that they could understand well what she does, and this is important for us, to follow the Mass in this way. And we cannot go back; we must always go forward, always forward and whoever goes back is mistaken. We go forward on this way." Pope Francis

It would be wise for the Holy Father to study the epic blunder that the Coca Cola company made with its decision to introduce New Coke, thinking that the new sweeter product would be more appealing to its drinkers and help the company recover lost market share. Of course New Coke was a colossal failure and subsequently Coca Cola Co. went back to its original formula and paradoxically accomplished what it originally had hoped to do when it designed New Coke. Similarly, if we are to believe the liturgical innovators who produced the New Mass, it was designed in part to be more appealing to non-Catholics by removing the parts they found offensive in hopes that it would help them convert. Of course it didn't succeed. Certainly it did attract some converts but it lost considerably more. Like New Coke it may have attracted some Pepsi drinkers and kept a few Coke drinkers from switching to Pepsi but it lost substantially more than it attracted. Fortunately for the Coca Cola Co. it realized that going back to its original formula was not a mistake but the wise and prudent decision.

The decision to engage the Catholic in the pews and get them to "actively participate" by introducing the vernacular has been a failure. Nor was having the Mass entirely in the vernacular one of the desires of the Vatican II fathers. His holiness can continue to offend those of us who have a love of the Usus Antiquior but we are not mistaken in our efforts to bring back this Mass. It should be clear that bringing back the traditional liturgy is not a matter of simply turning back time to 1962 and calling it good but looking at the true organic development of the liturgy that was called for at Vatican II. For a good analysis of what this implies I encourage you to read this post written by Dom Alcuin Reid on the 50th Anniversary of Mass in the Vernacular. Here's an excerpt.
Indeed, as the Christian East has never forgotten, the Sacred Liturgy is not in the first place a comprehension exercise. It is the ritual worship of Almighty God employing multivalent symbols which thus become privileged sacramentals—sacred language included. Certainly, penetrating the meaning of the rites and prayers is fundamental, but this is facilitated by the work of liturgical formation (or more effectively, by liturgical habituation over a lifetime)—no short cuts, such as the quick rendering of the liturgy in the vernacular, are viable here. Even the liturgical proclamation of the texts of Sacred Scripture is not simply a didactic exercise, although certainly, the vernacular can be of immense help with participation, as indeed in some other parts of the liturgy (such as the prayers of the faithful). The Second Vatican Council knew this. But the wholesale removal of Latin from the liturgy and liturgical celebrations completely in the vernacular are contrary to what the Second Vatican Council desired and approved.

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