Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Event of the Year

For the most important Catholic event of the year, I have chosen the released of the motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum." I truly think that this is the most significant event to happen in the Church since the sexual abuse scandals broke. Of course, I would put this in the positive events category.

In my mind, I am not a liturgical traditionalist. I am simply a faithful Catholic. Now, it seems to me that after the council, something was lost. This something was a sense of the sacred. Vestments went from beautiful to plain (and sometimes ugly). Candle sticks were removed. Incense was used less frequently. Church music began to sound like Celine Dion. Everything that once said, "This place is different; this place is sacred" was removed. When effort is made to make Mass beautiful, it shows that the Mass matters to us. Moms love it when their kids come home after picking weeds and give them as a gift, thinking it's a bouquet. For a 30 year old to do this, shows a lack of sincere effort. God accepts our childish gifts but at some point we put away childish things and give him truly adult gifts. We worship Him with solemnity and beauty.

A lot of people, missing this beauty, yearned for the 1962 Missal. Some people went into schism over it and others remained faithful and suffered. Pope John Paul the Great told bishops to generously allow their faithful to have access to the 1962 missal. He was ignored. Pope Benedict, a gentle and loving shepherd, decided that he had to go out and find the lost sheep, said that any priest can offer the Mass according to the 1962 missal once a day (with some exceptions). No longer were the faithful going to be denied what they had a right to simply because a bishop was opposed to their tastes.

This will clearly have repercussions throughout the entire Church. I make two predictions. The first is that we will see an increase in solemnity in what is being called the ordinary form of the Mass. We have seen this begin to take place in Rome, with stunning vestments and the return of an altar crucifix and candles on the altar. We aren't going to go back to the days before the council. The faithful does not want that. Our Holy Father does not want that. What will happen, though, is the unity between before and after the council will become more clearer, and the way into the future will be guided by tradition.

My second prediction is that as the extraordinary form spreads, and more people in my generation experience it, they will fall in love with the Mass (either form). They will finally understand the Mass, and it will enrich their understanding so much that many young men will respond to God's call to the holy priesthood. These men will not just join orders like the FSSP, for as diocesan priests, they can offer both forms. Diocesan seminaries will be filled and renewed with youthful zeal.

May our Holy Father serve as Supreme Pontiff for many years. God bless the Pope!

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