I do, however, have a bias against the attitudes that many of the faithful carry with themselves when participating in such Masses. It is no secret that many members of indult parishes emit an odour of being "more Catholic" than the rest of the Church, particularly more than those who attend the Mass of Paul VI or the "Ordinary Form".
With this in mind, I would like to call attention to the question of "Catholic identity" and membership in the so-called "Traditionalist movement." It is not my intention to address members of schismatic groups of various strains of sedevacanism; I am interested in those Catholics who are in communion with the Successor of Peter and, incidentally, are bound by the 1983 Code of Canon Law.
Under the heading of "The Supreme Authority of the Church," the Code of Canon Law lists the authority of an ecumenical council (can. 336, 337.1).
However, according to the Dogmatic Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium, specific measures of liturgical reform were issued, among which (to name but a few) are:
- a simplification of the Roman Liturgy to reflect the principle of "noble simplicity" (no. 34);
- "a more ample, more varied, and more suitable selection of readings from sacred scripture should be restored" (no. 35, 1);
- recognition of the sermon which "is part of the liturgical action" (no. 35, 2);
- proclamation of the Scriptures in the vernacular (no. 36, 2);
In what way can the celebrants of the Extraordinary Form of Mass, even since the establishment of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, be said to have implemented the reforms of the Council? Can it be honestly said that the Extraordinary Form exhibits a "noble simplicity"--with cluttered altars, servers kissing the cruets and censers, meticulus attention to the ductus of the incensation, and gestures that have lost their practicality?
What about the Lectionary? The proclamation of the Scriptures according to the Extraordinary Form still retains a limited repertoire of readings, with an extremely limited selection for the Commons. The Lectionary for Mass according to the Ordinary Form fill four bound volumes according to the Latin typical edition, spread across a three-year cycle; no-one who attends daily Mass according to the Ordinary Form can pretend ignorance of the Scriptures.
An oddity of the Extraordinary Form is the custom of repeating the proclamation of the Scriptures, first in Latin, and again in the vernacular. Not only does this appear to contradict the norm of "noble simplicity", but shows forth the Roman liturgical faux-pas of duplication and thus disrupts the unity of the Liturgy of the Word, not to mention a strong resistance towards the Second Vatican Council's express wish of having the Scriptures proclaimed in the langauge of the assembly.
Worse, there remains the custom of removing certain vestments for the homily or the sermon, and enclosing the same with a sign of the cross. This gives the impression that the Church's munera docendi is truncated from the munera sanctificandi, and that those who assist at a Traditional Latin Mass "step out" of the liturgy to hear the sermon, and then "resume" Mass at the Creed. The Council expressly teaches that the homily is a liturgical function; it seems only appropriate to retain the dignity of liturgical vesture during the exercise of the Church's ministry of preaching. "The homily is strongly recommended since it forms part of the liturgy itself..." (Sacrosanctum concilium, no. 52). The 1983 Code of Canon Law legislates that "Among the forms of preaching, the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon, is preeminent..." (can. 767.1).
Another problem is to be found in the readings for the Sundays of Lent according to the Extraordinary Form. The Missal of Paul VI restored the older reading of the Lenten gospels; Sacrosanctum concilium 64 ordered the restoration of the catechumenate, which the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent celebrates in a special way in the "Period of Purification and Enlightenment." However, with the cycle of readings still retained by the Extraordinary Form, there is no way of making use of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, since it was designed to synchronize with the readings and propers of the Lenten cycle as celebrated by Rome long before the Missal of 1570 was issued. Not only do we have a dissynchronicity between the Extraordinary Form of Mass and the restored catechumenate, but also a persistent resistance to the Church's mandate that a thorough and liturgically-oriented catechesis for those seeking the Sacraments of Initiation. This, of course, is not the fault of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. But where is the effort to celebrate the same Extraordinary Form in compliance with the Council's order to restore the catechumenate? Here I wish to call attention to the words of then-Cardinal Ratzinger:
The Council did not itself reform the liturgical books, but it ordered their revision, and to this end, it established certain fundamental rules. Before anything else, the Council gave a definition of what liturgy is, and this definition gives a valuable yardstick for every liturgical celebration. Were one to shun these essential rules and put to one side the normae generales which one finds in numbers 34-36 of the Constitution De Sacra Liturgia (SL), in that case one would indeed be guilty of disobedience to the Council! ("Ten Years of the Motu Proprio," 24 October 1998).
"Disobedience to the Council." No-one is at liberty to reform the 1962 Missale Romanum on his own initiative without a mandate from the Holy See. The issue here is, rather, that the conversation being carried regarding the usus antiquior strongly indicates that the Council's order for the reform of the liturgy is being ignored. Where, among the Indult communities such as the FSSP and the Institute of Christ the King have we any discussion among professional liturgists about bringing the 1962 Missale Romanum to the supreme authority of the Church?
It has not been my intention to criticize the Extraordinary Form of Mass. Rather, my intention is to challenge those who insist on retaining the Extraordinary Form and to ask: In what sense is submission given to the Church's supreme authority? An ecumenical council, convoked by Pope +John XXIII and adjourned by Pope +Paul VI, has issued specific teachings on the sacred liturgy and mandated specific reforms. Are we to expect that people who retain the Extraordinary Form of Mass are immune from the Church's supreme authority, ignoring those stipulations outlined in Sacrosanctum concilium? I would hope not.