Extraordinary Form: What’s In A Name?editor
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
The impetus for this thread came from a short discussion during the week, when, to my surprise, a group of people attending the Traditional Latin Mass in a Glasgow church expressed the view that it was no big deal to use the term “Extraordinary Form” for the TLM, arguing that as long as it gets people along, that’s the main thing. I disagree. The false claim that the two almost entirely different Masses are one and the same rite, is perpetuated by the use of the terms “Extraordinary” and “Ordinary” forms. The following article on the subject is taken from the Rorate Caeli blog – not because we agree with its arguments: it certainly requires some clarification – over to thee…
We never thought it would be necessary to write this, since both aspects we will treat seem to be obvious, and have seemed so since 2007. Yet, there have been so many misunderstandings regarding the expression “Extraordinary Form” that we feel constrained to make two points clear.
(1) Why was the name “Extraordinary Form” introduced by the Holy Father in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum? Answer: in order to solve a liturgical law conumdrum.
Traditionally, throughout the history of the Church – at least since the differentiation of rites became clear and attached to specific patriarchies and geographical areas – bi-ritual priests have been exceptional. They still are an exception. Additionally, the Pope felt the need to finally undo the injustice that had been kept – and defended by most canonists – since the advent of the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum, of Paul VI (1969), that had created theNovus Ordo Missae: had it, and the previous and subsequent documents that modified all rites of sacraments, abrogated the Traditional Roman Rite?
The use of the term “form” solved both problems: it did not make all priests in the Latin Church, including the vast majority of secular priests, immediately bi-ritual (in law), which would be rather untraditional; and, most importantly, it solved the apparent problem of the impossibility of the abrogation of a liturgical rite of immemorial origin. (It was anapparent problem because, as the Pope implied when he said that “what earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful,” the immemorial liturgical Rites and Uses of the Latin Church could not and cannot simply be abrogated.) In a sense it is an artifice, a noble intellectual construction, since the common celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass seem to express two very distinct rites – but the use of such legal constructions is quite common in law, and there is nothing immoral in it. The use of the terminology made clear that celebrating the Traditional Mass is a solemn right of each priest of the Latin Church.
(2) Despite this, the expression “Extraordinary Form” is NOT the “official” name of the Traditional Roman Rite. It is just one of the many ways to refer to it. In fact, as can be seen in the very texts of the official documents, several different names are used to refer to the Traditional Roman Rite.
The motu proprio itself speaks in its first words of the “extraordinary use” and of the “ancient form” (antiqua forma) of the Roman Rite. In its articles, mention is made of “the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII” (that is, Missal of St. Pius V also is as “official” as “Missal of Bl. John XXIII” – no wonder Cardinal Navarette-Cortes used the term in 2008); it is an “extraordinary expression” (extraordinaria expressio), and also “extraordinary form” (forma extraordinaria). It is also called by the motu proprio the “earlier liturgical tradition”.
The rites of sacraments according to the Traditional Rituale Romanum are characterized as according to the more ancient ritual (Rituale antiquior), same adjective applied to the Pontifical, and to the form itself: earlier form (forma antiquior).
All these names are included in the short text of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum itself!
In the letter to bishops, mention is also made of “the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970”. The Pope says in the letter that they are not “two rites” (though in the letter he uses the name “new rite”! – making us quite comfortable with also using the expression old rite…), but also uses different names for it therein: a “usage”, the “earlier Form”, the “1962 missal”, the “old Missal”, the “ancient Latin liturgical tradition” (a very beautiful name, by the way)
In the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae, preference is given to the expression “forma extraordinaria”, but also there all kinds of different expressions: “usage”, “use”, “Usus antiquior“, “1962 Missal”…
These are just the “official” names used widely in the documents themselves – not forgetting the need for clarity that demands a continued use of expressions that are established in the vernacular, such as Traditional Latin Mass (TLM)in English, and “Tridentine Mass” (even if not particularly exact) in English and in several European languages. Not to mention the very respectable use (for instance, by former President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei CardinalCastrillon Hoyos) of the expressions “Gregorian Rite” and “Classical Roman Liturgy”.
THEREFORE: (1) do not feel forced in any way to use the name Extraordinary Form as if it were the only acceptable name – it is not even the exclusive name used in the documents themselves;
(2) do not complain when others use it, as if it were illegitimate or unacceptable; if you do not like it, fine, just do not use it yourself.
Straight away, let me disagree with the author’s exhortation “not to complain when others use the term “Extraordinary Form” as if it were illegitimate or unacceptable.” Sure thing, I will never use it myself but that’s because it is completely unacceptable; calling the ancient Mass the “Extraordinary Form” whilst acknowledging as “the Ordinary Form” , the new Mass, described by Pope Benedict XVI as a “banal, on the spot fabrication” is just too, too, much. Or maybe you disagree?
This article contains several contradictions and illogical statements. For example:
1. There was no “apparent” problem of the suppression of the TLM that needed to be solved. Both JPII and BXVI had already determined that the TLM had never been abrogated. So…what problem?
2. It makes no sense to refer to Latin priests as possibly having been made “bi-ritual” when in fact Summorum claims that the TLM and the Novus Ordo are “two forms of the same rite.”
3. The article ends by reminding us of the need for “clarity,” but the entire article is an exercise in obfuscation and false rationalizations, including its insistence on preserving a false name for the TLM, simply because “others use it.” How perfectly Conciliar: others are doing it, so it’s OK! (aka the infamous amoral dictum of psychology: “I’m OK – You’re OK”).
Not to mention the bald-faced lie in Summorum itself, that the TLM and the NO are “two forms of the same rite” – when the NO is in fact, as the Ottaviani Intervention warned us, “…both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent.” Or, as Abp. Lefebvre pointed out, the NO is merely a recapitulation of Luther’s butchery of the true Mass, particularly in the revision of the Canon from an action to a narrative, and the elimination of the Offertory Prayers (among other things).
My understanding of the reasoning behind the false label and the false equation of rites is that it was political: BXVI was trying to use language that uncooperative bishops would accept. Well, we all know how that worked out….
I completely agree with RCA Victor. The introduction of “Extraordinary Form” was a political move by Pope Benedict to get the old rite accepted again, instead of asserting his authority.
I will never use the term – I’ve never used it and I won’t ever use it.
“Not to mention the bald-faced lie in Summorum itself, that the TLM and the NO are ‘two forms of the same rite” – when the NO is in fact, as the Ottaviani Intervention warned us, “…both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent.’”
That is absolutely correct. I couldn’t agree more. The claim that the two Masses are the same Mass is ludicrous. Anyone who goes to one and then to the other, knows this is not the case.
I’m among those who don’t use the term EF. It’s a ludicrous term and a ludicrous rationale to it. No way will I ever speak about the “Extraordinary Form”. No way!
The only people I hear using Extraordinary Form are people who are content to have the old Mass in a church as long as it’s not an SSPX church – LOL! They’re not bothered about anything else, they want the old Mass but I wonder if that’s because they think that makes them “traditional Catholics”? IMHO, the irony is that by using EF, they rule themselves out of being “traditionalists” because they are acknowledging the new Mass as “the” Mass of the Church. I can’t accept that. The new Mass is not going to last, so it is the “extraordinary form” IMHO. Some day, we’ll have the old Mass back in parishes again, God willing.
Great point about who uses the term! Besides all this, even the most basic understanding of the English language betrays the intent of the label. What does the word “extraordinary” mean? It’s first meaning on Dictionary.com is “beyond what is usual, ordinary, regular, or established” – as if to say, well, we just don’t use this rite very much. Even the second meaning, “exceptional in character, etc.” can mean something besides referring to excellence: it can also mean it is the exception, not the rule.
As if the Mass of all time could be relegated to such lowly status. These clergy have no shame!
Hear hear! I agree with you 150%!
I agree. Most people are OK with the novus ordo and there are a few who like to attend the TLM sometimes but are not fussed about Sunday obligation. They’re the ones who have no problem with “Extraordinary Form”. They’re just not committed to the old Mass. That’s the fact of the matter, end of discussion.
Yes, this is all word play on the part of the liberals. The “Extraordinary Form” of the Mass is actually the Novus Ordo, which, as Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci observed, “represents in whole and in its individual parts a grave departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass”. Trust the Modernists to twist this around and apply it to the ancient liturgy of the Church, the Mass of the saints and martyrs.
As for Pope Benedict’s declaration that the ancient Mass and the Novus Ordo are expressions of the same rite. Well, it beggars belief. It’s like saying that Lutheranism and Catholicism are two expressions of the same true religion, isn’t it. Completely ridiculous.
No, “Extraordianry Form”, like “Emeritus Pope” and “expressions of the same rite”, are products of Modernist dishonesty that no Catholic should recognise or repeat. There is only one Pope and one expression of the Catholic Mass, which is the ancient rite of the Church handed down.
To be honest , while I don’t use the word in this context myself because of the perceptions given above, I rather rejoice in its use privately because of the its more usual implication and meaning – certainly as it is generally used in literature and as I would use it myself in speech and writing. A googled list of synonyms illustrates my point:
synonyms: remarkable, exceptional, amazing, astonishing, astounding, marvellous, wonderful, sensational, stunning, incredible, unbelievable, miraculous, phenomenal, prodigious, spectacular; striking, outstanding, momentous, impressive, singular, signal, pre-eminent, memorable, unforgettable, never to be forgotten, unique, arresting, eye-catching, conspicuous, noteworthy, notable, great; out of the ordinary, unusual, uncommon, rare, surprising, curious, strange, odd, peculiar, uncanny; unco; informal fantastic, terrific, tremendous, stupendous, awesome, amazeballs, out of this world, unreal; literary wondrous’
The ancient rite is undeniably marvellous, wonderful, miraculous,stupendous, awesome, pre-eminent. Compare that to ‘ordinary’, the synonyms, from the same source being:
synonyms: average, normal, run-of-the-mill, standard, typical, middle-of-the-road, common, conventional, mainstream, unremarkable, unexceptional, unpretentious, modest, plain, simple, homely, homespun, workaday, undistinguished, nondescript, characterless, colourless, commonplace, humdrum, mundane, unmemorable, pedestrian, prosaic, quotidian, uninteresting, uneventful, dull, boring, uninspiring, bland, suburban, hackneyed, stale, mediocre, middling, indifferent.’
Yep. That’s the OF for me. Uninteresting, dull, boring, hackneyed, uninspiring, stale, characterless, 😇.
Point taken but I’m glad you distinguished between privately rejoicing in the use of the term for the reasons (definitions) you give, and using it to describe the ancient Mass, which is not the “ordinary” form today thanks only to the diabolical machinations aimed at abolishing it altogether. And there is no question that it is used today to underline acceptance of the novus ordo as the “ordinary” rite. It is, therefore, a false charity to use it as a means of “ensnaring” (for want of a better word!) new recruits for the ancient Mass. I can’t imagine, anyway, explaining the ancient Mass and the struggle to restore it today, without contextualising it in the crisis in the Church. Explaining the purpose of the coining of the term, is, in fact, an excellent way into explaining that we are suffering a huge crisis in the Church today.
People, coming to the old Mass, are often also only beginning (incredibly) to understand that there IS a crisis in the Church. Amazing as it may be, I can demonstrate from some of the feedback sheets received after our Conference last Saturday, that there are still people around who think – as one person wrote – that “I knew there were problems in the Church but I’m not sure it constitutes a crisis.” So, what better way to begin than to explain that the Mass which the martyrs gave their life’s blood to defend, is now out of favour with those holding the highest offices in the Church, to the point where they dismiss it as the “Extraordinary Form”.
I’m finding that those who have no problem using the term Extraordinary Form are also ambivalent about the new Mass. I can count at least two Catholic men who consider themselves to be informed and “traditional”, who have attended the novus ordo for the purpose of supporting a particular priest – a priest who offers the TLM on weekdays, certainly, and hopes to offer a Sunday TLM in due course, but currently says the novus ordo on Sundays. Thus, both of these men opted (one currently) to fulfil their Sunday obligation at the novus ordo (after for a time attending the SSPX) for the explicit purpose of supporting the priest – a first class priest, take note – and short of sacrificing the TLM on Sundays, I’d do my best to support him myself. The obligation to offer worship truly pleasing to God on the Sabbath, however, trumps loyalty to anyone, even to the best priest in the world, or so it seems to me…
So, it’s not unimportant, this casual acceptance of any part of the modernist revolution. It’s meaningful. I think it was in Animal Farm that the point was made that language is the first casualty of war; whoever controls the language controls the new reality.
“I think it was in Animal Farm that the point was made that language is the first casualty of war; whoever controls the language controls the new reality.”
I must read that book – LOL! It makes sense, though, because by using the language (EF) people adopt the mentality that the old rite is on the fringes of the Church, not really that important, and so they can take it or leave it. I guess that’s why the term EF was introduced in the first place.
if the priest you mention is a really traditional priest, won’t he tell those men to attend the TLM in the Society chapel as they have been doing, not to attend his novus ordo, however reverently he says it?
I’ve heard this sort of thing before, about people keeping on with the novus ordo because they like the priest and want to support him – it’s a troubling development in the Church, because the personality cult of the minister, used to be only found in the Protestant churches. .
Editor, you’re an extraordinary wummin. Now do I get a pay-rise or summat else?
You get summat else! Or what!
I will never use the description Extraordinary Form, either. It’s obviously a ruse to push the TLM to the margins of the Church and it makes people think it’s an extra, something not usual in the Church so they needn’t bother about it. I’m always surprised when I hear people using it, and in my experience, it’s only in an SSPX chapel that you don’t hear it.
I will never use the term EF either. It is a mistake to use the language of the enemy and it is the enemy of the TLM who picked the term EF.
I’ve found that it’s only used by people who are not fully committed to the old rite Mass. They say they want it and they might go to Summorum Pontificum Masses during the week, but where do they go on Sundays? That is the litmus test.
Thanks to all who have contributed so far, but I don’t think anyone has addressed the point made by the people with whom I discussed the matter briefly this week – which is, that it’s OK to use the term EF, if by that meas, we can get more people to attend.
Well? Is that a fair point, or what?
I would ask them for some evidence for this claim, which has a certain fishy smell to it, like most things about the Great Facade. I have a vague memory, for example, of JPII rhapsodizing during the 80s about how the faithful have joyfully accepted the NO – yep, those same faithful (not to mention the thousands of clergy and religious) who left the Church by the millions because of it!
Without evidence, e.g. numbers by Deanery or Diocese, numbers by National Conference, numbers recorded by the FSSP – what the heck, even numbers recorded by your local bookies! – it’s not a fair point, it’s just more shallow optimism.
In most cases, I suspect this search for numbers, if any of the optimists are willing to undertake it, would prove most embarrassing on two counts: one, the paucity of diocesan TLM’s around the globe, and two, the small numbers of people hearing these Masses.
Speaking of the FSSP, does anyone know how they typically refer to the TLM? I’m guessing they are “strongly encouraged” to use the bogus EF term, just like they are “strongly encouraged” to say and accept the NO, officially.
The people who use the EF term are those who think that by doing so they honour the wishes of the Pope and obey the Church. In their estimation it would be counter productive to insist on Latin Mass or Tridentine Mass exclusively, as this would scare people off thinking that we are all disobedient rebels.
They’re wrong of course. Honest people like to hear the truth and respect those who uphold it. Those who would be scandalised by the truth are really not attending the ancient Mass for the right reasons. They think it’s down to a choice between rites depending on inclination when in fact it’s a choice between sacredness of Tradition and the superficiality of Modernism.
RCA Victor & Athanasius,
You are both right (for once!)
RCA – I don’t know many (if any) people who attend the FSSP but I suspect they would use the term EF since I’ve heard the LMS/Una Voce people use it.
I suspect that’s because of the “o” word – obedience, as Athanasius suggests. Reassures the flock that they are faithful Catholics, going along to get along with this hierarchical novelty, among others, while allowing them to “feel” a sense of being traditionalists. I’m not sure, but that’s how it might be interpreted.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that this term is consciously used with malice aforethought – I simply mean that it reveals an embedded mindset that is not in keeping with Catholic Tradition.
It would be interesting to conduct a scientific study of the connection between papolotry and the use of “EF.” I wonder if any papolotrists out there would consent to being used as lab rats? (white, of course)
I can’t understand why using the term EF would encourage people to attend Holy Mass, if they wouldn’t attend it if it’s described by its traditional name. Where’s the logic in that? Who are these people? Do this live on this planet, or are they visitors from Alpha Centauri? I think we should be told….
…this? they; do they live on this planet.
(No cheeky comment about which planet I’m living on, please and thank you!…)
“No cheeky comment about which planet I’m living on…”
I do agree with your assessment that there is no logic in the argument that using the term EF would encourage people to attend. I suspect what was meant was that by appearing to be as “normal” as possible (i.e. not beating the “traditional” drum, using the modernist language where possible) it might be easier to get people to the ancient Mass. I can’t see it, personally, but then I’m overdue a visit to Specsavers…
If Shakespeare was right with his “what’s in a name?” then it’s a pointless argument, anyway. Might as well use an accurate title as an inaccurate one, surely?
I am no specialist, but I can see the legal (as well as the political) value of construing the traditional Mass and the Mass of Paul VI as two ‘forms’ of the one rite. That said, the two ‘forms’ are so different as to make this terminology not only suspect but also highly unlikely to survive in the future.
I myself do not like the appellative ‘Tridentine’ Mass since this gives the impression that it started with the Council of Trent, when in point of fact it only underwent a codification in the Council’s wake. I prefer to speak of the Gregorian Mass, although I am aware that this appellative, too, is not without difficulties.
What you say is correct, that’s why I refer to the ancient Mass or Mass of the saints and martyrs. In the present confusion of descriptive terms these are the only ones that do justice to the truth.
(“I think it was in Animal Farm that the point was made that language is the first casualty of war; whoever controls the language controls the new reality.”
I must read that book – LOL! It makes sense, though, because by using the language (EF) people adopt the mentality that the old rite is on the fringes of the Church, not really that important, and so they can take it or leave it. I guess that’s why the term EF was introduced in the first place.)
You are exactly right in thinking that’s why the term EF was introduced, and, as it was a dishonest ruse, it should be officially abandoned and not ‘explained’ or excused by ‘Rorate Caeli’ or anyone else.
Latin was, until so very recently, the universal language of the Church for the very good reason that it is precise and unambiguous, whereas in its translation into vernacular languages, especially one as rich as English, it often lose its precise intended meaning.
‘Extraordinarius’ has a more limited sense than that of the English ‘extraordinary’. It means only ‘out of the usual course’, or ‘unusual’. So labelling the TLM as ‘forma extraordinaria’ is rich, considering that it was the NO, invented in the late 1960s, that is unusual compared to at least 1500 years of the usual form of Mass, as more than one blogger has said.
The obvious way out of the various difficulties surrounding bi-ritual priests as set out in the ‘Rorate Caeli’ piece is to abrogate the very unusual and egregious NO. It will happen sooner or later – I hope sooner.
Slightly off topic, but I’ve been meaning to post this for some time: one of the reasons I come here is to read and savor the thoughts of those who express themselves with a fully Catholic intellect (and heart), such as yourself, among many others. I do not consider myself to have that ability as yet – I’m just an old Protestant/pagan, born and baptised Catholic and then removed from the Church, returned at age 49 – but, God willing, I will be able to express myself in a more truly Catholic manner before I leave this earth!
RCA Victor, I don’t deserve such very kind words, or to be included in the list of ‘many others’ that you meet on this blog. I came to it for exactly the same reason as you, and thank God for it. In my case, a wonderful Catholic education from age 5 to 21 was a priceless gift that has since been denied to millions of baptised Catholics. Yet it did not prepare me to withstand the shock of a new Mass and ‘new Church’ and of seeing every spiritual certainty undermined by those I had learned to trust. I now realise that I had failed, mea culpa, to develop my inner spiritual life and my faith was weak and childish (not childlike). You say that you were removed from the Church. Well I spent many years barely hanging on as a ‘practising Catholic’, failing others on the way, and the long climb back began when I rediscovered the ancient Mass. I have always been a Martha rather than a Mary, and have a long, long way to go to discover the ‘better part’ that Mary chose. So many on this blog, including one RCA Victor, are helping me in my journey. You greatly underestimate your own contribution to our mutual search, and your Catholic manner of expression seems fine to me. And now ‘ora pro nobis ad invicem’ always.
That “wonderful Catholic education” was exactly what I missed – and it shows in your posts, along with many others, despite your years of hanging on and having it obscured by the “revolution.” Strangely enough, I spent most of my adult life trying to develop an interior life without any knowledge of the Church – until I discovered, 10+ years ago or so, that the only true mysticism resides in the Church.
So it seems we’ve come to Tradition from opposite directions: you with a solid external Catholic education returning to the true Faith, and me with an interior focus falsely rooted in the wilderness of New Age rubbish, set up by the emptiness of Protestantism, and now trying to adopt the true path of the spiritual life.
Or, to put it another way, I built my house on sand; it sounds as though you built yours on the Rock, though it was only partially finished.
And as the President of my former Carmelite chapter said to me some years ago when she read my spiritual history (which, I think, shocked her), “You’ve come a long way!”
To be continued….and now, back to the topic before Editor comes back into the classroom!
RCA Victor & Christina,
Sorry to intrude, but if I may suggest it, what about one of those terribly romantic Vegas weddings? I could be bridesmaid or maid of honour or just BE there! And Papa Francis is never going to object… In fact, he’ll send those rigid people packing, if they dare to say a word about having to be married in a Catholic church, priest present etc. Just let them try!
Back to the topic? You kidding? Just when we’re getting to the wedding planning stage? 😀
Love the “Candlelight” touch! You’ve set me up perfectly for an old Rodney Dangerfield joke about blind dates, but I’ll try to resist the temptation…somehow….
That would have shown her. NB Must try another computer course for dummies.
Here’s what to do.
1) Google, e.g. Computers for Dummies.
2) Ignore the list of links and, instead, click on “images” above (where it says, news, images, videos etc.)
3) Select your preferred picture. Click on it.
4) You should now see your picture facing you plus a number (I think around six) smaller pictures on the same theme to your right. You will also see “visit image”
4) Click on “visit image” and that takes you to the picture on a page by itself. Nothing else on the screen except the picture.
5) Now copy the link in your browser there.
6) Paste it here. I always click “enter” to make sure it “takes” if you know what I mean.
7) Click “post comment” and voila, your picture will appear. Like this…
PS I’m going to be away from my computer for a few hours but look forward to seeing that image – the one “that’ll show me” on my return!
I hope this works:
Therese. Oops, looks as though a good fairy came along and made it did.
I have absolutely no idea where that picture came from!! I’d better not try again – knowing my luck a totally inappropriate picture will appear and I’ll have to retire in disgrace….
P.S…..unless, Editor, if you were the good fairy our Christina is referring to, it was the “salvation for dummies” pic I wanted. If you’ve got the time, like. Just sayin’…….
Is this the one you mean?
Ever and always… at your service!
Thanks for trying me dear. No, it’s the one parodying the famous painting by William Holman Hunt. Christ is knocking on the door, and the conversation goes along the lines of:
“What do you want?”
“To save you”
“From what I’ll do to you if you don’t answer the door..”
Well, I thought it was funny, anyway…..
Here it is:-
Thank you, you clever thing.
Dutifully getting back to the topic…sort of…after I light some candles and put on some Mantovani…I once thought that the crisis in the Church had much to do with a lack of interior life among both faithful and clergy. That is, there was lots of external activity, but very little depth of faith behind it (see: Soul of the Apostolate), thus setting us up for (a) a lack of recognition of what the revolution was, and (b) a false understanding of obedience.
The conventional wisdom among traditionalists seems to be that the Church was quite healthy before VII. But if that were really so, how could a healthy Church have collapsed in 5 years? I wasn’t in the Church back then, but it appears to me that this “health” was much like a Hollywood set in an old western movie: props made to look like a town, but not a real town.
Between the widespread exterior orientation of faith (I’m guessing, and Christina has alluded to it), and the well-organized subterranean revolt brewing, the Church was probably ripe for the modernist takeover.
Very good point, and I don’t have time to write much right now, but, to give the “I’ve skimmed your question and here is my skimmed answer” – as I think we’ve discovered in the past fifty years – there was definitely something wonky in the teaching within the Church, parishes and schools, that gave Catholics a false understanding of the role, extent of the papal office with no teaching about its limits, beyond the obvious, if the pope tells us to sin, we refuse. That was about it. Thus, Catholics were in follow-my-leader mode, and if the Popes of Vatican II had told them to go along to their nearest Protestant church, synagogue of mosque, and drink in all that they see and hear, we all believe in the same God anyway, I believe they would have done so without a qualm.
What am I saying – that is exactly what they did – and continue to do!
Ed and RCA Victor, it’s an interesting theory that requires much thought, but my knee-jerk reaction is against it, as the thriving pre vat II contemplative orders would indicate. Several of my contemporaries at school joined the contemplative orders, Carmelites and Benedictines, and I think that that was everybody’s experience at the time. As in all previous ages of the Church, there were many souls, the ‘Marys’, who were called to, and embraced the interior life, while many, many more were ‘Marthas’. I have a friend, a year below me, who went to all the same schools as I, was in the same parish, in the same groups – Children of Mary, Legion of Mary, church choir, etc., but although we shared teachers, priests and all outward religious experiences, she joined the OCSO straight from university. It was puzzling for me, because we had had the same instruction all the way, had heard the same annual missions, usually given by the Redemptorists, and yet she had very clearly had something going on in her soul that I lacked or had failed to cultivate. Interestingly, she was based in Rome for a short time about 20 years ago and was allowed ‘out of the cloister’ for a day to spend time with me. She had experienced painfully all the horror of the post Vat II changes from within her (then) strictly cloistered life, and when I asked how she could have borne it, she came up with the dreaded ‘obedience’ word, just like everyone else!
Another point is that one only has to look at the long list of works on the interior life, one of which you mention, RCA Victor, to realise that it was certainly not lacking in the Church through the long ages of faith that went before this hellish age. I think most older traditional Catholics correctly invoke obedience as the proximate cause of the huge fall from grace, and while I think this is the best we can come up with humanly speaking, for me it can only really be explained as a huge work and temporary success of the Devil unchained according to Pope Leo XIII’s vision.
I’ve been following this with interest having had pretty much the same sort of religious upbringing as Christina: Catholic primary school, convent school, church choir, legion of Mary, etc…
I think the RCA Victor is right when he alludes to the lack of an interior life. Yes we were taught the catechism and all the prayers by rote, attended Mass school retreats, devotions and all the rest but I don’t remember ever being shown how to meditate or really pray for that matter.
It seemed above all important to keep the rules, Father knows best let alone the Pope who was a distant remote figure for whom we prayed.
I do remember that I loved the Mass and especially the beautiful music we sang in the choir from plainsong to polyphony. But I think for me it was more a love of the external trappings of the faith that I loved more than the spiritual life. I even went so far as to join an active contemplative congregation for a while but as the effects of the Vatican council became implemented all the things I loved were thrown out: silence, divine office, habit and with them went most of my noviciate! But that is another story and it took me many many years to recover from the experience and the associated guilt for leaving. I went back on a visit to the motherhouse with my children some years later and it reminded me of nothing more than a girls hostel! Women in a mishmash of unattractive secular dress, calling each other by nicknames, oh I could go on but I would never for one moment have been tempted to join them.
I’m losing my thread here but I just wanted to agree that too many Catholics seemed to have an extrinsic rather than intrinsic religiosity in so far as one could ever judge and so as building built upon sand, there were/ are no deep solid foundations to base the spiritual life on. Collapse was sadly inevitable.and I would have to include myself as a young Catholic in the extrinsic camp. Hopefully by the grace of God not now.
Christina and Elizabeth,
Many thanks for your replies, thought about fine-tuning my hypothesis a little, as to why an allegedly healthy Church collapsed into secularized chaos in 5 years (or less):
1. The majority (% unknown) of the faithful did not practice their faith with any depth (which can also be said today, not only of NO Catholics but of Protestants as well – religion as a social occasion, religion as a duty, religion getting bumped down the list for a round of golf, etc.)
2. The wrath of God, already too much offended, expressing His wrath through the “malice of revolutionary men,” whom He allowed to overrun the Church.
2a. The satanic enthronement ceremony described by Fr. Malachi Martin in Windswept House, occurring on June 29, 1963, simultaneously in Charleston, SC (an Illuminati outpost) and the Vatican. Father stated later that this was not fiction: it really occurred.
3. The false understanding of obedience (to which Abp. Lefebvre referred, I believe, as “the master-stroke of the Devil.”)
3a. The abuse of the dogma of papal infallibility (who was it that said, after Vatican I, that he feared this dogma would be abused in the future? I came across it recently but I can’t remember.)
4. The comprehensive nature of the revolution, which engulfed the entire Church, including, as Elizabeth points out, the religious orders (Christina, I’ve finally started MM’s <The Jesuits) – i.e., everywhere one looked the old ways were tumbling down. “Razing of the bastions,” indeed!
4a. Monkey see, monkey do.
5. The Passion of the Church, which apparently must happen to The Mystical Body as a parallel to Our Lord’s Passion, as a prelude to overcoming the world.
As I said, I was not in the Church when the revolution occurred, so all this is just a hypothesis. In fact, if I had been a practicing Catholic back then, I’d probably have been swept along with everyone else!
Could I have more information on the book about the Jesuits you refer to? I am intrigued.
I presumed RCA Victor means this book by Malachi Martin
Sorry, I’m a little slow on the uptake – yes, the book Michaela has posted is the one I referred to.
Elizabeth, snap! How strange is that? You have made me think back a bit more, and you are quite right that much attention was paid throughout my childhood and early adulthood on the importance of Mass attendance, weekly Holy Communion and Confession, devotions, the Rosary, prayers, and so on. Retreats and missions were very much concerned with the Commandments, and keeping them, with sin, and how to avoid it, and, especially in teenage years, with purity. Of course a very solid body of doctrine was laid by the rote learning of the Penny Catechism and associated lessons from primary school onward, and later RI lessons (now RE) were concerned with the main Doctrines of the Church and some Encyclicals, and we sat an external,examination – the School Religious Certificate at age 16. I do remember one of the questions I answered, which was to explain fully the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. In higher education, which led to the Religious Teachers’ Certificate, the subject ‘Doctrine’ occupied the whole of every Saturday morning (no gadding about on social activities for us students!), while the whole of Sunday morning, after Mass, was devoted to plainsong and polyphony. However, through all those years, I don’t recall anything about meditative prayer, except in connection with the Rosary.
I did think, and really still do, but am open to correction, that interior prayer, as we are discussing it here, is something that happens in the soul as an infused gift of God, and that it isn’t something that is ‘taught’ in an academic setting. For this reason I blame myself for failing to develop this aspect of the spiritual life, for, as I have said, others with the same background did develop it.
As I know other bloggers are far more spiritually gifted in this way, the blog has already been of great help to me, but I do fear that I shall always be a Martha.
Are you a Third Order member? If not I would highly recommend becoming one, as it is devoted to developing the interior life (i.e. mental prayer, aka interior prayer). You are partially correct about this prayer: in its more advanced stages it is indeed an infused gift, but in the early stages it is meditation, i.e. dwelling on “considerations” with the intellect, concluding with “affective prayer,” i.e. expressions of love for God, and finally, a resolution. It’s a slow learning process, esp. for someone with an undisciplined mind like me, but I find that when I don’t do it in the morning I feel an emptiness of the mind and heart.
(Now I’ll wait for Editor to pounce on that last comment…)
Tempted, RCA Victor, very tempted, but I’m trying to cultivate a more charitable disposition, so I’m never going to (especially publicly) say a word about your empty mind … as for your heart – well, someone once told me you were suffering from a murmur at the heart and I thought he had a cheek to add “and I know what it says: ‘don’t work, don’t work’!” *
Me, say something cruel like that? Moi? Never!
* That’s actually adapted from a true story from my youth when, staying over with a friend after partying, her father came home to tell his quick witted wife that he’d been diagnosed with a murmur at the heart and the doctor had advised taking sick leave if not redundancy. Quick as a flash, my friend’s mother (his wife) replied, in her broad Irish accent: “A murmur at the heart? Yes, and I know what it’s saying – don’t work, don’t work!”
We all fell about laughing. So, I’ve used it here for a bit of fun, but I know you’re not a lazy so & so at all. That’s why you’re about to promise to put in more hours on the blog, at half the pay. Yes, leaving the EU has affected us all – we’re all in this together, RCA Victor, as the big-wigs said when the austerity measures were announced! Yes, the millionaires had to cut down on their holidays and make some of their servants redundant, while the rest of us have to shop at food banks for our breakfast, dinner and tea. We’re all in it together, RCA Victor…
I really must stop this nonsense – off to do something useful like… er….check the other threads!
Bring on the austerity challenge! My father was a workaholic, you know. That’s right: whenever you mentioned “work,” he got drunk…
RCA Victor, no I am not a Third Order member, but I have just had a look at the rules, and have sent off an email to the District Superior for an application form. Very many thanks for the advice..
Wonderful! You will find it truly rewarding, I guarantee!
RCA Victor, I do feel hopeful about it – the thought of joining had just never occurred to me.
Re your list of possible reasons for the post-Vat.II collapse of the Church, I agree 100% with all of them except the first:
‘1. The majority (% unknown) of the faithful did not practice their faith with any depth (which can also be said today, not only of NO Catholics but of Protestants as well – religion as a social occasion, religion as a duty, religion getting bumped down the list for a round of golf, etc.)’
As you can see, from Elizabeth’s and my accounts, we certainly practised the faith in depth, and we were not unusual, judging from the several crowded Masses each Sunday, well-attended weekday Masses – even the 6.30am in my parish, the church crowded for ‘Rosary, Sermon and Benediction every Sunday and for missions. Parish homes took it in turns to have the statue of Our Lady and opened the home for others to come to say the Rosary, and on and on with pious practices galore.The majority of Catholics in England, I feel sure, did practise their faith in some depth, so although I think you have a very good point about the deeper interior life, surely every Mass, Confession, Holy Communion, Rosary, prayer, pilgrimage, retreat, etc., of the fervently practising Catholic brings immeasurable grace into the soul, even without its consciously striving for the deeper interior life we have been discussing. So I don’t think the lack of practice of the faith can have been a factor in th collapse.
I have always imagined, and consoled myself with the thought, that the mystical union with God in this life is a sort of advance on the union with God in the life to come, and that those of us who are weaker will have a harder purgatory to purify us, but that too, will pass. I am out of my depth here and wish that wiser bloggers would helpwhile I’ve got time!
Regarding your answer to my #1, I’d have to admit I haven’t got a clue. The practice of the Faith was robust here in the States as well, from what I understand, and yet…in 5 years or less…chaos. What about the so-called “pray, pay and obey” mentality? Did you experience that before the Council, or was that just another Modernist straw man argument? And if it was in fact real, might that have been an indicator of how the Faith was practiced?
As for you allegedly being out of your depth regarding mystical theology, this statement of yours proves quite the opposite: “…the mystical union with God in this life is a sort of advance on the union with God in the life to come.” ‘Fess up: you’ve been reading St. Teresa of Avila!! 🙂
Does the UK District give a reading list for Tertiaries?
RCA Victor, I’d only heard and understood the ‘pray, pay and obey’ line as a jocular way of referring to a good Catholic’s duty in life, as all three are without doubt virtuous. However I was curious and turned up this 1976 review from that dissenting rag,’ The Tablet’ which was enlightening as to the sneering modernist mindset near the start of the revolution:
And this short piece is interesting in the light of the present discussion (which is so way off topic that I’m expecting Ed’s axe to fall any minute!).
Yes, I’ve read the writings of some mystics, such as St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, but they are so difficult to understand – I suppose because such experience simply cannot be conveyed adequately in earthly language.
No Third Order reading list yet. I received the application form today but can’t download docx files 😕 (Leprechaun, where art thou?). I’ve asked for a resend as a PDF file or snail-mail 😇.
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