Seven years have passed since Summorum Pontificum, the motu proprio by which Benedict XVI liberated the traditional Latin Mass from all restrictions. What exactly has it changed, asks Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith in The Catholic Herald.
On a personal note, what changed for me was that in the wake of the motu proprio I learned how to celebrate the Extraordinary Form, as it became known.
I had been to EF Masses as a child, when staying with family friends in Gozo, Malta: in those days there was a Tridentine Mass every day in the little church of Our Lady of Pompeii in Victoria. Moreover, I had been to a Tridentine Mass said privately at my school, and later on to a few in Oxford either at Blackfriars or at Campion Hall.
But I cannot say that at any point the EF really ‘grabbed’ me. My preference then, and to some extent now, was for the Novus Ordo celebrated in Latin; because I knew Latin, I was quite often asked to serve these Masses for priests who celebrated in Latin; though my real joy was in a Sung High Mass, of the type I used to attend at the London Oratory with my godmother in school holidays.
My father was a huge admirer of the Latin Mass of his youth: he used to say that its great advantage was that wherever you went in the world, the Mass was the same, in Latin, in the universal language, and thus accessible to all.
That is a point of view I have not heard expressed for many a year. But there is something in it. The EF, I discovered as I learned it, is very formal: every gesture and every word has its place, and there is no room for variation, which is a good thing. Every Mass, in theory, is exactly like every other Mass. Why is this good? It is good because it reminds us that the Church is Catholic, universal. Of course we all have our particularities, but we need to remember that the universal aspect ought to take precedence.
Why? Because the revelation of Jesus Christ is something that makes sense across space and time. It is valid for all times and places. Therefore it seems to me that the Mass ought to be celebrated in a way that emphasises the unicity of revelation and the unity of the human family. We should not be celebrating diversity, but identity; not celebrating difference, but the common heritage we all share.
I think this is one thing that has changed in the last seven years, and this is one of the looked for fruits of Summorum Pontificum: the EF has ‘reminded’ the OF of the ‘catholicity’ of the Church.
FULL STORY Summorum Pontificum has put us in touch with our history (The Catholic Herald)
In defense of Pope Benedict and the Latin Mass (The Weekly)