Office of Worship (Diocese of Belleville) at 2620 Lebanon Avenue, Belleville, IL 62221 US - Summorum Pontificum
In light of the Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter, “SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM,” following are questions among the most frequently asked. These questions were developed by the Bishop’s Committee on the Liturgy of which Bishop Braxton is a member.
Questions on the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum
- What is the purpose of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Letter, Summorum Pontificum? By this Apostolic Letter, promulgated motu proprio, the Holy Father seeks an “interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church” with those who have demonstrated an attachment to preconciliar liturgical forms, making “it possible for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew.” Thus does he exhort the whole Church to “generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.”
- How does the Apostolic Letter describe the preconciliar edition of the Missale Romanum? The Holy Father begins by defining two forms of the rule of prayer (Lex orandi) of the Latin church of Roman Rite: an ordinary form, as contained in the Missale Romanum of Pope Paul VI, and an extraordinary form, as contained in the Missale Romanum of Pope Saint Pius V. He notes that the extraordinary form was never abrogated and the two forms make up the Liturgy of the one Roman Rite.
- When may a Priest celebrate the extraordinary form in a Mass without people? Any Priest of the Latin Church may, without any further permission from the Holy See or his Ordinary, celebrate the extraordinary form of the Missale Romanum in a Mass without the people at any time except during the Sacred Triduum. If members of the faithful wish to join in these celebrations, they are permitted to do so.
- When may the extraordinary form be used in parishes? In parishes where a group of the faithful are attached to the extraordinary form of the Mass, they may approach the pastor, who is to support their petition willingly. No permissions are required.
- If a priest fails to demonstrate a minimum rubrical or linguistic ability to celebrate the extraordinary form, may he still celebrate the 1962 Missale Romanum? No. In order to celebrate the extraordinary form, a Priest must be suitably qualified for and not prohibited by any impediments to the celebration of the Mass according to the 1962 Missale Romanum. This means he must have the minimum knowledge and ability required for a legitimate use of the extraordinary form.
- As a rule, is it possible for a priest to abandon the ordinary form entirely? No. The Holy Father states unequivocally that “in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.”
- What happens if a pastor is unable to fulfill the request of the faithful? “Should some problem arise which the parish priest cannot resolve, the local Ordinary will always be able to intervene, in full harmony, however, with all that has been laid down by the new norms of the Motu Proprio.” Should the local ordinary be unable to respond to the request, it may be referred to the Ecclesia Dei Commission.
- When the extraordinary form is celebrated, what calendar and Lectionary may be used? Whenever the extraordinary form of the Roman Liturgy is celebrated, the readings contained in the Missal should be used according to the calendar of the Missal of Blessed John XXIII. The Ecclesia Dei Commission has been charged with studying the eventual incorporation of new saints and some of the prefaces of the revised Missale into the Missale Romanum of Blessed John XXIII.
- Does the wider use of the extraordinary form of the rites of Holy Week reflect a change in the Church’s teaching on anti-Semitism? No. The 1962 Missale Romanum already reflected Blessed John XXIII’s revision of liturgical language often construed as anti-Semitic. In 1965, the watershed statement Nostra Aetate, of the Second Vatican Council then repudiated all forms of anti-Semitism as having no place within Christian life. When Pope Paul VI issued the Missale Romanum of 1969, the only prayer for the Jewish people in the Roman liturgy was completely revised for Good Friday to reflect a renewed understanding of the Jews as God’s chosen people, “first to hear the word of God.” Throughout his papacy, John Paul II worked effectively to reconcile the Church with the Jewish people and to strengthen new bonds of friendship. In 1988, Pope John Paul II gave permission for the Mass to be celebrated according the Missale Romanum of 1962 only as a pastoral provision to assist Catholics who remained attached to the previous rites, thereby hoping to develop closer bonds with the family of the Church. By this new Apostolic Letter, Pope Benedict XVI is merely extending such permission for wider pastoral application, but remains committed to “the need to overcome past prejudices, misunderstandings, indifference and the language of contempt and hostility [and to continue] the Jewish-Christian dialogue…to enrich and deepen the bonds of friendship which have developed.”
- Does this action call into question the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council? No. The Holy Father makes clear that the current Missale Romanum is the ordinary form (forma ordinaria) of the Eucharistic Liturgy. The extraordinary form is found in the 1962 Missal of Blessed John XXIII.
- When will the Apostolic Letter take effect? The Apostolic letter will take effect on September 14, 2007, the feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross.
Questions on the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Missale Romanum
- How does participation of the faithful in the Missale Romanum of Blessed John XXIII differ from the Missale Romanum of the Servant of God, John Paul II? In both the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Missale Romanum, full, conscious, and active participation of the faithful is to be desired above all else. In both forms, this begins with an interior participation in the sacrifice of Christ, to which the gathered assembly is joined by the prayers and rites of the Mass. The ordinary form of the rite customarily accomplished this participation through listening and responding to the prayers of the Mass in the vernacular, and by taking part in forms of exterior communal action. The extraordinary form accomplishes this participation largely through listening to the prayers in Latin and following the words and actions of the Priest and joining our hearts to “what is said by him in the Name of Christ and [what] Christ says [to] him.”
- How does the role of the Priest differ in the Missale Romanum of Blessed John XXIII differ from the Missale Romanum of the Servant of God, John Paul II? The major differences concerning the role of the Priest in the ordinary and extraordinary forms pertain to orientation and language. During most moments of the Mass the Priest faces the altar with his back to the people. All prayers are in Latin, with only the readings and the Homily in the vernacular.
- What are the reasons why people remain strongly attached to the preconciliar form? The Holy Father suggests a number of reasons. In the case of the followers of Archbishop Lefebvre, while the preconciliar Missal became “an external mark of identity,” it is clear that “the reasons for the break, which arose over this, however, were at a deeper level.” Some remained strongly attached to rites with which they had become familiar from childhood. A primary cause of this affection in other faithful Catholics was the false sense of creativity unfortunately practiced by some in the celebration of the postconciliar liturgical rites, leading to “deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear.” The Holy Father adds a personal note in his cover letter: “I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.” Finally, the Holy Father describes those young people who “have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them.” With this motu prorpio he is responding to all three of these groups.
- Won’t the new norms cause division in parishes and exacerbate the tensions between those attached to the preconciliar and postconciliar forms? The Holy Father sees such fears as “quite unfounded,” since the kind of rubrical and linguistic skills required for the preconciliar form is not found very often. It is, therefore, “clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.”
- How will the two forms influence each other? The Holy Father expresses his hope that the new saints and some of the new prefaces can eventually be integrated into the 1962 Missal by the Ecclesia Dei Commission, while the use of the preconciliar form will enhance an appreciation in the ordinary form for “the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage.” In this regard he emphasizes: “The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives.”