Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Rádio Renascença: Fr. Joseph Santos and the Rite of Braga

The following is a translation of an article which appeared on Rádio Renascença related to the Bragan rite Mass which was celebrated by Fr. Joseph Santos recently in Fatima, and which we reported on earlier last month.

The Rite of Braga Celebrated Yesterday in Fatima
By Filipe d’Avillez

Fr. Joseph Santos, born in the United States, but ordained in Braga (Portugal) processes towards the Altar, before beginning the Mass, he kneels and prays the Hail Mary. This only one of the various peculiarities of the Rite of Braga, which was celebrated yesterday in Fatima in the context of a workshop on the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, commonly known as the Tridentine Rite, that has been going on since the 8th and ends tomorrow.

Fr. Joseph is an ardent defender of this Rite and explains that, even though it is a variant of the Roman Rite, it presents a series of differences that make it very rich: “One example that we have today is that even for a little known Saint such as St. Gorgonius, all of the texts, except for the Gospel, are different from the Roman Rite, even the Alleluia differs and is not even found in the Roman Rite. Another thing is the richness of the prayers, specifically the prayers of preparation for the communion of the priest, at least two of the prayers are different from the Roman Rite, and reveal a profound devotion to the Eucharist.

Even though it is one of the few variations of the Roman Rite that remains valid and legally alive, its celebration has fallen into total abeyance after the Second Vatican Council, an occurrence that Fr. Joseph laments: “In fact all of the priests of the Archdiocese of Braga can celebrate the Rite of Braga, and the Rite of Braga remains proper to the entire Archdiocese of Braga, this was the last determination made by Rome. However in the same document it says that all of the priests of the Archdiocese can also use the new Roman Rite. Since the books in Portuguese already existed, the ceremonial was much simplified, and the priests in the area of Braga at that time had a great deal to do, they followed the way of least resistance.”

The almost extinction, in practice, of the Rite of Braga is even more to be lamented because, in his opinion, the local rites reflect perfectly the inculturation of the Liturgy that the Second Vatican Council called for: “When the Council called for the inculturation of the Liturgy, I have no doubt that it had in view these old western Rites, like the Ambrosian (of Milan), the Mozarabic (of Toledo), and that of Braga, in which the people loved the Roman Rite but also wished to make it theirs. Thus entered in aspects of their own history, their fight against heresies, for example the fight against Pelagianism here on the Iberian Peninsula, and this enriched the Roman Rite in a unique way.

The development of the Rite of Braga, whose history was always turbulent, also brought about some curious happenings. For example: The existence of prayers that were used in Rome and in the mean time were lost in the city of the Popes but remained in Braga.

It is not a rare thing to hear on the part of those who are adepts of the ancient rites, a certain scorn for the reformed rites, used in the majority of Catholic Churches today. Fr. Joseph, however, rejects this attitude and underlines the intended valuing of variety. The traditional Liturgy has various forms, it is not only the Roman Rite, a monolith, and I think that it is necessary for people who have a somewhat closed attitude, to open themselves to other possibilities that already existed before the Council and exist again today. This helps us to see that variety in itself can be a good. That the new Rite is an expression that can be good and necessary for the Church. The old Rite also has its place and its value, just like the Rite of Braga, and this enriches all of us. This is not to say that we should take things from those Rites and attach them to ours, but to know them, and to make use of their prayers for ourselves and our own spirituality.