Friday, July 06, 2007

Prepare Ye the Way...

Probably the only thing now surer than the fact the MP is being released tomorrow is that there will be some whose first reaction will be disappointment, or they will feel the document to be insufficient, even problematic. Some will think it goes too far; others, not far enough. Some will also try to minimize the import of the document. Expect to hear all of these things. Of course, how one will react depends greatly upon the principles one holds, and thus, one's standard of judgement.

That, however, is not my main point of focus. To some extent this kind of reaction is also natural since the anticipation of this document has been going on for so long. I've made the analogy before that it is like waiting for Christmas morning as a child. Once the gift-wrapping is all removed and the gift exposed, despite the fact that the child has before them all sorts of new toys, there can yet be an all too human tendency to think, "that's it?" and to feel a bit of a let down after so much anticipation -- rather than looking at precisely what has been given to us, which we did not have before, and being grateful.

We saw this with Sacramentum Caritatis and we certainly will see such here as well.

However, I think we can manage this natural human reaction by managing our own expectations and thinking ahead.

To that end, I want to propose a few suggestions in the lead up to tomorrow:

1. Think about Pope Benedict's liturgical teaching. It would be good if people really stop and think about Pope Benedict's vision for the liturgy and the Church, which sees liturgical co-existence, but one which attempts to address the Council and might eventually lead to synthesis. Get your mind into that mode and read Summorum Pontificum in that light, understanding it from that perspective as the seeds of a 'corrective' of the hermeneutic of rupture.

2. Forget about what you've heard about the document and simply read it for what it is. Consider this as well: if this document came as a complete and total surprise with no lead up to it these past months, how would you respond to it then? Respond to it accordingly as such.

3. In the same vein, think not about what you personally would like to see happen, but rather think about the present state of things and ask, regardless of my own opinion of what would be for the best, how does this motu proprio change the landscape for the better (for both the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Roman rite)? How does it help in the process of reclaiming our tradition from the margins of ecclesial life? How does it build for the future?

4. Realize as well that Benedict may also have had to make a prudential decision about precisely what he thought he could promulgate with a reasonable chance of being successful in the here and now, building for the future. Think of this as another step in a process rather than the "end game". Think about what was released in 1984, which was very restrictive; then the loosening of 1988 with Ecclesia Dei, and now this next step in the process.

5. Be aware, now, before you read it tomorrow, that you probably won't get everything you hope for in one document. Don't expect magical juridical solutions, nor one's that implement all of your own desires.

6. Don't look for foolproof solutions. Remember that no document can absolutely safeguard against those who determined to foil it, but, again, how does it make it that much harder to do so, or that much freer where such a situation doesn't exist, and how does the document build for a better future by redefining attitudes?

7. At the end of the day, your wish-list aside, take real note of the proverbial "new toys" that this motu proprio provides and that you didn't have as of today and be thankful for yet another step back toward our tradition, toward a hermeneutic of continuity, and toward a sensible implementation of the Council.

8. Finally, before you even read the document tomorrow, might I recommend you place it before yourself, and then go through this list of considerations one more time.

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