Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fr. Raymond Blake: Rejecting a "Camp" Mentality

Fr. Raymond Blake of Saint Mary Magdalen has up an important reflection that I think is worth sharing. He frames it in the terms of his visitor, namely in reference to the Harry Potter series of books which speaks of "purebloods" and "muggles" (or I might suggest "halfbloods" might also be relevant to the context being spoken of here) -- or in other words, the idea of the one community defined against the other, the pure versus the impure, so on and so forth.

Father Blake begins:

I had a visitor the other day who was very concerned about a worrying trend amongst those who are attached to to the Traditional Latin Mass. His claim was that there is an increasing trend for certain leading traddies to make a point of never attending Masses in the Usus Antiquor of priests who celebrate the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Not only that but they even refuse to attend churches where it is celebrated. He described it terms of "Purebloods" and "Muggles", the "Purebloods" refusing to mix with a Usus Utroque "Muggle" like me.

If this is so, it seems a direct contradiction of the Holy Father's thinking that is put forward in Summorum Pontificum. The Roman Rite now has two Forms, which are supposed to be mutually enriching.

Personally, I just love The Mass, I am growing increasingly attached to the usus antiquor but it is The Mass that matters...

While I am not personally acquainted with anyone who subscribes to this approach, there is really no question that there are certainly some who would and who do -- whether there are "certain leading figures" who do, I know not, and if my experience is indicative, I suspect that even on a general level, this is more the approach of a very vocal minority as opposed to a widespread or general problem.

Even still, it is yet an important subject to raise as it is something we should defend against and not fall into.

This doesn't of course mean that people may not have their preferred liturgical books in which they most feel at home -- this is natural. Likewise, people can hold to their particular positions as to what enrichment may or may not entail and how that might or might not be manifest; how organic development might be considered in the terms of the usus antiquior or what the reform of the reform might entail with regard to the Pauline liturgical books -- and the very fact that there should be a reform of the reform -- all without falling into this problematic approach. Similarly, we can (and should) distinguish between a rejection and avoidance of an entire form of the Roman rite as a point of general principle, as opposed the avoidance of a particular situation of significant liturgical abuse. All this is fair enough, for none of it entails an utter rejection of the other form. But while we should reject liturgical abuse, and while we might have particular preferences or hold to particular positions, these should never be paired with any kind of liturgical xenophobia if you will. This simply forms another manifestation of the hermeneutic of rupture.

Of course, Father Blake continues with an important additional point in this regard, which is that this can be and is manifest in two directions.
All that being said the "Pureblood" and "Muggle" thing works both ways, how many Catholics including priests and bishops refuse to have anything to do with Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite? Of the French bishops 25% of them have celebrated or presided at the Usus Antiquior, I suspect elsewhere in the world the figure would be considerably less. No bishop or priest should categorically refuse to celebrate, let alone attend, Mass in the Extraordinary Form...

It is an important point on both fronts.

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