Saturday, April 04, 2020

Dom Alcuin Reid on the New Additions to the EF Missal

Yesterday, Dom Alcuin Reid, the well-known liturgical scholar and prior of the Monastère Saint Benoît in La Garde-Freinet, France (diocese of Fréjus-Toulon), published in the Catholic World Report his assessment of the CDF’s recent decrees on additions to the Missal of the Extraordinary Form: “The older form of the Roman rite is alive and well.” As always, the full article is well worth your time, but I found his concluding paragraphs to be especially useful.

“These voices, which are also those who decry any possibility of the reform of the liturgical reform, seem to be oblivious to the reality in the life of the Church at the beginning of the twenty-first century that usus antiquior is a living liturgical rite in which people—indeed significant and growing numbers of young people—participate fully, actually, consciously and fruitfully in a manner that would have brought great satisfaction to the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council and to the pioneers of the twentieth century liturgical movement which preceded it. They are oblivious to the fact that because the older form of the Roman rite is alive and well and bearing good fruit in the life of the Church, and because participation in it is growing numerically, it is more than appropriate that the Holy See—with the explicit approval of the Holy Father, Pope Francis—has made provision for the use of newly canonized saints and more prefaces (the reservations expressed above notwithstanding).

There is another element of this reform, alluded to earlier, that is not without significance. As already mentioned, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has judged it apposite to permit the celebration of the Mass of Saints whose feasts fall in Lent with the commemoration of the Lenten Mass, reversing the relevant provision of the 1960 code of rubrics published in the missal of 1962. Hitherto the Holy See has not derogated from the liturgical books in force in 1962 in a manner that ‘corrects’ previous reforms. But through this small provision it has happily shown that it is possible to recognize that not everything in the liturgical books in force in 1962 is set in stone: the correction of unfortunate elements present in them is possible. The permissions given in recent years for the use of the pre-1955 Holy Week rites (to be sure, at the correct times) show a similar, healthy openness, for which the Holy See must be praised.

‘In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture,’ Pope Benedict wrote in 2007. ‘What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place,’ he insisted.

The possibility of the celebration of new saints and of the use of more prefaces in the usus antiquior of the Roman rite is, overall, an example of such growth and progress. That their use is facultative means that they will find their proper place in worship according to the older rites, or not, according to the pastoral judgement of those responsible, avoiding any rupture with the past. Regardless of some of the particulars, the authoritative recognition these measures bring to the fact that the older form of the Roman rite is alive and well and has its rightful and proper place in a healthy diversity in the liturgical life of the Church of our times is something for which we may be very thankful indeed.”

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