Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A Young Catholic Discovers the Old Holy Week

Here is something very nice which Peter brought to my attention: a website called Clarifying Catholicism, which is written by college students, and covers a wide-range of topics about the Faith, recently published an article by Nick Jones, a student at the Univ. of Rhode Island, with his reflections on the older form of the Holy Week rituals. Like most of us, he was unable to attend them person, but watched them in live-streaming on the YouTube channel of St Mary’s on Broadway, the FSSP church in Providence. Much it is descriptions of the various ceremonies, and his impressions of them, and it worth noting that these ceremonies, which supposedly needed to be revised so people could better understand them, have proved perfectly intelligibile to a person who was born decades after the first reform that supposedly achieved this, and the second reform that made the first obsolete. But it is his conclusion that I think especially worth reading; I find it very encouraging to see how eager young Catholics are to rediscover the fullness of our liturgical patrimony. Thanks to Mr Jones for his permission to reprint this excerpt.

The Palm Sunday procession at St Mary’s.
“Like many Catholics, for a long time, I never had any conception of a Mass celebrated differently than in the Ordinary Form. After experiencing the joys of this Holy Week, I can no longer imagine not celebrating at least certain celebrations in the ancient form. Through participating virtually in this Holy Week experience, I feel like I have rediscovered a treasure that was taken from the Church for no discernible reason. I will be careful here to acknowledge that, of course, I accept the validity of the changes in 1955 and the Ordinary Form, which is how I worship the majority of the time. A very wise priest I know always says that Our Lord left us sacraments themselves, not rites. There is great and authentic liturgical diversity within Christendom, but I see no harm in questioning the prudence of such drastic and immediate liturgical changes. Within 15 years of the 1955 changes, the Patristic Holy Week had been replaced with something drawn up more or less according to the whims of a committee of a few clerics. The rites that would have been observed by Popes Gregory and Leo the Great, by Ss. Francis and Anthony, Ignatius and Francis Xavier, Philip Neri and Charles Borromeo, by Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, and a young Karol Wojtyla and Joseph Ratzinger, were simply tossed aside. One of the crown jewels of Western Civilization was diluted down into a shell of its former self. Despite this, let me be clear. I love Holy Week no matter what rite is used, however, if you asked me to choose between the most gourmet burger and a piece of prime rib, of course I am going to choose the prime rib. Both will nourish me, both will be fulfilling, but one will possess those characteristics to a far greater degree. Analogously, the same is true of the ancient Holy Week. To paraphrase Pope Benedict, that which has been authentically regarded as sacred in the past cannot simply be found to be valueless all of the sudden. Tradition is not good simply because it worked in the past, but rather, it is good because it is timeless. These rites, slowly crafted by the wisdom of the Church throughout the years, remain perennially valuable and I pray that all Catholics will someday witness the full restoration of these most glorious rites.“ ”

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