Surely not in my diocese?
There's been a lot of fallout about Pope Benedict XVI's recently published Motu Proprio regarding the so-called "Traditional Latin Mass," but I never thought there'd be a priest openly speaking out against the Pope's directive in my home diocese, the Archdiocese Oklahoma City.
The Archbishop of Oklahoma City, Eusebius Beltran, has always seemed to be fairly orthodox and supportive of orthodox Catholic values. And, because of his orthodox stance I never fully expected any of his priests to speak out so vocally against the Holy Father or the Vatican as Fr. Jack Feehily has in a recent letter to the archdiocesan newspaper the Sooner Catholic (current issue in pdf, for letter see pg. 13).
I knew there were some leftover priests from the hippie '60s left in the archdiocese, I just didn't expect any of them to have the chutzpah to speak so openly against the Holy Father. I'm also surprised the Archbishop allowed the letter to be published.
I've heard of this priest before, but I don't know anything about him other than his name.
Anyway, here's the letter...tell me what you think.
The Power of Participation
Earlier this summer, Pope Benedict gave permission to all priests who so desire to use the Latin missal of 1962 "in Masses celebrated without the peole." He also indicated that such Masses may be "attended by [the] faithful, who of their own free will, ask to be admitted." Since there is no such thing as a "Solemn High Mass" celebrated without the people, I am confused by the publication of your invitation to such a Mass in Kingfisher [Scott's note: see text below]. I don't remember reading anything in the pope's document that made provision for the public promotion of this rite, but I'm sure the archbishop has the authority to do so if he chooses. I'm concerned that it is likely to cause confusion, or a least curiosity, among so many Oklahoma Catholics who have little or no knowledge of such a rite. They could understandably ask, "why would anyone want to celebrate Mass in a language no one understands," or, "is there something wrong with the Mass we have been celebrating all or most of our lives that we should want to go back to an older form of it?" And among those of us who remember the older form well, we could ask, "Why would we want to celebrate a Mass with the priest looking away from us and in which he says all the prayers himself save for a few responses by an altar boy?"
From my reading of the motu proprio (on his own authority), the pope wished to make it clear that the former rite, because of its usage over hundreds of years, continues to be a legitimate expression of the church's fundamental law of prayer ("as the church prays, so does she believe"). He was primarily motivated by his desire to reconcile Catholics who continue to revere this form of the Mass and wish to have freer access to it. But while the Mass we have been celebrating since 1970 may be no more valid than any of its predecessor rites, it came about as the result of a great church council (Vatican II) which called for a renewal of the Mass and all the sacramental rites of the church so that their rich meaning may be more readily accessible to all the faithful. The council called upon the "pastors of souls [to] realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects." The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy stated unequivocally that the Church "earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as a 'chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people, is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.'" Wherever the revised rites of the Mass and the other Sacraments have been celebrated with both reverence and enthusiasm, Christ's faithful have been empowered to live out their baptismal calling by loving and serving the Lord.
I respect those who express nostalgia for "the good old days," but there can be no going back to the future. I think I speak for many priests and a great many of the faithful when I say that I am profoundly grateful for the many positive fruits that were generated by the Second Vatican Council. Chief among them is a deeper appreciation of why the bread and wine become the very substance of the body and blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is no less than this: Christ becomes fully and truly present so that we who receive him can become the very substance of his body --the Church -- so that in us and with us and through us he can continue to transform the world. Deo Gratias!
Father Jack Feehily
The Kingfisher reference:
This was announced in the Sept. 9 issue of the Sooner Catholic on p. 23
High Mass to be Celebrated
A celebration of a Solemn High Mass according to the 1962 ritual of the Mass (the Tridentine Mass) will be held on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross at Sts. Peter & Paul Church, Kingfisher, at 6pm Sept. 14. A reception will follow in Ross Hall.
The choir from St. Michael's Chapel in Bethany will be singing Spanish composer Tomas Luis de Victoria's (1548-1611) "O Quam Gloriosum," a rarely heard polyphonic masterpiece from the golden age of classical church music. Everyone is invited to attend to make Pope Benedict's recent instruction allowing the celebration of both forms of the Holy Mass in the Roman Catholic Church (both the 1962 Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass). Both forms of the Holy Mass are privileged expressions of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council that "the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the fount from which all her power flows." (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 10). for both those who remember the 1962 Mass and those who have never experienced it, this will be a unique opportunity to visit and to participate in one aspect of the Church's rich spiritual treasury. "For it is the liturgy through which, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, the work of our redemption is accomplished, and it is through the liturgy, especially, that the faithful are enabled to express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church." (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 2).
Everyone is welcome and encouraged to unite for this special event.