A brief post about a phenomenon that I find a little bit worrying; although perhaps it is inevitable in a situation in which there were fracturings of many continuities in the 1970s which many very admirable people are trying to repair: Being More Traditionalist Than Tradition; making up our 'Traditionalism' as we go along on the basis of insecure or even erroneous foundations. Sometimes, this ubertraditionalism is itself, paradoxically, actually heresy (vide five paragraphs down).
It seems to be part of a new quasi-Orthodoxy that Mass must be celebrated with the priest facing in the same way as his people. It is my own distinct preference. I opposed, in the 1980s, the reordering of Lancing Chapel so that the riddels of the "English" altar were removed. BUT the rubrics of the Missal of S Pius V provide very fully for Mass versus populum. And the Patristic evidence is not in favour of Mass facing away from the people except incidentally as that is a product of saying Mass facing East. Which is what the first millennium really was sold on.
Earlier this year, two very fine blogs, far better than mine, gave totally erroneous guidance on how to say the EF Mass if no-one else is present; and how loud the secreto parts of the EF Mass should be. O'Connell, a painstaking author who reproduces the wisdom of generations of rubricists and, more important, the innumerable decrees of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, gives full information to anyone who takes the trouble to read him. [Ad primum: omit nothing; ad secundum: so as not to be heard by those nearby.]
And Concelebration: on which, this year, I have done two long series because a very interesting author, in a stimulating book (of which I provided a very positive review in New Directions), includes a throw-away footnote in which he dismisses the whole notion of concelebration in the Roman Rite, even in the Rite of Presbyteral Ordination. He gives no evidence and appears to be totally unaware that the magisterium of two popes - both of whom had a reputation for erudition and both of whom wrote centuries before our post-Conciliar ruptures - is perfectly clear about the matter (see my posts). Not to mention S Thomas Aquinas. My posts will also reveal, if you look back at them, my own disquiet about a number of practical aspects as Concelebration has evolved in the last half century. But to deny that the Western Church has any real tradition of Concelebration at all is poppy-cock. Whatever that is.
And some of our Ubertraditionalists also have a very unTraditional view of certain ecumenical matters; they appear, for example, to be unaware of the easy relationships between Latins and Byzantines, especially in the Levant and up to the end of the eighteenth century. It included frequent and unselfconscious "Intercommunion". And when fragments of the Byzantine community sought unity with Rome, it was granted on the basis of acceptance, even, in the 1720s, of the Patriarch of Antioch and his clergy and bishops corporately. Their jurisdiction was confirmed.
A few days ago, a correspondent on this blog brusquely advanced the view that outside the (Roman) Catholic Church valid orders simply do not exist. This may be a terribly satisfying position for a certain sort of mentality, but it goes contrary to the practice of the Church for sixteen centuries. It means that when Roman praxis has, for so many years, allowed an Orthodox priest ... or Coptic ... or an Old Catholic .... who comes into full unity, to be permitted to exercise priestly ministry in communion with Rome, it has been deliberately allowing Christ's Faithful to be deceived with pseudosacraments. It means that when Pope Eugene IV, at the Council of Florence, accepted into unity the whole Byzantine East (except of course those who themselves refused the union), he was deliberately and wickedly accepting as bishops and priests those who in reality were nothing of the sort. This is not Traditionalism; it is either dangerous ignorance or a deliberate repudiation of many centuries of Roman teaching. It is quite simply and unambiguously heresy. Like all heretics, the gentleman concerned should inform himself of what our Holy Mother the Church does teach, and then submit himself penitently to it.
Readers with good memories may remember the tragic figure of the Boston priest Fr Leonard Feeney, who in 1949, did get himself condemned by the Holy Office for a similar heresy involving just this sort of attempt to be more traditionalist than Tradition. He maintained, citing the bull Unam sanctam, that no one would be saved who was not in full visible communion with the Catholic Church ... no nonsense about 'invincible ignorance' or anything like that. He refused to submit himself to what the Magisterium - in the person of Pius XII - actually taught on this point, and eventually incarnated his own paradox by being excommunicated.
And in the next day or two I hope to say a few words about a recent Post by Bishop Williamson of the SSPX.