13 December 2013


Before being ordained Deacon in the Church of England in 1967, I, and my fellow seminarians in the great seminary of S Stephen's House in North Oxford, stood around a table in the company of a gentleman wearing an outlandish wig (the sixties were a bit like that). Under his guidance we swore an oath; all speaking together we uttered a formula which was supposed to end " ....and in public prayer and administration of the Sacraments I will use the form in the said book prescribed, and none other, except as far as shall be ordered by lawful authority." However, what we actually said was " ... prescribed, and one other ...". If you feel that this was a not entirely honourable proceeding, then, as the Holy Father said with regard to homosexuals, who am I to condemn you?

The ordinands of the Franciscans of the Immaculate are going to have to swear an oath. I have to say that I could swear this oath with a very much clearer conscience than I had on that day in 1967 ... indeed, without any qualms at all. The text available does not commit them to use the Novus Ordo. They merely have to accept that "the Novus Ordo is an* authentic expression of the liturgical tradition of the Church". That would give me no problems whatsoever. Good heavens, I even use the Novus Ordo when pastoral circumstances require it! Not long ago I actually said it daily for an entire fortnight in a parish of the Portsmouth Diocese where I was doing duty! (Mind you, I am careful always to use the First Eucharistic Prayer, as I trust all my clerical readers are.)

Nor does this oath in any way imply that the one taking it prefers the Novus Ordo. It is inherent in the motu proprio Summorum pontificum that different clergy (and laity) will have different, and lawful, preferences. I can see no objection to the requirement that ordinands formally accept the authenticity of the NO. I personally think the Vetus Ordo is more authentic than the NO because .... er .... no ... that's not what I'm on about today. But the contents of the NO are largely taken from earlier books of the Latin Church; the arrangement is generally speaking traditional; so how could one reasonably deny its positive authenticity? Surely the concept of authentic admits the grammatical modalities of positive, comparative and superlative?

I feel this so strongly that I am prepared to drive my argument even further. In modern Catholic seminaries, so rumour has it, many of the ordinands are much more 'traditional' nowadays than the ordinands of a generation ago were. Eccellente. But there may possibly still be among them just a tiny residual handful of young men who are violently prejudiced against the Vetus Ordo ... quaint young fogies weirdly fixated upon the out-dated fads of the 1970s, eternally mouthing strange mantras about Hippolytus and versus populum, resistant to the Magisterium of Summorum pontificum. The sort of sad little chaps who secretly read the Tablet or even Mgr Loftus (utrumque censeo delendum) and take selfies of themselves in polyester chasubles. I think, therefore, for safety's sake, all ordinands throughout the Church should also have to swear that they accept the Vetus Ordo as "an* authentic expression of the liturgical tradition of the Church".

It would help to weed out such precious young men, and to prevent them from sneaking through to ordination.

You know it makes sense.
*Indefinite article.


Joshua said...

I recall a certain Catholic prelate (once an Anglican priest) who told me that the occasion, leading up to his ordination in the C. of E., upon which he swore to the 39 Articles "was the only time I perjured myself"…

But didn't whatshisname, Br Francesco de Santa Clara, manage to just about square said Articles with Trent - a process completed in Tract 90 by a certain Beatus?

I therefore conclude that said prelate accused himself of perjury in an access of humility, much as we confess "mea maxima culpa" whether having fallen into mortal sin or (hopefully) not.

AndrewWS said...

This is precisely the point I have just made elsewhere. I well recall Fr de Malleray of the FSSP preaching at an Ordinariate mass in Pusey House (celebrated according to the OF) and thereby acknowledging its legitimacy even if he never celebrates it himself. Indeed, if I recall correctly, such recognition is positively required by Summorum Pontificum.

If you don't like the OF, don't celebrate it or don't attend it, but please for heaven's sake recognise that others do. Such others include the present Holy Father and his predecessors. If you regard the OF as bogus, you are basically a sedevacantist.

GOR said...

It has always bothered me that some people are so anti-Novus Ordo as to refuse to attend it, ever – even to the extent of reneging on their Sunday and Holy Day obligations.

Once the NO is celebrated with valid Matter and Form - despite any untoward additional excrescences - it is a valid Mass.

We may not like the departures from the rubrics. We may be scandalized. We may not be uplifted. But Faith and duty trump personal feelings – in season and out of season.

“Quid existis videre?”

df said...

The problem is that there's something distasteful about the Friars having to take any such oath. The Friars are not known to be preaching the inauthenticity of the OF, though they voice criticisms akin to those voiced by the then Cardinal Ratzinger. Having to take this oath implicitly imputes unorthodoxy to the Friars and makes them seem suspect.
Why do OF seminarians not have to swear a similar oath about the EF and about the Canons of all the Councils with preceded this latest one? Why is draconian action not being taken with any number of heterodox and liturgically abusive orders and diocese? Because for some time the only unforgivable sin has been that of Tradition, and because Vatican II is still considered a super-dogma.

Jacobi said...

If I may say so Father, what a sensible fair comment.

The Novus Ordo, or Pauline Mass of 1969, is one of the two main co-equal Rites of the Church, the other being of course the Ancient Catholic Mass in the form of the Mass of St Pius V, as in Quo Primum, the Tridentine, which many now call the Vetus Ordo.

This situation was effectively confirmed by Benedict XVI in Summorum Pontificum. There are of course other Rites i.e., those existing 200 years before Quo Primum, some Eastern Rites and of course last, but by no means least, that of the Ordinariate.

Mark you I’m not sure about all the unauthorised variations introduced into the NO after 1969, some of which were reluctantly retrospectively and temporarily allowed. These do not, however, affect its validity.

So the NO (of 1969), is certainly a valid Mass and except for those Orders based on the Vetus Ordo, all priests should be prepared to say it, if appropriate. The same also applies the Vetus Ordo and the idea that the Franciscans should be restricted in saying it, since they were not based specifically on the NO, except for local and temporary pastoral reasons is, well, absurd.

The need for an oath may not present a problem but that it is considered necessary is just, let’s say, daft, and in no way can this limit the freedom of the Friars, on the basis of Quo Primum as well as Summorum Pontificum, to say the Vetus Ordo, pastoral situations permitting.

Auriel Ragmon said...

Thank the Lord for casuistry, Father!

Deacon Augustine said...

I'm not sure it is as simple as that, Fr. H. The FFI are not being required to swear an oath that they accept the validity or liceity of the Novus Ordo - they obviously must accept both because they use the rite even if they don't prefer it. They are being asked to swear that the NO is an "authentic expression of the liturgical tradition" of the Church.

If one agrees with the Pope Emeritus that the NO was a fabrication at its inception - a banal on the spot product - even if it was fabricated from traditional bits and bobs from the past - can one truly say that it is an authentic expression of the liturgical tradition? Surely that is a question which is very much up for debate without in any way casting doubt on its validity or liceity?

Even though I assist at the Novus Ordo every week, I am not sure that I could swear to such an oath. It is a bit like being asked to swear an oath that something is "nice". Subjective, debatable issues can never be made part of the content of an oath - it is completely contrary to the nature of oath-swearing. To impose such an oath on the FFI is an abuse of power by the petty, clericalist, authoritarian, Fox which has been put in charge of the hen-house. If it has truly been sanctioned from on high, then this makes a mockery of all the words about mercy, tolerance and "going out to the peripheries." Apparently there is still one periphery which it is OK to despise, suppress and eliminate.

Anonymous said...

You seem to make nothing of being scandalized at Mass. But if the scandal is so great as to cause one to sin precisely when they are about receive the Sacrament of community and love (Holy Communion), and when consequently they are unable to receive the spiritual nourishment for which they are starving, then it is a serious matter. Perhaps some - I don't know if you are one of them - have attained such a level of sanctity that they are able to 'shrug off' (as it were) a serious occasion of sin, but many have not. It is precisely the duty of the Church and her pastors to tend such souls and to *not* scandalize them. And it is the duty of faithful to avoid serious occasions of sin.

Remember what Jesus says about the millstone. The 'little ones' referred to in that passage of the Gospel are not only minors but also adults who do not have the ability or the formation to
appreciate fine theological nuances. And quite apart from any consideration of the serious duty
of Church leaders not to scandalize the faithful, great saints such as St. Augustine and St. Teresa of Avila have invoked a general principle of deferring to the more sensitive, the more
easily scandalized, and yes, even to the more scrupulous soul.

GOR said... It has always bothered me that some people are so anti-Novus Ordo as to refuse
to attend it, ever ... We may be scandalized.

Martial Artist said...

Father Hunwicke, I think your proposed new oath is an eminently sensible suggestion. Alternatively, the two oaths might simply be merged into one oath that affirms both NO and TLM as authentic expressions of the liturgical tradition of the Church," which, I would humbly suggest might have the advantage of subtly emphasizing the validity and liceity of both forms of the rite.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

GOR said...

Apis: I’m far from sanctity - as my wife can attest!

However, my point was about people who reject the NO out of hand – a priori as it were – regardless of how it is celebrated. That people would avoid fulfilling their Sunday obligation - and commit Mortal Sin - because the NO was the only option is scandalous to me.

Yes we would all like to be uplifted and spiritually nourished by the worthy celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass. But it is not just about us. We are there to give honor to God. It is about Him. Whether others miss that point, distract or scandalize us does not absolve us of our duty.

When I think about what our forbears went through in Penal Times to attend Mass at risk of their lives, the liturgical abuses of our time seem minuscule by comparison. Those of us in the West are not (as yet…) in peril of our lives by attending Mass. But we may be at peril of Eternal Life by missing it – even if it is Novus Ordo validly, if scandalously, celebrated. Some celebrations may be a trial for many, but who is to say that is not God’s will for us in these times?

Anonymous said...

'You know it makes sense'

Yes it does. Which (apart from the double standard) is why it won’t happen.