Pope Benedict XVI wondered whether the European Churches, in a generation or two, might be leaner, hardier, more orthodox. We cannot know the end of that story. What we do know is that several English bishops are planning to reduce operations out there in the parishes to a significant extent. This may well have consequences for the survival of the 1970s monoculture within the Ordinary Form.
What I have in mind is this. Suppose Fr Mainstream says a Vigil Mass of Sunday, and two Sunday Masses, each weekend. Two of the three, let us supppose, are in the 1970s monoculture, while the third is ... Different. How Different, makes no difference to my point. It might be in the EF. Or, please God, in the Ordinariate Use. Or it might, in many places, be an OF Mass with features that distinguish it from the monoculture ... perhaps versus apsidem ... a well worked out, well expressed and orthodox sermon ... the liturgy partly in Latin ... scripturally and dogmatically orthodox hymns from the sound old Anglo-Catholic English Hymnal ... Holy Communion reverently administered and reverently received ... great fogs of incense ... any one or more of these in any combination.
Then Father has to take on an additional Church 50 miles away, which has, let us say, the same arrangements. Father now has six Masses to cover. He naturally considers reducing this burden to four: two vigil Masses, one at each Church; and, on Sunday, a Mass in each of the Churches. Naturally, in the pastoral interests of diversity and of a Laywoman's Right to Choose, he will retain the two Different Masses. The result of this will be that the four monocultural 1970s-style Masses will now be reduced to two ... a reduction of 50%.
Voila. Or, as we say nowadays, Bergoglio's your uncle. Add to this the fact that an increasing percentage of clergy, poor dears, are too young to have known the full glories of the 1970s and, while discerning their vocation, they somehow got hold of some idea that God was calling them to be priests. These bright young well-informed blokes aren't going to want to spend their priestly lives maintaining a dreary 1970s theme park. They are sufficiently big-hearted not to need to keep their laity reduced to a state of infantilisation. And it won't be possible to lock them up in the presbytery cellar and make them serve twenty penal years as the Junior Curate on a staff of six because, happily, the shortage of clergy will mean that they will have to be made priests-in-charge subito! ... or, as the Pakistani taxi drivers round here rather sweetly say, pretty dam' quick.
Current shortages and closures may well prove to be a godsend. My suspicion is: worrying times ahead for Tabletistas and ACTA clones! They may have a sadly blighted old age to which to look forward!
7 October 2016
Moving beyond monoculture: solving the problem of the Novus Ordo (2)
Posted by Fr John Hunwicke at 10:44
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"These bright young well-informed blokes aren't going to want to spend their priestly lives maintaining a dreary 1970s theme park."
That might have been the case had things continued as they appeared to be going. Certainly that was the hope that I heard repeatedly expressed by orthodox priests closer in age to me. As an example of what gave these men hope, I have a nephew currently studying for the priesthood, soon to be ordained a deacon, and he expressed within the past few years a strong interest in the traditional liturgy. I'm not so sanguine now. I'm concerned that the increasing emphasis on assimilating modern trends on sexuality into the Church--ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω--will drive away "bright young well-informed blokes" from the priesthood, as happened in the decades following V2. Call me pessimistic, but bishops are being put in place who will probably want to move far beyond what we endured in the 70s.
My bishop is doing his best, but his real job is managing decline. Churches are closing, priests are scarce and the “demand” if I can use a commercial term is collapsing.
The early attempts of some priests to re-introduce solemnity seem to be fading.
There are worrying times ahead for all of us Father, and the Church may be much smaller than we thought?
While I welcome all the exceptional Anglican priests like Fr. Hunwicke, I fear that the introduction of married priests into the Latin Rite is intended to counter-act the very scenario that Father is describing.
The Anglican Communion and the Anglican Rite have their own culture(s); that is not my interest. In the Latin Rite of the Roman Church, a vocation has traditionally meant a choice between priesthood and family. This had a natural limiting effect on who entered. Setting aside failed or mistaken vocations, it meant that most priests fit into one of three categories: (1) men who were very serious about the Church (in ways both good and bad) or (2) men who didn't believe that the family life was for them (including many homosexuals) or (3) men who fit into both categories.
The less savory part of that second category consisted of men who did not see a vocation as much of a sacrifice at all. It means a relatively easy job (when pursued as it should be) with free housing, a small salary, lots of respect, and even a little travel! The worst of that group also didn't see it as a sexual sacrifice, since they couldn't indulge their sexual desires in a public manner anyway, and because celibacy is apparently not the same as chastity.
In another era, when Bishops were more generally conservative, opening the Latin Church up to married men might have meant and influx of good, conservative men--whatever its theological or pastoral merits. However, in an era where the Bishops seem to be more progressive, and seem comfortable weeding out more conservative men from the seminaries, I think opening the Latin Rite to married men will provide our bishops with many, many, many unambitious, progressive men (many of whom will have working wives that provide the majority of household income) who are intrigued by the idea of a respectable job, with a free house, free tuition (at the local Catholic school/college), and a small salary to do a job that does not have the same intense pressure to produce that marks so many other lines of work (once again, when done poorly). They will be the Bishop's men--company men--through and through and will be right on board for all the changes that must get made. In fact, the Bishop might even think their willingness to see those policy changes are set in place is more important than their pastoral effectiveness!
This is why allowing married men to enter the Latin rite is so pressing an issue. The isse is not theology, tradition, or the good Anglican and Orthodox married priests we know exist in large numbers. In the RC Church in the 21st Century, I believe the goal is to enable the revolution to finish its work.
I'm sure Fr. Hunwicke and his readers will think this line of thinking is crazy... But we are all entitled to our opinions!
If it was an issue of language, why not the 'Old Rite' in the vernacular?
But we know that it was not an issue of language, but one of the understanding of the nature of that which takes place.
Being a conspiracy theorist, I describe the emergence of the vernacular 'New Rite' as the equivalent of cutting-the-first-sods in the construction of 'National (Catholic) Churches. Who can now disagree, with Franciscus' decentralisation plans - being exposed before our very eyes.
How good if it were true that the different Masses were retained! But around here different Masses seem to be a moving target, even when there is no need to reduce the total number of Masses. If there is, these will be for sure the first ones to shoot down. Sad but true.
The problem with clustered parishes is that TLM or, in the UK the Ordinariate Use too, could just be seen as some sort of luxurious indulgence. Fr Stressed, the Administrator, and his cure Fr Hardpressed, might think that since those Masses can be found after a little driving, there is no need to indulge minority interests, as they might see it. If the only priests to help are semi-retired men with nary a word of Latin or an inflexible attitude, it can seem an impossibility. A layman has the chance to help by supporting priests who offer the TLM or Ordinariate Use. We cannot hope things will turn out well.
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