As I have continued to explore Summorum pontificum and what is now called the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy, I have started to have some worries. These concerns have arisen first as little practical, rubrical gray areas that have then led me to more general, ecclesial questions.
It seems clear to me that Benedict XVI wants to heal division within the Church; in his cover letter for Summorum pontificum he calls for a state of 'mutual enrichment' between the two expressions of the single Roman rite. This 'mutual enrichment' is presumably meant to a higher goal than having the parallel and separate communities ("Novus Ordo" vs. "usus antiquior") that were legitimized by Quattuor abhinc annos and Ecclesia Dei. But if the two "expressions" are to live together in a state of 'mutual enrichment,' practical questions arise immediately. For example:
When can Mass be offered? Current law allows Mass to be offered at any time of day or night, while the prior rubrics (I think) only allowed celebration from an hour before dawn until an hour after noon. So which is in force? Where I live most EF Masses are offered later in the day, after the regular schedule.
What about the fast? Is it one hour for Masses celebrated with the Missal of Paul VI and three hours for those celebrated with the Missal of Blessed John XXIII? Does that make any sense? (For whatever reason folks don't seem to remember that Pius XII reduced the 'fast from midnight' prescription to a mere three hours.)
What about the Divine Office? Can I say some of my daily prayers from the 2000 breviary and some from the 1962 one? If I want to use the older one, do I have to say Prime, which doesn't exist in the current Liturgy of the Hours? May I say just one of the little hours, as current law provides, or do I have to say all three as the pattern of the Breviarium Romanum expects?
And what about altar girls? In what now has been retconned into being called the "Ordinary Form," baptized females can enjoy the ministry of acolyte-by-privilege. So could a girl in an alb or cassock and surplice altar serve at the Extraordinary Form Mass?
This last question gets at the heart of my current concern, because I suspect that for most "stable communities" adhering to the 1962 Missal the question would not even arise. They wouldn't think of having altar girls because they are attached not just to a particular liturgy but to a certain kind of Catholic cultural and thought world that does not include this practice. To argue the benefits of altar girls is not my point, though.
If we were to move beyond the idea of seperate praying communities to a communion in which the two expressions of the one Roman rite are 'mutually enriching' in a single parish community, will we be able to settle these kinds of questions? Or will they expose us as not really having an argument about the way we are able to pray best, but about deeper cultural conflicts within Catholicism? Will we be able to do better than just getting along?
And to the usual erudite readers: please correct my rubrical errors. I'm still learning this stuff.