August 12, 2021

Life After Traditionis Custodes

The other day I received a request: would I be willing, at some point in the near future, to celebrate a Mass in the Extraordinary Form?

First of all, I presume what was meant was would I celebrate a Mass according to the 1962 Missal, what was called the 'Extraordinary Form' before Traditionis custodes.

As I started to consider the request I came to realize that the motu proprio doesn't seem to address my situation. The letter gives direction to two kinds of priests:

Art. 4. Priests ordained after the publication of the present Motu Proprio, who wish to celebrate using the Missale Romanum of 1962, should submit a formal request to the diocesan Bishop who shall consult the Apostolic See before granting this authorization.

Art. 5. Priests who already celebrate according to the Missale Romanum of 1962 should request from the diocesan Bishop the authorization to continue to enjoy this faculty.

I take the sense of Article 5 as celebrating in this way regularly or habitually. I have never celebrated Mass in the Extraordinary Form publicly. Ordained right around the time of Summorum pontificum, I learned the older form, curious as I was about this new faculty granted by Pope Benedict, practiced, and celebrated privately a few times. But I haven't done so since leaving the parish assignment in 2010 (I had access to a number of fitting altars there). I also tried to learn the Breviarium Romanum and prayed some of my hours from the Breviarium Romano-Seraphicum sometimes, especially for the little hours, until on my reading of Universae Ecclesiae I decided that such mixing and matching wasn't really allowed.

In the end I'm glad for these inspirations because I learned a lot about the Mass and even got free chant lessons at one of the Extraordinary Form groups in Boston during my period in the doctoral program at Boston College. And perhaps the "mutual enrichment" that Benedict hoped for in Summorum pontificum has thus been accomplished in my priesthood. Given the closeness I feel to the Pope Emeritus, to know that would give me encouragement and comfort.

So where does Traditionis custodes leave a priest found already ordained upon its publication but not celebrating according to what was, until that day, called the Extraordinary Form? I'm honestly not sure. Am I like a new priest, needing the permission of the bishop confirmed by the Holy See in order to celebrate with the 1962 Missal, or am I like a priest who was celebrating this way upon the publication of the letter, needing only the authorization of the bishop? Or am I, as I suspect on my reading of the spirit of Traditionis custodes, neither of these things, but simply someone who has lost the faculty to celebrate in the older form, period, and without any justification for seeking to have it back.

Comments welcome.