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.


Michael Kearney said...

Huh - I think it may have been simply to say that - there was a bald man riding a pink motor scooter in the park - and if I had not given him the keys myself - then what is he to ask in return where I had not given him any keys at all - but why an act of prociaming an Extraordinary(s) or for that matter denying that neither any act of 1962 or any Missale Romanum - to any justification for seeking to have it back is not a cause for reason - but a prick. To breathe through it extemporaneously - where otherwise this is very very painful in the extreme. The stars there -

motuproprio said...

There is a basic canonical principle that uncertain laws do not bind.

Anonymous said...

If this Extraordinary Form of Mass request still exists, do two things :firstly, explain the full situation to the bishop. (That's what he is there for) and very importantly, take time to engage with the person who made the request and find out what motivated the need for the Extraordinary Form and what are his/her experiences of the more modern form.. I have prayed for your guidance. God bless.

Brother Charles said...

Thank you!

Terry said...

That a priest need permission from his bishop to celebrate the Mass of the Ages is a complete farce.