Growth and Restoration

I am starting an article for publication that will be titled “Organic Development of the Traditional Roman Rite—as we speak.” I want to share with our parishioners who love the Liturgy only briefly why I think it possible and salutary that the Traditional Roman Mass should continue to grow organically.

For some it will seem very odd if not impossible for organic growth to occur in the TRM. We must define clearly what I am talking about when I refer to the TRM. I am speaking of the pre-1955 Rite, before Bugnini et al began to impose changes on the Rite that are the product of archeologism, a dislike of the TRM, and a lust for a modern understanding of active participation. It seems to me that Pope Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum not only gave the TRM back to the Church as one of her rites. It also freed those who love and celebrate the TRM to allow for organic development of the TRM after the half a millennium frozen state of the Liturgy. The Council of Trent essentially froze the Roman Mass, and one can see why Pius V did this in the face of the upheaval of the Protestant Reformation. The unfortunate consequence of this was the near reduction of Liturgy to Rubrics. Law, which is always needed, stifled Spirit.

Sometimes we think of development as something pertaining to the future alone. But development is not possible without foundations in the past. The tragedy of the past fifty years has been the deliberate forgetting of the nearly two millennia treasure trove of the liturgical practice of the Church. And so I believe that the first step in organic development is immersion in the organic development of the liturgical past. This alone provides the perspective and the “stuff” for true organic development to occur. When three years ago we decided to use the pre-1955 Holy Week Rites, we discovered something wonderful and beautiful and deeply moving. This parish was and is seen as a pioneer in the restoration, that word in the positive sense, of the use of the Traditional Holy Week Rites. We gave witness and courage to those many more parishes who used the Traditional Holy Week Rites this past Holy Week.

Some will say that what we did was not allowed by the Church, because it is the 1962 Rite that became the last revision and was set, because of peculiar historical circumstances, as the embodiment of the Traditional Roman Mass. But that is rubricism in an age in which rubrics mean not very much to those who celebrate Mass in the Novus Ordo Rite. Rubrics in some way are like one’s wife who must be obeyed. Rubrics are not meant to stifle the spirit. They are meant to be an expression of a priest’s love of the Liturgy.

We pray that St. Mary’s will continue to be a leader in the restoration of the Extraordinary Form to become the truly Ordinary Form, and that we will do so with great courage, with great joy, and above all, with great love.

Fr. Richard G. Cipolla

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