Friday, September 27, 2013

The Papacy Is Not A Liturgical Commentary


Pope Benedict never celebrated the Extraordinary Form or Traditional Latin Mass as Pope.

Like most priests of his generation, he began to celebrate the Mass of Paul VI as soon as his diocese began to promulgate that liturgy and continued to do so throughout his papacy.

The fact that he never offered the Extraordinary Form is not a com­ment either upon his priesthood or on the ancient liturgy. Benedict, after all, will always be known as the Pope of
Summorum Pontificum, the groundbreaking document that restated the truth that both liturgies have equal standing in the Church, a commonsense statement that was a long time in coming and meant to better establish Christ’s peace in His Church over liturgical issues.

Benedict’s papacy was not a commentary on the liturgical life of the Church except in that he wished to freely offer full and free access to both liturgies for all of the faithful.

Pope Francis, we must assume, is a man of the Church, guided as he is by the Holy Spirit in his divinely appointed office of the papacy. As a man of the Church, he supports the spiritual well-being of all God’s faithful for the sake of their salvation. We must always support him and pray for him in love as we do for all of our Holy Fathers, for he is a gift to us from the Lord Himself.

Francis’ papacy is not a commentary on the liturgical life and patri­mony of the Church anymore than was the papacy of Benedict, who himself, we must remember, did not personally offer the ancient liturgy as we expect Pope Francis will also not do.

Summorum Pontificum
establishes liturgical freedom in the Church for the Vicars of Christ, as for all of us.

Many years from now, no doubt, we will have a Pope who gladly celebrates either liturgy according to the pastoral needs of the Church as he sees fit.

Some folks are getting fussy about Pope Francis’ style, comment about which is above my pay grade.

Some priests, however, do take a mistakenly casual approach to cel­ebrating Mass. There are those who, for example, omit items such as the amice, which is practical in nature, meant as it is to better enable the priest to cover his street clothes, a requirement in every liturgy. However, what is more significant for the liturgy than the instruction to cover his street clothes — as the priest is asked to do by the Church — is a worldly attitude to­ward the liturgy which frustrates God’s relationship with His people.

In marriage we gladly fight a contraceptive attitude which frustrates God’s plan for human life. So, also, in the liturgy should we fight any attitude on the part of the priest which frustrates God’s desire to fully and freely share eternal life with His people. A “ street clothes” attitude on the part of the priest in the celebration of Mass can do just this thing.

Vesture is part of the spiritual attitude and preparation of the priest who ascends the mountain of God, who approaches the tabernacle of the Most High, unworthy as he is to represent God’s people as they together face God through Jesus Christ who calls and ordains the priest to offer the Holy Sacrifice. All of the practices in the Church better en­able the priest to approach the Father
in persona Christi.
A cavalier attitude which dismisses these spiritual preparations does not bode well for the free and full access of the people at every Holy Mass as they approach Almighty God through the servanthood of the priest.

Let us pray for all of our priests, Pope Francis, and all of us who serve God’s people, that our reverent and loving service will include respect for all that the Holy Spirit hands down in the Church for the service of and salvation of the world.

Jesus Christ, suffering Servant, and High Priest of the New and Per­fect Covenant, have mercy on us. Amen. 

(This column appeared in a recent issued of The Wanderer Catholic Newspaper. Follow Father Cusick on Facebook at Reverendo Padre-Kevin Micha­el Cusick and on .)

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