For those not in this particular loop, motu proprio is a term for a document that the Pope produces of his own accord–not as the result of a meeting or council or something. For a while now, we’ve been hearing rumors that B16 has been preparing just such a document for the liberalization of the Traditional Latin Mass according to the Missal of 1962–an edition within the stream of the Tridentine Rite. Remember, even the mass commonly referred to as the Tridentine very rarely is the authentic “Tridentine”–there were a lot of revisions even to that liturgy through the years. Furthermore the official language of the current mass, the Novus Ordo is, technically speaking, Latin. Yes, any Roman priest in any parish can celebrate a Latin mass at any time he chooses–as long as it’s the Novus Ordo.
As I’ve thought more and more about this eventuality coming to fruition, two questions keep raising themselves in my mind. First, what kalendar and lectionary will it use? Vatican II and the rites promulgated after it made some major changes in both. Will Septuagesima come back? How about octaves? Will it use the three year or one year lectionary? Can a single local worshiping body responsibly use two “official” lectionaries and kalendars at the same time or will it create more problems than it sets out to solve?
Second, the rumors I’ve read have involved the Traditional Latin Mass… And that’s totally in keeping with current Roman piety. But what about the Breviary? Will use of the pre-Vatican II breviary also be liberalized allowing one of them to satisfy a priest’s obligation? And if so–which breviary? As we’ve discussed here recently, there are major differences (not least in psalm allotments) between the “Tridentine” Breviary and that of Pius X.
Not being Roman, the release or non-release of such a document will effect my day to day life not one whit. And yet, as one interested in both ecumenism and liturgy, I’m watching the proceedings with great interest. In considering the various Anglo-Catholic “tribes,” some follow Rome because Rome was the keeper of the tradition and some follow whatever it does because it’s Rome. Many in the second group do a “Novus Ordo” Anglo-Catholic mass (like Smokey Mary’s–case in point being their celebration of Corpus Christi on Sunday rather than today). Many in the first group, however, have never forgiven Rome for Vatican II and are–in many ways–more “Roman” than the Romans. All that is to say, what Rome does does matter to us–despite whether the local Roman parish starts doing a TLM or not…
Any movement in any major church towards a more dignified, more reverent worship of God (which is the point of this move) is a good thing in my book–all the more so if it means cool liturgical and chant books become more easily available!