Saturday, July 21, 2007

"It's Good to be the Pope"

Mel Brook's portrayal of King Louis XVI in the movie History of the World, Part I frequently commented "It's good to be the king." So, can His Holiness apply this line to himself: "It's good to be the Pope?" My contention is that it is not "good to be the Pope;" the Holy Father is surrounded by enemies, both within and without the Church.

It is now two weeks removed from the publication of the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum granting larger use of the Traditional Latin Mass according to the 1962 Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII. The response has been mixed. Traditionalists like myself are enthusiastically grateful, and the SSPX is hopeful. The response of the world's bishops has been mixed. Some state that they will set the standards for the use of the Traditional Latin Mass (henceforth TLM) by making sure their priests are "sufficiently well versed" in the Latin language before they can say the TLM--I must point out that all priests are required by Canon Law to be sufficiently well versed in Latin anyway, but that our bishops have failed in their duties to enforce the study of Latin in their seminaries.

Then there was this response from Bishop Luca Brandolini of Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo: "I can't fight back the tears. This is the saddest moment in my life as a man, priest and bishop. It's a day of mourning, not just for me but for the many people who worked for the Second Vatican Council. A reform for which many people worked, with great sacrifice and only inspired by the desire to renew the Church, has now been cancelled." I can't seem to understand this opposition to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as it was celebrated for centuries. Priests can now say Mass in a different form, a form that was common for centuries. When Paul VI issued liturgical reforms in the 1970s, he did not invalidate the TLM. Mass is Mass, and when said validly by a validly ordained priest, the second Person of the Holy Trinity makes Himself physically present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the bread and wine; they cease to be bread and wine and become Jesus Christ Himself. Why would a priest re-creating the sacrifice on Calvary be cause for a bishop to "fight back the tears?" He is afraid that the Second Vatican Council has been cancelled by the actions of Benedict. Why I ask? I think the good bishop may be a victim of a mentality all too common in the post Vatican II era: living under the notion that one can forget almost 2000 years of Church history and operate under the idea that nothing that really mattered happened before Vatican II. For many within the Church Vatican II has become a sort of an idol. Not to say that this setting up of idols does not exist within traditionalist circles, but this Vatican II "worship" seems to be a major source of confusion and strife within the Church today.

Catholics like Bishop Brandolini weren't the only ones displeased with Summorum Pontificum; certain Jewish groups were also "disturbed." The Anti-Defamation League views the Holy Father's actions granting larger use of the TLM--specifically including the Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews--as "a theological setback in the religious life of Catholics and a body blow to Catholic-Jewish relations, after 40 years of progress between the Church and the Jewish people." This is the text of the Good Friday prayer for the Jews according the the Missal of John XXIII:

Let us pray also for the Jews: that our God and Lord may remove the veil from their hearts; that they also may acknowledge Our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray. Almighty and Eternal God, Who dost not exclude from Thy mercy even the Jews: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people; that acknowledging the light of Thy Truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, through all endless ages. Amen.

John XXIII in his Missal removed the Latin word perfidis (meaning faithless) in reference to the Jews. Now it seems that the ADL is offended that Catholics are praying for their conversion, that their "blindness" would be removed. It is the perennial teaching of the Church that God wills the salvation of all men. It is our duty as Catholics to pray for the conversion of all men, and so we do in the TLM Good Friday prayers, not only for the Jews but for schismatics, heretics, and pagans.

The Holy Father faces opposition to his beneficent actions regarding the TLM both within and without the Church. His enemies seem to surround him. Let me once again invoke prayers for our good Pope:

Orémus pro beatíssimo Papa nostro Benedicto. Dóminus consérvet eum, et vivíficet eum, et beátum fáciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in ánimam inimicórum ejus.--Let us pray for our most blessed Pope Benedict. The Lord preserve him and keep him alive, that he may be blessed upon earth ; and deliver not thou him into the will of his enemies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A great moment for the continuing reinvigoration of the Roman Catholic Church!