Monday, February 21, 2011

Encouraging Without Requiring

As much as I love traditional liturgy, I feel like it would be hard to make that an essential part of any society in the Church, formal or informal, that wanted to be free to have as broad a ministry as possible and not be "tied down" by a slavish purism. Liturgy, after all, is in the end a means for saving souls, and no particular Rite can, in itself, constitute a charism.

However, the bylaws or constitutions of such a group might declare a "predilection" like the Franciscans of the Immaculate did, expressing a clear preference while not making it, strictly speaking, required, encouraging traditional liturgy without letting it become a barrier or burden (especially given the current rarity) to the broader aims of any such group.

Something like:

1. Members are generally expected, if at all possible, to attend Mass daily. If a member truly cannot attend Mass on a given day, they should still at least read through the Missal using the day's propers and dedicate some extra time to meditating thereon. Members are also usually expected to also pray the Divine Office privately, though this should be discerned with a superior or spiritual director. Group recitation of the Office when meeting with other members is highly encouraged. Attendance at publicly celebrated Hours, especially Vespers on Sundays and Solemnities, is highly salutary, but certainly not expected given the rarity.

2. The society has a predilection for traditional liturgy, but it is realized that this may not always be available in the current situation of the world. Members, however, will work to promote traditional Catholic culture in their communities and traditional liturgical sensibilities in both the Old and New rites. Members should always receive communion on the tongue and, if possible without drawing attention to oneself, try to receive from the priest rather than an EMHC. Members should not volunteer to be EMHCs, nor should female members volunteer as lay readers or altar servers. Female members should try to remember to veil themselves in church.

3. Lay members are encouraged to attend the Old Mass if possible, and especially to make a special effort to get to one on Sundays and Solemnities. But in either case, if one is not available within a reasonable distance, the New Mass will of course suffice. What is reasonable should be discerned with a superior or spiritual director. Also, charity trumps everything, so if some spiritual benefit is foreseen as resulting from attending the New Mass with someone, even if this requires missing the Old that day, then this should of course be done.

4. Lay members should use an edition, adaptation, or suitable translation of a traditional Roman Breviary approved by a superior (ie, it need not be 1962 or in Latin) for their private recitation, unless explicit permission has been granted to use the New Liturgy of the Hours regularly for a grave cause. A member should not, however, feel compelled to "repeat" an Hour if they attend a group recitation or publicly celebrated Hour in an edition different than their usual, or even in the New Rite. Full recitation according to a regular schedule is ideal, but how much of the Office constitutes a reasonable burden for any given member will be discerned with a superior and/or spiritual director.

5. Members who are diocesan priests should know how to say the Old Mass, and are encouraged to celebrate Mass according to a lawfully approved edition of the traditional Roman Missal at least for one of their Masses if possible, especially on Sundays and Solemnities. However, it is recognized that pastoral circumstances will not always allow for this, though priests should strive to introduce their congregations to at least occasional traditional liturgy and to catechize them about it. Still, a priest should not feel compelled to binate on weekdays or trinate on Sundays or Solemnities simply for the sake of his own personal experience of the Old Mass unless he feels that something else can be legitimately pastorally gained from it. Liturgies at official meetings of the society will, however, always be in the Old Rite if at all possible, and diocesan priests in the society will hopefully be available to facilitate this.

6. Members who are diocesan priests should be familiar with how to recite and celebrate the Old Office and should generally fulfill their obligation to recite the Office with a lawfully approved edition of the traditional Breviary or a vernacular translation approved by their bishop, unless explicit permission has been granted by a superior to use the New Liturgy of the Hours regularly for a grave cause. A priest should not, however, feel compelled to "repeat" an Hour if they lead or attend a group recitation, or celebrate or attend a publicly celebrated Hour in an edition different than their usual, or even in the New Rite. Priests are encouraged to celebrate the Office publicly for their congregation, especially Lauds, Vespers, and Compline, especially on Sundays and Solemnities, according to the Old Rite or an approved translation. If pastoral necessity requires using the New Rite for this, it is still to be encouraged given how rare any publicly celebrated Office has become. Catechesis about the Office, especially in its traditional form, should be introduced into parish life.

7. Members who are diocesan priests should be familiar with the celebration of the Sacraments and sacramentals in the Old Rite, and strive to catechize their parishioners about them and encourage their use when possible. Still, for legitimate pastoral necessity, the New Rite may of course be used, as will often be the case in parishes.

1 comment:

sortacatholic said...

I would hope that the spiritual directors of the Franciscans of the Immaculate steer all but those who are well-read in Latin from reciting the Breviarium Romanum entirely in Latin.

Certain Matins lections, particularly those of Lent and Passiontide, contain anti-Jewish polemic. Those who are not well read in Latin might misinterpret these passages. Ideally, Matins sould be celebrated in public and with suitable exegesis/commentary after difficult lections. Perhaps the order could provide timely web-based exegesis to isolated members of the order.

I simply refuse to say anything in the Breviarium that I find objectionable. Those in a third-order might feel pressured to recite lections or prayers that they might find objectionable. Moral imperative and conscience should trump community rules in these instances.

Certain laypersons recite the Breviarium even though their Latin is poor. I do hope that they recognize certain grave perils. Those who recite the Breviary in Latin without comprehension are nevertheless morally responsible for their public and private statements.