Four years ago today, the Pope’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum declared that any priest has a right to celebrate mass according to the pre-Vatican II missal and recently clarified that new seminarians should be encouraged to learn to do so. This blog has previously discussed the Extraordinary Form, especially attractive to the writer for its great reverence.
My sensibility for good liturgy is attached to my greatest moments in my faith life, and I am always reminded of how such an immeasurably big thing as God can make Himself present in as quiet and as humble a form as a thin piece of unleavened bread. The horizontal emphasis of community often drowns out the grandeur of what is such a mystery. We must admit the failure to maintain in most parishes the same reverence and piety that seems to be a distinguishing characteristic of the Extraordinary Form, which is sadly not supposed to be the case.
The Extraordinary Form is, thus, meant to help nourish and enrich the newer Ordinary Form and help us recover a sense of patrimony and lineage which is what makes Catholicism so distinct. The old perfects the new, like a grandparent educates their grandchildren with their wise stories. The renewed interest from young people tends to have the older folks who lived through reform puzzled; but this isn’t just a new sense of curiosity for the old form, but an honest yearning to understand how our liturgical identity and practices are shaped.
This Motu Proprio also reinvigorated interest in other rites that pre-date Trent. At unprecedented levels, we hear about special solemnities and feasts being commemorated in the Extraordinary Form – a high mass here, a pontifical mass there; but also a renewal of regional rites such as the Sarum and the Ambrosian, and also those of religious communities such as the Dominican Rite.
A month from now at my parish, Blessed Sacrament in Seattle, we will be celebrating the Solemn Feast of St. Dominic according to the Dominican Rite. It’s my privilege to be one of acolytes and it will be my third time serving in this rite. Being able to have this experience has been very special for me in my faith life and liturgical sensibility. In the weeks ahead I will blog on particular aspects of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite and the Dominican Rite and connect them with the mass as we know it today.