Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bishop Swain of Sioux Falls Speaks up on the Motu Proprio and the Latin Mass of Blessed John XXIII

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Well finally somebody from our ecclesiastical province has spoken up on Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio extending the use of the 1962 Latin Mass of Pope John XXIII. And Father John Zuhlsdorf whose network of informants rivals that of the CIA, I'm sure, quickly has his edited copy of the Bishop's letter to his parishioners ready for all to peruse. To save you a bit of suspense, Father Z approves whole heartedly!

The Bishop of Sioux Falls, SD, His Excellency Most Reverend Paul J. Swain, has issued norms for the diocese entrusted to his care. They are preceeded by a somewhat theological preface.

Father John Zuhlsdorf's emphases and comments.

IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MOTU PROPRIO SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM

Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls
September 10, 2007
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I. Introduction

Unity is the visible sign of charity. Consequently, we speak of the “bond of charity”. The greatest expression of this “bond of charity” is the Most Holy Eucharist. Through it, God, who is love, draws Man to Himself in a holy communion which, at the same time, unites Man to Man. Because of this truth, we can understand more profoundly the heartfelt prayer of Jesus for unity on the night when He loved His own to the end (cf. Jn. 13.1; 18.21). [Okay… this is a theological starting point.]

Reflecting upon the nature of charity and its revelation in the Most Holy Eucharist in his Encyclical Letter, Deus Caritas Est, and his Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritas, Pope Benedict XVI provided a context for his recent Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, which concerns the present-day use of the Roman Ritual [better would be "Roman Rite". The Rituale Romanum is a book. While Summorum Pontificum also addresses the use of the Rituale Romanum, because it too is a book for the Roman Rite, the MP is mostly about the use of the Missale Romanum. The other main books of the Roman Rite were the Pontificale Romanum and the Martyrologium Romanum.] as it existed prior to the reform of 1970. Through this Motu Proprio, His Holiness offers a profound insight into the unity of expression in the Roman Rite of the Sacrament of Charity [This is where he makes the theological move from charity and unity to outward expression of unity and charity in a liturgical express] and invites the Church to greater unity and to a greater appreciation of the treasury of prayer in all its forms.

II. Terminology [While I don’t think this next section is really all that necessary, sure… why not try to get everyone on the same page with terminology. Keep in mind that his choice is not the only possible choice. But it’s not bad at all!]

As we reflect upon this call to unity by the Holy Father, it is important that we share a common terminology in referring to the two expressions of the one Roman Rite. Some, including myself, have used the term, “Latin Mass”, to describe the celebration of Holy Mass before 1970, while referring to the Mass in the vernacular, in our diocese mostly in English and Spanish, as it was celebrated after 1970, as the “New Mass”. In fact, both terms are imprecise, because, even after 1970, the “New Mass” can be and has been celebrated in Latin, which is the normative language of the Roman Church. What is more, the term “New Mass”, derived from the title Novus Ordo, is in complete continuity with the prayer of the Church prior to 1970.

The Holy Father, in referring to the so-called “Latin Mass”, refers to the “Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII in 1962” and, in reference to the so-called “New Mass”, the “Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI and reissued by John Paul II” and more briefly, as the “Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII” and the “Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI”. For our ease, I suggest that we refer to them as the Mass of Bl. John XXIII and the Mass of Pope Paul VI. [So… in shorthand could we have "Johannine" and a "Pauline" Missals?] In this way, we can move beyond the sometimes pejorative interpretations of the terms, “Latin Mass” and “New Mass”, precisely because both of these pontiffs are revered for their pastoral sensitivity and fidelity to the faith and remind us of the unity of the Church around the Successor of St. Peter.

III. Sacrament of Charity and Unity

Pope Benedict XVI offers the significant insight that, while there are two usages or forms of Holy Mass, there is only one Roman Rite (cf. Summorum Pontificum, Art. 1). This corrects the sometimes divisive dichotomy which has often placed the two usages in opposition to one another. For the good of the Church and for our salvation, we must assure that the Mass, the Church’s highest form of prayer and the Sacrament of the Charity and Unity, is not misused intentionally or unintentionally as a vehicle for arguments unworthy of the gift of our Lord of Himself in the Most Holy Eucharist. [This is why he started this whole thing with charity and unity. You can see what he is trying to do. He is trying to elevate the discussion about the different forms of Mass beyond personal preferences or perhaps also sharp and less than charitable language in the past.] We are called in charity to avoid labels which divide and recognize that throughout history there has been a “plurality of rites and usages”.

In the days immediately following the publication of the Motu Proprio, I received communications from some who expressed sorrow even anger at the “retrenchment” from the teachings of Vatican Council II. I also received communication from some who interpreted the use of the term “extraordinary” to refer to the Mass of Bl. John XXIII as an official declaration that it was better than or more holy than the Mass of Pope Paul VI. Neither, in my judgment, is an accurate reflection of the Holy Father’s teaching. [I would like to know if there were people who expressed joy at the Motu Proprio without polemics. Folks, take this to heart. Bishop often get bitchy letters but not many happy letters. I guess that’s normal. However, after a while you can see why a bishop or priest might start to associate "bitchy" with, for example, the frustrated traditionalists who write with complaints. In this case the people in favor of the older Mass who wrote to him took the opportunity to violate Rule #2. I warmly suggest, urge, implore you to write kind letters of thanksgiving to bishops for positive things they do, as when, for example, he comes for a celebration of the older Mass even just to sit in choir dress. Shift the paradigm. Over time you can bring it to pass that you are the group of people who make the bishop smile rather than draw back a step. I am glad this bishop include this point in his statement.]

On the contrary, because there is unity in the Roman Rite’s expression of the Sacrament of Charity, there is continuity between the pre and post-Vatican II expression of the Roman Rite. What is more, both expressions are equally valid, one no more so than the other. Thus, evaluations in terms of winners and losers are totally off the mark. [Rule #2] While any person may for a variety of reasons prefer one form over the other, rejection of either form is a rejection of the Rite itself. Consequently, the Holy Father notes that the two forms “can be mutually enriching”. [Yes… this is the "gravitational pull" dimension of the Motu Proprio.]

The Holy Father refers to this dichotomy in his explanatory letter to bishops where he notes that two concerns were raised prior to issuing this document. The first concern was that the wider privilege of celebrating the Mass of Bl. John XXIII would detract from, even undercut, the reforms of Vatican Council II. The second concern was that the wider privilege would lead to disarray, even division, in parish communities.

Responding to these concerns, the Holy Father makes it clear that the Mass of Pope Paul VI, by reason of practicality, availability, and even preference, is the “ordinary”, or most common, form of the Roman Rite that will be prayed, while the Mass of Bl. John XXIII is the “extraordinary” form. The two usages, therefore, need not be seen as being in competition with one another since they are mutual expressions of the one Rite, either prayed when appropriate. This is a clear and instructive example of the principle of unity in diversity.

IV. Proper Celebration

The Holy Father and canon law charge bishops with the responsibility of assuring the proper celebration of the two forms of the Roman Rite. Thus, bishops must ensure that priests are qualified to celebrate the Mass of Bl. John XXIII, i.e., they must be proficient in the Latin language and the rubrics of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite. Rev. Martin E. Lawrence, who has offered the Mass of Bl. John XXIII at St. Joseph Cathedral for the past several years, has graciously offered to teach priests of the Diocese how to offer this Mass with reverence and devotion. It goes without saying that the Mass of Pope Paul VI is to be offered with similar reverence and devotion. [Yes, Your Excellency, it really should go without saying. However, I think these days we do need to say it over and over again.]


The implementation of the Motu Proprio provides each of us with the opportunity of “avoiding discord and favoring the unity of the Church.” We must all “open our hearts” to the Sacrament of Charity which unites us in mind, in heart, and, sacramentally, in body with God and one another. The Holy Father thus has encouraged all priests, including myself, to reflect upon Holy Mass and how well we pray it. He has also invited the lay Faithful to consider their participation in and receptivity [YES YES YES! Active participation is really active RECEPTIVITY!] to the love of God as it is received in the Most Holy Eucharist. Both forms of the Roman Rite demand reverence and devotion by the priest and all the lay Faithful in a manner that is true to the approved norms and rubrics which are not ours to change. [Excellent!]

V. Decree [Frankly, I don’t think any of this following section is necessary…. but maybe I’m wrong. He doesn’t really add much to the provisions of the MP. With a couple exceptions….]

Therefore, effective September 14, 2007, the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, in the Diocese of Sioux Falls:

1. “It is, therefore permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church” (cf. Summorum Pontificum, Art. 1).

2. “In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest of the Latin Rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum” (cf. Summorum Pontificum, Art. 2). No private Masses may be celebrated using either Form during the Easter Triduum. Where there is a stable group of the Faithful (cf. No. 4 below) the liturgies of the Easter Triduum may be celebrated according to the Missal of Bl. John XXIII.

3. “Celebrations of Mass as mentioned above may also be attended by faithful who, of their own free will, ask to be admitted” (cf. Summorum Pontificum, Art. 4).

4. “In parishes where there is a stable group of the faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonizes with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishops in accordance with canon 392 avoiding discord and favoring the unity of the whole church” (cf. Summorum Pontificum, Art. 5). While we await further clarification on what is a “stable group of the faithful”, if a pastor or parochial vicar should be unqualified or disinclined to celebrate the extraordinary form, requests should be referred the Office of the Bishop where they will be reviewed individually. [This is good. It is, of course, a provision of the MP. But the bishop is making it clear that if you contact his office, something will be done. That is good!]

5. “Celebration in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII may take place on working days; while on Sundays and feast days one such celebration may also be held” (cf. Summorum Pontificum, Art. 5). Sufficient notice to the faithful should be provided. [A good addition.]

6. “For faithful and priests who request it, the pastor should also allow celebrations in this extraordinary form for special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages” (cf. Summorum Pontificum, Art. 5).

7. “Priests who use the Missal of Bl. John XXIII must be qualified to do so and not juridically impeded” (cf. Summorum Pontificum, Art. 5). No priest is obligated to become so qualified. [Right, that is true. On the other hand, he started with a "bond of unity and charity". Would not this suggest that a priest has a certain charge to respond to the requests made to him and actually learn the other way of saying Mass, the other expression of the Roman Rite for which he was ordained? In the rite of ordination, the candidate is asked if it is his intention to say Mass for the people of God. I think priests ought to know their rite for the sake of unity and charity.]

8. The remaining provisions of the Motu Proprio are hereby included by reference.


[Back to his theological points.] The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the highest and most perfect prayer of the Church, because, as the Sacrament of Charity, it is the source and summit of our unity with God and with one another. It should lead us, therefore, in humility to unity in Christ (cf. Gal. 3.28). It is my sincere hope and desire that, through our implementation of this Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict XVI, we, in the Diocese of Sioux Falls, will witness a spirit of charity and thereby be an example of true unity in diversity for those in our midst. We can rejoice in the richness of the tapestry of prayer which those who have gone before us have bequeathed to us under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

May Mary, the Mother of the Church and Our Mother, intercede for us that we all may be more fully one in Christ.

Give Praise to the Lord.

Given at the Catholic Pastoral Center, Sioux Falls, on September 10, 2007 by


The Most Reverend Paul J. Swain
Bishop of Sioux Falls
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