Vital Signs

Some Thoughts on Motu Proprio Mania

I am gratified that the long-awaited motu proprio from Pope Benedict, urging a wider celebration of the Tridentine Rite, is out.  I’m happy for those, including my son, who love to worship in that way.  More power to ’em.  Some of the loveliest Catholics I know are devotees of the Tridentine Rite.

That said, I was not personally excited when news of the motu proprio broke, since it doesn’t especially affect me.  I attend a Paul VI Mass that is reverently celebrated by the Dominicans of Blessed Sacrament parish in Seattle.  My attitude toward liturgy is “Just give me my lines and my blocking.”  I then endeavor to learn and forget about them in precisely the same way I endeavor to break in my shoes.  The point of shoes is not to notice them, but to walk in them.  Shoes you constantly notice are Bad Shoes.  Liturgy you focus on is liturgy that’s not doing its job, which is to refer us to God, not to itself.

Now there are two basic reasons people focus on liturgy instead of God, just as there are two reasons a person will focus on his shoes.

>The first reason is that the shoes hurt.  Lord knows that, in a time of widespread liturgical abuse, people have been hurt by badly celebrated liturgy, and I empathize with those who have.  Many have suffered from self-styled “progressives” who regard...

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