Calling Spades Spades

There is a belief, held by some, that one day the Roman mass as promulgated under Pope Paul VI will one day be rolled back and the “Traditional Latin Mass” restored as the only Rite of the West.  Aside from the fact that the pre-existing Rites of Milan and Toledo make this an impossibility (unless these traditionalists wish to squash venerable tradition), reality makes this an impossibility.  The Reformists in the Vatican like Cardinal Sarah and those who they will inevitably form will have no desire to try to restore the Rite of Trent and wind the clock back to 1570 (or 1870) and will instead likely work on fixing many of the deficiencies in the Roman Rite.

Maybe we will live to see Septuagesima imported into the Roman Rite or enforcement of Ad Orientum worship.   Maybe there will be grounded and logical rules for when to use Eucharistic Prayers I-III while either making the never-used Eucharistic Prayer IV extinct or giving it the same treatment the Byzantine Rite gives to the Anaphora of St. James: extremely restricted but venerated use.  Maybe Communion in the hand will be recognized as the bad idea it is and maybe… the ancient tradition of Infant Communion can finally be restored (one can dream) instead of ecclesiastics trying to push for communing the divorced and remarried (I could rant for hours on this point).

The Rite of Trent is here to stay, as is the Rite of Rome.  The two will exist side-by-side in the same Church with priests likely having the liberty to say either.  The Rite of Rome will develop and might even work in older rituals from the The Rite of Trent, but to think that it will be cast aside by a Pius IX returning from his grave is pure fantasy.  Those who hold on to such beliefs will go the way of the sedevacantists, the conclavists, or Bishop Williamson and his “resistance”.

This is not without precedent either.  The same thing happened in the Muscovite Church and is still the rule.  Those wishing to hold to the Old Rituals may do so in that church and those who believe that church fell when the New Rituals were adopted have remained in their own severed (and sometimes priestless) communities.  This allowance of different rituals even extends into the tiny Russian-Greek Catholic Church and has ever since Pius X welcomed them in.

Everything new is old and everything old is new again.

Besides, Old Believers do it better than 1950’s obsessed Latin Massers anyway

What further solidifies the poly-Ritualist nature of the Roman Church is the emergence of a new and beautiful Rite few could have foreseen:  that used by the Anglican Ordinariates.  When attending this Rite’s Masses I have wondered if this was what Bouyer and Jungmann imagined when they undertook their liturgical movement, but one can never know.  If circumstances ever require me to leave Kievan Byzantium for a time, then I sincerely hope it is either to here or a reform-minded Roman Rite parish.  I am personally forever done with the Rite of Trent, or rather, the culture and polemics one must deal with in most such communities.

Traditionalists will one day learn to live with this reality God has willed.  If they do not, they will forever condemn themselves to the fate of the still severed Old Ritualists or to 1950’s American caricatured liturgical and cultural ghettos.

And is a ghetto truly what Christ had in mind when he said to “go out and preach to all nations”?


19 thoughts on “Calling Spades Spades

  1. And note, we in the Ordinariates have already restored Septuagesima, Ember and Rogation Days, the Pentecost Octave, black vestments for Good Friday and requiem Masses, and ad orientem in the vast majority (though not all) of our parishes and communities. Bouyer in particular, who had been Lutheran before his conversion and was also very fond of Anglican worship, would be well pleased.


  2. Would that traditionalists were like Bishop Fellay, who admitted that the Novus Ordo done properly was good, seeing one done himself, and that +Lefebvre wouldn’t have objected so much to the Novus Ordo if it had been done so.


    • Strange how Bp. Fellay is actually more “liberal” (ie. reasonable and has more common sense) than many Trads in “good behavior” communities.

      Given the recent scandals in WIlliamson’s rump group, I’m sure Fellay is actually a little grateful for him “taking out the trash” so to speak.


  3. I’m definitely feeling you on this one. This is something I’ve pondered for a long time. Since you mentioned the Old Believers, let me say that there is a group with ROCOR that reconciled, and to my knowledge within Roman Catholic circles there was once a few Old Rite groups. I think there was one out there in Oregon. There was a Benedictine monk who basically became an Old Ritualist Catholic, but I can’t remember his name.

    I too have no interest in Roman Traditionalism as it’s lived in the “crew cut and cufflinks 1950’s ” style parishes. It’s nothing personal towards them but it’s all a fantasy, and it’s a pining away for only one style of Catholicism from one era, and a narrowness and triumphalism that ignores the breadth, depth and richness of the Catholic Church across the millennia.

    I wish I had access to an Old Ritualist Catholic parish…but it’s wishful thinking.


  4. As an unofficial member of a Russian Greek Catholic Church, I have not really looked back at the FSSP parish I left. Enough of that.


  5. “What further solidifies the poly-Ritualist nature of the Roman Church is the emergence of a new and beautiful Rite few could have foreseen: that used by the Anglican Ordinariates.”

    On its most traditional options – which borrow more heavily from the English Missal and 1662 – it certainly is new and beautiful. At the time, it astonished me that it ended up as traditional as it did.

    But the three year lectionary has got to go. Fortunately, that’s not really a difficult fix.


    • Agree with Richard Malcolm re: lectionary.

      Also, there is another thing that makes the Ordinariate currently the most “traditional” of any form of the Roman Rite today: we quietly restored First Evensong to all days ranked Feast and above in the Divine Office.

      In 1955, the universal Judeo-Christian custom of celebrating the liturgical day from sunset to sunset was gratuitously and completely unnecessarily eradicated in the Roman Rite (thanks, Bugnini! Thanks, Pius XII!) with suppression of First Vespers for all but a handful of 1st and 2nd cl. Double feasts. Unfortunately, this change is still in force for the Extraordinary Form communities that follow 1962 – but not so for the Ordinariate.

      Now we’re just waiting for the Holy See to finally approve the Divine Worship Office so it can be printed and used* already…

      (*Officially, that is. Unofficially, see


      • “We quietly restored First Evensong to all days ranked Feast and above in the Divine Office.”

        Indeed! Sad to say, it’s one of the striking aspects of the post-Conciliar Roman Church that the Office has become, in the public worship of the Church, a dead letter – at least outside religious orders (few of whom use a traditional Breviary) – despite injunctions by Council and Popes alike to revive it. Already atrophied to begin with, the Office was dealt yet another blow by Pius XII, as you say – however good his intentions might have been. It seems almost a miracle to see what’s being done with Evensong in the Ordinariates.

        Unfortunately, the truth is that the Ordinariates are not likely to exercise any tonic effect in this regard, or indeed in any regards in terms of things liturgical. Despite the high hopes for the Ordinariates at the outset, none really saw the kinds of large-scale conversions predicted for them. Even in the healthiest of the three, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, there are only 46 communities scattered across North America, most quite small (two out of three cohabit with diocesan parishes, having been unable to secure their church buildings when they exited the ECUSA). The Ordinariate and its remarkable liturgy remains a very well kept secret, alas. Given the average parishioner age of many of these congregations, I wonder just how many will be around 20 years from now.

        But it’s possible that, when the time is ripe, the Ordinariate liturgical books may serve as an example for the reform of the modern Roman Rite. I do not think that the Pauline missal can survive in anything like its current form, being far too unstable; but it may eventually give rise to multiple rites or uses which are, and it may well be that at least one of them can be molded into a genuine traditional vernacular liturgy. The Ordinariate missal has shown us a glimpse of what’s possible.


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