ELOW, I HAVE LINKED to a 1984 article written by Msgr. Richard Schuler. One of the things he talks about is the Papal legislation during the 1980s which allowed for a greater use of the 1962 Missal (also called the “Tridentine Rite,” the “Extraordinary Form,” or the “Traditional Latin Mass”).
How far we have come since then! In the 1990s, when I first started attending the Latin Mass, it was still very much “underground.” We feared to tell priests and bishops we attended this Mass (even though it was approved by the Diocese) because persecution often resulted. This is not an old wives’ tale: I could easily share with the reader concrete examples from my personal experiences.
Thanks to the efforts of Pope Benedict XVI, no Latin Rite priest can now be denied the opportunity of celebrating the Extraordinary Form. The Latin Mass is here to stay. Priestly vocations for Religious Orders which offer the Traditional Mass are absolutely bursting at the seams. I’ve even noticed that people who hate the Traditional Mass cannot stop talking about it. They think about constantly. They write about it constantly. They obsess about it. The Latin Mass has come such a long way.
Msgr. Schuler was a pretty good writer. His articles are usually “jam-packed” with information, and this one is no different. I could say a lot about it, but rather than “shooting my mouth off,” I will limit myself to the following:
It is true also that the introduction to the first edition of the missal of Pope Paul VI had to be withdrawn because it so poorly expressed the true nature of the Mass as a sacramental sacrifice.
Does anybody have access to a digital copy of this first edition introduction? If so, please E-mail it to me.
Unfortunately, the objections often overshadowed many good revisions, e.g. the end of the celebrant’s repeating of words sung by the choir or the congregation; the addition of many new scripture readings; the end of the secret inaudibility of the celebrant’s prayers; the demand for a more active role of the congregation; the simplification of many ceremonial details, etc.
I am afraid Msgr. Schuler is not quite correct here. In the judgement of many, several of the items he listed are not necessarily “good revisions.” For example, László Dobszay has explained that the mere fact of having more scripture readings does not make “better” liturgy. Otherwise, why not include the entire Bible? Currently, the Ordinary Form has three readings on Sunday. Would four make a “better” liturgy? How about six? How about nine? How about twenty? You get the picture.
Another fable introduced by the promoters of a new rite was the error that the new Mass had to be celebrated versus populum at a table altar erected near the congregation. Old altars were removed, even against the wishes of the people; new table altars were set up, some very poorly designed and even unworthy of the Mass celebrated on them. To promote the use of the altar versus populum, the English translation of the new missal of Paul VI even mistranslates the Latin original or leaves out entirely the rubrics of the Missale Romanum which in at least five places indicates that the priest should turn toward the people to say “The Lord be with you,” “Pray brethren,” “This is the Lamb of God,” etc. The Latin has sacerdos conversus ad populum dicit, but the English takes no notice of conversus which clearly means “having turned toward the people.” The norm for the new missal of Pope Paul VI is the priest at an altar which is not versus populum. Furthermore, the altar versus populum is not a new idea brought in by the reforms of Paul VI. The Mass could always be celebrated with the priest facing the people, as indeed it was in Rome and in many other places for centuries. True, it was not the usual way, but it did exist.
Notice that Monsignor Richard J. Schuler says the 1962 Missal can be celebrated “facing the people” … and he’s correct! He’s talking about this document:
1962 (and 1964) RUBRICS:
V, §3 • If the Altar faces the people, the Celebrant does not turn his back to the Altar when saying Dominus vobiscum, Orate, fratres, Ite, missa est, or when giving the blessing, but having kissed the Altar in the middle, there extending and joining his hands, as above, facing the people, greets them and gives the blessing.
XII, §2 • If the Celebrant is at an Altar facing the people, he does not turn around, but standing as he was, blesses the people, as above, at the middle of the Altar. Then he goes to the Gospel side, and reads the Gospel of St. John.
My understanding is that some priests celebrated this way to make it possible to read the Epistle “to the people” (since the rubrics specified it must be read at the Altar). Fr. Deryck Hanshell, in his 1980 article on the Tridentine Mass [pdf], also seems to agree:
Of course they like the altar “the right way round.” Some might indeed be disappointed if in many if not most churches Mass in the old rite were to be celebrated “facing the people,” as according to the old rubrics it may be.