EFORE I GO ANY FURTHER, let me be clear. Our organization has one goal: to promote the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Servite Domino in lætitia. Just because we promote authentic sacred music, that doesn’t mean we’re somehow “heroic.” Indeed, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do (Lk 17:10). It is not our mission to pick fights, snipe on Facebook, post “hot takes” on Twitter, or destroy anyone’s reputation. For all these years, we have been producing thousands and thousands of free liturgical resources—and we’ve only just begun!
Once In A Blue Moon: Every so often, however, something comes my way which I feel obligated to address—and it happened recently with a directive sent out by Most Rev’d John Stowe (bishop of Lexington, KY) on 2 February 2022. Bishop Stowe’s statement denies the existence of variations (a.k.a uses, forms, rites, and so forth) for the Roman Rite, which have existed for at least 800 years. No historian—as far as I know—would agree with these irresponsible assertions by Bishop Stowe:
* PDF Download • Statement from Lexington’s Bishop
—Written Statement by Most Rev’d John Stowe • 2 February 2022.
The Catholic Faith: Nothing in the Catholic Faith says we must accept something we know to be false. In the future, I will speak more about this (if I can find the time). For instance, if a bishop declares the liturgical reform to be “irreversible,” we need not agree. After all, so many elements of the liturgical reform have already been reversed and “re-reversed.” None but a fool embraces demonstrable falsehoods. The leaders in the Catholic Church are not perfect; one of the first bishops (Judas Iscariot) betrayed Our Redeemer for thirty pieces of silver! We have a duty to pray for our leaders precisely because they make mistakes. Even popes make mistakes. In the history of the Church, there have been repugnant popes; Google “Cadaver Synod” if you don’t believe me. During some periods, decades went by without Catholics even knowing who the true pope was (on account of anti-popes). Even smart people like Bernard of Clairvaux made erroneous judgments vis-à-vis anti-popes. And some popes even committed horrible sins against the Sixth Commandment.
Oleaginous Sycophants: When Bishop Stowe denies the existence of historical variations (Sarum, Lyons, Paris, Ordinariate, Braga, Dominican, etc.) he’s incorrect. It is true that certain Roman Rite “variants” are insignificant; an example would be Franciscan modifications to the CONFITEOR. It is also true that some “variants” are so substantial they almost constitute a different rite. In other words, there’s an entire spectrum of rites, uses, forms, and variants—all under the umbrella of the Roman Rite. To suggest that the Dominican Rite is one of the Eastern rites … that’s just insane. The Dominican Rite is clearly a variant of the Roman Rite. The existence of these variants, uses, rites, and forms has never been considered deleterious to Church unity. Vatican II solemnly declared: “Holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity, and wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way.” How is it possible that Bishop Stowe made such assertions publicly? When a bishop is consecrated, someone usually reminds the new bishop that “nobody will ever again tell you the truth again.” In other words, craven “yes-men” exist. Obsequious sycophants exist. Fawning brown-nosers exist. I suspect Bishop Stowe was ill-served by a ghost writer. Regardless, these problematic assertions by Bishop Stowe will have to be withdrawn at some point.
Disagreements Are Okay: Directly on the PDF file (see above) I scrawled some thoughts. I have no idea how coherent my thoughts are… If you think I’m wrong, please let me know! Why do so many fear honest debate? Consider this quote by Dom André Mocquereau:
“Opposition has always been precious to me. It forced me to dig down to rock bottom and to leave nothing to possibility or even probability. Without the opposition, I might never have done all that work.”
Dom Mocquereau certainly made mistakes, but he was a tough character! He’d been a soldier in the Franco-Prussian War and got injured. If you think it was fun to be injured in those days, think again! Warfare back then was brutal. And during WW2, many of the monks of Solesmes Abbey were forced to fight against Hitler. At least seventeen—including the Prior, the Subprior, and even the organist—were captured by the Germans and spent time as prisoners of war. (Did they still pray their office?) Dom Turpault was killed at the Battle of Dunkirk.
Exsultabunt sancti in gloria; lætabuntur in cubilibus suis.