The Novus Ordo went into effect 40 years ago today. Whatever you think of Sacrosanctum Concilium or the general direction of the Second Vatican Council, what happened following this date was a loss of so much beauty, so much piety. The Novus Ordo is largely uninspiring and lends itself to a tragic sort of novelty that places us where God should be. It was not the spiritual renewal sought by the Council. The recovery process is painstaking for those picking up the pieces. Headway is being made, however slow it may be.
I listened closely to all of Fr. Z's latest podcasts about Paul VI on the eve of the Novus Ordo. I really was hoping I would hear some words of comfort or in the least some explanation worthy of the magnitude of what happened. However, listening to them did not endear me to Pope Paul. Essentially the explanation given by the Pope was "some people are going to be upset, there will be strange novelty, but the Council wanted change, and we're doing it." I used to think of him as a tragic figure who was almost forced to make the changes he did. In some ways he was, but he also knew exactly what he was doing. He knew what could come and also was aware of those vultures who would try to usurp the novelties for their own wishes. But he still promulgated the Novus Ordo and did so out of what he thought was obedience to the Council.
The reason I was hoping for that "OH! Now I get it!" moment is that I hate the disunity which comes as a matter of practice between Catholics in either the TLM or the Novus Ordo. I desire greatly to be united with the rest of the Church in prayer. As readers know, I participate in both forms though spiritually the Traditional Latin Mass is my home. However rare, genuine religious experiences are possible for me at the Novus Ordo. Sometimes they are in spite of the liturgy. Most of the time they center around my personal prayer or disposition in receiving the Eucharist.
I desire for my fellow Catholics in both forms a unity of faith and practice. If you listen to Pope Paul VI talk, unity was one thing he stressed several times. Unity is something we lost however with the many options imposed upon the liturgy.
40 years on, the Traditional Latin Mass has been liberated...at least on paper. But nobody can deny that it is spreading and taking root in many places. Traditional families continue to grow even while many Ordinary Form Catholic Families stay small. Vocations in traditional communities are soaring and even ordinary seminaries which are once again teaching the faith in a strong way are dusting off the cobwebs and welcoming more seminarians under their roofs.
The workers in the New Liturgical Movement (not just the blog, but all of us in the "movement") are making great strides to put out new materials into use for the proper celebration of the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Even the vocabulary Catholics use is changing. We will soon have a more sacred translation of the Novus Ordo in spite of the liberal opposition. Remember the old maxim that tells us 'he who controls the vocabulary, controls the debate.' Our Holy Father is even taking up a re-examination of what the Second Vatican Council actually means in light of a hermeneutic of continuity. Traditional Anglicans are lining up stamp their ticket across the Tiber. Things are getting better. Our Lord has not left us.
No doubt work still needs to be done. Many sacrileges continue to occur. The faithful remain largely uneducated. Heresy is preached from the pulpit, knowingly or unknowingly some priests. (The Ordinary Form for which I play is blessed by very good priests however, Deo Gratias.) Anti-Catholic sentiment is on the rise due to moral questions.
Yes something is happening. Catholics are rediscovering their heritage. But remember that the animal backed into a corner is more vicious than ever. There are forces out there that loath the solid Catholic identity and practice. So we should prepare for fierce opposition. Perhaps this is the new springtime in the Church? Which great saints will arise from this era of renewal? Who will rise to smite the heresies of the day and deal their final blow? It happens in every age. I have a few in mind but I'll leave that question up in the air for now.