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The Tenth Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum… “Any Experience Of Rupture Must Come To An End”

May 23, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By ARCHBISHOP ALEXANDER K. SAMPLE

(Editor’s Note: The Most Rev. Alexander Sample of the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., gave this homily for the Pontifical High Mass at the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C., on April 28, 2018.
(The occasion was a celebration of the tenth anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter that encouraged the wider celebration of the Latin Mass. There at the basilica, the largest Roman Catholic church in North America and one of the ten largest in the world, Archbishop Sample celebrated a Solemn Pontifical Mass at the Throne in the presence of 4,000 faithful.
(The clergy, religious, and altar servers alone numbered about 100, according to a report from the Fraternity of St. Peter.
(In his homily, Archbishop Sample emphasized the number of young people who have become interested in the Traditional Latin Mass, remembering at the same time the older generation of Catholics who remain attached to the ancient liturgy.)

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In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
My dear Brothers and Sisters in the Risen Lord, it is with the greatest joy that I gather with all of you this day in this beautiful national shrine dedicated to Our Blessed Mother under her title “the Immaculate Conception,” the patroness of our great nation. We are at “Mary’s Shrine,” and we are all filled with gratitude and joy.
We celebrate today this Holy Mass in honor of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We are all sinners, yet in her Immaculate Heart we find refuge, consolation, protection, strength, and the love of her motherly embrace. As Holy Mary stood at the foot of the cross of Our Divine Savior, where her heart was pierced with a sword of sorrow, so she stands by us today and at the foot of this altar as we sacramentally re-present the once for all sacrifice of Christ.
As the Second Vatican Council’s document on the sacred liturgy reminded us, referencing the teachings of the Council of Trent, Christ who formerly offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross, is now offered in a sacramental and unbloody manner in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. And his Holy Mother joins with us in this offering in the great communion of the saints.
We also gather to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the great gift our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI left to the Church in his motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum.
Dear Holy Father, I know I speak on behalf of all gathered here, those watching this live broadcast through EWTN and many others, when I say thank you for your wisdom, foresight and pastoral generosity in allowing the usus antiquior of the Roman Rite to once again flourish in the universal Church.
As we gather here today in this magnificent basilica, one cannot help but notice the very large presence of young people who have come to participate in this Mass. I have met a good number of you personally. You are a great sign of encouragement and hope for the Church, tossed about these days on the troubled waters of secularism and relativism.
As they say, “You get it.” You understand your place in the world and in the Church to help rebuild a culture of life in society and a renewal of Catholic culture within the Church herself
Over the years since the release of Summorum Pontificum, I have heard many in the Church, including priests and bishops, express puzzlement and dismay over why so many young people are attracted to this venerable form of the Roman Rite.
They say things like, “I just don’t understand it. How could they be so attracted to a form of the liturgy that they did not grow up with or ever experience?”
If the comment has been directed to me, I have often responded, “That is exactly the question you should be asking. Why are they attracted to this liturgy?” Or perhaps more pointedly, “What is it that this form of the Roman Rite provides for them that their own experience growing up with the Ordinary Form did not provide?” For this will give us an insight into what future liturgical development might look like.
Now I do not want to be misunderstood. I am not at all calling into question the liturgical reform that was actually called for by the Second Vatican Council. Nor am I calling into question the validity, legitimacy, or even goodness of the Missal promulgated by Blessed Paul VI.
But perhaps in the actual implementation of the council’s directives, not everything that occurred has borne good fruit. And certainly through liturgical abuses, other aberrations, or simply a poor ars celebrandi, the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite has too often been disfigured and has been experienced as a rupture with the past.
So young people have discovered this form of the sacred liturgy as part of their own Catholic heritage. Maybe their experience growing up with the Ordinary Form did not carry with it the beauty, reverence, prayerfulness, sense of mystery and transcendence, or wonder and awe that the Traditional Latin Mass has provided for them. Perhaps this is the answer to the question posed above about why young people are drawn to the Holy Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Missal.
Pope Benedict XVI referenced this in his letter to the world’s bishops which accompanied the release of Summorum Pontificum. In speaking of Pope St. John Paul II’s own efforts to pastorally provide for those attached to the Traditional Liturgy, which the saintly Pope did through his own motu proprio Ecclesia Dei in 1988, Pope Benedict wrote:
“Immediately after the Second Vatican Council it was presumed that requests for the use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to the older generation which had grown up with it, but in the meantime it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them. Thus the need has arisen for a clearer juridical regulation which had not been foreseen at the time of the 1988 Motu Proprio.”

Producing Saints

Now, I don’t want to forget that older generation of Catholics who have remained attached to this ancient liturgy. You are important as well. This is the Mass of the ages that has nourished the faith and life of generations and generations of Catholics, including my parents’ generation.
I often think about that. This is the Mass that my grandparents participated in; this is the Mass that nourished the faith and devotion of my mother; this is the Mass that drew my father to the Church and helped fuel his conversion. It is the Mass that has produced saints.
I believe one of the most important phrases in the letter of Pope Benedict XVI referenced above is this:
“There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.”
As we continue our celebration of the tenth anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, I wish to touch upon one final point. This has to do with the positive motivation of the Pope Emeritus in issuing the motu proprio. He said that it is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church.
During my ad limina visit to Rome in 2012, and during our visit with Pope Benedict XVI, I had the opportunity to thank him for the gift of Summorum Pontificum. He responded at length to my intervention, beginning by saying that he had issued the motu proprio in order to reconcile the Church with her past.
This reconciliation the Pope Emeritus spoke of involves learning from the experience of the sacred liturgy according to the usus antiquior in order to better inform and shape our understanding and celebration of the newer Roman Rite. With both liturgies flourishing side-by-side, there could be a mutual enrichment of the two forms of the one Roman Rite, perhaps leading to further liturgical development and progress.
After mentioning some ways in which the Roman Missal of 1962 could be enriched by the newer Roman Missal, Pope Benedict said this about how the more ancient form can enrich the newer form:
“The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage. The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal.”
I believe this is a key to interpreting Pope Benedict XVI’s desire, namely, that the flourishing of the more ancient form of the liturgy with its beauty, reverence, and sacredness, will cause a natural development and enrichment of the way in which the newer Mass is celebrated.
As he says, there cannot and should not be a rupture between the two forms. One must be able to recognize the older Roman Rite in the newer.

The Courage Of Pope Benedict

I often get the impression that many people in the Church live their lives of faith as if the Church sort of hit a “reset button” at Vatican II, and that the past no longer has relevance, especially regarding the sacred liturgy.
There must be further liturgical growth and development along the lines of a hermeneutic of continuity with the past, and any experience of rupture must come to an end. May it be so.
And so, my dear brothers and sisters, let us give thanks to God for the life, pastoral ministry, and courage of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us thank the Lord for Pope Benedict’s gift to us, the greater celebration and availability of the usus antiquior of our common heritage in the Roman Rite.
Let us pray for Pope Benedict XVI, that the Lord grant him peace and joy during the time the Lord allows him to be on this Earth praying and sacrificing for us.
We take our prayers and gratitude now to that greatest of all acts of thanksgiving — the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist.
Let us go unto the Altar of God!
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

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