In my continuing response to Msgr. Charles Pope’s piece about stagnating attendance numbers at Latin Masses (http://www.ncregister.com/blog/msgr-pope/an-urgent-warning-about-the-future-of-the-traditional-latin-mass), I decided that it would be useful to examine what Latin Mass advocates do with their preferred liturgical form and what they hope to achieve by increasing the number of Latin Masses available to the public.
With the semester finally over, I can finally get back to writing the overly verbose posts that characterize this blog. The ten people who actually follow me should be thrilled. With no further ado, let’s talk about sacred canopies.
The Second Vatican Council began in 1962 and officially ended in 1965, and for many Catholics, church history is completely defined by this event, regardless of their political or liturgical orientation. There is the pre-Vatican II era, and everything that came after it. For conservotrads and traditionalists, the pre-Vatican II era was when everything was swell, and then everything went to hell in a handbasket after Vatican II. For progressives, the spirit and promises of Vatican II liberated Catholics from a rigid, oppressive, and narrow-minded obscurantism. However, the pre-Vatican II era, strictly speaking, covered almost 1,900 years of history in a variety of different cultures. When American Catholics in 2015 discuss the pre-Vatican II era, they probably aren’t talking about the devotional practices of ninth century Anglo-Saxons. So what does the phrase “pre-Vatican II church” mean in current Catholic discourse?
In an earlier post, I noted the similar logic used by both the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) and the woman priest movement to justify why their ordinations and masses are valid (see here https://extraecclesiamestlibertas.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/women-priests/). Upon further thinking about the matter, I realized that the two groups have much more in common, despite being on opposite ends of the ideological and liturgical spectrum.
I was really serious about RCIA and took my new found obligations to the Catholic church very seriously; I went to mass every Sunday, I studied everything I could about theology and church history, and even tried to learn how to decipher the meanings of the stained glass windows. However, I soon found that the best place to self-educate oneself about the church was the internet itself. The Catholic blogosphere was like a thousand little conservations all going on at the same time, discussing all of the issues that I was so desperate to be educated about. Something that I learned quite quickly was that the way things were done now (circa 2005) in the church were not how things had been done in the near past. I learned about the collapse of the women’s orders, the ripping out of the high altars after Vatican II, the felt banners, and all of the usual traditionalist horror stories. As nice as the people at my new parish were, it was hard not to feel like something precious had been torn away from me, before I was even aware it existed.