From Dan at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping. Read, pass on, especially to journalists attempting to understand this MP business. Including Catholic journalists:

In the 1930’s and into the 1940’s, a handful of Jesuits and Dominicans began a movement to ground Catholic theology and liturgy in what they saw as forgotten aspects of the Church’s history – that is, the theology of the Church Fathers and the organic development of the liturgy thorugh time. They felt, correctly, that the regnant neo-Thomism at the time with its emphasis on the Aristotelian philosophia perennis, and corresponding tendencies in liturgy to view the Mass as unchangeable in its Tridentine form (later brought out it with a vengeance in traditionalist claims to a "Mass of the Ages"), were unhealthy for the Church and needed to be informed by a better historical sense which could in turn influence the present. This was not a kind of antiquarianism, and indeed Balthasar helped remind the patristic wing of the Ressourcement of the dangers of such a tendency in his brilliant essay "The Fathers, the Scholastics, and Ourselves," as Pius XII correspondingly did in his liturgical encylical Mediator Dei. The success of the Ressourcement, however, helped to influence the works of de Lubac, Balthasar, Bouyer, Gilson and others, whose work laid the groundwork for the necessary reforms of Vatican II, and who deeply influenced Wojtyla and Ratzinger in their early years.

This influence on Ratzinger, I think, helps to explain what he is about to do with the liturgical motu proprio. Few of informed mind would accuse Benedict XVI of being a "traditionalist" in the usual implications of this term, and indeed he would reject such intra-Church labels as unnecessary and indeed highly problematic ideological intrusions on the unity of the Catholic faith. This would then suggest that he is precisely, and in some ways ironically, offering a broader use of the Tridentine Mass, and a more positive image thereof, not as so much of a return to past use for its own sake but precisely in order to bring about a healing in the tradition, to separate tradition in its proper sense from its distortion at the the hands of ideologies, both in traditionalist and progressivist forms.

To illustrate my point, I refer to Fr. Mark Massa’s penetrating historical and sociological study Catholics and American in Culture, in which the Jesuit analyzes, among other things, the First Sunday of Advent, 1964, that is, the first day that "the changes" in the liturgy began to take their sweeping effect. This is, in some sense, precisely when "traditionalist" and "progressivist" camps started to stake out their territories in the Church, to wage the "liturgy wars" in earnest, and we have been with them ever since, less so in some places than others.


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