Speaking before an audience gathered in Rome to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah defended young Catholics who are often maligned for their attraction to the Traditional Mass.
In its entirety, the nearly 8,000 word address by the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments covered a range of topics related to the Holy Mass: from the primacy of God in the sacred liturgy, to the need for silence and awe in worship, and even the key to (authentic) participation within the Mass. The full text is available at New Liturgical Movement.
Of particular interest to Liturgy Guy readers will be Cdl. Sarah’s thoughts on the usus antiquior. Found near the end of the address, his words regarding young Catholics and the old Mass stand in stark contrast to the negative views so often expressed by the Holy Father.
Cdl. Robert Sarah, September 14 address to the Fifth Roman Colloquium on Summorum Pontificum (emphasis mine):
Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to the bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificum noted another phenomenon: “Young persons too have discovered this liturgical form,” he wrote. They have “felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them.”
This is increasingly true around the world. It is a phenomenon which some of my own generation find very hard to understand. Yet I know and can personally testify to the sincerity and devotion of these young men and women, priests and laity. I rejoice in the numerous and good vocations to the priesthood and the religious life that arise from communities who celebrate the usus antiquior.
Pope Francis, November 2016 interview with Fr. Antonio Spadaro in Corriera Della Sera:
Some (religious orders) are, I might say, ‘restorationist’: they seem to offer security but instead give only rigidity. When they tell me that there is a Congregation that draws so many vocations, I must confess that I worry.
Cdl. Robert Sarah:
To those who have doubts about this I would say: visit these communities and come to know them, most especially their young people. Open your hearts and minds to the faith of these young brothers and sisters of ours, and to the good that they do. They are neither nostalgic nor embittered nor encumbered by the ecclesiastical battles of recent decades; they are full of the joy of living the life of Christ amidst the challenges of the modern world.
Pope Francis wonders why some young people, who were not raised with the old Latin Mass, nevertheless prefer it.
And I ask myself: Why so much rigidity? Dig, dig, this rigidity always hides something, insecurity or even something else. Rigidity is defensive. True love is not rigid.
Cdl. Sarah boldly speaks to those opposing the use of the traditional liturgy today:
For those who still find this reality difficult, I would like to recall the advice of Gamaliel, the “teacher of the law, held in honour by all the people,” given to the Council of the High Priest when the Apostles were being persecuted: “…let them alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” (Acts 5:38-39)
Pope Francis has minimalized the intent and impact of Summorum Pontificum in the past (emphasis mine):
Pope Benedict accomplished a just and magnanimous gesture to reach out to a certain mindset of some groups and persons who felt nostalgia and were distancing themselves. But it is an exception.
Of course, it was this very mindset that made Summorum Pontificum necessary, and why it is still needed.
Cdl. Sarah speaks to his brother bishops:
I would like to add an appeal to pastors of souls and in particular to my brother bishops: these people, these communities have great need of our paternal care. We must not allow our own personal preferences or past misunderstandings to keep people attached to the older liturgical rites at a distance. We priests and bishops are called to be ministers and instruments of reconciliation and communion in the Church for all of Christ’s faithful, including those who desire to celebrate according to the older form of the Roman rite…
Let us hope that more bishops and priests take to heart these words from the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. In one final statement which directly speaks to those elements within the Church looking to suppress the traditional Mass, Cdl. Sarah unequivocally states, “the usus antiquior should be seen as a normal part of the life of the Church of the twenty-first century…”
Indeed it should, as it has always been.
Photo credit: Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. / Flickr