Rorate Caeli

Defending the readings in the Traditional Mass

As the Synod on Holy Scripture is opened by Pope Benedict XVI in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, a good article on the forms of the Roman Rite and the Scripture readings.

Two theories born of Biblicism
Fr. Nicola Bux and Fr. Salvatore Vitiello

Some say that the post-Conciliar Mass is richer in Readings and Eucharistic Prayers, while the Missal said of Pius V would be poorer and less accurate. The theory is anachronistic since it fails to consider four centuries of distance; it is as if we were to say the same about "Sacramentaries" some centuries earlier than that of Pius V. What is more, it is forgotten that the pericopes of the Pius V Missal were formed on the basis of old capitularies with epistles, such as St Jerome's Liber comitis– dated 471 - or with Gospel pericopes ; a tradition in common with the Church of the East, as the Byzantine liturgy still shows today.

Secondly, the brief readings help memorize the essential and express the sobriety of the Roman Rite. Some even go as far as to say that the Extraordinary Form of the only Latin Rite gives too little emphasis to the presence of Christ in the Word, when the latter is proclaimed in the assembly; in this cas,e the liturgy loses its very essence, the 'two tables' - in Dei Verbum, n. 21, there would appear to be only “one” - forming one act of worship!

It is said that the Missal of the Council of Trent moves in a vision far from the tradition of the Church Fathers; that the Missal was planned for the priest only, not for the participation of the assembly because the congregation is merely irrelevant. In fact, it is said that the priest celebrates on his own and so does the congregation; they say the Mass of Paul VI is quite different because it is not the priest who celebrates but the Church, sacramentally present in the assembly, of which the priest, by reason of order, is the natural president.

This position is considerably problematic because it reduces everything to Word and Assembly. However “Jesus is not just the teacher, but also the redeemer of the whole person. The Jesus who teaches is, at the same time, the One who saves ” (J.Ratzinger-Benedict XVI, Gesù di Nazaret, p. 65) and this comes about effectively only through the Eucharistic Sacrament.

Another theory, widespread due to the customary phenomenon of substitution and exchanging one thing with another, is to equal the presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament with the presence of the Word in the Book of the Scriptures: the latter presence takes place only “when the Holy Scriptures are read in the Church” (Sacrosanctum Concilium n. 7). It is necessary to reaffirm that Christ's presence in the Word exists on two conditions: when it is read out “in the Church assembly ”, not privately, and when Sacred Scripture is 'read'. Therefore the holy book placed on the lectern or the altar is not sufficient for this presence.

To conclude, it is more than ever urgent for preaching and catechesis to return to making the proper distinction between Revelation, Word of God and Sacred Scripture which, although closely connected, are not equivalent. At times in fact, not without surprise, we see in this regard considerable confusion and not only among the lay faithful. Some even think that the Bible is to be interpreted with the Bible and not, as the Catholic Church has always held, with Tradition and by faithful listening to the Magisterium.

FIDES translation, adapted according to the Italian original.

Note: Back from recess, we acknowledge the e-mail messages referring us to the new website of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", first acknowledged by the Spanish Traditional Catholic blog "Hoc Signo". Unfortunately, the website is still very much incomplete, but it may hopefully be a work in progress.