The tenth anniversary of Summorum Pontificum – Pope Benedict XVI’s statute which granted priests the liberty to celebrate the “old Latin Mass”, now known as the Extraordinary Form (EF) – passed on July 7 as one would have expected. Traditional Catholics attracted to the EF were grateful for the more liberating posture of liturgical law and spoke, as they customarily do, about how the wider offering of the EF had a salutary effect on how the Novus Ordo, or Ordinary Form (OF), is celebrated.
The anniversary, though, did include an unexpected note from a most authoritative source. Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, marked the anniversary with an article in La Nef, a French publication. Not available online, it has been reported on in English by the Tablet.
Cardinal Sarah wrote in favour of the “mutual enrichment” of the two forms of the Roman Rite, a phrase of Benedict XVI’s arguing that both forms have riches that would enhance the other if incorporated.
Over the past 10 years, this has been interpreted in EF circles in a mostly unilateral way: the OF ought to adapt the practices of the EF. Cardinal Sarah is certainly in favour of this – he has argued in the past for ad orientem celebration of the OF, greater use of Latin, and more periods of silence, including some of the priestly prayers. In La Nef, he goes further, recommending that Holy Communion be received kneeling and on the tongue; that the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar be restored at the beginning of Mass; and that the priests keep united after the consecration those fingers which have touched the sacred species.
All of which is music to the ears of those devoted to the EF. But the key concept Cardinal Sarah advanced may sound a challenge too. Sarah suggested that the expression “reform of the reform” be abandoned precisely because it has a unilateral connotation – the Novus Ordo ought to be enriched by the traditional liturgy only.
“ ‘Reform of the reform’ has become synonymous with dominance of one clan over the other,” the cardinal wrote in French. “This expression may then become inappropriate, so I prefer to speak of liturgical reconciliation. In the Church, the Christian has no opponent!”
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