Saturday, 9 November 2013

An Introduction into the Extraordinary Form - we don't get past the name I'm afraid!

Yesterday, there was the first of the now regularly planed weekly Friday evening Masses. This Mass is offered what is known as the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. We will spend just a moment on the name itself, as it can be helpful in understanding how this fits into the Church.

Firstly, The Catholic Church is more than just the Roman Catholic church. The Church is made of of the Roman Rite, alongside 22 other Eastern Catholic Churches (such as the Syro-Malabar Church). These are in full communion with the Pope (unlike the Eastern Orthodox who split from Rome in 1056), though retain their own self-control. For instance, a different Canon Law applies to the Eastern Catholics than to Roman Catholics. Now, within each of these churches there exists a range of Liturgical traditions. Many of the Eastern Catholics will share the Liturgy of St James. But other particular Churches (slightly confusingly, particular church also refers to a diocese! here I mean those autonomous 23 Churches) will have unique Liturgies associated with them. Within the Roman Rite, we tend to imagine a single liturgy - the regular Mass we see in most parishes. Before the Second Vatican Council (a big meeting of all the world's bishops in communion with the pope in the 1960s), many religious orders would have their own adaptations to the liturgy which then formed their own rites - for instance in the Dominican Rite the celebrant will leave his amice over his head until the Mass has started, but this was not the practice of regular diocesan Masses! After Vatican II these rites were suppressed largely, leaving just the Roman Rite remaining. alongside this we had the major revisions to the Liturgy, leading to the propagation of the new Roman Mission under Pope Paul VI.

Are you still with me? So prior to the 60s, there were a range of Liturgical books in use by various groups in the Roman Catholic Church, but the main Liturgy was the 'Traditional Latin Mass' (codified at the Council of Trent). After the revisions of Pope Paul VI, the almost universal text was the modern missal, with or without its vernacular translation. The 'Traditional Latin Mass'(TLM) was effectively discouraged (though Pope Benedict made it clear it was never really suppressed), except for an indult (special permission) granted by the Pope to England allowing the 'Traditional Latin Mass' to be used on occasional on account of its cultural and historical significance to the country. Due to her petitions to the Pope, this indult is occasionally known as the Agatha Christie Indult!

Here's where we skip forward to the last pontificate - Benedict. Bl. John Paul II had already widened permission to celebrate the TLM with consent of the Bishop. Certain Bishops seemed reluctant to grant this permission. Enter Benedict XVI. Now, the pope authorises the use of TLM to any parish priest, without need for permission. He explains the Mass was never suppressed, and gives us its name as the Extraordinary Form. The revised Roman Missal of Paul VI is known as the Ordinary Form. This is interesting, he taught that both forms of the Roman Rite were expressions of the same thing - they are not two different Masses or Liturgies.

Alongside this, we can comment on the Anglican Ordinarate. They are not like the Eastern Catholics with their own hierarchy and laws, they are a part of the Roman Rite. This makes sense, because of their history, they share much with the Roman way of doing things, and only have small adaptations to offer.

I hope that the name - extraordinary form of the Roman Rite doesn't still confuse anyone. If it does, leave a comment and let's see if we can clear it up! Writing these kind of explanations are very difficult, due to the precise language that needs to be used - I hope it maintained readability and accuracy!

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