29 August 2007

Archbishop Nichols - Three Cheers?

Fr Ray posts the text of Abp Nichols' sermon at the Merton College training session for priests wishing to learn to use the Extraordinary Rite.

Everything the Archbishop says about the Mass is true, and it is wonderful to see a member of the Hierarchy in England and Wales speaking so eloquently about the Mass.

"I’m sure many of you recall, as I do, the lovely image of the priest at Mass raising the consecrated host and seeing, just above it, the figure of the crucified Lord. This picture hung on my bedroom wall. It helped to form my faith. It is, I believe, always helpful for the eye to move easily from the elevated host or chalice to an image of the crucifix. That juxtaposition teaches us, through eye and imagination, the reality of what is taking place."

But ...

am I alone in discerning a bit of a tone?

"The Missal of Pope John XXIII will remain the extraordinary form of the celebration of the Mass, for, as Pope Benedict says, its use ‘presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often.’ And the decision of the Church was that, for general use, it needed to be revised. But there are truths of which it can still remind us and it has treasures and consolation to offer."


"The celebrant, acting in the person of Christ and in the name of the Church, needs to ensure that his actions enable the souls in his care to participate in this saving mystery, to take part in each of its steps. This participation has to be profound, spiritual, informed by understanding – an active participation and not passive, not ‘leaving it to the priest to celebrate the Mass for us.’"

I'm not convinced that the message has got through.

There is not a single word to disagree with, (sound Eucharistic theology, thank God!) but there is a sense that the Extraordinary Rite is a relic, that the young priests who are learning it are perhaps being a bit exquisite, that without a greater amount of study by both priest and people than many of us think the Pope intended, the Extraordinary Rite will not be acceptable.

It may be, of course, that I am too suspicious; and it's very likely that I'm wrong! But Archbishop Nichols' opportunity to unite the two Uses of the Roman Rite has not produced anything that looks to me like a wholehearted welcome: more an acceptance in words which seem to accept grudgingly a new reality which he would have preferred not to have come about.


Moretben said...

I don't think it's grudging, precisely; there is a "tone", but it's in the background. It would be unrealistic, I think, to expect someone with Archbishop Nichols' profile to deliver a volte face of this magnitude without the "tone" creeping in just a little. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt: it's a fine sermon in most respects and a belting one in the context of the English Hierarchy (and Archbishop Conti).

Az said...

The sermon is, in a sense, vague. No doubt it has been very carefully crafted. It can be read from an traditional/orthodox perspective, that's fine. But I too detect another interpretation which is not particularly enthusiastic, and somewhat patronizing in tone. "All things to all people" comes to mind. Perhaps I am too cynical, but then, Mgr Nichols inherited Mgr Worlock's ring and cross, or so I have been led to believe.

benfan said...

You are right. However, his deeds are all one can look to in the end. As regards where he stands, that is between him and God. At least he's not bumfighting the Pope for the big chair like some of his fellow Archbishops, as if anyone would take THAT seriously.

White Stone Name Seeker said...

There is a'tone' there-but I to say the speech is very clever.
I realise I am a cynic-but I think the Archbishop still has his eye on Westminster.

He does little to help Maryvale-right under his nose,
He gave us Icons-to help undermine our kids faith
and there are other reasons I don't trust him.

Nevertheless he was the lead in getting rid of Austen Inverleigh and he did write an apology for the sexual abuse scandal.

He's a very clever man...