I generally try not to write a lot of posts that follow the form, "Here's what I think about this development over on this other blog," mostly because it seems that that kind of commentary could get very insular very quickly. I suppose the division between this and commenting on the ideas presented by another blogger (always a good and fertile source of posts) is rather fuzzy, but I think it's a matter of discussing the editorial stance rather than any of the individual posts. Of course, as is so often the case, I state this general rule with the express intention of breaking it in this case.
As perhaps has been clear, we've become increasingly interested in liturgy over the last year or so, and in the course of that time one of the blogs I've found particularly useful has often been The New Liturgical Movement. Their music discussion and links have been of great use to MrsDarwin, and I've been put onto several good books on the liturgy by them. One of the things that I've really enjoyed about NLM is that while they have a very traditional approach to liturgy (perhaps at times verging on historicism -- but then that's a danger that has a certain appeal to me, so even our weaknesses are similar) they have generally had both coverage of the old and new missals. I appreciated this, because I'm interested in tradition and history, and in regards to the mass when you deal with history going back more than 40 years, you're talking about the old form of the missal (last codified in the '62 typical edition) rather than the new (first issued in 1970). And yet, in my experience, far too many of the blogs which discuss the old missal (in a positive light) do so with the assumption that it was enshrined, unchanging, not in need of any sort of post-conciliar reform, and indeed either the only valid form of the mass in the West, or the only desirable one.
As an ordinary Catholic going to an ordinary parish, who wants to work towards parish worship that is rooted in the tradition of the Church without insisting on a permanent enshrinement of the way the mass was celebrated in the US circa 1930 or so, I find the attitude of many '62 missal fans unhelpful.
It has, thus, been with disappointment that I have watched NLM gradually shift its focus (mainly since the announcement of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificorum) almost entirely to the old missal. Saturday Shawn Tribe ran a post which essentially answered the question of "Whence the Reform of the Reform?" with: Right now the increased celebration of the old missal is the most important thing for the reform of the reform.
Another regular contributor to NLM, Michael E. Lawrence, added in the comments, "In short, it seems to me that if the reform of the reform seeks to go in the direction of tradition, then the Traditional Latin Mass is where it is at. For my part, I have decided to focus much more of my effort on the Extraordinary Form. The spread of the dignified celebration of the older form of Mass is the best way to return to tradition."
Various commenters who are not contributors at NLM went much farther (as is often the case when people get started on the virtues of the old missal over the new) with comments such as "A real reform of the reform would obviously entail an improvement for the Novus Ordo but also its slow death." or "Reform of the reform so far has been feel good rhetoric for conciliar dreamers like Fr. Fessio. If it meant the restoration of the traditional mass in its substance if not every detail, I'd be down for that." or "Question: does 'reform of the reform' mean dressing up the Bugninian Ordo with chant and incense, or modifications of the Novus Ordo to bring it closer somehow to the classical rite?"
Perhaps the reason that I find all this so personally frustrating (and if you go look at the comments you'll see some indignant fuming of my own -- which I cannot necessarily claim is much more temperate than that of the '62 missal fans) is that it was in many ways the muto proprio which served as the stimulus to us to get more actively involved in our parish. Not because we wanted to request that the mass be celebrated according to the old missal at our parish, but because that was the thing that made us think, "You know, if we want things different we need to get up out of our pews and start stirring the pot."
Since then MrsDarwin has been instrumental in getting a small schola started, I got myself appointed to the pastoral council, and I'm currently working at getting a group off the ground to say Vespers as a group a couple nights a week. Yes, progress is slow and sometimes one bumps one's head up against parish bureaucracy, but progress is happening, and we're no longer sitting around being passive.
While doing all that slow work, it's nice to be able to read other people's experiences and advise, and as such I'll be very disappointed if NLM becomes strictly a wateringhole for people who are or wish they are in groups surrounding the use of the old missal. For the forseeable future (outside the imaginations of the more excited traditionalists) 95%+ of US Catholics will be attending masses celebrated according to the current missal, and as such it's helpful to have resources out there focused on doing so in a matter rooted in the traditions of the Church.
I hardly think that what Pope Benedict XVI intended, in issuing the motu proprio, was to suck all of the more traditionally minded people out of normal parish life and into self-contained "TLM" communities.
UPDATE: Two different authors on New Liturgical Movement have responded to this post (directly or indirectly) Jeffrey Tucker here and Shawn Tribe here. Todd of Catholic Sensibility has one here. Darcy of Gregorian Chant Blog has one here. I'm going to leave the topic alone for a little while, not out of lack of interest, but because I'm concerned that over-focus on this kind of thing can result in a certain near-sighted-ness.
Xenophon's Anabasis, Book IV
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