Monday, November 27, 2006

The Hermeneutics of Continuity: Part II

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Cardinal Ratzinger begins the second part of his discourse to the Chilean bishops with this stunning admission:

“One of the basic discoveries of the theology of ecumenism is that schisms can take place only when certain truths and certain values of the Christian faith are no longer lived and loved within the Church. The truth which is marginalized becomes autonomous, remains detached from the whole of the ecclesiastical structure, and a new movement then forms itself around it.”

The chief value he is referring to is the historical Mass of the Roman Rite, which was almost universally abandoned after the Council, even though the Council never called for its abrogation. Yet, as the saying goes, “perception is reality”, and this “reality” became the number one “perception” after the Council.

Thus, the widespread desacralization that sprang up in many places after the Council , combined with a very effective campaign to make the layperson believe that the Council had discarded the pre-Conciliar rite, led to the formation of what the Cardinal calls “a new movement” in and around the pre-conciliar Mass, in order to preserve it.

Cardinal Ratzinger then identifies the chief reason that many were led to join this 'traditional movement' was because they were looking for a place to worship where the sense of what they believed was most sacred could be kept alive:

“While there are many motives that might have led a great number of people to seek a refuge in the traditional liturgy, the chief one is that they find the dignity of the sacred preserved there.”

He attributes this phenomenon to the fact that there were many who chose not to treat the Council as part of the Church’s entire tradition, but rather to use it as the starting point of a new reality, something seen as quite divorced from what came before it;

“ The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero.”

Acting with great courage and frankness, Cardinal Ratzinger identified the chief tactic used by those who saw Council as a “new start from zero”, was to proscribe the pre-Conciliar Mass as the most “forbidden” and “prohibited” of all things;

“This idea is made stronger by things that are now happening. That which previously was considered most holy -- the form in which the liturgy was handed down -- suddenly appears as the most forbidden of all things, the one thing that can safely be prohibited.”

This unfortunate reality is why so many felicitous press reports are announcing that Josef Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, is about to 'free' the “old Mass," thus restoring a long-lost treasure.

So we pray daily, awaiting joyfully with the Most Blessed Virgin Mary the words of freedom from the Holy Father, allowing us to sing the “Ressurrexit” and “Te Deum, Laudamus” together.

Maria, mater ecclesiae, ora pro nobis.

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