A Modest Liturgical Proposal

The Catholic Mass by Fyodor Bronnikov

Just yesterday, Cardinal Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. promulgated his norms regarding Traditionis Custodes, the Apostolic Letter issued as a motu proprio by Pope Francis. As you likely know, this decree returned the state of the Latin Mass to a more restricted, pre-Summorum Pontificum situation (where Bishops are largely in control of where “traditional Latin masses” (TLM) are celebrated, who can celebrate them, and when. There were also additional restrictions, such as parish churches not being allowed to have a TLM unless they were already a TLM only parish, among other things. Essentially, things got harder for TLM goers. Cardinal Gregory’s new norms are restrictive and will restrict the TLM to three churches in the diocese, and only one in D.C. proper. Suffice it to say, many traditionalists are upset, as are many Novus Ordo enjoyers who are still sympathetic to their TLM brethren.

Seeing as the current situation of the liturgy, and frankly the Church more widely, is in disarray, I would like to make a proposal for how to go about fixing things and resolving these disputes.

My solution is this: let the free market decide.

Open the floodgates I say! Tear down all barriers to saying the TLM. Let priests and parishes go wild. Want to say the TLM, or do anything else in the old ways for that matter? Go for it! All you have to do is adhere to the most updated rubrics for those rites. Want to be a Novus Ordo parish? By all means! As long as you adhere to the current rubrics and general instructions.

Let this be a decentralized, grassroots movement and solution. Imposing harsh restrictions fosters divisions, but clearly there are some disagreements. What better way to resolve them than the marketplace of ideas? The strongest (and most invigorating) liturgical form will emerge victorious. If it is true that the TLM is in high demand and causes people to flood the pews, get married, raise big families, and believe in the central tenets of the Church (such as the Eucharist), then we will quickly observe such a trend if the TLM is fully allowed for any priest, any community, any place, any time. If the people demand the TLM, then certainly the supply will have to meet that demand. This is basic economics! If the people desire to attend the Novus Ordo, in equal or greater proportion to the TLM, then the number of NO parishes to TLM parishes will reflect this. Perhaps some parishes will even adopt the novel idea of having both forms of the Mass at different times. What a concept! Indeed, entertaining such an idea causes one to wonder why it hasn’t already been implemented.

So that’s what I say. Let the Church open up! Let the Holy Spirit guide the people and the clergy alike! Let the people decide! No more draconian and authoritarian motu proprio‘s, only a Synodal and Listening Church! After all, the Spirit of Vatican II demands that the Church be willing to adapt to the times and the cultures of different peoples. Surely this plan of mine, one of a totally free and open market, will allow the Church to flourish.


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