Sunday, March 15, 2015

"Novus Ordo"

Unbeknownst to me, Rome is celebrating a 50th anniversary jubilee for the closing of the Second Vatican Council this year. The festivities will provide the Pope with ample opportunities to speak at [great] length on "renewal" and "parrhesia." The ancient liturgists with revisit their novel ideas and regale each other with stories about the good ol' days before Benedict "undid Vatican II" with Summorum and other predictable badinage. One of the on-going lessons of this blog is that the "renewal" began from on top decades before the Council and that the Council did not mandate the new liturgy, but rather the movement for a new Roman rite married with the same movement that favored a broader reform in the early 20th century. To the older generation, everything was new and improved. To their internal opponents, everything was renewed and possibly unmoved. 

In Inter oecumenici Msgr. Bugnini anticipated the completion of the project with transitional rituals. Paul VI completed the task on April 3rd, 1969 (fittingly Good Friday this year). Pope Paul himself coined the term "Novus Ordo," a term which carries a perpetual stigma. Papa Montini meant for the term to carry on the enthusiasm for reform, surely, yet the term is now bitter as rancid vinegar to favorites of the reform. This blog favors the more precise terms "Mass of Paul VI", "1962," and "Roman rite" because they are three very separate things. The liturgies from Pius XII's era clearly paved the way to the new rite without actually being either the new rite or the traditional Roman rite. Tradistanis have taken to using the term "Novus Ordo" as a broad description of the whole array of reformed things including liturgy, devotions, theology, clerical formation, pastoral care, diocesan structures, and people. Go into a St. Pius X chapel and ask "Who used to be 'in the Novus Ordo'?" and you will get a dozen very different answers. So why do conservative, non-traditional types take such offence at a broad term used by old fuddy-duddies?

Last night I attended an Irish drinking and singing party early vigil for the feast of St. Patrick. I approached two friends of mine who attend the local Tradistani parish who were carrying on a conversation with an unknown third party. I asked the third person what he did. He responded that he was a former seminarian. Adopting the language of my setting, I departed from my standard vocabulary and asked him, "What kind of seminary? Was it a Novus Ordo seminary?"—perhaps an unfortunate choice of words. Taken aback at my lascivious query, he rebuffed me, "I would like to think I went to a Catholic seminary and went to a Catholic Mass during my time there, since it was approved by the Church." Rather than pursue the matter, I dropped it. On the bright side, I discovered Irish single malt is far smoother than Scottish single malt whiskey.

St. Patrick, pray for us!


  1. I would have responded.

    "Don't be offended; you at least got the final product. These poor saps," points at trads, "got stuck with the hackneyed prototype."