What is the future of the old Roman Mass, even in its 1962 iteration? Liturgical life and parish life are inextricably bound up in the persons who are their custodians, namely parishioners and the parish priest. Our friend, John R, has managed to get Terce, the old Holy Week and Pentecost Vigil, Pontifical Mass, and the odd Vespers at his minute New Jersey parish, yet the prospective horizon of a world without his current priest threatens to undo what rare and exemplary work he has achieved. Now he stares at a very real possibility of a parish with nothing but spoken Masses and parishioners who only attend for the homeschooling groups. It begs the question: are personal parishes and traditionalist orders the right way forward for the "EF" liturgy?
No, and this blog has argued that such churches are not the answer for four years. The advantages of such communities are the same as any, that they appeal to the people who look for what they offer. Their short-coming is that they are inherently designated to appeal to as narrow a minority of Catholics as possible. Tradistan here in Dallas was erected 25 years ago to deal with the FSSPX problem in the area, two well attended chapels within an hour or two of the metroplex. Benedict XVI may have thought the 1962 Mass was a treasure for all, but Msgr. Charles Grahmann thought it was for a chirpy few who needed to be regularized and ghettoized. There is nothing innately wrong with wanting the old liturgy, better options than the Irving public school system, or dry catechesis, but it is not meant to appeal to a wide array of people with different needs, problems, and talents. In short, traditionalist personal parishes are supposed to stop what traddies want: a widespread restoration of an older form of the Roman liturgy. That traditionalists would take this option, snub "Novus Ordo" priests, and be content with their homeschooling groups sorely underlines that they have lost the fight that they once had.
The most obvious disadvantage of introducing the old liturgy in the much maligned "indult" setting is that it can never be the only liturgy offered and rarely is even the most common one offered, excepting Holy Innocents in New York. The advantages are numerous: the clergy interested in the old liturgy tend to have a more varied education and life experience than those out of traditionalist seminaries, the diocesan setting attracts a wider variety of people who might be willing to contribute their artistic skills, and there is a greater familiarity with diocesan, mainstream life. Above all, if traditionalists really want to revive the old Mass on a wide scale, can one really dispute the wisdom of putting the rite in a place where the vast majority of Catholics worship God?
Of course the introduction of the old Mass to "indult" settings must be done properly and with patience to make any serious headway. For every St. Mary's in Norwalk there is a first Friday of the month at 9:30AM Mass elsewhere that gets 20 people and the priest assumes a lack of interest. There is also the potential instability, should a new, indifferent pastor inherit and ruin a good situation.
So what say ye? Should traditionalists take the fight to the parishes, and toughen themselves in the process? Or should they purse their lips against the Oath of Supremacy and be content with their constant recusancy?