Well that didn’t take long.
Like an imprudent Imperial officer questioning Darth Vader’s confidence in the Force, Cardinal Robert Sarah dared to address a central tenet of the erroneous Spirit of Vatican 2, and for his “lack of faith” in a post-conciliar liturgical innovation, he has been promptly given the Vader treatment…and in the Year of Mercy no less!
What was the great offense committed by this humble and soft spoken prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments? What was said to actually prompt a clarification from the Vatican?…yes, you read that correctly…an actual, honest to goodness, clarification from Rome!
Cardinal Sarah had the audacity, the absolute temerity, to suggest that his brother bishops consider returning to ad orientem Masses beginning this Advent. At their discretion. Only following proper catechesis. And in continuity with the liturgical tradition of the Catholic Church, east and west, for 1,900 years.
It wasn’t as if the Cardinal advocated giving holy communion to those living in adulterous relationships, where a valid sacramental marriage ended in divorce (no annulment) and yet a second, civil, marriage has been entered into.
It’s not like Cardinal Sarah authored an intentionally ambiguous exhortation which has resulted in entire bishops conferences offering conflicting interpretations of a magisterial document…when charity and justice would seem to demand an immediate clarification from Holy Mother Church.
No, all Cardinal Sarah did was suggest that all of us, priest and faithful together, turn toward the Lord, ad orientem, in those appropriate moments of the liturgy.
So, in the spirit of another Catholic blogger, here are ten things to know and share about Cardinal Sarah having his liturgical legs cut out from underneath him:
1. He gave his address a week ago at Sacra Liturgia UK.
2. The Catholic internet blew up over his suggestion for masses to be offered ad orientem beginning the First Sunday of Advent.
3. Aging hippies, Jesuits, and modernists (often one and the same) and readers of sites such as Pray Tell flipped out at the very thought that the Mass isn’t about them after all.
4. Cardinal Sarah met with Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, who proceeded to pull a Brutus to Sarah’s Caesar. Nichols promptly had a letter out to his priests advising them that they would most certainly not be turning eastward this Advent, as he apparently believes that worship of God cannot be sustained unless priest and faithful stare at each other unceasingly at Mass.
5. Cardinal Sarah returned to Rome on Saturday and, reportedly, was summoned to meet with the pope. One can only guess how this went. We can hope it was an opportunity for accompaniment…as opposed to some kind of sensitivity training…mandated (no doubt) for those still clinging to that whole “reform of the reform” business Benedict was so fond of.
6. By Monday, July 11, two more Jesuits had their crack at Sarah. First, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, papal adviser and editor of the influential Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica, tweeted a series of excerpts from the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal), apparently seeking to discredit Cardinal Sarah. It didn’t. Then, outgoing Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. also misinterpreted the GIRM in a communique released on Monday, arguing incorrectly (like Cardinal Nichols) that a recommendation for a free standing altar in #299 means that versus populum is the liturgical norm for the Ordinary Form. This tired and erroneous reading has been refuted before.
7. By Monday afternoon America Magazine, Rocco Palma, and their readers were celebrating the public “schooling” given to a celebrated voice for orthodoxy.
I don’t really have an 8, 9, or 10. Besides, why does a “ten things to know and share” list actually need to have ten things? That just strikes me as rigid legalism.
What happens next? Who knows. Will Cardinal Sarah end up on a metaphorical Malta; banished to the Trad gulag for failure to embrace liturgical rupture over continuity? We pray that is not the case.
What has been made very clear (again) for anyone still in denial about it is this: the Spirit of Vatican 2 is alive and well. The reform of the reform, so much a part of the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, is simply as optional as the Ordinary Form of the Mass is itself option filled.
Go back and read the top 5 Quotes from Cardinal Sarah’s address. There is nothing in his talk that is earth shattering, revolutionary, or inconsistent with the tradition of the Roman Rite. That he and his suggestion caused such a reaction only speaks to how severe the rupture truly is.
Lord have mercy.
Originally published at Liturgyguy.com
Brian Williams is a convert who entered the Catholic Church in 2006. He is a graduate of Long Beach State University with a BA in History. Brian blogs on life, liturgy and the pursuit of holiness at liturgyguy.com. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and five children.