Since July 7th, the Pope's Motu Proprio letter Summorum Pontificum had made headlines everywhere, prompting some poorly-researched, some hysterical (check here for Fr Z's excellent response), some trite responses from the usual suspects and the rest of the journalist denizens.
Yet, since mentioned before, I have not been to an "older" form of the Mass, nor have there been a mention of it by any of our parish priests in the last few days, this post isn't about joining the throng of voices that debate whether or not this is the right move for the Church to step into. No, I think the issue here is about the perception of power game and the lack of obedience. Does the average Catholic think that the Pope really just wake up one day deciding that he misses the 1962, older (more beautiful?) form of Mass and that those similarly inclined amongst the laity should also have this upon their whim? Or that he has been plotting all this while to 'turn back the clock'? More passionate & analytical minds have analysed the motives, better still, the Pope himself had written an explanation letter accompanying the Motu!
Once again, the little book Simon Peter offered a wonderful meditation about St Peter & the chair his successors inherit:
"The momentary weakness of Peter, foreseen by the Master, proves to us that in giving His Church a monarchical foundation, Jesus had weighed up all the risks. He knew that all the successors of Cephas would not be saints, that some would be the victims of ambition, of cupidity, or of less avowable passions still. However saddened we are by the indignity of a very small number of bad popes, it is a fact at least affirmed by historical documents, that not a single one of them was led away by the disorders of their private lives to relax the least precept of the moral law, not a single one among them tried to forgive their errors by letting the deposit of dogmatic truth be encroached upon.
Should the faults of some make us forget the virtue, the science, the zeal of so many other pontiffs?
A man, a single man, even if he is a saint, will never get rid of his personality. His opinions will always be influenced by his cast of spirit, his manner of governing will also depend on his temperament. ... It is true that every Pope, however respectful of tradition, directs the Church in a certain spirit, that each reign has its ruling idea or ideas, and once can see, without any difficulty, difference of orientation from one pontificate to another. Differences, yes; divergences, no, and contradictions, less still.
As to the fact of finding out whether, different as they are from one another, each is the authentic representative of the authority of Christ, history makes the reply that each pope comes at his hour, and that his genius accords providentially with the necessities of the moment.
The respect with which we speak of the Pope will dispose us to obeying him more perfectly. [L]ike true sons, we will listen attentively to the simple counsels of the Father of the faithful and we will apply ourselves to putting them loyally into practice.
It may come about that one or other of the pontifical directions may interfere with our spiritual habits or claim the sacrifice of temporal interests that we believed were basic to us. In such a case, instead of pretending that we have a monopoly of truth, would it not be wiser if we first of all tried to understand our head's thought well? The Pope sees higher and farther than us. This is why his word has an import that surpasses our particular views and such of his instructions as can astonish you respond in reality not only to the problems of today but also the difficulties of tomorrow.
Imagine for the moment the problems that pose themselves to the conscience of the Sovereign Pontiff. He knows that the least word he says will have gone around the world in a few hours: is he not going to weigh each of his words carefully—to avoid everything that might give rise to confusion—to soften, even if some (and there are always some) think the qualification excessive, to soften an expression which, incorrectly understood, might cause more harm than it would shed light? It is not only his authority that he exercises in issuing an order or a defence, he knows that his will shall be executed by hundreds of thousads of the faithful whom one inopportune command could put astray.
Do you not think he can forget his responsibility? If he were only a man like one of us, he would only want to open his mouth after having consulted and interrogated, collected all opinions, and having personally studied and reflected. Which of us would dare to raise our voice in such conditions? Would we not prefer to remain silent? The Pope only speaks because he has a duty to do so, an imperative duty attached to his charge. Also he does not content himself with these long conferences with his conscience; he converses longer still with God, in a prayer in which his whole soul gives itself over, and only wants to give itself over, to the Holy Ghost. What is at stake for those who will not obey his word, is perhaps their eternal salvation. Who would suppose that he is going to speak lightly, or under the influence of human considerations? It is on his knees that he meditates the doctrine of his encyclicals. The condemnation that he must issue would never see the light of day if he had not the certainty that he must speak in the name of Christ.
I am convinced, Brethren, that there would be no more dissidents among the Catholics of our day if all would only try to reflect on this: the Pope has a conscience, the conscience of an honest man, the conscience of a Christian, the conscience of a head (and what a head!) the representative of Christ before all Christians.
You need not look for any other proof that the Sovereign Pontiff is conscious of the other responsibilities that are his, than the insistence with which he demands that we fulfil our third duty in respect to him, that of praying with him and for him. No Mass is celebrated without our mentioning his name."
Oremus pro Pontifice nostro BENEDICTUS!