I usually do not like commenting on the doings of other blogs, since I figure that people can run their blogs howsoever they choose and I have little interest in igniting a blog-war. But Anthony’s reposting of my post of a year ago prompts me to comment on something I noticed over on the New Liturgical Movement blog. For some time I have noticed a waning of interest there with regard to the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Indeed, since the resignation of Pope Benedict one rarely finds photos there of OF Masses, unless they were being celebrated ad orientem. It seems to have become primarily an Extraordinary Form blog (for example, a recent post of photos of Candlemas celebrations from various places all seem to be either EF or Ordinariate usage). Which is fine; like I said, people can run their blogs howsoever they choose.
But the concurrence of two recent posts struck me as worth noting.
Fr. Thomas Kocik’s post “Reforming the Irreformable”, if I read it correctly, announces that he is more or less giving up on the Reform of the Reform project, since he considers the reformed liturgy as beyond repair, being a “hack-job inflicted by Pope Paul VI’s Consilium on the whole liturgical edifice of the Latin Church.” He counsels, rather, a “reset” of the liturgy that goes back before the Novus Ordo Missae but incorporates the changes mandated by Vatican II — more or less the 1965 Missal.
Dr. Peter Kwasniewski’s post, “Is It Fitting for the Priest to Recite All the Texts of the Mass?” raises the stakes on Fr. Kocik by calling into question not just the Novus Ordo Missae and the other post-Conciliar reforms, but even such pre-conciliar desiderata of the Liturgical Movement as the priest singing/reciting the proper and ordinary along with the schola/assembly. Without going into the details of Dr. Kwasniewski’s argument (while at the same time noting the gentle dissent from some of his points by Fr. Augustine Thompson), I find it interesting how the ground has shifted: the Reform of the Reform is for some no longer the “middle ground” in the debate but rather not an option at all. The middle ground now seems to be a moderate reform of the 1962 Missal, but even that is questionable for some.
Which brings me back to the issue of Papal example. It seems to be that the wind has been taken out of the sails of the Reform of the Reform movement by two things. First, the election of Pope Francis has made it seem unlikely that some of the reforms of the OF so desired by some — mandatory communion on the tongue and kneeling, exclusive use of the Roman Canon on Sundays, restoration (at least as an option) of the prayers at the foot of the altar and the old offertory prayers, mandatory ad orientem posture for the celebrant or at least the “Benedictine arrangement” — are unlikely to come to pass (the new Anglican Ordinariate liturgy, rather than being a harbinger of the furute, seems to be more of a last hurrah). Indeed, the wild enthusiasm in many quarters for Francis’s “low church” style make it seem that such things are not only not going to be mandated from on high, but are also not likely to garner much grassroots support.
Second, Summorum Pontificum has also taken the wind out of the sails of the Reform of the Reform. The posts by Fr. Kocik and Dr. Kwasniewski, though at different points along the spectrum, both seem to be saying, if we can have the real thing (i.e. the EF), why bother with the ersatz (i.e. the OF)? Some, like Dr. Kwasniewski, might think that the EF is perfect as it is and others, like Fr. Kocik, might want to tweak it a bit, but since Summorum Pontificum the EF has become the standard for many former proponents of the Reform of the Reform.
All of which is to say that I continue to wonder what future there is for the Reform of the Reform. Its most ardent proponents seem to be abandoning it for the EF. Is it attracting new proponents among those who continue to be inspired by the example of Benedict XVI, or will the example of Francis inspire a new generation, which is content with a fairly plain celebration of the OF and uninterested in recovering aspects of the pre-Conciliar liturgy? As usual, only time will tell.