Those who predicted a radical “simplification” of the liturgy to be on display at the Mass for the inauguration of Pope Francis’s pontificate were proven wrong by the dignified ceremonies almost entirely in Latin (with a reading of the Gospel in Greek). The Mass even featured the Roman Canon, rarely seen in use outside of the traditional Latin Mass and (quite outrageously) reduced to a mere “option” in the Missal of Paul VI (although Anibale Bugnini failed in his evil attempt to abolish the Roman Canon entirely).
While this was a Novus Ordo Mass, of course — what else could one expect? — we were spared the banal and even vulgar music, the boisterous outbursts from the crowd, and the obnoxious banner- and flag-waving that characterized so many of the “papal liturgies” of John Paul II. The principal liturgical instrument was an organ, along with a brass ensemble. The music was entirely consonant with the august occasion even if not optimal from a traditional liturgical standpoint.
In short, at least for now Pope Francis seems to be maintaining the “reform of the reform” liturgical line of his predecessor, which aims at restoring a semblance of liturgical solemnity to counter what the former Pope has rightly called the “banalization” of the liturgy after Vatican II. Tellingly, the Master of Ceremonies was former Pope Benedict’s own Guido Marini — rumors of Marini’s imminent sacking to the contrary notwithstanding.
Let us hope that Pope Francis continues to maintain this trend toward greater dignity in the New Mass, resisting any temptation to abandon “useless ceremonies” for the sake of an appearance of “simplicity” that would actually be a degradation of ecclesiastical and even apostolic tradition. The Pope should ignore the innovators who, like those condemned by Pius VI in 1794, demanded “a greater simplicity of [the Mass], by expressing it in the vernacular language, by uttering it in a loud voice; as if the present order of the liturgy, received and approved by the Church, had emanated in some part from the forgetfulness of the principles by which it should be regulated….” (Auctorem Fidei, Condemned Proposition No. 33).
But let us also hope our new Pope continues as well the full liturgical restoration that former Pope Benedict commenced with his rescue of the traditional Latin Mass from its decades-long false imprisonment by bureaucrats and bishops. For only when the traditional Mass has been restored to its rightful place throughout the Church will the “collapse of the liturgy” lamented by Cardinal Ratzinger be repaired. Perhaps Pope Francis will lead the way by celebrating the traditional Latin Mass himself. Oremus.
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