Enrichment - keeping it mutual

Along with several other commentators, I mentioned the excellent homily of Archbishop Nichols last Tuesday at the opening Mass for the LMS training conference at Merton College. His words were particularly encouraging for the priests who had gathered to begin learning or deepen their knowledge of the older form of the rite. The Archbishop said:
I hope that your study of the Missal of Pope John XXIII will help you to appreciate the history and richness of that form of the Mass. And I trust that you will bring all that you learn to every celebration of the Mass you lead in the future.
In the context of this positive appreciation of Archbishop Nichols' words, I would like to take up one question which will, I am sure, be the focus of much discussion in the future.

Pope Benedict affirmed clearly that there are not two rites, but two forms of the one Roman Rite. The Archbishop says:
Why does the Pope insist that there is one rite of the Mass? Because, whichever form is being used, the same mystery is being celebrated, the same rite is followed. There is one mystery and there is one movement, or structure, through which that mystery is enacted.
I would suggest that there is something more to the Holy Father's insistence on the "one rite, two forms." After all, the various Eastern rites all celebrate the same mystery of salvation but they are not forms of the Roman rite. It is also worth remembering that where the newer form of the Roman Rite is celebrated well (as on Tuesday morning at Merton, for example), there can be no doubt that the kind of rite that is celebrated is Roman - it could not be mistaken for any other kind of rite.

This would all be a matter of terminology were it not for the purpose of the Holy Father: he sees the two forms of the rite as "mutually enriching." Most people seem to understand this in terms of enriching the older form with some of the prefaces of the newer form, and the celebration of some of the new saints; and enriching the newer form with the sense of the sacred that is found in proper celebrations of the older form.

I wonder whether we might also look for other more particular ways in which the older form could enrich the celebration of the Missal of Paul VI. The Holy Father himself, writing in "The Spirit of the Liturgy" suggested that the recitation of the canon in silence would be a good option to have available. He also suggested the possibility of using both the priestly prayers before Holy Communion. Pope John Paul quoted the scriptural prayer that the priest used to say before receiving from the chalice. There are several devotional prayers said secreto (the aufer a nobis, the oramus te and the placeat tibi for example) which the priest could say without in any way disrupting the flow of the newer rite. I have also heard that Cardinal Estevez was in favour of introducing the older offertory prayers as an option in the 2000 edition of the new Roman Missal.

I hope that in due course, considerable latitude will be explicitly allowed for priests to introduce elements of the usus antiquior into celebrations according to the ordinary form. Many priests have done so for a while now, perhaps wondering a little in conscience occasionally. Removing such scruples would be very much in accord with the project of Summorum Pontificum and would allow the ordinary form of the rite to undergo a slow and organic correction.

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