Thursday, 17 September 2009

"No going back" - Fr Kramer FSSP on Vatican radio

Fr Kramer of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter is the parish Priest of the Church of the Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini in the historic heart of Rome, erected by the Vicariate of Rome as a personal parish to guarantee pastoral care for the community of Traditional faithful in Rome. On the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which marked the second anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, Fr Kramer gave an interview for Vatican Radio.

Fr Kramer especially emphasised that the restoration of the traditional form of the Roman Rite is not a matter of "going back" to the time before Vatican II. He spoke particularly of the greater warmth and communication between bishops and priests, and between priests and people. I agree with him. There was certainly warm and open communication in some cases but I think he is right that this has been greatly improved in recent decades.

Another important consideration is the reverence with which Mass is celebrated. One side of the "mutual enrichment" is surely that with the celebration in the vernacular of the newer form of the Roman Rite, it is much less acceptable for the priest to gabble through the rite, paying little attention to the words, in order to finish the Mass as quickly as possible. I think that this has fed into the present-day celebration of the usus antiquior. You are probably not going to come across the celebration of Low Mass in fifteen minutes. In that sense too, there is no going back.

The usus antiquior does not encourage the priest to impose his own personality on the Mass - you say the prayers devoutly and carefully but without arbitrarily imposed delays. Nevertheless, I think that priests who say the EF Mass nowadays do not do so in irreverent haste.

For the celebration of the newer form in the vernacular, we can also learn from this mutual enrichment. The Mass is not the place for the priest to show off his communication skills, to entertain the congregation, or even to show how devout he is by his pauses, his pious emphasis of certain words, or his theatrical expression. Our task is to say Mass devoutly, and to allow the Holy Spirit to speak through the Liturgy itself.
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