Summorum Pontificum at 10

7.7.7: An historic moment in the life of the Church.

For me personally Summorum Pontificum opened up an experience of the Mass that enriches my life every day, even though I rarely take advantage of the permission. Perhaps I attend Mass according to the 1962 Missal 8-10 times a year. But when I do, there seems to me to be a great difference in my dispositions, and of my degree of receptivity to grace, than when attending the ordinary form. This taste of heaven, this time out of time, strengthens my heart for the rigors of the Gospel like nothing else has ever done.

The receptivity has to do with a certain silence and peace.

I experience silence, interior silence, even when there is a great deal of activity, for example at a Solemn High Mass, with its overlapping motions and sounds, with prayers repeated, whispered, announced. It is very calm. I breathe more deeply. Such a quiet peace.

This quiet is possible at the postconciliar, ordinary form of the rite. It is possible, but not normal. What is more normal for me is a rushed and hurried experience. The sometimes casual and often thoughtless atmosphere becomes part of my own experience of trying to pray the Mass.

Instead of sharing peace, I share in the distractions all around.

It seems to me that a certain hierarchy has been inverted. Sunday Mass should be the prayer experience par excellence, an experience that our daily Masses and personal prayers echo but never reach with the same profundity. Instead, I find that my private prayers are more devotional and solemn than daily Mass in the ordinary form, which is in turn more prayerful and less distracting than the ordinary form Sunday Mass.

There will be time for hard work and striving in the world, for taking the goods of the Liturgy into every corner of society. But first, these goods of the Liturgy must be available to the faithful at the Sunday Mass. Certainly the Lord is present, the consecration occurs. But it seems to me that the question liturgists should ask is how to help dispose the human heart towards recollection, openness to grace, receptivity to the graces of the sacraments and to the theological virtues.

St. Francis used to tell his brethren that if they were sad, they should go to Confession. For me, I find that when my gas tank of recollection is running low, the extraordinary form of the Mass is available and a help to my heart, and I am truly grateful for this permission.