From the Very Rev Fr Leo Chamberlain OSB SIR – Tom McIntyre’s essential point (Letter, March 18) was fair. Postmodern individualism is the problem, in other things besides liturgy. The reasons for this are to be found in the personal and social attitudes of our day, which affect Catholics as much as others. This can be described as the turn to the subjective, in which personal taste is the arbiter on questions of faith and morality as well as liturgy. The possibility of dogmatic truth is denied. The prophetic Blessed John Henry Newman referred to it as liberalism. Pope Benedict uses the term relativism. This far more than liturgical disorder is the reason for the loss of faith and religious practice. A steady and reverent liturgy will help, and is very important, but in the main we must stand fast until the world turns again, while ever grateful to popes and bishops who offer clear teaching but also turn a listening ear and offer an inviting hand, as Pope Benedict did here last year.
One does not have to agree with all Mr McIntyre writes so ably. But Dr Shaw’s characterisation of his views (Letter, March 25) as peculiar and obsessive is unfair. Dr Shaw and his colleagues in the Latin Mass Society would do better themselves to use the terms carefully used in Summorum Pontificum. In this correspondence and in their publicity they repeatedly refer to “the Traditional Mass”, capitalised thus. This is unfortunate. The papal document is clear that both the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form are equally celebrations of the Roman Rite. Both are legitimate and both are of the tradition. Tradition, the passing on of the truths of the Faith, is fundamental to the holding of the Catholic Faith. Under the terms of the Motu Proprio, we can refer to the old form or the old use, rather than the extraordinary form, but the Latin Mass Society is not entitled to arrogate to itself the tradition. Such an attitude tends to prevent the desired outcome that the two forms might be, in Pope Benedict’s words, “mutually enriching”.
Speaking for myself, I would gladly foster a group wanting the Latin Mass, in its old or new form; but that is how it would be advertised. There is rather too much party spirit about the approach of the LMS. The Pope wants “an interior reconciliation” and so should we all. In quoting his predecessor, Pope St Gregory the Great, beloved of the English, Pope Benedict might well have further quoted him, “where there is one faith, a diversity of usage does no harm to the Church”. Suggestions or implications that the Ordinary Form of the Mass properly celebrated is somehow doctrinally unsafe will not do. After all, the Pope’s expectation is that “the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite”. Yours faithfully, LEO CHAMBERLAIN Easingwold, York