Monday 12 July 2021

Cardinal Zen on the value of the Extraordinary Form

Joseph, Cardinal Zen posted this on his personal website, in Italian, and tweeted it on 12th June 2021. 

Translation by Diane Montagna: reproduced with permission.


What’s the harm in making the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite accessible to all?

I have read in the news quite worrying reports about possible restrictions to the celebration of the Tridentine Mass (what we now call the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite). I want to make it clear that I cannot be considered an extremist of this liturgical form and that I have worked actively, as a priest and as a bishop, for the liturgical reform after Vatican II, also by trying to curb excesses and abuses, which unfortunately have not been lacking in my diocese. So, I will not be accused of factiousness. But I cannot deny, in my experience in Hong Kong, the great good that has come from the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum and from the celebration of the Tridentine Mass. There is a faithful group here that, for decades, has participated in this form that comes to us from the liturgical riches of our Tradition, a group that has never created problems for the diocese and whose participants have never questioned the legitimacy of the renewed Mass. Many young people have passed through the community that participates in the Extraordinary Form in Hong Kong, and through this Mass they have rediscovered the sense of adoration and reverence that we owe to God, our Creator.

I have worked for the liturgical reform, as I said, but I cannot forget the Mass of my childhood. I cannot forget when, as a child in Shanghai, my father, a devout Catholic, took me to Mass every day and on Sundays made me attend five Masses! I felt such reverence, I was so fascinated (and still am!) by the beauty of Gregorian Chant, that I think that experience nourished my vocation to the priesthood, as it did for so many others. I remember the many Chinese faithful (and I don’t think all of them knew Latin...) participating in these liturgical ceremonies with great enthusiasm, just as I can now witness in the community attending the Tridentine Mass in Hong Kong.

The Tridentine Mass is not divisive; on the contrary, it unites us to our brothers and sisters of all ages, to the saints and martyrs of every age, to those who have fought for their faith and who have found in it inexhaustible spiritual nourishment.

Translation by Diane Montagna

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