Saint Joseph's modified Benedictine altar arrangement:Louie Verrecchio has an article in Renew America in which in writes he believes that the SSPX will be reunited to Rome and that Rome will take steps to correct some aspects of Vatican II that SSPX disagrees. You can read is article by pressing these sentences. I wonder if Louie thinks he is clairvoyant. I have some strong doubts about what he predicts, but who knows until something does or doesn't happen. The following is a brief excerpt from his article (My comments will follow):
It appears to me that the Society (SSPX) is preparing its faithful for reconciliation under terms that may be less than perfect, but that nonetheless represent a pathway to healing for the Church as a whole. Please note: While one may be tempted to believe that the Society alone is doing all of the clarifying, rewording and conceding in this process, one of the benefits of having kept the Preamble's text secret is that it has afforded the Holy See an opportunity to contribute in like manner without any concern for the perceptions of others.
It is only speculation on my part, of course, but I sense that the SSPX has been given assurances that, in spite of remaining difficulties, the Holy Father sees the crisis in the Church in much the same way it does, and he will undertake steps (perhaps specific ones) to restore order more aggressively than in the past once the Society is regularized and can support him in this effort from within.
No, the pope doesn't need anyone to have his back in order to so rule, but for whatever reason it is clear that the Holy Father has exercised much restraint over the years. Could it be that (please, God!) he is preparing to take the gloves off?
As the effects of old age are increasingly making themselves known to Pope Benedict, so too are the evil intentions of his enemies who grow bolder by the day. Maybe the pope has decided that now is the time to engage Satan's minions full force with a bold program of restoration; one that will lead to the smaller more faithful Church he once envisioned. If so, bringing the Society home beforehand is more than just a matter of marshaling forces; it is also a way for the shepherd to provide additional refuge for the faithful amidst the turmoil that will no doubt ensue.
My suspicions were only strengthened when Pope Benedict chose the occasion of his Chrism Mass homily to chastise a group of dissenting clerics purportedly consisting of over 300 Austrian priests who, among other things, are calling for female ordination and an end to priestly celibacy.
"They are convinced that the slow pace of institutions has to be overcome by drastic measures, in order to open up new paths and to bring the Church up to date. But is disobedience really a way to do this," the Holy Father asked rhetorically?
This leads to a few rhetorical questions of my own: Is it merely coincidence that the SSPX District Superior in Germany (Austria's neighbor) was the first to publicly signal imminent reconciliation "for the good of the Church?" If the Holy Father were planning to enjoin the renegade Austrian clerics (and others like them throughout the world) with the firmness their actions beg, might not the prior regularization of the Society be especially valuable?
One should take note that the Holy Father did not say that "drastic measures" are not needed in order to overcome the present condition of the Church; rather, he pointed to zeal for the doctrine of the Faith as proposed by the teaching office of the Church as the real keys to renewal. In other words, one might reasonably believe that the Holy Father is telling us to prepare for the drastic measures that are in fact coming.
It may just be hopefulness on my part, but on Holy Thursday, Pope Benedict may have hinted at what the aforementioned program of restoration might include when he spoke so eloquently about the importance of kneeling.
"When menaced by the power of evil, as [Christians] kneel, they are upright before the world, while as sons and daughters, they kneel before the Father. Before God's glory we Christians kneel and acknowledge his divinity; by that posture we also express our confidence that he will prevail," he said invoking an imagery of battle.
Could it be that the Holy Father is signaling a universal mandate requiring the reception of Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue, something the SSPX and many others in the Church would surely welcome?
The Holy Father went on to say, "In His anguished prayer on the Mount of Olives, Jesus resolved the false opposition between obedience and freedom, and opened the path to freedom."
Is the pope suggesting a willingness to reexamine of the notion of religious liberty put forth by the Council; the same which so clearly divorces freedom from obedience to truth?
If this were not intriguing enough to the traditional mind, the pope's Easter Vigil homily offered more images of warfare as he stressed the tremendous value of knowing the doctrine of the faith.
"Light makes life possible. It makes encounter possible. It makes communication possible. It makes knowledge, access to reality and to truth, possible. And insofar as it makes knowledge possible, it makes freedom and progress possible. Evil hides. Light, then, is also an expression of the good that both is and creates brightness," the Holy Father continued. "It is daylight, which makes it possible for us to act. To say that God created light means that God created the world as a space for knowledge and truth, as a space for encounter and freedom, as a space for good and for love."
In juxtaposing knowledge, goodness and light with ignorance, evil and darkness, is it possible that the Holy Father is hinting at the dawn of a new day in the Church wherein heresy will once again be slayed as heretics are condemned and called to account with real consequences for sowing their evil seeds?
There is much we still don't know in this situation (not the least of which is the content of the Preamble), but of two things we can be absolutely certain:
One, if and when the SSPX is regularized and the ministry of their priests and bishops is made licit, it will be a great blessing for the entire Church, and secondly, Her enemies will make themselves known with unbridled ferocity.
Bishop Fellay's advice is ever timely; we must turn with confidence to the Blessed Virgin Mary who shows us the Father's will and obtains for us the grace to follow.
There are many aspects of the SSPX movement that cause me some concern. No they are not like the 300 priests in Austria who are asking the Church to truly become something else because SSPX doesn't really call into question the core teachings of the Church in doctrine or dogma as the ultra liberals of Austria. My concern with any group that wants to control the Church at large, whether it be SSPX who thinks it has the right way or the 300 dissenting priests and their followers who think they have the right way and thus become fanatical in their arrogance.
But let's face it, SSPX isn't the ultra liberal 300 priests in Austria who want a neo-Catholic Church that even traditional Protestants would think is a bit much in terms of "over-reform." The SSPX has more in common with orthodox Catholicism than liberal Lutheranism and Anglicanism has with Catholicism and yet most Catholics feel more cordiality toward Lutherans and Anglicans than they do their very own brothers and sisters in SSPX. That's a bit odd. Is this an example of ecumenism gone nuts?
But let me comment on what I think the Holy Father might want to accomplish in terms of the reform of the reform before he passes the baton to the next pope. Time is clearly running out for Pope Benedict, but who knows I think he could live well into his 90's. So don't count him out yet.
This is clairvoyance speaking, so take the following for what it is as I have no real inside track other than what Pope Benedict has been modeling and he is a pope of symbols and his symbols should be alerting bishops of the world to what he intends to legislate. For example prior to allowing the more liberal allowance of the Tridentine Mass, he modeled celebrating it as a Cardinal (but not as pope) but very early in his papacy he met with cardinals and bishops concerning the liturgy and threw out the idea of the Tridentine Mass being given more of a place of privilege in the Church to which many bishops cautioned him not to, but he did anyway. So this is what I think we will see in future legislation of the reform of the reform based upon Pope Benedict's liturgical writing prior to be pope and what he has written since and most importantly what he has actually modeled:
1. The Benedictine Altar arrangement is not just for the Vatican but everywhere the pope goes to celebrate Mass even if that arrangement isn't the norm for the places he visits. That will be the mandated decoration of the altar which is what it was prior to Vatican II; So Mass will either be celebrated with that arrangement facing the people or facing God (ad orientem). Most of us feel that this altar arrangement is best facing ad orientem.
2. Limited use of Latin will be mandated. I have my own ideas about this, but what the pope has modeled and not immediately into is papacy but within the last four years or so is the following concerning Latin. He usually on his visits but also at the Vatican prays the Mass in the vernacular except for the following: The Preface Dialogue and Preface and the Eucharistic Prayer (and he uses the options for the Eucharistic Prayer available). The Pater Noster is also in Latin, but not necessarily its embolism and doxology. So this will be mandated, what he has modeled.
3. Kneeling for the reception of Holy Communion and receiving Holy Communion on the tongue will be reinstated as the mandated norm. I think this will be inevitable and will do more to restore a sense of reverence during the reception of Holy Communion than anything else.
Since the Holy Father has been modeling all three of these and has spoken specifically about kneeling for Holy Communion, none of the three things I suggest as being mandated in the near future will come as any shock to anyone except those who are not pope-watchers.