I’ve gotten a few messages and emails about what has been posted over at Rorate Cæli about the debate regarding the Dialogue Mass, what I wrote on Monday regarding the Dialogue Mass, and New Catholic, the administrator of that blog, calling it an “artificial debate”. Yes, for the record, I’m very well aware of what was posted there, both in the initial post and in the comments. I haven't read all the emails or messages, because, simply I haven't the heart, so please excuse me if I don't write you back personally on this issue. This will serve as a general response.
Regarding New Catholic’s last “artificial debate” comment, a good friend of mine told me on the phone today: “Well, I guess we now know who on the internet is a dialoguer and who isn’t!” That may be true, but then, again, it may not. I don’t really care. That isn’t the point.
I would like to express my disappointment and discouragement that my research was dismissed out of hand by New Catholic without his having taken the time to read my essays. I found this to be hurtful because I have nothing but admiration and respect for New Catholic and the work he has done over the years in promoting traditional Catholicism and serving traditional Catholics. He is someone to whom I would give the benefit of the doubt without question on any topic, even now.
I understand his concerns, judging from the tone and tenor of others leaving comments, and I do share them, as I strongly believe that this issue needs to be approached in a charitable and brotherly fashion, with patience, calm, and respect for others. However, we also must have respect for the facts, and we must approach them in the most reasonable way possible. For my part, I started out with one position, but was pliable enough to the historical and practical facts, the fruits of my research and the studied opinions of those better than myself to change my position. If, at the end of my hard work and hours and hours of research, it should be dismissed as “artificial”… well, then so be it. It is hard, though, coming from someone whom I respect and admire.
Having said that, I think it fair to relate here what I related to New Catholic specifically in regard to the Dialogue Mass debate. He chose not to publish my comment at Rorate Cæli, so here is a somewhat embellished version of it:
If certain innovations of the 20th Century Liturgical Movement are beyond discussion for no other reason than some or many are attached to that given innovation, or because a certain group of a certain kind of people practice that given innovation, then where do we stop? What then is open for discussion?
If the Dialogue Mass can’t be questioned because this or that person has a particular preference for it, then on what grounds can we criticize any other innovation of the 20th Century Liturgical Movement? If the Dialogue Mass can’t be questioned, challenged and discussed, then neither can versus populum, or the use of the vernacular, or even the novus ordo; certainly not the changes to the Triduum in the 1950s, a debate that was enthusiastically hosted at Rorate Cæli! Most Catholics attend the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, and even a good number of traditional Catholics as well. Are we to conclude therefrom that any debate concerning the novus ordo is “artificial”? What can be and cannot be discussed would become a matter of personal preference or whim.
If New Catholic thinks it best to silence any and all debate about the Dialogue Mass at his blog (which is his prerogative) based on the fact that it is allowed and is practiced by many and by a certain kind of traditional Catholic, then he ought to be consistent and silence at his blog any and all discussion about every single innovation of the 20th century, including the novus ordo. After all, they are all "licit" and any discussion, with or without "exaggerated rhetoric", of their merits or lack of merit would be so many "impositions"! Whatever is licit is now beyond comment? So much, then, for the entire traditionalist critique of, not just things liturgical, but anything else that has emerged from our 20th century churchmen, be they canonical, doctrinal, or pastoral! The SSPX ought to be celebrating the novus ordo, and the rest of us ought to be enjoying some liturgical dance with guitars and bongos at Masses we share with our Protestant brothers and sisters!
Sorry for the hyperbole.
In conclusion, no, I do not know what he means by “artificial debate”. If this is an “artificial debate” then I’m not clear by what standard any debate or discussion about 20th century innovations can be deemed as real. At any rate, I will continue to stand by my assessments of the 20th Century Liturgical Movement and the crisis it brought upon the Church. It really doesn’t matter to me if in the end I must stand alone and be decried as a fool by those whom I considered friends. I will not take before the Judgment Seat of Christ a single regret in regards to His Temple.
Part II of my Assessment of the Dialogue Mass will be published tomorrow morning at 6am EST. Thank you for your patience.