Reflections on the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes, for the good of the Universal Church

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I am sure that many of you are left with questions and even disappointments after listening to the publication of the new Motu Proprio ‘Traditionis Custodes’ (Custodians of Tradition) by His Holiness Pope Francis on 16 July 2021 regarding the rules and regulations on the celebration of the Holy Mass in the Roman Rite using the 1962 Missal, also known as the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite or Usus Antiquior.

There are undoubtedly many different responses from all segments of the Church, from utter dismay and anger by those who felt betrayed and oppressed by the new stricter regulations, to those who are rejoicing and exuberant because they had long opposed and were vocal critics of the ancient Mass and tradition. Unfortunately, the nature of these responses is exactly why the release of this Motu Proprio is an opportunity for the entire Church to reflect carefully on what our faith and our authentic liturgical expression is all about.

First of all, Traditionis Custodes does not equate the banning or attempt to make the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite illegal, unlike what quite a few individuals and groups had been saying. Unsurprisingly, these are the same groups and individuals that had been the very reason why Traditionis Custodes had been promulgated and published in the first place. These are the clear minority among those who treasure faith and tradition, and yet, are the most vocal and radical in their viewpoints, which unfortunately led to the broad characterisation and prejudice against the entire communities of the faithful favourable to the Extraordinary Form and tradition as a whole.

On the other extreme, we also have those who will not stop at anything to ‘change’ the Church and its teachings, a relativistic attitude to conform to worldly preferences and desires, to change the Church teachings and ways to suit the comforts and conveniences of men. These are also usually the same ones who are most jubilant and happy at the imposition of strict regulations as stipulated in the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes. In any case, these people who represent extreme attitudes are incompatible with the Universal Church, and were the ones that caused divisions within our Church and the communities of the faithful.

As such, we have to first of all appreciate that the ultimate goal of Popes since the efforts of Pope St. John Paul II in liberalising the use of the Extraordinary Form through the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei in 1988 and Pope Benedict XVI with Summorum Pontificum in 2007, is to bring together all the faithful in one expression of faith through the liturgy, encompassing both the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council while appreciating the riches of the tradition of the ancient liturgy, from which the Ordinary Form ultimately also stemmed from.

What the Popes intended is for all the faithful communities to benefit mutually from the best of each liturgies, the theology and the rich symbolism of the ancient Extraordinary Form, its adherence to the rubrics and emphasis on the Sacrificial nature of the Holy Mass, while also appreciating the beauty and outreach of the vernacular and the more widespread use of the Scriptures and its contents in the Ordinary Form, which remained faithful in all to the true essence of the Mass, that is the celebration of the Lord’s one and only Sacrifice at Calvary.

Unfortunately, there were those who continued to be stubborn and refused to acknowledge, respect or accept the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Although indeed there were abuses and grave errors in how some interpreted the Council and how they took the liturgy to the extent of liturgical abuse, but it can’t be denied that the actions of those who refused to accept the decisions, documents and developments of the Second Vatican Council have led to division within the united Church, the Body of Christ, with some even insisting on more extreme ideologies, rejecting even the Pope and other teachings of the Church.

That is why as we continue moving on forward as one united Body of Christ, the Church, we must make sure that the provisions of the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes are adhered to and followed. We have to trust in the Lord and the Holy Spirit, that the bishops to whom the authority had been entrusted in the management of the celebration of the Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form, will exercise prudence and sound judgment, charity and generosity in extending the permission to celebrate to all those who have been deemed suitable to celebrate with reverence, the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, for the benefit of all the faithful.

We also pray that the Lord will continue to bring us to true unity, that we will no longer be divided by our ideologies, and especially not by our liturgical preferences. The Holy Mass is after all, the same, valid and worthy, regardless whether it is done in the Ordinary Form or in the Extraordinary Form. What is important is the need for us to be reverent in our celebration of the Holy Mass, to be inclusive in our worship and to put God first and foremost in all things, especially in our worship above all else. That is why we should neither discriminate or be prejudiced against either the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form, or to be lacking in proper reverence and respect of the Lord, as some of the worst liturgical abuses had done in the past decades.

Let us all look deep into our faith and the traditions that our forefathers had upheld, and together with the Pope, our bishops and priests, and as one Universal Church, be more united to the Lord through prayer, and resolve to commit ourselves to better and ever more perfect unity through Him, that we may benefit from the riches of both Forms of our most noble Roman Rite, and grow ever stronger in our faith, with each and every passing moment. Let us all grow ever stronger in charity and compassion towards others, and develop a most loving and inclusive community of the faithful, united in the Lord, in purpose and mission, in our love and reverence to the Lord.

Peter C.M. David Kang

康銘琮

Singapore

18 July 2021

Friday, 16 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, celebrating the patron of the Carmelites in her appearance to St. Simon Stock, one of the early founders of what is now known as the Carmelite Order. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Mother of Our Lord, according to tradition, appeared to St. Simon Stock and gave him the now popular brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, promising grace and blessings to those who wear it with faith and devotion.

Through this devotion, the Lord called us all through the intercession of His beloved mother, Mary, Our Lady of Carmel, to turn towards Him and to be converted. The Lord called on everyone to put their trust in Him, and His ever loving mother always has her gaze on us all too, as we are all her adopted children, having been entrusted to her from the Cross by her Son. And through her and her many apparitions to us mankind, Mary, Our Lady of Carmel had endeavoured to bring us all ever closer to the Lord, to her Son, Our Saviour.

In today’s Scripture readings, from the day’s readings proper, we continue to hear the story of the Exodus of the Israelites from the land of Egypt, in the aftermath of the great plagues which came over Egypt as a result of their stubbornness and the Pharaoh’s refusal to let the people of Israel go free. As the Lord then revealed to Moses and Aaron, He instructed the people of Israel to prepare for the first Passover, as the commemoration of their freedom and as a constant reminder of the Lord’s mighty deeds in saving all of them.

That first Passover was a meal for the community and each families, all gathered that night to prepare for the salvation of God. The Passover lamb was prepared and chosen from among the flock, and slaughtered to be shared by the people gathered in the Passover feast, and its blood used to mark the houses of the Israelites that the Lord would spare them the incoming destruction. Thus, as they were spared from death and destruction that befell the Egyptians, as the Angels of the Lord ‘passed over’ the people of God as they came to scourge the land of Egypt and its people.

This is a reminder for us all of the most important role that Our Lord Himself, as Our Saviour had in our salvation. He is the Paschal Lamb sacrificed on the Altar of Calvary, the Altar of the Cross, and His Precious Blood shed, just like the Passover lamb, to mark all of His faithful ones, that those who have embraced Him as their Lord and Saviour, all of us, be spared the death and destruction that awaits those who have not received this grace of salvation. Through Him, all of us have received the assurance of eternal life and salvation.

God has done so much for all of us, all because of His generous love and commitment towards us, His ever strong desire to love us and to be reconciled with us. He does not want us to perish because of our sins and wickedness. That is why, He has reached out to us and sent to us His messengers, servants and others whom He has sent into our midst in order to remind us to walk in His path and not to fall into worldly temptations and falsehoods. We are all reminded to stay faithful to His way, and because of this, He enlisted even the help of His mother, Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel to help us in our journey.

All of us should look upon the faith and examples of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and how she is our inspiration and strength in living our lives faithfully as Christians. We should see how Mary followed her Son faithfully and with love, patiently and obediently in walking and journeying with Him, as she often followed Him from place to place. And she went up all the way even up to the feet of the Cross. Despite all the challenges and difficulties that she had to endure, Mary remained true to her calling and mission, and this, on top of her being the Mother of our Lord and God, is why we revere Mary as the greatest among all the saints and as our own beloved mother.

Let us all therefore look to the Lord and His salvation, to His Cross and the promise of His eternal glory, by journeying together and with Mary by our side, as we walk towards His Presence humbly and with faith. Let us all turn towards Him with renewed conviction and zeal, with desire and hope for healing and redemption, to be reconciled with God. Let us embrace the Lord Who has always lavished us with His love and compassionate mercy, and let us turn to Him with all of our heart and inspire others to do the same as well.

May Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mary, the Holy Mother of God and our beloved mother continue to pray and intercede for us sinners, on our behalf, and help us in our journey towards heavenly joy and glory with God. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 16 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Matthew 12 : 1-8

At that time, it happened that, Jesus walking through the wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry; and they began to pick some heads of wheat, to crush and to eat the grain. When the Pharisees noticed this, they said to Jesus, “Look at Your disciples! They are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!”

Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did, when he and his men were hungry? He went into the House of God, and they ate the bread offered to God, though neither he nor his men had the right to eat it, but only the priests. And have you not read in the law, how, on the Sabbath, the priests in the Temple desecrate the Sabbath, yet they are not guilty?”

“I tell you, there is greater than the Temple here. If you really knew the meaning of the words : It is mercy I want, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent. Besides, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Matthew 12 : 46-50

At that time, while Jesus was talking to the people, His mother and His brothers wanted to speak to Him, and they waited outside. So someone said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with You.”

Jesus answered, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look! Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Friday, 16 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Psalm 115 : 12-13, 15 and 16bc, 17-18

How can I repay YHVH for all His goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the Name of YHVH.

It is painful to YHVH to see the death of His faithful. I am Your servant, truly Your servant, Your handmaid’s son. You have freed me from my bonds.

I will offer You a thanksgiving sacrifice, I will call on the Name of YHVH. I will carry out my vows to YHVH in the presence of His people.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Luke 1 : 46-47, 48-49, 50-51, 52-53, 54-55

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God, my Saviour!

He has looked upon His servant, in her lowliness, and people, forever, will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is His Name!

From age to age, His mercy extends to those who live in His presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.

He held out His hand to Israel, His servant, for He remembered His mercy, even as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.

Friday, 16 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Exodus 11 : 10 – Exodus 12 : 14

Moses and Aaron had worked all these marvels in the presence of Pharaoh, but YHVH had made Pharaoh obstinate and he would not let the people of Israel leave his country.

YHVH spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt and said, “This month is to be the beginning of all months, the first month of your year. Speak to the community of Israel and say to them : On the tenth day of this month let each family take a lamb, a lamb for each house. If the family is too small for a lamb, they must join with a neighbour, the nearest to the house, according to the number of persons and to what each one can eat.”

“You will select a perfect lamb without blemish, a male born during the present year, taken from the sheep or goats. Then you will keep it until the fourteenth day of the month. On that evening all the people will slaughter their lambs and take some of the blood to put on the doorposts and on top of the doorframes of the houses where you eat.”

“That night you will eat the flesh roasted at the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat the meat lightly cooked and boiled in water but roasted entirely over the fire – the head, the legs and the inner parts. Do not leave any of it until the morning. If any is left till morning, burn it in the fire.”

“And this is how you will eat : with a belt round your waist, sandals on your feet and a staff in your hand. You shall eat hastily for it is a Passover in honour of YHVH. On that night I shall go through Egypt and strike every firstborn in Egypt, men and animals; and I will even bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt, I, YHVH! The blood on your houses will be the sign that you are there. I will see the blood and pass over you; and you will escape the mortal plague when I strike Egypt.”

“This is a day you are to remember and celebrate in honour of YHVH. It is to be kept as a festival day for all generations forever.”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Zechariah 2 : 14-17

Sing and rejoice, o daughter of Zion, for I am about to come, I shall dwell among you,” says YHVH. “On that day, many nations will join YHVH and be My people, but My dwelling is among you.”

The people of Judah will be for YHVH as His portion in His holy land. He will choose Jerusalem again. Keep still in YHVH’s presence, for He comes, having risen from His holy dwelling.