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

Sunday, 30 August 2020 : Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Romans 12 : 1-2

I beg you, dearly beloved, by the mercy of God, to give yourselves, as a living and holy sacrifice, pleasing to God; that is the kind of worship for you, as sensible people.

Do not let yourselves be shaped by the world where you live, but, rather, be transformed, through the renewal of your mind. You must discern the will of God : what is good, what pleases, what is perfect.

Sunday, 6 January 2019 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 2 : 1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in Judea, during the days of king Herod, wise men from the East arrived in Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn King of the Jews? We saw the rising of His star in the East and have come to honour Him.”

When Herod heard this he was greatly disturbed, and with him all Jerusalem. He immediately called a meeting of all high-ranking priests and scribes, and asked them where the Messiah was to be born.

“In the town of Bethlehem in Judea,” they told him, “For this is what the prophet wrote : And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, you are by no means the least among the clans of Judah, for from you will come a Leader, the One Who is to shepherd My people Israel.”

Then Herod secretly called the wise men and asked them the precise time the star appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem with the instruction, “Go and get accurate information about the Child. As soon as you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may go and honour Him.”

After the meeting with the king, they set out. The star that they had seen in the East went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the Child was. The wise men were overjoyed on seeing the star again. They went into the house, and when they saw the Child with Mary His mother, they knelt and worshipped Him. They opened their bags and offered Him their gifts of gold, incense and myrrh.

In a dream they were warned not to go back to Herod, so they returned to their home country by another way.

Sunday, 26 March 2017 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Rose (Laetare Sunday)
John 9 : 1-41

At that time, as Jesus walked along, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, “Master, was he born blind because of a sin of his, or of his parents?”

Jesus answered, “Neither was it for his own sin nor for his parents’ sin. He was born blind so that God’s power might be shown in him. While it is day we must do the work of the One Who sent Me; for the night will come when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”

As Jesus said this, He made paste with spittle and clay, and rubbed it on the eyes of the blind man. Then He said, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.” (This word means sent.) So the blind man went and washed and came back able to see. His neighbours, and all the people who used to see him begging, wondered. They said, “Is this not the beggar who used to sit here?” Some said, “He is the one.” Others said, “No, but he looks like him.” But the man himself said, “I am he.”

Then they asked him, “How is it that your eyes were opened?” And he answered, “The Man called Jesus made a mud paste, put it on my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went, and washed, and I could see.” They asked, “Where is He?” And the man answered, “I do not know.”

The people brought the man who had been born blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made mud paste and opened his eyes. The Pharisees asked him again, “How did you recover your sight?” And he said, “He put paste on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see.”

Some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, for He works on the Sabbath”; but others wondered, “How can a sinner perform such miraculous signs?” They were divided, and they questioned the blind man again, “What do you think of this Man who opened your eyes?” And he answered, “He is a Prophet!”

After all this, the Jews refused to believe that the man had been blind and had recovered his sight; so they called his parents and asked them, “Is this your son? You say that he was born blind, but how is it that he now sees?” The parents answered, “He really is our son and he was born blind; but how it is that he now sees, we do not know, neither do we know Who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is old enough. Let him speak for himself.”

The parents said this because they feared the Jews, who had already agreed that whoever confessed Jesus to be the Christ was to be expelled from the synagogue. Because of that his parents said, “He is old enough, ask him.” So a second time the Pharisees called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Tell us the truth; we know that this Man is a sinner.”

He replied, “I do not know whether He is a sinner or not; I only know that I was blind and now I see.” They said to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” He replied, “I have told you already and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?”

Then they started to insult him. “Become His disciple yourself! We are disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses; but as for this Man, we do not know where He comes from.” The man replied, “It is amazing that you do not know where the Man comes from, and yet He opened my eyes! We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone honours God and does His will, Hod listens to him. Never, since the world began, has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”

They answered him, “You were born a sinner and now you teach us!” And they expelled him. Jesus heard that they had expelled him. He found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said, “You have seen Him and He is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and worshipped Him.

Jesus said, “I came into this world to carry out a judgment : Those who do not see shall see, and those who see shall become blind.” Some Pharisees stood by and asked Him, “So we are blind?” And Jesus answered, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty. But you say, ‘We see’; this is the proof of your sin.”

Alternative reading (shorter version)
John 9 : 1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

At that time, as Jesus walked along, He saw a man who had been blind from birth.

As Jesus said this, He made paste with spittle and clay, and rubbed it on the eyes of the blind man. Then He said, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.” (This word means sent.) So the blind man went and washed and came back able to see. His neighbours, and all the people who used to see him begging, wondered. They said, “Is this not the beggar who used to sit here?” Some said, “He is the one.” Others said, “No, but he looks like him.” But the man himself said, “I am he.”

The people brought the man who had been born blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made mud paste and opened his eyes. The Pharisees asked him again, “How did you recover your sight?” And he said, “He put paste on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see.”

Some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, for He works on the Sabbath”; but others wondered, “How can a sinner perform such miraculous signs?” They were divided, and they questioned the blind man again, “What do you think of this Man who opened your eyes?” And he answered, “He is a Prophet!”

They answered him, “You were born a sinner and now you teach us!” And they expelled him. Jesus heard that they had expelled him. He found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said, “You have seen Him and He is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and worshipped Him.

Monday, 20 February 2017 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Psalm 92 : 1ab, 1c-2, 5

The Lord reigns, robed in majesty; the Lord is girded with strength.

The world now is firm, it cannot be moved. Your throne stands from long ago, o Lord, from all eternity You are.

Your decrees can be trusted; holiness dwells in Your house day after day without end, o Lord.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Psalm 102 : 1-2, 13-14, 17-18a

Bless the Lord, my soul; all my being, bless His holy Name! Bless the Lord, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.

But the Lord’s kindness is forever with those who fear Him; so is His justice, for their children’s children, for those who keep His covenant and remember His commands.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 21 : 26b-27, 28, 30ab, 30c-32

I will fulfil my vows before all who revere You. The lowly will eat and be satisfied. Those who seek the Lord will praise Him. May your hearts live forever!

The whole earth will acknowledge and turn to the Lord; the families of nations will worship Him.

Before Him all those who rest in the earth will bow down, all who go down to the dust.

My soul will live for Him. My descendants will serve Him and proclaim the Lord to coming generations; they will announce His salvation to a people yet unborn, “These are the things that He has done.”

Monday, 9 November 2015 : Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, Archbasilica of St. John Lateran (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 45 : 2-3, 5-6, 8-9

God is our strength and protection, an ever-present help in affliction. We will not fear, therefore, though the earth be shaken and the mountains plunge into the seas.

There is a river whose streams bring joy to the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within, the city cannot quake, for God’s help is upon it at the break of day.

For with us is the Lord of hosts, the God of Jacob, our Refuge. Come, see the works of the Lord – the marvellous things He has done in the world.

Thursday, 20 August 2015 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 22 : 1-14

At that time, Jesus went on speaking to them in parables : “This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven : A king celebrated the wedding of his son. He sent his servants to call the invited guests to the wedding feast, but the guests refused to come.”

“Again he sent other servants, ordering them to say to the invited guests, ‘I have prepared a banquet, slaughtered my fattened calves and other animals, and now everything is ready. Come to the wedding!’ But they paid no attention and went away, some to their fields, and some to their work. Others seized the servants of the king, insulted them and killed them.”

“The king became angry. He sent his troops to destroy those murderers and burn their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is prepared, but the invited guests were not worthy. Go instead to the crossroads, and invite everyone you find to the wedding feast.'”

“The servants went out at once into the streets and gathered everyone they found, good and bad alike, so that the hall was filled with guests. The king came in to see those who were at table, and he noticed a man not wearing the festal garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in without the wedding garment?’ But the man remained silent.”

“So the king said to his servants, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the dark, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Know that many are called, but few are chosen.”

(Special – Singapore) Saturday, 14 February 2015 : Solemnity of the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 43 : 1-2, 4-7

He took me to the gate, facing east. Then I saw the Glory of the God of Israel approaching from the east with a sound like the sound of the ocean, and the earth shone with His Glory.

The Glory of YHVH arrived at the Temple by the east gate. The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court : the Glory of YHVH was filling the House. And I heard someone speaking to me from the Temple while the Man stood beside me.

The voice said, “Son of man, you have seen the place of My throne, where I will place the soles of My feet, and live among the Israelites forever, and the people of Israel, they and their kings, will no longer defile My holy Name with their prostitutes and the kings.