On July 16, 2021 A.D., the Holy Father published a directive to the Bishop known as a “Motu Propio” entitled TRADITIONIS CUSTODES: On the Use of the Roman Liturgy Prior to the Reform of 1970. This document caused much consternation in places where the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (Roman Missal from 1962- Latin Mass) would be restricted to the discretion of the local bishop and not to the priests. This cause much pain and confusion among all Catholics since such clarity of action was demanded against the liturgical abuses done by priests and bishops using the Novus Ordo (New Mass of St. Paul VI). In the middle of all of this confusion, it is important to take moment to remind ourselves what worship really means.
The central act of the Church’s worship, the celebration of the Mass (the Eucharist), began on Calvary, when Jesus, as a priest, offered his very self as a victim for our sins on the altar of his cross. Christ’s historical self-sacrifice is made sacramentally present each time the Mass is offered. We worship God by participating in the offering of the Mass and joining our self-sacrifice to that of the Lord.
The Second Vatican Council wanted to foster greater participation, both interiorly in spirit and exteriorly in actions, in the celebration of the Mass. The Council called for preserving the elements of the rite that comes to us from apostolic times but adapting them so that the language and the actions of the Mass would make it easier for all the baptized to take part in them. The goal of liturgical reform was to have the Mass, in a sense, speak for itself.
The reform of the liturgical rites placed particular emphasis on Scripture. It called for liturgical music in vernacular languages, as appropriate. It mandated homiletic preaching as integral to the rite itself. It made clear the connection between the worship of God and action for justice and peace and charity in the world he created and his Son died to save.
While the Eucharist is the summit of the Church’s worship of God, the Council encouraged popular devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the reserved Sacrament of the Altar, to the saints in the liturgical calendar, and popular participation in the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours.
The goal of deeper and more authentic participation in the liturgy is to imbue all believers with a sense of time centered on the mysteries of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Liturgical time keeps us living in the Kingdom of God, even as we work out our salvation in this world’s temporal rhythms. The Mass bridges the gap between earth and heaven; it is the biblical Banquet of the Lamb.