I hope that everyone who has been interested in the motu proprio has been visiting What Does the Prayer Really Say? over the course of the weekend; Father Zuhlsdorf has been writing prodigiously about reactions to the motu proprio ranging from joyful celebrations to amazingly negative reactions; he has even had occasion to award his never-coveted "Sour Grapes Award."
What is interesting to me is that the positive and joyful reactions seem to come from the mainstream of the Church: bishops, priests, and lay men and women who do not deny the validity of either the Novus Ordo nor the Tridentine Mass but see this moment in history as a tremendous opportunity for the enrichment of both liturgical expressions of the Roman rite. But the negative reactions seem to come from people who are diametrically opposed to each other, a fact I'm afraid I find amusing: sedevacantists and wacky liberal clergy members holding hands (metaphorically speaking; good sedevacantists know that hand-holding is always of the devil) and singing alternating choruses of "We Shall Overcome" and a new Latin composition titled "Quidquid Latine dictum sit, altum viditur!" It would almost be funny if it weren't so sad.
And it is sad. The great liturgical history of the Church is nothing to fear; and neither is the newer Mass. But it has always been the case that some fear the light, and whether they are hiding in the dark corners to the right or to the left they have much more in common with each other than they'd ever care to admit. It matters little when you run off of the narrow path to salvation whether you end up in the brambles to the left, or the stream on the right; you have left the path, and must seek it out again if you would find salvation in the end.
As I reflect on all of this, I consider our Lord's dealings with the Pharisees, with Herod, and with Pilate.
To the Pharisees Jesus was always quite harsh in His speech. He knew how much their pride blinded them, how difficult it would be to shake them out of their complacency. I think He wanted not only to reach those of the Pharisees who might actually find themselves troubled by His words, but to remind all of us that being excruciatingly correct in our practices is not, in and of itself, enough to save us; moreover, the pride which results in our thinking we know the "right" way to do everything is a dangerous poison that is the enemy of the kind of humble and contrite worship which really does please God.
To Herod our Lord said nothing. Like many of the people out there in the mainstream media writing negative articles about the motu proprio and recycling all the tired canards about the Church's supposed antisemitism, Herod cared nothing for God or for worshiping Him. He only wanted to see Jesus because Herod had heard some amazing things, and was hoping to see a miracle the way someone else might hope to see an interesting parlor trick. In the face of such an egocentric focus silence was the only possible response; there are none so blind as those who think that vision should be a constant source of entertainment.
To Pilate our Lord said quite a lot, considering the circumstances. Pilate was someone who might have been reached; he was interested in philosophy, he didn't want to do the easy thing to appease the crowd, he wanted to learn something about Jesus and why He had such a following. In the end, though, Pilate is left pondering the meaning of Truth while sending Truth to an ignominious death; he reminds me a little of the more liberal wing of the Church today, which wants to say nice things about peace and justice while still coming up with excuses for abortion, the ultimate in unjust violence.
The Pharisees ran themselves off of the narrow path on its right side; Pilate on its left. As for Herod, he was never on the path in the first place.
As we celebrate and rejoice with all those who appreciate this wonderful gift that Pope Benedict XVI has given the Church, let's remember those who aren't in a position to enjoy it. Some of us may find ourselves in a position to reach out to those who have fallen away to the right; others of us may find ourselves quietly and patiently influencing those on the left; and as God takes this opportunity--and He will!--to stir the hearts of those not yet even on the path, we may be granted the awe-inspiring grace of being in a position to help those who as yet know little of God and live entirely in the world.