“The only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb.” – Joseph Ratzinger
As sanctity comes about through the transformation which takes place in souls by their encounter with God in the sacred liturgy, where the ascended Incarnate God reaches down to ‘assume’ His Bride, the Mystical Body, so that she may share in His divinity, it is natural that many Latin-rite Catholics should wish to ground their ‘theologia prima’ in Western Christianity’s ancient liturgical tradition and avail themselves of the accumulated wisdom of a rite which stretches back through the whole of Christian history, through St Gregory the Great, to the apostles.
One of the many features of the Old Rite which make it a source of spiritual nourishment for the baptized is its continual emphasis on the Trinitarian reality of God. The following prayer from the end of the Offertory provides just one example of this:
Receive, O Holy Trinity, this offering which we offer you in memory of the passion, resurrection, and ascension of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of Saint John the Baptist, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the Saints. May it bring honour to them and salvation to us. And may they intercede in heaven for us who keep their memory on earth. We pray this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
It is worth noting that the explicit Trinitarian focus – which continually reminds the believer that God is Love and that, through the Incarnation, death and Resurrection of God the Son, we are enabled to participate in this communion of Love – found throughout the traditional Roman Mass is shared with other ancient Eucharistic rites such as the Byzantine Divine Liturgy.
Another of the many features of the old rite attractive to many Catholics is its strong emphasis on the doctrine of the Real Presence, expressed and communicated as much through ritualistic gesture as in the prayers themselves. Many see this as an antidote to the widespread ignorance and disbelief in this doctrine, one of the greatest tragedies of modern times. Likewise, a 2019 survey revealed that the dissent on moral teachings such as the immorality of contraception and abortion so widespread in the Church is almost entirely absent amongst those attached to the traditional Mass.
In modern times – and especially since the Second Vatican Council – it has been the constant concern of the Popes to counter the self-destructive materialism prevalent in the ‘developed’ world with a rediscovery of authentic Christian humanism. The ancient rite’s indispensable and formative influence on Western civilization has been testified to by the international petition of 1966, which included Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Many Catholics, especially the young, who desire to create such a Christian culture in the contemporary world are drawn to the liturgical tradition which gave birth to Christian civilization, something it can continue to do only if it remains an everyday part of the Church’s life.
Lastly, a ‘received’ liturgical tradition is a shared characteristic of all the separated churches of Apostolic origin. In seeking the reunion of those churches with the Mother Church, the ancient rite stands as a living testimony to our shared Apostolic heritage and a source of hope for future Christian unity.
Filled with love for our Lord and His Church and animated by zeal for the salvation and sanctification of souls , we the committee of Una Voce Scotland humbly request that during the 2023 Synod on Synodality the Bishops of Scotland present our call for the sacred liturgy according to the Usus Antiquior to be fully restored to the life of the Church.
With our filial devotion and prayers,
Una Voce Scotland