Two posts ago there was a suggestion that the re-employment of the Tridentine Mass would turn failing parishes round, in a way which would compare with Ramsey's methods in failing restaurants. Well, there is a very colourful thought. It is great that we can have the Tridentine Mass as well as the New Mass and, who knows, there may be a wider use of it in the future. But I would like to direct readers of this Blog beyond mere ritual to the person of Christ who is present in the Mass. Fr Julian has wonderfully sketched the heart of the Catholic Priesthood as a living relationship with Christ; I would like to say that this relationship, which feeds the whole Church, is the hinge of every baptised person's life. We are all called to draw people into the life of the Church - this is our primary task in life. Indeed, the priority and focus today is Evangelisation, not rites, customs, ways of thinking, frames of reference, what we like best nor what we did yesterday. Evangelisation is the focus - drawing people into the life of the Church.
The Tridentine Mass is an enormous inheritance for the Church (and the world) and it is very important for us, in appreciating the Liturgy of the Mass, to know something of how that Liturgy has arisen and been celebrated down the ages. In fact, I think that the Tridentine Rite of Mass today seems to be responsible for helping many people come to discover the extraordinary meaning of the Mass. This is a very good thing. But the work of the Church right now is not one of ritual. We are not called to draw people into a Rite but into the Life of the Church. This means enabling people to come to know Christ.
I don't want this post to irritate anyone who has an affinity with the Tridentine Mass, but I do want to point you beyond Ritual to the living relationship with Christ which uniquely is the hinge of life. Don't fall short of being made alive by Christ and witnessing to him by focussing on the forms of liturgy. Christ is greater than a Rite. The Rite helps us to possess Christ. Possessing Christ leads us to live in a new way. Living in a new way will enable grace to work in the world. And the only thing that lasts is grace.