In the Year of Our Lord 1284 Durandus wrote in the Rationale:
''Now the priests and prelates of the Church, to whom it is given to know the mysteries, as can be read in Chapter VIII of Saint Luke, and who are the distributors and dispensers of the sacraments, should shine forth with the powers that they represent in order that others, reflecting their insights, might also be enlightened. If such is not the case then it is a matter of the blind leading the blind, or as the words of the prophet put it: ''their eyes are darkened and they cannot see where they are going.'' But (and how sad) in these days many seem to have hardly any understanding of the things they engage in daily pertaining to the practices of the Church, or her divine worship. Nor do they know what they signify or why they were instituted. So much is this the case that the words of this prophet seem to be fulfilled to the letter: ''The priests will be like the common people,'' for they bear the showbreads and mysteries of the Lord's altar without any understanding or respect, such that, beyond any doubt, they will be considered, by the just judgement of God, as beasts of burden who carry the food which provides for the sustenance of others. They will have to render an account of this ignorance on the day of judgement and then, while the very cedars of paradise tremble, what will happen to these reeds in the desert? For it is said of such by the Prophet: ''They have not known my ways, and I will judge them in my anger, and they will not enter into my repose.'' (Emphasis my own).
Is this an early indication of the gradual loss of liturgical sense in the West, which undoubtedly occurred in the second millennium? I often look at the history of Liturgy in the West in the second millennium with a mixture of fascination and regret. There is much good there, real liturgical piety and Tradition, but also much bad - superstition and bad theology. If only I, and many of like disposition, had been there in the days when Low Mass first started to creep into the liturgical life of the Church (nobody knows when); if only to counsel the Schoolmen that the idea was a subtle prompting from the Devil to sift the wheat.
The Latin Mass Society are currently having their '62 Rite Pontifical Mass at Westminster Cathedral. What is this supposed to be exactly? A celebration of Catholic Tradition or liturgical reform? It is by no means ''traditional'' in any meaningful sense, and yet they will undoubtedly have advertised it as a ''traditional Latin Mass.'' Most people involved in it will no doubt think that bare Sacramental validity is all that really matters in the Liturgy - in other words, Christ deigns to come down from on High to the Altar regardless of the way in which the Liturgy is celebrated; to what extent this is the result of an unbalanced cult of the Blessed Sacrament (to the detriment of real Liturgy) in the West I don't know, but this sort of mentality seems contrary to my understanding of Liturgy. Others involved will just think: ''oh, but it's in Latin, ad orientem, and has a lot of outward display of ceremonial - and the '62 Rite isn't that different from the Old Rite anyway, so it makes no difference.'' Boob. Were I completely ignorant of all politics and legal positivism apropos Summorum Pontificum, and I saw ''traditional Pontifical Liturgy'' advertised somewhere, I'd have gone - but expecting Miranda I'd have been greeted by Caliban.
The Catholic Church is full of doctrinally orthodox people (we can all be doctrinally orthodox) but liturgical heterodox people, and most of the time these doctrinally orthodox people (Catholics of the ''neo-conservative'' kind, and lamentably the greater part of the ''Traditionalist'' kind also) form a significant part of the liturgically heterodox. In recent years (since Mediator Dei, but the malaise probably goes much deeper, the Lord only knows the full tale of this lamentable neglect of Liturgy) liturgical orthodoxy has been relegated to the dustbin in favour of formation in Catholic belief based on the teachings of the Magisterium and the cult of the Pope. As a consequence, liturgical complacency is so common among so many Catholics. Doctrinal orthodoxy is important, fundamentally so, but still more is the environment in which we acquire and maintain the orthodoxy - which is the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy - even George Tyrell (condemned as a ''Modernist'' in 1907) understood this!
I keep saying: THE LITURGICAL BOOKS OF 1962 DO NOT REPRESENT THE TRADITIONAL LITURGY OF THE CHURCH. Just because the '62 Rite looks superficially like the Old Rite is unimportant, and does not negate the fact that it is the inorganic (sorry to whomever coined that term) product of a committee of self-important liturgists. If you're going to do the Old Rite, then at least do it properly - but please don't parade about in the smug delusion that you're in any way superior to the tambourine-waving yokels in a typical Catholic parish if you celebrate liturgical reform (by using the liturgical books of 1962) just as much as they do. The only real difference between you is that you prefer lace cottas to cassock-albs, and Low Mass to concelebration.