The Detroit News today has an article on the rise of traditional practices within the Catholic Church. It notes that practices such as the Latin Mass, Adoration and indulgences are on the upswing, and those who are interested in such practices are not necessarily all conservatives:
Some Catholics who attend the more traditional rituals say they are quite progressive in outlook, willing to at least discuss issues like married and women priests and are more accepting of homosexuality than the Vatican, for example. They say their choice of forms of worship is not at all about the politics of the church. They simply find the traditional Mass asthetically pleasing, with its Gregorian chants, use of the old term “Holy Ghost” instead of “Holy Spirit,” burning of incense, frequent ringing of bells to mark important junctures of the service and the formal procession of 10 altar boys, deacons and priests dressed in traditional cassocks and lace-embroidered surplices at the beginning and end of the Mass.
The article does seem to imply (incorrectly, in my mind) that most of the appeal of these traditional practices are aesthetic in nature. While I can see that being true to a certain extent – especially with the Latin Mass – I can’t see that really being a factor in the increased use of indulgences, for example (what exactly would be more aesthetic about receiving an indulgence, anyway?).
Clearly, much of this rise is due to the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, who has made a concerted effort to place the reforms Vatican II within the context of the entire tradition of the Church. His whole career, in fact, has been one big effort to promote the hermeneutic of continuity – the idea that even when the Church needs reform (as she always does), she must reform in continuity with the legitimate and Spirit-directed traditions of our Faith.
There is such a deep richness in the Catholic Faith that it was a shame that for almost a generation these very valuable and beautiful traditions were lost. Praise be to God that they are becoming more widely available today!