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I saw a Mass on television and the bishop was wearing gloves and colorful shoes. In addition a lot was going on I had never seen before. It was quite interesting.
You must be a post–Vatican II Catholic who was watching a celebration of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.
If you indeed are a post–Vatican II Catholic, you more than likely only experienced the liturgy of Paul VI. This is the liturgy according to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. By contrast to the so-called Tridentine Mass, the Mass of Paul VI is much less ritualistic. The language is no longer Latin but rather the vernacular. The priest no longer has his back to the people but rather faces the people. And the people are expected to fully, actively, and consciously participate rather than simply attend.
Some Catholics did not take to the Reformed liturgy and sought permission to continue the celebration of the so-called Tridentine Rite. By virtue of their age, elderly priests were easily granted that permission. Somewhat striking is that already in 1971 in response to a request signed by Catholic and non-Catholic Brits, Pope Paul VI granted permission for the celebration of the Tridentine Mass in England and Wales when the local bishop deemed this opportune. Since one of the petitioners was Agatha Christie, this indult is irreverently known as the “Agatha Christie Indult.”
Pope John Paul II extended the permission to use the Roman Missal of Pius V published by John XXIII to the whole church with the indult Quattuor Abhinc Annos in 1984 and broadened the permission even further with the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei in 1988.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in his apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum of 2007, presents the Roman Missal of Paul VI as the ordinary expression of the law of prayer in the Catholic Church, while the Roman Missal of Pius V in the edition of John XXIII of 1962 is the extraordinary expression of the law of prayer. Both rites are to be seen as enjoying equal status in the liturgical life of the church. Please note that in addition to these two rites a good number of other rites exist as well, for example, the ancient Ambrosian and Gallican Rites and the much more recent Congolese Rite, which is an adaptation of the Roman Rite for the churches in Africa.
© 2015 Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Excerpted from What’s the Smoke For? And Other Burning Questions about the Liturgy by Johan van Parys © 2014 Order of Saint Benedict, published by Liturgical Press, www.litpress.org. Used by permission.
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