The mainstream media folks and pundits keep on saying that Pope Benedict is a fossil, a relic, a crusty old fool, out of touch, arrogant, turning back the clock, blah, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, the Pope quietly, resolutely continues his mission. And instead of a diminished, irrelevant Church, we have the Ratzinger Effect:
"With donations to the Church from around the world almost doubling and pilgrims pouring into Rome in ever-greater numbers, Vatican watchers are beginning to reassess the two-year-old pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and noting a positive 'Ratzinger effect."
The article notes that the Vatican reports an increase in diocesan donations, record numbers of people are attending Pope Benedict’s weekly audiences and visiting St Peter’s, and increases in pilgrimages to Catholic shrines at Assisi, Lourdes, Fatima in Portugal and Madonna di Guadalupe in Mexico. I like this Ratzinger Effect.
I found this wonderful, seminal essay on the Pope's recent “motu proprio” decree at Taki's Top Drawer, who asks "Could the Latin Mass Save Western Civilization?":
"The truth is that the Catholic Church is a bellwether for the health of Western Civilization in general—a sort of canary chanting in the coal mine of culture."
"...Should the Pope be successful in his attempts to straighten the course of the Barque of Peter, it will of course be of immense benefit to his own flock. But more importantly, to the non-Catholic, it will restore the Church’s ability to function as effective a watchdog over the health of the body politic of the West as ever she did under Pius XI."
"...For such as these, then, any and all of Benedict XVI’s efforts at rebuilding the Catholic ethos should be welcomed, and their success prayed for. But all of these things can bring little surprise to students of history. Very often, down through the two millennia of the Church’s history, internal reform has been followed by external persecution—itself usually the prelude to a period of triumph. In this light, July 7, 2007, may well be seen in future centuries to be as momentous a date as September 11, 2001--although, of course, one that points not toward death but rebirth. Whatever the case, keep your eyes on Rome. "
There's lots of history and analysis in Taki's essay, give yourself some time to read and digest. I hope to blog more on this forward-thinking piece.
Background: The Pope's "motu proprio" decree allows a wider use of the Tridentine Mass, the traditonal liturgy from the time of St. Gregory (6th century) and formalized at the Council of Trent (16th century). The Pope's cover letter in English can be read here. There won't be overnight changes, there are numerous logistical obstacles to overcome (shortage of priests, lack of training and fluency in Latin, mass schedules, etc.). The "motu proprio" decree of Pope Benedict is one of his correction factors to Vatican II excesses, a return of the Tridentine Mass to its rightful place in the Church.
You can celebrate the Tridentine Mass west of Boston at the Immaculate Heart of Mary chapel at the St. Benedict Center in Still River, MA. Info and Mass schedule here.