In the post Motu Proprio reations for the liberalization of the 1962 missal are quite instructive. Pretty much the bishops you expected to act positively have and the ones that you would expect to act negatively have. No surprises there. It was also interesting to hear Raymond Arroyo writing in the WSJ reported that Bishop William S. Skylstad the current head of the USCCB "flatly told the pope that the U.S. bishops opposed any revival of the old rite"
The negative reactions mostly have a common thread that having both an ordinary and extraordinary form of the Mass for the Latin rite would cause division. No doubt there is some thruth to this since there are some 1962 missal onlyists who look down on the ordinary form of Mass as there will be some onlyists that look down on the older rite. But the argument about division seems rather odd since I would ask why are they worrying about it now?
The reality is there has already been liturgical division for years and that in many cases little was done, if anything, to rectify it. The experimentation and anything goes attitude that has been associated with the new Mass has created something fairly new in Catholic circles – that is parish shopping. Now I am not one to glorify older days because they were older days. No doubt before the implementation of the newer missal that the older rite was not always celebrated in a manner not worthy of it. Priests just going through the motions will always be a problem, though frankly I am amazed by those who do celebrate Mass each day in a worthy manner without falling into complacency. The sixties though were a time of change for change sake and Vatican II coinciding with this termultuos time had quite a synergetic effect.
But the decades that followed did little to correct for this massive bit of oscillation and while they are damped down from some of the wildest oscillations there is still much work to be done. I know just within my own diocese that the liturgical celebration of Mass varies widely in the different parishes I visit. It is sometimes hard to believe that they are all suppose to be based on the same liturgical books. Night at the Liturgical Improv is much more common than "read the black, do the red." The only real consistency you can expect at Mass is to hear a song by Haugen, Daas, or one of the other modern standards in so-called liturgical music. Though I have seen a decline in some of the more egregious liturgical abuses, especially after Redemptionis Sacramentum – your mileage may very.
Besides the celebration of the Mass there is also a wide divergence in what the Church teaches and what is taught at RCIA, CCD, other classes, and of course homilies. It is one thing to "offer it up" for banal music at Mass and and quite another to hear preached or taught doctrines that are not exactly orthodox. Experimentation didn’t stop at the liturgy but extended to all of parish life. Then there are the diocesan and other retreat centers that are so infected with fads and new agey feel good crap that would help propagate spiritual poison among the parishes and trickle down to the parishioner.
As a result of much of this parish shopping has become the norm with both sides of the liturgical divide looking for parishes that have the liturgy they want. Seeing postings on blogs from people requesting information on orthodox parishes in cities they are moving to have become common. There is something quite wrong with that picture and yet we have bishops worrying about an impending liturgical divide. I do wonder where these episcopal Rip Van Winkles have been?
I really do admire those who stick with their local parishes despite problems knowing that regardless of how bad the music is and how the liturgy is celebrated that it is still the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and that they are still receiving the Holy Eucharist. Mother Teresa talked about Jesus in his ‘distressing disguise’ and some Masses unfortunately bring that phrase to mind for me. I wish that I was a tenth as holy as those who are able to do this and mange to be patient and prayerful at Mass. I have a long way to go before I can put away my liturgical checklist and wishing to hunt down members of the parish’s choir after Mass and asking them if they have ever actually read any of the Church’s documents on sacred music. To not come up with some snarky mental reply when the priests starts asking if there is anybody visiting or whose birthday it is at the conclusion of Mass. Though I have made a little progress to that end. I once heard Jimmy Akin talking about handling this problem which must be more difficult for someone who knows every nuance of the liturgy. He said that he realized that it is not God’s will that the liturgy be a source of frustration and that this gives him more patience. For now prudence dictates that I mostly avoid the parishes most convenient to where I live and attend the one downtown where I went to RCIA.
Now I am not all doom and gloom and I don’t see the current situation worsening, but that things are moving in the right direction – albeit slowly. I just hope more bishops will realize that we are already in a liturgical divide and tying to frustrate the 1962 missal is not going to make the situation better.