A SPANISH PRIEST AT THE SERVICE OF THE MOTU PROPRIO
A few months ago in Spain the superior of the Fraternidad de Cristo Sacerdote y Santa María Reina, Padre Manuel María de Jesús, published a little book titled "Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, Problem or Asset?" This work was soon translated into Portuguese, showing the interest it has garnered in the Iberian peninsula.
This self-published book goes straight to the crux of the issue and is actually breaking the silence surrounding Benedict XVI's liberation of the traditional Mass in Spain as in Portugal. This great silence has been quantified in the survey polls conducted in those countries: in Portugal, according to the 2010 Harris Interactive survey, 74% of Catholics had never heard of the Motu Proprio; in Spain, according to the 2011 Ipsos survey, the proportion reaches 81.7%.
Father Manuel's work is deserving. For this reason, we propose the following interview for you to discover the spirit that motivates him; it is deeply concerned with obeying the Holy Father and is filled with joy and gratitude for the discovery of the traditional liturgy.
The Portuguese cover of Fr. Manuel's book.
I – INTERVIEW WITH PADRE MANUEL
1) Father Manuel, would you introduce yourself to our readers?
Father Manuel: My name is Manuel Folgar Otero--Father Manuel María de Jesús in religion. I was ordained in 1988 for the diocese of Santiago de Compostela where for ten years I was an assistant priest at Saint Joseph of Pontevedra, as well as a hospital chaplain, director of the Legion of Mary Curia and spiritual director of a section of the Ladies' Night Adoration. I taught Religion in middle school for twelve years. I have also been the administrator for a number of rural parishes for the past fifteen years and, finally, founder of a private lay association, the Fraternity of Christ the Priest and of Saint Mary Queen (Fraternidad de Cristo Sacerdote y Santa María Reina). From this fraternity came the Missionaries of the Fraternity of Christ the Priest and of Saint Mary Queen, a public clerical association (editor's note: like the Community of Saint Martin) which is also in formation. It is located in Toledo and I have been its superior since 2009.
2) What is your experience of the extraordinary form of the Roman rite and of the place held by the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum in your life as a priest?
Father Manuel: Given my age--I was born in 1962--I have no memory of the traditional Mass in my childhood, not to mention my youth or later. The first time I ever attended a celebration of holy Mass according to what is now called the extraordinary form was after the year 2000. It was only from 2004-2005 that I got to know the traditional liturgy, during my visits to the monastery of Le Barroux. And in 2007 I was also able to discover the international seminary of the Institute of Christ the King, in Gricigliano, and Cardinal Cañizares who was conferring priestly ordinations there at the time. In fact, it was only after 2007, when the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum was published, that I began regularly celebrating the extraordinary form. In October of that year, during an unforgettable audience, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Ecclesia Dei commission, encouraged us.
Today the extraordinary form is a characteristic of our community and is acknowledged as such in our statutes.
My experience has been very positive and, in certain respects, even exciting. I have travelled along the path of discovery of this marvelous treasure that had been hidden from us in the company of my community's brothers as well as with my parishioners. For the older ones it was a rediscovery; for the younger ones, a total novelty. In my various parishes I have never encountered the slightest aversion or resistance against the traditional Mass. This may surprise some people, but it is so. My faithful and I, together, have lived in our own flesh the experience mentioned in the Gospel of the father, a householder, "who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old" (Mt 13:52). For us this father was His Holiness Benedict XVI, who opened up to us this marvelous treasure, old yet always renewed, that is the Church's 2000-year-old liturgy, an authentic monument of faith and piety.
In my priestly life it has meant an enrichment at all levels: in doctrine, prayer, identification with Christ priest and victim, etc. And also in so many other aspects I need not get in to today. I'll take this opportunity to point out an error. Some people acknowledge that the traditional liturgy can enrich the priest who celebrates it, but deem it to be detrimental to the faithful on the grounds that it would impoverish them spiritually by markedly decreasing or even preventing their participation and understanding of the liturgy. I must humbly say that this does not correspond to my own experience, quite to the contrary.
The celebration of the traditional liturgy compels the priest to give greater pastoral attention to the faithful, in the sense of devoting more time and energy to their doctrinal and spiritual formation. This permanent formation rests on teaching the true meaning of "actuosa participatio": the interior disposition to uniting oneself to Christ the Victim through the priest as the intermediary who, as minister of Christ and the Church, renews and offers the Holy Sacrifice. It also rests on the greater care with which one forms one's faithful liturgically and mystagogically. What right or basis do we have to underestimate the laity's capacity to participate in the Church's twice-millennial liturgy worthily and fruitfully? There are laymen with little education from simple backgrounds who could tell a thing or two to any number of those who think themselves learned. These are laymen who have never set foot in a school of theology yet who know by heart the content of the faith and who live out the Eucharistic mystery incredibly deeply and in profound union with Christ the Priest. They draw from their participation in the Holy Sacrifice the force and the inspiration to offer themselves up in turn, in their daily life, as living hosts, holy and agreeable to God.
Today, thank God, the faithful can read and follow the texts of the Holy Mass in their missal. They thus associate themselves more perfectly to the Prayers of the Holy Liturgy. This demands a greater concentration and attention than among those who rest content with listening.
Behind many of the objections to the Motu Proprio, one finds more ideology than legitimate reasons.
3) In the introduction to your book, you justify your work by the lack of knowledge regarding the Motu Proprio among Spanish priests and, to an even greater degree, laymen. So you are not surprised by the result of the Ipsos survey that Paix Liturgique commissioned just before the WYD, which indicates that 69.5% of Spanish practicing Catholics had never heard of it?
Father Manuel: I am not surprised at all. As a matter of fact I find that the result seems to fall short of the reality. I am convinced that the overwhelming majority of the faithful has never heard of the Motu Proprio. And that those who have heard something of it, including priests, do not know its content. There is little to be read about it. The idea that predominates, which is totally distorted, is that the Pope has authorized the Latin mass for Bishop Lefebvre's followers, period. Many are those who spread this equivocation with a view to soft-pedaling the Pope's teaching and to minimizing the importance of the Motu Proprio which, by the way, has force of law for the universal Church and which, as such, dictates authentic rights and duties to be respected by all.
Unfortunately, many people satisfy themsel