Dr. Tracey Rowland recently spoke at the “Sacra Liturgia Conference” in Rome to the great approval of those attached the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. But she also made the mistake of suggesting that there are some obstacles to a wider attendance of that form of the liturgy due to problems among those who regularly attend:
To summarize, according to Dr. Rowland there are three reasons why those who otherwise might attend the EF do not: 1) the presence of an “aestheticism” by which the celebration of the liturgy is subjected to a hypercritical spirit by those in attendance; 2) the outdated nostalgic manner of dress in congregations at the EF; 3) the anti-Vatican II critique that so often accompanies attachment to the EF.
I cannot imagine she did not realize the donnybrook she was getting herself into when she said these things. I would have suggested a fourth reason why there are people who might otherwise attend the EF who don not: 4) that the EF movement shows a habitual resistance to the most respectfully delivered critique, even when it comes from a sympathetic source.
It seems to go largely unnoticed that Dr. Rowland is simply pointing out a fact that any fair-minded person with experience in the matter can verify. There are a significant number of people who stay away from the EF, not because they have an aversion to the liturgical form of 1962, but for the reasons which Dr. Rowland mentions.
I have some experience with this, but unlike Dr. Rowland, I have not been nearly as nice about my critique, for which I am sure, I will render an account. I know what she says is true and I would have been shocked had she not been roughly treated for having said it.
The knee jerk reaction to her critique from those on whom it lands is to respond by pointing out all the problems in the OF parishes and communities. This is a non-response to Dr. Rowland. It is evasive and not very thoughtful.
In any case, I do not think Dr. Rowland was looking for an argument, and I hope that she makes no response to those who have criticized her, simply because it will do no good. It is true that long-standing E-formers have been treated like lepers and are reactive to the touch. The obvious still needs to be stated.