Tuesday, December 29, 2009

TABLE OF GOD'S WORD AND THE TABLE OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST

I've always found it fascinating that the EF Mass has two major parts, the Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful. With the reforms of the OF Mass, these were changed to the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. What is fascinating about this change is that prior to the reforms, catechumens were not dismissed from Mass after the Mass of the Catechumens. But since the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and the revival of the Order of Catechumens, catechumens are dismissed prior to the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It seems we should have just kept the Mass of the Catechumens title for the Liturgy of the Word or kept both.

Also, one of the things that many liturgical theologians taught after Vatican II is that we now have two tables at Mass, "the Table of the Word" and "the Table of the Eucharist." I bought into this line of thinking, hook, line and sinker! But this really is a part of the theology of rupture that so many promoted after Vatican II concerning the Mass and it needs to be revisited.

What I have learned since I've been celebrating the EF Mass frequently is that God feeds us from one table, the altar, from which the Word of God is proclaimed and the Most Holy Eucharist celebrated. The ambo in the OF Mass becomes an extension of the altar for God's people to be nourished by His Holy Word, not a separate table, just as the altar railing in the EF form of distributing Holy Communion is an extension of the one altar, not a separate table.

The Mass is like a formal banquet in an Italian home. You don't eat appetizers apart from sitting at the main table. It is called the antipasto. Then you have the first plate and the second plate, the salad and dessert. It is all served at the one table. So it is with the Mass, both the Word of God and the Most Holy Eucharist are served from the one, undivided table, the altar, not two separate tables. I believe the EF Mass certainly makes this abundantly clear, whereas the OF Mass has made this ambiguous to the point that many think there are two separate tables.

I prefer the more holistic and unified approach to Word and Sacrament that is presented in the EF Mass, although, to be quite frank, I prefer the OF's lectionary. Catholics today are exposed to a very rich fare of Scripture which they are not in the EF lectionary. In fact in pre-Vatican II times the accurate description of Catholics was that they were Biblically illiterate. I think we as Catholics have come a long way with the revision of the NO lectionary and a hunger for Scripture and understanding it properly. We don't want to turn the clock back to just the EF's brief lectionary. Your thoughts.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The EF Mass with the OF Lectionary...sounds like the 'best of both worlds'.

Can this be done now?

Can the EF Mass in local vernacular be done?

Frajm said...

From my understanding, it is permissible to use the OF Lectionary in the celebration of the EF Mass. One would then follow the OF calendar for Sunday celebrations of the EF Mass. This would offend purists of the EF Mass, but I think it is a sensible option. I believe also that the option of having the introit, offertory antiphon and communion antiphon in English is possible as well as the Last Gospel. However, since the Last Gospel always is the same, I see no difficulty in proclaiming it in the traditional way. However, at this time it is not permissible to have the EF in English, although the 1965 missal allowed for all the laity's parts to be in the vernacular. All the unchanging and quiet parts of the priest, including the Roman Canon remained in Latin. I think this is a marvelous compromise.
I would also like to see the postures of the EF and OF to be synchronized so that people who attend the EF only occasionally are not confused about standing, kneeling and sitting and that the postures remain the same for low and high Masses. Of course all of the above in my wish list should be seen as optional and that the pure EF Mass would still be the standard for the EF Mass. -- Fr. McDonald

Templar said...

I am not so sure that could be done, as I SP specifically freed the EF Mass to be said "in accordance with MR1962". But of course, in such matters Father I would submit to your authority.

I think it would be a logical development of the Mass, and in the back of my mind I can't help but feel that Pope Benedict's ultimate vision was to have the OF/EF influence each other so that an organic development between the 2 could come about, taking the best of both, but that would be down the road.

While we're wishing listing things, one thing I would love to see gone from the OF is the Responsorial, I always find it awkward and contrived in a dialog, tit for tat format. Better the whole Psalm be sung by a Choir and and a single response by the congregation at the end. But that's just my opinion of course.

Anonymous said...

An additional scripture reading might well have served the EF Mass. The 2 and 3 year cycles went right over my head as a youth and the 1 year calender just seems to work cognitively in many people's brain. Seasons repeat yearly, as do holidays, birthdays, etc. It just seems un-natural to have year A,B,C. etc.. I didn't retain much hearing things this way. There is always room for extra scriptual studies in our private time or in additional parish gatherings.