Continuing with my previous blog, some within my parish have asked me why I'm bothering them with trying to teach them their Latin parts of the Ordinary of the Mass despite the fact that the Second Vatican Council's document on the Liturgy explicitly states they should know it. They say that they now have to "think" about what they are saying whereas with the lame duck English, they didn't have to think! Yes! They didn't have to think, to reflect, to wonder, to engage in mystery, to be surprised by grace.
Yes, many of us have been doing things by rote and in an unthinking way for much too long. It is a general human tendency with ritual and habit to do so sometimes. But shouldn't we be thinking and praying and not just doing things through unthinking rote? Are we willing just to settle for that? I hope not!
Others have asked if learning the Latin is mandated. I say, "no," although I always point to what the Second Vatican Council teaches about Latin. As pastor, I have every right, though, to implement this even if no other pastor in the world thinks it is important. There is diversity here in terms of the entire issue of language in Latin or Spanish or what ever language a parish uses and I recognize that.
The same holds true for "ad orientem" worship (priest facing in the same direction as the laity, facing the liturgical east). This is not forbidden with the Ordinary Form of the Mass. The bishop in Oklahoma City has decided to implement it in his Cathedral. That is his prerogative as bishop. Fr.Jay Scott Newman, pastor of St. Mary Church in Greenville, SC, after a lenghty catechesis, has implemented Ad Orientem in his parish. As pastor he had the right to do so. Pastors also have the right not to do so, I might add.
But the greater issue, I believe, is that we need to take the time to think about what we do and what we say at Mass, in particular, how we participate, sing, respond, listen and the reverence that is due to Jesus Christ truly present in the Most Holy Eucharist, in Holy Communion. Is our interior and, yes, exterior disposition one of reverence, awe, wonder and gratitude; or is it one of casual complacency manifested both from the perspective of the interior and exterior
characteristics of our faith, devotion, reverence or lack thereof?
Personally speaking, since I have begun to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass regularly and to implement the Latin parts of the Mass in the Ordinary Form, I've had to really, really, think about what I am doing and to do it consciously. In this sense, Pope Benedict's stroke of genius in allowing the Extraordinary Form of the Mass with little or no restrictions was truly a stroke of genius on his part. In my own practice, both forms of the Mass are having a gravitational pull on the other and on me!
To conclude, I also would point out that in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, what the Second Vatican Council says about the Latin, that the laity should be able to say and sing out loud all the Latin parts that pertain to them is absolutely necessary. No longer are the laity allowed to just let the altar boys or the choir speak or sing for them--it is their duty to join, out loud and not just quietly. So let even the traditionalists get real about their active participation and what the Second Vatican Council teaches them too! Active participation can be quiet, where appropriate and can be out loud where appropriate. The two are not mutually exclusive. Those who love the "quietness" of the EF Mass need to know that in some cases we need to let that go and do their part out loud as the Second Vatican Council's document on the Liturgy says to do even in the EF!
Just a few photos on thinking about what one is doing at Mass--EF Solemn High Requiem Mass on All Souls' Day, 2009. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves> This Mass was our first Solemn High more than 45 years. It took a great deal of practice, work and energy for the choir in particular, but also the priest, deacon, subdeacon, master of ceremonies, altar boys and last but certainly not least, congregation. There were more than 300 people present at a 7:00 PM Mass that was not obligatory!: