Wednesday, May 5, 2010
ALL THE EXTRA THINGS A PRIEST DOES IN THE EXTRAORDINARY FORM OF THE MASS
Every Tuesday, (last evening) I celebrate the Latin Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form. As you know, the priest faces ad orientem, that is he joins the congregation in facing the same side of the altar. Because of this, much of the extra gestures that the priest does in this Mass (which have been removed in the Ordinary Form of the Mass with the priest facing the congregation) the congregation cannot see, although if they know this Mass, they know what the priest is doing.
As I celebrate the EF Mass, I wonder why the reform of the Mass did away with so many of these gestures when the priest was allowed to face the congregation and they could actually see what he was doing.
Most of these gestures are really for the priest himself. There are additional quiet, devotional prayers for the priest that the congregation cannot hear. The extra genuflections, signs of the cross, covering and uncovering the chalice with the pall, the priest joining his thumb and index finger after consecrating the host, holding the Host in a particular way, breaking it in a precise manner, praying at each stage of the breaking of the Host, etc, all contribute to the personal piety and faith of the priest and the reverence he should have for our Lord in the Holy Mass.
Many modern liturgists would hang me by my index finger and thumb for suggesting that all of these gestures and prayers be recovered in the reform of the reform of the Mass. But anything we can do to increase the piety and reverence of priest-celebrants for the Mass and at Mass would be most welcomed indeed. What do you think?