Thursday, September 29, 2011

LITURGICAL REFORM AND THE RENEWAL OF THE LITURGY


Helen Hull Hitchcock writes a very nice article for Adoremus Magazine on the New Liturgical Movement. Read it by pressing here.

10 comments:

Marc said...

I am just not convinced that this statement from the article is true: "The Council’s reform was genuinely needed."

I guess it depends on what one means by "reform" and "needed".

I wasn't alive, so what do I know. But, with hindsight, it seems clear that we are not in a better position viz-a-viz the Liturgy in the wake of the Council. Of course, who's to say where we'd be if the Council was followed instead of its "spirit"?

Frajm said...

I am a very pro-Vatican II priest, but I despise what many say Vatican II was, especially in the 1960 and 1970's era. These people were anarchists. I respect the authority of the Magisterium of the Church, even post-Vatican II revisions, but we are seeing a "reform of the reform" and Pope Benedict is leading the way in allowing us to question the way some of the reforms were designed and implemented. But as much as I love the EF Mass, I love too the vernacular, the flexibility that is built into the OF Mass and the lectionary of readings which I think is truly a crowning point of the reform although I like the one year cycle of the EF and wouldn't mind having it as a year D. Even if nothing else was changed in the OF Mass but only the corrected English and kneeling for Holy Communion, I think we will have envisioned much of what Vatican II actually desired.

Joseph Johnson said...

I don't know about the rest of you but I've always been a little jealous of the beautiful (usually nicely ornamented silk damask or brocade)vestments that I still see in pictures of Orthodox and certain Eastern Rite liturgies. I never could understand why in the Western (Latin) Church we saw this devolution into the boring and sometimes downright ugly textured polyester vestments, often with the overlay stoles and a lack of adornment with obvious Christian symbols.

The vestment shown in the picture on this post is not the worst I've seen but it certainly could be a lot better! It is what I would consider one of those "devolved," less than desirable, post-Vatican II styles.

Pater Ignotus recently commented on another post that the liturgy should (ideally) "offer praise and worship to the Triune God" and that it should (ideally) "communicate (in its fullest meaning) the saving mysteries of Jesus Christ to the people of God."

Now I ask, how do these simplified (often to the point of ugliness) vestments better serve these purposes in the liturgy than the older style semi-Gothic and Roman vestments which were (and still are) made of beautiful natural fabrics and are often bedecked with explicit (and often graphic) Christian symbolism and art? Stated more simply--How does a plain ugly polyester full-Gothic chasuble communicate the saving mysteries of Christ better than a beautiful brocade Roman fiddleback with a large Cross (or actual image of the Crucifixion) on its stiffened back?

Anonymous said...

Went to our Faith Talk group tonight to begin study of the new translation and reform. It's gonna be long 6 weeks. I was the only one there that was pumped. One lady said she thought it was good idea but the rest were resigned but unhappy. This included the hosts of the session who were openly unhappy about it. While it didn't devolve into a gripe session there were a few persistent threads of conversation that became apparent.

First, the texts we have to use here have a tone of grudging admission that Latin is not so bad, and even has some beautiful prayers. It explains that the sentences in the prayers will be hard to follow in some cases, according to the booklet, and use different words to mean the same thing, such as 'pray', mercy, and love. This was determined almost instantly to be an unnecessary complication. This is where a significant objection surfaced. Most felt the changes were a judgement on their faith as being inadequate. I was surprised at this because at least two were school teachers and the two other men college graduates. I expected they would look at the enriched text as a way to thoughtfully explore the meanings of the prayers. They were actually insulted.

Interestingly, we are using "Understanding the Revised Mass Texts, Second Edition. That there is a second edition is funny to me. Secondly, the booklet has so far bored me stiff. It goes on for pages apologising for the changes and explaining how words can have different meanings and why the older translation needed updating. It seems to me the thing to do is dive in and show the translations side by side and explain WHY the changes are important to faith formation and iterative instruction. To a person who thirsts for Living Water it is a well spring and gift. It makes me a better worshiper. It does not mean you were not a good person, but now you can worship God more clearly and thoughtfully. There were few mysterious Latin phrases that perplexed them and I offered the translation. One of the leaders remarked that the local Latin Mass parish was a group of snobs who thought they were better than everyone else because the men wore suits and women veils to Mass. Everyone looked at me. "Suum cuique," They did not see the humour.

I did let out an inadvertent cheer when they mentioned that they were replacing the hymnals. There were some old favourites that will bite the dust. The hosts explained the problems with the exiting hymns but everyone was unconvinced this was really needed. Someone voiced the theory that the book publishers were behind a lot of this to make a fortune off the new texts. This theory drew widespread approval. Someone pointed out that many African countries will not get the updated translations and hymnals for many years due to the expense. This thought sweetened the judgement against the buyers and sellers in the temple. This is a sad thought. Last year I met am African priest who needed help digging a well for his village. I'll ask if he needs some hymnals.

It was mentioned that the local priests have only grudgingly accepted the changes. I am not entirely sure this is the case, but will need to explore this rumour carefully.

In summary, we are a parish of people who truly love God, but want to love Him in our own way. It is ironic that the over simplified text of the Second Edition has resulted in Babel more surely than an elaborate Latin text did. I hypothesise that we are being cognitively dissonant to protect our egos and that our guide book supports that rather than making a positive sell of the change. I am concerned that the priests may be supporting the resistance, if even unintentionally. Reintroduction of concepts and words such as 'consubstantial' was ridiculed, rather than explored. I hope this is simply a passing phase of awkwardness. Time will tell.

rcg

Frajm said...

Thanks RCG. We've already implemented the new translation have about five years of preparation, making a transition two years ago to the Latin greetings (now we back to the corrected English). While I suspect some people find it a hassle to learn new words, no one has really complained to me and they are doing their new parts rather robustly. I've poked fun a couple of times (during the announcments) that I was giving those who still said "And also with you" a penance to say "And with your spirit" 1000 times a day for a week. Everyone laughed. I've also said that in the priests new parts, I'll actually be looking at the new words and the old words still come out of my mouth. They laugh at that too. So we're all in the same boat, but overall the corrected English is wonderful and if the priest studies his parts the longer Latin-type sentences rather than the short choppy sentences we had in the priest's prayers are more like the way most of us speak. We speak in English in run on sentences although we don't normally write that way. The written prayers of the Mass are meant to be spoken not just read, so the Latin long sentences are more like real English when spoken by most of us and thus more like real street English although we nicer words. :)

pinanv525 said...

RCG, I find your experience disgusting and discouraging. Any damned fool with a high school education can learn the actually very few changes in the Mass in a few minutes. These whiners complain about the new translation, but never say a word in protest about their kids having to learn Spanish in school or having to listen to some pigeon English on the telephone when they call the so-called customer service line. They will grump through Mass, then go home and spend hours reading the directions for a new IPOD, video device, or home appliance which are barely legible because they are written by some guy from India with an English text book on his desk and a dish of curry in his lap.
As for the EF being for snobs in coats and ties, it was life and hope for peasants and serfs and every manner of illiterate outcast, prisoner, slave, vagabond, and derelict for centuries. Who are the real snobs...the women kneeling for Communion in their carefully placed mantilla, or the idiots who fuss about suits and ties and then come to Mass in fifty dollar jeans and seventy five dollar Ralph Lauren polos and park their Lexus at an angle in two spaces so it won't get a dent from the '98 F-150driven by the blue-collar guy who bought a polyester suit he couldn't afford from Men's Warehouse because he thought it honored God to wear a coat and tie to Church. Gee...how snooty.
And the pitiful, griping morons at RCG's meeting think it is the changes in the Mass that are a judgement on their faith...Christ have mercy!

pinanv525 said...

BTW, that's "pidgin English," although pigeon makes about as much sense. And, yes, that last in my post was a long, run-on sentence...
And, just to keep it ecumenical for P. Ignotus, I felt the same way about the Presbyterian men who stood in the church kitchen in thousand dollar suits sipping coffee, talking about golf, and griping about the changes in the bulletin only to race into church at the first notes of the Introit, adjusting the Windsor knots in their Ben Silver ties, there to spend the rest of the service mentally undressing the women around them and falling asleep during the sermon. But, we cut them slack because they give the equivalent of most folks' annual household income to the church every year. Christ have mercy again...

Father Shelton said...

"No one has really complained to me..." You should travel the country teaching others priests how to do things in such a way that we can say the same!

Templar said...

rcg said: "In summary, we are a parish of people who truly love God, but want to love Him in our own way."

At the current rate of customization I suspect it won't be too long where America is the proud possessor of 310 Million seperate denominations :)

Anonymous said...

Question, Fram: How did you Initiate your education program for the congregation at large? Did you have someone stand up before mass and pracitse responses, chants, etc? Did you use any materials, like brochure, book, etc? Were there Catechetial sessions? We are just starting to get serious about this and I am getting nervous that the changes will be a shock and people will feel lost. I have the nice hand out you sent me, but no one else has seen anything like this.

About the hymnal: why did St Joseph's decide to dive into the new one? I was told we were going to wait for the second edition of the yet to be determined hymnal. I am really hoping for a new and can't think of a reason to wait for a specific edition, cost notwithstanding.

rcg