Saturday, October 1, 2011
THE MASS PRAYED SILENTLY--DOES IT MAKE IT TOO CLERICAL? WHEN PRAYED ALOUD AND FACING THE PEOPLE DOES IT MAKE IT TOO LITERALISTIC AND FUNDAMENTALISTIC?
When I first started to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, I was very uncomfortable praying so many of its parts in a very low voice. I felt like I was excluding those behind me and that the Mass was only my prayer and not those in attendance also.
Watch this short video which starts with the Hanc igitur and finishes with the consecration of the Precious Blood. Stay attuned to the silence:
I've grown accustomed to the silence and appreciate it more and more. Part of the rubrics as well as the silence was to engender great awe and reverence for what was being celebrated and re-presented in an "unbloodly" way, the Sacrifice of our Lord on the Cross and His death and resurrection.
Today with the Eucharistic prayer prayed aloud and facing the people, often the laity feel as though they are at a re-presentation of the Last Supper of Holy Thursday because the priest faces them and appears especially at the words of consecration to be speaking to them. When the priest is facing the altar "ad orientem" and praying silently, there is no doubt that this is precisely prayer offered to God by the Church (clergy and laity)with the priest representing the Church and Christ as he does in all the sacraments in order to bring about a "re-presentation" not of the Last Supper but of the Sacrifice of Good Friday.
The Banquet of the Last Supper (Lord's Supper) occurs following the "Lord, I am not worthy..." when the laity are to receive worthily the Precious Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion. The priest even in the EF Mass turns to the people at this time and speaks directly to them, "Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those who are called to the Supper of the Lamb." There is no doubt that this is spoken to the all present and not to God as a prayer.
The OF Mass lends itself to a liturgical literalism and fundamentalism as it regards the manner in which it is celebrated and the people perceive it, including the priest. Progressive liturgical theologians have exacerbated this reality through the promotion of the Mass as a memorial of Holy Thursday rather than Good Friday which it is at its heart. The design of modern Catholic Churches and the reorientation of older ones has contributed to this false impression that has led to a loss of the sense of the sacred as well as the loss of orthodox dogmatic theology as it concerns the Mass. Combined with a "Low Christology" imposed upon the OF Mass, this has spelled disaster for the Church, Mass attendance and the sense of the sacred. If Jesus is not honored as the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity but only as the "son of Mary" as though one could divide His humanity from His divinity, then why in the world attend Mass in the first place?
Jesus is One Divine Being (Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity) with two natures, human and divine which cannot be divided. Therefore the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mother of God! That has implications for the celebration of the Mass and the reverence due to God.