This is St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, the FSSP parish in Mableton, Georgia outside of Atlanta. But what in the world would be wrong with having a church building like this exclusively for the OF Mass? Wouldn't that be the hermeneutic of continuity brought to its full zenith? And please note the less than perfect building that is made as perfect as possible for a Catholic Church (in fact the parish I grew up in in Augusta was a 1950's modern version of this low ceiling building and yet it was arranged in a way that was quite beautiful as this one is!
At another blog there is a lament that some bishops are bringing back the so-called "slap" on the face when bishops confirm in the Ordinary Form. It was also lamenting bringing back any EF gestures into the OF Mass. At first I agreed that maybe that wasn't a good idea in the Ordinary Form until someone posted a video-documentary on Cardinal Ratzinger prior to becoming pope (I post it below--you'll see him wearing an actual clerical suit with pants rather than the cassock to some events) but in it you'll also see him confirming children (minute 6:15) who kneel before him, which we need to recover, and then he actually caresses them in what appears to be a "slap-like gesture" but is actually what many liturgical historians believe was the origin of the "slap" in the Extraordinary Form of Confirmation--another example of how Cardinal Ratzinger prior to being pope understood his "theology of continuity" as it regards the "reformed rites" of the Church:
GO TO MINUTE 6:15 AND SEE CARDINAL RATZINGER "SLAP" CONFIRMANDI BUT IN THE ORDINARY FORM OF THIS RITE AND SEE THEM KNEELING TO BOOT!
While I have great sympathy and empathy for those who would like to belong to a parish that is exclusively Extraordinary (and right now I would certainly caution anyone joining SSPX until and if they are regularized, so FSSP is the legitimate option right now)I must emphasize that there is so much that is good and holy with the reforms of Vatican II in so many areas which also include reforms in the Liturgy. I am not one who rejects Vatican II in the least, I reject the "spirit" of Vatican II that was shoved down our throats.
In my heart of hearts (even as a teenager) I always felt that the reform got off track and beginning in the late 1960's (because of the so-called "spirit" of Vatican II) even before the new missal of 1970 was mandated (Advent 1969). It got off track (in my humble opinion of course) in the following ways:
1. The Vernacular was manipulated by theologians who wanted an everyday speak for the Liturgy and convinced Rome that they should have their way. The Roman document that paved the way for the abysmal translation of the reformed Mass from Latin to English (or whatever language) was not mandated by Sacrosanctum Concilium at all, but a document manipulated by theologians who thought everyday speak would really renew the liturgy--it is to laugh today of course! Fortunately that has come to a conclusion with the new translation.
2. Mass at altars facing the people. This caused more harm to the liturgy than even the banal translation of the Mass into English did. The altars that were placed in front of magnificent altars and much lower than the original symbolically told people that the Mass wasn't as awesome and magnificent as it once was, it was now banal and pedestrian. These were altars that looked like "saw horses" or "ironing boards." These usually had two "rinky-dink" candlesticks on it as well, although originally a low crucifix facing the priest was also placed on it.
3. Then the iconoclasm of the 1970's occurred with magnificent high altars ripped out of churches (the cathedral in Chicago is a prime example but far from the only example) and free standing altars replaced these that were small and square-like and plunged into the middle of the nave and only one or two steps high that no one in a full church could see except the people on the first two rows around it. Artwork and statuary were removed and burlap and felt banners replaced them seasonally.
4. At the same time, liturgical music degenerated into "folk Masses" with traditional choirs disbanding, Latin chant lost (and here I am speaking of singing the propers of the High Mass and the appropriate Latin Chants for the seasons of the year, in terms of the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei). In fact I only recently (in the past year!) learned that the various numbered Latin Mass settings were for various seasons or feasts. You knew which Mass to choose when it was Advent or Lent, for funerals, for weddings, for times after Pentecost, etc--that all was lost and almost overnight. The folk groups came into the sanctuary and performed confrontationally to the congregation just as the priest was doing at his "ironing board" altar, I mean table thus making the Mass look like a performance to an audience rather than prayer to God.
5. Ad libbing by priests was encouraged by theologians when praying the Mass and inserting one's personality into the Mass to make it more human and friendly was also encouraged. The late Father Eugene Walsh, SS is mostly responsible for this degenerative trend in the USA. A casual folksiness, with a "Baptist" minister's grin (in the south we know what that means)and secular greetings and commentary, like "good morning, how are you, it's going to be the first day of the rest of your lives today folks...." and on and on. I want to throw-up just recalling it!
6. With the iconoclasm of the liturgy and our churches, altar railings were ripped out because people were made to stand to receive Holy Communion, in the hand and from an army of Eucharistic Ministers chosen "willy-nilly" from anyone regardless of their state in life. As I have contended elsewhere, this has done more to erode the belief of Catholics in the Real Presence of Christ and the awe and wonder in receiving our Lord than anything else.
MY SOLUTION FOR THE REFORM OF THE REFORM AND HOW THE REFORM SHOULD HAVE, COULD HAVE BEEN IMPLEMENTED IF ONLY THE REFORMERS COULD HAVE KNOWN WHAT THEIR VERSION OF REFORM WOULD DO TO THE CHURCH OF TODAY!
In other words, what we should not have lost and what we should actively recover today:
1. Literal translation of the Latin Mass into English, but with Latin syntax and devotional qualities (we got that!)
2. Return to the traditional set-up of the Catholic sanctuary and decoration as it was prior to Vatican II (I'm not opposed to free-standing altars though, just as long as these are decorated in the pre-Vatican II fashion and Mass celebrated ad orientem). In fact prior to Vatican II there was a recovery of free-standing altars as the Basilican altars are the most ancient form of the altar which are all free standing.
3. A return to the Latin settings of the Mass, but in English if so desired (the English setting of the Mass in the Roman Missal is a Latin Mass translated into English but with the Latin chant mode)and mandating various settings for various liturgical times. Chanting the Introit, Offertory and Communion Antiphons should be mandated as well. Choirs should return to the choir loft or be in the "Anglican" format if in the sanctuary. Additional music sung at Mass must not be incongruous with the "spirit and spirituality of the liturgy!" (I might need to enlist someone who knows about what chants for the parts of the Mass were to be chanted at various liturgical seasons or events to write a separate post for me as I find having lost that truly amazing and that I didn't even know that until recently, that these chants were organized in such a fashion!)
4. No ad-libbing during the rites, especially at the introduction of the Mass--do it at or during the homily if need arises to recognize people or the event being celebrated!!!!!!!!!
5. Mandate altar-railings once again, kneeling for Holy Communion (I would like to mandate intinction) and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion for only genuine need and that they would be trained and commissioned by the bishop to be permanent in a parish. So technically you'd only need no more than two to four "Communion Ministers" at a particular Mass if Holy Communion was distributed at the altar railing in the traditional manner with the priest going back and forth at either half of the railing. In fact in the typical parish you'd need only two distributing Holy Communion by intinction or you could have it divided in four sections. So if a parish has a priest and deacon at every Mass, normally no EMHC would be needed, if no deacon, only one would be needed but if you have four distributing, you'd only need two to three EMHC's at any given Mass and you'd assign them from the ten or so you have and these same people would be assigned home-bound members that they would bring Holy Communion to. But it would be strictly regulated by the bishop with a strict "seminary" and commissioning by him at the Cathedral.
Other rubrical changes I would suggest for the OF Mass, apart from ad orientem:
1. The same rubrics for the use of the "pall" and the same number of genuflections as in the EF Mass (keep in mind in the EF Mass, after the consecration, the priest genuflects each and every time the pall is removed.
2. The double genuflections for the consecration of the Bread and Wine--adding a genuflection after the Great Amen (although the "pall rubric" would take care of that).
3. Kissing the altar each time the priest turns toward the congregation for a greeting or statement