Monday, July 30, 2012
THE MASS: ART OR SCIENCE?
While I remember the Tridentine Mass as a young child and a young teenager, I don't think I ever thought of the Mass as a sort of science project but rather understood it as an art, the art of worshiping God.
Somewhere, though, in the post-Vatican II euphoria about the new springtime of the Church and what was called "renewal" which referred to everything that was being deconstructed and supposedly reconstructed in and new and improved way, that imminent eschatology was finally being made manifest in the Church through Vatican II renewal and its so-called spirit.
Thus, priests and nuns shedding defining clerical clothes and habits would make them seem so close to the laity that a new springtime of vocations and the ministry of priests and religious life would blossom. Has it? No!!!
The renewal of Mass became scientific too. If the Mass was simple, easy to understand, in a first graders ability to comprehend the vernacular and if the signs and symbols were big and flamboyant, the prayers proclaimed with gusto, the priest warm and friendly, the congregation likewise and if creativity on the local level was prevalent, there would be the escaton before you knew it. Has that happened? NO! We now have about 20% of Catholics attending the simplified vernacular Mass with lots of lay activity and warm, caring ministers compared to the horrible days prior to the Council when about 90% of Catholics attended Mass each Sunday.
The clearest sign of a mental illness is doing something over and over again thinking one will finally get a good result when the good result never comes, try as one may, over and over again to make a better result.
The Tridentine Mass now known at the Extraordinary Form had one basic premise. Through it the Church gave us the form of worship that parishes and religious houses throughout the world would use to make present the one sacrificed of Christ and bring about the consecration of the Bread and Wine into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Risen and Glorified Christ.
It was an art form from the choreography, to the chanting and the various movements of the priest and ministers and the choir's overlay of chanting. Even the Low Mass was an art, not a science that capture the religious imagination of all involved and brought them to a level of contemplation of the mysteries of salvation.
Liturgy is an art, not a science. We need to go back to the EF Mass and follow as conservatively as possible what Sacrosanctum Concilium asked for in terms of the "renewal of the Mass and the Sacraments."
SC was not asking for a revolution, just a little bit of simplicity, a litter bit of vernacular, a little bit of inculturation, and a lot of faith, hope and love all artfully crafted.