Saturday, July 21, 2012
THE ORDINARY FORM OF THE MASS CELEBRATED AS ENVISIONED BY THOSE WHO DESIGNED IT
I would dare say that this "Cathedral" Liturgy should be the norm for most parishes. Our new bishop has a nice singing or chanting voice, but seems reticent to use it for the Liturgy, so this is what is missing, his chanting of his parts of the Mass, but I would suggest that this Mass is quite faithful to the rubrics (for the most part) and General Instruction of the Roman Missal and contains the Ordinary Form's distinctive voice as envisioned by the official reform of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass: (This Mass is the votive Mass of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest, which is recovered in the 2012 English Roman Missal)
The Ordinary Form of the Mass which some call the "normative form" of the Mass is a revision of the Tridentine Mass. Like it or not, the guidelines used for the revision of the Tridentine Mass stem from the Second Vatican Council's Sacrosanctum Concilium. It indicated that the rites of the Mass should be intelligible, encourage active participation and acquire noble simplicity. Useless repetition should be avoided. (Of course I'm paraphrasing all this).
The new Mass was first developed in Latin and given to the Church around Advent of 1969. The Roman Missal had minor revisions in the 70's and also around the mid 1980's.
It's General Instruction was revised in 2002 and slightly again in 2011. The Latin version was revised in 2002/03. The Latin Revised edition was revised in English in 2011.
The greatest problem with the revised Mass stemmed not so much from its Latin version as it did from its extremely poor English translation in 1969. It used a flaw translation technique that relied entirely too much on giving us an equivalent translation of the Latin rather than a more literal translation. I've watched Italian movies that have English caption and I can't believe what I'm reading in English compared to what I'm hearing in Italian, the English equivalency distorts the actual words of Italian in a horrible way, although preserving some essence of what is said but not really. That is the problem with the older English translation, it is a terrible distortion of the meaning of the Latin with its devotional qualities. That has been rectified in the new English translation, thus preserving our Latin tradition in English. This is new for us English speakers!
So, with the new, improved and literally correct English translation of the Latin Ordinary Form Mass, how do the priest and congregation celebrate it as envisioned?
First we have to accept that the Ordinary Form has more options because it is allowed in English and people will know what is happening based upon understanding the language. This does not mean the priest has to tell you what option he is using and certainly there should be no improvisation of the English except where it is explicitly allowed. Usually this is allowed somewhat at the introduction of the Penitential Act, the intro to the Universal prayer with its conclusion and that's about it.
The art of celebrating the Mass hinges first on the priest who should not treat the prayers of the Mass as a proclamation to the people. It is the priest giving voice to the congregation of their prayers to God, through Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. The mannerism and voice inflection of the priest should indicate that he is praying to God, not directing his prayers to the congregation. This is more easily done "ad orientem" which is not forbidden in the Ordinary Form but when facing the people, the priest should not create eye-contact with the congregation, perhaps should angle himself toward the altar and when celebrating the Liturgy of the Eucharist toward the congregation, a crucifix should be central on the altar for the priest to look at rather than looking at the congregation.
The Sung Mass on Sunday should be the norm and the priest's parts, all of them, should be chanted by the priest either in simple or solemn chant depending on the skills of the priest or the solemnity of the Sunday or Feast day.
The chants for the congregation should be in keeping with the normative music of the Mass in the Latin Rite which is Gregorian chant or chant like music. The organ or no accompaniment should be the norm. Other instruments should be limited.
This is my opinion and based upon what the norm for music in Catholic worship should be if Gregorian Chant and its derivatives are what are appropriate for the Latin Rite:
1. Instruments associated with secular music should not be allowed, such as instrumentation for folk songs, rock and roll, heavy metal, bar music, and the like. Usually this would mean, guitar, snare drums, bongo drums, tambourines, castanets, cymbals, piano and electronic sounds and synthesizers.
Simply eliminating these sorts of instruments would greatly aid the reform of the Ordinary Form of the Mass and make it what it was intended to sound like.
2. The style of singing needs to be evaluated and certain styles eliminated. Contemporary styles are fads, that is what contemporary means, it changes with time and today rather quickly. Gregorian chant and its derivatives should be admitted and simple enough, nobly simply that enables the congregation to sing and chant too. I think the Vatican should mandate universal hymnals in the vernacular with what is expected to be sung and what chants should be used in the vernacular with an index for "hymns of a Catholic nature" peculiar to each country or nationality.
3. The placement of the choir needs to be revisited. The choir loft is the best location as this prevents the choir from distracting the congregation or acting as though they are performers on a stage. If the choir is not in the loft, it should be in an elevated area in the back of the Church or well off to the side of the congregation. Choirs confrontation to the assemble should be avoided at all costs.
4. All ministries of the Mass should be well rehearsed. Vesture for official lay ministry should be prescribed, whether Suit and tie for men or formal dress for women. The causal attire of formal ministries as well as the casual attire of those who attend Mass should be challenged.
5. Silence during the Mass between readings, after the homily and after Holy Communion should be emphasized. Silence before Mass (no rehearsals, please!)and silence after Mass within reason
I believe that if these guidelines were followed which in no way revises what is already in the rubrics and General Instruction, but simply puts these options into place, we would have a much improved Ordinary Form Mass across the board while maintaining legitimate options built into the Ordinary Form Mass.
None of this means that there should not be a revision of the Order of the Mass of the Ordinary Form and its rubrics and General Instruction to make it more like the Mass from which it came. But that is up to the Pope alone and whom he designates to do it. I hope some future pope will do so and make the Ordinary Form of the Mass more like the Extraordinary Form so that there is not a rupture in the way we worship as Catholics in either form and that it is clear that the Ordinary Form is a slight revision of the Extraordinary Form according to the broad and general description of that reform in Sacrosanctum Concilium which was and is a very conservative document.