Sunday, October 28, 2012

A BENEDICTINE'S RADICAL BUT SOBER ANALYSIS OF THE ORDINARY FORM OF THE MASS AND IT SOUNDS FAMILIAR TO ME

Yes, Virginia, this is the Ordinary Form of the Mass celebrated in an extraordinary way:



The following post is copied from the blog of Dom Mark Daniel Kirby who is Prior of Silverstream Benedictine Priory, under the patronage of Our Lady of the Cenacle, in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland.

The ecclesial mandate of the fledgling Benedictine community is to intercede for the sanctification of priests by "persevering with one mind in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus" (Acts 1.14) and in adoration and reparation before the Eucharistic Face of Christ. The community celebrates the Sacred Liturgy (Mass and Divine Office) according to the traditional rites in Latin and with Gregorian Chant. You can press these sentences to go directly to his blog.


Much of what Dom Daniel writes below echoes what I've written on this blog, PRESS HERE for a post I had on August 31st!

And more importantly, this is the Ordinary Form Mass we celebrated at St. Joseph on March 19th our Patron's Solemnity, but doing everything at the altar except the Liturgy of the Word:



The Ordinary Form after "Summorum Pontificum"
By
Father Mark
on October 25, 2012 11:45 AM


I returned from France last evening. Ah, the beauty of France, the intelligence and wit of the French, the grace of so many friendships rooted in the faith, the reverent approach to food, drink, and the shared table! While in France, given the circumstances of my séjour, and for compelling pastoral reasons, I celebrated Holy Mass in the so-called Ordinary Form, something I have rarely been obliged to do since the gift of Summorum Pontificum.

Dignity and Loveliness

Let it be said, straightway, that in both places where I offered the Holy Sacrifice in the Ordinary Form, the setting was impeccable: worthy sacred vessels, exquisite chasubles in wool with hand-embroidered adornment, immaculate altar linens, beautifully arranged flowers, etc. The singing too was lovely -- all in French (even the Ordinary of the Mass) -- but executed with reverence, attention, and artistry.

Introductory Rites

I thought that I might, however, share with my readers and, especially, with my brother priests, some reflections on the experience of the Ordinary Form, given that I have celebrated daily in the Usus Antiquior since 2007. The first thing that struck me was the inappropriateness of beginning the Holy Sacrifice from the chair facing the congregation, rather than at the foot of the altar facing the liturgical east. Beginnings, introductory rites, and the crossing of thresholds are hugely important, precisely because they have such an impact on all that follows. Nowhere is this more true than in the sacred liturgy.

Introibo Ad Altare Dei

It is more than curious that the verse from Psalm 42 traditionally recited at the foot of the altar before the Confiteor was eliminated from the Missal of Paul VI: Introibo ad altare Dei; "I shall go unto the altar of God." I find it strange that in a Missal characterized by a multiplicity of options, the traditional use of Psalm 42 was conceded no place. Instead, other options were invented, adapted, or otherwise introduced into the introductory rites.

Toward the Holy Sacrifice

Upon leaving the sacristy and the entering the church, the heart of the priest is set upon the altar, not the chair, nor the ambo. All that precedes the heart of the Holy Sacrifice (that is, the Canon of the Mass) is ordered to it. Even the proclamation and hearing of the Word of God, culminating in the Holy Gospel, is ordered to the Great Thanksgiving, to the Sursum Corda, and to the mystic actualization of the Sacrifice of the Cross.

Chair and Altar

The priest enters the sanctuary in order to approach the altar, conscious that he will stand before it to offer the Holy Sacrifice. By going directly to the chair, albeit after having venerated the altar, the direction of the liturgical action is skewed. The priest himself becomes the focus of attention. His sign of the cross, and his greeting; his introduction to the Act of Penitence, all tend to deflect the attention of the faithful away from the latreutic finality of the Mass, latria being, of course, the technical term for the worship and adoration due to God alone.

At the Foot of the Altar

By placing the introductory rites, including the Act of Penitence, at the chair, the Mass begins in the configuration of a self-contained, closed horizontality. Even though the Confiteor is addressed to Almighty God, the impact of it is substantially diluted by praying it (a) from the chair, facing the people; (b) while standing erect rather than while inclining profoundly; and (c) into no particular direction, if not into some vague space around one's own feet or above the heads of the people. This particular element of the New Order of the Mass is not a success. It does not do what it is supposed to do. It needs to be corrected. Is it not time to rediscover the significance of praying, and of bowing low at the foot of the altar?

Dominus Vobiscum

The correction of the Introductory Rite and Act of Penitence in reference to the Usus Antiquior and the replacement of the first salutation of the congregation (Dominus vobiscum) after the Gloria (or Kyrie) and before the Collect, will go a long way toward the recovery of a sense of the Godward direction of every liturgical action and, in particular, of the significance of approaching the altar with a view to offering the Holy Sacrifice.

The Poor New Offertory

The second thing that struck me was the paucity of the reformed Offertory rites and prayers. Others have commented on this matter at length. It would seem to me necessary to restore the Offertory Antiphon to the New Order of the Mass and to restore the Offertory prayers and gestures of the Missal of Saint Pius V as well.

Ad Orientem

It goes without saying that the rubric of the New Order of the Mass that assumes the eastward position from the Offertory until Holy Communion needs to become always and everywhere normative. Nothing has done more to distort the ars celebrandi than the habit of offering the Holy Sacrifice facing the people. It is, in many instances, an affront to the Divine Majesty. It is, moreover, a tedious distraction to both priest and people, and a symbolic and, alas, subliminal, but all too effective, devalorization of the sacrificial character of Holy Mass. No amount of catechesis, however well-intentioned, will be able to restore to the ars celebrandi of the New Order of the Mass what the position ad orientem will bring about of and by itself. Here, more than anywhere else, actions do speak louder than words.

The Roman Canon

It was when I came to the Eucharistic Prayer, using the Roman Canon as adapted -- I rather think mutilated -- in the New Order of the Mass, that I found myself most deeply disturbed. The elimination of the traditional signs of the cross and genuflexions is redolent of a puritanical rationalism that either fears the participation of the body in worship or sneers at it; it is, in effect, the divorce of word from action, a kind of disincarnation of the text.

There is absolutely no reason to have altered the age-old and venerable words of consecration in the Roman Canon. Nothing in Sacrosanctum Concilium authorizes or justifies so barbaric an assault on a text universally regarded as sacrosanct and fixed by tradition. Fifty years after the Second Vatican Council, has not the moment at last come to repair the damage done by an erroneous interpretation and brash disregard of the letter of the Conciliar text and the intentions of the Council Fathers?


The Words of Consecration and Mysterium Fidei

I would propose, then, that the words of consecration in the Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV of the New Order of the Mass be brought into conformity with the traditional text of the Roman Canon as found in the Missal of 1962, and as used at the Second Vatican Council and in the years immediately following it. This would entail the replacement of the mysterium fidei within the words of consecration of the chalice and the suppression of the acclamation introduced in the Missal of Paul VI, which, to be honest, would be, to my mind at least, no great loss. Its inorganic insertion into the Canon has the effect of an interruption of the flow and movement of the prayer itself.

Eucharistic Prayers?

Of course, one needs to ask if four Eucharistic Prayers are, in fact, necessary in the New Rite of the Mass. Of the four, Eucharistic Prayer II is the one most widely used, not because of any intrinsic sublimity, but because of its brevity. It is a routinely rattled text that has longed passed its expiration date. It should be given an honourable burial alongside the breviary of Cardinal Quignonez. Eucharistic Prayer IV is used very rarely, if at all, in most places. Eucharistic Prayer III, the so-called Canon of Paul VI is the second most widely used. Has the time not come to reduce the Eucharistic Prayers of the New Order of the Mass from four to two, keeping only the venerable Roman Canon and what is now called Eucharistic Prayer III? It should, I think be legislated that the use of Roman Canon be obligatory on all Sundays, solemnities, feasts of the Apostles and of the saints named in the Communicantes and in the Nobis Quoque.

Domine, non sum dignus

The threefold Domine, non sum dignus needs to be restored to the New Order of the Mass. The single recitation of the centurion's heartfelt prayer sounds pathetically and artificially truncated. The threefold Domine, non sum dignus is no vain repetition; it is a trirhythmic grace of compunction that batters the door of even the most hardened heart.

Holy Communion

The manner of distributing Holy Communion to the faithful has been addressed by the example of the Holy Father, but his example has not garnered the support it deserves in the episcopate. It would seem that most bishops are insensitive to the persuasive language of example and, thus, must be compelled by legislation. Holy Communion in the hand and the scandalously abusive proliferation of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are matters that must be addressed by clear and binding legislation. The grave scandal among the Eastern Orthodox Churches that these practices cause is, of itself, sufficient to warrant their immediate suppression.

The Last Gospel

Finally, it is, I think, a good thing to close the Holy Sacrifice en douceur with the reading of the Prologue of Saint John. It is, in effect, a kind of final blessing over the heads and hearts of the faithful, a thanksgiving after Holy Communion, and a bridge from the Holy Mysteries into the world that they alone can redeem, heal, sanctify, and elevate. I would argue, then, for the addition of the Prologue of Saint John to the New Order of the Mass, except on those occasions when the Mass itself is immediately followed by another liturgical function.

Reform of the Reform?

These are but a few thoughts on my experience of returning -- out of pastoral necessity -- to the New Order of the Mass for less than a week. I could not wait to resume the Usus Antiquior. The New Order of the Mass is in dire need of correction, enrichment, and consolidation. The "reform of the reform" is the single most urgent task of the New Evangelisation. Is it not time to place clear and binding liturgical law at the service of life? The example of the Holy Father, however edifying and consoling it may be, is not sufficient to curb the liturgical abuses rampant in the Church and to "fix" the New Order of the Mass. Something more is required.

10 comments:

Gene said...

Indeed. He is correct...these things must be legislated or "protestantized" Priests will simply ignore the Pope and do as they please.

John Nolan said...

In other words go back to at least before 1967.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I thought this was a very well written and thoughtful analysis of the OF Mass. What he eloquently writes, I've also suggested.
Without any major changes to the Mass, one could:

Begin the Mass at the foot of the altar ad orientem for the Sign of the Cross, Greeting, Introduction to the Penitential Act, use the Confiteor with the congregation kneeling and the priest and ministers making a profound bow and after the absolution, the priest approaches the altar for the Kyrie and Gloria standing at the center of the altar and the Collect at the Epistle side.

Even using the current "Preparation Prayers with the Offerings" the Offetory antiphon can surely be sung.

I have not suggested ridding ourselves of any of the Eucharistic Prayer and there are more than four in the USA, there are two Reconcliation one and four other special ocassions ones.
What I have suggested, though, and Dom does too, is that beginning with the Epiclesis and through the consecration of both the bread and wine, that it be the same in all of the Eucharistic Prayers and based on the Roman Canon. I am not opposed to the Mystery of Faith, but could live without it if that decisions was made. And certainly all the rubrics for the Roman Canon from the 1962 could easily be recovered, but not without legislation. In fact, I don't know if anything I'm suggesting in this comment could be done without legislation.
Finally, Holy Communion kneeling is a no brainer. It is allowed now by exception and we provide a kneeler for those who wish to do so, but I do believe it needs to be legislated and the common chalice suppressed and intinction becomes the norm which would please the Eastern Orthodox as well as the Eastern Rite of the Church.

I'm not sure about the Last Gospel but I suspect a priest could still read it as a postlude to the Mass, similar to what the final hymn is--its not required either but you would be hard pressed not to find a parish that doesn't sing a final hymn.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Finally, I found it interesting that he says nothing about Latin and seems to have enjoyed the French vernacular Masses he celebrated--I too love the vernacular and am not wedded to an entirely spoken or sung Latin Mass, but I do believe that some Latin needs to be retained.

John Nolan said...

The epiclesis is in the first sentence of EP II and in the second sentence of EP III. In the Roman Canon it is the last prayer before the Qui pridie, beginning Quam oblationem ... which can't really be taken out of context. The signs of the cross at the doxology were removed in 1964, and the 'minor elevation' (which doesn't exist in older rites such as the Dominican) became something a lot more major. The signs of the cross were reduced to one and the genuflexions to two in 1967, and the original intention was to drop the Roman Canon altogether.

Regarding Communion, I don't like the idea of offering a menu of options (there are too many options in the OF anyway). The problem with intinction is that more traditional Catholics prefer to receive in one kind only. I like what happens at the Oxford Oratory. People receive kneeling at the rail from the priest or deacon (this is quicker than standing in line and encourages reception on the tongue) and then those who wish can proceed to a side chapel and receive, standing, from the chalice, which is proferred by a priest.

Henry Edwards said...

John,

What you say about the preference of traditional Catholics is generally true, but I know a good many who probably are like me. In many ways about as traditional as it gets, I never ever and will never receive from the common chalice. However, whenever intinction is offered at an OF Mass, I find it a very spiritual experience, one in which the sometimes alleged "fuller sign" seems palpable even if literally ineffable (that is, not rationally expressible in theological terms).

Father Shelton said...

John,
"The problem with intinction is that more traditional Catholics prefer to receive in one kind only." While for practical reasons I think we offer the chalice to congregations far to frequently, I do not think the objection you mention has any spiritual merit. Each species contains the Body, Blood, soul and divinity of Christ, so why would a man of faith object in principal to one species over another?

Carol H. said...

I prefer to receive by intinction because it makes it easier for me to consume the Host; otherwise I have particles stuck to the roof of my mouth for a very long time.

I prefer the EF Mass, and I prefer the old English translations of prayers which include the thees, thous, and thines, but I cannot comprehend why anyone would be against receiving by intinction.

ytc said...

I am on the fence about intinction. Surely, I am not opposed to it in principle, but I wonder whether it is wise to continue it given our current state of depravity of understanding of the Eucharist. I must say, however, that I am opposed to the common chalice except in the most special and rare of circumstances, like marriages, and only for the couple. I think it is an extremely powerful symbol for them to receive from the chalice with everyone else receiving via intinction.

In my opinion, it takes a person very strong in the faith and who is well catechized to be able to "mine" the OF (as commonly celebrated) for the "riches" its proponents say it has. Whereas with the EF, I feel it is very well suited for ignorant people, since the symbology is so very layered. This is perhaps ironic considering that the EF is rather more difficult to "understand" and because it is in Latin. However, perhaps it is not so ironic: the incarnational aspect of the EF--viz. copious gestures and physical actions--serve as a constant reminder of the sacrality of what is happening. The OF has nothing but words and more words. Its ceremony is quite emaciated and I do not feel that it "speaks to the modern man." The modern man is ideologically dead, and so the natural question is, does it make sense to blab on and on with words that he does not understand even though they are in the vernacular? Let the homily/sermon be devoted to expounding the tenets of the faith; leave the rite alone.

I feel that the OF is far too verbose, almost professorial, in nature. In a way, it is very presumptuous, and the vernacular adds to that characteristic. We might liken it to a lecture course. On the other hand, I feel that the EF has a far better balance of word and action. We might liken it, then, to a course with a combination of lecture and laboratory.

Just my two cents.

John Nolan said...

Intinction is actively discouraged by the English bishops. Communion in both kinds was rare before the 1980s and its arrival coincided with the recruitment of Extraordinary Monsters. It was all part of an episcopal plot to 'empower' women and their Lordships cheerfully admitted as much. At a liberal parish I know the PP (who had been ordained before the Council) permitted self-intinction, amid divers other abuses; when he retired his successor immediately put a stop to it.

As anyone who has dunked biscuits in his coffee can testify, intinction is not without its hazards, and there is a real danger of drops of the Precious Blood going astray. But at least it means Communion in the hand is no longer possible, and the EMs can be put to more profitable use; arranging the flowers and washing the linens if female, and assisting in the sanctuary if male.