Sunday, December 23, 2012

GOD MUST HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR AND REFLECTIONS ON SAINT JOSEPH'S EXTRAORDINARY MASS FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

I post this again, as I reflect on what I see and experience by watching it and then offering my opinions in my comments below it:

First for the humor. The "Blip" format of showing the video on this blog usually has an advertisement prior to the actual video. Sometimes the advertisements are somewhat questionable but not outrageous. But I've notice that prior to the Extraordinary Form Mass, there is an advertisement for the Mormon Church! How funny is that? I don't know how one purchases ads for these sorts of things, but maybe the Catholic Church should start doing so. The Mormons are way ahead of us in their advertisements, although we almost caught up with "Catholic Come Home."

Now for the Extraordinary Form Mass. You may find this odd, but I have not attended an EF Mass in choir or from the congregation since about 1965 or whenever it ceased completely in my parish where I grew up. Since 2007 I've only celebrated it and experienced it from that point of view. However, I think our video of the EF Immaculate Conception Mass is the first we've videoed of one of our EF Masses, although I've videoed the Schubert Sung Mass but that was an Ordinary Form ad orientem.

So as I watched this Mass, I'm struck by a number of things that prick my memory about why so many adults shortly after the changes in the Mass did not like the changes in the Mass and were quite disturbed by them. As a disclaimer, there were many who liked the changes, but normally that revolved around the vernacular and the Mass being simplified, which meant, it was becoming shorter. Children in particular like shorter Masses!

I think there are some very legitimate critiques of the way the Reformed Mass was/is celebrated and I'm afraid it is somewhat intrinsic to the reform and not always based upon the idiosyncrasies of the priest.

1. The loss of the sense of the sacred, the Mystery: What strikes me about our IC Mass is that from the very beginning there is a sense of awe and mystery and it is accomplished very simply though actions that are quiet and capture the spiritual imagination. The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar said quietly by the priest and servers as the Introit is overlaid captures that these people are preparing themselves to enter the "holy of holies" and the congregation participates in that by also kneeling, following these prayers if they wish, or simply observing through active participation what is happening, simply by the quietness of it overlaid with chanting.

2. The Latin gives meaning to what it means for us to be "Latin Rite Catholics." Immediately we know that is the Rite to which we belong. We are not Anglo Catholics, or Eastern Rite, Greek, Slavic or Russian Catholics, we are Latin Rite and the words prove it.

3. The quietness of the prayers, for example the Secret and Roman Canon elevate these prayers and make clear that the priest is praying publicly something that is very intimate, holy and awesome. It is not a loud "proclamation" as though it is made in the form of a brash announcement at a sporting event, or a reading of Shakespeare.

Unfortunately, in the OF Mass, the prayers that are said quietly are usually considered unimportant and thus have the option of being quiet, such as the preparation prayers. The quietness of these don't elevate them at all.

4. The postures of the priests, ministers and congregation and frequent standing, kneeling, genuflecting and sitting all contribute to the active participation of the body and make the Mass not only an intense spiritual exercise but a physical one also, there is the melding of the body and the soul, the physical and the spiritual more so in the EF Mass then the OF Mass.

5. Kneeling for Holy Communion certainly promotes respect for the Holy One we receive as it is an act of adoration before our Lord and just as importantly an act of humility in humble adoration. We are creature before God and whether we stand, sit or kneel to receive Him in Holy Communion, or lying on our back dying, we are raised up with Him though our worthy, humble reception of our Salvation.

6. I think many Catholics today absent themselves from Mass precisely because there is for them no sense of the sacred; they view themselves on an equal footing with God and so there is a haughtiness and arrogance of heart, both in attitude and body postures. This arrogance is visible both spiritually and physically in other words and I'm afraid it is intrinsic to the OF Mass that has made so many of us Catholics so haughty, arrogant and casually disrespectful. The law of prayer is truly the law of belief in this regard.

7. Kneeling too, for the final blessing, makes us as Catholics realize that we are to show reverence for God and appreciate all His gifts even the physical blessings bestowed upon us by the priest which we receive in a physical way by kneeling and making the sign of the cross.

MY LAST COMMENT:

I think we can recover all of the above and make authentic, traditional Catholic piety and attitudes of humility present in all Catholics again, for clergy, religious and laity, by simply doing the following to the Ordinary Form Mass:

1. Kneel for the Penitential Act (Sing the Official Introit before the Introductory Rite).

2. Kneel starting with the chanting of the Sanctus and the Eucharistic Prayer, whichever one is used, prayed in a low voice.

3. The Liturgy of the Eucharist celebrated Ad Orientem

4. Add the triple "Lord, I am not worthy" to the Communion Rite

5. Kneel for Holy Communion

6. Kneel for the Final Blessing

7. Remain for the singing of the recessional hymn and depart in silence





8 comments:

Jim said...

One of the biggest objection when the changes went into effect was the Sign of Peace. I remember the Preists really had to sell this to the people and to get them to acknowledge their neighbors. I was wondering Father, what is your feeling on the Sign of Peace, should that be retained or remove from the Mass?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I'm ambivalent about it. I think the biggest problem with it is that people don't truly understand its theological significance. In the EF Mass it is only done at the Solemn Sung Mass and it is exchanged at the time we do it now in the OF Mass but it is completely clerical, from the priest to the deacon and sub deacon and it is very formally done. It is meant to be a sign of being completely reconciled not only to God but also to one another prior to receiving our Lord in Holy Communion, or in the case of the celebrant, also completing the Holy Sacrifice.

Of course in the OF it is optional, but I don't know of many places that omit it safe for EWTN's Masses. If done, the congregation should know the reason for it. At some of our school Masses, and to educate the kids, I will tell them at the sign of peace to close their eyes, and think about heaven where everyone loves everyone and is a peace with everyone and God and that every Mass is a foretaste of heaven in this regard. Then I ask them to open their eyes and turn to one or two people only and symbolize what heaven is like be saying quietly "peace be with you." I think this helps them to get it, but usually if left to their own designs it becomes of free for all of silly greetings that get very loud.

So bottom line, it could be eliminated, reserved for more Solemn expression of the Mass or eventually moved to the offertory part of the Mass.

Templar said...

For some reason I can not see the embedded video in this post (never a problem before) and see only a big blank spot.

But as it saves me from the Mormon commercial maybe that's a good thing? LOL

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Did you hit the arrow in the middle of the black spot--it's on mine.

Templar said...

The arrow wasn't there at the time Father, nothing was, but it has appeared now. I suspect that it was just a time lag and my impatience as the size of the video likely made loading slow. Nothing wrong with your post, just me it seems :)

Andy Milam said...

Father,

It's amazing isn't it? Perspective. It's easy to see now, that the role of the priest is different from the role of the faithful.

The active participation of the faithful isn't just in the "being loud," but rather in the being quiet. The language only makes up about 5% of the reason we worship. 5%.

Honestly Father, I can tell whether or not I assist at a TLM or a NO, I kneel most of the time. I am usually in the back pew (like the good Catholic that I am), but I find great solace in kneeling. The Mass is about three things, it is about 1. the priest offering my prayers and the prayers of every person around me to God, the Father; 2. my worship and adoration and the adoration and the worship of every person around me to God, the Father; and finally 3. it is about the priest calling God, really and truly present in the sacred species down from heaven.

I will contend until my dying day that a Catholic should not have to settle. And with the Novus Ordo, we are settling, we are settling on the ideas of a few men who thought themselves better than 1969 years of tradition. While it is a valid expression, it is not one which is complete and that Father is why I am so adamant and those like me are so adamant...and I think that now you see it.

K-Kay. said...

Wow. The handshake of peace is OPTIONAL???? I never knew that! I know in my parish, the Confiteor is never said because it's optional. I'm going to have to talk to my pastor. May be he'll drop the handshake and bring back the Confiteor. Or he'll tell me to go find another parish, like he did when I challenged him about everyone holding hands during the Our Father.

Anonymous said...

The handshake of peace is OPTIONAL????

My (OF) pastor doesn't say the "handshake of peace" is optional, he says it's WRONG, not being prescribed in the GIRM. It's the rite of peace--the priest says "Peace be with you" and the people reply "And with your spirit"--that's required. But the subsequent free-for-all in the pews is a fabrication.