Wednesday, March 27, 2013
IS THE "REFORM OF THE REFORM WITH CONTINUITY" DEAD? IT DEPENDS ON WHAT THE MEANING OF "IS" IS!
Perhaps I live in a different Church from those who read my blog, but I have never seen the Extraordinary Form of the Mass as anything but Extraordinary. If my parish had had over 150 to 200 people, from my parish, not the diocese, attending the once a month EF High Mass and others finding it what they need spiritually, I would have made our 12:10 PM Mass an EF Mass. As it stands only about 50 or so of St. Joseph parishioners find this Mass something they would want every Sunday. That is simply not enough to warrant displacing 400 people who attend the 12:10 PM Mass faithfully. Of course I have made the 12:10 PM Mass ad orientem and this has been well-received with only one complaint. So in this regard the EF Mass has had a gravitational pull on the OF Mass.
We also chant, in addition to any congregational hymn singing, the official Introit, Offertory and Communion antiphons at every Sunday Mass. This recovery has been wonderful and shows how these chants enrich the celebration of the Mass and set the tone for any given liturgy.
The reform of the reform in my estimation means celebrating the modern missal as it was intended to be celebrated. Where we get into heated debate concerns ad orientem, Benedictine altar arrangement, and music. There is no consensus on these elements and no mandates. The Church is all over the place concerning these three things with music being the biggest looser.
My understanding of the reform of the reform has nothing to do with limiting the expanded understanding of actual participation to include singing and speaking by the laity as well as internal participation quietly; it's not either/or but both/and and it is here that the Ordinary Form of the Mass must have a gravitation pull on the Extraordinary Form of the Mass with our laity who attend the EF.
The reform of the reform has nothing to do with eliminating liturgical roles given to the laity and women in particular as it concerns reader, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and altar server. Those in the EF community who see the elimination of women in the sanctuary haven't been watching Pope Benedict and his liturgies in Rome and elsewhere. This is not going to happen in the Ordinary Form of the Mass.
What I would like to see is a more sober approach to our singing to include more chant as it is truly noble simplicity. The modern music we use today is too triumphant in sound and style, to much geared to superficial excitement rather than any real debt of meaning and experience from a truly Catholic spirituality.
So the on-going reform of the reform I believe means:
1. Recovering Gregorian Chant and Polyphony and vernacular chant based upon these two styles
2. Singing the Propers that are assigned to any given Mass, i.e. Introit, Offertory and Communion Antiphons
3. Developing more sober expressions of the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Mystery of Faith and Agnus Deiin the vernacular and a recovery of the Latin ones and giving the organ once again pride of place or even no instrumentation
We had our Chrism Mass last night at the Cathedral. I found the selection of music and the instrumentation of the music a bit too triumphalist especially given the more simple emphasis of our new Pope Francis and that it is the season of Lent, Holy Week specifically. There was brass and a somewhat operatic setting of the Responsorial Psalm and an Easter-like Gloria with refrain that makes it way too long. The Mass of Creation is better suited for Eastertide, especially with brass embellishments.
I thought to myself how beautiful it would have been simply to chant the given Introit, a simple Latin or English Gloria, a plain chant responsorial psalm and had no instrumentation for the Sanctus, Mystery of Faith, Great Amen and Agnus Dei and simply sung the Jubilatio Deo versions of these in Latin. I think the entire diocese should know this setting of the Mass in Latin and when there are diocesan events, especially with mixed language congregations, it should be used.
Sobriety of music not musical triumphalism is what is needed in the on-going "reform of the reform" but I think this call is falling on deaf ears everywhere except in the Church Music Association of America, which like a mustard seed will help bring about a true "reform of the reform" without a radical redesign of the Mass or its style of celebration.