Monday, March 18, 2013
THE FUTURE OF THE LITURGY; IT'S UP IN THE AIR?
This pope isn't a liturgist and his simplicity could be read as sloppiness or idiosyncratic. I will give him the benefit of the doubt in cases of taste and protocol.
But what I have seen so far in terms of the Mass, I find him very spiritual when praying and his spiritual orientation is towards the East even if not physically, but so was Pope Benedict whose Masses were 99.9% facing the congregation. There were only a few, counted on one hand, that were actually ad orientem and these were in the Sistine Chapel for the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord and in the Pauline Chapel two or three times. That's it!
The chasuble that the Holy Father used for the Sistine Chapel, Pope Benedict had also worn along the way. The one used at the parish church of Santa Anna looked like a typical parish church chasuble.
My practice ever since I have been ordained is not to buy personal vestments. I have about five, one that I was ordained in and quite simple, in fact the one Pope Francis wore on Sunday looks Baroque compared to it, three of which were made for the three of us ordained in 1980 at our Cathedral and identical to one another. The other is the vestment I used for my first Mass the next day made by my mom. It is typical of the Sulpician look at that time. It is off-white, with an exterior stole and no ornamentation whatsoever. Their is a simple trim around the edge of the chasuble and tassels on the outside stole, but other than than, completely plain.
the others were given to me over the years.
I buy vestments for the parish and try to buy what will match the building in which they will be used. I'm been buying vestments for 28 years for ornate neo french-Gothic and Romanesque churches. If I had been in more modern ones, these would have had a more modern look. The vestments belong to the parish. I have what is called "daily Mass" vestments which are cheap but nice and simple, Sunday Mass vestments and Feast and Solemnity vestments. These all belong to the parish, not me.
Back to the pope and the Mass. I have always loved the Ordinary Form of the Mass and never expected that I would be celebrating the Extraordinary Form. I accept the allowance of the Extraordinary Form as a gift for Pope Benedict and it is wonderful to have two forms of the one Roman Rite. It has helped me to appreciate the Ordinary Form and understand from whence it came. My way of celebrating the Ordinary Form of the Mass has evolved over the last 33 years. Early on, I improvised the spoken parts of the Mass at times, and took gimmickry to a new level at times. But since the last 80's I've been far more "do the red and say the black" and have come to chant much, much more so much so that in the last 4 years I have two completely chanted Mass every Sunday.
But let's talk about the Ordinary Form because that is the Mass that 99 % of Catholics experience and a good percentage of them love.
If priests and congregations would celebrate it as Pope Francis and the two congregations thus far I have seen him with, that would be wonderful. Care was taken in both situations. The Holy Father elevates the Host and the Chalice much longer than his predecessors. At both Masses, these were incensed at the elevations.
At both Masses, apart from the concelebrants, the deacons knelt to receive Holy Communion from the Holy Father and by way of intinction as the MC held the chalice. That is definitely the way to go, not even the concelebrants at any papal Masses, including with Pope Franics, commune the Host with him, he does it alone. Rather they wait until after the Holy Father has received and then take the Host from the altar and intinct it into the Precious Blood!
Those who do not concelebrate have received only the Host and kneeling at both Masses with Pope Francis.
The music in the Sistine Chapel and for the Installation Mass on Tuesday has been splendid and the Propers are chanted. The installation Mass music should be exquisite. The Holy Father evidently can't sing and won't even try, so I hope and pray that he will keep the status quo that Pope Benedict fostered.
So the "counter reform of the reform of the reform" of the Mass under Pope Francis would be wonderful if Pope Francis keeps these traditions:
1. The Chanting of the Propers and chant of our tradition at papal Masses
2. Kneeling for Holy Communion and when the Precious Blood is offered by way of intinction!
3. Benedictine (which I hope becomes named the Franciscan) altar arrangement even if modified, but with the crucifix dead centered for the celebrant
All other decisions should be local, in terms of vesture and amount of ceremony, toward the congregation or ad orientem.
Tuesday's installation Mass will give us more cues. Will the altar have the Benedictine altar arrangement? Will the Holy Father distribute Holy Communion to laity (he did not at the parish Mass on Sunday which I find interesting that there has been no comment about that on other blogs!) And if Pope Francis distributes Holy Communion to laity, will the laity kneel to receive? Oh the anticipation!
Time will tell!