Saturday, September 7, 2013
COLLIDING FORMS OF CATHOLIC IDENTITY AND REVERENCE
In a previous post, I mentioned what a traditionalist Catholic told me just last Saturday. He goes to Atlanta for Mass at the FSSP parish there. He does not like the Ordinary Form of the Mass at all.
Of course, I love both the EF and OF Masses when celebrated by the books and with "flair."
But he made a good point that has stuck in my mind. He said, if a person passed a Catholic Church walking outside and its doors were wide open during Mass, that person would instantly tell that it was a Catholic Church by the sounds coming from the opened doors in terms of Gregorian Chant and the Latin words wafting toward the sidewalk.
But if that same person heard the sounds of the Ordinary Form, with its ecumenical hymns and English words, that person would not be able to tell the difference between those sounds and the sounds coming from the Baptist Church next door.
Some would say that this is a good ecumenical development and brings Christians closer to Christian unity desired by the Lord. Others would say that while there is superficial unity, that in reality the various Protestant communions have moved further away from Catholic truth in the post-Vatican II push for ecumenism and bland liturgies that seem similar to the Protestant ones.
But let's talk about reverence apart from ecumenism, although ecumenism might be at fault in the loss of Catholic identity as it regards reverence.
In the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, the spirituality of this Mass is clearly very Catholic in terms of sights and sounds, silence and Gregorian Chant, movements and words, rubrics and uniformity.
The reverence of the laity was a quiet passive sort of form. It is highly pietistic and filled with a sense of quiet awe and wonder devoid of eternal enthusiasm.
But compared this with the style of music at the liturgies, even with the pope, at World Youth Day in Rio where there was indeed a lot of lio and some it (lio) quite annoying as well as loud and boisterous.
The music was of the entertainment genre and the actors singing, clearly sang in an entertainment mode with fuax smiles good for the audience, live and on television.
I think also of the development of folk music for the Mass in the 1960's and its contemporary counterparts since that time. None of these have a truly Catholic sound or ethos.
I think of charismatic spirituality that engulfed the Church in the 1960's and of the Protestant movements of enthusiasm in the 1800's and 1900's. Pentecostalism prior to the Catholic Charismatic Movement was clearly Protestant in spirituality and ethos. It was about hype and enthusiasm and feel good religion. It was about liberation and doing your own thing in a public setting for all to see and hear. It is clearly more narcissistic than traditional Catholic piety.
But the main line piety of the Ordinary Form of the Mass today is rather bland and nondescript. It is blah and non inspiring.
The blah piety of the Ordinary Form of the Mass, leads people to dress in informal ways for Mass; to get up during the consecration to go outside and answer the cell phone or go to the bathroom and to be easily distracted by the antics of others during prayer.
The authentic piety of the EF Mass leads people to dress nicely for Mass in one's Sunday best. At our EF Mass last Sunday there were several young families with small children and all of them dressed in Sunday best as it was once common for the Catholic Mass.
No one would think to get up and go to the bathroom during Mass let alone the consecration. They know to do this before Mass! They realize they are not at a ball game or some other entertainment venue where they can take an intermission of this sort while the entertainment is going on!
Somehow, I think a recovery of Catholic reverence must occur. I don't think it will happen any time soon, but eventually it will. The EF Mass is laying the foundation for this, much to the chagrin of post-Vatican II gnostic progressives who had hoped that the complete suppression of the EF Mass would allow them to deconstruct traditional Catholic reverence for a Protestant version of it leading to faux Christain unity.