Tuesday, February 18, 2014
FOR THOSE LEANING EXCLUSIVELY TOWARD THE EF MASS, ARE THEY BARKING UP THE WRONG LITURGY?
When I was a child, the catch phrase that most of us at Mass and elsewhere in the Catholic world heard was "renewal." Of course for my generation, thanks to television commercials about various products that were old, was, "new and improved." It seemed that everything was new and improved, from automobiles to mustard and ketchup (catchup). But it seems the one product that was always being renewed and improved was laundry detergent.
So in the world of new and improved products for us to buy, it made perfectly good sense that the Mass could become "new and improved." Now, my question, when you go deep into the liturgy, rather than superficial, how do you improve on the "One Sacrifice of Jesus Christ" and "the salvation offered clergy and laity" through the Mass? As far as the vertical diminish of the Mass, God accepting the One Sacrifice of His beloved Son for the salvation of the world, there can be no "new and improved."
But maybe, just maybe, the Church could facilitate in a new and improved way the horizontal dimension of the Mass, how we participate in the vertical sacred mysteries of God's love for His beloved Son, His acceptance of His Son's One Sacrifice of love for our salvation and the salvation of the world.
Now I know from first hand recollection that many Catholics in the 1950's and early 60's prior to the Council did participate in the pre-Vatican II experience of the Mass in a full, conscious and actual way. We all had our hand missals and followed the Mass and said our parts at least internally but many said the words externally also. Either way there was actual participation in the Sacred Mysteries. Sure there were elderly and unchurched Catholics doing other things during the liturgy, like popular devotions to occupy their time, but by the late 50's and early 60's they were in the minority.
In terms of popular devotions, especially the Leonine Prayers after Mass, but also Benediction and Marian novenas and the like that were in English, the actual participation from a verbal or sung point of view would raise the roof of our churches.
Of course, hymns were not sung at the High Mass, but on Sunday, Catholic popular devotional hymns associated with Benediction and Marian piety were sung as a four hymn sandwich at the low Mass on Sunday.
The only problem or at least one of the major problems with the "new and improved" Mass was the proliferation of very good Protestant hymns that were dragged into the four hymn sandwich even at Sung Masses that had perhaps nothing wrong with orthodoxy in terms of doctrine, but clearly a Protestant, not a Catholic piety or spirituality. For example I have always loved "How Great Thou Art." There is nothing wrong with the words of this song from a doctrinal point of view. But it is clearly Protestant in ethos, piety and spirituality. It is little "c" catholic, but not capital LRC, Latin Rite Catholic. We could lament the same if we dragged Eastern Rite Chant into the Latin Rite Mass. There is nothing doctrinally wrong with that, but it betrays our Latin Rite piety and liturgical spirituality for the Mass when we do it.
As I make my actual point and conclude this post on those who promote exclusively the EF Mass as barking up the wrong liturgy, let me just say that I think that we could have had new and improved participation in the 1962 Roman Missal without changing anything but allowing for more vernacular and developing propers of the Mass in a chant ethos that the laity could sing, which would have meant national hymnals with these official chants (not more hymns) and in a variety of styles that "chant directors" could choose for their parishes so that all Catholics every Sunday heard and sang in some fashion, the propers of the Mass as well as the other parts of the Mass we now sing congregationally.
In think the 1965 Missal was perfect with its minor adaptations, but even the 1962 Missal with no changes except the vernacular parts would have done just as well.
I am not in any way convinced by those who dislike the three year "new and improved" lectionary. While it could be improved again, it is a product of what SC asked in terms of the more lavish use of Scripture in the lectionary. Improve it don't discard it.
But we have the New Order of Mass promulgated April 3, 1969 by Pope Paul VI. It is unrealistic to think that this Missal will be abandoned, although it has seen some improvement over the years, but not enough.
And that is what traditionalists and orthodox Catholics who consider themselves Vatican II Catholics should be promoting. We should promote the improvement of the Missal of Pope Paul VI so that it is in continuity with the 1962 Missal in the following ways:
1. Requiring the chanting or saying of the Introit and in the 1962 Missal's manner of doing so even in the vernacular and also chanting or saying the Offertory and Communion Antiphons.
2. Reordering the Introductory Rite of the Mass to make it like the 1962 Missal but allowing for the Asperges as a part of the Mass replacing the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar when used and returning to the 1962 prayers for the Asperges or Vidi Aquam.
3. Returning to the 1962 Missal's Offertory Prayers
4. Returning to kneeling for Holy Communion
5. Allow for the Last Gospel as an option
More importantly there needs to be a real thrust to recover Catholic reverence, piety and spirituality in all we do at Mass and in our churches especially in style of music sung at Mass and a return to a Latin Rite genre for hymns that are used in popular piety. But we need to recover our reverence for the Mass and thus for the Real Presence of Christ during the Mass and in a pre-Vatican II way.
Pentecostal, or main line Protestant hymns are precisely that, Protestant and compromise our Catholic spirituality and piety when these are sung by Catholics at Mass, popular devotions and prayer meetings.
The same is true of a secular piety when religious words are set to trendy secular tunes such as Broadway plays or other forms of popular entertainment.
The Church needs to promote traditional Catholic spirituality and piety in our offical liturgies and popular piety!
So stop barking up the wrong Liturgy and let us work together to make the Ordinary Form of the Mass "new and improved."