Sunday, August 10, 2014

A MODEST PROPOSAL FOR THE REVISION OF THE ORDINARY FORM OF THE MASS

This is the beginning of the Mass, the Entrance Procession with its chant. Prayer has begun and there should be no time out or intermission at any point following the beginning of prayer at Mass and its trajectory:

 There are many temptations present in the rubrics of the Ordinary Form of the Mass, as well as its order, to improvise and add unnecessary commentary and blabber to the Mass.

The one area where this is truly a scourge is in the Introductory Rite of the Mass. 

For example, if a priest simply follows the Introductory Rite of the Mass and does absolutely no improvising, there really isn't much of a problem. But this is very rare today!

For some odd reason, many priests seem to think that the Mass actually begins with the Penitential Act. It doesn't of course. It begins with the Entrance Chant, whatever that chant or song might be. The trajectory of Prayer continues with the "Sign of the Cross" which does not begin the Mass, the Entrance Chant begins the Mass, since this needs repeating. Then the trajectory continues with the formal greeting of the Mass, "The Lord be with you" or one of the other variations of this with the assembly's response.

For some reason, some (usually the many) priests think that the litrugical greeting is too sterile and unfriendly, so immediately they launch into a secular greeting with secular bantering. Usually one will here, "Good morning, church!" How are ya? I hope you are having a great day! Isn't it beautiful outside, I know you are sorry to be inside now, aren't ya? Today's readings tell us blah, blah, blah, blah.

This bantering and blah, blah can go on for minutes depending on the priest and how full of himself he is (narcissistic). Then of course even the priest doing this recognizes he needs to bring things back to a sacred, prayerful level rather than a secular, unprayerful level.

So the priest will usually say, "Now let us begin by calling to mind our sins..." or some other such improvisation.

THE PROBLEM: The problem is the Mass does not begin with the Penitential Act or its improvised introduction. It began with the Entrance Chant! What the priest who improvises and blah, blah, blahs on has done is to disrupt the trajectory of prayer and its continuity for a secular time out and for an additional homily or two completely disorganizing the Introductory Rite and its purpose, to keep us in a prayerful trajectory from the Entrance Chant to the Collect as a prelude to listening to the Word of God! It renders the Entrance Chant, Sign of the Cross and Liturgical Greeting useless and superfluous.

This problem can never occur in the Extraordinary Form's Introductory Rite with its lengthy Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and no chance of introductory bantering and blah, blah.  The EF Mass is serious about prayer and its trajectory from the Introit through the Collect!

So this is my modest proposal for changing the order of the Introductory Rite, which is really no change at all, except for a minor rubrical change and where the Liturgical Greeting should take place:

The Mass begins with the Introit, either spoken or chanted.

(after the priest approaches the altar and reverences it, he goes to his chair to continue the Mass)

The Sign of the Cross

(then immediately the priest uses these words and no other words):

Brethren (brothers and sisters), let us acknowlege our sins, and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.

(a brief pause for silence follows. Then one of the options for the Penitential Act is used):

Kyrie
Gloria
(The Greeting follows and only this choice):
The Lord be with you...And with your spirit.
Collect

As you can see, this would eliminate the silly time out or intermission in the trajectory of prayer that so many, the many, priests take with their own improvisation of a secular greeting of some silly type and the blah, blah that ensues.

31 comments:

JBS said...

Moving around greetings and the sign of peace may reduce the impact of liturgical clericalism, but the long-term solution is to get seminaries to stop teaching improvisation techniques. We still had one professor who taught us how to compose our own Eucharistic prayers!

Cameron said...

I'm confident enough in laity who may not be familiar with liturgy--non-Catholic visitors, people in the conversion process, those who may be returning to the Church after a long time away--are smart enough to be able to pick up the skills necessary to properly participate in Mass as time goes on and they are exposed to the ritual.

Therefore, I see no practical value of commentary at all. PEOPLE ARE NOT STUPID. They don't need it. I promise, it will be okay. They will pick up. Some of the liturgical reformers, their "modern all-growed-up man" bunk theory aside, actually infantilize the laity. Are we all grown up now or are we actually idiots who need constant coaching and somebody to bring it down to our level? Their ideology drips with irony.

Commentary is cheap, tacky, it destroys the form, shape and "art" of the Mass. It's distasteful, period, no matter how well it may be done, which is never.

Furthermore, if the priest has some fabulously pressing issue to talk about or some announcement that is burning his brain like hellfire waiting to get out, then a short talk before Mass is good, or either because the announcement is so short or the topic fits, even the beginning of the homily might work.

I just think each part of the Mass has its purposes and each part should be allowed to "do its work" without the encumbrance of ugly blabberings. Commentary at Mass is like throwing white paint on a Michelangelo fresco.

Anonymous said...

The change suggested is wonderful, however it will do nothing to prevent the current liturgical abuses in the Mass.

Todays priests are infested with clericalism, which of course is not a preference for the "smells and bells" but the arrogance to think that they know better than the Church and the liturgy is their property to do with as they wish. How do we fix this? I have no idea, maybe it's to late. If you catch cancer early it can be stopped but if it is allowed to fester then not much can be done. Chaos has been permitted so long in the clergy that maybe it can't be fixed.

And sorry to bring it up but if we have a pope that doesn't follow liturgical rubrics why should any priest bother following them? That is a valid question.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The Holy Father is very sober in his liturgical style and does not in any way wander from the text. He and I have no ability to do a complete genuflection. I've stuck with a sort of profound bow and half genuflection which I hate but it is the best I can do. He does a profound bow.
Of course the Holy Father has a God-given right to improvise if he wishes, His Holiness is the supreme pontiff and legislator as well as liturgist.

rcg said...

I agree with Cameron except for the commentary before Mass. I don't hunk they reedit. I have not heard anything addressed in this fashion that contributed to Mass at all.

We should ALL be focused on the Mass as prayer. I think the homily is the perfect place for burning issues, as they relate the feast. The priest should be willing, if able, to rate the burning issue, or leave it for another time, or put a letter in the bulletin or the Parish web site.

Anonymous said...

"Of course the Holy Father has a God-given right to improvise if he wishes, His Holiness is the supreme pontiff and legislator as well as liturgist."

The pope is supposed to be the rock, the guardian of the deposit of Faith, an example for priests to follow. Being sloppy in his manner and speech and his teaching, and changing things because on a whim he decided to do so is imprudent and immature and a cause for scandal. Example: take the time he gave that ludicrous iphone talk to a bunch of protestants after too much wine at dinner, or his complete innovation of incensing deacons is not only questionable but weird. There are numerous examples, those are only two, the list is endless. And these are legitimate observations and before the ad hominem attacks begin using reason and stop with the nonsense that just because he is pope whatever he does is fine. What is white is white and he can't make it black just because he is the pope.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

You've drunk the Koolaide or you are the one mixing it for your ideological agenda, which I suspect is the heterodox right wing who despises this pope as much as the heterodox left wing despised Pope Benedict. It is very sad indeed that a Catholic would stoop so low and be so protestant.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine any grown up intelligent person not being bored with this whole discussion.

Cameron said...

ok anon @ 1040, then why you posting eh?

John Nolan said...

Priest: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Me: And with your spirit.
Priest: Good morning, everyone!
Me: (magna cum voce) ET CUM SPIRITU TUO!
Works every time.

JBS said...

Anonymous,

"Modest proposals" are not usually exciting. Indeed, there is boredom to be found in many important discussions.

Ted K said...

Perhaps it would help were the priest to chant the Sign of the Cross, and in Latin. Surely "In nomine Patris...." is not beyond the comprehension of every Mass-goer in North America, especially if it is repeated over and over at every Mass. This would help restore some of the needed solemnity in the NO, right at the outset.

Anonymous said...

"You've drunk the Koolaide ..."

As usual when confronted with concrete examples of what this pope has said or done you attack. Not exactly a towering intellect are you Father. Oh that rose colored neo con world were people get bored with the truth so they ignore it.

Gene said...

Swift's "Modest Proposal" was pretty interesting...

John Nolan said...

GIRM 124

'Then facing the people and extending his hands, the priest greets the people, using one of the formulas indicated. The priest himself or some other minister may very briefly introduce the faithful to the Mass of the day.'

You can't blame priests for following the rubric. What the NO needs is a new and less vague set of rubrics and a musical directive to go with it and to replace Musicam Sacram 1967. Otherwise leave it as it is for at least another 200 years.

JBS said...

John Nolan,

I agree some rubrics seem a little vague. I honestly don't know what it means to "very briefly introduce the faithful to the Mass of the day", unless this is for votive and other commemorative Masses.

Joe Potillor said...

Have to agree with John Nolan, many priests have taken ab lib to a new level.

Father's proposals are good, but I would make everything sung....if Father has to sing the introduction, I'm sure it's much less likely to be ab libbed.

Anon at 8:55 and 9:40 is also right...but the better abuse to bring up would have been the Holy Thursday situation. There is still yet to be an official explanation for why the Holy Father can't genuflect...for now it is speculation...having leg problems myself, I sympathize, but it's hard to be sympathetic when he's kneeling (without aid) for the foot washing. I'll give Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt for not genuflecting...not easy for me to do, but it will be done. It's on my list of questions to ask when I get to interview Pope Francis ;)

Pater Ignotus said...

There is nothing "vague" in the rubric. That it does not prescribe a text is your issue. JBS, I know exactly what the direction means, whether it is a feast, memorial, mass for a school, mass at a retirement community, etc.

The rubric gives the celebrant the leeway to situate the Mass of the Ages, the Immemorial Mass, in a way that enables those present to understand more fully the meaning of the mass in their particular circumstances.

Bee said...

I actually changed parishes because of a newly assigned priest who always does the English Mass at the predominantly Polish parish I attended and loved, because of his adding his own greeting after he did the Sign of the Cross "Welcome, everybody" and then at the end, the "have a good weekend, everybody" after the Final Blessing. I just couldn't take it. I thought it was just my growing crotchetiness as I age, but it was so distracting to me and spoke of a lack of reverence and love of God and yes, given some of his other actions, seemed narcissistic, that I finally just found someplace else where the priests don't do that.
Thanks for decrying this practice.

Cameron said...

JBS I maintain that the laity are not dumb. (I never said you think they are.) If the libbies are so consistent with their harping on getting our noses out of hand Missals and really "participating" then what good does it functionally do to "introduce" the Mass? Yes I realize I split an infinitive.

What good does it do to say, "This is St. Shifuhdsulfh Mass," only to preach on the saint 15 minutes later? I don't see the point.

Again, commentary in my opinion is a destruction of the art and form of the Mass.

Cameron said...

PI we laity aren't dumb.

Pater Ignotus said...

Cameron - No one said that the laity are dumb.

The instruction "Then facing the people and extending his hands, the priest greets the people, using one of the formulas indicated. The priest himself or some other minister may very briefly introduce the faithful to the Mass of the day." was not written because anyone thinks the laity are dumb.

The permission given by the GIRM for a brief "introduction" is hardly a "destruction of the art and form of the Mass."

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Because it is open ended and thus in and of itself leads to the liturgical abuse of interrupting the otherwise solid trajectory of prayer for a improvised and often unplanned banter and blabber, the rubric is flawed and in great need of the revision I indicate in the post. Thank you for confirming the root of the problem.

Pater Ignotus said...

Cameron - And while you are not dumb, I think that you may not understand what the instruction means when it allows an "introduction" to the mass.

Henry said...

I would agree with PI, if by “introducing the faithful to the Mass of the day” is not meant a secular “Good morning, folks!” greeting, but rather something like “Today we celebrate the Memorial of St. Clare using the Common of Virgins.”

Because of the options typically available in the OF, it is helpful for people following in their missals of missalettes to know which Mass will be celebrated, perhaps which Preface and Eucharistic Prayer will be used. I know of no truly acceptable solution for daily Mass.

Apparently I am fortunate in that, with the 5 or 6 priests whose daily OF Masses I occasionally attend in several parishes, I never hear any of this “Good morning” chatter. But unless you have a priest whom you know always observes Memorials (for instance) using the most appropriate Mass and Preface, always uses EP III on feasts and memorials, EP I on solemnities, etc, it can be hard to navigate a 2500-page daily missal on the fly.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Henry prior to Mass and by the one who announces the hymn or Introit these announcements could be made not after the liturgical greeting. At our daily Masses the lector leads the Introit announcing the page and Mass in the missalette. All read it together.

I do not think the laity need to know which prayers or prefaces or Eucharistic prayers will be used in a vernacular Mass. The pros of a Latin mass don't need to follow a literal translation of the canon , any canon, but can paraphrase it in their minds according to structure, epiclesis, consecration, anemesis.

We don't need to follow an ad flush Mass in our English Missals!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Damn auto correct: we don't need to follow an English Mass in our English Missals!

Henry said...

Fr. McDonald, one of the mistakes of autocratic liturgists is to think that they know best everyone. But people differ greatly. Some are oriented visually, some aurally. My experience in teaching is that the majority (though not all) benefit more from complex texts if they have visual material to follow as they hear them audibly.

Just between us two here, the orations and prefaces in our glorious new translation are indeed—as some of the progressives complained--a bit complex in their structure for many pew sitters to fully comprehend them by just hearing them on the fly. Many probably benefit from seeing as well as hearing. That’s why we have missalettes in the pews (such as they are).

In any event, a number of folks at the early morning OF Masses that I attend do attempt to follow the Mass in their own hand missals. I probably am as practiced as most at following Mass in a missal, but I can find it hard to keep place when I hear a different collect or preface than the one I’m looking at, in particular if I had prepared for the memorial of a saint that turns out to be skipped. (Admittedly, I’m no doubt an exception in following the canon in Latin as I hear it in English.)

I believe our worship would be improved considerably if—as Benedict discussed somewhere—if we could recover the “missal devotion” at Mass that once was common but now is not. Of people really following the Mass seriously and personalizing it, rather than just listening vaguely in couch potato mode as the priest drones only.

John Nolan said...

Pater Ignotus

'Mass of the Ages'? 'Immemorial Mass'? Capital letters and all? Don't tell me you've become a convert to the EF? I admit to having a preference for the Classic Roman Rite but although both expressions are popular with traddies I find them slightly embarrassing and a tad unhistorical.

However, if you are applying them to the OF they could mean 'interminable' or 'unmemorable' respectively.

Pater Ignotus said...

John Nolan - The OF mass is the "Mass of the Ages" and the "Immemorial Mass."

As is the EF mass.

Yes, the terms are favored by traditionalists and, yes, they are unhistorical.

"Classical Roman Rite" I can live with, if you can imagine that.

Next on the list is "TLM" which I have seen used to shorten "The Latin Mass" and "Traditional Latin Mass."

The OF is also Traditional, and every bit as Traditional as the EF.

Henry said...

John and PI,

Your combined forces have convinced me. I resolve to attempt to remember to never henceforth on this blog use any other than TLM for the rite of Holy Mass that was perhaps first codified by Pope St. Gregory the Great,though it was even then an already ancient form in its principal features.