A friend of mine, a parish priest in the Archdiocese of Westminster, sent me a link to this video earlier today. It is an extract from the 1944 film Christmas Holiday starring Deanna Durbin and shows part of a Christmas Mass. It was filmed at St Vibiana’s, the former Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which was damaged in the Northridge earthquake of 1994 and sold to the city. St Vibiana’s has since been replaced by the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The music in the clip includes Puer natus in Bethlehem, the Kyrie from Licinio Refice’s Missa Choralis and Adeste fideles.
My comments: This clip, apart from the actors that are depicted which would have been done in a studio, is a real Mass as it would have been celebrated in 1944. It tells you that even Hollywood had respect not only for the Catholic Church of that period, but for her liturgy, for her Mass. What else explains a Hollywood movie dedicating so much time to the screen for a Catholic Mass and portraying a lay woman in the movie so moved by it and the season it is celebrating to experience a sort of conversion.
This is the way we were! Please note that there is no order when these Catholics actually approach the altar railing (communion railing) and this is during the time the priest is completing the Sacrifice by his reception of Holy Communion. After this, there is the laity's additional Confiteor with absolution (eliminated in the 1962 EF Missal) and then the Ecce Agnus Dei with the laity's Dominus Non Sum Dignus. By this point the railing would have been full of communicants and those standing in the aisle would have knelt on the floor!
This Mass captured the religious and spiritual imagination of Catholics, non Catholics and non-believers.
What can we say about the Ordinary Form of the Mass beginning around 1970 to this very day. What are the sentiments it produces for television and movie producers?
This Saturday Night Live Clip of a couple of weeks ago captures the sentiments of Hollywood today as it concerns the Catholic Church and her Mass. Yes, it is a caricature and the way so many celebrate the Ordinary Form today inspires this kind of modern caraicature of the Church. Compare this with the 1944 sentiments about the Catholic Mass.
It is sad, so sad, that the Bishops of the Church and yes, the popes of the Catholic Church have allowed this sort of thing to happen to the Mass where this kind of caricature touches the reality of so many Catholics today when they attend Mass!