Sunday, January 4, 2015

TODAY'S LITURGICAL DIVERSITY: TO HAVE IT OR NOT TO HAVE IT: THAT IS THE QUESTION!

Liturgical diversity run a muck or running its course or here to stay?
It is said that Vatican II brought on liturgical diversity. However, those promoting that diversity based it upon cultural diversity rather than Roman universality based upon European cultural norms.

While the reforms of the Mass concretized after Vatican II by Consilium, that elite committee that reworked the Mass, authorized by Pope Paul VI which His Holiness as Supreme Pontiff and legislator promulgated as was his divine right, sought to simplify the Mass to make it more intelligible and to get rid of historical accretions that were not in place in the early Church.

So the following was stripped from the Mass:

1. Prayers at the Foot of the Altar (thought to be too clerical)

2. Private prayers of the priest either eliminated or drastically edited, for example the elimination of the silent prayers of the priest as he ascends the altar and kisses it, the psalm that is recited when incensing the altar, quiet prayers before the Gospel, the lengthy washing of the hands prayer, the prayers before the Orate Fratres and a few others.

3. Those who translated the revised Latin Mass into English took further liberties not found in the Latin Roman Missal (other language groups did the same). So the Gloria and Credo were truncated and improperly translated as was the "Lord, I am not worthy" and the Confiteor. Mercifully this has been corrected in English!

But then new accretions were added to the revised Mass that would make the historical accretions of the EF Mass blush with shame! The new accretions were accomplished ad hoc or by parish or diocesan committees or simply by the priest who thought it was a good idea.

Here are some of the more notorious examples:

1. During Advent, lengthy advent wreath lighting ceremonies in place of the penitential act or in addition, with lay people lighting the candle and words being said.

2. Lengthy introductions and mini or maxi homilies cast throughout the Mass. Bishops are the worst offenders of lengthy introductions to Masses at their Cathedrals prior to the penitential act where everyone is asked to sit, people are introduced, the reason for the celebration is explained and all are exhausted by the rhetoric before the Penitential Act even starts. 

3. In some places, the priest gives a synopsis of what's coming up in the readings prior to the Penitential Act and after the religious greeting followed by secular "how do ya do's" and the like. Priests like to draw attention to themselves and their magnanimous friendly and inviting personalities. It's all about them after all.

4. In some places there is a brief synopsis before each reading.

5. In some places the priest summarizes all that has happened during the Mass after the Prayer after Holy Communion.

Then there are the cultural ditties:

1. Liturgical dance that is truly imposed on the revised rite of the Mass and has simply nothing to do with the Mass whatsoever

2. People wearing native costumes to do this, that and the other even though these costumes are no longer the normal dress of these cultures, who those ethnic groups doing these things in a foreign culture in which they now live.

3. Popular devotions of various ethnic groups dragged into the Mass rather than standing alone.

4. Secular music and trends of various cultures whether historic or novel imposed upon the style of liturgical music and/or chant. For Americans, it is the Broadway sounding melodies of much of the newer liturgical music; for young people it is the fads of how their music sounds; for some ethnic groups it is the Polka Mass sound or some other such silly innovation.

My final comments:

I am not opposed to liturgical diversity but I believe it has to be true to who we are as Roman Catholics and our European heritage as Roman Catholics no matter where we live, in Europe, Asia, the Americas or Africa. If we don't like being Latin Rite Catholics or Roman Catholics, then the pope should set up new rites as the Eastern Rites have, with their own bishops and priests. I guess in the Latin Rite we could call them Ordinariates.

But for those of us who want the cultural thrust of being a part of the pure Latin or Roman Rite, we now have two forms of our one Rite, the Ordinary and the Extraordinary. But these should be done within our cultural heritage, saying the black and doing the red.

In addition to this, in both rites, no matter the vernacular of the Ordinary Form, chant should have a place of pride as well as chanting the Propers. The first priority should be chanting the official texts of the Mass to include Sacred Scripture.

The second and much less important aspect of the Mass is the filler music, such as hymns and anthems that are added to the Mass to cover particular actions. These are insignificant and should not be the main preoccupation of the sung Mass.


26 comments:

Gene said...

So called "liturgical diversity" is all garbage…it is destroying the Church…just as forced cultural diversity is destroying the country.

JBS said...

VCII called for the liturgical rites to be short and clear. It seems to me that whenever the rector of a church finds himself pondering whether or not to add some cultural feature to the Mass, the answer should always be "no". Celebrate diversity in the social hall and in the streets.

Robert Kumpel said...

I guess I'm a dinosaur, because some things make me cringe at certain Masses. Perhaps the most glaring annoyance is applause at Mass. Growing up at a time when silence was imposed upon Catholic schoolchildren marching into church and the sound of a nun snapping her fingers immediately straightened the spinal cord, I have a visceral reaction to people applauding at Mass, whether it is for birthdays, anniversaries or what have you. At Our Lady, Queen of the Universe Shrine in Orlando Florida, priests at every Mass tell the visiting tourists to "give yourselves a hand" for making the minimal effort of attending Mass while on vacation. Sorry, but self-congratulating isn't listed as a reason for worship in the Catechism.

I don't understand how we can have all this talk about "unity" when the various modes of offering Mass seem to be more fractured every year. I recently attended a "bilingual" Mass in a small parish. Sitting through the multicultural backflips, going back and forth between English and Spanish and listening to the Our Father being simultaneously recited in two languages is neither comforting, unifying or prayerful. It's just unsettling. But if one suggested Latin as a unifying compromise, that person would be met with astonishing gasps--almost as if the language of the Church was pornographic. Just a couple of many things I've had to quietly accept as part of life in the liturgical gulag we call South Georgia.

John Nolan said...

Does anyone remember the Mass that JP II celebrated somewhere in the Americas where the 'ethnic' dancers' skirts were blown up by the wind, leaving little to the imagination?

Inculturation means that the 'lesser breeds without the law' accommodate themselves to European culture and civilization. Spain has a great liturgical tradition, and produced some of the greatest Renaissance composers of liturgical music, which the Spaniards introduced to the New World. Native composers carried on the tradition.

Unfortunately, 'Hispanics' are deemed worthy only of appreciating what amounts to café music. As a European, I find the term 'Hispanic' to be rather derogatory; rather akin to Gene's reference to Negroes as a 'feral minority'.

Jdj said...

Yes, indeed, JBS.
We recently drove out to the new RC church in Grovetown to assist at Mass. The building is exquisitely beautiful and the interior furnishings breathtaking...
Now for the rant (May God have mercy on me):
The Mass itself was disastrous. The NO Roman Rite is, of course, dominated by the music, for better or worse. Poor music=poor liturgy. This liturgy was beyond worse, dominated by a cantor too-loud (turn the microphone down!!) off-key, and out of timing with the organ, poorly-done sandwich hymns, new-agey contemporary Christian stuff (well-sung by a different cantrix but also too loud & totally out of place in a liturgy), outdated & tacky liturgical music including some Marty Haugen and some who-knows-what. And the Pièce de résistance: TWO Communion hymns ending with "One Bread One Body" for Eucharistic meditation. They have a magnificent new pipe organ, rarely used, opting for the piano.
We left saying that we would not return. What could have been transcendent ended up worse than banal. The celebrant, an excellent young priest and liturgist whom Fr. McD knows well, could transform this liturgy if allowed--He actually pushed the too-loud microphone totally away during his homily! The music dominated and destroyed the liturgy.
So sad... I will totally understand if you do not wish to post this rant, Father.

Cletus Ordo said...

Jdj:

Your observations are one of the reasons I referred to the church in Grovetown as "Compromise" churches. The beautiful architecture and furnishings continue to mask the deep hatred of our liturgical patrimony. A young priest who desires to offer a reverent Mass is held hostage by liturgical committees, diocesan guidelines for "active participation" and lay musicians who think that the Mass couldn't go on without them.

HUBRIS. Plain and simple.

John Nolan said...

Jdj

You have hit the nail squarely on the head. There seems little point in spending money on restoration (Chartres being an example) if the so-called liturgy celebrated therein is modern c***p which is entirely alien to the building in which it is performed.

Anonymous said...

If St. Teresa is "exquisitely beautiful" and the furnishings "breathtaking," what superlatives are left for St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago, or the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, MN?

Surely the Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine, FL, and the Cathedral of St. John in Savannah are far more "breathtaking."

If, after three weeks, there are a few technical glitches (too loud microphones), so what?

Juden said...

These conversations sometimes remind me of what Mom and Pop might be saying to each other in "Ye Olde General Store" as the new Walmart and Home Depot go up across the road.

Gene said...

So, what do you have to offer, Juden…anything?

Juden said...

Just a suggestion, I guess, that the white Europeans who have run the Church the world?) for hundreds...thousands, of years are being and will be replaced by others, probably not "white" or European. Get used to it.

Anonymous said...

PSALM 150

Anonymous 2 said...

Jdj:

I wish you could still attend St. Teresa’s sometimes, despite your dislike of the liturgical style. If that young priest is the one who was Parochial Vicar here at St. Josephs for three years until this past summer, he is definitely worth the effort. Plus, he is still a relative newcomer to the parish and therefore is probably still getting his bearings. Even Father McDonald did not abolish the (once monthly) folk mass at St. Josephs in his first year or maybe even in his second (I do not recall exactly when it ended – regrettably in my view, but that’s for another thread).

Gene said...

Well, Juden, it will certainly be the world's loss and quite possibly the end of civilization.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Actually the Folk group quit when I got here and without notice or explanation. I don 't even know who led it or was in it.

Flavius Hesychius said...

Just a suggestion, I guess, that the white Europeans who have run the Church the world?) for hundreds...thousands, of years are being and will be replaced by others, probably not "white" or European. Get used to it.

Indeed. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Jdj said...

A-2, I do understand all of that. I probably will someday regret my post, but not for awhile. I do understand that my post appears presumptuous, precipitous, and whiny.
But this was NOT their folk Mass we attended, which is Sunday evening and very entrenched for years. We specifically avoid that one. This was a "regular" Mass. And that very good new priest is the youngest of four, in charge of the Hispanic ministry as well as his other duties and Masses in English. One can only imagine his challenges and pray for him.
But we are a people of faith living in hope, yes?

Jdj said...

Oh, and BTW A-2, I sang in a folk Mass group in the 80's. Our priest favored us as we were considered very good (our lead guitarist played a 12-string) and "reverent". It was the best-attended Mass then... We actually instructed the regular choir in the new liturgical music of the "Mass of Creation".
I do not regret those years as I am sure I will one day understand their purpose in my life. But I grew up in the TLM and, although we have no access to it, still miss it. It is the Mass of the ages. I do love a holy, reverent, well-done NO Mass, and will always drive miles for one.

Anonymous 2 said...

Father McDonald:

I apologize that I mistakenly suggested you had abolished the Folk Mass. Perhaps I was led into that mistaken recollection by your apparently unwavering opposition to such Masses on this Blog. I have no idea, then, why the group stopped. I must try to find out what happened -- if anyone still remembers. Am I correct in recalling, however, that when you arrived we spent over a year having Mass in the Social Hall below the church, which was being renovated? If so, perhaps that had something to do with it. I still wonder, though -- would you have continued the Folk mass if the group hadn’t quit?

JBS said...

Anonymous 2,

I think it is very mush to your credit that you offered you apology here. You are a good example of the increased understanding that can emerge from open, honest and rational discussion.

While Father MacDonald certainly has his liturgical preferences, he is at heart a shepherd caring for a diverse flock, not an aesthete caring for his own tastes.

John Nolan said...

Actually, the so-called folk Mass has nothing to do with folk music at all. Folk music is modal (like Gregorian Chant), it is in free rhythm (like Gregorian Chant) and the text is more important than the music (as in Gregorian Chant). The nearest thing to folk music is in fact the hymns sung at Lauds and Vespers. The fons et origo of western music are the more complex chant forms developed in monasteries in the first millennium, and the necessity to devise a notation to make it easier to learn (two years as opposed to twenty). Without this there would have been no Josquin, no Palestrina, no Bach, no Haydn, no Beethoven.

Claude Nobs said...

John,

Perhaps the misnomer of "folk Mass" comes from the preferred music of the political leftists who imposed this upon us: Woody Guthrie, Peter Seeger, Peter Paul & Mary, the early Bob Dylan. All of these distinguished performers had a hard left fan base and most, if not all of them were leftists and socialists themselves.

Gene said...

Claude Nobs, Indeed so. Folk masses and folk music are largely garbage, brought to you by the foot stomping, loud mouthed, unwashed trash bags of the anti-war, anti-capitalist movement. They got a few of them at Kent State, but then they made them quit.

Anonymous 2 said...

Thank you, JBS. I do think it is important to acknowledge error and to make appropriate apologies.

And I have no doubt that Father McDonald is very sincere and well-intentioned, acting in what he believes are the best interests of his flock. Indeed, I believe the same of all the priests I know and have known over the years. Moreover, while I do not necessarily think it is appropriate for our clergy to drive a Maserati or wear Armani =), I do think it is very appropriate that they be accorded great respect, whether one agrees or disagrees with this or that decision or position or even expresses that disagreement in a civil manner. We laity owe them a great debt of gratitude for their sacrifice and dedication.

Anonymous said...

PSALM 150....and it doesn't mention "Chant"...

Gene said...

RE: Psalm 150. Yes, and then there is: "Be still and know that I am God, " and "The Lord is in his Holy Temple, let all the earth keep silence." Since we are "proof-texting."