Monday, February 29, 2016
WHEREIN FATHER SOUTHERN ORDERS OPINES ON THE CATHOLICITY OF THE MASS IN BOTH FORMS AND THE LOSS OF CATHOLIC IDENTITY AS SHAPED BY THE BANAL CELEBRATION OF THE ORDINARY FORM
The readings for the EF Mass, from the Propers to the Epistle and Gospel, I don't think I have ever heard on a Sunday in the Ordinary Form, especially the Epistle which is so needed for so many Catholics who have given into a licentious spirit. It gives so much good advice to our contemporary Catholic culture influenced more by the spirit of the devil than by the Holy Spirit:
Ephesians 5: 1 - 9
Brethren, Be ye followers of God, as most dear children: and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us and hath delivered Himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odor of sweetness. But fornication, and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints: or obscenity, or foolish talking, or scurrility, which is to no purpose: but rather giving of thanks. For know you this, and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean, or covetous person, which is a serving of idols, hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief. Be ye not therefore partakers with them. For you were heretofore darkness: but now light in the Lord. Walk then as children of the light: for the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice, and truth.
But between the two Masses I celebrated on Sunday, one a completely sung OF Mass at 5 PM and the other the sung EF Mass at 12:10, I see the stark difference between the spirituality of both which while doctrinally the same in terms of what the Holy Sacrifice effects, "the renewal of the one Sacrifice of Christ at the altar in an unbloody way" the spirituality of both is quite different, one Catholic in a pure way and the other protestantized or cyncretized with protestant sensibilities.
Primarily, the EF Mass is more in tune with the mystical spirituality of the Church of the East, which in fact we have far more in common with both those in the Eastern Church who are in complete union with the Magisterium of the Church and those who are in schism.
Whereas, the OF Mass is more in tune with the "wordiness, teaching, learning and understanding" spirituality of the Protestant Denominations in their worship. It's spirituality is more Protestant in this regard than eastern or Catholic.
What I have come to rediscover from my childhood experience of the Ancient Form of the Mass and what most Catholics prior to Vatican II would have understood is that the most important aspect of the liturgical spirituality of the Mass is entering into the Divine Presence of God, being enveloped into Mystery, timelessness and the heavenly experience of the Most Holy Trinity surrounded by the choirs of Angels swinging their censors and chanting Holy, Holy, Holy, Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, and the Church Triumphant in that abode swept up into the eternal beauty of God.
It is here that the intellectual, the illiterate, the child and the adult, the gifted and the intellectually challenged are on an equal worshiping level and become completely one for there is nothing to understand except the overwhelming love of God for us that is the experience of heaven and our overwhelming love for God and neighbor when we are fully integrated into heave after our death and judgment.
Understanding isn't as important as simply being swept up into the mystery of being in heaven which then gives us Catholics a desire to go to heaven and experience it not in a veiled, sacramental way, but in its overwhelming mystical reality.
Thus, one need not follow a worship aid or hand missal verbatim as the priest, ministers and schola chant and pray their parts. All that is necessary is an understanding of the structure of the Mass and its purpose, a working knowledge of the changing parts of the Mass by looking at these propers and prayers in the vernacular ahead of time and a knowledge of the readings. I would pray that along with the Low EF Mass, the option of having the Epistle and Gospel chanted in the vernacular would be extended officially to the High EF Mass. It is silly to have to repeat these readings prior to the homily as was the case prior to Vatican II at least in the USA. I remember hearing the Gospel again in English, although I don't recall hearing the Epistle in English.
So, the EF's participation in the very active sense, whether it be verbal or not, is deeply rooted in our catholicity of both in the east and the west and both resonate with each other and show our unique spiritual unity even in its diversity.
Whereas the OF's encouragement of active participation and its spirituality falls more in line with the spirituality of Protestantism based upon the Word of God expounded upon, taught and understood, a far more pedantic or polemical way to approach spirituality, which is in breach with the classical catholicity of the east and west in terms of spirituality, participation and the experience of the mystical especially in the west in its classical form of the Latin Rite Mass.
Thus, Protestant convert to Catholicism after Vatican II and under the Protestantized form of participation and spirituality of the new Catholic Mass, find the EF Mass and its mystical form of participation and spirituality as alien, odd and befuddling.
Fortunately the genius behind Pope Benedict XVI and his liturgical hermaneutic and liberal allowance of the EF Mass is exposing more Catholics today to the our liturigical, spiritual and mystical heritage which we have in common with the Church of the East, especially its schismatic part and where we both have valid sacraments rooted in a common, united history prior to the Great Schism.
It also shows us how much more we have in common with the irregular situation of our Latin Rite brothers and sisters in the SSPX movement in the Church, far more in common with them than we have with the various forms of the Anglican Communion, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists and other Protestant sects.
My prayer is that we recover the best of our liturgical tradition we share in common with the East and move away from the more banal, pedantic spirituality of wordiness and comprehension as though in a classroom of the OF's ethos in form and practice, based more on Protestant sentiments in this regard than on Catholic sentiments. It is possible to move forward with this and a new revised OF Mass that is more like the EF Mass in language, order and mysticism.