Saturday, September 16, 2017
THE SILENT CANON AND MUTUAL ENRICHMENT WORKING BOTH WAYS TO ACCOMPLISH CONTEMPLATION
Early in the revision of the Mass in 1970--it was still possible to interpret the rubric for the canon to allow a silent canon in that the rubric stated the canon "may" be celebrated audibly. That rubric changed in later 1970's missals and "may" was no longer used.
When I started celebrating the EF Mass exactly 10 years ago, one of the things that I did not recall as a child is that the Roman Canon was prayed silently. Thus my own recollection was the canon was always aloud although until 1967 or so in Latin and only the Roman Canon was prayed until that same 1967 date when three other "canons" were invented.
I have to say that I felt extremely uncomfortable praying the canon silently in the EF. What is lacking for most modern Catholics, to include this priest, is the spirituality, thoroughly Catholic, of contemplation and silence in the liturgical prayers of the Mass to include the Canon. Most adults and children today, thanks to soundbites, our electronic gadgets, Facebook and video games, have a very short attention span and any amount of silence is discomforting, especially at Church or Mass where one's mind cannot focus long enough to endure longer silences without the mind drifting to all sorts of other distractions which are purely mundane.
These distractions to modern Catholics also occur in the Ordinary Form when the contrived silences after the reading, the homily and Holy Communion, where there is absolutely no liturgical action or public prayer, overwhelm actual participation and lead to the drifting of thoughts and the antithesis of contemplation and prayer.
So in terms of mutual enrichment of both the EF and OF Roman Missals, how can we find a middle ground for both forms and thus a point of unity in terms of the recovery of contemplation, awe and wonder during the praying of the Canon which can be heard by the laity?
Pray the Canon in a low voice and audibly but with the use of a microphone in large churches is the best solution for both the EF and OF Masses. To be honest with you, over the years that I have celebrated the EF Mass, I wear a cordless microphone and I pray the canon in a low voice which is audible and it is carried through the church over the speakers. It is clear that I am praying softly but there isn't dead silence. And if I interpret the rubric of the EF Mass for a low voice Canon, it isn't to be said silently without the priest using his lips to voice the canon--correct me if I am wrong.
The greatest problem with the vernacular canon and prayed facing the congregation is that the priest reads the prayer in a "proclaiming way" which comes across not as prayer that could lead to quiet contemplation, but as though it is a "reading" directed to the congregation for the people to hear. This is especially true when the priest establishes eye-contact with the congregation, turns his head toward all present and makes the liturgical gestures at the consecration toward the congregation. This is truly a corruption of the prayerfulness of the Thanksgiving of the canon and the contemplation required of the Canon. It comes across not as prayer at all but as just another reading of the Mass for the congregation to hear. It also comes across as a mere reenactment of the first "Lord's Supper" and not a remembering of what the institution of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday anticipated, Good Friday's Most Holy Sacrifice of the Cross and the establishment of Christ as the Eternal High Priest and the Sacrament of the Priesthood to make that High Priesthood visible!
Ad Orientem or at least the "Benedictine" altar arrangement is the antidote for this corruption!