Thursday, January 3, 2019

ISN'T IT TIME TO CUT A WELL CELEBRATED ORDINARY FORM MASS SOME SLACK?

Peter Kwasniewski, not known for brevity of thought, has a long diatribe against a post by Father Dwight Longenecker who wrote  “Twelve Things I Like about the Novus Ordo Mass”.

I think the long winded Dr. Kwasniewski make some valid points under each of his 12 points. But isn't it time to cut some slack to the Ordinary Form for rediscovering some ancient traditions long discarded? Can't there be a hermeneutics of continuity even if one questions this, that or the order?

And the same must be said of those who have an antipathy for the Extraordinary Form. It is often portrayed as clerical, frozen in time, incapable of producing true comprehension among those not academically or liturgically oriented and lacking in true actual participation by not encouraging vocal assent to dialogue and music legitimately in the laity's realm.

But let me talk about two points Kwasniewski makes where I wholeheartedly agree and one where I partially agree.

The first is the Offertory Procession. It's theology is dubious. It is unnecessary and contrived to emphasize the baptismal priesthood of the laity and to give a few more laity something to do at the Mass. It isn't important and far less valuable than the traditional offertory prayers.

The second is the Offertory Prayers of the Ordinary Form. These need to be tossed, are novel to the Liturgy of the Latin Rite, manufactured if you will and there wasn't anything wrong with the EF's Offertory Prayers, prayed in Latin, quietly and quickly.

The third where I only partially agree is the loss of the EF Lectionary in the Ordinary Form. I am all in favor of more Scripture at Mass. Then why, o why, make the Introit, as well as the Offertory and Communion antiphons optional in the Ordinary Form?

I agree that the Mass should not be turned into a classroom Bible Study. The Mass is to worship God and praising Him by quoting the Bible is a beautiful doctrine, no? Some think it is novel to recall Scripture to God in Sacrifice (worship) but that is exactly what is done in the Eucharistic Prayeer when the Church recalls to God the Last Supper (not for the benefit of a congregation thinking it is a enactment of Holy Thursday's meal) but to praise God in Sacrifice, for His marvelous Words and Actions on our behalf! How many knew this when the EF was the Ordinary Form and how many know this in the Ordinary Form today? Not many, I don't think.

I also appreciate the sober approach of the EF Lectionary with one Lectionary reading with a brief (normally) gradual and/or tract and then a brief Gospel antiphon and the Gospel.  Any revision of the Ordinary Form Lectionary should recover not only as one of the cycles the Extraordinary From Lectionary but its format for any additional years.


Twelve Reasons Not to Prefer the Novus Ordo: A Reply to Fr. Longenecker

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kwasniewski's complaints are summed up in The Seven Last Words of Liturgy: "We've Never Done It That Way Before," and its seven-ly corollary, "How We Did It Before Was Better."

That's about it - nothing to see here - move on.

Fr Martin Fox said...

I like both articles, but Father Kwasniewski surely has the better substantiation.

Fr. K is right that the accessibility of the vernacular is deceptive. People say, "now I understand the prayers," but really, is that true? Hence the complaint when we received, finally, an accurate vernacular was that people didn't "understand"! Thus people were actually arguing in favor of less accurate prayers, because the true prayers are too demanding. Well, yes: we adore a Trinity, the Second Person of whom became incarnate. These are demanding ideas. If you want easier things to believe, there's Islam. (Ugh!) Christianity is demanding.

Father L. has a great point about the "adaptability" of the newer form of Mass, although he doesn't develop it the way I would. Namely, that in the O.F., it is possible to have a more solemn Mass without having to have lots of trained ministers and a choir. Those who are devoted to the older form of Mass will acknowledge, if not trumpet, that the Solemn High Mass should be seen as the norm, rather than the minimalistic Low Mass. But, the Low Mass is what most often was executable, and that remains the case. Even a Missa Cantata, while easier than the High Mass, is still not an easy thing to pull off in the older Mass.

But with the new Mass, a priest can make a Mass more solemn all by himself, simply by chanting as much of the Mass as he wants. Incense can more easily be added. More candles can be lit; a no-no in the old form.

As far as the lectionary, I think we may have overdone it. Most of the time it is very difficult to work all the readings into the homily; more often, I will touch on one or two. Yet there will be content to the readings that is unclear or will even strike people as odd. So the homilist can ignore it, in which case, I question the value of even including the reading; or else he can try to address everything, which rarely produces a coherent and memorable homily, but rather, a mishmash.

My suggestion for the lectionary would be to slim it down a bit, but I would keep the daily lectionary; that is a real improvement.

The offertory prayers should go, and while the offertory procession has some value, it isn't missed when it is omitted on weekdays. Is it licit to omit it on Sundays? It would save time. I'd rather omit the procession than always use Eucharistic Prayer II.

TJM said...

Anonymous Kavanaugh,

Thanks for your "profound" contribution to this debate. What would be do without you?

With a continuing collapse in attendance at Sunday Mass, unabated since Vatican Disaster II, I think Einstein's definition of insanity comes into play: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

ByzRC said...

"ISN'T IT TIME TO CUT A WELL CELEBRATED ORDINARY FORM MASS SOME SLACK?"

Hard to do as, to sum up a comment found in another post, most have never actually seen one.

Fr. Fox, how sad it is that you feel compelled to rely on EP II so that the other arguably unnecessary elements do not unduly lengthen the celebration of mass. I'm not being critical of you, I just know how the "Fr. 'X' always goes so long" crowd usually reacts to such things. Also, too much chanting, candles and incense, in addition to giving many instant coughing fits and allergies will likely result in complaints being raised to the pastor or, the diocese.

It surprises me that no one has mentioned the sacrament/sign of peace which, almost without fail, stops the liturgy with its awkward folksiness every time I attend the Novus Ordo mass.

Victor said...

To make a short comment of what could be a very long one, the New Mass is man-made for the the glory of man, of those experts in the academe who drafted the V2 Constitution on the liturgy, while the real Mass, as Pius XII mentioned, evolved over the eons through "the disposition of divine Providence," for the glory of God, a Holy Mass in which all men can participate for their sanctification in the worship of God.

rcg said...

The question of this post sounds like a quote borrowed from Abraham. For your sake we could spare it if you can find one. OTOH maybe the people who want a reverent liturgy should be evacuated to a place they can prosper. Give them the Anglican Ordinariate and call them all Moabites.

John Nolan said...

A few years ago the Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory (the one founded by Newman) changed their principal Sunday Mass from OF to EF. On the surface, this was not a dramatic change; the OF Mass had been in Latin, ad apsidem, with deacon and subdeacon; the music traditional (chant and polyphony). Communion was received kneeling and in one kind only.

But in fact there was a fundamental difference. In the older rite the celebrant and ministers are servants of the liturgy, as indeed they are in the East. They don't control it. In the new rite, even when it closely resembles the old (especially when it closely resembles the old), those who celebrate it have in effect assembled it from the multifarious options available. They are more the masters of the liturgy than its servants.

It represents a novel and completely different way of looking at liturgy, which is difficult not to see as a rupture.

Anonymous said...

The older form of the Mass was so long ago I barely remember it. I do recall that it wasn’t always as spectacular as the photographs. I also remember the way the new Mass was implemented. I wasn’t impressed with that either. Like others I wonder what a properly celebrated NO Mass would be like. I think Pope Benedict was on the right track. I think turning the Altar around would be a huge improvement. Bring back the Altar Rail. Distribute only one species of Eucharist. Loose the handshake. Have some of the music occur before and not during Mass. Have a Renaissance of artwork, add some Latin, bring back candles (including votive), Allow for the TLM. Let the Priests do what Priests do.Stop letting parishioners run the Mass, and stop allowing them to pretend to be Priests, and bring back proper confessionals. All would improve the dignity and reverence of an ordinary Mass.

James Ignatius McAuley said...

Father Fox, respectfully, Peter Kwasniewski is not an ordained priest, though he is a father and a member of the lay priesthood.

I know Peter, and he is a great guy.Like me, Peter gave up on the chaos of the novus ordo.

As John Nolan mentions, in the Byzantine rite we serve the liturgy. We do not change the words or forms for convenience or the bull of "pastoral necessity." Lately, I have seen roman catholic priests, in the name of pastoral necessity, change the words in the anaphora, or even skip mass and replace it with morning prayer.

Fr Martin Fox said...

James:

Oh, my mistake; thanks for correcting me.

ByzRC said:

Fr. Fox, how sad it is that you feel compelled to rely on EP II so that the other arguably unnecessary elements do not unduly lengthen the celebration of mass. I'm not being critical of you, I just know how the "Fr. 'X' always goes so long" crowd usually reacts to such things. Also, too much chanting, candles and incense, in addition to giving many instant coughing fits and allergies will likely result in complaints being raised to the pastor or, the diocese.

It surprises me that no one has mentioned the sacrament/sign of peace which, almost without fail, stops the liturgy with its awkward folksiness every time I attend the Novus Ordo mass.


I'm surprised you said that, because I do not, in fact, rely on Eucharistic Prayer II. Here's what I said, above: "The offertory prayers should go, and while the offertory procession has some value, it isn't missed when it is omitted on weekdays. Is it licit to omit it on Sundays? It would save time. I'd rather omit the procession than always use Eucharistic Prayer II."

I can see what caused the confusion. I did not mean that I actually do rely on EPII; in fact, I rarely use it; and never use it on Sunday except in the rarest circumstance. Indeed, last Sunday we had an absurd delay in Mass that dragged on for awhile, and as my homily was a little long, I used EPII because I simply didn't know how late we'd be. It turned out, I needn't have, but it's hard to know those things sometimes.

Rather, my point was to address the arguments made by many of my fellow priests for nearly always using EPII -- that they feel they must due to time.

Also, about the sign of peace: I would be fine if it went away, but I can't stop people from doing it. But what I actually do is this: I omit the (optional) invitation to give a sign of peace. I simply say, "Peace be with you"...the people respond, and I shake the hands of one or two servers and go to the tabernacle (liturgical progressives are aghast!). The effect, I've noticed, is to make it more subdued.

Oh, and what was the "absurd delay" I mentioned? The stopper in the wine cruet wouldn't come out. The server struggled with it and was mortified. I motioned the server over, and I couldn't manage it. I sent the server to the nearest sacristy to run it under water. That took way too long; so I sent the other server. The servers came back with the cruet still jammed. So finally I sent the server to the further-away sacristy for another bottle of wine. Maybe it only lasted two minutes, but it seemed like forever!