Thursday, September 30, 2010
WOULD THE HOLY FATHER'S WAY OF CELEBRATING THE MASS LEAD TO MORE AWE AND REVERENCE IN THE ORDINARY FORM OF THE ENGLISH MASS?
In the blog below where Cardinal Ratzinger responds to criticism about his approach to the Liturgy and his outreach to traditionalist Catholics, I pick two things that I think are still a part of Pope Benedict's hermeneutic of "reform of the reform within continuity."
...liturgical reform, the way it has been implemented, and the crisis deriving from some of the tendencies hidden in it, such as desacralization.
I repeat that which was said in my speech: the difference between the Missal of 1962 and the Mass faithfully celebrated according to the Missal of Paul VI is much smaller than the difference between the various, so-called ”creative” applications of the Missal of Paul VI. In this situation, the presence of the earlier Missal may become a bulwark against the numerous alterations of the liturgy and thus act as a support of the authentic reform.--Cardinal Ratzinger, February 1999
What I have learned from the Holy Father since his election over five years ago and what I have learned since I began celebrating the Extraordinary Form of the Mass as it pertains to the "resacralization" of the Ordinary Form of the Vernacular Mass:
1. Fewer options make for better celebrations. The OF currently has too many options especially as it regards Mass with music and Mass without music. Each priest, music minister or worship committee decides what is appropriate. The EF Mass has three choices, Low Mass (that could have hymns sung at the procession, offertory, communion and recessional, but nothing else); Sung Mass which has everything being Sung that is prescribed and Solemn Sung which would also include the use of deacon and sub deacon and more choreography for the altar boys, extra candles, etc.
2. The singing or saying of the Introit, Offertory Antiphon and Communion Antiphon, these are required in the EF Mass but optional in the OF Mass in the sense that metrical hymns can be substituted. This was an unfortunate development as it regards the General Instruction of the Roman Missal of 1970 and 2002.
3. Kneeling for Holy Communion and receiving on the tongue in the EF Mass has shown me that the return to these simple two gestures by the entire Latin Rite would have the most impact on promoting more reverence and respect for Holy Communion, especially children. There is a tendency today in the OF Mass to make the moment of receiving Holy Communion an "eat and run" experience as well as a "grab and walk off" moment rather than a more measured, slower and reverent moment of receiving. The Holy Father models this in all of his Masses, in fact requires it. Will he mandate that the American norm of standing and the option of receiving in the hand be made option and kneeling the norm as well as Holy Communion on the tongue. I think the Holy Father could legislate this return to a much longer tradition in the Latin Rite.
4. Encouraging the option of ad orientem for the celebration of Mass or at least the "Benedictine altar arrangement" for Mass facing the congregation will help the priest and the congregation to realize that spoken prayers with the priest looking at the congregation as he prays these sends a mixed signal concerning to Whom these prayers are actually directed. Simply having a crucifix on the altar facing the priest allows him to focus there rather than on the congregation as though he's reading these prayer to them. However, the greatest advantage of ad orientem is that it reduces the role of the personality of the priest in the celebration of the Mass.