Monday, November 7, 2011
THE BEAUTY OF THE MASS IN BOTH FORMS
Thanks to Pope Benedict, I am privileged to celebrate on a regular basis the two forms of the one Roman Rite, the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form.
I was ordained in 1980 and experimented wildly the more progressive ways of celebrating the Mass, although I tried to do it well. When I was assigned to our Cathedral in Savannah in 1985 not only as Associate Pastor, but more importantly as Diocesan Master of Ceremonies and Director of Liturgy, I realized that the Cathedral should be the "template" of how the Liturgies of the Church should be celebrated and that the Cathedral in particular should have "cathedral" liturgies!
It also helped that Bishop Emeritus Raymond W. Lessard knew a thing or two about Liturgy and Vatican II and decidedly put his thumb down on my free-lancing ways as it regards ad libbing at Mass. But that's another story, although I do tend to be a bit progressive to this day. It is no secret that St. Joseph Cathedral, I mean Church, in Macon has already implemented the Corrected Translation of the Mass and months before it is mandated. Of course I've done this with permission of another bishop emeritus although I don't think that he would have interpreted his permission as broadly as I did! Sometimes you just can't exorcised the 1970's out of a priest who went to the seminary in the 1970's; it wouldn't be natural!
I must admit though that celebrating the Extraordinary Form of the Mass has truly and in a most positive way made me look at how I celebrate the Ordinary Form and to be more careful in observing the Ordinary Form's rubrics and signs of reverence.
As far as the Extraordinary Form, I do try to bring the less "robotic" implementation of the rubrics that I have learned from the Ordinary Form to its celebration, but not wildly so.
I don't foresee the Ordinary Form changing in the way it is celebrated for the distant future. I do see a renewed emphasis on "saying the black (words of the Mass) and doing the "red" the rubrics of the Mass and in a factitious way.
The corrected English translation brings the English Mass to what the reformed Latin Mass of Post Vatican II actually is in language, devotion, spirituality and reverence. Those who revised the Mass after Vatican II and did so in Latin first, did understand the "hermeneutic of continuity" as it regards the 1970 Roman Missal and the 1962 Roman Missal.
It was those who translated the Reformed Latin Mass into the various languages in particular into English that implemented the "hermeneutic of rupture" as it regards the theology, devotion and reverence of the Mass reformed in Latin.
But if that wasn't bad enough, it was liturgical theologians and liturgical musicians schooled in the hermeneutic of discontinuity who leaped frogged the Mass into the abysmal state of irregularity that most parishes experience today.
More progressive blogs whose editors have serious authority issues especially with the bishops of the Church misplace their fear of authoritarianism as it regards the Liturgy. They should fear themselves and rebel against themselves.
Those we should fear are progressive liturgical theologians and musicians who influence ordinary parish priests and so-called liturgy committees and have brought about the worst kind of iconoclasm as it concerns our churches, liturgy and music. These characters steal authority and exercise it in the most insidious way possible. It is their authority that should be questioned, mocked and overturned. The old saying that the difference between a terrorist and a liturgist (musician) is that you can negotiate with a terrorist rings true with these progressive ones!
Fortunately there is a new breed of liturgical theologian and musician. You can read about them and see their leadership at the Chant Cafe and The New Liturgical Movement. The spirit of the "reform of the reform" is alive and well there and is the hope of the liturgy for the future.
So if the Ordinary Form of the Mass is what we will have for sometime into the distant future, what could be changed or mandated or made "rubrical" about it that would bring it into closer conformity with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass?
I'm not clairvoyant, but maybe I am, so these are what I see in my crystal ball:
1. The official chants of the Mass, the Introit, Offertory and Communion antiphons must be chanted and never substituted by a hymn of some other kind. (That doesn't mean hymns can't be sung, these simply can't replace the official chants). This is the case already with the Extraordinary Form.
2. The Benedictine Altar arrangement will be mandated. Then the option of ad orientem will be made more explicit and with specific requirements as to whose authority this option belongs, but ad populum will not be outlawed. (Keep in mind the Extraordinary Form of the Mass can be celebrated toward the people too, there is no rubric saying it can't!) But one would have to have the so-called "Benedictine altar arrangement" if ad populum is chosen for the Extraordinary Form.
3. Kneeling for Holy Communion will be the mandated norm although standing won't be outlawed.
4. Holy Communion in the hand will be banned and Holy Communion on the tongue will be the norm. If Holy Communion in the hand is continued, it will be modified according to the ancient tradition that the Episcopalians follow today: The Sacred Host is place on the palm of the right hand with the left hand under the right hand. Then one does not take the host with his/her fingers, but rather brings both hands in the throne position to the mouth for the Host and any fragments to be taken into the mouth with the lick of the tongue!
5. The common chalice will be eliminated but intinction will be allowed on the most liberal basis according to local choices.