Monday, April 9, 2012
A LIGHT BULB MOMENT DURING EASTER SUNDAY'S GREGORIAN MASS WHICH WAS A REFORM OF THE REFORM OF THE ORDINARY FORM OF THE SUNG MASS
Now for my light bulb during our Easter Sunday Reform of the Reform of the Ordinary Form of the Mass but not before some kudos.
This is from our Saint Joseph Day OF Mass Ad orientem:
First of all it was purely a "Gregorian Mass" in the Ordinary Form Ad Orientem with Gregorian chant for all the parts. The schola sang splendidly "Vidi Aqaum" Introit, Kyrie, Gloria, Gradual, Sequence (and marvelously!) Alleluia with ordinary form English verse) Credo, Universal Prayer, Offertory verse, Sanctus, Mysterium Fidei, Pater Noster and Doxology, Agnus Dei, Communion Antiphon. I botched the Ite Missa Est, Alleluia, Alleluia as I had a senior moment as I faced the people for this and did not have the notes for it.
As a prelude to the Mass (similar to Christmas pageants that act out the Gospel for Christmas) we celebrated the Asperges in the EF Form which I absolutely love and find far superior to what is an option only in the Ordinary Form as a replacement of the Penitential Act and the revision of it is, well, not good.
Now for the light bulb moment. I have celebrated the Latin Form of the Ordinary Form of the Mass, but always facing the congregation and as a Gregorian Chanted Mass in my previous parish on the first Saturday of each month at the anticipated Mass. That was from about 2002 to 2004. At St. Joseph I did not do this, but once the Holy Father gave us permission to celebrate the EF Mass I saw no reason to celebrate the OF Mass entirely in Latin.
Yesterday was the first time I celebrated the OF Mass in Latin. This is now my light bulb moment and it concerns the Roman Canon and the sense of needing to be as reverent as possible in celebrating the Sacred Mysteries.
As I prayed the Canon out loud, I was more relaxed, did not worry about rubrics, but when it came to the places where in the EF Mass multiple signs of the cross are in the rubrics, I had to keep my hand from doing so and then I realized how "rubrical ceremonies" are prayer but in ritual form. I was not allowed to offer praise to God in a physical way with the additional signs of the cross. I did not "feel" as reverent in my physical prayers in the OF's rubrics of the Roman Canon in Latin.
The law of prayer is the law of belief for better or for worse. My question is did priests or do priests lose a sense of reverence for the Sacred Mysteries because the physical ritual actions, which are ritualized prayer, no longer require them to show physical acts of reverence during the Eucharistic Prayer as in the EF's Roman Canon?
In addition, I felt compelled to offer the double genuflections for each consecration and fortunately the altar server knew how to ring the bells as I did it that way. It was only natural! Priests need to offer as much reverence as possible for our Lord especially during the Canon. The need for priestly reverenced codified in rubric which makes clear that liturgy is not ceremony, but prayer and worship in physical ritualized form will have a beneficial effect upon the laity. The priest's reverence and priestly identity are sorely needed today and was weakened if not distorted following many of the reforms of the Liturgy after the Council.
So, this is my revised proposal to the Holy Father for the reform of the reform of the Ordinary Form of the Mass:
1. Obligatory Introit in Latin
2. After kissing altar and incensing if incense is used, the priest goes to the foot of the altar for the Penitential Act, which is always the official introductory to it, and the Confiteor followed by absolution.
3. The priest goes to his chair for the Kyrie, Gloria and Collect
4. The Liturgy of the Word as usual for the OF, but with the option of the Latin Gradual (and tract during Lent).
5. The Credo and Universal Prayer at the Chair
6. The Liturgy of the Eucharist AD Orientem
7. The Roman Canon exclusively in Latin and in quiet voice which is a symbol of the East's iconostasis. The rubrics for the Roman Canon, as in the Extraordinary Form, but keeping the Mysterium Fidei and the Per Ipsum chanted as in the OF with the Great Amen.
8. The Rite of Holy Communion as in the OF except for kneeling and intinction for Holy Communion (yesterday I provided kneelers for people to kneel, but no one was obliged to kneel, but the vast majority did. But I found for those who stood, it was not difficult giving them Holy Communion over the Kneeler and in fact made them more conscious of coming closer and receiving more carefully standing.
9. The Post Communion, Blessing and Dismissal at the chair.
10. Salve Regina or Regina Caeli always said or sung prior to the recessional
As an aside, I had a gentleman slightly older than me come up and tell me that he served this Mass when he was a child. He was overjoyed and loved the experience of it and had not been to this type of Mass since Vatican II. I didn't have the heart to tell him that this was an OF Mass with Latin and ad orientem. But therein lies the truth of true liturgical renewal, there should not be a major rupture between old and new and there need not be. It has taken us 50 years since the beginning of Vatican II to figure that out, new and improved is not necessarily improved, although it is new and old and improved can happen, but it has to been done very carefully. What I sketch out above as a reform of the reform accomplishes "old and improved" as far as I am concerned.