Sunday, March 23, 2014
WHAT'S UP WITH OPPOSITION TO TRADITIONAL (AS IN THE EXTRAORDINARY FORM OF THE MASS) ACTS OF PIETY AND SPIRITUALITY?
Jonathan Day who lives in London, England and writes comments on the Praywhine (I mean Praytell) blog writes the following about his experience of the Mass where he lives my comments follow:
"...I wonder how many “EF supporters” would welcome a Latin Mass of Paul VI.
The Mass that I described is not peculiar to our parish, by the way: you will find it on Sunday at several London churches, including Westminster Cathedral.
These Masses have Latin, beautiful music (chant, but also baroque, classical and contemporary composers), bells and incense, and in general a very reverent style of celebration. However, in our parish:
- the priest faces the congregation throughout
- there are no birettas or maniples
- there is an exchange of the peace — it’s quiet and it ends quickly, but it’s there
- there are female altar servers
- there are extraordinary ministers of communion
- communion is received standing, in both kinds
- communicants can receive in the hand or on the tongue; about 1/3 of them choose the latter
- the canon of the Mass is said aloud (as the NO rubrics indicate)
I think this is typical for these solemn Latin Masses in London — Farm Street, St Mary’s Cadogan Street, the Cathedral, etc.. An exception is the London Oratory, where the style is much more “Tridentine”; most people who attend the Masses I described above tend to avoid the Oratory, for this reason.
There is an Association for Latin Liturgy in the UK (google it) promoting the Mass of Paul VI done entirely or partially in Latin. It maintains a directory of churches who provide this..."
MY COMMENTS: Jonathan Day likes Latin. So do I but in the Catholic Mass a little Latin goes a long way for me. I've always been an advocate for a controlled use of the vernacular in the EF Mass. I think a wonderful compromise would for all the changing parts of the EF Mass to be in the vernacular as an option, not a mandate, and everything else that doesn't change as is.
For me the problem with the Ordinary Form of the Mass is not so much the lack of Latin, although I would endorse a mandate of Latin only for the non-changing parts of the Mass, but a lack of reverence in so many parishes, and perhaps a majority of parishes in the USA.
The problem with my hypothesis of a lack of reverence in most Mass on any given Sunday in the USA is that the word reverence has been corrupted. Reverence is now seen as excitement, noise and entertainment as in the Los Angeles Religious Education Conference.
Let's look at the things that Jonathan seems to think is intrinsic to the Ordinary Form of the Mass and a part of this 44 year patrimony (as opposed to 1500 years prior to the 1970 Missal).
1. The priest facing the congregation--while in principle I don't think this is completely problematic, from the psychological and sociological point of view it is as it turns prayer to God the Father into prayer through the congregation as the congregation becomes the focus of the priest in proclaiming Christ's prayers to His Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. The facial expressions of the priest, being able to see what he looks like, what he is doing makes the Mass facing the people into a sort of clericalism that is missing in the ad orientem Mass. While facing the people isn't wrong, facing ad orientem need not have a phobic reaction as though this is something evil or bad or opposed to Vatican II. It isn't. Neither is the 1962 missal by the way!
2. No birettas or maniples, hatred of these two things is simply small minded, these are not required in the OF Mass and I've never worn a biretta in my life even at the EF Mass. But so what if these are used!
3. I have no problem with the exchange of peace that is noble in simplicity and sober; I have no problem without it. It is optional, but I always have it in my OF Masses and it is a part of the Solemn High EF Mass, but entirely clerical, although since we normally don't focus on the congregation and micro manage them during the EF Mass in terms of postures, who's to stop someone from exchanging the Kiss of Peace when the priest does with the deacon and subdeacon?
4. I have no problem in principle with altar girls. However, I think a good argument can be made of making way for a culture of recruiting young men from the ranks of altar boys and adult men servers. There was and is now a culture of this in the EF Mass once again. Priests are critical for the Church, not optional if we are to maintain our God-given sacramental system, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Whatever can promote more men to consider the priesthood, the better!
5. I have no problem with Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion when needed (meaning there are no priests or deacons available for the various stations needed) nor any problem with the common chalice except for hygiene concerns. I am in favor of intinction in this regard which lessens the needs for hoards of non clerical Communion Ministers.
6. What in the name of God and all that is holy is the problem with receiving Holy Communion kneeling which has the longest and most revered tradition in the Latin Rite, Western Rite, of the Catholic Church? I find opposition to receiving Holy Communion kneeling irrational. I continue to believe that if no other change in the OF Mass was mandated except for kneeling for Holy Communion, we would see a tremendous increase in traditional piety and reverence for this Sacrament, received and adored. We have more than a few communicants who choose to kneel for Holy Communion. Some of these who kneel receive in the hand--and not on the run when they do so! But what is so horrible about receiving exclusively on the tongue. What problems does it present? How many problems are reported with Communion in the Hand, from a disregard completely for the particles of Holy Communion that remain on the hands to people taking the Host back to pew, home or thrown on the floor or shared with children who beg for a part?
7. I have no problem with multiple Eucharistic Prayers prayed in a voice tone that is heard, although it should be in softer tones in my humble opinion. I can see how the silent canon in the EF Mass can be very effective if people understand the spirituality and reverence behind it, as entering the Holy of Holies in a sort of a iconstasis way through silence rather than screen and doors blocking the view of what is going on in the sanctuary. For me chanting the Eucharistic Prayer acts as a way of elevating this portion of the Mass over a loud proclamation. This prayer, as with all prayers, should be prayed humbly, quiet or in an low audible voice enhanced by a sound system.
I am sure Jonathan Day attends very reverent and beautiful OF Masses in Latin in London and that these are reverent. But just as reverent would these be with the things he seems to abhor and for no real good reason except that's how it has been done for 44 years.