Tuesday, March 10, 2015
MAINTAINING EQUILIBRIUM IN TODAY'S LITURGICAL WORLD
What this Mass showed us would be some of the good, bad and ugly that would happen in rank and file parishes throughout the world beginning on March 8, 1964 and accelerating after the 1970's Missal was mandated.
What did we see at this historic Mass in 1964? Apart from the Italian/Latin hybrid, we saw the following:
1. The stripping of the historic ad orientem altar and hiding it and its tabernacle with a curtain. (IMHO, horrible)
2. Placing the bishop's or priest's presiding chair (in this case the Bishop of Rome) dead center in the church where the high altar once was. (IMHO, questionable)
3. placing the altar in the nave of the church on the people's side of the altar railing. (IMHO, horrible!)
4. The reading of the Scriptures from a lectern rather than at the altar. (IMHO, good)
5. Standing to receive Holy Communion (IMHO, questionable)
All five of these innovations, some having historical precedence in the ancient churches of Rome and elsewhere would become the template for going backwards in time for a modern rationale for the destruction of historic churches throughout the world and how new ones would be designed. It foretold not only the subsequent liturgical wars, but the iconoclasm that would take place in so many churches in terms of the dismantling of the traditional sanctuary to accommodate not only a new liturgy but a new ecclesiology, a new Church.
Almost immediately with the advent of the 1965 missal in this country, still basically a Tridentine Mass, was the move to modernize the hymns that could be sung at Mass by the inclusion of so-called modern forms with guitar accompaniment. Apart from the reordering of the Mass and the ensuing casualness of it, the music of the Mass has been one of the most divisive issues in the revised Mass for almost 50 years. Folk music, then renamed contemporary music, as well as Protestant hymns were dragged into the Mass when hymns are sung, the traditional four of a low Mass, beginning, offertory, communion and recessional. Often there was little concern for the doctrine or theology of the words of these hymns, some quite banal, others quite heretical, some quite schismatic as in the case of Protestant hymns with their doctrine, theology and sentimental spirituality and devotion.
With the parts of the Mass, contemporary sounds and accompaniment were devised for a twanging guitar. Often hymns that approximated the Gloria and Sanctus were chosen. Fortunately this trend of selecting equivalent hymns for the parts of the Mass was quickly stopped by Rome and the bishops.
Today, I think things are better than in the 1970's and early 80's. There is a danger of returning to the past, going backwards, today with some of the more silly trends of that early period in terms of architecture, music and equivalency in the vernacular as it concerns the translation of the Latin template. Pray God this will not happen.
Music, however, remains the most divisive issue in the liturgical world and with rank and file parishioners. Often taste trumps theology and spirituality. If one gets an adrenalin surge from high speed music which has soaring sounds, then that's good, but if it is of a more traditional sound or of the Church's heritage of chant which is more subdued and contemplative but with very good theology and spirituality, this is suspect! How did this happen?
Today's divisiveness has a new twist, although the 1970's still rears its head with these other issues.
Today we are free to celebrate the EF Mass. Liturgical progressives hate this. They also hate the thought of a new reform of the Ordinary Form of the Mass more in continuity with the EF Mass and its sensibilities.
In a sense, these progressives and their hatred of the EF Mass and any revision of the OF Mass along the lines of the EF Mass, to include architecture of the sanctuary, can lead them to become like fascists and progressive liturgists are known. The old question about the difference between a progressive liturgist and a terrorist being one can negotiate with a terrorist is so true and perhaps more so today!
The only way rank and file Catholics who are normal and open minded to survive today's new liturgical wars is to remain balanced. Love the Ordinary Form of the Mass and promote its proper celebration by following the General Instruction of this Mass as well as its rubrics and by promoting better liturgical chant with the organ being the king of instruments for the Mass. In lieu of that go back to the earliest tradition of the Church, chanting without musical instruments.
Appreciate the EF Mass and promote it as Pope Benedict envisioned it, as extraordinary and as a way to improve the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Cardinal Robert Sarah, Pope Francis' pick to be the new Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship knows very well this truth and pray God he will influence the "reform in continuity" movement begun by Pope Benedict!