Now that I have the flexibility of being a senior priest, what some wrongly call “retired”, I am helping (supplying) in various parishes.
And the question I get from the sacristans is this, “Father, how do you celebrate Mass.?” And my answer is that I will celebrate Mass as the parish does or the pastor permits.
The sacristan laughs and says every priest has his own way, some major some minor in variations.
And therein lies the problem of the Modern Roman Missal. It isn’t predictable, from congregation to congregation, and priest to priest. Each might have their own way of doing things.
“Say the black and do the red” is more important now than ever and even Pope Francis stated priests should follow the rubrics and words of the Modern Roman Missal.
But the other problem is this. There is a flexiblity built into the Modern Roman Missal that even following the rubrics allows for great diversity from priest to priest.
In the 1962 Roman Missal, there are three basic forms of the Mass. The Low Mass where everything is spoken in the Missal, although hymns might be added to the Low Mass, but the Mass itself is completely spoken.
Then there is the High Mass and Solemn High Mass. While one is more ceremonious than the other, everything is sung by schola and the priest.
In other words, there is not hybrid Mass in the ancient form. You can’t say the Introit, but chant the Kyrie, say the Gloria and chant the collect. You can’t say the Our Father, if the other parts are chanted.
Not so with the modern Missal, the priest can sing or say whatever he wants. That varies form priest to priest.
Finally, the problem of the position of the priest in the sanctuary. I have always followed the Modern Roman Missal in this but even here there is flexibility.
I start the Mass at the chair. All the readings are at the ambo and there is always a lector. The Liturgy of the Eucharist is at the altar and the concluding rite is at the chair.
But many priests and it is allowed, celebrate the Mass completely at the altar from start to finish except for the Liturgy of the Word which is at the ambo.
And then throw in the possibility of ad orientem and the same scenario.
There is no uniformity with the Modern Roman Missal and when you toss in the priest’s ad libs and super-creativity and the imposition of his personality on the Mass, you have those longing for the 1962 Roman Missal, now being forbidden to them.