Friday, April 25, 2014

MY SUBJECTIVE/OBJECTIVE EVALUATION OF THE TWO FORMS OF THE LATIN RITE MASS

Ordinary Form Mass:
Extraordinary Form Mass (would the casual observer know the difference?):
Let me be honest. I don't get how some people don't like a well-celebrated Ordinary Form Mass, whether that Mass be sung or spoken, follows the rubrics and is reverent and solemn.

The same is true of the Extraordinary Form, although I can see how someone who is not familiar with it would be befuddled by the sumptuous ritual and the Latin. I can understand how someone might prefer the Latin to the vernacular or the vernacular to the Latin.

I think that most Catholics, clergy and laity alike, prefer the vernacular to the Latin. Thus I have always advocated more vernacular for the Extraordinary Form and my dream for that would be that only the unchanging parts of the EF Mass would be mandated to be in Latin and the changing parts could optionally be in the vernacular. I think simply doing this would see a dramatic increase in the number of parishes offering this Mass and attendance at this Mass.

I've always advocated recovering simple things lost in the revision of the Mass after Vatican II for the Ordinary Form of the Mass. I would also advocate some mandated Latin for the Ordinary Form, again I think the fixed parts of the Mass would suffice--this would keep the option of a vernacular Eucharistic Prayer in the Ordinary Form since there are many choices. I am not opposed to these choices in the Ordinary Form.

I would like to see kneeling restored to Holy Communion as the norm, not the exception in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. This alone will restore the "sense of the sacred" that was lost after Vatican II but is maintained to this day in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

I would like to see "ad orientem" promoted on an equal footing with Mass facing the nave. I think there should be rubrics for the decorating of the altar that mandates the crucifix be central on the altar as Pope Francis has maintained. Even the Mass he celebrated for the new Jesuit saint yesterday had a very small central crucifix on the altar of the Jesuit Church of Saint Ignatius in Rome. 

But back to the two forms of the one Latin Rite; the Ordinary Form of the Mass can be very beautiful but it takes work to make it so especially work with the laity that they understand the sacred mysteries and that there is continuity between the two forms of the Mass we now have available. Lectors and Altar Servers must be trained well, choreographed and vested well. Sunday best for lectors is what we ask at St. Joseph, but I am more inclined as time goes on to require albs for lectors and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. Our problem at St. Joseph is that we don't have a convenient place for lectors and extraordinary ministers to vest or for us to keep their albs.

I am not opposed to the chalice going to the laity. I don't understand why so many do oppose it. It isn't logical to me. I would prefer intinction as is the norm in Italy and at the Vatican but there I have never seen the laity receive from the chalice there. Intinction is for concelebraing bishops and priests.

I love the Extraordinary Form of the Mass because of its rootedness in a 1500 year and more tradition of the Church. Because I was an adolescent when the changes began in the mid 1960's I feel a great continuity when celebrating this Mass with those years when the Extraordinary Form of the Mass was the only Ordinary Form we knew.

It also points to the Divinity of Christ and the reverence due to not only the Triune God, but to the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity Incarnate, one Divine Being with two natures human and divine.

Admittedly the EF Mass emphasizes the divinity of Christ over his humanity. The OF Mass tends to emphasize the humanity of Christ over His divinity. Both Masses need to emphasize the Mystery of the Unity of the two natures of the Jesus Christ Incarnate but also the sublime divinity of the Most Holy Trinity.

But the Ordinary Form does allow for more human flexibility and action during the Mass and this if not overdone can be a good thing. The EF Mass can be stiff and robotic. I have seen the EWTN training video for the EF Mass celebrated by an FSSPX priest and he comes across as a robot and not natural in his movements and interior attitudes. I think this is off-putting for many, at least for me. It need not be that way with the EF Mass and the priests in my parishes prior to Vatican II were not like that when they celebrated Mass prior to the Council. They were quite natural and human.

19 comments:

Gene said...

RE: Robots: Fr. the consistency, formality, and so-called "rigidity" of the EF is a reminder that the Priest is the vessel and not the treasure. It is a small reminder that God is the same always, now and forever and that the Church is an unchanging Rock upon which our hope is based. There is great comfort in knowing that, no matter what Catholic Church I am in, the Mass will be exactly the same…reminding us that no matter what dark place we are in, no matter what tragedy or danger we may face, Christ is our unchanging comfort and hope…our "strong anchor for the soul." I hope there is some special punishment prepared for those who saw fit to unship this anchor and introduce uncertainty, anxiety, and doubt into the Mass of the Ages. Christ have mercy!

Anonymous said...

Fr. McDonald, how many Traditional Masses have you attended, not counting those of your youth?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I celebrate the EF Low Mass every Tuesday and for the past 7 years now and each First Sunday of the month as a High Mass and have celebrated many Solemn Sung High Masses with deacon and sub-deacon. We celebrate the OF Mass with dignity and reverence also. I love them both but each in their own way.

Henry said...

Yes, the priest in in the FSSP/EWTN EF training film seems a bit rigid. But the movements in any "how to" training film--whether how to celebrate the TLM or how to install a microwave oven--will be overly price and exaggerated as to illustrate them clearly.

However, I have seen many EF Masses celebrated in the flesh by diocesan, FSSP, and ICK priests, and none of them came across this way. A straw man concern, I think.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean how many have you offered, I mean how many have you attended in choir or otherwise observed?

Henry said...

In the year 2000, the Opus Dei priest Fr. John McCloskey (he of the famous converts) wrote a "prophecy" in the form of a letter ostensibly written in the year 2030 to a then newly ordained 25-year old priest.

He describes how a restoration of the Church began during the later years of John Paul II's papacy, and progressed during the initial decades of the 21st century so that:

"Now [in 2030] that the priesthood and the religious life are generally healthy in belief and spirit, the Mass is being celebrated the way the Council intended in order to give glory to God, foster devotion in the laity through their active participation. While the Tridentine rite in all its glory continues to be celebrated in some churches, every parish has a Latin Mass every Sunday morning, along with other vernacular Masses, celebrated with reverence, a well prepared homily, sung chant, incense, and beauty in appointments that leaves no one among us who remember the old Mass nostalgic for it. The lay faithful realize when they walk into a Church that it is not a meeting place but rather a place of worship and personal prayer, where Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament complete with Benediction, and other devotions such as the Way of the Cross and liturgical Morning and Evening Prayer can almost always be found."

http://www.catholicity.com/mccloskey/2030.html

When I first read this article in the year 2000, I felt little confidence that this could happen within 30 years. But now, almost halfway there, it seems almost possible, with Summorum Pontificum having restored the EF as an anchor for the reform of the OF, and seeing the way young priests are beginning to celebrate the OF, especially those who've learned the EF, and considering the fact that a majority of current seminarians are learning the EF, with these new priests beginning to move up through the ranks towards pastorates and episcopacies, the explosion of chant and propers resources for the reform (e.g., the new St. Isaac Jogues OF missal/gradual/hymnal project).

I wonder whether, if this shining prospect truly is in the offing, readers like Catholic (in the SSPX thread) will concede that the OF itself is not actually a "danger to the Faith", even if pandemic abuse of it has been. Without necessarily going so far to agree that, by then, the OF as the Fathers of Vatican II might have intended--if they had envisioned any OF at all-- has turned out to be the unlikely vehicle for a glorious re-invigoration of Catholic faith and liturgy.

Catholic said...

Henry, they'll need to add an Offertory to the Novus Ordo and fix the excised portions of the readings, along with a proper and reverent ars celebrandi mandated for all.

It can be done, I agree with you. It is possible. God will not abandon his people.

Desirée said...

Hello, Father.

I have some constructive criticism. I mean it respectfully.
You said in your blog that you'd like kneeling returned to being the norm during Communion. During practice for the Easter vigil you told us RCIA members that standing is the norm in America. You said we could kneel, but standing is the norm. If you like kneeling, then tell your sheep. We will listen. I felt like you put too much emphasis on standing, so reading you prefer kneeling shocked me. I kneel and receive on the tongue, so I'm on the same page as you.
Honestly, to stand and receive in the hand would feel like I'm still Methodist. How would me touching the Eucharist be different from my Protestant pastor giving out bread to me? Neither of us are worthy enough to touch the Perfect Lamb. I feel the same about the Eucharistic Ministers.

I have questions. Why do your fingers never leave the Host during TLM, but do during Ordinary Mass? Aren't precious particles being transferred?
Why are we taught in RCIA that Mass is our personal time with God, and there is no socialization in the sanctuary, but then we break that to offer each other peace? That's about the time the priest takes his hands off Jesus.

TLM is powerful. I unexpectedly cried after receiving on Easter at High Mass. (It wasn't my first Latin Mass, but first time being able to receive.) The words used in it are beautiful! The experience is intimate too. I feel exactly what I've been taught about Mass. That's why I cried. It is humbling!

Many Catholics love and crave Latin Mass. Something all priests should know. :)

Since there's no TLM every Sunday, my family chooses the 12:10 Mass.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I have to promote the norms of the Church as these are and in the USA standing is the norm and kneeling the exception.

Desirée said...

You're not allowed to tell us in person what you prefer?
My view is you'd get good results telling the RCIA vs writing it in a blog.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

To A at 12:04 PM, oddly enough I have not attended from the pew or in choir dress an EF Mass since I've been a priest.

But I haven't done that either for the OF Mass except on vacation and certainly as a concelebrant.

Desiree, my preference isn't the liturgical norm of my bishop or the bishops of the USA. Thus my preference has been to allow people to make their choice by providing a kneeler if they wish to choose the exception. I think the fact that a kneeler is available and an altar railing in the near future speaks louder than my words.

Desirée said...

I see your point. I'm saying that to a newbie, hearing the word "exception" sounds like it may be kind of weird then, and that may keep them from doing it. They may think the kneelers are for seasoned cradle Catholics. For a newbie to hear the priest say the facts, and then say their personal preference is the more traditional option is a good thing. I speak from experience, even though I have a Catholic background. We've had lay people tell us the facts, but they prefer kneeling and tongue receiving. It's effective.
Again, I say this respectfully. :)

Desirée said...

Ha! Your last sentence just soaked in. Altar railing in the near future. That made my day!! Yay!! I'm calling my mother!

Catholic said...

Father, I humbly suggest, then, that you attend the Traditional Mass before passing judgments against the way you think it is celebrated. In my experience of attending it in many different states with many different priests of many different orders, dioceses, and nationalities, in all three forms (Low, Missa Cantata, and High), I assure you that you would gain a lot by seeing it offered by someone other than yourself in a normal parish setting.

Henry said...

I agree with Catholic on this. I seriously doubt that a priest trained in the Novus Ordo can absorb the ethos of the TLM merely by celebrating it himself.

Also, I think it's arguable whether as a loyal pastor you "have to promote the norms of the Church as these are and in the USA standing is the norm and kneeling the exception."

Before the bishops approved the standing norm at a USCCB meeting in 2002, they were assured by the chairman of their committee on divine worship (Ab. Lipscombe of Mobile at that time) that the norm was merely descriptive of the usual way in the U.S, but not prescriptive as a mandate.

Of course, it was predictable that the same liturgical establishment that had maneuvered this norm onto the bishops agenda for the U.S. adaptations of the GIRM, would later maneuver to convince priests that it was prescriptive rather than merely descriptive. The option for kneeling language was later inserted only at Rome's requirement.

Henry said...

Catholic, I agree in spirit about the traditional offertory prayers, to the extent that I have them on a printed page inserted in my OF hand missal to say privately myself during the offertory-preparation rite at Novus Ordo Mass. It helps that the offertory is silent at most OF Masses I attend -- no one bellowing out the likes of "Blessed be God forever".

However I realize that the traditional offertory prayers originated quite late in history as merely private prayers of the priest not required for validity of the sacrifice, much like the prayers at the foot of the altar, which likewise are private prayers of preparation originally said by the priest in the sacristry, and not actually part of the liturgical action performed by the priest acting in persona Christi (who certainly does not to say private prayers of preparation Himself--the idea that Christ needs to say the Confiteor would be heretical).

Mordacil said...

I would love to see these changes you prescribed, father. Especially the Latin for unchanging parts if the OF and vernacular for the changing parts of the EF.

Re: kneeling - I personally prefer kneeling and I will do it as MY norm. But because it is so common in many parishes, often priests just don't expect you to drop to your knees. Both the priest and the folks behind get confused and you risk breaking the reverence of the moment (and sometimes even risk the host being dropped when the priest and altar servers are in autopilot and don't expect your mouth to change locations). Long story short, I kneel when there are kneelers but otherwise, "when in Rome..."(no pun).

I do agree that it seems irreverent to receive in the hand. I will always receive on the tongue. I haven't had the chance yet, but I think the most powerful merged of communion for myself would be by intinction , on my knees, on my tongue. There is just so much good theology and full faith being expressed in that form.

Desirée said...

Ok, I really need this explained to me:
I watch Eucharistic Ministers receive only on the tongue, then go pass out the Eucharist. How is it they won't touch it for themselves, but will touch it for others? This just doesn't make sense to me.

I'm praying the new altar rail eliminates this oxymoron.

Henry said...

Desiree, perhaps the EHMC's who receive on the tongue are holier that those to whom they distribute on the hands? Wouldn't you expect an EHMC to be "holier than thou"? Many I've observed seem to think they are.