The Value of the Mass

The Value of the Mass
Up to our own times, it has been the constant concern of supreme pontiffs to ensure that the Church of Christ offers a worthy ritual to the Divine Majesty, 'to the praise and glory of His name,' and 'to the benefit of all His Holy Church - Pope Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Pious Indignation

It seems that there may be some confusion in regards to what I just posted. I would like to clarify even more so that my point may be better understood.

I never said that we should go back to the 62 Missal. I never said the NO wasn't a Mass. I'm simply highlighting the problems with the Churches current liturgical situation. Think of this for a minute, how many corrections, translations, new rubrics, apostolic exhortations, encyclicals, motu proproio's have been written just to try to give the new mass some sort of footing since 1970? We're continually trying to justify the changes we made and at the same time trying to make them resemble something that has loose connections with the traditional practice of the Church. The only thing that is produced is something that has, quite frankly, a phony feel to it. I think the NO Mass needs to be viewed in highlight of tradition. We must look back to the '62 Mass and ask ourselves "what truly needed changing?" When it comes down to it, not a whole lot. In my view from what I have researched so far, here is what I can come up with that truly needed changing.

1. Vernacular- Now before I go any further, I want to say I am fan of the Latin for two reasons. First off, the Latin language is malleable enough to be formed to any musical genre. Second off is because of the accuracy of the language. Keeping this in mind, it is not necessarily a bad thing to translate parts of the Mass into the vernacular, provided that, and only that, the translations are spot on accurate. IMHO, the shoddy translations, especially the English, are the biggest problem with current church practices regarding the vernacular.

2. The Last Gospel - Here's what I mean by this. IMHO, and from what I have read, the last Gospel should be moved so that it is read before the commission "Ite Missa est." That way it has context inside the Mass itself.

3. The Canon - No, I don't mean change the canon itself. However, I do think that it is appropriate that the canon be read allowed. I am a bit reserved by this, but nonetheless, I don't see it as a problem. However, I would retain this part of the Mass in Latin.

Now, after saying all of this, I'm not trying to pass myself off as some sort of liturgical expert. These are just some pious indignations that I've come to after doing quite a bit of research in the past few weeks. I'm sure my opinions may change after more research. Who knows? However, I think just these few changes would have accomplished what Sacrosanctum Concilium asked for without the severance from the ancient rite.


Alexander said...

Perhaps a few things can be vernacular like the collects and other prayers but I think a mostly Latin Liturgy or total Latin liturgy (with exception of the homily and Scripture readings) is the way to go.

Another plus for Latin is that it symbolizes the mysteries of God- most lay people cannot understand it so it sounds mysterious, holy, sacred.Thus an increase in the sense of the sacred and reverence. Also it helps to signify the priest's role because he is offering a sacrifice and if he is using Latin it makes it appear that his role is very important. In short it helps the sense of the sacred and does not blur the line between layman and priest.

Zach said...

I agree with you somewhat on the Latin, but in the long run that is a seconday attribute that can go with any ancient forigen language. The same could be said if the priest were saying Mass in Slavonic, Galic, ancient Greek, Hebrew, Arimaec (I'm not sure how that's spelled) or what have you. The greatest benifit that the latin carries is its accuracy and specifity in prayer. The only problem, I see, with the vernacular is the fact that this clarity is not epxressed when translated. Also, unlike Latin, a living language such as English or Spanish constantly needs revision because the meaning of words change where the Latin would remain stable in its meaning.

Also, I would pay attention to my last comment about the Canon. In my opinion that should be retained in the Latin because it is the central part and pinnicle of the Mass. said...

I'd put the offertory and communion prayers spoken out loud (except, perhaps, the Secret). But never the Canon. That's the one part of the mass where sacred silence is long traditional and should be maintained. I agree too much of the Mass of the Faithful is silent, but it is the offertory and communion prayers which could be said aloud. Not the Canon.

Also, I too once was of the opinion that the Last Blessing and Last Gospel should be within the confines of "ita missa est"...but then I learned the history. They ARE, technically, outside the Mass proper and for a good reason. They were originally read as blessings as the priest processed back to the vestibule. I'd agree with restoring this practice instead of merely having the priest walk out, anticlimactically, into a sacristy off to the side. But there are historical reasons for the "tagged-on" position fo the Last Gospel. And that's what tradition preserves.

As for the vernacular, it has always been more traditional in Eastern Liturgies (alongside their ancient liturgical languages) and so I could see putting the Propers in the vernacular (if well translated). BUT the one problem is...what becomes of all the proper chant given in the Graduale? Would each language have to adapt the chant to it's own settings? English might have a good head start because high church anglicanism already did most of that work long ago. But other languages would have to start from scratch and so the High Mass would likely, out of institutional laziness, fall into disuse even though it is the ideal. I say that it makes no sense that for all those years when people were illiterate THEN it was in Latin. But now, when people can finally read and hand missals (or even missalettes in all the pews) can be cheaply printed...NOW we decide to make it understandable? When the people finally could follow along with the text on their own, THEN we decide to make that unnecessary?? Following in a missalette isnt that hard, and it forces people to actively engage the text instead of letting their thoughts wander. I know that at my NO parish, I and most other people follow along in the Missalette ANYWAY! Would it really be that different if we were following Latin in English instead of English in English?

There are other modifications that could be made to the old mass. The scripture could have been expanded. NOT a three year cycle. That totally disrupts the liturgy. It must be self-contained within One Year. But they could have added an old testament lesson to every Mass (or an epistle during advent and lent when the lesson is already OT). At least Three readings like that used to be the practice until it dropped down to two due to laziness. But a remnant is hinted at on ember days and Holy Saturday.

And they could have varied the ferial readings for each day of the week (instead of just repeating sunday's readings) and made the occurent ferial scripture take precedence most of the time (even if Common or Festal collects, etc, are used) like it did at Matins. Also, I've calculated that with just a little expansion to the length of the readings...the ideal of All Scripture in a Year (counting Matins AND Mass) could be easily reached. It used to be like that, and then the "abbreviated" a lot of it. But in the scripture distribution of Matins can see when whole books used to be read during various weeks, even though by 1962 we were left with only abbreviated "excerpts". But it would only add, like, a few minutes to the length of the service. 25 verse readings (instead of, like, 8 verses) could easily cover all scripture in a year.

Also, a Prayers of the Faithful could be added after the "oremus followed by no prayer" like it used to be. But it couldn't be "ad libbed" like it is today in the NO. It would have to be like on Good Friday. There would have to be a collection of pre-prepared petitions offered in the Missal (like for the votive Collects) and depending on the rank of the feast, the priest could pick so many to add to the prayers of the faithful.

More psalm verses could be reintroduced to the Graduale and Offertory, and Introit and Communion.

Also, I think Pius X's revision of the calendar was good, but I think his revision of the psalter went too far. Matins traditionally always had 12 psalms. Reducing it to 9, and using divisi for all the hours was a little extreme. I would have left Vespers, Lauds, and Compline untouched. "Lauds II" is especially untraditional...I would add those new canticles to Prime instead, and then only use divisi for Matins (which was rather lengthy) and the Little Hours (which used to just be psalm 118 constantly repeating). I have a more traditional psalter reform already planned out if you'd like to see it.

As for Sacrosanctum Concilium. It certainly didnt intend the Novus Ordo...but it was still not blameless. It did explicitly call for horrible things like the abolition of the hour of Prime. Of course, it's a disciplinary decree and not infallible...but the spirit of clerical laziness evident in the Novus Ordo...was still behind it.

It also called for a "rite of concelebration to be drawn up immediately". And while I support a limited reintroduction of Concelebration, I dont like how often it is used. One, I think it should only be used in communion with a superior. Priests with their Bishop, monks with their Abbot, Cardinals with the Pope. Ordinary priests on the same level as each other shouldn't do it together as that expresses an odd ecclesiology. And did you know each priest who concelebrates is allowed to collect a Mass stipend and attach an intention? As if it is many seperate masses? Priests or monks who concelebrate the conventual mass with the bishop or abbot should still be required to say their own private daily Mass.