Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sacrosanctum Concilium and the Classical Roman Mass

I am trying to post as much as my busy schedule permits. At the moment it is Roman who has all the interesting news and great pics. So here are my latest thoughts.

One viewpoint around is that the Classical Roman Rite is not compatable with Vatican II, and in previous posts I have indicated that it actually is (compatable) as doctrinally it simply refers back to the Council of Trent. Sacrosanctum Concilium then goes on to describe the changes it seeks in the sacred liturgy. Out of these "policy" directives the Novus Ordo Mass, or the ordinary form Mass was created. But what if history took another tack?

One idea is that the reforms should have stopped at 1965, when the instructions of Inter Oecumenici were instituted. Another idea is that once the changes had started that a whole revision and reconstruction of the Mass needed to occur. Although many blogs do talk about the "what ifs" the reality in the first decade of the 21st centure two forms have emerged; one being the Mass that emerged from the Council (although it actually emerged from the forment post-Council) and the form celebrated before and during the Council. Given that SC, gave the mandate for the 1970 Novus ordo Missal, the question is whether the older forms contradict this and is actually against the details of the Councils instructions.

The following analysis suggests not, when we work through the key instructions for change: SC N50-58.

50. The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts... may be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active (the Austin Flannery translation) may be more easily achieved.

The rites are to be simplified... Parts with the passage of time came to be duplicated, or were added with little advantage are to be omitted....Parts which suffered through loss through accidents of history are to be restored.

This was the mandate to change everything although the meaning is somewhat different and confusing. This was excuse that was used to remove the prayers at the foot of the Altar, the offertory prayers, and the Last Gospel. However, are we more clear about the Mass - I think not. it was also used as the reason to remove two confiteors, reduce the Kyrie down to its bare essentials and remove the multiple "Domine non sum dignus" (although my reading of that part of the Mass in its original form makes logical sense to me).
The instruction was right, but the implementation was wrong. Better catechesis is probably the right way, as shown by Pius Parsch in the early 20th century, along with better celebration and clearer pronunciation of the Latin. The Council of Trent envisaged a commentator to introduce the parts of the liturgy. There was the advent of the dialogue Mass whihc is probably more the basis of "active" participation today. Actually as the Classical Mass is celebrated today, the level of participation is probably much better than pre1960s. In the Novus Ordo Mass, how much of the participation is devout?

51. The treasures of the bible are to be opened more lavishly so that a richer fare may be provided for the faitheful at the table of Gods word...A more representative part of the sacred scriptures will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years.

This was the mandate for the new lectionary. This was extremely successful, but did lose some of the important themes around the liturgical year. At the moment I am finding that the readings in the old lectionary seem to be more relevant to the actual Sunday than Year A of the new lectionary. Just compare the readings for Quinquagesima Sunday (which really lead you into the theme of Lent to be celebrated next Wednesday) with the readings for 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A, which dont seem to have any relevance to the movement of the liturgical seasons at all.

There has been some suggestions about the old cycle of readings in the Classical Mass being replaced with the modern lectionary. This I think would make us all poorer, and would be incongruous in the older usage as the new readings would not fit into the cylce of older propers. Better still would be to append the older cycle of readings into the new lectionary as Year D, for the exclusive use of celebrations in the older form. This would also be consistent with the notion of one rite -two forms.

52. The to be highly esteemed as part of the liturgy itself.

As far as I can see this instruction is fully implemented in celebrations of the Classical form that I have attended.

53. The "common prayer" or "prayer of the faithful" is to be restored after the gospel and homily.

There is nothing to say why the priest at the end of the homily, could not introduce some prayers of the faithful from the pulpit, with peoples responses in the vernacular, and it is my understanding that this was actually done in some parts of Europe before the revision.

Note that the prayer of the faithful is to be after the gospel and the homily, not after the creed. I have a feeling that the Consilium revising the Mass got it completely wrong here.

54. A suitable place may be alloted to the vernacular in Masses celebrated with the people especially the readings and "the common prayer"

Nevertheless care must be taken to ensure that the faithful may be also able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

This was implemented in Summorum Pontificum with respect to the readings. If the prayers of the faithful were implemented leading from the pulpit, I would envisage that they would be in the vernacular as well.

Interestingly I read on the New Liturgical Movement that an indult was granted to the Indian Missions in America to celebrate hymns, ordinaries and propers in the vernacular. Some of these ideas could be resurrected in due course but may compromise the integrity of the Classical Roman Mass.

55. The more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priests communion receive the Lord's body from the same sacrifice, is warmly recommended.

In all FSSP Masses that I have attended this is normal.

....Communion under both kinds may be granted when the bishops think the newly ordained, to the newly professed, to the newly baptised.

There is no reason why this could not be activated in some very limited circumstances as the "bishop sees fit". Communion under both kinds did survive well into the Tridentine period so there is no incompatability with the older form of Mass.

56. ...pastors of souls....when instructing the faithful, ..... insistently teach them to take their part in the entire Mass,

This addressed a usage of the time in which arriving at the Offertory and leaving at Communion satisfied the obligation to attend Mass. 45 years after this instruction, people still arrive at the Offertory and leave at Communion in the Novus Ordo Mass.

57. ...It seem[s] good to the Council to extend concelebration for the following cases.....

58. A new rite of concelebration is to be drawn up and inserted into the Pontifical and into the Roman Missal

This encapsulates what would have been the next step in the liturgical revisions proposed by Pius XII. There is no reason why this project could not be continued in the spirit of organic growth.

So SC actually still serves as a template to how the Classical Mass may evolve through the 21st century, whilst still maintaining its integrity as the "Mass of the Ages". Much of the work has already been done and the remaining issues very simple to implement if desired. Is there a chance finally to properly implement Sacrosanctum Concilium and get it right?

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