To date me experience has brought me to the opinion that the Reform-of-the-reform is a dead issue, now that the Extraordinary Form has been liberated from any restriction. Much of the R-ot-R is trying to put a "Tridentine" face upon what was a new form of the rite, when the intention of the post Vatican II Consilium was actually to go in a different direction with regard to the sacred Liturgy. Plastering over the tridentine form onto a modern liturgy constructed to modern sentiments therefore tends to be incongruous.
In my opinion, the two forms are this:
- the worship of the Temple of Jerusalem whihc strongly links to the The Classical liturgy as found in the Missal of 1962
- the concept of the "upper room" which seems to be a lot of the philosophy of the modern liturgy (Mass versus populum, more on the sacred meal aspect, vernacular etc)
Different people would feel differing levels of comfort with the two concepts. As for me I am most comfortable with the former rather than the latter. However, that is not to say that I am wedded to the former exclusively, and I assist in the latter most frequently.
As you can see from the photos of the First Friday Mass the characteristics of the R-ot-R Liturgy are:
- more candles on the Altar
- the central cross on the Altar
- the incensation at the consecration with bells
- Communion on the tongue
- exclusively male Altar servers
Now these are in no way a departure from the GIRM but simply subtle changes in style. But look at the results!!! Close to a perfect modern Roman Rite liturgy!
So the R-ot-R Liturgy os not going back and saying "what did the Council fathers really want?", it is actually "what do the liturgical books really say?"
In terms of the "Benedictine Altar arrangement", the additional candles do make the liturgy and enhance the Altar's significance, When going back to my own parish and seeing the three stubby candles at one end of the Altar, I though it looks OK but just doesnt have that level of gravitas. Although I am of an open mind as to whether the "ad orientem" position really works with the OF, soem simple arrangments of candles and the Altar cross, as well as the presence of the thurifer and torchbearers during the Canon, sufficiently re-orient the liturgy for me.