Monday, May 26, 2008

Further Thoughts on the two Forms

This is a topic that I come to time and time again, I must be getting obsessive. but it really relates to how the undercurrents of various philosophies in the Church interrelate. This on the surface is reflected in how the various forms of the liturgy in the Western Church interrelate.

The sacred liturgy can only be seen through the lens of the cross. The Extraordinary Form has that emphasis on "verticality" which is seen in the hierarchy of the assembled people of God and their Ministers. Christ, particularly when the priest consecrates and elevates the sacred Host/Chalice is at the apex. This is like the verticality of the cross. The bottom of the post sits in the soil and rock where we are in this mortal life and points us to heaven.

The Ordinary Form has that sense of "horizontality". The Altar and the Ambo are often at the same level, and there is more physical interaction between the sacred Ministers and the assembled community. The horizontality is the beam of the cross where Jesus stretches out his arms and "draws all men to himself".

In the 21st century Latin Church, the Ordinary and the Extraordinary forms fit together to form a whole cross. Without one or the other the cross is incomplete. This is truely where we have moved on from the 20th century where there was one form of liturgy, which led to wholesale revisions, and then there was another form of liturgy. The two were seen as mutually exclusive. We have now come to a more fuller understanding and can draw from the riches of both.

Now remember that the horizontal beam of the cross is at the top of the cross, not at the bottom. This means that although the OF Mass may have more emphasis on horizontality than the EF Mass, this horizontality has to be exalted. Many liturgies in the OF are like putting the beam down at ground level, in the dirt. To take an extreme case this is where the "smoke of satan" enters into the church because making the liturgy at the lowest level actually makes the cross upside-down.

This concept of "exalted horizontality" should inform where an authentic reform movement should go.

It should be kept in mind that both forms should have elements of and be informed by the other. For instance the EF can be informed by elements and theology of Sacramentum Consilium as a valid instance of organic growth. Conversely, the OF can be informed by the traditions of the EF, without trying to "Tridentinise" the OF. (This is my chief criticism of the reform-of-the-reform movement - if you want to tridentinise something why not do it properly and just celebrate the EF Mass thus enhancing the EF as a part of living tradition).

I hope this generates some comment and discussion here.

Corpus Christi (1)