Friday, December 04, 2009

More Comments on the 40th anniversary of the Novus Ordo Mass

To continue on the dicussion, we move on further with content.

We posted before on the key changes desired by Sancrosanctum Concilium, namely:
  • a wider range of readings
  • restoration of prayers of the faithful
  • greater importance of the homily
  • simplification of the rites
  • more opportunities to use the vernacular (but emphasising the importance of Latin)
  • Potential for concelebration
  • Potential for Communion under both kinds.

All of these aspects have been achieved, although I think that it has failed on the rites being simplified as these have been supplanted by a muktiplicity of prayer options. To go from one Eucharistic Prayer to 12 in my view is a simplification. Possibly the symbolism of concelebration and Communion under both kinds has been overplayed.

Other aspects that are the bane of many commentators such as removal of Communion rails, Communion standing, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and female Altar servers simply were not contemplated by the Council fathers and came in much later, and spasmodically.

On reading the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, and comparing it to the Tridentine Missae Rubricae, and the Anglican Book of Commoin Prayer, there is one large difference: the reorientation of the priest from one who leads the church's prayer (as seen in both the documents of the reformers of bother the Protestant and Catholic Reformations) to the idea of the priest "presiding over the community" and acting as some sort of chairman or MC. This is the fundamental flaw in the Novus Ordo Missae. It is from this aspect that we have problems with the liturgy serving the priest's ego, and the discussion on proper or improper orientation of Altars, and other aspects whihc have been liturgical problems over the years.

Where did this come from? The origins come from a "restoration" based upon achaeology in the 1960's whihc has since been debunked (ie. Mass "facing the people"), and an attempt to remove the differences between a Pontifical Solemn Mass from the Throne and other types of Mass. This was done by emphasising the idea that the priest is deputising for the bishop and therefore needs his own "throne".

The best way of course to remove this is to have the priests chair not face the people, and be restored to its more natural place on the Epistle side of the Altar facing North. This is made more effective by having an eastward oriented Altar.

Facing each other in a closed circle to talk to each other is not the essential thing that makes participation by the faithful effective. This simple reorientation is probably more effective than having a crucifix on the Altar or what is beginning to be fashionable in some cirlces of loading the Altar with heaps of candles in the attempt of reorientation.

Reflections on the 40th anniversary of the "Novus Ordo" Mass

On the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Mass there have been a few comments around the blogosphere. fr Z at WDTPRS has done a set of 3 podcasts which are well worth listening to.

Aftyer listening to these podcasts there are a number of things which come up in my mind. The first and which is more stark is that Paul VI did not seem to be confident about the reforms. This comes through in the addresses. It seems that he shares the annoyance and sadness of the changes with his audience, but is willing to accept the sacrifice as this was the will of the church as guided by the Holy Spirit through the Second Vatican Council.

The second aspect is the acceptance that the changes appear to be irreversable. This is an experiment to deepen the spiritual life of the church but there is no going back. There seems to be an acceptance that the older forms of the Roman Rite have gone forever (whihc of course they havent). He knows that he is moving into high risk territory here but is confident that the Holy Spirit will work things out.

Some of the comments are interesting in the light of 40 years. He suggests in his general audience speech that maybe people lost their appreciation of the Mass, and changes would break them out of their lethargy. In hindsight this was true - people got a new appreciation of aspects of the Mass, but also led to aspects which led to some extreme views on both sides of the debate. However, the great gift is that without these changes we would never have had the discussion and research into both forms of the Mass now that the 1962 Missal has been liberated by Benedict XVI.

There has been also discussions on the motivations for Bugnini et al with the changes. From what I read was that there were some positions held in the Consilium which were protestant in origin but that the Pope actaully reined in the Consilium so that the end product was at least catholic, and had moved from its earlier draft (which apparently wanted to remove the Kyrie and Gloria and the Orate fratres). Like everything done by a committee whihc then gets signed off by the CEO, there are a lot of changes along the way. This is something that hard-core traditionalists and conspiracy theorists dont get.

So in the light of the last 40 years truly the spirit moves in mysterious ways. People just want it to move in the way that they want - immediately.