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.


Summa Theologiae said...

Interesting post. I find that Mass facing the people, contrary to some assertions, makes it harder to participate actively. You feel as though you are an observer watching the priest act out his thing while he's standing there talking to you. Ad Orientiem at least gives a structure whereby we are all praying facing the same direction (East, or symbolic East)and are making our own offering of mind and heart along with the Holy Sacrifice.

I don't recall very well the passage in SC on communion under two kinds. However, I do remember that the original intention was to provide it on specific occasions (the newly wed at a nuptial Mass etc) not in general. Now we have laypeople tramping up at communion time to get their chalice and stand around distributing it. When it comes to two kinds the East has the practice down pat much better than us. Intinction would be a better way to go.

Fr Ronan Kilgannon said...

Dear Stephen, I have only ever offered Mass according to the Ordinary Form and tried to do so with reverence and devotion. I eagerly await the new translation of the Missal.

Because someone misuses or abuses something does not mean that it is is a 'fundamental flaw in the Novus Ordo Missae' as you claim. By the way after 40 years the term Novus Ordo has been replaced by Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. (I will leave you to translate it into Latin). I gather the pope would prefer us to use the terms Ordinary and Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite to uphold the unity of the Roman Rite. One Rite two forms. And why do you type Novus Ordo in inverted commas? The impression given is that you are treating it with some disdain.

I cannot find anything wrong is saying that Jesus 'presided' at the Last Supper. I think of myself as doing so 'in persona Christi' at Mass. A high theology of the Priesthood indeed. Whatever the arguments about the antiquity of 'ad orientem', which in our churches isn't always in fact 'orientem', 'adversus populi' for me is more evocative of the simplicity of the Last Supper.

Sometimes when I see photographs of Solemn High Masses in the Extraordinary Rite (which I never experienced in my parish church growing up) I am tempted to ask 'Is this salvation by haberdashery?'

While it is true that it is more possible in the Ordinary Rite for the priest's ego to show, it must also be a temptation for the priest, deacon, subdeacon, Master of Ceremonies etc at a Solemn High Mass - all those vestments and gestures and rubrical actions etc.

It is obvious you prefer the Extraordinary Rite. Why the need to disparage the Ordinary Rite? My advice is, just get on with it. As long as the Ordinary Rite is authorised by the Church I will offer it with all the love and devotion and reverence I can muster. I hope the priests and all those involved in offering the Extraordinary Rite will do the same. Comparisons, as they say, are odious.

Please give my regards to Fr Jordan. You are very blessed to have such a fine priest as your chaplain.

Fr Ronan Kilgannon said...

I am disappointed Stephen that you did not print my comment on Mass facing the People. Seems you may only print comments that wholly agree with you position. Blessings, Fr Ronan.

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