Sunday, August 29, 2010

New title picture

After travelling through Latin America where most of the liturgies made things in Australia look good, I happened to be in Medellin in Colombia (drug and fashion capital of Latin America) where the Mass was totally Reform of the Reform. The 12 Noon Mass was celebrated by the Archbishop of Medellin Arzobispo SeƱor Ricardo Antonio Tobo'n Restrepo, assisted by two deacons in Roman Dalmatics, one assistant presbyter, and servers. Unlike most liturgies in Colombia which are all happy-clappy Hillsong style, this had a single cantor in the Choir singing in a vernacular chant (in Spanish of course). There was a Confirmation with one single boy who sat in choir.

Although the Eucharistic prayer was celebrated versus populum, the other parts of the liturgy pertaining to the Altar were celebrated ad-orientem, and if there was the desire to celebrate that way it certainly could be done. Other key things to note were:

  • the Ciborium Magnum over the High Altar

  • the Archbishop's throne in its original position

  • the original High Altar, which for this Mass was adorned by 7 candlesticks, being for this Mass celebrated by the ordinary, placed at the back of it

  • Deacons proclaiming the Word (no lay people reading)

  • the ringing of the bells; not only the bells within the sanctuary being rung 4 times at each elevation (three at the elevation and once at the genuflection) but also the outside bells in the bell towers to proclaim to the city that the sacrifice had been made

  • male only servers

  • no communion in the hand (with some members of the congregation kneeling at the Communion rails to receive)

You can see what the outside of the church looks like here.

I have therefore made the interior shot the master pic to be more symbolic of the reform-of-the-reform ideal.

St Augustine and the Confessions

One of my favourite books is "The Confessions" by St Augustine. It is particularly relevant as it speaks to our own age as late Roman societiy was heavily urbanised, family structures were breaking down and co-habitation was commonplace as it is in our own day.

For the feast of St Augustine (28 August) someone in Italy has put together a comic-book deptiction of his life which you can find here. I found it interesting that Fr Finigan wanted some edits to some pages that he obviously thought were too racy such as here. Well I reckon why not? This shows more truly the struggle we have between pagan sensuality that we are so addicted to and the real deal with our souls, that is to live lives of holiness and oriented to God - our origin and destination.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Holy Communion

One of the things that have been considered as one of the abuses or degeneration in the Roman Rite has been the re-introduction of receiving Holy Communion in the hand rather than the tongue in the early 1970s after being out of use for 1600 years (at least in the diocese of Rome).

I always had a problem with Communion in the hand as it was introduced by the protestant reformers in the 16th century to push people away from a belief in the Real Presence. Then why did it get introduced into the Catholic Church 400 years later? Was it also to signify a rejection of belief in the 1970s?

The story of how a disobedient and illegal practice became the norm has been well documented on other websites. But what is done is done and I do not see Bishops trying to put the genie back in the bottle for a very long time.

Recently I was MC at a Solemn Mass to celebrate the Feast Day of St Josemaria Escriva and ended up assisting the celebrant at the distribution of Holy Communion. People received on the tongue kneeling, on the tongue standing and in the hand standing. I really did not see any difference in outward disposition and reverence between the various ways of receiving, so that any prejudices that I had about the available styles of receiving in the Roman Church faded.

The important things are that the Communicant is in a State of grace and that the rubrics of the Church are followed ie. that before receiving standing, whether in the hand or on the tongue, a bow or a genuflection is done to honour the Real Presence.

Now you might say dear reader "this is all wrong" Communion in the hand leads to abuses and people taking the hosts away etc. This is true, which means all the more that Communion needs to be more tightly policed where it is offered in the hand. However, I recall a scene from the movie "El Crimen de Padre Amaro" where one of the communicants receives (in many places in Latin America Communion on the tongue is still the norm), then spits out the host into her Missal and takes it home to feed the cats!!!

So what is good practice? Well I think that best practice would be that you still have servers standing with Communion Plates for people who wish to receive on the tongue but need to be there to make sure that people consume the host there. Secondly, you need to minimise the number of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. I know of cases of sacrilege that occurs in a major city Cathedral due to poor training or poor catechism of these people. One wonders whether some of them hold heretical beliefs about the Holy Eucharist.

Finally it is important to point out that no priest has the right to forbid a practice that has been authorised by the church. At the same cathedral it is official policy to refuse Holy Communion to people kneeling. I do know of one priest who not only did that but also threatened the communicant on the spot with legal action if she complained to the authorities.

One final comment, there has been attempts by various "liturgists" to get people to sing a hymn at Holy Communion in going up to receive. As well in some American parishes "liturgists" make the congregation stand through the whole part of this liturgy, so kneeling down at the end for thanksgiving is simply not allowed. We have seen the first practice to emerge but I notice that people see the futility of the exersize, but I havent (thankfully) seen the latter emerge in Australia.

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Reform of the Reform what is it?

This blog will be now devoted to the Reform of the Reform as 1. I most commonly serve the solemn form of the ordinary form (OF) of the Roman Rite and 2. there are enough blogs focussing on the Extraordinary Form.

There is a good article on the New Liturgical Movement describing the various forms of the Reform-of-the-Reform movement. There are 2 main camps 1. those that see the 1962 Missal as the starting point and 2. those who see the 1970 Missal as the starting point.

3 years after Summorum Pontificum, we see more flexibility in the EF and opportunities to be celebrated but it has not exactly caught on like wildfire. Locally it simply has meant that pre-existing traditionalist communities now have the opportunity to attend weekday Masses as well as a Sunday Mass in the older form, but the movement has certainly not spread to other parishes. This is a due to largely to an attitude that the OF is "good enough for us" and the lack of priests with the skills and interest in serving the older form. With the church being controlled by people who were around at Vatican II, there is a lot of hostility towards this form. This will die off as that generation dies off but it will take a long time.

I follow the second school of thought - of the Mass of 1970 being the starting point. As Bishop Elliot remarked at the Altar Server Conference in Melbourne in January 2008 it is about "reconnecting the reform with the tradition". There is nothing doctrinally unsound in the OF Mass; some elements may be submerged in it but that is the same as the EF Mass. Although there was a certain amount of "Modern thinking" rather than Modernism (Elliot: Jan 2008) in the Novus Ordo Missae, it reflects the faith expressed in the Catechism.

So we start from what is the problem and then how do we re-align it so that it reflects better our real relationship to God.

The first issue is that society has lost all sense of liturgy. You just see how people behave at Weddings and Baptisms, they really have no idea. - and these are "Catholics"!

This has been exacerbated by the idea of liturgy being defined as the "work of the people" when liturgia is actually public work ie. a type of public service undertaken by a certain individual ot individuals to provide a service to the community such as repairing the city walls or rebuilding a road. Much of the modern "liturgists" are to blame for this. Therefore if it is a work of the people it means that the liturgy reflects their preoccupations and can be changed to suit their needs.

Modern Man sees himself as the "measure of all things" and so unfortunately modern liturgy reflects this. You see that the altar in many Catholic churches has been reduced to a table that is on the same level as the people so that they can "gather" around it.

All of this speaks of a God who is "not great" and who is only as good as us.
The OF Liturgy ought to be a simplification of its father the EF Liturgy in the rites and length of prayers as well as be more easily understandable. and in many ways the intentions failed, in that it provides for a different set of complications. It needs to reflect the sobriety and gravitas of the Roman Liturgy.
In short it needs not revision , but simply re-orientation back towards God and not to the people.