A corporal work of mercy.

A corporal work of mercy.
Click on photo for this corporal work of mercy!

Sunday 25 June 2006

Vatican liturgical official seeks recovery of the sacred

It can't be much longer before Rome acts once and for all to end the unfortunate liturgical errors and confusion since the implementation of the 1970 Mass of Paul VI. Even the period between the council's desire for some reform of the liturgy and the Novus Ordo was a time of experimentation and confusion. Forty years is such a common theme in scripture and this is how long we have been wandering in a liturgical desert.

If one takes the time to read Sacrasanctam Concilium there were eleven specific requests of the Council Fathers. Yet, what was thrust upon the spirit and mind of every Catholic was far from what was expected. Many of us can take the position that it was a "conspiracy" on the part of certain Vatican officials but the real crime was the "conspiracy of silence" that existed by almost every bishop alive in 1970 who were at the council and accepted the banal and spiritually weak Mass of Paul Vi. Perhaps Paul was part of this conspiracy, perhaps he was gullible and weak. Regardless, history has shown him to be a weak and ineffectual Pope.

After two months now conducting the choir at a Tridentine Mass it has really come home to me how bad the reform really was. I always knew it; and I had attended Tridentine masses perhaps a half-dozen times since the age of eight, so I was not unfamiliar with it; but I defy anyone with an open mind to look at what we had then and what we have now and not believe that we lost something.

Take one example, clearly an abuse that was never called for in the documents. How many churches still have altar boys/girls holding the paten under the chin to catch the Eucharist or crumbs if it falls? Of course there is no need if it is given in the hand. But I can clearly recall serving in the transitional period and we used the patens. Taking it back to the altar, we used two hands and it was never tipped. We placed it on the altar and I could clearly see little crumbs--like white pepper--on the paten. The priest wiped these particles of the Body of Christ with his finger into the chalice. I would the pour water over the priests fingers to wash the particles into the chalice which he then consumed. So where are these particles now and what does it say about our belief in the Real Presence?

I lost something! So did the generation that grew up with the Novus Ordo. We lost solemnity and a sense of the sacred. We changed the sacrifice of Calvary to a communal supper. Just look at the beginning of the Tridentine Mass and the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar; "I will go in unto the Altar of God, the God who gives joy to my youth." The first words from the priest indicated that he was about to do something holy and worthy. Now we are lucky if the first words even conform to the rite and don't end up as a rehash of last night's hockey or world cup game.

So what will Benedict do? Clearly in the English-speaking world, the least will be the re-translation of the English Novus Ordo. This is an exercise almost complete and hopefully will be implemented soon. As one example, rather than "This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, happy are those who are called to his supper" we will hear, "Behold the Lamb of God, behold He, who takes away the sins of the world, blessed are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb." Who said English cannot be poetic and uplifting?

We most certainly should see some broader return of the Tridentine Rite, perhaps with an updated missal with a new saints calendar. If not, then the old rite simply is "old" and not living. Will we have two rites, the Tridentine and a Novus Ordo which takes more from the Tridentine to make it more sacred?

The real mistake was that the changes were not "organic". The new mass was a different rite and inferior at that. A priest could consecrate bread and wine to the body and blood of Christ at a picnic table. Technically you don't need to surround it with the "mass." But that would not make it licit. We are dealing with a liturgy that has caused a falling away from the church and the seminaries and that is the greatest sadness.

The news article below indicates that we are not far from some new order. We can pray for courage for Benedict XVI and Cardinal Arinze who will no doubt have a fight on their hands. The protestant Catholics are not going quietly, but go they must. Christ said that in the last days there would be many who would lead astray even the elect. The time has come for all Catholics to see the last 40 years for what it is--a spiritual desert!

Vatican, Jun. 23 (CWNews.com) - The secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship has conceded some "negative results" of liturgical changes since Vatican II, and voiced his support for reform of the post-conciliar liturgy, in an interview with the I Media news agency.

Archbishop Albert Malcom Ranjith Patabendige Don told I Media that the Council fathers had hoped to reinvigorate the sense of an active encounter with God through the liturgy. "But unfortunately," he said, "after the Council, certain changes were made rapidly, without reflection, in a burst of enthusiasm, in a rejection of some exaggerations of the past." The result, the archbishop said, was quite different from the Council's intent.

Asked to provide some examples of the negative results, the Sri Lankan prelate listed "the abandonment of the sacred and the mystical," the confusion between the common priesthood of all the faithful and the ordained ministry, and the concept of the Eucharist as a common banquet rather than a representation of Christ's Sacrifice.

These changes, Archbishop Patabendige Don said, have produced negative consequences for the Church even beyond the liturgy. In the face of a growing secular trend in society, he said, the Church urgently needs to cultivate a deeper sense of the sacred and a more active interior life.

Fortunately, the archbishop said, there is a growing sense among Catholics of the need to recover the sense of the sacred. He said that the work of the Congregation for Divine Worship entails helping bishops and episcopal conferences to refine the liturgy by incorporating the strengths of the past.

Asked whether he was hinting at approval of the use of the old Missal of St.Pius V, the Sri Lankan archbishop said that the requests for the use of the pre-conciliar liturgy have become more common. But the question is in the hands of Pope Benedict XVI, he said. "The Pope knows all this," he said; "he knows the questions, he is very conscious of the situation, he is reflecting, and we are waiting for his indications."

Archbishop Patabendige Don adds that the use of the Tridentine rite "has never been abolished or banned." However, he said, because of the split in the Church caused by the traditionalist followers of the late Archbishop Lefebvre, the old Mass "has taken a certain identity that is not right."

Whether Pope Benedict will now encourage the use of the Missal of St. Pius V, or call for a reform of the 1962 Missal-- "what some people call 'the reform of the reform'"-- is not yet known, the archbishop said. What is established, he said, is the need for a liturgy that is "more beautiful, more transcendent." The secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship cautioned that it is imprudent to press for quick decisions, running the risk of falling into new errors because of haste. "We have to reflect a great deal," he said; "and above all, we have to pray for the Holy Father and the Church, and listen to what the Lord wants of us."