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Saturday, 4 November 2006

The Tridentine Mass: Organic Development and what, if anything, can be gained from the Missa Normative

Thank you to all who called or wrote to me in the comments or privately on the passing of my mother. I thank you for your prayers and your kind and warm thoughts.

Soon, perhaps, His Holiness Benedict XVI will release the long-expected news. In a comment on The New Liturgical Movement, Tim states: "not to be maudlin, but do you think Benedict understands that to delay this Moto Proprio until after his dangerous and ill-advised trip to Constantinople is asking for trouble? Tim 11.03.06 " I also think that Benedict should not go to Turkey. I fear for his life. But, go he must and put his faith in Divine Providence. However, this is all the more reason that he must act on these measures before he travels.

I know that Trads everywhere will want to lynch me for this; but, let’s consider for a moment two things; Organic development in the liturgy of the Traditional Latin Mass; and, is if there is anything in the Missa Normative or Novus Ordo rite could be incorporated into the Traditional Latin Mass as “organic” development?

The TLM or Tridentine Rite was codified at the Council of Trent. That is to say, it became the norm for the western church. It was not composed at Trent but it was the way that Mass was said in Rome since the 6th century. Any liturgy at the time that had existed for at least 200 years in the west was maintained—thus we have the Ambrosian, Mozarabic and Sarum Rites. Any changes in the Tridentine Rite since Trent have been slow, moderate and were accepted as genuine development. For example the last was the introduction of Saint Joseph in the Canon after the Blessed Virgin.

Consider what the Council Fathers intended in Sacrosanctum Concilium by way of reform to the TLM liturgy and the Missa Normative which, in my opinion, was not organic growth but a wholesale change and therefore, not what was intended by the Fathers. Many also share this view hence, the “Reform of the Reform.”

Now whilst I am a Choir Director and involved in the Liturgy, I do not consider myself a “liturgist.” I find those post-Vatican II pretenders who use such a term to describe themselves anathema. There are no liturgists; there is only the “Liturgy.” The Liturgy is approved by the Church and is to be carried out with no additions or deletions, simple as that.

Again, the following is only my opinion and is simply put forward as an idea to enhance or grow the TLM with some of what we may have learned to be positive from the Novus Ordo.

Silence is an important part of the TLM. Contemplation, prayer, mystery is found in abundance compared to the noisy and distracting NO. But it seems to me that one good thing from the NO is greater dialogue between the people and priest.

Consider the Confiteor. The priest’s private Confiteor is a must. Traditionally, the “Servers” have responded with the Confiteor on their and our behalf. Would not a public expression of our confession be appropriate? Again, this is not a “change” but, growth.

No doubt the Fathers seemed to have in mind the use of the vernacular languages for the readings. Rather than the readings read by the Priest/Celebrant at the Altar, let them be proclaimed from the pulpit in the vernacular.

The next question is whether or not the Gradual chanted in Latin was to be modified to a response between Priest/Schola and the people. There are advantaged to both. However, if the Gradual is adapted to a response style, it could be in the vernacular, but must follow the Gregorian tones. To introduce the NO style of music to the TLM for this purpose would seem to me a vulgar intrusion.

The Fathers indicated some type of “bidding prayer” what we know as the Prayers of the Faithful. Unfortunately, these follow no pattern and are an opportunity to introduce suspicious intentions. I think perhaps these are unnecessary in the TLM unless they follow a specific pattern that is unalterable. For example: The Pope and Bishops; Unity of the Christian Church; Conversion of fallen-away Catholics; Conversion of non-believers in Christ; the Sick of the Parish; the Deceased of the Parish and the Holy Souls in Purgatory. The final prayer could be a silent one for “our own intentions.” These would be in the vernacular followed by Christ, hear our prayer—Christe, exaudi nos.

Beyond these changes which are to the Liturgy of the Word portion of the mass or what was known as the “Mass of the Catechumens” modifications to the “Mass of the Faithful” or “Liturgy of the Eucharist” must be minimal. There may be some benefit to the Canon being said or even sung in an audible (not loud) voice. Certainly, one advantage of the aloud NO is that abuses become self-evident.

However, there are two practices in the NO that I think would enhance the Canon. The first is the said or particularly sung “Minor Elevation”—“per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso.” It simply seems that this proclamation prayer by the priest is more fittingly proclaimed aloud and in joy for the Sacrifice which has just taken place at the Altar. The second is the dialogue or “Peace” following the Pater Noster. And there is no place for the handshake!

I recall that the Final Gospel was originally said by the priest on his return to the sacristy. But it is a theologically powerful point to maintain. But again, proclaim it aloud and from the Pulpit for all to hear and understand the wonderful theology of John’s dissertation on the Word.

Next: the “Reform of the Reform” to the Missa Normative or Novus Ordo.ive er both what the Council Fathers intended in Sacrosanctum Concilium by way of reform to the liturgy and the Missa NO.

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