Saturday, April 14, 2012

I'm Still Whining

Just cruising around some favorite Trad Catholic blogs; one was addressing the "shock and awe" nature of the changes made to the liturgy, and I'd have to agree. The changes were swift, sudden, and shocking.

Now that Pope Benedict XVI is moving glacially back toward a more profound and literal translation of the Mass, it's interesting to see/hear what some churches have adopted and what some have not. A couple of recent examples:

I attended Palm Sunday Mass with a friend at an NO church. All the statues were, as far as I could tell, undraped. I asked about this, and it was pointed out that there was, indeed, a purple drape on everything, just  not covering the statue - the drape was loosely tossed around the figure. So, what is the point? Isn't the point of the drape the symbolic death and mourning? But anyway. In this particular Mass, the priest did read the Lord I am not worthy wording according to the re-translation; the congregation falteringly responded with "and with your spirit" as opposed to "and also with you." And the priest spoke the words of the consecration "for you and for many" and opposed to "all." There were also three altar servers (all girls, all sloppy); six Eucharistic Ministers (they don't even bother with the Extraordinary any more, do they?), a lector, and a cantor.

Easter Sunday was at my mom's NO church. The congregation was about half and half on the "and also with you" response. The church was, as always, beautifully decorated. The choir was, is horrible too un-Christian of me?  Father did not recite the new "Lord I am not worthy" prayer, and he spoke an "alternate" consecration (that one, I have to admit, deeply bothers me). Oh, and just as an aside: nobody sang at all; about half the people held hands and did the orans posture during the Pater.

In both cases above, "participation" was limited to responses ("We pray to the Lord," and so on), which, of course, were always part of all Masses for as long as I can remember.

It occurred to me, and I mentioned it to my mom, that one of the reasons given for the liturgical "renewal" of the 60s was that people sat in Mass and "said their beads" because they couldn't understand the Mass and couldn't follow the (very clear) Missals or Mass Cards supplied in every pew. I was only about 12 or 13 when they started messing with the Mass, and I already knew it by heart. How hard could it be to understand? I was given a Missal at my First Communion. We were instructed in the parts of the Mass during religious instruction. I'm not sure what went on in other parishes, and I have been told my experience was "unusual," so I can't say one way or the other. But the whole idea, I was told, was that the Mass was to be made more comprehensible, more participatory.

In my little Traditional chapel, everyone participates in the Mass, and I've mentioned on this blog before. We sing, we perform the Credo, Gloria, Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, as well as the opening and closing hymns. The choir "performs" only the sung readings, such as the Introit, or the Gradual, and the priest alone sings the Epistle and Gospel, as well as the Pater Noster and the main parts of the Mass. But looking around me, I don't get the feeling anyone feels left out. Granted, we're a self-selected bunch: we're there because we specifically love the Mass.

But I've had this discussion with a friend who is more in favor of the NO Mass than I am; he insists that my experience with the Mass as a child was unusual. I keep wondering, if it could happen at my ordinary parish in Buffalo, NY, why not throughout the church? Wouldn't it have been better to try teaching the great legacy of the Mass first, and really instructing Catholics in their faith, rather than going straight to dismantling a 1500 year old ceremony? Each word, each gesture of the Traditional Mass had layers of meaning - and once you understood them, each time you saw them you were filled with all the layers; you didn't have to think about them, they were there, like pulling out a Christmas ornament brings back not just one Christmas, but all Christmasses you have enjoyed over the years.

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