söndag 16 oktober 2011

Novus Ordo versus Usus Antiquor

Extraordinary form mass - elevation of the host

On Saturday, the Association for Latin Liturgy had an event at St Mary Magdalen's in Brighton, including the celebration of a Solemn High Mass according to the Novus Ordo rite, all in Latin, with the priest in the ad orientem position and sung Gregorian Chant throughout, apart from the readings which were in English.

This is as good as the Novus Ordo Mass can get, but it raises questions. Ever since Pope Benedict announced that the Tridentine form had never been abrogated and that no special permission was required for its celebration, an increasing number of parish priests, though still a small minority, have been using this rite, now known as the Extraordinary Form. At St Mary Magdalen's we have it every Friday evening, and once a month on a Sunday afternoon. These liturgies have attracted a regular following, with a good proportion of young people, and now that we are used to it, comparison with the Novus Ordo Mass in Latin is instructive.

From the perspective of someone in the congregation, the first impression is that there is very little difference between the two. The second impression is the amount of time taken for the recitation of the Canon of the Mass in Latin in the newer rite, which would be silent in the older rite, with the singing of the Sanctus taking place at the same time. The effect in the new mass is to prolong it unduly and to no apparent gain. For a lay person not familiar with Latin ie nearly everyone, the Tridentine Mass is actually more accessible. Which makes me wonder if the Novus Ordo has any future in the longer term.

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