lördag 6 juli 2013

I went to a Tridentine Mass and didn't like it

I was in a discussion recently with someone who is vigorous in her dislike of the "Tridentine Mass". She has actually been a couple of times, but, it seems, reluctantly, because it was the only one available.

The picture I get is this. She was not there from choice. This suggests, though I might be wrong, that she had not done any work in the way of preparation. For example, there is a raft of theological reasons why the priest and congregation face the same way, just as Orthodox Christians, Jews and Moslems always do and Catholics almost always did until about 1965. The most accessible explanation is given in "Turning Towards the Lord" by Fr Uwe Lang. The reasons for the other differences, and the extended silences, are explained in "The Spirit of the Liturgy" by Joseph Ratzinger.

Neither of the books is long or difficult but she would have had a little bit of reading to do in order to appreciate what was going on, otherwise she would have been in the position of someone who goes to an opera without knowing the plot.

Unless and until she had read those book or given someone the opportunity to explain the reasons, she will have felt, and will feel upset that the priest was "turning his back on the congregation", and probably bored by the silence.

Sport is a good analogy here. If you don't know anything about football you will just see a couple of dozen men on a patch of grass kicking a ball around, regardless of whether the game is between local teams or an international championship playing to the highest standard. If, on the other hand, you know something about the game, you will understand the difference in skill levels and strategy. This difference is qualitative. Millions of people appreciate football played at a high level.

To understand what is happening in a Usus Antiquior Mass it is necessary to have some extra instruction, explanation and indeed catechesis, which would in fact deepen understanding not only of the Mass but of the Faith itself. The reason why people are satisfied with the Novus Ordo is that they have not had this catechesis. Were they to have it, they would realise that the whilst the NO is valid and Christ is really present, is an incomplete set of signs. They would then no longer be satisfied with the Novus Ordo Mass as it is so widely celebrated.

Talking of signs raises other issues related to the context in which Mass is celebrated. Even when it is done quite nicely, the effect tends to be bland and does not convey a sense of conviction. 1970s church architecture not help. There might be a few attractive features, but the overall appearance of the buildings, the decorations, the vestments and the entire presentation of the Mass too often seems to have got firmly stuck in the year 1975. A lot has happened since then but it seems as if nobody has noticed.

Inga kommentarer:

Threatened clergy

The BBC Sunday programme this morning (start of broadcast) had a report about a growing problem of threats and violence against churches an...