onsdag 10 juli 2013

Traditional Latin Mass phobia - continued

I have had some discussions with a priest recently on this subject. It has to be admitted that the Tridentine (Extraordinary Form) Mass has attracted, amongst others, a dubious clientele from the extreme right wing of the political spectrum, and not a few anti-semites amongst them. He does not want to attract with people with these kinds of attitudes or be seen to be associated with them.

There are two sides to this issue. From the congregation's perspective, there is little difference between a Novus Ordo Mass celebrated in accordance with the definitive Latin texts in the Missa Normativa, with the chants from the 1974 Graduale Romanum. Thus it is a post-Vatican Two liturgy and people who deny the validity of the Council and its liturgy will keep away. There are problems with it, as described here, but it is good enough - in fact, it is hard to see the differences unless you know what to look for. The lack of silence can be remedied by saying the prayers for the Offertory and Canon in a low voice with the sound system switched off.

From the priest's perspective, however, the two forms of the Mass are very different. Priests who have been celebrating the Extraordinary Form report that it has transformed their spiritual life. Thus it is something priests need to make up their own mind about.

The solution to the problem of the extremist fringe has to be to make the Extraordinary Form much more widely available, to the point that it is taken for granted again. It needs to be reclaimed for the mainstream of the church if only for its real practical advantages - for instance, it gets round the problems of bad acoustics, bad sound systems, the difficulties of addressing polyglot congregations, clergy who are not fluent in the local language, and musicians who want to impose their creativity on the parish.

This will take time, but the flexibility of the Novus Ordo Mass makes it possible to introduce the Missa Normativa gradually through a series of one-by-one changes over a period of a year or so.

In the meantime, it would be a good thing if priests learned to say Mass in the Extraordinary Form, but celebrated it discreetly in private or with small congregations, without publicity. They would then have the opportunity of making an informed judgement about whether or not to introduce it to their congregations and how they should go about it. There is a lot to be said for making it a weekday evening event - for example, on First Fridays or something like that. This has the advantage that when it falls on a feast day, which typically happens once or twice a year, it can take the form of a Missa Cantata and justifies having a more elaborate liturgy.

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