Tuesday, March 1, 2005

MH - Future of the Liturgy

Matt over at Shrine of the Holy Whapping has a fascinating dialogue going on over one of my passions - the Liturgy. I think one of the more significant events in my development as a Catholic convert was several years ago when I discovered a copy of an old Missal for the 1962 Mass. This contained the Tridentine Rite in English, which proved to be nothing more than a transitional period between the Latin Tridentine and the introduction of the Novus Ordo (at the end of the Missal there were Latin responses for those parishes where English hadn't been completely adopted). This must have been during the traumatic period in the Church when people could see the old dying away, destined to be replaced with a new that so many people found disappointing, disconcerting, and demoralizing. Having read some of the horror stories of that time (mid- to late-60s), I can only imagine what must have been going through people's minds.

At any rate, having the Missal in hand allowed me to imagine the Mass not as it actually was, but as it was supposed to be - in English, at any rate - and introduced me to the potential richness of the Liturgy. The "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grevious fault," the listing of the saints in the Confetior and the Canon, the sheer poetry of the language that so many overlook in a desperate effort to render the Liturgy "efficient" and shorn of redundancies.

Once I discovered the difference between the Mass as I knew it (post-conversion) and what it had been (pre-Novus Ordo), I suppose it was only a matter of time before we wound up at St. Agnes, listening to and participating in a Latin Novus Ordo that made the absolute minimum accommodation to the new Liturgical changes - and BTW, in case anyone tries to tell you different, Vatican II did not mandate abolishing Latin, tearing out communion rails and removing statues, the priest facing the High Altar, serving the Host on the tongue, Gregorian chant, or any other number of "Spirit of Vatican II" abuses that were introduced. We've been happy there ever since, with occasional side-trips to St. Augustine, the indult parish in South St. Paul, for the purity, clarity and tranquility of the Tridentine.

But I digress. You shouldn't be interested in what I have to say - instead, read the postings over at Holy Whapping. There's this link to the proposed revision of the current Mass, plus Matt's own draft of a new order, the Ordo Karolingianus (named in honor of JPII) - the post to which I've linked gives his overview of the project, plus a link to a PDF file of the entire draft - and finally, an ongoing discussion with The Squire regarding his analysis of Matt's project (I'll say that I'm much more in favor of the Ordo Karolingianus than The Squire is, but his comments are quite good and thought-provoking as well). Rich dialogue, with a lot of meat to it.

Some people might wonder if all this discussion is much ado about nothing. Isn't the bottom line worshiping God, after all? We brought a friend to St. Agnes on Sunday - a non-Catholic who is very interested in Catholicism. It was her first time atteding a Latin Mass, and to top it off, the St. Olaf College ancient music choir was making a special appearance, singing a polyphonic mass of Tomas Luis de la Victoria. We didn't know what she'd think - after all, it can be kind of overwhelming if it's your first time. We needn't have worried - afterward, she kept talking about the richness of the Mass, how meaningful the symbolism was and how it really made her feel as if she'd been to church. She wants to come with us again some Sunday.

And that's what this is all about.

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