Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fr. Perrone Comments Further on Tridentine Preparation at Grotto

I want to pull out of the Grotto bulletin PDF listed in the post below for August 26th, this week's comment by Fr. Perrone. He is planning on writing something each week about preparation and celebration of the Old Mass and I'll bring those words to you here since the PDF will not remain on the web indefinitely. I have added white space for easier reading.

In my spare moments I have been
orchestrating the music for the musical
play, Palla Eius. I have therefore not
been devoting those extra hours to a
needed and careful study of the
Tridentine Mass.

However, I have perused, in casual fashion,
some books which contain detailed instructions
for the priest and the altar servers on how to
celebrate correctly the older form of the
Mass. You would not believe the degree
of complexity specified in such manuals
(often called ceremonials).

But just so that you get some appreciation of
how exacting the so-called Tridentine Mass is
over details of how the celebration
should be conducted, I offer you here a
snippet from these directives. Take, for
example, this randomly picked passage:

“Placing his left hand in the usual
manner on the node of the chalice, and
still holding the Fragment of the Host in
his right hand over the cup, the priest
says aloud Per omnia sæcula
sæculorum... Then, moving his hand and
forearm quietly, he makes with the
Sacred Particle three crosses over the
mouth of the chalice, moving the Particle
from edge to edge, but without touching
the chalice. He makes the first cross
while saying aloud Pax Domini, the
second at the words sit semper, and the
third at vobiscum. dividing these words
as the text of the Canon indicates. When
the server has replied Et cum spiritu tuo,
and not sooner, the celebrant drops the
Sacred Particle into the Precious Blood,
saying silently Hæc commixtio, etc. At
the Holy Name he bows his head.”

Note that the book from which this brief
excerpt is taken runs to over 600 pages!
I quote this to you for a few reasons. I
want you to appreciate the exactness with
which the Church used to expect her
priests to celebrate the sacred liturgy. Not
a single movement was left to chance,
even though there were a few alternative
ways of doing certain gestures.

The next thing I want you to ponder is, by
contrast with the foregoing, in how slipshod
and cavalier manner the new form of Mass is
sometimes celebrated. Although the
revised rite of Mass does not demand the
precise uniformity of the old, departure
from prescribed directives (called rubrics)
in the new Mass is forbidden and often
shocks the religious sensibilities of the

Another thing to notice is that,
even in this brief quotation from a
handbook on the liturgy, words such as
Particle (referring to the Host after it has
been broken by the priest), Fragment are all
capitalized. This is a far cry from our current
vernacular usage in liturgical books and reflects
the desacralizing that has been going on for the
last 45 years. This is also evident in the
current orthography in Sacred Scripture
and in liturgical books by which pronouns
that refer to the Divine Name are in small
case (thus ‘he’ and ‘him’ instead of ‘He’
and ‘Him’. (Faithful readers, kindly note
that your pastor long ago reverted to the
older and more reverential practice of
capitalizing such words, as also ‘She’ and
‘Her’ when they refer to Our Lady.)

I wrote that I would say something about
the Tridentine Mass every week in
preparation for September 14’s 7:00 p.m.
Mass, the first day the Pope has given
permission to celebrate it. I hope that our
execution of the ceremonial will approach
some measure of the perfection which the
old rite expected of its sacred ministers.

For this, let us pray.

Fr. Perrone

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