Monday, September 17, 2007

Fr. Perrone discusses Extraordinary Form in his Sunday Column

What a read. Ongoing catechesis of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite provided with full candor by Grotto's pastor.

September 16

By the time you read this our parish’s first foray into the Tridentine rite since the 1960s will have been part of Grotto history. I can’t predict how we priests and ministers of the altar will have fared in our sacred functions, nor how the ceremony will have been received by the attendees. Also unknown to me–apart from a private revelation (which I neither seek nor expect)–will be how heaven will have received our humble service of adoration, praise and propitiation. I’d like to think that our Lord, our Lady, and the heavenly choir of angels and saints will be pleased but I try to observe the distinction between hope and presumption.

There are some things that we’ll have to ‘grow into’ for celebration of the Tridentine Mass. We will need to be patient. The liturgy as we have known it these past forty years didn’t come to us all at once. There was a long preparatory period of liturgical experiment and gradual change. It is to be expected then that it’s going to take time for us to put some things in good order and to beautify our execution of the sacred rites.

Some things will directly concern you. The liturgical calendar will not be the same for the Tridentine as for the newer rite. Thus, the 16th Sunday after Pentecost–the Tridentine Mass Proper for today—is in the new calendar the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Therefore the Scripture readings for the 9:30 Sunday Mass won’t match those of the other Masses. Then too, there is no role for a lay lector in the old Mass. When you sit and when you stand or kneel is also not the same. (The pastor is pleased to note, however, that the collection is a staple item in either rite.) As our Holy Father himself averred, the reintroduction of the Tridentine Mass, as a by-product, should effect a more reverent celebration of the Mass in the newer rite. The goal should always be to render to God a manner of prayer and ceremony that will be a little less unworthy of His Sovereign Majesty.

There are a limited number of Latin hand missals for use of the people available for sale in the Gift Shop. Also for purchase is the booklet The Ordinary of the Mass, the same as will be distributed by the ushers for use by the people at the Tridentine Mass. While hand missals contain everything–the Ordinary (that is, the recurring, unchangeable parts of every Mass) and the Proper (the readings, prayers and chants that change in every Mass)–the booklets will provide all that’s necessary for the intelligent participation by the congregation. It’s my intention to provide an inserted page of the Proper parts for the reference of the people, just as we have done in the past for the Latin Mass. In this way no one will be able to object: “we can’t understand the Latin Mass.” This is a an old canard employed by Latinphobes. Printed materials for the participation, mental and vocal, of the people have abounded in various forms for well over a century. There should be no excuse for any literate person to object to the Latin Mass on the grounds of incomprehension. On our part, we intend to do whatever is needed to enable you to be fully involved–in the true sense of aware and engaged–in Holy Mass, whether in Latin or in English, in the new form or the old.

If you’ll allow a spin-off from the preceding, I’d like to have a word on the subject of ‘active participation’ of the people at Mass. Participation of the people at Mass shouldn’t mean what Jimmy Durante complained about in vaudeville performances of his day, that is, ‘everybody getting into the act.’ Rather, the congregation at Mass should be involved in having the mind and heart raised to God, not by the mere physical engagement of the voice or bodily gestures. Nor does ‘active participation’ necessarily require the grasp of all the words being spoken. As a proof of this point by its opposite, think how you may have recited the Creed in English with the rest of the congregation while your mind may have paid little attention to what you were saying. The use of the vernacular language is no guarantee of intelligent, much less devout, involvement.

Much else occurs to me that might be said about the Mass, but space–mercifully for you–limits further ranting on the subject. If I may conclude with a little poetic turn of phrase, I would say that something new and thrilling is in the liturgical air, and I am invigorated by drawing in deep draughts of this heavenly ether.

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