Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Can the Novus Ordo enrich the TLM?!

There has been (yet another) training course for priests on in England over the last week (surely there would be enough interest for at least one such course in Australia?) teaching priests how to say the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and other sacraments in the traditional form.

And it sounds like these courses are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with beginners classes starting with the Low Mass, another group learning to sing the relevant responses, a crash course in Latin, and much more.

As always some interesting reflections come out of these events, and one of them, by Fr Sean Finnigan of Valle Adurni (who was one of the tutors) is on the topic of the of how the OF (novus ordo) might enrich the EF (TLM, Classical Rite), stimulated by a comment by a joke by a visit at the event to the effect that there wasn't much scope for enrichment in this direction!

I don't agree with all of his ideas, but I do think they are worth looking at. Here is what he had to say, with a few comments from me:

1) "A greater awareness of the ex opere operantis dimension of the sacramental celebrations is, I think, the most important thing. How often have we heard it said that the Mass used to be celebrated perfunctorily? In fact, it is one of the charges most commonly levelled against the EF, with the presumption that those of us who celebrate it these days are still doing the same thing, such as gabbling a Low Mass in 12 minutes. Actually, I cannot remember ever having seen a perfunctory celebration of the EF in all my life—though I cannot exclude, a priori, the possibility that such celebrations do go on. But perhaps a greater awareness that the people of God are both present and matter to the celebration of the Sacrifice is not an unwelcome thing to bear in mind as we celebrate.[I do agree with this. I'm not sure though that the problem was lack of awareness of the people or their importance in the old days. My mother, who grew up in Hobart, remembers Sunday masses being 30 minutes including the sermon. But there was a deal involved - if anyone came in late, the priest started again, from the beginning, no matter where he was up to.....]

2) Clearly the addition of the more recently canonized saints cannot be but a good thing. Fitting them into the traditional calendar may not always be easy, but with a little good will and flexibility, this ought to be possible. [Agreed]

3) The new prefaces. Well, I'm not totally in favour of uncritically augmenting the prefaces, but there are many very good new ones, and I wouldn't mind using them with the EF. And actually, if you were to look at the pre-Tridentine Roman Missal, there were many more prefaces than are now to be found even in the current OF. I seem to remember that many, if not most, saints had one of his or her own in a Roman Missal of 1470 that I looked at. [See Mr Sternbeck's recent book, which included some of the newer prefaces, and the controversy that ensued around blogdom on this topic!]

4) The new collects. In some cases the collects have been somewhat robbed of their depth. But in others, they have been considerably improved. If you compare the collects in the Sanctoral cycle, for instance, you will find that in many cases in the EF, the collects are taken from the Common, with the name of the saint simply inserted. In the OF, proper collects have been written which actually reflect something about the saint's life or teaching. This I can see as an improvement. [A commenter has pointed out that a new study raises some important doubts on this one. The new collects seem to involve some new theology that really needs critical assessment.]

5) The use of the vernacular in some of the celebrations of the Ritual. The sacraments of Anointing or Baptism for instance, it seems to me, can benefit from some use of the language of the hearers, which enables the celebrations not only to have effect but also to teach and comfort, since often booklets for the participants are not available, and at emotional moments, managing service books with parallel texts is not really convenient. [Personally I want Latin were I being anointed, but I guess not everyone would and I can see a case for some flexibility...]

6) A more relaxed approach to rubrics. Now, before you jump down my throat, you should know that I am very keen on correct rubrics, as any of those who were under my tuition at Merton will confirm. It is just worth remembering that rubrics are God's table manners, and not the dinner itself. I remember a priest at school telling me that a candle had blown out while he was saying Mass. He mentioned that if he had continued saying Mass with one candle, he would have committed a venial sin, and with no candles, a mortal sin. I can't be doing with that attitude (and, to be fair, no more could the priest who was telling me this). Another blogger grumbled that at Merton some priests were wearing their birettas incorrectly, and that the celebrant at one Mass had pronounced the ekphonesis nobis quoque peccatoribus with a short instead of a long 'o' in quoque, and spoken it too loudly, too. For him this seems to have been the abiding memory he carried away from the Mass. A shame, to remember this in a Mass that was otherwise celebrated very beautifully. But then, that particular blogger has other things on his mind right now." [I do think there is something in this. Comments on some blogs seem to indicate that traddies do have a bit of a tendency to get obsessed about relatively trivial liturgical errors or rubrics.]

If you are interested in this debate, do go take a look at his combox!


Sydney Vacantist said...

Terra wrote:

[I do think there is something in this. Comments on some blogs seem to indicate that traddies do have a bit of a tendency to get obsessed about relatively trivial liturgical errors or rubrics.]

Really! I would never have guessed that :P

Peter said...

I think there is sensible food for thought here.

Some of the possible 'enrichments' would be in areas where one might expect organic development to occur anyway. If NO additions to variable parts can be contemplated then the EF really does become a museum piece.

On perfunctory celebration, I have certainly attended EF Masses that if they were in the vernacular would be a scandal.

On prefaces, the Ecclesia Dei Commission has already given a clear indication about this. Some of the newly composed prefaces are very beautiful (and look at the Latin not some dog's breakfast ICEL translation to see what is actually on offer (eg the ICEL translation of one of the marriage prefaces bears little resemblence to the Latin text).

Vernacular in the rituale. Even if the Latin is used there would seem to be scope for a more pastoral and catechetical approach to administration of the sacraments in the EF. Priests are meant to be teachers too. The use of English for aspects of the Rituale was already admitted before the council.

In terms of music, it is perhaps worth noting that the propers for the Assumption offer the option of the ancient Introit 'Guadeamus' instead of the 'newly' composed 'Signum magnum' (commissioned by Pius XII's definition of the dogma). The new one is rather difficult to sing and less beautiful imho.

Michael Sternbeck. said...

Reference has been made to the Prefaces of the 1970 Missal included in the Ignatius Press Mass-book, prepared by me.

Most people don't realise that the prefaces of the 1970 Missal are (for the large part) NOT new compositions, but based on prefaces found in ancient sacramentaries of the Roman Rite. The Congregation for Divine Worship published an extremely comprehensive book about all the prefaces of the 1970 Missal, shewing their origin (in some cases, word by word) with respect to scripture and tradition.

It might also be a useful reminder for those who denounce these prefaces that in the course of the century preceding Vatican Council II, the following prefaces were added to the Tridentine Missal: Preface of the Dead; Preface of Christ the King; Preface of the Sacred Heart. These were NEW COMPOSITIONS and not derived from any ancient prefaces. Are they to be denounced too?

The hysteria which surrounded the inclusion of SOME prefaces from the 1970 Missal (as an APPENDIX and with the permission of the Ecclesia Dei Commisssion) in the Ignatius Press EF Mass-book, was truly indicative of a defective attitude to Tradition which Pope Benedict was anxious to correct in his motu proprio.

Anonymous said...

"rubrics are God's table manners, and not the dinner itself."

Witty line!

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

Joshua said...

To back up Michael Sternbeck, I might add that the various religious orders were adding Prefaces for their principal saints in the early 20th Century, such as ones for St Dominic, St Francis, St Thomas Aquinas, et al.; these were new compositions (or, if not, were probably lifted from Neo-Gallican books), and yet no Traddie (I hope!) screams in horror at the use of the Preface of the Dead, which was also newly added in 1919, though based upon much earlier exemplars. My personal gripe with some of the new Prefaces in the modern books is that their eschatocols - the part at their end mentioning the angels' worship - is quite attenuated and dumbed-down compared to the older prefaces, and I think that for new prefaces to match the older ones they should use the classic eschatocols "Et ideo...", "Per quem...", etc. as best fits. I further tend to the view that the small number of prefaces being allowed pro aliquibus locis at the end of the pre-Reform liturgy, that is, for All Saints, for Dedication of Churches, for Corpus Christi, and for Advent, etc., is probably sufficient.