Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More on Latin, and good Liturgy

Fr. Z. was kind enough to review and comment on my previous post about attending an ordinary form mass in Latin Ad Orientem. I'm truly grateful to him and to the many people who posted. They have given me much food for thought. I especially appreciate that most of the posters, and certainly those kind enough to comment on this blog, seemed to truly have my best interests at heart. Thank you.

A few of the posters made assumptions about me for which they really didn't have any evidence. Without addressing these point by point, I'll just say that your assumptions probably reveal more about yourself than they do about me.

One of the posters said
"Could someone explain why one would want a NO in latin Ad Orientem rather than a straight forward Tridentine Mass in dialogue form. In what way is the fomer superior to the latter and if not superior why bother with it when its predecessor is perfectly good (infact perfect and good)."

To this I can only answer that it is not strange for someone to want what the council fathers said we should have. I think the idea that the Tridentine liturgy as it was celebrated between 1920 and 1963 is "perfect" is an idea that needs some serious critical examination. The historical documents I've read seem to indicate otherwise.

Now, some insights I've gained in reading the responses:

1. Indeed, silence is golden.
I think the simultaneously rushed and bored approach of the priest at the Mass I attended contributed to my dislike of the experience. The ordinary form contains many points when reverent silence is indicated. That these are seldom observed is a tragic consequence of the realities of large suburban parish life that so many of us experience. We have to get the cars out of the parking lot from one Mass in order to get to the next.

2. Gregorian Chant is a big part of what I missed
No, I didn't think of it at the time, but indeed I would have appreciated much more Gregorian chant in this Mass. I don't mind singing in Latin. The time it takes to sing the notes tends to be enough for me to figure out what it is I am saying. (I know French and Esperanto, so both the Romance vocabulary and the modality of the language are familiar to me.) It's the rapid stream of recited Latin that has no appeal to me. That's what I had trouble with.

3. The inconsistency was part of the problem
The fact that there was no rhyme or reason to which prayers were in Latin, and which in English was a part of the distraction for me. One person asked me if I'd ever attended a Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Indeed, I have, and I remember it with awe. I visited a Ukranian Catholic Church back in 1981, and I've never forgotten that liturgy. The consistency -- entirely in one language (I assume Ukranian) -- did not generate the distraction I felt by the random switching between languages. I think I'd like all the propers and ordinary (I mistakenly said "commons") to be in Latin. Just give me the readings and homily in English, and I'd probably be happier.

I'm a little puzzled by those who do not want to have their mind engaged at all during Mass with what is occurring at the Mass. What happened to full, conscious, active participation? I acknowledge the meditative trance that one enters into during a rosary, but that's a private act of worship, not a communal celebration of the great mystery.

I was hoping to attend an extraordinary form Mass tonight, but life intervened and it will have to wait until next week. I think part of why I'm not anticipating great enjoyment of it is that the canon is silent. Like I said, however, I'm willing to give it a try and see. I was surprised by the ordinary form Mass I attended, maybe I'll be surprised in a different way this time.



Post a Comment

<< Home