Friday, November 24, 2006

Liturgical Rants

I’ve been reading the address of His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze. Like his predecessor, His Eminence Jorge Cardinal Medina Estevez, Cardinal Arinze is also concerned about the disintegrating unity of the Latin Rite, as purposeful mistranslations distort the original Latin and irreverent tinkling with the text and evident disregard of the rubrics results in Mass confusion, pardon the pun =). I think that they should stop lamenting and do something, legislate something about it.

I think that the freeing of the Classical Roman Rite is the long awaited and long rumoured motu proprio will be a stabilizing force and a benchmark to reform the reform.

However, I also think that many people are quite happy with a reverently celebrated Novus Ordo. What attracts many people to the Classical Roman Mass, besides its beauty and transcendence, its majesty and poetic cadences, its reverence for God's Majesty and the great Mystery of Faith that is transpiring, is its inherent stability. And stability, if you ever talk to people who are forced to travel from parish to parish or endure 2 different priests in a single parish, is a scarce commodity these days.

Many priests think that the public liturgical prayer of the Church is their own personal property that they should feel free to modify at will. Many priests continually whine about Rome imposing its will on ‘their liturgy’ while at the same time imposing their own will on their poor long-suffering parishioners who can’t do squat about it. The priest at least, has the option of ignoring Rome and the rubrics, an option that many of them utilize on a regular basis.

In many cities, each different parish Church seems to be celebrating a different Rite. Latin with Chant in one place (that’s extremely rare though) and rock music, with drums and Charismatic hand waving in another. Folksy guitar music with Kumbayas here and the recited Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei there. Dancing girls traipsing down the aisle in this Church and clown masses in the next. The stability in the Roman Rite has been lost and you can’t really know what to expect if you visit a Church that is not your own.

The quickie Masses in some places these days might even embarrass those old mumbled Latin Low Masses. At every Mass, even one with very poor attendance, ‘EXTRAordinary’ Ministers of Holy Communion are everywhere. Perhaps a class on the meaning of extraordinary, focusing on the extra part should be introduced in Seminary.

The Roman Canon is also seldom heard these days cos ‘Its too looo-ng’ whereas the meaningless non-related stories and jokes that Father tells don’t make the Mass too long. And I’m not even going to talk about the petitions at the Mass. The Roman Canon incorporates the prayers for the ‘Holy Catholic Church’, for the living, for the dead, and ‘for ourselves too, though we are unworthy’. But instead they use the shortest possible prayer, EPII and have long and repetitive petitions[Did Vatican II not say something about eliminating useless repetitions?] with even longer and increasingly ridiculous responses. [For those who are used to ‘Lord, hear our prayer’ and ‘Lord, graciously hear us’, you won’t understand this complaint. We have responses like ‘Lord, please teach us to be generous’ or ‘Lord, help us to be more caring’ in response to ‘For our departed loved ones, that they may enjoy eternal beatitude with Christ and all his saints’. This is a serious theological error that shifts the focus from God whom we are asking to grant our petitions to us whom we are asking God to transform.] Why the need to say it all over again, with more, but less majestic, words?

Holy Communion should be the highlight of the Mass. While the Consecration is re-presenting and making present the same Sacrifice of the Cross in an unbloody manner and the transubstantiating of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Holy Communion is taking that same Jesus Christ, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity into ourselves and being one with Him.

I really don’t understand why we can allocate 20 minutes for a dance routine or a testimony or a long praise song but can’t wait to get Holy Communion over with. If the impatience and rush is born out of ignorance, then perhaps more catechesis is in order, not EXTRA ‘EXTRAordinary’ Ministers of Holy Communion?

Even if the only advantage of Latin is to prevent the priest from ad-libbing the prayers [cos those who like to ad-lib probably won't know enough Latin to do so and those who bothered to study Latin are probably educated enough to know better and not mess around with the church's public prayers] or sparing the laity from the ad-libbing (cos they’ll be following the correct translations from their Missals even if the priest ad-libs) it would then be worth the effort.

I plan on commenting on the address. Can’t seem to find the time yet. Look for it here soon.

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