Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mass in the Extraordinary Form: Part Two

Tuesday greetings from Chicago, where it is in the thirties and sunny, but not for long. The forecast is for rain and wet snow later today into tonight!

I want to thank those of you who responded to yesterday's post about the Mass in the extraordinary form. Many of you suggested that I attend a high Mass at Saint John Cantius here in Chicago; at 12:30 on Sundays. Well, in fact, that is where I went on Sunday and I did attend the 12:30 Mass and what I described is exactly what happened.

My "view from the pew" on Sunday:

My suspicion is that there was a shift in scheduling because it seems that the new pipe organ was dedicated and blessed some time during the weekend, with Cardinal George in attendance; perhaps there was an earlier high Mass and things were shifted around.

In yesterday's post, I asked for your assistance in helping me to understand the Mass in the extraordinary form. Thank you for sharing your own experiences and pieces of advice.

I did wonder why there was a bump in the number of hits on the blog yesterday and my analytic tools pointed to my friends over at Musica Sacra Forum. One of the risks that I (and anyone who writes anything for public consumption) take is that I am sharing my experience publicly. I have developed pretty thick skin over the years, although I do have my moments of vulnerability. I appreciate the civility with which those of you who chose to comment here on this blog showed. A very few others over at Musica Sacra were not so civil. Frankly, this is what makes me want to not attend another Mass in the extraordinary form. But people like Adam Wood balance things out for me. Thanks, Adam, for your kind words and call to civility.

One of the things that I have always told the people I am privileged to lead here at World Library Publications is that we embrace a mission to serve the needs of the singing, praying, and initiating Church. And they have heard me time and again say something like: "And that really means serving the needs of the entire Church, not some 'progressive' part of the Church with which my preference and experience resound; not some 'conservative' part of the Church with which my preference and experience resound; not some 'progressive' part of the Church with which my preference and experience have no resonance; not some 'conservative' part of the Church with which my preference and experience have no resonance. We serve the Church."

One of the reasons for my decision to attend the extraordinary form of the Mass on Sunday was to broaden my experience and understanding of that entire Church. Up until Sunday, as I mentioned yesterday, I would only refer to the pre-conciliar Mass in a kind of sweeping historical remembrance. I wanted an experience of the Mass in that pre-conciliar form so that I could share that experience with others. Sunday's was one experience of that form. And from what you shared on this blog, it probably wasn't the best (low Mass) first taste for one who is searching for meaning.

I have two things to say. First, the low Mass is celebrated with frequency. Many of you said that this is not the ideal. To quote one comment yesterday, "You happened to end up in a bad situation, but at Cantius you'll find what the rest of us love." Is it generally felt among those who prefer the extraordinary form that the low Mass is to be avoided?

Second, I will do my very best over the next several weeks to try the 12:30 P.M. high Mass at Saint John Cantius here in Chicago; it is less than a five minute drive from my home.

Tomorrow, I would like to talk about what "fully conscious and active participation" means. What, if any, influence does paragraph 14 of Sacrosanctum Concilium have when it comes to the celebration of Mass in the extraordinary form?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Andy Varga said...

Thanks, Jerry...
looking forward to subsequent installments...

Scott Pluff said...

From time to time I have attended a Tridentine High Mass, and I've found them to be very beautiful and prayerful. I've often described my experience with the EF Mass as "a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there." I am glad that in my metropolitan area there are a few places to experience this form of liturgy done well.

Yet, I've been unable to find an answer to this question. What does the EF Mass offer its participants that could not be achieved just as well with an OF Mass celebrated in Latin, with chanted propers and all of the "smells and bells"?

When I talk to devotees of the EF, they speak of beauty, transcendence, mystery, reverence, ritual, and various aesthetic elements. It seems that all of these characteristics could be found in the Latin Novus Ordo, while still maintaining the unity of one reformed Roman Rite. From my conversations, most participants in EF liturgies are not even aware that the "Vatican II Mass" can be celebrated in Latin. Perhaps offering recourse to the EF has been an overcorrection.

Anonymous said...

Low Mass is a wonderful thing for a Monday or Thursday morning Ferial Day.

On a Sunday, I'd hope that all Catholics would want to attend a Missa Cantata or Solemn High Mass if they're going to the EF.

Do try to make a High Mass at Cantius sometime. It'll be worth your while.

Anonymous said...

The schedule at John Cantius last weekend was adjusted due to the organ blessing/Mass at 4:00. Its a shame that you weren't able to attend that one, which was an unbelievably glorious event (Pontifical Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form with a 150 person choir) - it would have provided a stunning contrast to the quiet Low Mass that you attended. And the new organ sounds incredible.

Here's the music for next weekend's 12:30 EF Mass:

Solemnity of Christ the King
Missa Vulnerasti Cor Meum, Cristòbal de Morales (1500 – 1553)
Domine Jesu Christe Rex, August Soderman (1832 – 1876)
In Voce Exsultationis, Giuseppe Ottavio Pitoni (1657 – 1743)

Anonymous said...

I didn’t get around to replying to your first post but….I would suggest you do four things before really forming a fixed opinion on the Extraordinary form of the liturgy.
1. Attend a well done High Mass.
2. Attend an Eastern rite Divine Liturgy.
3. Since you can get to Saint John Cantius also go to a Novus Ordo High Mass.
4. Give yourself time to digest before writing about the experience.

I am deeply attached to the Extraordinary form, I am also 34 years old. Which means I must deal with what I perceive (perhaps wrongly) to be an objection, that Summorum Pontificum is not for us younger persons. Pope Benedict in his letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum explains “ it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them.”

I attend Mass to worship God who is greater than I to whom I owe all. I attend the Extraordinary form in its different forms and Eastern rite liturgy’s all of which have different spirituality’s and culture, but which also have a profound sense of the transcendent. They also express what I believe. At the typical parish mass where I live the concern is more with making things ‘accessible’ as a result there is very little sense of the great ungraspable “Other”. I could elaborate further if you wanted me to.

As to your question about whether the low Mass is to be avoided. That depends, I think for many people in our culture it’s a radical shock. The low mass can be an occasion of contemplative/ meditative prayer, but under usual circumstances it shouldn’t be the principal Sunday or feast day Mass.

Anonymous said...

"Active participation certainly means that, in gesture, word, song and service, all the members of the community take part in an act of worship, which is anything but inert or passive. Yet active participation does not preclude the active passivity of silence, stillness and listening: indeed, it demands it. Worshippers are not passive, for instance, when listening to the readings or the homily, or following the prayers of the celebrant, and the chants and music of the liturgy. These are experiences of silence and stillness, but they are in their own way profoundly active. In a culture which neither favors nor fosters meditative quiet, the art of interior listening is learned only with difficulty. Here we see how the liturgy, though it must always be properly inculturated, must also be counter-cultural."
—Bl. Pope John Paul II

Charlene Blondo said...

I have shared many of your same thoughts in regards to the extraordinary form of the Mass. I'm still trying to understand the terminology of things, much less the meaning and purpose. The first Mass in EF I ever attended, I was so nervous and uncomfortable. I had myself beleiving that I should be knowing everything that's going on and found it frustrating that I didn't. The little voice in my head was telling me that I must be a poor Catholic and an even worse director of music and liturgy if I don't know what to do. I have since attended a couple more. Though I'm still not fully comfortable with the whats and whys, I have been forming a deeper understanding and appreciation for Mass in EF.
At our parish we will be celebrating the first Mass in EF form for decades and it will be a Requiem on All Souls Day. I've been doing more studying and seeking than ever before.
I have to be honest, the first Mass I attended felt very impersonal even though I understand why the priest has his back to us. I support ad orientum completely. He doesn't have his back to us, he has his face toward God like we do. He's leading us forward to God, rather than walking backwards while leading us there.
I'm truly beginning to love Mass in EF. The Church allows for the forms for a reason, and by doing so provides us all an opportunity to grow in understanding of our faith and of the liturgy itself. Those who truly care about the Mass and what really takes place will want to know more, will want to dig deeper. In doing so, they will form, I trust, a greater appreciation.
Active participation is a tough one. Most of us have been told time and time again that we must sing, we must 'do' what it is that needs to be done. I've come to realize the deeper meaning of active participation. Whoever is reading this post right now is actively participating in a conversation. Thoughts are forming, opinions, ideas, etc are being stirred within the reader's mind and heart. Being musicians we all understand very fully the aesthetic beauty of music, how it can lift our souls to another place. We don't necessarily need to have words in front of us or need to have the words in our own language to understand what the music is doing for us. Active participation is allowing the music to help in taking our spirits to the altar, to realize the priest in persona Christi,and so on. Yes, having appropriate Catholic hymns with which the congregation can offer their voices in praise to God can bring about this but active participation is so much deeper and broader than 'doing'. More often it's about 'being'. 'Being' truly present - body, mind, spirit - at Mass, 'being' in the state of grace so as to receive our Lord during holy communion. Our world thinks so often that we must have our hands into everything, that we must be 'doing' something, that we must understand every little detail, that we must agree with every little detail because if we don't, we want it changed to our way.
I pray for your journey and for mine. I pray for the Church and all who strive each day to look beyond one's self to see and follow the will of God and His Church rather than the will of our own opinions and desires. May we all remain steadfast in offering our gifts to the One who's given them to us, trust in His providence, grasp opportunities for continued growth and awareness such as what you are doing, and let the Holy Spirit burn within.

Ben Dunlap said...

Scott, the EF provides a concrete -- and I think indispensable -- connection with western Catholic tradition, without which the OF is somewhat unmoored.

The revisions in 1970 were both broad and deep. Taking both liturgies as a whole (Mass, Hours/Office, and sacramental rites), the texts, structure, and rhythm of the OF are radically different from those of the EF.

Certainly an OF mass *can* be celebrated in a way that makes it resemble an EF mass on the surface, but this is quite rare in practice and I think that reflects the real differences between the two forms.

As one who first fell in love with the liturgy through the OF Liturgy of the Hours, but now prays the Hours daily from the EF, and who has had children baptized in both old and new forms, it seems to me that the two forms express quite different spiritualities -- one very old and one very new.

I think Pope Benedict's main liturgical point was that such a radical change as that of 1970 cannot, must not, take place as a definitive break from the past, whose age-old, carefully-tended wisdom must ground our reception of the new. "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too".