Friday, June 22, 2007
WHAT LITURGY IS SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE
Fr. Martin Fox comments on his perceptions of liturgy at Bonfire of the Vanities:
...the celebrant, by his steadiness, prayerfulness and care, communicates a reverence and seriousness that benefits all. It need not be fussy or (gasp!) "rigid." When it is steady, without constant improvisation, then something wonderful happens--the liturgy itself communicates, and it isn't all about the priest (or anyone else). It is prayer.
The other thing I want to mention is that when one experiences the liturgy in its fullness, with care and attention to the actual celebration of the liturgy, one discovers the important qualities of the liturgy: it is a unity, from beginning to end (as opposed to a series of things we say and do); it is sober and solemn. These don't mean sad, or cold; but rather, the prayer is not obtrusive. One person at Mass may find occasion for great joy, another for deep insight, another for profound sorrow and conversion, another simply for consolation. The Mass should not impose any of these on you, but allow you to experience them in communion with God and his people.
Yet again, the liturgy fully celebrated clearly becomes another moment, another place. It is not part of our time and world; it is an escape, a refuge, a sanctuary.
Prior to Vatican II it was prayer as well. Somehow in between it became community meal and all of the gaiety came in with that image of the Mass. I didn't see a single reference to "community" there in Fr. Fox's post. Thankfully he is presenting the view of the Mass that the Spirit of Vatican II banished. It's good to see that particular "Spirit" has not been totally successful.
But there is one thing for which I hope...when singing and chanting by the entire congregation becomes a regular feature of the restored Tridentine, I hope that some latitude is granted to those who choose not to sing. There are times when it is better to listen to the words than it is to sing them. Like on the morning when you have a sore throat, or a frog in your throat that makes the sound coming out less than lovely, or on the mornings when things have been going seriously wrong and it's all you can do to avoid crying your way through Mass. There are many reasons for sometimes not singing, and I would hope that each person's decision on any given day would be respected.
Oh, and there is another thing for which I hope...that one day the new 3-year calendar readings will be incorporated into the Tridentine.