Monday, January 26, 2009

A priest writes about the 'old mass' (of the 1970's, that is)

Here's a letter from a priest to Fr. Z. about the 'old liturgy'. Pretty astute.

Greetings from _. I just thought I’d drop a note about my Mass experience on Sunday. I frequently get loaned out when there is a need. Such was the case this past Sunday….

To give some personal context, I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, am nearing my 3rd anniversary of ordination, and am learning to celebrate the Mass according to the 62 Missal. [W]here I am stationed is by no means high church, but pretty "by the book" (we’re working on it). In addition, my confreres have charge of a parish where things are done along fairly traditional lines ….

All of this serves as a setup for the following: I realized this weekend that while I have been rediscovering the tradition, I have lost touch with the old Mass. Do not confuse this "old Mass" with the Traditional Latin Mass which for me is an ageless timeless discovery. The "old Mass" to which I refer is the Mass of my youth. It is the Mass of pianos and guitars, the Mass of loquacious commentators and "greet the people around you." It is the Mass of audience participation and interior dullness. It is the Mass of primping cantresses and now-dated pop styled music about us. [nice phrase] It is the Mass of candy jar ciboria and pewter chalices handled by an excessive number of extraneous ministers (who must process in and out of course). [Of course! that’s "participation", you know, "empowering the laity"!]

It hit me after the first Mass Sunday morning that, as a child born in the 70’s, all of this has become terribly old and tired and compared to the timeless tradition of the Church and is just worn out.

Mark me down in favor of the Mass of the ages and please let’s hang up the "old Mass."

Fr Z. responds:

Nicely done.

Consider yourself "marked down", with a WDTPRS kudo by your name!

I think you see, Father, why some people have fought so hard to repress the older Mass. They knew that when a TLM and a messy Novus Ordo Mass were able to be experienced and then compared in concrete ways, then the jig would definitely be on the upswing.

They had theological, doctrinal and ecclesiological, reasons to repress the older Mass.

And priests like you, Father, are their worst nightmare.

As I have been writing tirelessly, Summorum Pontificum was mainly a gift for priests.

The Holy Father’s document did not only for the most part take the decisions about the older form of Mass out of the hands of local bishops. It also presented a new "hermeneutic" through which priests, especially younger priests, would begin to read Holy Mass and understand themselves at the Lord’s altar.

What Summorum Pontificum did was opening the possibility of hundreds of humble instances of the "gravitational pull" which the older form of Mass, through these priests, would have both on the way they celebrate the newer form and, subsequently, on the participation of people in Holy Mass.

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