Thursday, 30 May 2013
A Question On The 'Old Mass'
In our parish we do not have a Pastoral Council as it gave the impression that the members were Governors of the parish, which is not at all how they are seen in Canon Law. Rather, we have what we call the Pastoral Action Care Team (PACT). We meet to discuss parish needs, plan pastoral responses and put those plans into action. At our most recent meeting it was noted that there are still some who do not like the so-called ‘Old Mass’, and would I address this issue. This then, is the note I attached to the minutes of the PACT meeting for distribution to the parishioners.
It is not morally possible to say the ‘Old Form’ of Mass (which formed saints for over 1000 years) is no good to us; we cannot say that what was honourable to the saints is beneath us. Throughout the history of the Church, the only people to reject Latin and receiving on the tongue were the Protestant Reformers.
Yes this form of Mass is less easy; it does not lead us by the hand and keep us occupied with words as does the New Form; it demands concentration in our prayer. To be honest, the first time I attended it I did not like it; the first time I celebrated it I found it too hard. Yes some dislike it because of  the Latin, and because  it demands more reverence from us (by its silence, and its demand for reception of Our Lord on the tongue while kneeling).
As to , surely there is no way we can we expect the greatest Mystery on Earth to be easily comprehended? We seem to have fooled ourselves into thinking we understand the Mass because we recognise the words used in celebrating it.
In regard to , can we ever say we are giving too much reverence to God? Surely extra reverence for God by receiving on the tongue while kneeling cannot be a problem for us, because nothing we do for God’s glory can be beneath us.
As a point of information: Do we realise that facing the altar is still the rubric of the Mass? Do we realise the official Form of the ‘English Mass’ (as some call it) is still Latin, which is always and everywhere the norm (without outlawing English)? Do we realise that the norms also hold to reception on the tongue? Strictly speaking, English and Reception in the Hand are allowed only by indult (‘indulgent’ permission from Rome); they are not normative. We can then, sincerely ask ourselves: “Would I still prefer the so-called ‘New Mass’ if it was celebrated altar-facing, in Latin, and followed the Norm of reception on the tongue?” If not, then we need to be honest (or at least recognise) that what we are supporting is not actually the ‘New Mass’ at all, but the options and indults, which may be removed by Rome at any time.
It is contrary to the Catholic spirit to refuse the Old Liturgy since “What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us too” (Pope B. XVI). We have to remember too that while a Pope, Bishop or Priest has a duty to ban what is evil, they have no authority to ban what is holy; rather, Pope, Bishop and Priest must promote what is holy -and since the so-called ‘Old Mass’ was declared Holy by the Church in General Council, they are conceivably bound to promote it, not just tolerate it.
Session XXII, Trent. Canon 7. If anyone says that the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs which the Catholic Church uses in the celebration of Masses, are incentives to impiety rather than stimulants to piety, let him be anathema.
Canon 8. If anyone says that Masses in which the priest alone communicates sacramentally are illicit and are therefore to be abrogated, let him be anathema.
Canon 9. If anyone says that the rite of the Roman Church, according to which a part of the canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low tone, is to be condemned; or that the Mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular tongue only; or that water ought not to be mixed with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice because it is contrary to the institution of Christ, let him be anathema.
We are lucky here in Thornley; we have both forms of Mass; we have choices. But it is not for anyone, be they lovers of the Old or New Form of Mass, to refuse or denounce the other Form when both are the patrimony of the Church. We are never above the Church and her Tradition; we are its servants and beneficiaries.