Wednesday, 2 October 2013
A Question on Holy Mass...
Father has agreed that I may reproduce here an article from this weeks parish Newsletter. I hope readers find it useful (we have updated it today).
A Question asked:
Can we move the New Form of Mass to Sunday Morning
and the Ancient Form to Sunday Evening?
Since Mass is central to parish life I’ll try to answer this as fully as possible -hopefully without offending- by giving some background information that places the Ancient Form in a positive context while recognising the legitimacy and validity of both Forms of Mass, the new and the ancient.I know the Ancient Form of Mass requires more from us; that it stretches (and develops) us:
*its silences require we pray with mind and heart rather than simply respond on cue;
*it provides for humility by subjugating our dignity to the Lord’s by receiving Him on the tongue (still the universal norm [world-wide rule] in the New Form of Mass);
*Latin provides us with a sacred language for the most sacred act on earth, moving us from understanding at the superficial level of word recognition to perceiving the Mass as Mystery.
The part of Mass addressed to the congregation is the readings, which is why here in Thornley we always proclaim them in English, leaving only those parts addressed to God in Latin. It seems erroneous to think we understand the Mass simply because we recognise the English words:
*few can give the correct meaning of the word ‘memory’ in the consecration (it is not ‘remembering’);
*few understand that the Kyrie is addressed only to Christ and not to Father, Son & Holy Spirit,
*fewer still understand that that the Kyrie is an ancient litany of praise, not a request for mercy (even uninformed priests have been heard to say “Father, for the times we have...
Lord Jesus for the times we have...Holy Spirit, for the times we have...”)
Can we be frank and go deeper? To deplore what was venerated by the saints has a haughty ring to it, while antipathy toward the Ancient Form is really antipathy to our own roots -and to cut away the root means the plant dies. Let us look at this from a secular standpoint: if the CEO of a multi-national business claimed the business was experiencing a great renewal while it was losing its customer base, closing its stores, had staff openly criticising its product, and had to divide management tasks between shop-floor workers because it was failing to attract senior staff) that CEO would be seen as at least delusional, if not deceitful. A demographer might look at the Church and say that the Church is undergoing a similar dying process, evidenced by falling Mass attendances, the closing of parishes, seminaries, convents and schools, and the increase of doctrinal rejection by use of contraception, cohabitation; support of same-sex relationships etc. If we call this renewal we too might be seen as delusional.
Remember Vatican II gave protection to the Ancient Form of Mass, it didn’t ban it, and the Popes since Vatican II have overseen the Ancient Form’s organic growth, from Paul VI’s (Heenan Indult, Prot. N. 1897/71) through John-Paul’s Quattuor abhinc annos (1984) & Ecclesia Dei Afflicta (1988) to Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum (2007).
Finally, we cannot honestly say that either adults or children today are less able to enter into the Ancient Form than the adults/children of the previous 15 centuries. To say that would be to say we are either less intelligent, less humble or less spiritual than our forebears, and we surely don’t want to make such a negative indictment about oneself or others.
So, to answer the question posed: after discussion with the Pastoral Care Team; consultation of the parish about times, and consultation with deanery priests, we moved the New Form of Mass from Saturday to Sunday so as to enable other priests, who have their own Mass on Sunday mornings, to say Mass here on Sunday evening if the need arises. So no, we cannot move the Mass. Please don’t say the time interferes with family life: Catholic families are to put God and Mass at the centre of family life, not see God and Holy Mass as being an inconvenience.