Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Compare and Contrast: Virility in the Mass
Rorate Caeli recently posted an exclusive article by Fr. Richard G. Cipolla recently: “The Devirilization of the Liturgy in the Novus Ordo Mass”. Fr. Z commented on this article, nicknaming it “The Wussification of the Mass”. I plan to write a post highlighting some of the points made there, but I encourage you to read the entire article.
That said, I turn my focus to that article in conjunction with two videos that have been making the rounds lately. This is a “compare and contrast” exercise that brings out a point made in Fr. Cipolla’s article; he says that his essay was inspired by the comment made by Cardinal Heenan of Westminster to the Synod of Bishops in Rome after the experimental Mass was presented for the first time in 1967 to a group of bishops. Here’s Cardinal Heenan’s comment:
“At home, it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday we would soon be left with a congregation of women and children.”
Now with only that quote in mind, watch these two video. The first is rather short; the second is longer, but worth every minute. For this initial comparison, though, you might just watch a bit after the 2 minute mark, and maybe skip forward to the various parts of the Mass depicted.
Fr. Cipolla gives a brief explanation of his term “devirilization”, explaining that “feminization” and “effeminization” are terms that come to mind, but which are inadequate and misleading to some extent. He summarizes (my emphases):
This is the term, devirilization, that I want to use to describe what Cardinal Heenan saw that day in 1967… In its Novus Ordo form… the Liturgy has been devirilized. One must recall the meaning of the word, vir, in Latin. Both vir and homo mean “man”, but it is vir alone that has the connotation of the man-hero and is the word that is often used for “husband”. The Aeneid begins with the famous words: arma virumque cano. (“ I sing of arms and the man-hero.”) What Cardinal Heenan presciently and correctly saw in 1967 was the virtual elimination of the virile nature of the Liturgy, the replacement of masculine objectivity, necessary for the public worship of the Church, with softness, sentimentality and personalization centered on the motherly person of the priest.
Now, for a third example, play back the “video” in your mind of the typical Mass at your parish, especially if you belong to a Novus Ordo parish where there are no huge, glaring liturgical abuses (like a Halloween Mass or a Balloon Mass), but where the music excludes Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony, and the priest celebrates Mass facing the people.
How does the typical, run-of-the-mill parish Mass compare to the reverence and dignity seen in the second video above?
I think Fr. Cipolla is onto something here.