Monday, January 2, 2012

Paving the Way for the EF Mass (TLM)

Okay, enough messing around with trying to satirize the shenanigans that go on as some priests and bishops attempt to subvert the legitimate spiritual desires of the faithful to have free and ready access to the extraordinary form of the Mass.

[See also: The Novus Ordo Should Be Outgrown]
What can we do that is constructive and positive?  
I’m presenting here an outline of a program that I think could work in many parishes – provided, of course, that a willing pastor is available. There are two main goals. The first is to bring the parish to a more reverent celebration of the Novus Ordo through the re-introduction of chant, the use of the Latin ordinary, and the use of the Mass propers.
The second goal is to pave the way for the introduction and promotion of the EF Mass as a rite that is just as valid (if not more so…but we won’t go there right now) as the NO. The EF Mass deserves to have a prominent place in the Mass schedule – rather than being relegated to a time slot that is unconventional and inconvenient for most. And I believe that if the pastor of a parish wants to lead his flock into an understanding of why this is so, he can do it. It may take some time and effort, but it can be done.
In my parish, the pastor has shown great willingness to provide the EF Mass for us – putting in the time and effort to learn to celebrate it, and offering it every Sunday for almost a year, despite his very demanding schedule. For various reasons, though, we do not see our little group growing. I think it could grow, though, if the rest of the parishioners were appropriately catechized about the EF Mass, and if the liturgical celebrations of the parish as a whole were moved toward greater reverence and a stronger reflection of our Catholic identity.
This outline, created for the particular circumstances of my parish, can be adapted for any set of circumstances and Mass schedules. I haven’t included anything about the Spanish Masses said in the parish, but it would be a good goal, I think, to also introduce the suggested changes into the Masses said in languages other than English (or Latin).
Also, my parish had a liberal priest for over 15 years, and the people still suffer from their exposure to the happy clappy liturgical abuses he allowed (encouraged?). A parish with less liberal baggage might move more quickly through the suggested changes; one with more baggage will pose more of a challenge. The pastor will have to exercise his own discernment as to how quickly changes can be made.
Here’s the program:
1.      Start using a Latin chant ordinary at least once per month at Sunday Mass (i.e., Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei), and introduce a sung Credo.

a.      To help the choir learn the Latin ordinary
b.      To accustom the people to the Latin ordinary
c.       To prepare the people for the extraordinary form of the Mass
d.      To accustom the people to singing the Credo

2.     Use the Simple English Propers instead of the usual songs sung at Mass

a.      These are more in line with the new translation
b.      To foster a return to a more liturgically correct use of music in the Mass (that is, use of the proper chants designated by the Church as appropriate for each week’s Sunday liturgy)
c.       To foster our Catholic identity by preventing use of questionable hymns and musical styles

3.     Gradually integrate the above into the way the Mass is celebrated currently:

a.      Sing an “entrance hymn”, but before the priest begins Mass, have the choir (or cantor) sing the introit from the Simple English Propers.
b.      Instead of a hymn for Communion, use the proper of the day. Start with singing the Simple English Proper, with verses. At some point, add a Latin hymn. Progress to the Latin chant proper.
c.       Introduce these changes first at the 7am Sunday Mass when a cantor is available; also introduce Latin propers at 7am Sunday Mass occasionally. [This suggestion is specific to my parish; this is a sparsely attended Mass and the people may be more amenable to the Latin propers.]

4.     Slowly introduce ad orientem worship.

Purpose: To take the focus off of the priest as an individual, and to re-educate the people that Mass is totally focused on Our Lord, with all facing God as the priest offers our prayers.

Method:  Begin at Saturday evening Mass, then 7am Mass; at each, introduce ad orientem at one Mass per month, then every two weeks, then every week.  Progress to one Sunday/month at 9:30 Mass. Catechesis may be by way of bulletin inserts and explanation from pulpit. Also, a workshop could be held to explain it and deal with fall-out.

This actually looks a little odd to me...does it to you?
 But it might be a palatable transition for those
who don't yet understand  ad orientem worship.
5.     Gradually, and without making a show of it, phase out female altar servers and recruit boys. Use cassock and surplice once all servers are male.

Why: To promote vocations, which are sadly lacking in our diocese! Also, the cassock and surplice are head-and-shoulders above the standard hooded alb (which makes the kids look like the seven dwarves) in terms of fostering reverence and respect for the liturgy.

6.     Select, recruit, and train boys to serve at EF Mass.

Why: to be celebrated well, the EF Mass needs servers. They must be male. Training the younger crowd in the EF Mass is another way to foster vocations, as well as fostering an increased reverence and appreciation for the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

See the great article that goes with this photo!

7.     Introduce bulletin “blurbs” about the EF Mass, explaining that it will become a regular part of the parish’s worship, even beyond the EF Masses currently scheduled at the less desirable times (e.g., Sundays at 1pm).

8.    After a suitable period of introducing these changes, announce that the EF Mass will be celebrated on at 9:30am one Sunday per month; on that Sunday, the Novus Ordo  Mass will be available at 1pm for those who prefer it. (Can you hear the shrieks even as we mention the very thought?!)

Really, I think this could work…but only if the priest is excited about it. He will have to be strong, because he will face unrest and discontent from parishioners, who will complain to the bishop.  And if the bishop errs on the side of political correctness, the priest will be persecuted. Stand by him! Encourage him! Pray for him!

Pray for all the clergy.


1 comment:

  1. Jay - quite, quite brilliant. We must surely be related as every word you write has resonance with me!


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