Saturday, September 2, 2017

What Exactly Is "Active Participation" and "Noble Simplicity" in the Context of Holy Mass?

Kind of piggybacking of of Pope Francis' comments (which really were a non-story, and were not controversial at all), I got into a bit of a discussion on elements of liturgical worship. The usual charges against traditional liturgical worship were bandied about, unfortunately. Charges that the extraordinary Form of the Mass didn't reflect "noble simplicity" or had too many "useless repetitions". Below is the conversation that I and several others had on the subject.

There are some good citations from same great essays that I do not want to be lost, so I'll post links to everything here as well for posterity's sake. My words will be in blue, with the others' in various, different colors. The whole conversation "began" when one person found it inaccurate to say that Latin encourages a camaraderie among the faithful.

Harry: The common Latin language encourages a bond of brotherhood between Catholics of all countries, rich and poor, far and wide. 

The problem is that perhaps memory of the pre-reform period has to pass before we can change attitudes to Latin. People will then come to see it not as a mysterious and alien language that shuts them out of the litugy, but as their liturgical language in which is expressed their universality of rite, their brotherhood with their fellows Catholics and not least, their intimacy with Almighty God, for whose worship this language is set aside in their lives. 

The argument that people won't understand the words of the Sanctus and Gloria in Latin when they say them every single week, and read from a Missal with both languages side by side, is just nonsensical. 

We have failed Vatican II when it comes to Latin. It should play a greater role in the reformed liturgy, where it can do all kinds of good without impeding active and conscious participation, if it is employed proportionally and only to the unchanging parts of the Mass. 

''Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.''

Completion of the liturgical reform of Vatican II as referred to by the Holy Father this week, must involve this. Otherwise we have only a 'partial revelation'.

Tom: The only common bond was that the laity were equally disconnected with the Mass. The Mass prayers were said by the priest and altar boys and the people sat and stared. 

You mentioned Hong Kong, and it reminds me of how the Vatican once held that nothing of Chinese culture could be brought into the celebration of the Mass.

Thankfully, that was lifted and Chinese can and do bring their culture into parts of the Mass without changing the consecration itself.