Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Mass is the Mass is the Mass?

An interesting debate among Roman Catholics over the liturgy, focusing on God and breaking in new shoes.

While the discussion is over the relative merits of the Novus Ordo and Tridentine masses, it touches on an issue of great relevance to continuing Anglicans.

Dr Philip Blosser, one of those involved in the debate puts it this way: "good liturgy draws our attention to God and is thus precisely our means to focusing upon God, whereas bad liturgy draws attention to itself, hampering our efforts to find and focus upon God. In the sacramental outlook of Catholicism, worship is embodied in liturgy -- the two are inseparable."


ACC Member said...

C.S. Lewis commented on the dangers of getting, as he called it, "the liturgical fidgits". The RCs are now suffering for giving in to "the Liturgical Fidgits". The Book of Common Prayer is a wonderful, God-centered Liturgy. I just cringe when I hear so-called "Anglican" clergyman wanting to change it, use the Roman Mass, etc. What we pray is what we believe. Remaining true to the 1928 BCP has kept the Continuum's beliefs orthodox. If we depart from it, we'll soon be in the same mess as the Episcopalians.

poetreader said...

"Remaining true to the 1928 BCP has kept the Continum's beliefs orthodox"

Rather an inadequate statement, that. The Episcopal Church in the USA has always harbored a lot of distinctly heretical clergy, most of whom, prior to the '70s, were true to the 1928 BCP. (I'm speaking, as is Ohio Anglican, more specifically to the USA situatiojn than to other areas) In the early days of my life in ECUSA, it was a commonplace that those who cared about Catholic theology very often made adjustments (sometimes minor, sometimes greater) in the authorized liturgy, and broadchurch nontrinitarians (many of whom I knew) were often committed to strict observance of the rubrics. Frankly, the Episcopalians were in the same mess then (though in a somewhat earlier stage) as they are now, and the possession and use of a splendid (though less-than-perfect) liturgy did not counter that.

The 1928 is, in itself, the result of liturgical tinkering in a constantly changing environment. The 1789 (USA) lasted over a century, but the way it was used changed enough that it was replaced in 1892. That book lasted just over three decades before it was subjected to somewhat more significant changes in 1928.

The 1979, however, like the RC Novus Ordo, resulted from something more than tinkering. These 'contemporary' liturgies were made pretty much out of whole cloth, binding themselves to a apecific time and a specific theological milieu, rather than to the orgsanic life of the Church through the ages, what we call tradition.

I'm not committed to an unchanging liturgy. I am convinced that the liturgy is the expression of a living and growing church living in the midst of an ever-changing world, and that, therefore, it will change. But I am committed to an organic and therefore gradual growth in liturgical expression, a growth that honors and builds upon what has gone before.

In the context of this discussion, it seems to me that both those who want radical change all-of-a-sudden and those who want no change at all are dangerously close to idolatry, putting more attention on the form of worship than on the Object of worship.

I can be a liturgical fussbudget, and am not ashamed to be seen that way. I certainly do care how we worship, but, in the great dance of praise, I'd much rather be watching my Partner's face than my own feet.


ACC Member said...

The 1928 BCP is almost identical to the 1549, undoubtedly the best BCP published. There were some "liturgical fidgits" in the meantime, however the 1928 was a restoration to the glory of the first BCP. What we pray is what we belive. Staying true to the 1928 book, not just because of its liturgy, but because of the sound doctrine behind it, coupled with the Affirmation of St. Louis, has kept the ACC orthodox. The 1928 BCP is the "Standard for Worship" in the Affirmation of St. Louis (and books conforming to and incorporating it [Missal]).I'm proud that Archbishop Haverland has said it won't be changed in his lifetime. I pray in noone else's lifetime either. Enough said. Brian McKee, nO/C.G.S.

Anonymous said...

If the motu proprio does indeed find the light of day, what will change? When I was attending RCIA classes in one of my local RC parishes, none of the young priests-to-be knew any latin, and weren't intending on learning any latin. I asked. But besides my small sample size, it seems safe to say that the majority of the priests being trained today are not learning latin either, let alone gregorian chant. Most people I came into contact with seemed perfectly happy with the Novus Ordo mass and most of the new RC churches are built to discourage any and all of the liturgical reforms sought by Pope Benedict XVI, Alcuin Reid, Uwe Lang, and Martin Mosebach, among others. The new architecture is "in the round" with no choir loft. Even an ad orientam Novus Ordo mass is out of place in these modern parishes.

In the post referenced originally, it is the opinion of RC blogger Mark Shea that counts. I daresay his dismissive attitude toward liturgy is fairly representative of most contemporary Roman Catholics. A shrugged shoulder, a back-handed swipe at TradCons, and a general evangelical smugness that looks at fancy words and vestments and ceremony as so much elitist claptrap.

The motu proprio will only drive those who desire the traditional latin mass into a deeper ghetto within Roman Catholicism at large. The Tridentine Mass will become yet another "alternative" mass offered alongside the Korean Mass, the Spanish Mass, the Folk Mass, the Children's Mass, etc. that already populate larger RC parishes. One might be inclined to say that the Roman Communion is increasingly resembling a broad church approach to membership, offering everything from high-falutin' latin lovers to sandal and track-suit wearing, evangelicals who see nothing wrong with the NAB and cantors, and everything in between. At best, the motu proprio may spark conversation between the Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo that would lead to a liturgy that looks a lot like the Anglican liturgy: more formality and reverence, but in the common tongue. But this wouldn't make most of the devoted Tridentines happy, nor would it please those who defend the people's mass of Vatican II. Liturgical chaos, that.