I am convinced that if we simply follow the liturgical books, say the texts and carry out the gestures properly, in a style continuous with our tradition, the Church’s liturgy has power the capture minds and hearts and transform them.
I starting forming this conviction before I became a Catholic through my experience of Novus Ordo Masses done in an entirely Roman traditional style, closely following the books.
The late Msgr. Richard Schuler would eventually articulate to me in words what I was experiencing in the church. "Just do what the Council asked… do what the Church asks."
Why is worship well executed according to the mind of the Church so effective?
Christ is the true Actor in the sacred action of the Church’s worship. He makes our hands and voices His own as He raises our petitions and offerings to the Father for His glory and our salvation.
Christ’s Holy Church has determined the way by which we may have this encounter with mystery in the liturgy, be taken up in the sacred action.
Pope Benedict addresses this in his highly ignored Sacramentum caritatis. He teaches sacred ministers about ars celebrandi, our purpose and comportment.
We must learn to get out of His way.
Although we have the right to our Rite celebrated as the Church desires, liturgy is not about me or us or even you in the pews.
All of this is a preamble to a note sent me by a priest friend overseas (edited):
Fr. Z, I have a story to tell and I am not bragging at all but my point is simply how good it is just doing things the way they should be done without putting one’s personality in the forefront.
A lady came to my Sunday Mass just this last Sunday and she stopped by the sacristy to tell me that I say the Mass better than any priest in ____. We have 7 priests here in total. I had never seen or spoken to her before so any partiality is non existent. Also, the Saturday evening before, I said the evening Mass in another town … and after Mass an elderly lady said to me, "What a beautiful Mass. We’ve never seen such a nice Mass and to think! .. We had to get it from an American!"
I am not bragging because I didn’t do anything special. I say Mass soberly and simply preach. I am truly convinced that less personality is better and is liberating during the Mass except when showing enthusiasm for Catholicity and all its realities during the homily. I owe a great deal of my formation to you for I learned the Mass on my own and my attitude was formed in a very large part through my disposition and the truths of liturgy that you have taught.
This not a hard formula friends.
All we need to do is what the Church asks.
We just pass on what we have received.