From a reader…
So a friend of mine who’s familiar with the old Mass but doesn’t offer it mentioned that you could fulfill your Sunday obligation (in the EF) so long as you arrived by the lifting of the veil and stayed until the Priest’s Communion. I had heard the first part and still go by that for the NO when asked (if no veil used, I just say the collection or offertory). I hadn’t heard the part before about the Priest’s Communion as the upper limit though. Is that the case? Thoughts on application to the NO? If it were true, it would certainly explain that it’s actually the OLD-TIMERS who are the worst about leaving Mass early after Communion. When I’ve asked, I only get excuses about traffic and walkers and how hard it is to get out with the rush – to which I normally reply saying – well how about you pray for a few minutes after Mass has ended rather than risk committing a mortal sin…or something to that effect.
That seems to be founded on the fact that the Sacrifice is not renewed until the destruction of the Eucharistic elements in the priest’s two-fold Communion. If the Eucharist were confected, but not consumed by the priest, there would be no Mass. So, that is the point at which Mass has been celebrated. If you leave before that, you haven’t participated in Mass. So, the bookends of offertory and priest’s Communion make sense… as a MINIMUM. I don’t think we should focus on minimums (e.g., what are the fewest words needed in a sacramental form, etc.). Remember also the distinction of the Mass of the Catechumens (up to the Offertory). Catechumens had to leave the church before the Offertory, indeed before the Creed.
So, if someone wanted a base-line, bare minimum for fulfilling one’s obligation, offertory to priest’s Communion is reasonable.
It’s minimalist, but logical.
But there is more to be said.
It is useful to review something that Tracey Rowland wrote in Ratzinger’s Faith: The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI (US HERE – UK HERE).
The Lercaro—Bugnini inspired liturgical experiments of the last three decades have been based on an overemphasis on baroque sacramental theology and eighteenth-century philosophy, and an obsession with pedagogy. This in turn can be boiled down to a cocktail of scholasticism (the reduction of sacramental theology to considerations of matter and form), the Kantian obsession with pedagogical rationalism (the predominance of ethical values over strictly religious ones), moralism (a notion of Mass attendance as duty parade), and a Jansenist attitude to beauty (it is irrelevant: the only thing that matters is that the words are doctrinally sound and in the vernacular). In other words, one has a cocktail of theological and philosophical ingredients which Ratzinger has spent his entire ecclesial life trying to throw out of the pantry. Anyone wanting to escape the culture of modernity with its lowest-common-denominator mass culture will find it difficult to do so at many contemporary Catholic liturgies based on the Lercaro—Bugnini principles. As Catherine Pickstock has argued, ‘a genuine liturgical reform would either have to overthrow our anti-ritual modernity, or, that being impossible, devise [or perhaps, develop] a liturgy that refused to be enculturated in our modern habits of thought and speech’. [I think that we already have that.]
The “spirit” of the modern, Novus Ordo, Lercaro-Bugnini “lowest-common denominator” Mass and over-emphasis on the minimum necessary to fulfill one’s Mass obligation have factors in common.
However, I understand wanting to get out of some Masses as quickly as possible, given the ars celebrandi or, rather, nugae celebrandi, perpetrated by in some churches.
If we take seriously Benedict’s teaching that “everything related to the Eucharist should be marked by beauty” (in opposition to the “Kantian attitude that aesthetics is a mere matter of taste which Paul VI – Lercaro – Bugnini promoted), then, over time, the desire for the “minimum necessary” and the “lowest common denominator” in our liturgical worship, and people’s actual participation, would shift. “Beauty” is an essential element, not an add on. It’s absence prompts thoughts that are antithetical to what I think is a sine qua non for Catholic identity.