From a reader…
This past weekend I attended a TLM, let’s just say in New England, where a a couple odd things occurred.
1) The priest came out to the lecturn and read the standard NO “Prayers of the People”. I was scratching my head as Mass started right after this with the procession. I have to add that I’m not a fan of the Prayers of the People where so many of the requests are banal or progressive sounding. “Pray for vacationers…”, etc. Um, there are so many bigger fish to fry that never get mentioned. Anyway…
2) Mass went on as usual. As this was a Palestrina Mass, I could not hear the priest over the music, and the long pauses as he waited for the music at times threw off my understanding of exactly where we were in Mass. I also could not tell what he sang for the Gospel. When he started his homily he referenced both the ’62 and ’70 missal Gospel readings and did his best to combine them into a cohesive thought, but it seems oddly disjointed.
Why would a priest in a TLM parish, in the context of a high Latin Mass, attempt to staple a few NO bits and bobs onto the TLM? I haven’t seen this before and wondered what you thought might be behind this kind of arrangement.
You are asking me why he would do those things. I must respond that your planet’s recently moon eclipsed yellow star doesn’t give me that particular super power. Mind reading is more of a Martian Manhunter thing.
It seems to me, from what you described, that the priest is attempting a kind of “mutual enrichment” of the two forms. This “mutual enrichment” was specially desired by Benedict XVI. However, Benedict also legislated that the two forms were to remain separate. That means that only over time will such an enrichment take place, in an organic and natural way.
Also, in general, the priest doesn’t generally wait for the music in the TLM, except perhaps before the beginning of the Preface or before the Postcommunion. Part of the genius of the Roman Rite is that more than one thing can take place at the same time. If a priest has limited experience of this, he may not quite understand the ethos of the TLM and, therefore, his ars celebrandi could be a little awkward or out of step with the rite. So many priests are conditioned by the Novus Ordo and having everything center on themselves or about being heard, etc. The ars celebrandi of the older, traditional form requires a different view.
Referring to the Gospel readings for both the NO and the TLM… well okay. I don’t see a problem with that for a couple reasons. First, some priests have to say both forms and they’ve worked on the NO Gospel. Also, in the modern rite, the NO, the priest is strongly urged to preach from the readings. In the traditional rite, the TLM, the priest has greater freedom. Given that the Word of God from one Gospel passage is going to be consistent with the Word of God from another Gospel passage, it should be possible with some thought and creativity to harmonize them in a sermon and make a good point. If a priest is not truly deft in the pulpit, he would be prudent to avoid trying to do that.
Finally, based on your note, I doubt very much that the priest was trying to screw around with the traditional form out of some kind of malice or distaste for it. He was probably well-intentioned. Perhaps with the help of some kind, constructive and instructive feedback, he’ll learn how to adjust his ars celebrandi so that it is more appropriate for the TLM.
UPDATE 30 August 2017:
From a reader…
On August 22nd, a visitor attending the Latin Mass in our parish offered some very distorted critiques of what he thought he thought he saw. I am a parishioner in that parish. [The parish was not indicated.] I attended Mass on August 22nd. What visitor described simply did not happen. [Maybe. The parish was not indicated.] It is troubling that something so distorted can appear on a public forum.
What boggles my mind as to how he or she could confuse the parish announcements for the Novus Ordo Prayers for the Faithful! Bans of Marriage? The date of the parish picnic? Funeral announcements? How could anyone confuse these for the Prayers of the Faithful! [If, indeed, that was the same Mass, then, yes, it is really hard to see how they could be confused.]
Our pastor gives these announcements before the Mass begins so as not to interrupt the prayerful flow of worship. Always, after the announcements he leads the congregation in an Our Father, Hail Mary and prayers for the deceased. Again, no resemblance to the prayers of the Faithful. [True, if that was the same Mass.]
Regarding the homily that drew on two tests from the gospels … It does not always happen that the Gospel readings of each rite compliment each other. In this case they did, and Father’s homily brought the two texts together into a homily that was well prepared and insightful. I was glad of this since, even though our parish celebrates two different rites, we are one parish. Such a homily is a good way through the sacred Word to remind us of that unity.
Parishioners appreciate the sincerity and holiness of our pastor. We appreciate his consistent efforts to celebrate Mass in both rites, preserving in each due reverence. We appreciate also the fact that he is always accessible for the Sacrament of Penance. [HURRAY! Fr. Z kudos.]
The many young men and boys (often two dozen), in cassock and surplice, who serve at the altar, benefit from his priestly example.
They appreciate his disciplined training. (He is a former Navy chaplain.) [Fr. Z kudos.]
I have no doubt that Father is the main reason why this parish is so rich in vocations to the priesthood and religious life. It is no surprise that deacons in training request that this parish to be the locus for their field work.
Given the slanted and false information given by your correspondent’s letter, you did your best to offer some insight concerning rubrics, but you were not well served by such a letter. It saddens me that such a letter could be written in the first place. [That’s the way things go. You should see the rest of my email.]
As always, I am grateful to you for you good ministry. These is difficult times and I am glad that along with our good pastor, we have the benefit of good work. I pray that God bless you.