From a reader…
I’ve recently come across an article on NLM titled “A Primer for aTradition-Minded Celebration of the OF Mass.” As you can assume, this article has suggestions for celebrating the OF Mass traditionally. My question is this: which of the suggestions can be followed in accord with the current liturgical law?
I am a college student discerning priesthood and this topic is of definite interest to me; I want to (God-willing) celebrate Mass one day traditionally and reverently, but at the same time I desire to be obedient to Holy Mother Church and will follow rubrics unless they are not morally permissible.
My initial observations.
NLM writers and smart and reliable.
Rubrics are correctly situated in the realm of moral theology. That said, it is fairly certain that if a rubric is in an officially sanctioned book, it is morally permissible to follow it. That doesn’t mean that all rubrics are good rubrics. Frankly, I think that ill-advised Novus Ordo rubric to ignore the Blessed Sacrament in a conspicuous tabernacle after Mass begins is just plain stupid. However, I don’t think a priest commits a sin in obeying that rubric. (I don’t think he commits a sin if he doesn’t, either. But that’s another pot of Bagna càuda).
Over at NLM in the post in question, my friend Greg DiPippo makes some suggestions about things that priests saying the NO can do. Let’s have a look with my usual treatment.
1. Say the vesting prayers every day. Always wear the maniple, the sign of the work of the priest. When using Roman vestments, cross the stole. Wear the biretta. [Excellent start. Over time, these can make a difference for a priest’s sense of self as he begins Mass.]
2. Always use the veil and burse for the chalice; a bare chalice is embarrassing and irreverent. [Right! And we must one day get more into the nuptial imagery in the Mass.] Either have the veiled chalice on the altar before Mass or carry it in in the traditional way. On the way to the altar, recite Psalm 42 quietly.
3. The Mass must be celebrated ad orientem. This is the most important injection of the Tradition into the OF. To change the orientation is to eliminate the terrible novelty of saying Mass facing the people and the misunderstanding of the Mass that ensues from such a posture. Those who are pastors must, after proper catechesis in the parish, re-introduce the ancient and constant tradition of orientation of the celebrant facing liturgical East. Remember that the rubrics of the OF still assume that the priest is facing East, as, for example, to turn to the people at the Orate fratres. (For more details, see “The Normativity of Ad Orientem Worship According to the Ordinary Form’s Rubrics”. [I think you all know what I think about this!]
4. When incense is used, the customary prayers of blessing should be said silently, thereby not breaking the rubric to say “nothing” at the blessing. [Again, were a priest accidentally on purpose to allow a couple words to be audible, I think he’s still in good shape.]
5. The Ordinary of the Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) should be in their traditional languages and preferably sung to a simple chant. This injection of Greek and Latin into the Mass, even daily Mass, helps the people become comfortable with the uniform objectivity and universality that the use of Latin affords. The final blessing is another good place to introduce the use of Latin in the Mass. [It’s not as if people don’t know what’s supposed to take place at that moment of the Mass, right?]
6. Make the customary bows in the Gloria at adoramus te, gratias agimus, Jesu Christe, suscipe deprecationem, and make the sign of the Cross at the end.
7. The position of the hands at the Collect, at the Prayer over the Gifts and Post-Communion prayer, should be in the traditional form, never the outstretched arms that came into vogue in the 60s and 70s. Beware of making the traditional form too rigid. [THANKS for that last bit. Fathers, avoid looking like manequins, please.]
8. The Responsorial Psalm is one of the least happy novelties of the reformed rite. Wherever possible, sing the psalm, or better yet, have a cantor sing the Gradual, which is an option listed in the General Instruction. [Yes, this is a legitimate option! Benedict XVI reintroduced the Gradual at his Masses.]
9. Memorize both prayers before the Gospel from the traditional rite and say those quietly.
10. At the Creed, make the customary bow at Jesum Christum, a deep bow at et incarnatus est, a bow at simul adoratur, and the Sign of the Cross at end. [But don’t feel compelled to pray with a “J”.]
11. At the Preparation of the Gifts, the berakah prayers that thank God for bread and wine must be said according to the rubrics. They should be said quietly before saying the traditional Offertory prayers silently, Suscipe sancte Pater for the bread and Offerimus tibi for the wine. It would seem that the water is not blessed according to the OF rubrics. [Ummmm….] Bow deeply at In spiritu humilitatis.
12. When censing the gifts, use the traditional three crosses and three circles. Memorize the prayers Dirigatur and Ascendat at the censing of the altar.
13. Memorize the Lavabo prayer at the washing of hands.
14. At the Orate Fratres use the “half-circle” movement. Turn to the right to face the people and then continue turning to face the book.
15. Make a profound bow at the Sanctus and bless yourself at the Benedictus.
16. THE CANON should be said audibly but quietly. God does not have to be shouted at, especially during this most sacred prayer of the Mass.[!!!] At the beginning of the Roman Canon, use the traditional circular motion with your hands and bow profoundly at “Jesus Christ” so that this is as close to the traditional kissing of the altar as possible. Ignore the brackets after Andrew in the list of Apostles and always include all of the saints in the list beginning with John the Baptist. Before the consecration, wipe your thumbs and forefingers three times on the corporal. Genuflect both before and after you elevate the Sacred Host and the Precious Blood. Keep “digits” (thumb and forefinger joined) from after the consecration until the ablutions.
17. At the Our Father use same hand position as for the Collects.
18. Turn to the people for the Peace, and then turn back to the altar and begin the Agnus Dei. [In other words omit the entirely optional invitation to make a “sign of peace”.]
19. When receiving the Host and Chalice, make the sign of the Cross with each before receiving. Memorize the prayers Panem caelestem and Quid retribuam and use them before consuming the Sacred Species.
20. Have the altar server ring the bell immediately after you have consumed the Sacred Species. This is important to let the people know that the Sacrifice is complete. The reformers deliberately moved the Ecce Agnus Dei to before the priest’s Communion to make it seem that the priest is just receiving Communion first before the people. The priest is not “receiving Communion”; he is completing the Sacrifice. [His point about moving the Agnus Dei is a good one. Priests should reflect on this.]
21. Always do the double ablutions, first only wine, holding the paten under your chin, and then wine and water, holding your joined thumb and forefinger over the chalice as the server pours the wine and water over them. When consuming the second ablution hold the purificator under your chin. Dry your fingers with the purificator, cleanse the chalice thoroughly, cover the chalice with the veil and place the corporal in the burse.
22. After the post-Communion prayer go to the foot of the altar and say the prayer to St Michael, followed by Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us, three times. Or, consider using the full suite of Leonine prayers: three Hail Marys; Hail, Holy Queen; the prayer for the Church; the St. Michael Prayer; and the threefold Sacred Heart invocation.
23. If possible say the Prologue to John en route to or in the sacristy after Mass.
Good suggestions, all.
Okay, Fathers, get out there and start enriching!