I remember, years ago, some folks who were deeply attached to the Traditional Latin Liturgy of the Roman Church almost lynched me when I suggested that there was something that we could learn from the Novus Ordo.
Over the years, I have been proven right, even to the point that Pope Benedict wrote about “mutual enrichment”. I like the image of a “gravitational pull”.
One of the things I proposed “back when” was that the Novus Ordo at the very least reminded us that “there are people out there”, in the body of the church. And that, because the Roman Rite itself excludes the sensory participation in some of the sensory experience of what Father does at the altar (because they can’t see some things and can’t hear some things), that means that those parts which are more accesible through sight and sound have to be exemplary, in such a way that they are edifying.
What I was driving at was what Benedict, years later in Sacramentum caritatis, described as the ars celebrandi of the priest: all that goes into how the priest does anything liturgical, his attitude, voice, gestures, demeanor, etc. These things have a knock-on effect on congregations. They are extremely important.
This is why learning the TLM is of critical importance for young priests: it’ll have a big effect on their use of the Novus Ordo and, therefore, on their congregations.
I saw a post at NLM which touches on this matter of ars celebrandi and the genius of the Roman Rite enshrined in the rubrics.
Rubrics are not arbitrary. They are there for a reason. Sometimes, they maintain a part of an ancient liturgical action which, for the most part, has fallen away. That doesn’t mean that the rubric or what it designates is “superfluous”. I refer everyone to the great book by my friend Fr. Jackson on that point. US HERE UK HERE More the most part, rubrics solved practical problems. Over time the gestures and things used at Mass also become loci theologici, departure points for theological reflection.
Because our forebears truly loved Holy Mass with all their hearts, they polished and perfected, carefully, what we do as if it were the setting of the most beautiful jewel ever found. Then, again in love, they passed it down to us because they loved us.
Rubrics reflect love.
This is one reason why I constantly say: We Are Our Rites! They shape us even as, over centuries, we shape them out of what we believe, whom we believe ourselves and the Church to be, who Christ is, what He did for us and does for us. That’s why the sudden imposition of an artificially crafted rite was so upsetting – and is still upsetting – the Church.
At NLM the piece in question concerned the celebration of Low Mass by a priest who, even for those texts that are required by the rubrics to be stated clara voce, in a clear, raised, audible voice, read everything silently.
There are a few cases, such as a truly private Mass when you might do that. A priest would do that if he was “concelebrating” at his altar near to other priests saying, reading, Mass at their altars: you keep your voice down. But in a parish church or a setting where people are participating, unless the New catholic Red Guards are hunting you, you use all your levels of voices and you follow the rubrics.
It seems to me that there are some ideas about Low Mass that still have to be overcome.
First, Low Mass is NOT the paradigmatic Mass of the Roman Rite, as if it were the default to which we add things to make it more solemn when the occasion arises. No. It’s quite the opposite. Solemn Mass, indeed with the bishop, is the paradigm. But because we can’t have Solemn Mass in a lot of places, due to the lack of priests, we – as a solution to a deficit – pare things off of the rites and simplify so that we can, indeed, have Mass, and have it daily in humble surroundings. The Roman Rite seeks always to make things big. It’s modernism that seeks to make the supernatural into the small and natural, to dumb it down. So, if you have some notion that the Low Mass, with nothing sung and just an altar boy or two, is the norm, think again. You are witnessing what we tolerate, not what we desire, even though it is “the norm” because it is widespread. It’s not the norm!
Next, given the way that Low Mass cuts down the rites in a pragmatic way, all the more reason to obey the lovingly crafted rubrics and pay closer attention to those sensory points of Mass which bring the baptized participants into the sacred action so that they can exercise more readily their mode of the priesthood they receive from Christ the High Priest.
When it is time to speak with a clear voice, follow the rubrics and use a clear voice. It’s important. When it is time to be very quiet, then be quiet.
Say the Black according to what the Red prescribes.
The liturgical desert we experienced, when many were (falsely) convinced that the Traditional Forms were forbidden, is behind us. That wearisome, thirsty time has, I hope, given many of us old warriors, a real sense of renewal and gratitude. And we have, I hope, learned a few things about where we were before the desert, what the desert was like, and where we are now. We have such potential in front of our eyes.