From a reader…
I have recently begun to attend the Low Mass. Is there a rule that forbids the celebrant from using a small microphone so that his voice can be heard by the congregation? I know Latin and would like to hear it! Thank you.
First, let me point out that there are times when Father isn’t talking to you. There are times when he is speaking so intimately that not even nearby servants can hear. There are times when only the servers should hear. There are times when everyone should hear.
In that later case, there is nothing “wrong” with using a microphone.
However, the use of the microphone itself creates its own set of difficult dynamics. I refer you, for example to the observations of Marshall McLuhan about the long-term effect the microphone had on sacred worship. For example, when people could hear everything, much was “de-mystified”. Rather… de-mystery-ized.
Also, when it came to preaching, the fact that a preacher with a mic has to use only a fraction of his energy to get his voice to the last pew reduced both his appearance of conviction and.. indeed… his conviction. Oratory is far far more than a written text. It is also delivery. And there is a relationship between speaker and text.
Microphones are not “bad”. They have their uses. They are tech. So is the design of a church, the curvature of the apse, the vaults of the ceiling. These create the church’s acoustics.
At a Low Mass, I would rather have a priest raise his voice for the readings in Latin and for the orations, those parts which everyone should hear. However, depending on the priest’s Latin… well. Results could vary.
FATHERS! LEARN LATIN! LEARN THE TLM! Don’t be WUSSES! You CAN do it!
There is nothing, by they way, about sacred liturgical worship which should be easy or effortless. Sure, easy and effortless from the point of view of familiarity and then execution. However, lots of effort goes into making something effortless. When I worked as a musician, back in the day, my playing was effortless in sense, only because of countless hours of practice. When I read Latin today it is effortless only because of years under my belt. When I celebrate a Missa Cantata is it not hard because I’ve done a lot of them. Once, it was harder. That doesn’t mean it isn’t work. It can be strenuous and effortless in different ways.
But, Fathers, you won’t know the joy, unless you start. You would never have known the exhilaration of riding a bycycle for the first time, or realizing you really could swim, until soloed down that sidewalk or got thrown off the end of that dock.
GROW UP and LEARN IT!
These times and the spiritual needs of the people beg for something more than what we have been doing.
By the way, one of the reasons why sacred worship should be sung is precisely to help it be heard!
That said, you might know that there are prayers for vesting in sacred vestments for Mass. Here is a prayer – tongue in cheek – for vesting with the clip-on mic wireless mic.
Concede, Domine, virtutem labiis meis et prudentiam ad Tuam proclamandam veritatem, ut per indigni servi Tui vocem, vox Tui tonitrui in rota contremat terram.
Perhaps you readers who have Latin can render this into accurate and yet smooth English providing also the verses alluded to in the prayer.