Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Friday 26 October 2012 Extraordinary

At the 6:45 Mass on Fridays we use the Extraordinary Form according to the English Missal. I believe that we owe the term "Extraordinary Form" to Pope Benedict's Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum, which authorized the use of what is commonly, but somewhat inaccurately, called the Latin Mass. To the disappointment of some and the relief of others we say the Mass in English not Latin. So strictly speaking it is not the "Extraordinary Form." But it is in most of its details the ancient liturgy of the Western Church.

When the new liturgies began to appear in the silly 60s (Peter Kreeft), they were sold at least initially on the grounds of their antiquity. But for the most part these new rites were patched together from fragments of Hippolytus or the outline of Justin Martyr. There was, I understand, an attempt in the Church of England, to get the Roman Canon included in the revised books. However, it was clear that the cut and paste crowd was not interested in all things ancient but only some things ancient, the things that were "relevant".  The Roman Canon, contrary to all the historical evidence, was dismissed as 'medieval' and that was enough to make it "irrelevant". 

An ubiquitous feature of modern  liturgies is the frequent rubric "silence is kept." But my impression is that in most churches these days silence is observed about as much as it is at a Walmart on a Saturday night. What a contrast is the old Mass! It is like a silent retreat,  not only because so much of the Mass is said silently but because the whole rite by its very nature draws priest and people into the mystery of the Eucharistic Presence before which man can only stand speechless.

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.

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