Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Mass/Old Mass

 Father Z at What Does the Prayer Really Say is soliciting comments about the “New Mass” (Novus Ordo or Ordinary Form) versus the reintroduced 1962 Extraordinary Form of Pope John XXIII (EF or TLM [Tridentine Liturgy Mass? Traditional Latin Mass?]). Here’s the bulk of my response:

If I ever participated in a TLM, it was from the cry room with the other young’uns. My clearest memories of Mass as a child were of the Novus Ordo; in fact, I remember distinctly that at one communion the music ministers sang “Day By Day” from Godspell, and at another singing the “hymn”, “Teach your children well/ Their fathers’ hell/ Did slowly go by ….” (Thank God that phase didn’t last long!) After high school, for awhile I sang and played guitar at Mass (though I never heard anyone call me a “music minister”) and taught CCD—an example of the blind leading the blind if ever there was one.

Am I open to the TLM? To use a very dated expression: You bet your bippy!

I hope no one takes the following as an expression of irreverence or religious insensitivity: Coming from a performing-arts background, both music and theater, it struck me some years ago that even the NO, when performed conscientiously and reverently, can nevertheless be good theater. Understand that good theater breaks through the “fourth wall”, pulls us into the experience and makes us part of what’s being portrayed, and gives us a glimpse of the meaning underneath the words and action. (Hmm … revealing mystery? Sounds kind of like a sacrament!)

Unfortunately, too many times it’s struck me that the easier language of the NO liturgy has come at the price of liturgical casualness—dare I say, even slovenliness—among the participants. We’re not so much partaking of the Eucharistic meal in the House of God as we are getting together for a family dinner at Mom and Dad’s place. Everyone who frequents this board can quote examples; I’ve no need to belabor the point. Suffice it to say, too often I’m distracted and uncomfortable and all too aware that not only am I not worshipping, I don’t even feel like I’m worshipping. Instead of awe, reverence and adoration, I feel like I’m performing an onerous task, like going to visit a relative with whom I’m politely at odds.

Unfortunately, I don’t know where the closest church is that offers the TLM, or how far I have to drive to get there. So what am I gonna do … punish God for the laissez-faire pastor? Nope … just gotta offer it up ….

I hope he prints it. If not … well, here it is.