Monday, January 10, 2011

Mutual Enrichment and the Reform of the Reform: A Game Plan?

Not that anyone asks my opinion, but one of the things I think is wrong with the Liturgy Wars is that most people seem to start the discussion from their answer to the question: What do I think the liturgy should look like? Yet, the liturgy is not about us, it’s about God. And the Popular Mechanics approach to liturgy which has made everyone an expert in DIY Rites means that anyone who has ever come into contact with the Mass has an opinion. So generally I avoid like the plague pontificating on how I think the liturgy should be celebrated and try to actually live the liturgy instead.

Yet the Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI, has called for the mutual enrichment of the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite and has also suggested that the time has come for a Reform of the Reform of the rites after the Second Vatican Council. He has also reiterated that there should be mutual respect of both forms and no “ritual mixing.” And so many voices are out there calling for a reform of the modern Roman Rite, it’s hard to know what such a reform should look like. There are some who are determined to make sure that the Extraordinary Form never has any influence on the Ordinary Form, and, if they had their way, they would obliterate its memory from the face of the earth in the most radical damnatio memoriae known to human history. For them there is no question of mutual enrichment; rather, they advance a platform of constant liturgical anarchy. Then there are those for whom mutual enrichment sounds like a plot to infect the venerable classical worship of the Church with the theological and spiritual rot that has affected the ephemeral postmodern worship (?) of the new community sung into being.

As a parish priest who habitually celebrates both forms, I am left scratching my head how the two forms are supposed to enrich each other organically if I can’t mix the rites. Pope Benedict XVI has given us a rich teaching on the liturgy as Cardinal Ratzinger, and he has also given the Church quite an example of how to celebrate the liturgy. But I am sure I am not alone in desperately wishing for some more practical guidance as to how exactly this is supposed to done and what I can and cannot do to help bring about the organic restoration of the sacred.

And so I think out loud in this essay and ask for comments. In the final analysis, I wait for the Church’s instructions on how to go about this. But I do wonder if there could not be three possible stages to the Mutual Enrichment and Reform of the Reform, and so I outline what that might look like here. I offer no timeline to this little fantasy, and I have no illusions that this discussion will go beyond the loyal readers of this blog. But here it is. Discuss.

First Stage of Mutual Enrichment

In this first stage, I see that there are many things that can be done now with no mixing of or change to the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite as currently found in the liturgical books. I also envision some guidance from the Magisterium to point this mutual enrichment in the right direction so as to avoid arbitrariness and to give those priests who respond to the call to mutual enrichment support.

Enrichment of the Ordinary Form by the Extraordinary Form
- Bishops in Cathedrals and Pastors in their churches spontaneously adopting the ad orientem position at Mass as implicit in the OF after sustained catechesis of the faithful
- Reconstruction of altar rails in churches and the spontaneous use of the communion rail as a place from which to distribute Holy Communion
- Catechesis from the pulpit about the Church’s preference for Holy Communion on the tongue and under one species
- Move towards singing the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin at OF Masses
- Priests, on their own, choosing the options of the OF which are analogous to the EF, and leaving aside those which are not
- The spontaneous and consistent use by the clergy of the maniple, biretta, amice
- Singing of the Propers according to the Graduale Romanum at Sung Masses
- Enforcement of the ecclesiastical discipline on extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion

Enrichment of the Extraordinary Form by the Ordinary Form
- Celebration of at least one EF Mass as part of the ordinary Sunday Mass schedule by clergy trained to do it in their parishes.
- Use of the readings in the vernacular at Low Masses
- Recitation of the parts pertinent to the faithful
- Use of new prefaces and new saints’ Masses in the EF.

Magisterial Involvement
- document by the Congregations for Divine Worship and Doctrine of the Faith clarifying the Church’s teaching and discipline on the reception of Holy Communion, indicating the preference for the Church’s traditional mode of reception. In the same document, a clarification of the right of the priest to celebrate Mass ad orientem.

Second Stage of Reform of the Reform

In this second stage, the Magisterium would change the existing relevant liturgical and canonical legislation as well as provide new editions of the OF and EF Missals.

Papal Encyclical and Disciplinary Norms
The Reform of the Reform would be ushered into being by a papal encyclical, the Mediator Dei of our time. This encyclical would present a rich theology of the liturgy, a frank and honest reappraisal of post-Vatican II liturgical praxis, and a liturgical, historical, theological and canonical explanation of the following: the two forms of the Roman Rite and their mutual enrichment, the ad orientem position of celebration at the altar, the traditional mode for the reception of Holy Communion, Latin and sacred music. This encyclical would strongly encourage in an optional but clear way all of the points of the Reform of the Reform. This would be followed, after consultation with the entire hierarchy in a special synod on the Reform of the Reform, disciplinary norms which would indicate the normative status of each of the points of the Reform of the Reform.

Restoration of the Subdiaconate and the Revisiting of Pontificalis Domus
The disciplinary norms would include the restoration of the ancient subdiaconate to the life of the Church put in abeyance by Paul VI’s Ministeria Quaedam. It would also revisit the simplifications in Paul VI’s Pontificalis Domus concerning the costume of prelates to allow greater freedom for hierarchical dress.

Norms on Church Construction
Issuance by the Congregation for Divine Worship of practical guidelines for the building of new churches and the fabrication of new linens, vestments and vessels with accompanying theological and spiritual commentary (d’apres St Robert Bellarmine’s works on church construction).

The Reform of the Reform Edition of the OF Missal after the Encyclical
- dropping the options which are rarely used, streamlining of remaining options
- all editions of the Missal would be bilingual
- all editions of the Lectionary would be bilingual
- addition of a new Ritus Servandus with more detailed rubrics for the ceremonies
- the addition of the EF Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, Offertory Prayers and Last Gospel as an option in the OF
- restoration of the genuflection at the Creed and before the elevations in the OF
- restoration of some feasts from EF
- integration of Orations from the EF as options
- issuance of a Caeremoniale Presbyterorum from the Papal Household in a companion volume to the Missal
- integration of the Offertory Antiphons from the EF
- making the Prayer of the Faithful optional
- substantial restoration of the EF Kalendar to the OF
- integration of the EF Lectionary as an optional cycle of the OF

The Reform of the Reform Edition of the EF Missal after the Enyclical

- all editions would include the Readings, Antiphons and Orations in the vernacular as an option.
- permission for Holy Communion by intinction
- option for the pre-1955 Holy Week Rites
- addition of OF saints’ feasts not present in EF Missal as optional
- addition of some OF Prefaces
- option to omit the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and the Last Gospel
- composition of vernacular graduals for the antiphons for optional use
- option for the use of the OF Lectionary at Low Masses
- option for the distibution of Holy Communion by ordained subdeacons

Third Stage of the Missal of Benedict XVI, Pope of the Sacred Liturgy
This third stage would take place after the Reform of the Reform has been in place for some time and the Roman Curia, together with the world episcopate, can look into the feasibility of a once again united form of the Roman liturgy. With some distance from the post-Vatican II reforms and the lived experience of the Reform of the Reform, the Magisterium of the Church could ostensibly distill the organic development of the liturgy from its restoration and renewal into one Roman Rite again.

Is this a do-able Game Plan?
Let it be said from the beginning, that I am perfectly fine with celebrating the Missal of St Pius V in toto and the Missal of Paul VI as the occasion warrants. I do recognize, however, that flexibility in rubrics, calendars and rites, Communion under both species and the vernacular are among those things that Vatican II called for. Could they be allowed in the EF in an optional way so as to open the riches of the EF liturgy to more people? Also, the OF could easily be influenced by many of the prayers and ceremonies of the EF if that influence is tutelaged well by the Magisterium. But if priests attempt any of this on their own, they risk making the liturgy into an eccentric celebration of their opinion on how they think Mass should be celebrated. Because so much of the post-Vatican II Reform was imposed inorganically by arbitrary decisions of clergy and by officialdom, the Mutual Enrichment and Reform of the Reform also has to happen by the leadership of the clergy united with the Holy Father and the Roman Curia in collaboration with the world episcopate. Then, the organic process of liturgical development can begin again, and the future will be less charged with everyone making their own opinions into the standard of liturgical celebration.

I would love feedback on this scheme. I am not wedded to it. In fact, I am not totally sure that many of the ideas I propose here are prudent, workable or even desirable. But the discussion is beginning. This time, however, may we start, not with What do I think the liturgy should look like? but with How can I support the communion of the Church to restore the sacred and celebrate the Christian Mystery in spirit and in truth?
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