Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On "a good novus ordo"

A few of us gather in the chapel of my building to chant Compline on weeknights, occasionally followed by a conversation (or a walking rosary).  One such evening a few weeks ago, it came to light that Kyle and I had both been at the same local EF parish at the same time, without either of us having realized it.

Now, Kyle and I have chatted liturgy before, so all our cards were out on the table before the conversation began: He prefers the OF, I prefer the EF, and we're both perfectly fine with the other liturgy (it's just not our preference).  The more we chat, the more I am impressed by the fact that, despite his lack of personal attachment to the EF, he is willing again and again to return to it, to try and learn it, to try and love it, simply because it's a part of our Catholic tradition.

The chat was pleasant enough, as always, and toward its end, Kyle made a remark that he surely forgot immediately, but that stayed with me: "I'd rather a good novus ordo any day."

I had neither profound insight nor witty retort ready at the moment, so I left it be, bade goodnight, and went back to my room.

But as I was reflecting upon this conversation later that evening, I found myself concluding that what Kyle prescribes here is very possibly what the Church most needs.  You all know that I love the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, and it is truly beautiful to see the EF being celebrated in more and more places the world over, and thus unlocking the treasury that had been all but forgotten in the turmoil of recent decades.  Yet in how many places is the EF celebrated in complete isolation from the OF, thus providing a refuge for some without sharing its grandeur with the many?  Or how many times is the EF celebrated without adequate catechesis, resulting in brief nostalgia, or curiosity followed by an unchanged return to prior practice?

I know Summorum Pontificum has only been in effect for two and a half years, and that's no time, in the grand scheme of things.  I know that it's too early to effectively judge what effect its celebration, even in isolation from good liturgical catechesis, will have in the Church at large.  But at least the EF is being celebrated well.  I daresay it's easier to find a good EF, no matter where you live (at least here in the States), than to find a good OF.

How many Catholics go to Mass and suffer through hokey liturgies with unlikeable music just because they're supposed to go to Mass on Sundays?  There are myriad people with no particular interest in tradition or Latin or even good liturgy, who are just fulfilling their duty.  These people are not going to go out of their way for Mass.  But how much more would these same people be fed if their regular Sunday liturgy connected them with the past, sustained their spirits, and taught them how to worship God?

I learned recently that every Catholic has a canonical right to the liturgy celebrated correctly.  A right!  Canon Law is not particularly concerned with rights (especially when compared to American civil law), so this is a big deal.  Not just a right to the sacraments, but to them celebrated according to the appropriate liturgical books.

Imagine: Walking down the street to Mass at the local parish of wherever you're visiting, secure in the knowledge that that there you'll find "a good novus ordo" - that you won't have to block out all sorts of strange liturgical adaptations in order to pray.  What a world!  Perhaps one of the most direct ways to accomplish this would be for people to just start doing it.

I know I'm dreaming, but maybe... Maybe if "a good novus ordo" were an everyday reality, then the gulf that currently exists between the OF and the EF might shrink, and liturgical politics really might not matter all that much.  Maybe then we'd be freed from what Mosebach calls the "monstrous act" of evaluating liturgy, and would be able to walk into a church and simply pray.

What a world to hope for.  What a world to work towards.  It might not be my personal preference, Kyle, but I think I, too, might rather a good novus ordo.

PS - The nerd in me is so proud that more than two thirds of you do not use Internet Explorer to access my website.  It's the little joys... :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blog Relaunch!

Hello, my dear readers!

Even forgiving my recent absence due to finals week and general craziness of life, many of you have likely made note of the gradual shift in the focus of this blog.  When I first started writing nearly two years ago, a friend asked me, "Why don't you write a liturgy blog?"  My reply was that I had nothing to contribute to the blogosphere that wasn't already out there already, better-phrased and with more education and experience behind it.
Now I do have something to say.

As you've likely noticed, I've embarked upon an academic quest of sorts.  My goal is to get my mind around the postconciliar reform of the liturgy, and everything leading up to and flowing from it, with a eye to how Summorum Pontificum changes the scene.  This basically requires that I read all the prominent liturgical scholars of the past two centuries.  Blogging has become for me an outlet whereby I process these various ideas.
Thank you to friends like Joe, Aaron, and Anne, who have left helpful comments, and Aaron, Sana, and Fr Dana, who have verbally responded to thoughts I presented here.  I know few of you consider yourselves liturgical experts, but I do know that most of you attend the Sacred Liturgy.

David Fagerburg makes a distinction between liturgists and liturgiologists - any Catholic who regularly attends  Mass is a liturgist; one who studies the liturgy from an academic setting is a a liturgiologist (I simplify, but not much).  You are all liturgists, and I need your input to remain in touch with my own inner liturgist as I continue in liturgiology.  Any feedback you give me on any ideas, no matter how small, will help to form my thesis (which will unfold in this blog during the next year and a half).  For such aid I am truly grateful.

To this end, I have completely renamed and redesigned this blog.  The domain name will remain the same, but the new title is "In Te Speravi," which, poetically translated, means, "In You, O Lord, I have placed my hope."  I don't know where my research and musings are going to take me, except that they will bring me closer to my Lord, and that's all that matters.

In the meantime, I intend to post on a more consistent schedule of twice per week.  Academics come first, of course, but I should be developing the discipline to do such things as well.  After all, I'm unlikely to have this much free time again in the next few decades.

Thank you for reading.  You are in my prayers.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hymn for Saint Joseph

One of the coolest things about the Mundelein Psalter is its hymns.  See, the Liturgy of the Hours has hymns prescribed for specific feasts and days throughout the year (it's not just "pop in a song and go"; there's a prescribed song that's ideal to be sung).  Below is the Vespers Hymn for the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary:

O Joseph, heav'nly hosts thy worthiness proclaim,
And Christendom conspires to celebrate thy fame,
Thou who in purest bonds were to the Virgin bound;
How glorious is thy name renowned.

Thou, when thou didst behold thy Spouse about to bear,
Were sore oppressed with doubt, were filled with wond'ring care;
At length the Angel's word thy anxious heart relieved:
She by the Spirit hath conceived.

Thou with thy newborn Lord didst seek far Egypt's land,
As wand'ring pilgrims, ye fled o'er the desert sand;
That Lord, when lost, by thee is in the temple found,
While tears are shed, and joys abound.

Not till death's hour is past do other men obtain
The meed of holiness, and glorious rest attain;
Thou, like to Angels made, in life completely blest,
Dost clasp thy God unto thy breast.

O Holy Trinity, thy suppliant servants spare;
Grant us to rise to heav'n for Joseph's sake and prayer,
And so our grateful hearts to thee shall ever raise
Exulting canticles of praise. Amen.

Coming soon: official relaunch of this blog (with new name, new layout, new all sorts of things)!  Happy Solemnity!
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