Monday, 30 November 2009

A New Order

Much is being made in some quarters of yesterday's having been, liturgically speaking, the fortieth anniversary of the introduction of what we are now learning to call the "Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite of the Mass". Some write as if this marked the first appearance of Mass in the vernacular. It did not. It was five years earlier on the First Sunday of Advent in1964 that I first heard Mass in English. Vatican2 was still in session and in the following five years there was a succession of changes so that by the time the fully fledged "Missa Normativa", as I seem to remember it being called, arrived we were being assured by the clergy that this was at last definitive and an end to the changes.

It is interesting now to read the remarks with which Pope Paul VI introduced the new rite. Two things strike me. Firstly, his very words seem to not merely express a sympathy with those who would find the new mass a trial but to betray an anguish all of his own in the face of a sacrifice deemed necessary. Secondly, he stresses the passage from Sacrosanctum Concilium requiring that the faithful "should be able to sing together, in Latin, at least the parts of the Ordinary of the Mass, especially the Creed and the Lord's Prayer, the Our Father".

Reading around the subject it is not difficult to get the impression that Pope Paul was somehow steam-rollered on liturgical reform and subsequently fought a rear guard action, as seen, for instance, in his issuing the "Jubilate Deo" booklet of basic Latin chants everyone should know to all the bishops in 1975. A pity so few did anything about it.

Well. Who knows? It may yet come to pass that the liturgy envisioned by the Council Fathers will appear- thanks, in no small part, to Pope Benedict's efforts.

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