Friday, April 27, 2007

When is Experimentation Legitimate?

This is a picture of Bishop Mathew Clark of Rochester, NY, USA 'concelebrating Mass' with another priest.
I had a conversation recently with a priest who assured me that there were legitimate variations in the manner in which Mass may be celebrated, tongue in cheek I said “yes the crossing of the thumbs when the hands are joined could be legitimately relaxed for good reason”, and although the chalice veil is not necessary, it is a “commendable” practice to use one, of course that is quite different from the use of the communion plate which “should” rather than “must” be retained, meaning presumably that there might be some occasions on which it can be dispensed with.
I am not keen on celebrating Mass outside of my own parish, and I am not too keen on other priests coming into celebrate Mass here. I once had to tell an Asian Archbishop that I would prefer him to celebrate Mass privately if he could not follow the rubrics and use the words in the Missal at a public celebration, and a South America priest who refused to wear a chasuble and eventually wore a Roman one but put it on the wrong way round!
One hears of extra-ordinary things happening; pottery chalices, an absence of vestments, priests making up their own Eucharistic Prayers even, hand holding during the “Our Father” or mass celebrated on coffee tables, people being denied their right to receive on the tongue or being forbidden to make any reverence before receiving Holy Communion, all a denial of people's rights.
Well for the first time in years I have been tempted to experiment, to use the new texts, at least in part, even to the point of saying “Mystery of Faith” as an exclamation of wonder as in the Latin rather than saying, “Let us proclaim the Mystery of Faith”. Or of saying,
“Taught by the Saviour’s command and
formed by the word of God,
we have the courage to say…”
rather than one of the several options in the present Missal, or even
“Behold the Lamb of God,
behold him who takes away the sins of the world.
Blessed are those called to the banquet of the Lamb.”
rather than,
“This is the Lamb of God …. Happy are those who are called to his Supper”.
I must admit I do add “Behold”, and substitute “Blessed”, for "Happy"; a remnant of my more liberal days. Recently I have been encouraging my servers to genuflect a little more than the rubrics actually demand.

We had Bishop Henderson, an auxilliary in Southwark, here a few years ago and had the Mozart Coronation Mass, he said afterwards, “I would have had the Benedictus after the consecration and carried on saying Eucharistic Prayer while it was being sung and done the same with the Sanctus". This isn't of course actually allowed, as far as I can see.

My question here is what is legitimate experimentation? I would be grateful to hear from other priests.

12 comments:

Fr Philip said...

I have started using the New Texts on weekdays and my people, rarely more than 15, use the responses.
They like them.

Al said...

WRT your Bishop consecrating under the Sanctus/Benedictus.

I understand that this is commonly done in St Agnes' church in St Paul, Minnesota (The home church of Fr Zuhlsdorf and the late Mrg Schuler - the "American Brompton Oratory") at Solemn Novus Ordo masses.

I also vaguely recall some fevered internet speculation regarding whether or not Benedict XVI consecrated under the Sanctus at a papal mass last year...

Fr Ray Blake said...

No, not my Bishop, but a now deceased auxilliary from another diocese.
The practice he advocated, was what happened in the past, the preface preceded the sanctus, if necessary the clergy waited, the sanctus ended, then followed the consecration and then the Benedictus, after which was the Pater followed by the Agnus Dei.

Ttony said...

Oh dear!

If you use the recently leaked texts, then you are qualitatively in the same boat as the great improvisors, such as the poor priest in America who did the Halloween Mass. Our Mass is not about improvisation: that's why we have rubrics.

We have to grin (though our teeth are clenched) and bear it. And pray for a great reckoning, in which some Bishops will be forced to account for their scandalous neglect of the Liturgy.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I know, you are right TTony, but I yearn for change and modernity, it really cannot come too fast for some of us.

Henry said...

Stick to the rubrics please. As the English text is so bad, then the best thing is to use Latin. People will complain about the new translation whatever happens so why invite a storm of flak?

The English books are falling to pieces anyway and should be retired before one of the sacristans drops one, we have a snowfall of paper all over the sanctuary and they can't be put together again in the right order.

Pastor in Valle said...

With a certain grim determination I have always used the rubrics and texts as laid down; otherwise I don't really see how I can object to others doing as they choose. I have to grit my teeth to stop myself genuflecting when passing the tabernacle. I break up the large host for distribution. I say 'This is the Lamb of God', and 'Happy are those'. But I also have introduced the new improvements; I do the purifications myself (with the assistance of the Deacon) and will shortly be introducing the communion plate. And actually, I thought that the chalice veil was required, not just encouraged. Is this a change in the new GIRM?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Pastor in Valle,

GIRM 118 states: "It is praiseworthy practice to cover the chalice with a veil.... ."
I think most priests tend to assume that the chalice may be "veiled" with a purificator.

Red. Sac. 93 "The Communion-plate [or paten] for the Communion of the faithful should be retained so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling".

Purification by the priest or deacon is required and is not an option, as far as I can see, it may for some good reason be delegated to an "instituted acolyte".

Fr John Boyle said...

I tend to improve the translation on occasions. I always use 'Behold the Lamb of God ... Blessed are those...' I'm afraid I cannot bring myself to ignore the real presence of the Lord in the Tabernacle and do genuflect every time I pass during the Mass, even during incensing the altar.

Communion plate always, purification by me always, chalice veil the norm, etc.

There is a letter in this week's Catholic Times against Fr Marsden. The letter is tantamount to saying that what was done in the past (e.g. double genuflections to the exposed Blessed Sacrament) was bad.

Like Fr Ray, I'm looking forward to change. Unlike Fr Ray, I let visiting priests do what they want (within reason) - the people can make up their mind which 'style' they prefer, but they'll have to put up with me in the end, and they are usually glad when I'm back.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Fr John,
I just believe people have a right to something which approxinates the Roman Rite, I don't expect priests to be robots, or rubrical slaves, but I don't want priests who can't celebrate mass more-or-less as the Church wants.

tom said...

Even Cardinal Arinze breaks the rubrics, there is that picture of him wearing a stole OVER his chasuble!

newhousenewjob said...

As an ordinary member of the congregation, I find it disturbing when I visit other parishes and find that the words of the Mass differ from those used in my own parish and in the Missal. I feel that it marks me out as an outsider, someone who is not part of that particular community, because I am unfamiliar with the form of words that they use - differences between us are emphasised rather than the fact that we are all members of the same body. I also find it distracts me from prayer, because I am having to concentrate on the superficial form in order to follow the Mass.

Whether the translation is better or worse than the rubrics, it still creates a difference which I think detracts from the whole experience of being part of one universal Church. I would very much rather the new translations were not adopted in any parish until authorised, and were then adopted universally.