I have always felt the Mass of the Pauline Missal, even when sung in the better French monasteries reflected the style and fashion of its time, a bit like flaired trousers and the Beatles.
One of my parishioners tells of a parish where ancient strummers bashout the Israeli Mass and Kum-by-ya, and another where all the music is accompied by tamboreen - presumable for the young people!
The problem is that marrying fashion -well it never works - it leaves us in a time warp.
Having got rid of the old ICEL translations with its almost "hey Mate" language, we can see more easily the rather impressive construction that Buginini manufactured. Like it or not it is impressive and like it or not it is manufactured. One can debate the wisdom of allowing one man such influence in presenting the theology and spirituality of the Catholic Church and at one particular time and formulating it into the Missal of Paul VI, which has been the very architecture of our Catholic Faith for forty years..
Having done a root and branch reconstruction once, why should we not do it again? The Pauline Missal was supposed to meet the needs of its time, that time was forty years ago. The Synod presented a picture of a Church and world quite different from the Church and world of the Council, our needs are different. Wouldn't it be wise to do it every generation, every forty years?
I am sure that if a group of experts were gathered today their constituency would be different, there might be a few anthropologists amongst them and a few psychologists, and not to mention a greater number of non-Europeans - not to mention a few women, possibly their orientation might be different too, not so much to the now dying Protestant ecclesial communities of Europe but to the liturgical Forms of Orthodoxy and having some regard for the culture of Africa and Asia. I once heard a very left-wing priest Indian priest, much into "inculturation", describe the Missal as "the last throe of western Imperialism", over the top, yes but there is a sense in which I feel forced to agree with him. Cardinal Ranjith has spoken about enculturation.
The new ICEL translations were at pains to uncover something of the reverence of Bugnini's original texts, the old translators, in the "Spirit of the Council" had done their best to obliterate suggestions of obeisance, of the gulf between man and God, and indeed much of theocratic and theocentric language. In fact what they did was merely follow what had happened with the rubrics of the Mass. The removal all those numerous signs of reverence which even in the rather stark traditional Roman Rite expressed visually what the "unveiled" Bugnini texts say. The stripping of the rubrics more than changing the text changed the form of the Mass for most people.
In the 1970s in the wake of the Pauline Missal, the Blessed Sacrament was often relegated to a side chapel, as in the Diocese of Brentwood. There was even talk of the abolition of Exposition and Benediction, Marian devotion was often forbidden, or treated as something for the unsophisticated. These things are making a tremendous comeback and certainly are producing vocations and people who take prayer seriously. I suspect the reason is simply that the Pauline Missal is deficient in this regard and people look outside of the Mass for these things.
Even the casual observer of Mass celebrated according to the Missal of the Blessed John XXII will notice the extended silences, which now are an important part of Exposition, something people seem to yearn for. The casual observer to will notice that after the consecration there are the constant reverences which are given to the Sacred Species by the priest which have almost totally been stripped from the Mass in the Pauline Missal, after the Consecration there is no external sign that anything has happened. Indeed there are very few actions in the entire Missal that denote worship.
Could these things which are not alien to the Roman Rite and which people are searching for elsewhere not be restored to the Mass itself?
The Pope's call for "mutual enrichment" would suggest that a the free exchange of elements from either Missal should be the norm, yet time and again we are reminded that the Sacred Liturgy is something "given". and the priest is not free to introduce or to change anything, and yet despite Bugnini's famous diktat that even if the rubrics of the Pauline Missal are unclear one shouldn't assume they are the same as the previous Missal, yet it is precisely to previous Missal and rulings that we must turn in order to understand the Pauline rubrics, for example how to elevate the Sacred Host and Chalice.
There is a vast difference in introducing elements from the previous Missal into the Pauline celebration when the rubrics are ambiguous or debatable than introducing things that lack antiquity and do not belong to the Roman Rite. The Pope himself gives us a clue when as Supreme Legislator he writes to the Bishops of the Latin Rite, "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful".
There are pretty obvious possibilities here. Whereas it would probably be wrong to remove the Penitential Rite to before the Mass starts (the Penitential Rite in the Mass is a Bugnini innovation), would it be wrong to have preparatory prayers in the sanctuary -as most of the ancient Rites do- before Mass itself actually starts?
I have always wondered if it would be a gross violation of the rubrics to turn off the microphones in Westminster Cathedral during the Eucharistic Prayer, and if you did that and the prayer was silent or heard merely by the ministers would be wrong to say part of it whilst the choir was singing? Could you reproduce that effect in parish church and have a silent Canon? Cardinal Piacenza lowers his voice considerably during the Canon.
Would it be wicked to incense according the older rubrics, or genuflect before as well as after the Consecrations? Must I really make a superhuman effort to avoid using the older rubrics for the Roman Canon? I so often find I am making the Signs of the Cross without even thinking about, is it a matter for Confession? Then of course there is genuflecting at other times, other than when at the altar does the rule apply even if the Blessed Sacrament is reserved on the sanctuary? Obviously one doesn't do it during a procession but is a priest processing when he his merely walking across the sanctuary because he has left his glasses on the other side or just about to begin the Gospel procession?