Wednesday, 8 June 2016

A liturgical abuse...

Click to enlarge.

It's not often that I look at Rorate Caeli these days. This is why. Surely the essence of Christian worship is its common (or "corporate") nature? "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them," saith The LORD; not "where a bent old priest mumbles to himself from a book, facing a brick wall." "New Catholic" says:

"Sacrifice. Silence. Like the simple seven words on Golgotha. The essence, before our very eyes: the epitome of unplanned and truly organic development - Roman order and terseness displayed forever and everywhere."

Low Mass is indeed "sacrifice," but it is not a sacrifice of praise; it is the sacrifice of right worship on the altar of Popery. It is indeed "silent," but the silence is not holy (or even golden), it is the silence of choirs singing with voices and the choir books, diaconal vestments, &c. gathering dust as the memory of right worship wanes with each generation. Since the days of Durandus, Roman controversialists have ascribed mystical and mythical attributes to their erroneous worship. "New Catholic's" comparison to the seven last words is just another one. All these "organic" developments have just turned out to be abuses in various forms, like the denial of the chalice and the maintenance of Latin long after it had expired as a lingua franca, or even a language of lore. And as for Roman terseness, and order, I'd have thought some of the older antiphons and collects would better fit that description. Low Mass is a liturgical abuse. That is as true as the grass is green and the sky is blue. It is defective worship that destroys holiness and the catholicity of the Church, and the only reason traditionalists like it is because it is one of those things, like the "immaculate conception," the universal jurisdiction of the pope, Latin, &c, &c that distinguishes them from other Christians. If the ungodly fruits of enforced clerical celibacy are a generation of perverse priests then the evil fruit of low Mass is (or rather was) the noose around the Western liturgical neck. It only took the pope to kick away the proverbial stool, in whatever year you like, 1588, 1629, &c. with a fantastical display of the rightness of his jurisdiction.

Image. A simple screenshot. I had thought to find a typical devotional painting of low Mass, and typed into Google, and Google provided a "terse" and "ordered" answer: "(in the Catholic Church) Mass with no music and a minimum of ceremony." And you'd think only fundamentalist Protestants and Wahhabi/Salafist Muslims despised music and ceremony.

8 comments:

  1. One can rationalize anything. The post reminded me of a very conservative RC priest speaking at a very conservative catechetical conference who said, "I have no problem with Mass facing the people." "Since I am acting in persona Christi," he said with arms outstretched, "I am as a priest presenting Christ's sacrifice to the faithful. They look at me as they did Christ on the cross."

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    1. I'm not sure whether you're comparing me with that priest or not. A priest "acting in persona Christi" sounds idolatrous to me. I thought a priest celebrated the liturgy in his parish on behalf of the bishop who appointed him?

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    2. I wasn't comparing you to the priest, no. I was thinking more in terms of the Low Mass being identified with the silence and simplicity of the seven Last Words, which is to say, one can rationalize any position and make it sound moving and "deep," despite it being complete nonsense.

      I've been to traditional RC monasteries and seminaries where a dozen or so Low Masses were being offered at different altars at the same time. It is an amazing thing to experience and it is even moving, but that doesn't make it orthodox, traditional, or correct.

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  2. Not related to Mass and I don't know if this is common within the SSPX, but once I emailed a priest from there about getting anointed before major surgery. He asked me if I were in danger, which I took to mean about to die any second. I wrote back no and never heard from him again. Some trads think anointing is only for those on their deathbeds which is another distortion of a sacrament. The traditional way is to anoint anyone who is sick, regardless if their illness is fatal or not.

    Anthony

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  3. Patrick, when you say or write about "low Mass' what exactly is your meaning here? Remember some of us are of Anglo-Catholic background and our understanding may be different. I personally have no problem with a said, or spoken mass and offices between prayed between the priest and the congregation, which is usually what transpired for the daily mass and office in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. Using the vernacular indeed made this possible.

    But, I have also experienced, and it did seem odd to me, a fully silent low mass in the Roman Catholic church, which was completely lacking in any type of congregational participation. It was very, very different from my own tradition, and I did find it problematic.

    I have attended, not often because they are rare, spoken Byzantine rite Orthodox services when there was no choir (the last time was in an Orthodox convent when every nun was ill...the liturgy was very quietly spoken, but as a dialogue between priest and the few nuns who could still speak...it was actually quite moving).

    My own support for a spoken, not silent, services, when necessary is that many Anglo-Catholic small parishes could offer a full, daily round of offices and Mass, with the Sunday services being fully sung; whilst often Orthodox parish churches are simply closed from after the Sunday liturgy until the next Sunday morning.

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    1. Dale, I'm quite sure I've never attended an Anglo-Catholic "low Mass." When I was in Ireland in September I attended a kind of "broad church" said celebration, but it had one hymn (totally apposite to the feast), and in addition to congregational singing of the hymn the congregation responded to the priest at the appointed times. It wasn't perfect, in fact there were a few flaws, but it was a damn sight better than the low Mass I have in mind, which is the completely silent kind you describe, lacking in congregational participation, and over in twenty-five minutes.

      Someone in my old parish once said that he went to a monastery on retreat. I don't remember the monastery, but say it was Fontgombault for argument's sake. He described about twenty monks at twenty side altars each saying their own private mass, and said for effect: "you'd have loved it." Actually, I can think of little else that would annoy me. Like the Palm Sunday service I watched from St Gertrude the Great (which was a missa cantata), it just seemed like a lot of solipsisms. I was frankly appalled when in my old parish I found out that, during August, to give the choir a break the principal Sunday Mass was a low Mass, of the silent kind you describe. It's an aberration.

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    2. Yes, the idea of twenty priests saying their own little twenty minute, rushed, mass, often at the same time, on their own little altar is truly bizarre. What is strange is that the tradition of concelebration never died out in the Roman rite and was continued in the diocese of Lyon. There are a few good things, very few, that did come out of Vatican II and the revival of concelebration was one of them.

      I remember an older, Roman Catholic woman complaining after having attended an Anglican daily low Mass in my grandmother's parish because it was so long and everyone recited along with the priest.

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  4. No, Patrick: the Low Mass is not just a 'liturgical abuse'. It is the gradual but wholesale abandonment of the apostolic tradition, starting with the changes from leavened to unleavened bread, and proceeding on to the silencing of chant and a slow cadence of speech, all the way to the putting aside of the vestments of the clergy and the singers. All of the 'liturgical abuses' up to and after the Second Vatican Council are simply a continuation of that abandonment.

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