February 11-13, 2000
volume 11, no. 30
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When will Gregorian Chant be returned to our liturgy? We have a suggestion. How appropriate it would be if the United States Bishops provided a renaissance of Gregorian Chant to coincide with September 3rd. They're already working on a new document to be released this fall that leans toward bringing back more traditions such as the Tabernacle to the center of the Sanctuary or at least in view, as well as other "throw-backs" that have been replaced over the past several decades by things that aren't working. One of these is the priest facing the people. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Vatican's most powerful and influential curial office the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is on record as saying that the experiment to turn the priest around and face the people instead of ad orientem or facing the east has been a dismal failure and he would like to see the altar turned back to the front, with the Tabernacle on the altar and the priest offering up the oblation on behalf of the people with all facing God. Sadly, in abandoning ad orientem, the result has been disorientation. Whether the bishops will go that far that fast is doubtful since they move slowly and there is still the liberal bloc within the episcopal ranks, but it is weakening.
What we propose is not drastic, but right and proper according to the documents handed down by the Council Fathers, John XXIII and Pope Paul VI and carried on by Pope John Paul II. That is to bring back the Novus Ordo Mass as it was intended to be celebrated by the Council. Never in any of the documents does it say anything about totally discarding Latin, but rather that "parts of the Mass" could be said in the vernacular - in America that meant English - while encouraging that bishops and pastors maintain the Latin thread and flavor which has been handed down through tradition. However ICEL - the International Committee on English in the Liturgy - ignored that totally and, over the years has badly damaged the essence of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, downplaying the sacrificial aspect of the Mass and playing up the meal and celebratory aspects, something that they have carried too far where today's Masses represent more of a social gathering celebrating self rather than the true oblation to God. Therefore, just as the Holy Father celebrates the Mass in Rome and as Mass is celebrated on EWTN, we ask the bishops to allow at least, to start, in the deanery of each and every diocese a parish that will celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass as it was intended with a balance of Latin and English and use of Gregorian Chant. Too many bishops think it wouldn't draw or that those wanting this are old and will soon die off, but if you check the demographics of those flocking to the available Tridentine Masses and Novus Ordo Masses that offer Latin in the liturgy, you'll see that the majority are young families thirsting for reverence and something with substance. We can guarantee the bishops that these parishes will be packed and they'll be forced to establish the real Novus Ordo in each and every parish just by the sheer numbers. The people are that hungry.
Surely this isn't too much to ask when almost every pastor allows for guitar Masses, children's Masses, folk Masses and other ethnic celebrations. Why not recognize the ethnic culture of those longing for Latin in our liturgy? The new parish we joined because of its proximity to us is badly in need of an infusion of reverence and a conscious examination of why we're there. It's become a big social event where few seem to realize the true essence of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and even fewer recognize the True Presence of Our Lord just steps away in the side chapel off the right side of the sanctuary. It's truly depressing how so few just stop in to say "hi" to Jesus in the Tabernacle but they can spend plenty of time conversing with their neighbor right there in the church. More and more we leave feeling a void for sadly it's seems too often like we've just come from a Protestant service: non-stop music, lots of "Amens" and little substance because the true Substance is overshadowed by a revival of humanity and how great we art!
Contrast that to a nearby Benedictine Abbey where we have made the effort to attend as often as possible recently no matter the hardships of travel in order to be fulfilled in the richness of the liturgy, hear the Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei chanted so eloquently and reverently by the monks, and feel like we've been to Holy Mass. Not only that, but there are no Eucharistic Ministers. Holy Communion is distributed by the priests and nearly two-thirds of the congregation, which is overflowing on Sunday, not only receive on the tongue, but genuflect out of respect before receiving Him Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. Add to this that the side chapel where the Blessed Sacrament resides in an Ark of the Covenant configuration is packed with nearly a third of the congregation paying Jesus a visit both before and after Mass. Realize that every single person in this overflow congregation belongs to another parish, but are there because of their vast dissatisfaction with their own parish and the liturgy. Imagine the response if other Catholics realized they had a choice!
The bishops can provide that choice and in so doing, enrich the faithful and provide a deeper appreciation of the uniqueness of the Roman Catholic Church. We can also guarantee that were the bishops to do this, were the pastors agreeable to providing at least one Mass on Sunday with the old Novus Ordo, their coffers would swell with willing tithing for they would be getting something out of it. Since Vatican II was fairly successful in throwing off the guilt syndrome that haunted many Catholics over the centuries, the ol' guilt trip of not giving won't work and we continue to stand by the axiom, "No doctrine, no dollars!" We have a need to be fed not only solid doctrine, but the value of reverence and the graces of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. As Pat Ludwa pointed out in his column yesterday, almost every church that has established Perpetual Adoration has seen not only an increase in attendance, not only an increase in vocations, not only a return to awe and reverence, but an increase in donations. That's what speaks to the bishops and pastors: the collection plate. When they realize how their coffers would swell by providing for a large, fairly affluent demographic group that will contribute willingly if they are provided the fullness of their Faith, then the bishops will be falling all over each other in calling for such measures as returning Gregorian Chant and mixing in Latin with the Novus Ordo. When they understand the bottom line, it will be easier for them to understand why it should be done and why the renaissance should begin as soon as possible. It's time for all of us to petition our bishops - if we have to even in melodious Gregorian Chant - to bring back the old New Mass!
February 11-13, 2000 |
volume 11, no. 30
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