With my last installment but a brief introduction to this installment in my continuing analysis of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, here goes another review of that which permits so many adaptations and exceptions as to make the worship of God entirely dependent upon persons and places.
Paragraph 46 of GIRM reads as follows:
"The rites preceding the liturgy of the word, namely, the opening liturgical song, greeting, penitential rite, Kyrie, Gloria, and opening prayer or collect, ahve the character of a beginning, introduction, and preparation. Their purpose is that the faithful coming together take on the form of a community and prepare themselves to listen properly to God's word and to celebrate the Eucharist worthily. In certain celebrations, which are conjoined to Mass according to the norms of the liturgical books, the opening rites are omitted or celebrated in a particular form."
Comment and Analysis:
Prior to 1969, it was understood as part of the patrimony of the Church that the Mass, which is the unbloody representation of Our Lord's Sacrifice to the Heavenly Father in Spirit and in Truth, is the perfect prayer in which the faithful unite their prayers and petitions with those of the celebrant. It was understood that every Mass unites all of the elements of the Mystical Body of Christ - Church Militant, Suffering, and Triumphant.
It was that concept of the unity of the elements of the Church, not the anthropocentric emphasis on "community" found in the Novus Ordo, which led people to join together with others in Mass yet understand that they were not part of some faceless community but distinctive creatures who would be judged by God personally, individually when they died. Thus, people once knew that the Mass itself was the uniting of the entirety of the Church. This was simply part of the sensus fidei and of the depositem fidei.
What are now called the "introductory rites," which are meant to "build a sense of community," actually winds up depersonalizing the individuals in attendance at Mass and winds up, as a result of the various changes and adaptations admitted in this very article, making the very beginning of the Mass subject to a number of variables which are impossible to predict. How can people recollect themselves for Mass when they do not know what formulae are going to be used to begin the celebration of the sacred mysteries?
Paragraph 47 of GIRM reads as follows:
"After the people have gathered, the opening liturgical song begins as the priest with the deacon and ministers come in. The purpose of this liturgical song is to open the celebration, intensify the unity of those who have assembled, lead their thoughts to the mystery of the season, and accompany the procession of priest and ministers."
Comment and Analysis:
The Mass is not a show. It is not a spectacle. While there is a place for reverent singing at the beginning of the Mass, its purpose is to lift our thoughts to the fitting worship of God, to prepare for the unbloody representation of Calvary. As we know from bitter experience, the music composed in the wake of the Novus Ordo has been banal and profane, incorporating many elements of the New Age movement and religious indifferentism into its lyrics and beat. This cannot be ignored. This does not lead to unity at all. This leads to distraction and disorientation.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
Monday, October 15: Part Twenty-eight: The Entrance: the not so Gradual exit from the Mystery of the Mass
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives