Chapter Four Part Fourteen|
THE "NEW MASS"
The Rite of Peace First Section
A perfect example of how this archaism has been adopted to serve the true purpose of the Revolution is to be found in the Rite of Peace of the "New Liturgy." It is given out as a revival of the ancient rite of the Kiss of Peace, as it was performed in the Early Church, a vestige of which remains in Solemn High Masses in the Roman Liturgy. The great emphasis placed upon it indicates its importance in the plans of the manipulators. Together with the Communion, or "Love-Feast," it makes up what might be called the high point of the service.
Shortly after the Our Father, we are instructed, according to the Paluch Company Missalette, to "express wishes of peace and love toward one another in words and gestures of our own choosing."59 59. Monthly Missalette. J.S. Paluch Co., Inc. Chicago. June, 1971, p. 28. What is wanted is a warm embrace. A hand-shake will keep one out of trouble, but it is not exactly in the spirit of the thing. In some places, there is much kissing. The idea is that all should give some genuine, physical sign of their Christian love. They should make the rounds, get acquainted with strangers. It should be a kind of "happy hour" without the drinks; each should be overjoyed to see his brothers and sisters and indicate as much.
The signification claimed for this "ceremony" is that Christ is truly present in the hearts of all who have love for one another. "Ubi caritas est. Deus ibi est" ("Where charity is, there God is"). Through these warm touches and embraces true charity is being expressed and communicated. Communal spirit is not only being symbolized, but actually put into practice and learned in the doing. Christ said, "Go first to be reconciled to they brother" (Mt. 5:24).
The Rite of Peace, joined with the Penitential Rite, in which all confess to their brothers and sisters, is that act of reconciliation with one's brothers, enjoined by Christ. It is therefore a perfect preparation for the reception of Christ in the Eucharist. By thus making peace with one's brethren, a person is allowing himself to be liberated; he is finding himself in the community of the Church and manifesting both the personal and communal peace which Christ alone can give.
In order for this peace to be given in great abundance, all barriers which divide those present must be allowed to fall. This is the time when the saying of the Greek Apostle is being fulfilled: "There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal. 3:28). It goes without saying that the greeting of peace is to be given to all present. Special efforts should be made to make non-Catholics feel included. In fact, it would be a serious breach of charity to exclude anyone due to his creed, race, national origins, or political persuasion. Likewise, the fact that some in the congregation may be living in mortal sin, or may be excommunicated due to a bad marriage (or to his having left the priesthood without proper dispensation), etc., should not be allowed to interfere. To do so would spoil the whole idea of the peace which is celebrated by this rite. It is not the time and place for such factors to be considered. What is important is that everyone present give himself to his brothers and sisters and allow the natural communication of the peace of Christ to flow from each into all. Everyone should cast aside his own timidity, self-consciousness, and selfishness. He must, as it were, hand himself over to the community, allow himself to become a part of it, make himself an ingredient in the communal blend. This is what the "new liturgy" means.
It is to be hoped by the time of the Rite of Peace comes, everyone will be ready to join in enthusiastically and joyously. Under ideal circumstances, the service "builds up" to this phase of the "mass." Let us consider how this build-up has been structured into the "New Mass" taken in its entirety.
At this point I supply "New Mass" "presidents" with a few helpful hints for a more successful Rite of Peace. After all, they may not have discovered yet the inherent dynamism of the "New Mass" nor realized that there is an ultimate fulfillment which the brothers and sisters are expected to arrive at. If everything is properly arranged, and everyone pointed in the right direction, success is assured. It would be nothing short of tragic for the brothers and sisters to miss out on this!
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The president can do much to evoke spontaneity and meaningfulness in this part of the service by making the proper arrangements, though he should not actually dictate what the service is going to be. He should do everything possible to get those who will attend to pitch in on it. They can help him choose the music, find the right musicians, decorate the church, etc. They will be able to come up with ideas he could never have thought of. For instance, they know what kind of music they like; in some cases he may not even know what's popular. And how would it be if he used something that they didn't even know, or something that has been off the lists for a couple of months! If the people did not know the "numbers," they would not be able to let themselves go the way they have to. They have to be able to enjoy themselves, throw themselves into the action, get caught up in the rhythms. Doing so has a wonderfully liberating effect on everybody; it allows him to praise God and at the same time to become one with the assembled group. The idea is that all together become one voice, one heart, one being. This is how each discovers what true freedom is and comes to realize how he needs the others, that as a Christian he is already a part of the others and has yet to learn to show it. The "mass" is supposed to be an experience of love.
Throughout, for the best effect, things should be kept moving; the people should be kept singing. The guitar is decidedly the best instrument for the melody line, though, of course, the prolonged beating of drums excites people, whether they want it to or not. It is good if there are multi-colored banners around; pictures and posters chosen by participants help to create atmosphere, help everyone to relate to each other. All the senses should be appealed to. Get as many people as possible involved in the decorating; it doesn't matter if it is poor art, so long as it is the work of the people, something that they can consider part of themselves. They may even want a procession around the church at the time of the Presentation of Gifts. This kind of thing makes everyone realize that the Church is related to the times. Processions are like protest marches, marches of the people, a phenomenon of twentieth-century life. The more activity that can be incited into the greatest number of people, the better things will go.
At the Penitential Rite, all confess to each other. This should be a heartfelt renunciation of all selfishness, prejudice, and chauvinism. For these are the things which divide people. Each person must realize and should overcome any hesitancy about being at complete ease during "mass." The new thinking is that this is the perfect time and place for one to reach out to others in a spirit of love and acceptance and self-giving. The heartfelt participation of all in the responses and singing will assist greatly toward helping each one release himself into the community.
It is important that the commentaries which interlard the various parts of the "mass" contain ideas of reconciliation, forgiveness, love, surrender, peace, generosity. Just the repetition of these words helps orient those present toward the Rite of Peace. Moreover, it is highly important that the president, or whoever gives the homily, dwell on these themes. Equally necessary is saying nothing which may cause divisions or discord or embarrassment among the brothers and sisters. He should, for example, avoid mentioning such ideas as the "Church," or the "Papacy," which to many represent the Establishment, a very dissonant concept. Similarly jarring are words like "the law," "sin," "self-discipline," "grace," "the Judgment." It should not be necessary to say it, but just in case the question should come up, all controversial issues should be skirted, such as the divinity of Jesus, the Resurrection, the existence of the devil or Hell, etc. It has been found best to swell on social needs and projects.
With a little trouble and imagination, you can achieve some real momentum during the Eucharistic Prayer. There is enough time really to set the stage, so to speak. Some may go for the idea of turning the lights down during this period; it kind of suggests the Upper Room. Then you can read the narrative of the Last Supper. Make sure they don't miss this. Its purpose is to set the scene for the Rite of Peace. The Last Supper was the communal meal of Jesus with His Apostles. That was the time He gave them the symbol of unity and brotherhood, the Eucharist.
If all has gone according to plan, by the time the Rite of Peace comes, the people will be ready to show how much they have enjoyed having the "mass" with each other. It will be easy for all to circulate freely. Those who hardly knew each other will find they have been drawn together just by having assembled and given themselves to the communal action.
The climax comes when they have their meal together. Nothing is more pleasant and friendly than a meal shared with those one loves. And by now, everyone will feel that he loves everyone else and will have a glow, as it were. And all the while let the music continue to play upon them, soothe and refresh and stimulate them.
Next Issue: Chapter Four - part fifteen
H. The Rite of Peace - second section
For installments to date, see Archives of The Great Sacrilege
See INTRODUCTION for an explanation of this work.
THE GREAT SACRILEGE
by Fr. James F. Wathen, O.S.J.