Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Reform of the Liturgy

Two-part interview with Martin Mosbach on the Reform of the Liturgy and the Catholic Church. Part I here. Part II here.

Mosbach says of Pope Benedict XVI's program:
"Benedict XVI views as one of his main tasks making the essence of the Church more clearly visible – for Catholics and then also for non-Catholics. The Pope knows that the Church is indissolubly bound to her Tradition. Church and revolution are irreconcilable contradictions. He attempts to intervene where the image of the Church has been distorted through a radical break with the past. Now the Church, like its Founder, has exactly two natures: historical and timeless. She cannot forget from where she came and cannot forget where she is going. Especially the Church in the West has problems with this. She has neither any sense for her historical organic evolution nor for her life in eternity."
Since my conversion, it has been a continuing source of sorrow that the Catholic liturgy as celebrated in many, many Catholic parishes is indistinguishable from the Protestant church down the road. Liturgical ministers are afraid of connecting with the traditional liturgy, are told that it's the wrong ecclesiology, and continue the myth that "active participation" is the hustle and bustle of as many people at Mass as possible.

And yet, Sunday Mass attendance is shrinking, the young are fleeing, belief in the Real Presence diminishes. The movements toward even more "touchy-feely" worship are not working. A sense of awe, of timelessness, of being shaken out of comfort has to be restored in liturgy. It is, after all, the heart of worship, to return to God His proper due. What we encounter in every other parish is a celebration of ourselves, the closed-in circle that Pope Benedict talked about in The Spirit of Liturgy. Far from being worship according to your style, worship must be God-oriented, a turning toward God, away from what our notions of "feeling good" in worship.

Mosbach continues:
What is there more important for the Church than the liturgy? The liturgy is the body of the Church. It is faith made visible. If the liturgy falls ill, so does the entire Church. That is not a merely a hypothesis but a description of the current situation. One can’t present it drastically enough: the crisis of the Church has made possible that her greatest treasure, her Arcanum, was swept out of the center to the periphery.
Aidan Nichols, OP, in the forward to Bl. Columba Marmion's Christ in His Mysteries wrote this about the Liturgy:
The Liturgy is the way the Church as Bride gazes lovingly--and therefore penetratingly--at her Bridegroom, laying out her understanding of His heart: His purposes, the grand design of the Father which is carried out for our sake. What we experience in the texts and chants of the Liturgy at Mass and the other Offices dovetails beautifully with what we read of the life of Christ in the Gospels..."
That is why I keep harping to fellow musicians to restore the Propers of the Mass, for without them, the Catholic Mass is deformed (and can we please return to the Roman Canon for the Eucharistic Prayer?). And to restore the use of chant at Mass so that we liberate the Mass from being perpetually stuck in the '60s and '70s style of wretched music.

The endless debates about what constitutes a proper hymn or song for Mass would be drastically reduced if we restore the Propers. I'm speaking now of the Novus Ordo which, unfortunately, is so very unstable in its present practice. This fact was reinforced one more time to me during Easter. By sticking to the Propers chanted at Mass, the Easter liturgy shone more brightly and more gloriously than had I had an army of instruments and flashy music. Imagine at the Introit, "Resurrexi, et adhuc tecum sim, Alleluia" being chanted while Father was censing the altar, Paschal candle and baptismal font. The unaccompanied chant immediately sets one in a time outside of time. Isn't that what worship is?

People commented on the beauty of the music after Mass. Isn't it sad that people didn't know that this music is and has been the music for Easter.

4 comments:

msoroko said...

The problem with the Latin Mass is that it is boring. What is needed is not a return to tradition but rather greater choice in form of worship. Personally I like a modern liturgy, with lots of multimedia, rock music and some dance. So do my kids. Where are all the young Catholics going?
Non Denominational Churches. This is true ecumenical worship, and what the future of Christianity looks like. Try attending several services, and you'll agree that Ratzinger's Reform movement is going in the wrong direction.

Argent said...

They're going non-denominational because what we offer now is banal and boring. Puppets, rock and roll have nothing to do with the Catholic liturgy. All that stuff is about us. They crave depth.

And you are sadly mistaken about the Ratzinger Reform. Met any young seminarians lately? The ones I know truly love Tradition and tradition, scoff at the stuff you call modern liturgy.

The modern progressive project is sinking and sinking fast. And ecumenism as has been thought of these last few decades....well, it's plain fallen flat on its face.

The Ratzinger Reform continues...see the Anglicans requesting to be received...see schismatics (not just SSPX) who have returned to the fold....

Sorry, the modern liturgy ain't where the Church is going. You may think if it comforts you, but the witness of the progressive arm is getting stale and old.

The "Latin Mass" which you find so boring is perhaps because it is so other-directed, meaning God-directed. Whereas the modern liturgy with its silliness and distractions point to us...me, me, me.

Sorry to be blunt. But there it is.

A liturgy for the shallowness of our times.

Argent said...

Oh, and one more thing. The kids who grow up in non-denom churches are fleeing church, too. What does that tell you?

Argent said...

And the Mass which you find boring is that Mass which formed Saints throughout the ages. The one that Padre Pio celebrated, the St. John Vianney celebrated, the one that St. Francis and St. Dominic spread wherever they went.

Somehow, they didn't find it boring.

Somehow, something in it sustained them, nourished them, and gave them the graces to pursue heroic virtue.

Do you dare to say to a St. Ignatius of Loyola, to a St. Teresa of Avila, to a St. Damien of Molokai, to a St. Teresa Benedicta that the Mass which gave them their strength is boring?