Friday, September 4, 2009

Fantastic News: A 'Reform' of the Reform

Since returning to the Catholic Church a little over one year ago, I've been re-thinking Vatican II. Or perhaps a better way of saying this would be - I'm examining what Vatican II was meant to do in the first place.

The Vatican has proposed sweeping reforms to the way Mass is celebrated, it has been claimed.

Communion on the tongue, Consecration celebrated ad orientem (facing east) and renewed use of Latin could all be re-introduced to ordinary Sunday Masses as part of proposals put forward by the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Andrea Tornielli, a senior Vatican watcher, reported last week that the congregation's cardinals and bishops voted "almost unanimously in favour of greater sacrality of the Rite" at a plenary meeting in March.

...Mr Tornielli said these were the first concrete steps towards the "reform of the reform", a notion outlined in Pope Benedict's 2000 book, The Spirit of the Liturgy. The book argues that some of the liturgical reforms following the Second Vatican Council got out of hand and needed reform as they no longer reflected the changes envisaged by the Council Fathers.

Vatican Seeks Reform of the Reform

I often talk to my father about the Traditional Latin Mass and why I love it so. It's usually preceded by one of his stories about how his parish is disrespectful toward Mass, either by talking incessantly during the liturgy or female lectors in mini-skirts. Each time he ticks off another irritation, I say, "Well, that's one reason I attend the Traditional Latin Mass." He agrees with me and is tempted to find a Traditional Latin Mass nearby if things don't shape up in his own parish. (On top of the mini-skirted female lector, he also has a pastor who enjoys kissing all the women, which I admit strikes me as very odd.)

I know I wouldn't be the only one who would welcome a "reform of the reform" and see a certain sense of reverence returned to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. What has happened in many parishes has been not just a preference for a different kind of liturgy, but if you look closely at the attitudes, it has been a denouncement of core Catholic beliefs.

Within non-denominational churches, the reason for attending a Sunday service is for communal worship. Yet that worship takes on many styles and approaches. Since there is no one focal point for the service, the content of it is ever-changing and personalized by the pastor. Compare this to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which never wavers in its purpose to bring us to a deeper understanding of who we are as the Body of Christ. Jesus Christ, is the Head, who directs us toward His Father. The Holy Spirit gives us eyes to see and ears to hear what is happening during the sacred liturgy. There is a continuity and a meaningful journey from the time we enter into the sanctuary until we leave.

If a parish does not emphasize that during the Mass, the central point is the Sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, then what are they doing? Unfortunately, I've attended a few parishes that do not adhere to the Catholic understanding of what's happening during Mass, or at least it seems that way.

For instance, constant preaching about social justice, applauding the priest during his homily, not kneeling during the consecration, and looking at receiving the Holy Eucharist as "sharing a meal" with your brothers and sisters; comes close to negating the power and mystery of what the Mass is all about.

Can you still embrace this mystery, even if surrounded by those who don't get it? Of course. This man put together a wonderful website resource for Traditional Latin Mass lovers. His advice? Close your eyes. If we close our eyes during the liturgy, we'll most likely miss out on most of the distractions.

So, it will be interesting to see what will happen in the next few years regarding this "reform." And by the way, Dad - I think the closest Traditional Latin Mass to you is about an hour away, at St. Martin de Porres in Jensen Beach, Florida. 12:30 PM. Not too early, at least. :-)


X said...

The pastor kisses the women???
The only women the pastor should be kissing are in his family - Mom, Grandma, Old Aunt Mary, you know what I mean. UGH

Shirley said...

That's what I do for the distractions at our church; close my eyes. Or avert them , if closing them isn't an option.And pray for all those who don't understand the Sacred mystery that is the holy Mass.

L. said...

One of the things a friend of mine shared with me was so simple and yet profound for concentrating on the Mass and what is actually happening on the altar at a given time was:
Sit in the first 3 pews so that the people walking by and all the people in front of you aren't a major distraction!
It has helped me tremendously although I usually have to practically pull my husband by the hand up that close to the front. :)