Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Fresh Look at an Old Debate

The Old Mass And The New
Aillet, Marc
(2010-09-03)  Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

“I am convinced that the crisis we are going through in the Church today is largely based on the disintegration of the liturgy, which is even sometimes conceived in such a way —etsi Deus non daretur—that its intention is no longer at all to make it known that God exists, that he speaks to us and that he listens to us.” (pp. 45-46).

On a periodic check of books on my Amazon wish list, to see whether in the meantime they have come out on Kindle and at a lower price, I came across this little book from 2007 (Kindle 2010). I am very glad I did. Bishop Marc Aillet is a faithful son of the French community of St. Martin, which promotes the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, celebrated in Latin and accompanied by Gregorian Chant. He is anything but a zealot about promoting the Extraordinary Form. Basically in this book, he writes in praise of Pope Benedict XVI and his wisdom, as demonstrated by Summorum Pontificum. The Bishop writes it for average folk, who want something short (minus notes and bibliography: 112 pages, including the motu proprio in English and the Holy Father's accompanying letter to bishops). I highly recommend the book even for the initiated on the topic.

The thing I liked best about his excursus was his take on "active participation" and how the concept has become skewed by popular sociology and psychology. Even so, I find the present state of Roman Rite Liturgy much more worrisome than what I pick up in the book. Granted, he can appeal to the motu proprio and claim we are in the same ballpark with these two missals, but in point of fact, we are not and that is the problem with the missal of Paul VI and why it cannot serve as a basis for the needed reset of the liturgical movement on the foundations of the tradition. As genial as his idea is that the hermeneutic of rupture can be identified in the hearts and minds of the reformers, the rupture also touches the substance and requires more than an attitude change.

I understand that restoring our liturgy in the face of the enduring resistance (often irrational) of those whose life story is coterminous with the half century of the Novus Ordo is a monumental challenge, but that is all the more reason for embracing the wisdom of Benedict XVI when it comes to promoting the mutual enrichment of the two forms. If priests and future priests were to discover our rich liturgical patrimony, I feel confident they would become our best allies in leading us as a Church to genuine Divine Worship.

My four years here in Ukraine have offered me a rich and beautiful acquaintance with Byzantine Liturgy. This experience is a great help as it has put me in living contact with, among other things: a liturgical calendar that thrives without "ordinary time", an essential lectionary of just epistles and gospels familiar to people, offertory and communion treasures to spark the imagination and devotion, and of course, worship which is thoroughly oriented. 

I want the Extraordinary Form to play a bigger role in my life, as soon as my circumstances permit. I finally have a bit more time these days for study and I have been working on familiarizing myself with the Extraordinary Form texts and memorizing them. Old eyes and bifocals, I am finally getting serious about memorizing the celebrant's prayers, which I absolutely cannot seem to read on the altar cards. If only there were a beautiful big print pontifical for us half blind!  

No doubt some would consider me less than tactless, but we really need to branch out of the present situation which offers especially our young people only meager fare.


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