Friday, August 05, 2011

I cited Johnny Hixson's quotation of Pius XII on Facebook in the previous post.  I seemed to have elicited some hot responses.  I apologize for having thrown lighter fuel on the fire.  My previous posting was a little more nuanced than my Facebook response.

My dislike for low masses is personal not something I would like to impose. And I would, of course, make exceptions for private masses and extraordinary circumstances. A Chinese priest hoping to say mass before the commissar caught him might, like our Irish and English ancestors, want to be quick and quiet about it. (Think of Tom Day’s Why Catholics Can’t Sing.) I would also like to ban all high masses that are not chanted even though it means no Byrd, no Tallis, no Palestrina, and no, sigh, Mozart. I can love them in the concert hall and on CD, but there is no room for the congregation when the mass becomes a concert.

I still have bitter memories of 15 minute speed masses from the fifties. I am not saying all masses were that way, but a mass production mentality was too easy a temptation. (Sorry about the pun.) When I see younger clergy like Fr. Lies or Bishop James Conley celebrating the liturgy using the Missal of John XXIII with a spirituality nurtured by the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, I can understand how that spirituality then animates their celebration of the Ordinary Form. It is a reflection of the human condition that we needed forty years in the liturgical desert before we were able to rediscover the Roman Rite with fresh eyes and hear it as we chant a new song.

There is no reason why, with a modern, educated laity, that all masses can’t be chanted with the congregation chanting the Gloria, the Credo, the Pater Noster, the responses, etc. whether using the Missal of John XXIII (1962) or that of Paul VI (1970). Indeed the new English Missal will even facilitate the congregation’s chanting the Propers in English! I prefer Latin, of course. There will be no excuse for Marty Haugen or the St. Louis Jesuits, not that I expect to see them banned unfortunately.

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