Thursday, January 29, 2009

More on continuity

So many parishioners comment to me that I celebrate Mass like the Priests did when they were young (50s and 60s). The question is, why is this noticeable? I don't do anything extraordinary (forgive the pun). I just follow the General Instructions of the Roman Missal.
What is (sadly) unusual is that I interpret the GIRM with a hermaneutic of continuity. When I look at an instruction in the Roman Missal (Ordinary Form) I interpret it in light of tradition. It is interpreted in light of how things were done in the previous editions of the Missal (Extraordinary Form). Oh, and I alway follow the Latin instructions, never relying on someone else's translation.
From the very beginning the proximate preparation for Mass, in the sacristy, I try to interpret things as they have been done for time immemorial. I ask for quiet in the sacristy, as it is to be a place of prayer. I actually do pray the vesting prayers, beginning with the hand-washing, and finishing with the Forma Intentionis -- the statement of intention to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass according to the Rite of the Holy Roman Church.
The procession toward the altar and back to the sacristy are done, in the words of the Extraordinary Form's rubrics, oculis dimissis --with the eyes looking downward as a sign of one's own unworthyness. The procession is not a time to greet the people or smile and wave. It is a time of final preparation for Mass. It is a liturgical movement that requires a certain gravitas or solemnity. Sadly, many Priests use this as a time to be "friendly" by smiling and possibly even shaking hands with people on the way up the aisle. We should never confuse joy with silliness. This is what Cardinal Arinze, in the name of the Holy Father, really, called the Ars Celebrandi the are of the celebrant. We shall continue with a series of post on this over the next several weeks.

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