As the Church sets out on a new liturgical year with the celebration of this season of Advent, it is easy for us to allow our gaze to fall only a short distance before ourselves. Surrounded as we are already by the lights and music of the Christmas festivities, and yet some way from the feast itself, we can all-too-easily be caught thinking that the sole purpose of this holy season is our preparation to celebrate the birth of the Lord in a few weeks’ time. Instead, the readings and prayers at this Mass and throughout Advent, point us not simply toward the coming of Christ as the babe in a manger – though of course they do – but also to his second coming when, as we profess in the Creed, he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
This spiritual conference was given by Mgr Andrew Wadsworth before the celebration of a Solemn Mass for the dead, in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The Mass was organised by Juventutem DC, a group of young adults who seek to encourage their peers in the faith and to build a relationship with Jesus Christ through the older form of the liturgy of the Church. The Mass was celebrated at St Thomas Apostle, the home of a new Community-in-Formation for the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri:
Given that this morning of recollection has been sponsored by the newly-formed chapter of Juventutem DC, I thought it might be appropriate to offer a few thoughts on the name ‘Juventutem’ and its obvious reference to Psalm 42 which is ot be found in the prayers at the foot of the altar that occur in the Traditional Latin Mass. In most Masses in the Extraordinary Form, Psalm 42 is said in its entirety. In almost all Masses at least verse 4 of this psalm is said. In Sung Masses, it is not heard as the prayers at the foot of the altar coincide with the singing of the introit and the kyrie. In Masses during Passiontide and in Requiem Masses (such as this morning’s Requiem Mass for All Souls), the psalm is omitted but the antiphon retained.
Although commentators often disagree in their explanation of the origins of certain features of the liturgy, it would seem that historically, this penitential act has occupied its place at the beginning of Mass, at the foot of the altar, from the time when the Roman liturgy was spreading into Gall-Frankish territory. The psalm did not gain an entrance into many rites of Mass, however, even through the later Middle Ages and for a considerable time after. In the liturgies of religious orders such as the Carthusians and Dominicans Psalm 42 did not appear in their rite of Mass when these orders were established in the 13th century. Even when it was inserted, only a single verse was recited, Introibo ad altare Dei. Even when the psalm itself is omitted, the antiphon is said once.
What is the Anglican patrimony? This is a question that has thousands of different potential answers, and yet it is also one that many find very difficult to answer at all. For the past four years suggestions have been made, serious academic papers have been written, and many people have come to their own mind about what it is that the personal ordinariates are (and are not) supposed to preserve and promote.
For the most comprehensive collection of essays on this subject we can turn to the Catholic League’s special edition of The Messenger, which is available to download here. Suggested categories there and elsewhere have tended to include the Anglican musical tradition, the liturgical texts and language, the Anglican approach to preaching, even the ‘coffee hour’ or simply the people themselves.
The primary purpose of the newly promulgated liturgical texts for the personal ordinariates is ‘to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared’ (AC III). It is clear that, from their use by the clergy and lay faithful of the ordinariates, these texts provide the primary way in which the Anglican patrimony is transmitted within the Catholic Church. How, then, might the desire of the Apostolic Constitution for these texts to be ‘a treasure to be shared’ be made manifest?
In his comments on the recent celebration of the new Ordo Missae in this week’s Catholic Herald, Dr Joseph Shaw says, ‘The newly unveiled liturgy of the ordinariate is to be welcomed both because it affirms the important principle of liturgical pluralism in the West, and because it represents a move forward in official thinking about the reform of the liturgy. Like the use in the ordinariate’s Calendar of Septuagesima (pre-Lent), the appearance (at least as an option) of the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and the Last Gospel restore much-loved elements of the ancient Catholic Mass which were stripped away following the Second Vatican Council. The arguments against these, that they were strictly unnecessary and confused the sequence of events in the rite, have been overtaken by a new sense that the Mass should introduce worshippers into the liturgy of heaven where, as Pope Francis recently remarked of the Eastern liturgy, “time does not count. The centre is God”. In short, this represents a decisive rejection of a reductionist and functionalist understanding of the liturgy’ (Catholic Herald, 18 Oct 2013).
This past week I have been fortunate to visit a quite extraordinary parish in South Carolina. Prince of Peace in Taylors, just outside the city of Greenville, is led by Fr Christopher Smith who blogs at Chant Café and whom I met at the Sacra Liturgia conference in Rome this past summer.
Prince of Peace is a phenomenally liturgical parish. What do I mean by that? It is a place where the liturgy of the Church is very much at the heart of the life of the community, tangibly present as the fons et culmen of all that goes on – from the parish school to the social life of the faithful. A great deal of effort is put into the Sunday celebrations, with the music, vestments – everything down to the choice of incense – all culminating to achieve in a remarkable way the hopes of Pope Saint Pius X for a participatio actuosa in the Sacred Liturgy.
The usual pattern of daily Mass in the Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is currently on hold as the parish awaits a second priest, but the Sunday routine has remained unchanged. A Saturday evening Mass of anticipation is the only Mass now celebrated versus populum, and this uses the chants of the 2002 Missale Romanum provided in English by ICEL, together with a newly introduced setting of the Ordinary of the Mass by Peter Latona. Sunday morning sees a said Mass (OF) at 8am, followed by a Solemn Mass in the Ordinary Form (English with chant and the Latona setting, ad orientem, with an elite squad of servers!), and a Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form (c. 200 in attendance) that becomes a Missa Cantata for most of the year, and a High Mass whenever possible. The music at these two principal celebrations is usually augmented by a schola of local students, performing music from across the Catholic repertoire, with a particular emphasis on Latin polyphony of the renaissance. In the evening, the final Mass of the day is a replica of the Saturday evening Mass, but celebrated ad orientem. During my visit, this Sunday evening celebration was concluded by a candlelit outdoor procession of Our Lady of Fatima, attended by well over 200 of the faithful from the parish, of all ages.
Over the past few months I have been fortunate enough to assist at two parishes that retain the rite of sprinkling before the principal Sunday Mass. One of these is a parish that celebrates an Extraordinary Form Missa Cantata, the other is a church of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter.
Whilst the Rite for the Blessing and Sprinkling of Water appears in the Missale Romanum of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, it forms part of the celebration of the Mass in a way that is different from the older form and the new Ordo Missae for use in the Personal Ordinariates. The English translation of the rubrics in the Ordinary Form reads, ”From time to time on Sundays, especially in Easter Time, instead of the customary Penitential Act, the blessing and sprinkling of water may take place”.
Here, then, there is certainly a clear sense that this act is a ‘memorial of baptism’, but it seems that some of the wider symbolism of the ceremony is missed by this relocation. For example, whilst the penitential nature of the rite is elevated – no bad thing – this happens at the risk of reducing the richness of the sprinkling’s baptismal symbolism, because we move from an act of communal renewal to one that is explicitly penitential. We cannot confess the sins of another, and so the communitarian nature of the action is diminished. The explicit link between the Lord’s Day and the renewal of the memory of baptism is also surely important, and this is somewhat lost if the ceremony is only to take place ‘from time to time’, or only during the paschal season.