Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More from Paul VI on the New Mass

We must prepare for this many-sided inconvenience. It is the kind of upset caused by every novelty that breaks in on our habits. We shall notice that pious persons are disturbed most, because they have their own respectable way of hearing Mass, and they will feel shaken out of their usual thoughts and obliged to follow those of others. Even priests may feel some annoyance in this respect.

Novelty again. It is good that Pope Paul notes that the pious will be the most disturbed. This is interesting considering that it was these who were noted as being non-participatory in the Mass by virtue of their person devotion.

So what is to be done on this special and historical occasion? First of all, we must prepare ourselves. This novelty is no small thing. We should not let ourselves be surprised by the nature, or even the nuisance, of its exterior forms. As intelligent persons and conscientious faithful we should find out as much as we can about this innovation. It will not be hard to do so, because of the many fine efforts being made by the Church and by publishers. As We said on another occasion, we shall do well to take into account the motives for this grave change. The first is obedience to the Council. That obedience now implies obedience to the Bishops, who interpret the Council's prescription and put them into practice.

Novelty again. Innovation too. Obedience to the Council. This last is especially interesting as I challenge anyone to read Sacrosanctum Conciliam and explain how the Pauline Mass fits with what was described at Vatican II. I'm not real sure what he means with the statement about "exterior forms."

This first reason is not simply canonical—relating to an external precept. It is connected with the charism of the liturgical act. In other words, it is linked with the power and efficacy of the Church's prayer, the most authoritative utterance of which comes from the Bishop. This is also true of priests, who help the Bishop in his ministry, and like him act in persona Christi (cf. St. Ign., ad Eph. I, V). It is Christ's will, it is the breath of the Holy Spirit which calls the Church to make this change. A prophetic moment is occurring in the mystical body of Christ, which is the Church. This moment is shaking the Church, arousing it, obliging it to renew the mysterious art of its prayer.

These are very good sentiments. However, I think it is a bit hyperbolic to describe the Pauline Mass in terms that make it sound like Divine Revelation and/or direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The other reason for the reform is this renewal of prayer. It is aimed at associating the assembly of the faithful more closely and more effectively with the official rite, that of the Word and that of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, that constitutes the Mass. For the faithful are also invested with the "royal priesthood"; that is, they are qualified to have supernatural conversation with God.

Another good sentiment, possible confusion with the ordained priesthood aside. Further example, I think that Pope Paul had good intentions but was being influenced by folks he probably shouldn't have been listening to.

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