6 October 2014

Father Etiam Vaticanior

I wrote not long ago about Fr Nominis Obliviscor; presumably his often-asserted devotion to Vatican II is what prevents him from preaching in August. While travelling North to visit a Daughter, we stopped off for an overnight break and I experienced a clergyman even more apparently totally committed to Vatican II than dear old Obliviscor. Not only did this gentleman, on the first Sunday in September, fail to preach a homily; he also omitted the Creed (and he appeared to have mislaid his chasuble). Needless to say, despite the GIRM, he also used the pseudo-Hippolytan Eucharistic Prayer II at a Sunday Mass.

Not that this meant that we got out of Church any earlier, which troubled my digestive tract because I had spotted an Italian Restaurant offering Lobster Thermidor. Time saved by omitting Homily and Creed was consumed by innumerable hymns (including, of course, Make me a Channel). And after the Acclamation following the Consecration, the congregation sang something metrical rather than one of the legal responses (which made the Therefore at the start of the Anamnesis completely meaningless). And after the Peace there was a long sentimental-sounding chant in which the only word I could hear and recognise was Shalom. Not being familiar with any of this stuff, or knowing the words of the formulae concerned, I found participatio actuosa totally impossible. I have not felt so marginalised and alienated by any Christian worship for many years.

Not that I am a fundamentist advocate of invariably Doing the Red and Saying the Black. My first point is this: the omission of elements positively required by the post-Conciliar liturgical dispositions, homily and Creed, had every appearance of being done to make space for other elements which neither the Council nor the subsequent Revisers felt it necessary to provide. In other words, the service was, if you think about it, a decisive vote of no-confidence in the Novus Ordo as constructed in the late 1960s. Fr Etiam did not value what it does prescribe, and he did value elements which it fails to contain. Not even the most rabid traddy could have expressed more eloquently than this priest did his evident conviction that the Novus Ordo, as authorised, fails to provide for the needs of God's people.

The second thing that struck me was the joylessness of both the priest and his elderly congregation ... there was a real atmosphere of the Dreary and the Shabby. What is more truly joyful for a devoted priest than preaching on the Gospel Words of the Redeemer; what is happier to hear than God's People saying together the 'Nicene' Creed with its moving, thunderous, affirmations of the God from God, the Light from Light, the True God from True God, His Incarnation, Passion, Death, and Resurrection? What is more heart-lifting than the Roman Canon with the rising climactic anaphoras of Hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam, panem sanctum vitae aeternae et calicem salutis perpetuae; with its momentous bringing together of Heaven and Earth in the Supplices te rogamus? What have all the vacuous hymns and the moaning chants of the 1970s got to compare with the wonders which the Catholic Church actually provides and requires? I am reminded of Cardinal Nichols' wise words a few days ago, in his brilliant address to the Ordinariate, about how what we do should not be "a matter of personal taste, of subjective likes and dislikes"; that we should not "satisfy our own tastes or personal preferences", our "individual personal preferences and likes and dislikes which are so often contentious"; "personal and subjective taste" should be disciplined. Particularly important, and, I suggest, potentially valuable to clergy like Fathers Obliviscor and Vaticanior is His Eminence's beautifully expressed intuition that "often ... I am fashioned more deeply ... by what I do not particularly like". Even if clergy keen on "Vatican II" have strong personal and subjective dislikes of sermons and creeds and chasubles, and regard the Eucharistic Prayer as a troublesome detail to be disposed of as rapidly as possible, might they not be "fashioned more deeply" by forcing themselves to take seriously "what they do not particularly like"?

I didn't cheer up till I got to the lobster, a masterpiece of Divine Creativity and Human Synergy, well worth waiting for. But it still depresses me to think of the pabulum which the plebs sancta Dei are apparently expected to make do with in some areas within the mainstream Church. And who will be in that particular church in fifteen years' time when the present congregation are all dead?

You will be glad to hear that things were toto caelo better the following Sunday, when we went to a different Novus Ordo church, further North up  in Northumberland. I will write about this later.


Mike Hurcum said...

Did you mean father the Consecration followed by the Altercation???

Hugh McLoughlin said...

"the pseudo-Hippolytan Eucharistic Prayer II…Anamnesis…climactic anaphoras" You are joking, Fr? You don't really think this guy knows anything about such things, do you? Indeed, for GIRM he would probably read GIRN.

Aurelia said...

"And who will be in that particular church in fifteen years' time when the present congregation are all dead?" Maybe the Ordinariate?

Chris said...

"what is happier to hear than God's People saying together the 'Nicene' Creed"

Their singing it, of course!