9 October 2014

Better News

The second Sunday of our visit to England's North, we had a much better experience than we did in Father Etiam Vaticanior's church. I was grateful for it: one does not want to come away from Mass miserable and depressed two Sundays running.

This time, the Novus Ordo was done in an almost legal way ... and more importantly, in a reverent and joyful way. A sermon was preached, for which the pastor had clearly worked hard to bring the liturgical readings for Holy Cross Day ... Crouchmass, as we call it in the Patrimony ... to life for his people, so as to connect both with their intelligences and their emotions. We were allowed to say the Creed. Fr Etiam could benefit from being sent on a Placement to this church so as to learn how to do liturgy from his brother priest and from the servers, musicians, and people.

I make two points in a sincerely humble and purely positive way.
(1) The pseudo-Hippolytan Eucharistic Prayer II was used. The GIRM expects Prayer I, the Roman Canon, to be used on Sundays and festivals, or at least Prayer III. I believe I have read somewhere that the Bishops have a canonical duty to moderate the Liturgy within their jurisdictions; I wonder how often they draw this point to the attention of their presbyters, since my impression is that this particular abuse is so common as to be almost universal.
(2) The hymns chosen had no relevance to the Festival of the Holy Cross. Perhaps Father had not drawn this point to the attention of his Director of Music? This created a thematic dissonance.


Savonarola said...

GIRM no. 365 does not actually forbid use of EP2 on Sundays, so how can this be an abuse? Its language is that of guidance rather than prescription, and surely priests have the discretion for pastoral reasons to choose which EP they should use. Most priests it seems say EP2 far more than the others because they prefer its brevity and clarity (apart of course from that ludicrous dewfall), as do their people. My own pp said to me once that he would never use the lumbering EP1 with its pointless listing of saints because he finds it unbearable to read aloud in English, especially the grotesque Latinate translationese we now have to endure.

Servus parvulorum said...

I would suggest, Father, that a greater appreciation of the liturgical and catechetical value of appropriate hymns may be an important element in the patrimony that we former Anglicans can contribute to the Catholic Church.

In the wake of the Oxford Movement many priests who wished to bring their parishes ‘up the candle’ used to prepare the way for Catholic teaching and practice by introducing Eucharistic and Mariological hymns which sowed the seeds of Catholic doctrine in a relatively non-confrontational way. Subsequently, such hymns - set to good tunes - served as an effective means of expressing and reinforcing Catholic belief, and greatly enhanced the beauty of the liturgy.

After singing such hymns so frequently as a child, I ended up knowing many of them by heart, and they became a valuable and integral part of my spiritual life. As a priest, I have sometimes set the memorising of a hymn as a penance; and penitents have told me that they have found this helpful.

Having concelebrated in hundreds of Catholic parishes over the last twenty years, I have found that many cradle-Catholic clergy have little appreciation of the potential of good hymns. Some treat them as mere musical interludes to fill the gaps when no-one is saying anything, whilst others wish to exclude them from the Mass altogether in favour of plainsong.

I hope that the liturgy of the Ordinariate will help to teach Catholics to use hymns more effectively and to value them more highly.