6 October 2016

Moving beyond monoculture: a solution to the problem of the Novus Ordo (1)

The recent debate in the Latin Church occasioned by the spat between Cardinals Sarah and Nichols makes one thing clear. The causa belli is not about Extraordinary Form versus Ordinary Form. Only the Tablet-reader type of person brings the EF into the argument, largely as a way of scaring the horses. No; it is about how the Novus Ordo may best be done.

My analysis is that the problem lies not so much in the OF as such. This debate has made that very clear: fury has been stoked by the prospect of seeing the OF done versus apsidem. Some time ago, it was reported that Bishop Fellay, having witnessed a celebration of the OF done according to Tradfition, commented that the Great Archbishop himself would not have objected to that. The point at issue is what used to be called the Reform of the Reform: and I agree rather with Fr Lombardi that this is not altogether an attractive term. I would prefer to talk critically about a monoculture of the OF, by which I would mean the OF done as it is in hundreds of churches; versus populum; Holy Communion received ambulando; trite music; a preponderance of the vernacular; the widespread use of large numbers of 'Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion"; the pseudo-hippolytan trattoria in trastevere Eucharistic Prayer at Sunday Masses.

In my view, any and every step away from this monoculture is a good step. As Fr Zed puts it, brick by brick. Let me give you one example. Until Vincent Nichols attained the See of Westminster, the nasty practice obtained of wheeling out a temporary altar into the Sanctuary and celebrating at that, facing the people and leaving the great High Altar ignored and widowed. This was catechetically appalling: the Altar symbolises Christ; symbolises the oneness of the community; shows that this Eucharist is one with the one worship of the Lamb in heaven. After his appointment ... if he was responsible, he is much to be praised for this ... the mobile altar was pensioned off and the High Altar brought back into use, albeit versus populum.

I don't know how much catechesis there was about this significant and laudable change; which lay representative bodies were consulted beforehand; how many Tablet-readers walked out of the Cathedral in disgust and never returned ... my guess is, Not Many. I don't even care. I am just thankful that it was done. Three cheers for whoever was responsible.

To be continued.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

One can only hope. Perhaps it took these last fifty years or so of clerics-gone-wild to make the laity realize that they too have ownership of the deposit of faith and need to guard and protect more jealously their liturgical patrimony. We shall see. A muscle atrophies when not used, and the formally ordained made a very big point the last 500 years or so to make sure the lay would not even know the muscle existed. Are they free of that hubris? Or is the "Reform of the Reform" just a pause, a plateau, and another downhill slide is coming in the next generation?