One more Missa Cantata this Sunday, July 26

As our dear Fr. Jude has not yet departed from the United States, he has offered to celebrate another Missa Cantata at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church this Sunday, July 26, at 12 noon. Come join us!

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Excellent readings on the traditional Latin Mass

Check out this wonderful article giving ten reasons to attend the traditional Latin Mass over at OnePeterFive, by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski and Dr. Michael Foley. (Full disclosure, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Foley during my time in Texas, where I occasionally attended the traditional Latin Mass he had organized at St. Louis Catholic Church in Waco, Texas; he is a model of the Christian gentleman).

Reason #1 is, to me, the most important. I am constantly amazed (and scandalized) at the derision with which most Catholics treat the old Mass, as if it were nothing more than a style of art with which we are free to be unimpressed. Nonsense! The traditional Latin Mass is the history of the Roman rite of the Church. To borrow a phrase from Cormac McCarthy, the Church’s life is made up of the days it’s made up of and nothing else: if you hate her past, then you hate her. More urgently, because this form of the Mass was beloved of so many saints, we are obliged to at least consider its merits, because hating what the saints love is a sure sign that our sensibilities are defective and our soul in need of repentance and renewal.

Fr. Louis Bouyer, whose recently-published memoirs recount some of the antics surrounding the liturgical reform.

Fr. Louis Bouyer, whose recently-published memoirs recount the antics surrounding the liturgical reform.Also worth reading, from Dr. Joseph Shaw, is a pair of blog posts (one here, the other here) on Fr. Louis Bouyer, a French priest who was heavily involved in the liturgical reform, and whose memoirs were recently published (in French, and soon in English). Bouyer’s main contribution is his draft of Eucharistic Prayer II (the one with which Catholics are probably most familiar, being used almost exclusively by many priests due to its brevity), a draft he hated because he was forced to write and rehabilitate it in the course of a single evening with Dom Botte; both men complained bitterly of their colleagues in the Consilium who had made such a terrible hash of it. The first article linked above gives some quotes in the memoirs in which Fr. Bouyer speaks… shall we say, impatiently… about his colleagues, who were driven by an archeologizing zeal and a hatred of everything Roman, and his horror at discovering the ease with which some of its more unscrupulous members were able to manipulate Pope Paul VI.

The second article has some useful reflections about the nature of liturgy, which, he insists, is not didactic but mystical. It’s not a theological equivalent of vocation school in which Catholics are taught skills, but the theological equivalent of a classical education, in which the mind and soul are formed according to sound principles. The latter is teaching, and is characteristic of the new Mass with its emphasis on visibility, intelligibility, and simplicity; the latter is education, and is characteristic of the old Mass with its emphasis on self-emptying, silence, and mysticism.

Missa Cantatas every Sunday through July

Missa Cantatas will continue to be offered at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in Bloomington, IN, on Sundays at 12 noon. Because our schola is still small and in the process of familiarizing itself with the various chant settings, most of these Masses will see the Introit, Offertory, and Communion chants done in recto tono (at a single, sustained note). On that note, if you’re able to chant (or willing to learn), we’d love to have you — reach out to me at lmsbloomington at gmail dot com with contact information and I’ll put you in touch with our schola director.

At the moment, it appears certain that these Masses will continue through June and all of July, discontinuing thereafter until and unless we are able to find a new celebrant. Pray for us!

Missa Cantata this Sunday, June 14

The Latin Mass Society’s first Missa Cantata will be celebrated this Sunday, June 14, at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in Bloomington, IN, in honor of the Third Sunday after Pentecost.

A Missa Cantata, or “Sung Mass,” is a High Mass celebrated by a priest without the assistance of a deacon or subdeacon. All audible parts of the Mass are sung or chanted, either by the priest or schola.

Low Mass for Corpus Christi this Sunday, June 7

Please join us at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church this Sunday, June 7, at noon for a low Mass celebrated for the feast of Corpus Christi. As always, many of us go out for lunch afterward, so please feel free to stick around and join us.

Very often, the External Solemnity of Corpus Christi is celebrated with a Eucharistic procession — which is a good part of the reason why it’s allowed to be celebrated on Sundays in the US (Corpus Christi is proper to Thursday, the day on which the Eucharist was instituted). The Bloomington LMS is still too wobbly on its feet to support such an endeavor just yet, but Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis will have a procession beginning at 1:30 PM after their usual Sunday Missa Cantata, visiting three altars in the area before returning for final benediction. If Bloomington is too far, consider dropping by there to experience a wonderful piece of the Church’s liturgical heritage.

A brief walkthrough of the Mass: Homily and Credo

After the proclamation of the Gospel, the homily (if one is to be given) is delivered. Very often, the celebrant will remove the maniple (the length of liturgical fabric tied to the wrist) and either lay it over the Missal or hand it to a server, who places it on the sedilia; this is, I suspect, a remnant of earlier days, when the homily was an extra-liturgical act. The best evidence that it is merely a remnant is the fact that it was also once customary to remove the chasuble (because the chasuble and maniple both are explicitly liturgical vestments), and this is virtually nowhere observed.

There isn’t much to say about homilies in the traditional form of the Mass, which, after all, come at the same time as those in the newer form, and which are still left largely up to the discretion of the celebrant. Of note, of course, is the fact that the older lectionary is theophanic in nature rather than didactic, so there traditionally never was an expectation that the priest would speak in order to expound on some meaning behind the readings of the day. The point of the readings wasn’t to communicate ideas to the people but to pray to God. That the priest wasn’t necessarily expected to expound on the readings was, to my mind, freeing: the celebrant needn’t lecture a somnolent congregation stealing micro-naps whenever he cast a glance at his notes about the ancient Judaic traditions surrounding the anointing of kings because, after all, we read 1 Kings today. He was free instead to exhort them to imitation of the life of some noble saint, or to explain a difficult teaching of the Church at a time when it had come under attack, or to chastise the congregation for some sin too many of them were encouraging, etc. There is some freedom with homilies in the new form, too, but a priest who seldom addresses the readings of the day can reasonably be accused of disobedience to the General Instructions of the Roman Missal, which dictate thus:

65. The Homily is part of the Liturgy and is highly recommended, for it is necessary for the nurturing of the Christian life. It should be an explanation of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text from the Ordinary or the Proper of the Mass of the day and should take into account both the mystery being celebrated and the particular needs of the listeners.

This is obviously an artifact of the liturgical movement, more and more of whose energies were taken up in the former half of the 20th century with altering the liturgical actions to accommodate their own, inserted explanations of the liturgical actions, in the name of comprehensibility and participation. Telling, not showing, in other words, which rather deprives the action of some of its contemplative mystery.

One must also note that there is no expectation that a homily will be given at every single Mass in the traditional form. Very often, homilies were reserved for Sundays and feasts of major importance: at weekday low Masses, the homily was (and is) often glided over. This is fine by me: it’s not always appropriate to interrupt the liturgical action with lots of wordage, and the old Mass tends to run long, anyway (a daily low Mass celebrated at a moderate pace can take 45 minutes or more without a homily; a reformed daily Mass with a homily rarely exceeds 30 minutes).

Genuflecting at the Incarnatus in the Creed, a gesture that, again, says more in deed than can be expressed in words.

Following the homily, the Credo is recited or sung (if at a Solemn or sung High Mass, in which case the celebrant first intones Credo in unum Deum before the choir takes over the rest). Here, as at the Gloria, the priest and servers make numerous additional gestures of reverence during the Credo that they do not make in the ordinary form of the Mass, most prominently genuflecting at the Incarnatus, rather than merely bowing (which many don’t do, anyway, in the reformed Mass, I suspect because it is a gesture alien to Western sensibilities and because self-conscious people don’t want to do something they can’t see other self-conscious people also doing). Note, too, that in the old form there is no option to substitute the Nicene Creed with the Apostle’s Creed. The Creed is said at far more traditional Latin Masses than reformed ones, owing to the former’s comparative abundance of major feasts which were demoted or altogether abolished in the new calendar.

In the traditional form, the Credo is followed immediately by a Dominus vobiscum leading straight into the Offertory; in the ordinary form, there are Prayers of the Faithful (also called General Intercessions or Bidding Prayers) jammed in between, in which a prayer intention is announced and a “For this, we pray to the Lord / Lord, hear our prayer” response is made. Some see the absence of bidding prayers in the old form as a defect, or as un-traditional (bidding prayers are found in certain Eastern liturgies and ancient-but-now-suppressed Western ones); I am perfectly okay with their absence, which, to my mind, break up the logical action of the transition of the Mass of the Catechumens to the Mass of the Faithful: first, we profess our faith (in the Credo); then, we enact it (in the consecration and offering of the sacrifice).