Sunday, November 9, 2008

St.Agnes: Liturgy 101: A Primer for Those Interested in the Extraordinary Form

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For centuries, the Holy Eucharist has been spoken of in terms and with imagery from a great banquet, a feast of feasts. This imagery is scriptural, patristic and doctrinal. I wish to write in more detail concerning the great banquet of the Eucharist as it now is situated in the Roman Rite with its two forms. Beginning on the 1st Sunday of Advent, we will experience both forms of the Roman Rite on alternating Sundays at the 10:00 a.m. Mass.

Hopefully this change will be received in the spirit in which it is intended, as a widening of the treasures of the great banquet of the Lamb, the Sacrifice of the Mass offered to the praise and glory of God and the sanctification of man. I hope to assist our faithful to be more comfortable with the changes that they will experience, while assuring them that many of the elements of the manner of celebration will remain unchanged.

We will celebrate a Missa Cantata, a simpler form of a High Mass as we begin. The solemn High Mass makes use of a Deacon and a SubDeacon (really a second deacon fulfilling the role of Subdeacon). This may occur at a later date, but is a more complicated ritual. Here is some of what you will see in the Extraordinary Form (EF).

  • Priests and Ministers enter the Church either to the singing of the Introit, or during Advent, Lent and some Sundays, to the Asperges Rite preceding Mass. This custom will remain in both forms. In the EF, during the singing of the Introit, the priest carries out the incensation rite.
  • The priest says the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar (Psalm 42) with the servers, including a longer version of the Confiteor than is in the OF. [Ordinary Form, Novus Ordo] It will be in a soft voice, while the singing occurs. It leads right into the Kyrie and Gloria. When the Chorale is in season, the priests will return to the Sedelia [Sedilia: seats] for these sung parts, but if it is the Chant Choir alone, he will likely wait at the altar.
  • In the EF, a cleric may proclaim the Epistle, and we will follow that custom. He will sing it recto tono [a single note held for the length of a phrase] from the sanctuary, while the priest and people are seated.
  • There is only one reading (not two), and it will be chanted in Latin, not English. This will represent a change, we will produce a one-page handout each week with all the readings and prayers. You will be encouraged to purchase a 1962 Missal for frequent use, but we will provide all that is necessary.
  • In a Missa Cantata, the priest chants the Gospel from the altar; in a solemn High Mass the deacon does the same from the sanctuary. In the EF, there was no responsorial psalm. Instead, a verse or two of a psalm formed the Gradual and Alleluia between the reading of the Epistle and Gospel. It remains an option in the OF, one that we currently exercise. The homily follows and the intonation of the Creed, without any Prayers of the Faithful. This is a change.
The phrase "active participation" (actuosa participatio) has often been misunderstood in these past years since Vatican II. It ultimately refers to an interior participation by uniting our prayers with those of the Mass, focusing on the Lord at all times. This is not merely an external activity, but it is internal worship accompanied by the immolation of each one, offering himself like the Victim and with the Victim. That beinig said, we also are encouraged to sing certain parts of the Mass that are proper to us. (To be continued HERE).
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. John L. Ubel, Pastor

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