Friday, September 14, 2007

Modo Proprio and the Revial the the Tridentine Mass


This afternoon I witnessed something that had largely disappeared after the 1960's: the Tridentine Mass. EWTN broadcast the Tridentine Mass both this morning and later at 5:00 (CST). As a traditional liturgically-minded Lutheran pastor I was quite fascinated to observe this Mass. Thankfully I had an 80 year old Missal handy to follow along, as I am not conversant with Latin, classical or ecclesiastical.

There were, of course, many elements of the Divine Service familiar to me that have been retained in the Lutheran tradition. In fact, I was probably more at home with the music and ritual than some modern Catholics who, like Lutherans themselves, have been victims of overzealous and misdirected liturgical reformers over the years. It must have been refreshing for them to again hear the grandness of the organ and the sweet melodic chants of the choir ringing in that ancient tongue.

Many today criticize worship that feels stiff and formal. They want upbeat music that relates to what they experience in a popular outdoor concert. This Mass, however, was solemn and formal and contrary to every contemporary innovation in the last 30+ years. The movements of the priests and deacons were deliberate with a sense of being in a holy place handling holy things. And the homilist did well in explaining to the congregation the meaning and significance of the liturgy, too often misunderstood even when it is in a language they do know. Even to Lutheran ears there was much to appreciate here. Like many Catholics that have chafed under the loose practices of misguided folk masses, Lutherans are even now struggling against a church that largely is jettisoning its ancient liturgical heritage for inferior pottage of seeker sensitive worship 'celebrations.' I can only hope that as Vatican II influenced the liturgical renewal well outside Catholic bounds, this renewal of the ancient Mass might also encourage others to reexamine the need for more solemnity and dignity in the Divine Service.

I was under the impression that the old Latin Mass was actually prohibited in the church since Vatican II. It was not prohibited, but it did require the permission of the Bishop. Obviously there was a desire to make sure the changes of the Second Vatican Council took hold. Now, however, with too much innovation and deconstruction of the Mass placing a blight on what was surely a good intention, the new Tridentine Mass will allow the people again to be solemn and formal without excuse. I hope this happens for us Lutherans one day as well.....

1 comment:

Christine said...

As a Catholic I, too, am grateful for Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio. It will probably take a few years for people to become reacquainted with the historic Mass but I predict that the young, especially, will find it very attractive, especially those Catholics born after the Second Vatican Council who will experience it anew.

Along with the new Missal that will shortly be published, using translations that are more faithful to the Latin text (and more graceful than the ICEL translations that are now admitted to have been produced too hastily) that is the official text of the Roman Church, Catholics can renew the sense of the numinous that was present in the old liturgy.

There is indeed much common ground here with historic Lutheran liturgical practice. May it benefit us all!