Monday, April 21, 2008

Roadtrip! - Part I

Greatly to my surprise, Fr Rowe rang me up at 8.30 on Saturday night, and asked if I could drive him down to Bunbury the next day for his monthly Mass there - "Certainly, Father," said I.

(I had actually gone to bed very early, and so he woke me up - he later confessed that he had wondered why I had sounded so groggy!)

Anyhow, I was then committed to what turned out to be a sort of impromptu extension of my week's holiday.

From some notes I took along the way:

In the morning, I grabbed most of the stuff I'd need for the trip, then got going to church...

I arrived just in time to go to confession and then join in singing the Mass with the other three members of the schola; as Andrew was organist, Justin was cantor (they swap roles each Sunday). It was great to sing Mass I and Credo I, plus one of my absolute favourite Offertories, Jubilate Deo: the long melodic run up the scale is very moving. Because of this long Offertory, we sang no other piece beside it; and at Communion, together with the actual Communion anthem, we sang extracts from the famous Psalm 33, so eminently suitable for the reception of the Sacrament. For vernacular hymns at the beginning and end, we had a Welsh celebration, singing "Love Divine, all loves excelling" (to "Hyfrydol") and "Guide me, O Thou Great Redeemer" - the latter sung out loud enough to bring the house down. Marvellous.

I was struck by the Sunday's Epistle: St James i, 17-21; it contains a very wealth of doctrine:

Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration.
For of his own will hath he begotten us by the word of truth, that we might be some beginning of his creatures.
You know, my dearest brethren. And let every man be swift to hear, but slow to speak, and slow to anger.
For the anger of man worketh not the justice of God.
Wherefore casting away all uncleanness, and abundance of naughtiness, with meekness receive the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

I for one am a slave to anger and my irascible passions, and must heed this exhortation. On the positive side, it is most wonderful to think of all the gifts and graces of God coming down from Him Who Is Pure Act Impassible! And yet more - He hath begotten us by the Word of Truth; and by the ingrafted Word we may save our souls. Bl Columba Marmion is very big on this point, a constitutive element of our divine adoption as sons in the Son.

Similarly, the singing of the first Alleluia verse occasioned much thought on its text - is not Christ in truth the actual Dextera Dei, Who not merely sitteth on His Right, but in a manner surpassing words Is God's Right Hand (cf. St Irenæus), Who "hath wrought strength", "Who hath exalted me" (Ps 117:16)?

The orations of the Sunday (the 4th after Easter) were all likewise pregnant with significance:

Deus, qui fidelium mentes unius efficis voluntatis: da populis tuis id amare quod præcipis, id desiderare quod promittis; ut inter mundanas varietates ibi nostra fixa sint corda, ubi vera sunt gaudia. Per...

(O God, who makest the minds of the faithful to be of one will, grant to Thy people to love that which Thou commandest, to desire that which Thou dost promise; that amid mundane changing things, our hearts may there be fixed, where true joys are. Through...)

Deus, qui nos per hujus sacrificii veneranda commercia, unius summæ divinitatis participes effecisti: præsta, quæsumus; ut, sicut tuam cognoscimus veritatem, sic eam dignis moribus assequamur. Per...

(O God, Who by the venerable commerce of this sacrifice hast made us partakers of the one supreme divinity: grant, we beseech, that, as we know Thy truth, so we may follow it with worthy manners. Through...)

Adesto, nobis, Domine Deus noster: ut per haec, quae fideliter sumpsimus, et purgemur a vitiis, et a periculis omnibus eruamur. Per...

(Be present to us, Lord our God: that by these, which we have faithfully received, we may be both purged from vices and delivered from all perils. Through...)

(Amusingly, the Sunday collect turns out to be the Monday collect in the Novus Ordo! It is a most beautiful prayer. Likewise, the Secret plainly tells how that the Sacrifice we share in the Eucharist makes us partakers of the Divine Nature, but begs that we may live worthily according to the truth we profess - lest what is promised us comes not to pass.)

Fr Rowe preached an intriguing sermon, elucidating the meaning of the Gospels of the five Sundays between Easter and the Ascension.

After Mass, I prayed the Office of Readings, and Prayer during the Day (Lauds having been said earlier), and then repaired for coffee and conversation with the rest of the usual dozen or so, until the last morning Mass was almost over - I got back in time for the Last Gospel and last hymn (an English version of O filii et filiæ). We then loaded up the car with Fr's stuff, and I set off with him to Kelmscott (via my place: I'd left a bag behind).

I decided to use Michael Sternbeck's new Missalette, put out by Ignatius Press, to so to speak road-test it, at Mass at Kelmscott and Bunbury (I'd used my Abbot Cabrol Missal for the morning's Missa Cantata, when not singing from the Liber Usualis). On Fr Rowe's advice, I don't communicate a second time when assisting at second and third Sunday Masses, but simply renew my thanksgiving for the inestimable gift of Our Lord in the Sacrament I have received.

On arrival and departure from Good Shepherd, Kelmscott, I was thanked for this my blog by the two main altar servers, Matthew and Scott, and their mum - they are readers of it!!!

The 2pm Low Mass was a dialogue Mass, apparently by spontaneous choice of the people: I liked this very much. We accompanied the liturgy with three hymns, "Bring, all ye dear-bought nations, bring", "Soul of my Saviour" (at offertory) and "Jesus Christ is risen today". There were about 40 present for the Holy Sacrifice.

At 3.05pm, Fr and I set off for Bunbury, via the South-West Highway, the inland route, a much more scenic drive than the main road nearer to the coast. We made very good time, arriving in just over 2 hours, and managed to get in a Rosary, my Novena, Vespers and Compline from Fr's Breviary, some naps (for the priest only!) and discussion of some details of Fr's retreat in Ballaarat the week before last, which I hadn't heard a report about because of my holiday last week.

To be continued...


Anonymous said...

Well, I guess the Missa Recitata is ok in limited circumstances. I can't stand it when I'm serving, because I need to change my tempo and avoid laughing at the pronunciation.

Joshua said...

Oh Pete! I am quite a partisan of the dialogue Mass: I can't stand not giving the responses - I understand Latin and it seems perverse not to make reply.

No doubt this means I am a Modernist, an anti-liturgical heretic, a disciple of Loisy, a destroyer of the Mass, a bastard child of Bugnini, subverted by the Devil. etc. - in the eyes of the intransigent.

While at a private Mass, there is only the server to make the responses, at any modern-day Latin Mass the congregation present, who have chosen to come and are usually very au fait with the rite, are quite capable of making the responses - they have no need of someone to speak on their behalf.

No one should feel forced to give the responses (since there are many legitimate ways to pray the Mass); but, as the sung Mass is the typical form, and as people are encouraged thereat to sing the responses (and such parts of the Ordinary as they can), it seems to me that at Low Mass saying "Et cum spiritu tuo", etc., is all to be encouraged (but not so much, say, Ps 42, which is for the priest and his ministers, tho' of course all present at Low Mass rejoice to hear its words).

The New Liturgical Movement is not about returning to the 1950's (which notoriously were followed by the 1960's and '70's), but about celebrating the sacred Liturgy in the most worthy manner, that Almighty God be worshipped and glorified with heart and mind and voice, and that, by the Holy Sacrifice and the Sacrament that is its fruit, the members of the Body of Christ be sanctified and saved; and that they may derive the greatest fruit from the Mass, they assist thereat with great interior devotion and concentration and attention, manifested even in exterior deportment and voice and song.