Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Amare Nescivi

St Philip will be pleased and highly amused: not only was he not even mentioned at Mass (which appeared to be a Votive of Our Lady, seeing as the Gospel read was of Our Lord's commendation of His Mother to St John at the Crucifixion), in line with his dictum "to love being unknown"; but I arrived and found it to be a - Novus Ordo children's Mass! (I suspect St Philip Neri would have perversely liked the Novus Ordo: he found the sacred solemnities of the Mass as celebrated in his day so moving that he had to distract himself with jokes in the sacristy and walking up and down before the altar lest he go into ecstasy and float off into the air! There is little fear of the aptly-named Ordinary Form causing such episodes - unless of course one can attend the sort of sumptuous liturgies that the English Oratorians have managed to render.)

I should explain: having driven around Dunedin trying to get to the Cathedral, I arrived at that handsome Gothic edifice, and found (after genuflecting to the Bl Sacrament in the side chapel) that Mass on weekdays is elsewhere, round the back of the Catheral... I ended up scurrying through the diocesan offices, up staircases and through passageways, before ending up in the chapel to the rear of St Dominic's Priory - built for Dominican sisters last century: there I found a teacher shepherding very tiny primary school students, who were attending Mass (as well as what I assume were the usual adult Mass-goers). By the time I had found my way there, the priest was about to read the Gospel.

Fr John Harrison (he introduced himself to me after Mass; he knows a priest friend of mine, Fr Greg, O.P.) then gave the sermon by questioning the children about who the Beloved Disciple was, and about how our mothers care for each of us - and then very beautifully explained how Mary is our mother and looks after us from heaven, and that we should turn to her in all our troubles, that she may intercede for us with God the Father, God the Son (who is her Son Jesus) and God the Holy Ghost. Despite this being a children's Mass - and I gritted my teeth and very nearly fled the chapel when I came in and realized what I could be in for - all was conducted juxta rubricas, even Fr's careful explanations of certain parts of the Mass (as provided for in the GIRM). I notice that the latest minor alterations to the rubrics have not yet reached New Zealand: no one stood until after replying to the Orate fratres, nor did anyone pay their due reverence before receiving the Sacrament (though doubtlessly they did so in their hearts).

The Eucharistic Prayer, being one of those "for children" was actually quite decent: it certainly talked of the Mass as a sacrifice, though when speaking of the fruits of communion it did use the term "meal" which I do greatly dislike as overly secular and reductionist: surely "feast" or "banquet" is more fitting? I did ask Fr after Mass about the Our Father - I was all ready to launch into it, but found no one saying "...who art in heaven"! So much for the one Mass even in English! Apparently this modern version of the Lord's Prayer crept in in N.Z. since its use during John Paul II's visit in 1986 (he was, after all, not terribly liturgically minded). I find it most ironic that I can say the Pater noster without difficulty, yet couldn't join in this very prayer in my own native tongue. How rude.

Mass ended - again in a manner surprising to an Australian - with the children (too young even to receive Communion) all singing a hymn to Our Lady in Maori: they were the majority of them Pakeha (British or European), and yet they all did so! This I must say I applaud, since after all the Maori are a good percentage of New Zealanders and their language is a recognized treasure; and the words of the hymn (see below) were excellent in sentiment. From my perspective, how inconceivable that any Australian congregation, aside from some in a former mission station in the far desert, would or could ever sing anything in any Aboriginal language!

Ka waiata ki a Maria

Ka waiata ki a Maria
Hine i whakaae
Whakameatia mai
Hei whare tangata
Hine purotu, hine ngakau
Hine rangimarie
Ko te whaea, ko te whaea
O te ao (o te ao).

I sing to Mary, our mother,
The one who heard God's call,
The call to be the mother
Of Our Lord (of us all)
Gentle woman, loving mother,
Our Lady Queen of Peace.
I sing to Mary,
the mother of Our Lord (of us all).

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