Monday, May 24, 2010

Our Lady Help of Christians, pray for us!

To-day, which in the Traditional Calendar is Whit Monday, in the modern Roman Rite's local Australian Calendar is the Solemnity of Our Lady Help of Christians.  Given the importance of the feast, and the need to pray for a relative undergoing a medical procedure, I went to Mass...

I do wish the celebrant would recall that the Creed ought be read, it being a solemnity!  It is of far greater importance to join the Church in confessing our Holy Faith than to indulge in what was the great time-wasting session that ensued instead: while all sat (meditating on their latter end, as the saying goes), we had tiresomely longwinded extempore prayers of the faithful, one of which, from an over-pious middle-aged female, as well as being inaudible, was longer than the sermon.  I resent turning the Mass into a pathetic prayer-group.

Alas!  I had come to "Lazy Mass", an unfortunately common variant of the Ordinary Form, especially when Mass is celebrated for a small coterie, middle-aged and up, on weekdays.  (The virulent form is such a Mass dominated by foul religious sisters or fouler layfolk of the dissenting variety.)  Note that I write not of Mass for the very aged or frail, since they of course can hardly be expected to sit, stand and kneel in due order: I write of those perfectly able to kneel at Mass on Sunday, but who manifest an aversion to the same on weekdays.

Sitting – apparently this is the acceptable posture in which to worship God.  Or so one not conversant with the actual directions of the Roman Rite might conclude, given the lazy way all but two rested in their chairs during the Preface, when they should have stood (as had done at the start of Mass, and as they did for the Lord's Prayer later on), and, most scandalously, during the entire Eucharistic Prayer (the amply-carpeted floor being too uninviting for most knees).  The rationale seemed to be that if one sat dumbly during the very Consecration, why bother standing for the Preface?  The well-known and reinforced requirement that one must now stand up at the Orate fratres seems not to apply to such Lazy Masses.

I expect that if I had asked why, there would have been horror at the question even being posed: apparently at a weekday Mass this sort of thing reigns in some places.  There is an entire blindness to the scandal of such material irreverence and disobedience to the clear directions given for the Mass, which allow no exceptions for such pretended exceptions.

It is wrong to sit at such times unless one is incapacitated.  If kneeling is not possible, it has been pointed out in Notitiæ, official organ of the Congregation for Divine Worship, that standing is the next best.  But no, ignorance triumphs again.

It particularly offends and upsets me that such a bad custom perverts the proper understanding of what liturgy and due reverence require, and turns the dread mysteries of the Mass into a safe little sit-down.  People even get the wicked idea (Luther I think first gave voice to it) that somehow such an "intimate" little affair is more "authentic" than the norm, when it is in fact a corruption inimical to a true perception of religious respect.

How typical that in backward Tasmania, the notorious coffee-table Masses of the sixties and seventies are still alive and well!  At least those who destroyed the liturgy back then largely drew the logical conclusion and either reformed themselves (as one hopes) or left altogether (as one fears), their innovating irreverence slipping away into indifference and atheism...

Despite the priest (personally devout), who has I know improved matters in the parish to some extent, I discovered anew that I cannot bear the way weekday Mass is arranged, not on his part, but on that of the congregation.  It drives me away every time, and has for years, whenever for any reason have I steeled myself to go again.  But I suppose this would be considered evidence of my having a problem, not those folks in their unthinking laxity, no...

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