Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ordinary Mass in Wellington Cathedral

This morning I went along to Mass in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Wellington, at 8.30am on Wednesday 12th January.

The chapel after Mass, the candles &c. having been packed away.

Mass, being in the Ordinary Form, was for Wednesday of the 1st week in Ordinary Time [sic].

The liturgy, a simple said service, was basically normal for a weekday celebration in the Ordinary Form in Australasia (no server, a layperson coming up to read the first reading and later to act as Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, a short boring homily), excepting:

1. The celebrant said “In the name of the Father…” in Maori:

Ki te ingoa o te Matua, o te Tamaiti, o te Wairua Tapu.

2. In N.Z., the new words and responses for the Ordinary of the Mass are being introduced already; there were booklets provided, endorsed by the local episcopate, which many were using; it was good to say “And with your spirit” (though I noticed some didn’t, I forgot later on, and the priest himself got confused between the old and new words at points, such as during the formulæ of offering up the bread and wine at the Preparation of the Gifts, and in the Embolism – switching over to the new version takes practice).

3. Instead of the responsorial psalm, a portion of Psalm 105 was read chorus contra chorum: I don’t know if this is the correct psalm for today; I do recall that the psalm can be read in this manner, but what of the response? and furthermore, the version was the Grail version, but “inclusified” by replacing references to God as “he/him” with “God” – the manic avoidance of pronouns is very clunky, not to mention illicit – yet this curious translation is in a book printed for the Cathedral!

4. There were, thankfully, no prayers of the faithful: I say so because too often, if the priest asks the congregation to add their own prayers, and as too often all remain seated on their behind rather than standing, the whole thing degenerates into a Quaker prayer meeting rather than integrates into the larger liturgical act.

5. A wooden paten was used – surely Redemptionis Sacramentum reprobates this?  Maybe it was gilded on the inside…

6. To my surprise, no one stood at the Orate fratres, but followed the former practice of standing only for the Prayer over the Gifts – hasn’t N.Z. implemented this yet?  Even in the booklet with the new words there is no mention of this, but it says to stand at the old point instead.  I noticed the same in Italy – even at Mass in St Peter's!

7. Greatly to my shock and scandal (I think I may have gasped), the priest didn’t genuflect or even bow afte elevating the Host, and only bowed, not genuflected, after elevating the Chalice – it is a foolish abuse to only “reverence” the Sacrament once, just perhaps betraying a distorted idea of the consecration of the Host as not complete until the Chalice is also consecrated, or more likely out of misguidedly overzealous liturgical minimalism; at the end of Mass he only bowed (I didn’t notice what he did at the start).  He may have a health problem meaning he cannot genuflect, but otherwise it was a sorry example of gross irreverence that certainly scandalized me and set a bad example for the faithful.  "Irreverence can scarce be separated from impiety" (Council of Trent, Decretum de observandis et evitandis in celebratione missæ, l7th September 1562).

8. The priest elevated, not the paten and chalice, but the Host over the chalice at the Doxology at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer (which was the “Swiss” one, using the variant referring to Christ as Mediator and including “joys and sorrows”, quoting Gaudium et spes).  How amusing that he thus did something Tridentine!

9. The annoying N.Z. modern version of the “Our Father” was used – I cannot bring myself to do so, so I said the traditional one under my breath (their booklet contains both).  Where exactly does permission for this N.Z. peculiarity come from?  Won't it ipso facto be done away with by the new translation, seeing as there will be one English-language Missal?

I shouldn't gripe too much, as I suspect Mass in the vernacular is usually done in a pretty slapdash manner in most places: I joked years ago with a friend that when at Mass in a new place, one tends now to classify the liturgical abuses (and oddities) present as "normal" or "unusual".

And they wonder why – even without any other motive – I prefer the Extraordinary Form...

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