Sunday, January 23, 2011

Simple Low Mass

A few days ago I saw a comment on a thread somewhere discussing the "clarification document" for Summorum Pontificum that it is supposed to come out soon. People were giving their ideas about what they hope is included, or what they think should be. Sometimes this amounted more to a sort of delusional wish-list. I love playing, "If I were Pope..." as much as any good little lay cleric, but some of these people were acting like some impossible things were going to happen. Oh well.

Anyway, one suggestion I saw was interesting. The guy basically said that, especially if it were in the vernacular, and maybe there was a ferial lectionary, that people wouldn't mind the Old Rite for daily Mass. But that the problem is that (if not mumbled at incomprehensible speed) even a daily Low Mass can take 45 minutes, whereas people now only have time for daily Mass to be no more than a half-hour, like the Novus Ordo. He thus suggested that there be options for things like dropping the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and Last Gospel. This got me thinking, along the lines of Re-Attempting the Reform about a potential option for Low Mass which would shorten it by eliminating a lot of the accretions that were originally private devotions of the priest. A "Simple Low Mass" as it were.

I thought this made a lot of sense, maybe. Priests in the old days used to try to say Requiems for their Low Masses anyway, since the Requiem was shortened (especially if the optional Dies Irae was omitted) by omitting the Judica Me, the lack of a Gloria, etc. And in some ways it makes sense if a monk has already participated in a full Conventual High Mass, to not have to repeat so much in his private Low Mass. Furthermore, the 1965 liturgical books apparently attempted something like this too; removing certain accretions and putting in the vernacular.

I don't know much about the 1965 books, but for me it would be important that any such adaptation not add any new text to the Missal. That, like the 1960 reform of Matins lessons, it would only involve the application of rubrics, the omission or slight rearrangement of things already in the Missal, without removing or adding anything (except possibly these rubrics regarding the process to simplify). If only because the simplification would only be optional; a priest could still say a full Low Mass if he wanted, and High Masses should certainly still contain everything (if people don't have the time for these traditional parts of the Mass, then they don't have time for music, as I see it.)

So here is basically the plan I would propose for such a Simple Low Mass. It is disturbingly close to the Novus Ordo in some ways, but whatever:

The Mass would start with the Introit (as at High Mass, and as the "Entrance Antiphon" in the New Rite). Rather than reading it after the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, the priest would process in, go up to the altar with the chalice, lay out the corporal, go over to the missal to make sure it was set. As at some churches, he could then announce, "This holy sacrifice of the Mass is offered for such-and-such an intention. Mass as is on such-and-such a day." After a brief pause he could then read the Introit (possibly without the Gloria Patri or the repetition), and return to the foot of the altar.

As at a Requiem he would start with the Sign of the Cross and the antiphon with the server, "Introibo ad altare Dei..." but the Judica Me would not be said and he would go directly to the "Adjutorium..." The Confiteor would not be doubled (ie, one for the priest then again for the servers/people), rather it would be prayed in the "all together" form found in the Breviary. The rest would continue the same (though I lean against this, I could see permitting the priest to omit the silent prayers upon ascending the altar) up until the Kyrie. The Kyrie would be said immediately upon ascending the altar rather than after an Introit, since the Introit was already said at the beginning.

The Gloria is not said on most Ferias anyway, but I do think there needs to be some reform of the calendar so that many fewer feasts are Doubles, so that there is a pruning of more obscure feasts, and so that some distinction is made that would allow many more minor feasts to not have a Gloria (or the Te Deum at Matins, for example, but that's a tangent). Then the rest of Mass would proceed as usual up until the Offertory (though again I lean against this, I could see allowing permission for the priest to omit the Munda Cor Meum).

The Offertory, though I'm inclined to make it audible, would be somewhat shortened in the following way. The "Suscipe, sancte Pater..." would be maintained for the offering of the host, the "Deus, qui humanae..." would be kept for the filling of the chalice, and the "Offerimus tibi, Domine..." for the offering of the chalice. However, then the priest would move immediately to the Lavabo, which would be shortened to the first verse of the psalm and the Gloria Patri only. He would then pray the two previous prayers from the Offertory (the "In spiritu humilitatis..." and the "Veni Sanctificator...") in place of the "Suscipe sancta Trinitas..." (whose basic points are already hit in the "Unde et memores..." of the Canon, and the "Libera nos...")

Mass would then continue as normal until after the Agnus Dei. The priest's private prayers before communion would be omitted (though priests could choose to add one of the latter two quietly and quickly after the Agnus Dei). The priest would move right to taking the host and paten in his fingers and say the "Panem coelestem..." and then, rather than going into a separate priest's "Domine non sum dignus..." the people's Communion Rite would be integrated directly into the Mass (as at the Novus Ordo). So he would then turn around, say the "Ecce Agnus Dei..." and then, turning back around, the priest and people together would do the triple "Domine non sum dignus..." The priest would then continue with the usual prayers for his reception of the host, cleaning of the corporal, and reception of the chalice.

He would then read the Communion verse and go immediately into distributing communion (the people may have already been lining up at the rail during his reception). If there are more than 10 communicants, he could use the simple formula "Corpus Christi" rather than the longer one for the distribution of communion, and wouldn't have to make the sign of the cross over each person with the host. I think this would make distribution of communion go much faster (and reduce calls for EMHCs, etc).

The ablutions and post-communion would go on as normal. Then the dismissal would be like the Novus Ordo: "Dominus vobiscum," the blessing, and the "Ita Missa est." The Last Gospel would be omitted, the priest would be encouraged to pray the "Placeat tibi..." on the way back to the sacristy.

So, that's how I'd go about such a simplification, not that my opinion really matters. I think it's pretty similar to some things in the 1965 books. Except, I'd make it only optional (not mandatory) and only for ferial or private Low Masses. For Low Masses which were serving as, say, one of the Sunday Masses in the parish, I would not encourage this. The only changes out of these I would transfer over to High Mass is integrating the people's Communion Rite into the Mass itself rather than doubling the "Domine non sum dignus..." The Mass is, after all, a Sacred Banquet as well as the Holy Sacrifice, and though only the priest's communion is "essential"...treating the people's communion as just an "interruption" in the liturgy, as a separate Rite accidentally inserted into the liturgy, seems contrary to the spirit of the Mass. I might also allow, optionally, the "combined" Confiteor at the beginning instead of the separate ones (but only optionally!) and the use of the shorter formula "Corpus Christi" during the distribution of communion to more than 10 communicants. Otherwise, this simplification would only be optional, and only for ferial Low Masses.


Robert said...

Would the Kyrie still be tripled or would it switch to single? As a side note, for the novus ordo, there is a separate order of mass for private masses that is even shorter than the standard ordo missae. I remember St. John's had a copy in the rectory. Do you or any of the readers know if there is an online copy somewhere?

sortacatholic said...

I'd say that your average parish priest in the Old Days did not say half the commemorations of the year because he could "get away" with a requiem half the days of a typical week. I wonder if this is why the Novus Ordo does not have a daily requiem Mass.

Messing with the offertory is a bad idea that goes against the theory of liturgical organicity. The offertory is a thematic unit. Better to keep it silent and in Latin, as usual.

I also think the 1962/65 calendar be harmonized with the NO sanctoral calendar. The NO has less weekdays with a required Gloria. The EF sanctoral calendar is so completely out of whack with the OF that it's probably better to impose the OF commemorations wholesale on the EF. That'll prune down the number of Gloria's in a week without much restructuring.

All of this, however, is not relevant given the deep moral-ethical s#!t the Church is in now. The festering stables need to be swept out before any liturgical changes are made. Maybe some of this can be addressed at the ecumenical council the next Pope should call as soon as he's elected. In fact, his reign should be one long council.

Robert said...
look at "III. Mass without a congregation"
As if the Novus ordo wasn't stripped down enough... I almost wish I could be the server for one of these masses, just to see what mass could licitly be taken down to (of course if validity becomes our only concern then we're looking at a handful of words"

here are some more clarifying points

A Sinner said...

The Kyrie would still be tripled, of course, lol.

As for the Offertory being a thematic unit, I'm not so sure. The truth of organic development is that each of those prayers (originally private devotional anyway, and imported from the Gallican liturgy, no?) arrived separately.

Removing the "Suscipe, sancta Trinitas..." in this optional shortened version seems to eliminate redundancy in the Mass. Redundancy isn't bad, and I wouldn't meddle with it at High Mass (or other Low Masses), but if the idea of this "Simple Low Mass" is to pare down Mass to more of its pre-medieval essentials (without adding anything newly composed, and while leaving some later developments)...then it seems like something with which I would be willing to part.

Making the Offertory at least optionally audible is a thing for me. Trads hate the new offertory and love the old...yet, they never even really get to hear the old. For all they know, the priest is just mumbling nonsense up there. I agree that old offertory is one of the great parts about the old rite, that's why the people should be able to hear it. Sometimes at least.

I like the silence of Low Mass too, as I know you do, but for most people...the fact that the whole Liturgy of the Eucharist is silent, practically, is too much. If we're going to maintain a silent Latin Canon...people are going to need most other parts audible.

sortacatholic said...

I concede that the 1965 abbreviation of the prayers at the foot of the altar, the second verse and following of the Lavabo, and the suscipe sancta Trinitas could be put in "optional brackets" so long as it is made clear that these shortcuts are not permissible on Sundays, major feasts, and solemnities. Also, it wouldn't be so bad if third and forth class ferials always took the weekday or common preface (four or five lines). A daily Mass with these shortcuts, no sermon, and a silent Canon could be said devoutly in 30 minutes.

Check out the offertory of the contemporary rite of the Polish National Catholic Church. Strangely, the PNCC took the offertory of the Novus Ordo and stuck the veni sanctificator and the suscipe sancta Trinitas on the end. Make what you will of it. The PNCC made up some really bad eucharistic prayers and completely dropped the Roman Canon. I really don't understand why the PNCC didn't chalk it up and just use the Novus Ordo rather than make up their own mismash liturgy. My father once went to a PNCC Mass by accident and was amazed at the piety of the congregants, so perhaps they're on to something we aren't.

Aside -- Dad was a little concerned during his confession that the confessor wore a wedding ring. One of the parishes by his house has an ex-Anglican priest. He was willing to give padre the benefit of the doubt "'cause you just can't tell these days". I assured him that the sacraments were valid but illicit. :-)

Andrew said...

I think you can pull off a regular Low Mass without cutting anything out and have it said reverently within ~30 min. It's done at my parish all the time.

That said, if we were to cut anything out, I'd just say that the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, Last Gospel, Leonine Prayers (if they are said at all) be made optional and it should be encouraged that if one goes on to use these options that a sermon should not be given either. It could also be arranged that the Gloria is only said on higher class feasts/Sundays across the board.

A Sinner said...

The Leonine Prayers were ALREADY merely optional by 1962, I believe, and I just assume the shouldn't be used. I hate them, frankly, they're extra-liturgical (well, the Collect has a liturgical form, at least), they draw Low Mass out even longer (when, frankly, it already "feels" like it's "done" by the time the Last Gospel rolls around) and in some sense both their intended Intentions have, at this point, already been met. I didn't even mention them, because I just assume they wouldn't be part of any future liturgical reform, that they were a passing fad.

I wouldn't be so quick to just drop all the prayers at the foot of the altar, though. There does need to be some sort of "introductory rite" and rather than drawing up a novel one (like in the N.O.) I think a SHORTENED (but not eliminated) form of the traditional Prayers at the Foot of the Altar is better.

But, if we're going to make these optional because they started out as private devotions...then it only makes sense to apply those same principles to things which were originally private devotions WITHIN the Mass itself (like the priest's three long prayers before communion). That was my thought. These principles, if applied, should be applied consistently.

As for a 30 minute Low Mass, I dunno. Maybe I'm used to a more "monastic" speed given that I served for a monk, but I only saw it done in 30 minutes ONCE, and it seemed irreverently quick to me.

Andrew said...

Yes, the Leonine Prayers can just be cut all together. The only reason I mention them is because they are pretty much always used in the TLM parishes today.

As to the Prayers at the foot of the Altar, what I meant by cutting them would be to make it optional to use the form used in the Requiem and also the later '65ish missals. There should be something at the beginning, but if we are looking to a "simple" Low Mass then that is one way to go about it.

Concerning the speed, I have had the opposite experience. I have been used to Low Masses w/ the FSSP and ICRSS. When serving for a Benedictine while in the seminary, I thought that his "monastic" speed was agonizingly slow. Reverence really has nothing to do with speed, unless it is so quick so as to be gibberish or so slow as to drag it on in an unbecoming fashion.