For starters, the Novus Ordo (English) liturgy will be changed, and for the first time ever, the Novus Ordo mass will actually say in English what it's supposed to say. For the first time ever, Catholic Americans will be celebrating the Novus Ordo (English) mass correctly. For the first time ever, "The Lord be with you. And with your spirit" will echo from sea to shining sea. Which is far more reflective of the official text from Rome: "Dominus vobiscum. Et cum spiritu tuo." It is also much more in sync with the original text from the old Tridentine (pre-1970) Latin mass. Simultaneously, the old Tridentine will also enjoy a more prominent place in virtually every diocese, in chapels designated specifically for its celebration. Roman Catholics who want to celebrate the mass in Latin, and in its original form (Tridentine), will then have a place to go in virtually every diocese. While Roman Catholics who prefer the English Novus Ordo, will have plenty of places to go, and worship with assurance that the liturgy they celebrate is the correct liturgy approved by Rome. In addition to that, traditional Catholics (Latin speakers) will be much more in unity with contemporary Catholics (english speakers), as the Novus Ordo will be more in line with the old Tridentine liturgy. It will be a Church pulling from the best of both worlds (old and new), where what has been unnaturally divided can begin to heal and grow together again.
I am of the opinion that the Novus Ordo mass is a legitimate rite, but it still needs a lot of work. I think the liturgical reform coming within the next couple years is a start, and a step in the right direction, but I don't think it will be enough by itself. Everything will have to be reformed of course, and that includes music as well as customs and practices. Even the lectionary reforms are incomplete at this time. That too will have to be fixed. There is a general lack of reverence at most Novus Ordo celebrations, in which women go unveiled (a sign of rebellion) and men wear casual clothing (a sign of pride and disrespect). The list of necessary reforms goes on and on. I believe they will happen, eventually, but to everything there is a season. In summary, the liturgical chaos of the Novus Ordo (post-1970) English mass is nowhere near over. I wouldn't advise any Catholics regularly attending one to buy an expensive missal, as it's sure to be outdated and obsolete within a few years. Catholics who worship in English have years of changes and updating to look forward to. Consistency will not be a realistic expectation for a very long time -- certainly not in this generation.
In the mean time, what is to become of Catholics (like myself) who crave consistency and stability. None will be found in the English Novus Ordo for quite some time, and I've got a wife to care for, and children to raise. I personally question if the Novus Ordo, with all its reforms and changes, is a "safe" environment for their spiritual well being. So I've done what many concerned Catholic men have done. I've ordered a 1962 Missal for my own personal devotion. I've also linked up with a Tridentine mass organization that is fully within the canonical structure of the Church. The Institute of Christ the King is currently organizing Tridentine (Latin) masses under the invitation of Archbishop Burke in St. Louis and Bishop Finn in Kansas City. Word has it; they will soon establish a "Third Order" for laymen, and I plan to be one of the first to join. I'll soon be teaching my children Latin as well, so they can have the advantage of attending (and naturally understanding) a Tridentine mass whenever they want. My hope is that this will become a liturgical and spiritual anchor for them in the coming chaos of liturgical reform underway.
The following is an article on this very subject...
Last week I mentioned that I had been in Camden, NJ, to preach at a Solemn Mass with the 1962 Missale Romanum on the occasion of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was a splendid event. The ceremonies and music were wonderful. More wonderful yet were the fine people I met. Readers of these columns and the WDTPRS blog on the internet kindly made an effort to greet me. Their comments about these articles and what they see going on in the Church today, together with their hopes and aspirations, underscored in my mind the need not only for better translations of the Novus Ordo texts of Mass, but also for a renewal of Mass through a time of serious liturgical discipline.
Virtually all of the people I spoke with in Camden were interested in attending Holy Mass in its older, pre-Conciliar form. As such, I am sure they are not overly concerned on a daily basis about the issue of translations for the Novus Ordo, which is the main topic of this WDTPRS series. On the other hand, they told me they enjoyed these weekly. This is an affirmation of what I have long held to be true.
A true Catholic spirit, an authentic Catholic sense of the Church as a whole, brings a person to understand that when one part of the Church thrives and is happy and holy, then everyone in the Church benefits. It is much to the advantage to those who desire to attend Mass only with the 1962 Missale Romanum for the celebrations according to the 1970 Novus Ordo be reverent and faithful according to the rubrics and (if they really must be in the vernacular) good texts. Similarly, people who attend the Novus Ordo and have zero interest in the older form of Mass, far from being stingy and resentful ought to be happy that others have the opportunity to participate in the more traditional form of Mass. How can it not be good if people are participating at reverent and faithfully celebrated Masses, according to their respective books? How is that not good for everyone?
My experience in Camden convinced me of the benefits that each form of Mass, properly expressed, has for the other. The priest in charge of the Mater Ecclesiae community in the Diocese of Camden, Fr. Robert Pasley, had been a guest of the famous Msgr. Richard J. Schuler at St. Agnes Church in St. Paul, where the Novus Ordo is celebrated with unparalleled splendor and reverence, especially in regard to sacred music. Father learned from what Msgr. Schuler accomplished at St. Agnes and, when it he was called upon to serve at Mater Ecclesiae, he put into practice what he learned from the experience of a Novus Ordo parish that was, so to speak, firing on all its Roman cylinders. Similarly, I know young priests doing wonderful work in parishes where only the Novus Ordo is used. They didn’t grow up with the older form of Mass. They aren’t burdened with aging hippie baggage or less than perfect memories. Through their healthy curiosity about the older form of Mass and desire to learn to celebrate it, they come to know how better to celebrate the newer Mass. In a sense, they root their understanding of all forms of Mass in an appreciation of the Roman Rite.
The traditional Mass community all over the world has been subtly but powerfully influenced by the positive fruits of the Novus Ordo, even where it has been celebrated imperfectly or even badly. I think that Holy Mass in its older, traditional form is being offered more beautifully these days than it was in the old days, precisely because of the intervening “dark” years of liturgical chaos. Even in the times of real abuse of the rubrics and there were also many useful things to be learned. In my opinion the Novus Ordo has a much brighter future because of more opportunities for celebrations of the older so-called “Tridentine” form.
Having celebrations of Holy Mass with the older form and the new form (in Latin or in the vernacular) can and should be seen as a Win-Win situation for everyone involved, so long as everyone involved is doing their very best and making their best effort to participate as Holy Church asks, that is, with “full, conscious, and active” participation and in the state of grace. How can that be anything but good for everyone?
For these reasons, we should welcome a “universal faculty” for all priests to say also the older form of Mass, we should thank those generous bishops who are implementing what the late Holy Father asked, and we should embrace as well as a period of serious liturgical course corrections for the way the Novus Ordo is being celebrated far and wide. We need more tradition and we need more discipline, always having our eyes on the good of the People of God.
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