Thursday, April 12, 2007

Vertical vs. Horizontal part III

When we talk about vertical verses horizontal in the Mass the framework often seems to be set as conservative (Traditional) vs. liberal (Post Vatican II.) Mass of Pope Pius V (Tridentine) vs. Mass of Pope Paul VI (Novus Ordo) This is an illegitimate as well as unhelpful paradigm for a variety of reasons. One is that the assumptions tied to each side are in many cases erroneous.
Assumption 1: The Tridentine Mass is said in Latin. The Novus Ordo is said in the vernacular. A special indult is required to say the Mass in Latin.
Not necessarily true. The Novus Ordo is contained in the Roman Missal, whose most recent revision was promulgated in Latin in 2002. In the United States there is an English translation approved by the USCCB. A priest may, at the present time say the entire Novus Ordo Mass in Latin, only say the entire ordinary (that is the Creed, Kyria, Our Father, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, etc.) in Latin and the rest in the Vernacular or only say part of the ordinary in Latin.
At the present time an indult is required to say the Tridentine Mass.
Assumption 2: In the Tridentine Mass the priest faces away from the people. In the Novus Ordo he faces toward the people.
Again not necessarily. In the Tridentine Mass the priest faces Liturgical East (ad orientem.) As part of the post Vatican II liturgical renewal in many church buildings the altar was moved. In most places this results in the priest facing (versus populum) toward the people, but not always. Some modern church buildings have their altar placed in the center, which means the celebrant faces some of the people, but has his back to others. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal does not specify either ad orientem or versus populum. So an individual celebrant can pray the Mass in either orientation.
Assumption 3: The Tridentine Mass is boring. The Novus Ordo is lively and interesting.
A well celebrated Tridentine Mass. especially a High Mass, at which chant or polyphone is sung to God's glory can be incredibly beautiful. A Novus Ordo at which bad music is played or the celebrant allows liturgical abuse to occur can be an affront to both God and man. Conversely a Tridentine Mass can be badly celebrated, especially if the faithful do not participate fully, as they are required to do, by being prayerful and attentive to the Mass. And a Norvus Ordo Mass can be very prayerful and have beautiful music, sung in either Latin or the Vernacular or a combination of the two. A poorly written and delivered homily can make any Mass no matter how well celebrated substandard.
Assumption 4: There can be only one or the other. There cannot be two Missals and two rites of the Mass.
This is the silliest assumption of them all. There are already more than two rites of the Mass in the Western Church. Besides the Novus Ordo there is the Anglican Use, which was instituted in the 1980's, plus the ancient Mozarabic, Ambrosian, Bragan, Dominican, Carmelite, and Carthusian rites. This does not even encompass the Eastern Rite Churches in communion with Rome.

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