February 16, 2009

Leges Orandi?

As I have continued to explore Summorum pontificum and what is now called the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy, I have started to have some worries. These concerns have arisen first as little practical, rubrical gray areas that have then led me to more general, ecclesial questions.

It seems clear to me that Benedict XVI wants to heal division within the Church; in his cover letter for Summorum pontificum he calls for a state of 'mutual enrichment' between the two expressions of the single Roman rite. This 'mutual enrichment' is presumably meant to a higher goal than having the parallel and separate communities ("Novus Ordo" vs. "usus antiquior") that were legitimized by Quattuor abhinc annos and Ecclesia Dei. But if the two "expressions" are to live together in a state of 'mutual enrichment,' practical questions arise immediately. For example:

When can Mass be offered? Current law allows Mass to be offered at any time of day or night, while the prior rubrics (I think) only allowed celebration from an hour before dawn until an hour after noon. So which is in force? Where I live most EF Masses are offered later in the day, after the regular schedule.

What about the fast? Is it one hour for Masses celebrated with the Missal of Paul VI and three hours for those celebrated with the Missal of Blessed John XXIII? Does that make any sense? (For whatever reason folks don't seem to remember that Pius XII reduced the 'fast from midnight' prescription to a mere three hours.)

What about the Divine Office? Can I say some of my daily prayers from the 2000 breviary and some from the 1962 one? If I want to use the older one, do I have to say Prime, which doesn't exist in the current Liturgy of the Hours? May I say just one of the little hours, as current law provides, or do I have to say all three as the pattern of the Breviarium Romanum expects?

And what about altar girls? In what now has been retconned into being called the "Ordinary Form," baptized females can enjoy the ministry of acolyte-by-privilege. So could a girl in an alb or cassock and surplice altar serve at the Extraordinary Form Mass?

This last question gets at the heart of my current concern, because I suspect that for most "stable communities" adhering to the 1962 Missal the question would not even arise. They wouldn't think of having altar girls because they are attached not just to a particular liturgy but to a certain kind of Catholic cultural and thought world that does not include this practice. To argue the benefits of altar girls is not my point, though.

If we were to move beyond the idea of seperate praying communities to a communion in which the two expressions of the one Roman rite are 'mutually enriching' in a single parish community, will we be able to settle these kinds of questions? Or will they expose us as not really having an argument about the way we are able to pray best, but about deeper cultural conflicts within Catholicism? Will we be able to do better than just getting along?

And to the usual erudite readers: please correct my rubrical errors. I'm still learning this stuff.


Anonymous said...

There is also a question of permanent deacons which some tradtionalist groups do not accept as being valid deacons. All of this makes me think there should be synod on Liturgy. It should approach Liturgy from the Tradionalists, Post Vatican II and the Byzantine schools of thought.

Tom said...

Perhaps, Fra., your questions should be directed to Rome! I think you've hit the nail on the head - how do we bring not just the EF and the NO into dialogue but a number of different cultures, all with their own problems of levels of education, liturgical sensitivity, etc., within the Church. Thus is the on-going process of conversion made real and concrete in our 21st Century. Send the questions to Rome and see what happens.

Tom said...

On further thought why not contact Fr. Tim Finnegan over at http://the-hermeneutic-of-continuity.blogspot.com/ who celebrates in both forms - he'd have plenty of experience and sound, orthodox advice too.

Anonymous said...

I think most of your practical questions have practical answers.

First, it is canon law that regulates fasting and the times and places mass can be celebrated. There is only one code of canon law in force and it regulates all catholics. Even the bishops and priests of the Society of St. Pius X commonly argue against Rome in terms of the 1983 code.

While my pastor encourages people to keep a longer communion fast than the current code requires, it is acknowedged that the current law is the rule.

There are several places across the country that the regular EF mass is celebrated in the afternoon since the current law allows for that. Where the issue gets stickier would be for an anticipated Sunday mass, which is not envisioned in the EF.

Being a lay person, I don't really have any exposre to the older office, just the newer, so I can't speak to that. However, it would seem more conducive to prayer and meditation to not switch the feast celebrated from hour to hour when the EF calendar and the OF calendar are divergent.

As far as altar girls are concerned, we should remeber that the current practice in most places is itself an exception to the norm, which is male servers only. My understanding is that in diocese where girls are allowed (everywhere except Lincoln in the USA I beleive), it is at the pleasure of the pastor. In Denver there are 2 parishes which restrict altar service to boys, and one of them celebrates the OF exclusively.

It seems that permanent deacons could serve at Solemn High Mass as well as a transition deacon or a priest vested as deacon. I'm not sure about a layman serving as a subdeacon though.

Your questions do get at something deeper though, and that is what does it maen for the people of God to celebrate this deepest pray of the mass in divergent ways, and in communion with the same local bishop? This is an excellent question. But it is one that can be asked of liturgical reform itself. What does it mean for a girl to serve the OF? does it mean the same thing that it meant for St. Aloysius Gonzaga to serve the EF mass? For most boys, altar service in some way involves a serious discernment concerning the priesthood. It provides them with an opportunity to listen and hear if God is colling them to the priestly ministry. This is important element is necessarily absent in the service of girls at the altar.

What does it mean to celebrate St. Therese of the Child Jesus of the First of October or the 3rd?