March 22, 2012

Bye Bye Peculiarly, Hello Passiontide

The other day one of the brothers and I were watching a Mass on TV. The priest appeared to be very influenced by the Extraordinary Form, and I wouldn't have been surprised to find out that Mass in the Ordinary Form was the exception for him. My confrere and I noted many little gestures and behaviors that revealed the influence of the older rubrics, and had an interesting discussion on Benedict XVI and his idea of 'mutual enrichment.'

It's funny; priests who are dismissive of or even hostile to the EF might be horrified by certain little gestures from the older form making their way into the modern Roman rite, such as the custody of thumbs and forefingers, but I routinely observe priests of all kinds making certain gestures according to the old rubrics when the newer ones say do to do something else. Two easy examples are breaking the host over the chalice and holding the host over the chalice at the doxology. Perhaps many priests who do these little things would be shocked to learn of their traddy-ness!

I've never offered Mass publicly in the EF, apart from once ministering Holy Communion for a priest with some mobility issues. (See this post.) When I do assist at one it's usually because I want to sing. I used to say some of my Divine Office with the older form of the breviary, until I concluded from Universae Ecclesiae that one ought not to mix the two forms that way. But even with this little contact with the EF, I am so grateful for having become acquainted with the older form of the liturgy.

This particular moment of the year is a good example of what makes me grateful. As we approach the end of the fourth week of Lent, the lectionary and the Office of Readings start to edge us toward Passiontide. This is a sort of phantom liturgical season in the Ordinary Form; it's not really named anywhere, and rarely (at least in my experience) is its traditional marker of veiling images still observed. But Passiontide is there in the Ordinary Form. After Sunday the preface for daily Mass shifts from those of Lent to the first of the Passion. After four cycles through a weekly set of readings for Morning and Evening Prayer, these change as well. For those who pray in the American English Liturgy of the Hours, not until next year will anyone have to face the dreaded 'peculiarly' on Wednesday morning. As this week ends we pass into a new time with a more intense focus on the overwhelming mystery of a God who saves us not only in spite of our rejection of him, but through it.

That I notice patterns and depths such as this I credit to having studied and learned the older form of the liturgy. That's why I recommend it to everyone, traddy or not.

1 comment:

kam said...

I've always said, if you can go to the TLM for two weeks straight, as many times as it is available, you'll be hooked.