Friday, June 25, 2010

Medieval, Baroque, Counter-Reformation...

On one of the blogs I follow there has been a discussion about medieval, baroque or counter-reformation liturgy and which one is the better or more appropriate one now. It seems like a lot of silliness to me really. I know that there are those in the Orthodox Western Rite who think in exactly these terms, although they would couch the argument slightly differently: pre-Schism vs. post-Schism. I still find it a bore. Honestly, who cares? It seems more like being caught up in one's imagination and fantasy than any thing else.
   The Western Rite (WR) is not about re-creating some idyllic golden period, or re-covering a past from 1,000 years ago. It is less about recovery and more about reunion. The temptation to recover something lost is very much within the spirit of the Liturgical movement that led to great changes of the Second Vatican Council. It led to a complete revolution in practice. Besides, how many of us actually lived and experienced the pre-Schism use? (I have heard rumors that the former Vicar General, V. Rev. Fr. Paul Scheirla may well have done so, but that has not yet been confirmed by any hard evidence and so I remain skeptical.)
   What would the vision be if Rome and the East were to reunite? Would it mean that Rome would have to follow only pre-schism Western use? How ridiculous! I can't imagine the Orthodox even making such a claim. We have officially told Rome that we find the restoration of the pre-Paul VI Mass to be very helpful to our relationship. Hmmm, the Russian found that to be a good thing and told the Pope so. Not a supposed pre-schism usage, but the 1962 Missale Romanum. Interesting. We think… it's a good thing. Make's one thing doesn't it?
   The truth of the matter is that the WR has had an official use since it was received in the Antiochian Archdiocese. Its use has been that which was held in the "dissident West" in 1950, and the text was to be the 1958 English Missal. To those who know the use of 1950 and the 1958 Missal, it's a bit confusing since the 1958 greatly simplified things. It didn't have all of the old vigil masses, it lowered the ranking of many feasts, created some new ones, inserted a new Holy Week… but there you have it. It would seem that one was to know the older Mass so well that one could make the necessary changes to the 58 missal and use it.
   Actually, I think the issue of the 1958 missal was simply a pragmatic selection. At the time the only canon in use in our WR was that of the ancient Latin canon. The only missal that was in print at the time which included all of the Latin propers, prefaces, and canon in English, was in fact the 1958 Knott English Missal. It was selected because it was available not because it was the ideal.
   That having been said, there is no evidence at all that supports the notion of trying to recreate a pure Western Rite through Orthodox (i.e., Byzantine) or historical lenses. The WR was not a romantic movement, but one of reunion. It took real living Western Christians and reunited them to the Orthodox Church as they were. The impulse was true ecumenism. It ought also to be noted, and this is no small point, that the use of the WR at the time was the same as the Anglo-Catholics and the Roman Catholics. There was at that time a unity of liturgical practice. This was simply authorized among the Orthodox.
   The necessity of the WR to be somehow liturgically different from the Latins and Anglicans was not part of the deposit of the WR. That is something that developed as the Latins and Anglican (and all of the West) changed to the newer liturgical forms. It was only then that the WR Orthodox stood out as somehow liturgically unique. So what was the original focus that made us different from the West? It was our ecclesial context. We didn't look different, but we lived in union with the East theologically and sacramentally. The liturgy was simply taken for granted… that's how we do things. It was not nearly so self-conscious.
   But times have changed. Clergy are no longer taught the older liturgy, so we need to spend time tutoring them and their communities before they become fully, sacramentally Orthodox. We need to teach them the straight stuff rather than giving some odd notions of our own. One such that I have heard is that communities have been encouraged to use the Liturgy of St. Gregory throughout the year except in Lent, and then to use the Liturgy of St. Tikhon. How silly. Where does this come from? An effort to mimick the East? Or I have heard provisional parishes told not to do the asperges on Sundays because "it is a cathedral or monastic custom, not parochial". Huh? Every parish was required to do the asperges before the principle Mass on Sunday. Enough of the silliness. Just teach the straight stuff.
   It is not about being medieval, or baroque, or pre-schism or post-schism. It is about living the faith with the liturgy that is given. It is about bringing real, living people into communion where they are, not where they might have been. There is a starting point and that has been supplied. It is not the novus ordo. It is the "old mass". For heaven's sake, let us just live it and stop fantasizing about what we might make it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Altar Missals

The Roman Catholic Church is preparing to use a new Roman Missal next year and there is a lot of talk going on about it. I've seen some of the translations and they are a tremendous step forward from the current sacramentary. [As an aside, I'm not sure why they aren't using the name sacramentary rather than missal though. An altar missal contains all of the lections and minor propers as well as the collects and canon(s). The lectionary and the gradual will not be contained in the new Roman Missal and so it still harkens back to the very early days of the Sacramentaries, like the Leonine or Gelasian.] There are a goodly number of clergy who do not want the new missal. I think they are terribly misguided and it seems clear that they have ulterior motives for their dissent. But they've lost the argument and the new missal is coming out (thank God).
   Now altar missals are of great interest to me as I've been working on preparing one for our Western Rite Vicariate for some time now, and it's coming along very well. It is also of interest because there is some question about what such a missal will look like for a future Anglican Ordinariate within the Roman Catholic Church. Being involved in such a project personally makes me aware of a number of issues. The first issue is just what is an altar missal? Next what are the sources (and I'll speak specifically to the Western Rite missal, although there is a lot of overlap with such a missal for the Anglican Ordinariates)? Finally, what should the shape be?
   An altar missal is a book for the use of the priest during the Mass. It was a brilliant development historically, though there are some who might not like the reason it developed. Before the development of the first missals, about 1200 or so, liturgical books in the east and the west were developed on the basis of who would use the book. For example, the Liturgikon (which I sent to the printer recently having finished typesetting it for our Archdiocese) is designed for the priest and deacon. It contains all of the liturgical services in it, but it does not contain the parts that the reader would intone, or what the choir would sing. One would need other books for those parts. In the West there existed for the Mass, the Sacramentary--containing the parts for the priest, the book of Gospels, the book of Epistles, the Gradual--having the chant for the choir, and the Kyriale--having the "ordinary" chant of certain hymns sung in each Mass. As private masses (masses where the priest alone served without a choir) increased, a new book was developed that contained all of the parts needed for the mass in one volume. From this point on, the liturgical books in the West became centered around the service they would be used in, rather than who used the book.
   To design a proper altar missal requires the entire lectionary, gradual, etc. is required. This was quite possible with the single-year lectionary, but with a three-year lectionary it would be physically impossible for the book would be too unwieldy to be of any practical use. Then when one adds that Rome now has a two-year weekday lectionary as well, it boggles the mind. The new lectionaries make it impossible to have a single volume altar missal any longer. The only possibility that I can see for a genuine missal with these multi-year lectionaries would be to have a different missal for each section of the lectionary. Hence, one would have a Missal "Year A" (as the Sunday lections are titled year a, b, and c), etc. And one would have a Missal "Year 1" (for the daily lections). Even this would present problems as the cycle of Saints days would have a powerful effect on all of the missals.
   There are some who desire the three-year lectionary (even among some of the Orthodox), but I'm not sure that this is a real gain. Yes, one will be able to read over the course of three years more of the Bible. Perhaps this will give one more possibilities for preaching too. But I am also quite aware that repeating the same lections reinforces the key focii of the Church. Repetition is a very good thing for people. Besides, the lectionary is not a Bible study. It is a component of the liturgical life of the Church. We should read all of the Bible and study it too, but the Mass is not the time for that. The Church produced many, many Saints with a single-year lectionary. It works (in both the East and West). Why do we need to alter that?
   As for the sources of an altar missal, the primary source will always be the Missale Romanum. This is the  altar missal that was used on virtually every altar of the Roman Catholic Church since the Council of Trent issued it in the sixteenth century. It does represent a new Mass in the least, but a codification of the Mass along the lines as practiced in the diocese of Rome at the time This missal was used in Italy, France, Germany, England (throughout Europe) and, of course, in the United States. The other versions of the Missal were, really, little more than variants of the Roman Missal as used by certain religious orders. The Benedictines, for example, had their own missal, but it amounted simply to a different calendar so the proper of the Saints was different. The Dominicans had their own missal, and this had differing rubrics in the Ordinary of the Mass. This underlines a little remembered fact: the Roman Church has never been monolithic as regards to her liturgical worship. There has always been variant authorized uses, but the dominant use was by far that of the Roman Missal.
   There is some considerable desire among many for a recovery of the Sarum Use both in certain Western Orthodox circles and among some of the Anglicans interested in the Ordinariates. It strikes me odd though--and I am of English ancestry. It seems rather like the Liturgy of St. James which was resurrected in the East after having been lost for 1800 years or so. I know that some parishes serve this liturgy on the feast of St. Mark, but it is such a unique rite without any real experience of the people that it participated in by them as more of a curiosity than as an organic part of their lives. It is important to recognize this practical pastoral point. The people's prayer life has little or not connection with Sarum any longer. Why base anything upon a curiosity?
   English translations are are an important source for the preparation of an altar missal. There were several altar missals that were produced in English, primarily by Anglicans. They are all from the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Anglican Communion, and they will generally have a very heavy bias towards the Missale Romanum. The degree to which they are based upon the Book of Common Prayer (English or American) varies with who published the missal. In the United States the two commonest missals were the American Missal and the Anglican Missal. The former is very much an amplified American Prayer Book, the latter is Prayer Book but is a little more biased towards the Roman Missal in places. The American Missal was certainly easier to use than the Anglican Missal though. There were a few English Missals in the US, but they were rare. I have a 1940 edition in my possession currently and a photocopy of a 1958 English Missal. The English Missal is a particularly important work, because it is the only one in which one can find the complete Latin propers in English. Finally, one should include some of the people's hand missals that were produced by Rome too. The best ones were probably the St. Andrew's Missal and the New Marian Missal. There are a few other sources, but these have proven to be the most useful to me.
   Now to the shape. The 1958 missals represent a large alteration of the ranking of feasts and it dropped almost all of the vigil masses. It also includes the revised rite of Holy Week. For the Western Orthodox, the 1940 missal represents better our authorized use (even though ironically the 1958 English Missal is considered our "official" missal). For the Anglican Ordinariates, the 1958 would be the best starting place because there is little difference between it and the 1962 missal. [I am presuming that a vernacular form of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass would be allowed.] However, it might be helpful to look at the 1940 missal for some of the translations in it are superior to that of the 1958. The canon in the 1940 is far superior to that of the latter.
   What I have been doing recently is preparing text files of the altar missal that includes both the 1940 and 1958 missals so that I can easily complete my work from these sources. I'll copy the source documents and then (in a new folder) begin editing the text for what I need to create. But knowing the calendar is essential here, as it effects the Proper of the Saints and even some of the Proper of the Year (during Christmastide). Will the calendar be based upon the Benedictine calendar (as is the Western Orthodox), or will it be the Roman calendar? Will it be a revised calendar of the old and new Roman calendar (as perhaps will be the case for the Anglican Ordinariates)? Will there be new prefaces included? It is a large task that will take a least one or two years. [Realistically, I should have a complete altar missal by the end of this year for the Western Orthodox, as I've been working on it for quite some time now.]
   Altar missals are the most practical books that I know of. It allows the real genius of the Western liturgical tradition to exist. To be able to celebrate the Mass without a cast and crew, as a simple priest--with someone to answer--it a magnificent thing. The sacrifice is offered, lives are sanctified, and grace abounds. It is not onerous to do this, but it requires the missal be well thought out and in a single volume.