Happy Birthday Novus Ordo?

YouTube Preview Image

Among my many flaws is a deep appreciation for biting sarcasm.  A recent post by Damian Thompson at his blog at the  Telegraph is a masterpiece of this form of verbal combat:

“It is 40 years ago today since the New Mass of Paul VI was introduced into our parishes, writes Margery Popinstar, editor of The Capsule. We knew at the time that this liturgy was as close to perfection as humanly possible, but little did we guess what an efflorescence of art, architecture, music and worship lay ahead!

There were fears at first that the vernacular service would damage the solemnity of the Mass. How silly! Far from leading to liturgical abuses, the New Mass nurtured a koinonia that revived Catholic culture and packed our reordered churches to the rafters.

So dramatic was the growth in family Mass observance, indeed, that a new school of Catholic architecture arose to provide places of worship for these new congregations. Throughout the Western world, churches sprang up that combined Christian heritage with the thrilling simplicity of the modern school, creating a sense of the numinous that has proved as irresistible to secular visitors as to the faithful.

For some worshippers, it is the sheer visual beauty of the New Mass that captures the heart, with its simple yet scrupulously observed rubrics – to say nothing of the elegance of the priest’s vestments, which (though commendably less fussy than pre-conciliar outfits) exhibit a standard of meticulous craftsmanship which truly gives glory to God!

The same refreshing of tradition infuses the wonderful – and toe-tapping! – modern Mass settings and hymns produced for the revised liturgy. This music, written by the most gifted composers of our era, has won over congregations so totally that it is now rare to encounter a parish where everyone is not singing their heads off! Even the secular “hit parade” has borrowed from Catholic worship songs, so deliciously memorable – yet reverent! – is the effect they create. No wonder it is standing room only at most Masses!”

Did Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, who birthed this kairos, have any idea just how radically his innovations would transform the Church? We must, of course, all rejoice in his imminent beatification – but, in the meantime, I am tempted to borrow a phrase from a forgotten language that – can you believe it? – was used by the Church for services before 1969: Si monumentum requiris, circumspice.”

I attend Novus Ordo masses, but I do think a fair argument can be made that there seems to be almost a deliberate effort over the past 45 years to strip from the Church the beautiful, the traditional, the mysterious and the moving for the ugly, the novel, the trite and the banal.  I dimly recall the Latin Mass as I was born in 1957, but I do remember often being overwhelmed with awe.  The Novus Ordo is many things, but awe-inspiring is rarely one of them, at least for me, except of course for the Eucharist.  It is  a legitimate Mass, and I have no time for those who would argue otherwise.  However, I think the Church can do better, and has done much better, than what has often been inflicted on the people in the pews since the Sixties.

15 Responses to Happy Birthday Novus Ordo?

  • Tito Edwards says:

    If you hadn’t said this was sarcasm I would have thought that this “wumyn” was off her rocker.

    I think those that “interpreted” what they thought was the new Mass were the main culprits of causing the largest exodus of Catholics from Mother Church in history.

  • American Knight says:

    Latin has its incomparable beauty; however, English can be reverent, especially with the new Novus Ordo translations for next year. The advantage Latin has is that it is dead so it is not organically changing in meaning. Sadly the organic changes in English are overwhelmingly pejorative and politically correct (relativist).

    The fact is that the sparce Churches and modernist clerics are going to retire soon and we will see a true rennaissance in the Church if we can survive the secular progressive (Communist, Critical Theorist, neo-pagan, Satanic) persecutions that are coming.

    BTW – I like the sarcasm, but, as Tito said, it will be lost on many – probably becuase they want the liberality to be true. They have eyes but cannot see.

    Thanks for posting this and if you are blessed to have one near you – go to a Traditional Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Tridentine)- it is sublime.

  • Pinky says:

    AK, English can be reverent, but there’s a natural instinct to pray in another, set-aside language. Muslims and Hindus pray in ancient languages. The ancient Jews prayed in Aramaic and spoke Hebrew; today they worship in Ancient Hebrew. I know that Armenian Apostolic rituals are in Old Armenian, and I think that many Eastern rites follow the same pattern. Even a good share of Protestants doth pray in a separate tongue. I think any attempt to bring worship into the language of the people can undermine the sense of the sacred, and these days, our sense of the sacred is in pretty bad shape.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Don,

    I more or less agree… but the NO services I have been to recently are getting even sillier. Sometimes I go just to see what’s going on, other times, when by my own fault or some unforseen circumstance I miss the Latin Mass and have to go to a later NO.

    Every time I go to an NO something is different. It’s constantly being tweaked and twinged, for what purposes, I don’t know.

    I don’t want to translate my preferences into objective reality, but I do believe that the Latin Mass is objectively more reverent, more conducive to spiritual growth, and more beautiful than NO. I believe that it fell out of favor precisely because of these reasons, because reverence, true spirituality and beauty have no place in a consumerist society.

    According to libertarian geniuses such as Ludwig von Mises, absolutely everything social is subjective, whether it is the value of something made in a factory or a work of art. There is no objective value, either in economics or aesthetics. Both the left and the right, such as they typically constitute themselves in America, accept this view for different reasons. The decay of the Mass parallels the decay in art.

    The assault on objective truth might find its greatest champions in the irrationalism of postmodernism but its root is in our unconscious response to the market economy, which wages an unremitting war against the very notion of sacredness. Unlike most other aspects of this phenomenon, however, the fine tuning of the Mass to appeal to spiritual consumers has continually failed.

    I don’t think consumerism has to destroy what is sacred, but I do think that it will if we are not aware of how it operates in our minds.

  • American Knight says:

    Pinky,

    I agree. A Pater Noster or Ave Maria is so much more holy, sacred, reverential and satisfying than an Our Father or Hail Mary.

    May God continue to bless us with priests who seek to celebrate in the more reverential form.

    Mater Dei, ora pro nobis.

  • American Knight says:

    Joe,

    I agree with Mises on many things as pertains to subjectivity. What he misses is the objective view and the intrinsic value of created goods. Ayn Rand said she was objective but her Objectivism was all about the efficacy of man, Sola Sapiens, and her romance and love was nothing more than pornography, anger.

    Thanks in great part to you I am becoming more aware of the flaws in libertarian praxeology. I still hold that libertarian principles applied to the secular world from a Catholic perspective are valid. This will be true as regards utilitarian economics, commodities, etc. It fails, as you point out, when it comes to the objective (a perfectly subjective view for God alone). It especially fails when it comes to the sacred. Libertarian praxeology is profane and works better than any other reasonable concept in the secular world. As you point out the left/right paradigm is false because both sides, and all shades in between, accept the modernist utilitarianism. It is just as false for most of us Catholics (laity and secular clergy) to adhere so fervently to the sacred as to not be able to function in the profane world. We are in it, but not of it. Libertarian praxeology works with limits and must always keep an eye up to God, which in its current use it seldom does. We shouldn’t throw it out with all the other methods; we need to reorient it to God. He promised everyone, everything they ask for provided we seek His Kingdom first. This brings me to where you and I agree. . .

    The Mass is not a commodity or even a man made construct; however, the Church can organically develop it and the Novus Ordo is valid but it is very, very bland. Almost pointless, save for the real presence of Christ. The Extraordinary form is not only Latin. A nearby parish celebrates the NO in Latin as does EWTN sometimes. Latin is beautiful, universal (hence Catholic) and fixed; however, the beauty of the Tridentine Mass goes so much further.

    What I especially like is that the priest has so much less to ‘innovate’ and the laity has so much less external participation. I also find it very difficult to pray the NO because I feel like I am being called to externally participate every couple of seconds rendering the active participation almost impossible (perhaps that is just my hang-up) and then comes the social hour of the sign of conviviality. I pray that I am not arrogant; however, when I am at an NO Mass I just keep my hands together and my eyes close and pray for His Peace, dona nobis pace.

    I feel as though the laity at the NO has no idea that we aren’t Protestants. Moreover, with all the disparate innovation going on in the congregation and the lax manner of dress it is a wonder anyone finds it holy or can even interiorly actively participate easily. If I am not mistaken the Mass is to take us out of time and space and enter into the Sacrifice on Golgotha/Calvary – how do we do that without the sacred beauty of the Extraordinary form?

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    AK,

    “Thanks in great part to you I am becoming more aware of the flaws in libertarian praxeology.”

    Well, I’m glad I could help. It’s especially reassuring given that I am sometimes accused, by members of a different blog, for being unable to “stop thinking like an American.”

    “I still hold that libertarian principles applied to the secular world from a Catholic perspective are valid.”

    Perhaps, but as you later say, only within certain limits. America’s strong classical republican tradition was all but blotted out by the Industrial Revolution. Early America had sumptuary laws, for instance, that made luxury more expensive for the rich; this reflected a view that excessively concentrated wealth and luxury were detrimental to the survival of a republic. The founders of America had a pretty strong virtue ethic that balanced out their liberalism.

    As regards your last question: I don’t think we really can. Mass is about giving God the worship owed to Him; it isn’t a tea party. People might argue that there is nothing wrong with the Mass incorporating elements of the modern culture, as it has been done for generations. But before we can make that blanket assessment, we ought to consider what, objectively, our present culture is and whether or not any parts of it are worthy of being included in the Mass.

    I say, there aren’t too many. It isn’t really that rock music or even the vanilla piano accompaniment are inherently evil, but that they are a step down from the sublime to the common and vulgar.

    And as I pointed out to a certain writer for another blog, I don’t believe that the effects in different eras of history are comparable – yes, perhaps, in the Middle Ages they had clowns and jesters and other strange practices; they also had a universal Christian culture that played a role in their daily lives. We don’t have that today. We have a culture of hedonism, consumerism, materialism and death.

    All the more reason for us to preserve a liturgy that transcends historical epochs. Are Christians not supposed to challenge the dominant secular paradigms? Are they not supposed to stand out? How do you challenge the world with your social message when your liturgy conforms to it evermore? It is an inconsistency, I believe.

    I consider myself a true “rad trad” because I believe that Christianity ought to radically challenge secular society not only in its proclamation of what is right and wrong, but in how it worships God. When we adopt Protestant gimmicks, charismatic side shows, and the like, we aren’t challenging anyone or anything. And I think that in turn greatly diminishes the challenge that our social and moral message poses to the modern world.

  • American Knight says:

    Joe when we are attacked from all sides we are probably onto something. You and I still disagree on finer points and I am sure that the same misguided fools that attack you wouldn’t find me too appealing either. Christ was condemned for being too religious and not religious enough at the same time!

    The limits to set on a Republic based on liberal (classical) principles is The Church. Sadly, this country was founded by Masons (Luciferians) so the limits were set to be removed. About 100 years ago they were removed and the USA has degraded since and now the pace is accelerating.

    40 years ago the rubrics for the practice of the Catholic faith and the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice were loosened and instead of the Church engaging the modern world as Vatican II intended, it allowed the modern world in.

    The modern world has been assessed and found wanting. We are going back to reverence and orthodoxy. Can we take the secular country back to foundational principles and forward to the one, true faith?

  • Donna V. says:

    Damian Thompson can be crotchety (the last time I checked out “Holy Smoke,” he was grousing about Halloween treat-or-treaters), but every now and then, he hits the nail on the head. (And I cut him some slack for being grumpy, because it can’t be easy being a practicing Catholic in the land of Richard Dawkins and Henry VIII.)

    The worst litugical abuse I have witnessed occurred when I was still a child and it wasn’t until years later that I realized how bad it was. It was the late ’60′s. A priest at our parish who took to VII and the counterculture with great gusto held Mass in a neighbor’s living room. He was dressed in street clothes (then still a rarity in my neighborhood) and used a torn-up loaf of whole wheat bread for the Eurcharist. A hippie folk guitarist was in attendance and sang “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore” and other such tunes.

    I remember my parents were shocked and horrified by the whole thing, and I imagine the other blue-collar WWII generation attendees were too. I recall being baffled by what to do with Communion, as I had had it pounded into my head by the nuns and my parents that one never bit the host. But it’s very difficult not to chew a big hunk of whole wheat bread. And I think that’s exactly why “Fr. Dan” used it – he wanted his parishioners to overcome fuddy-duddy taboos and get with the swingin’ ’60′s, man.

    A few years later, he left the priesthood to marry an nun who had taken to the spirit of the times with similiar enthusiasm.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    The worst liturgical abuse I ever heard of occurred at the Newman Center of a secular university one of my relatives attended 25+ years ago; he claimed that the priest actually invoked Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez during Mass. (This particular Newman Center, however, has definitely cleaned up its act since then.)

    I have to admit, that while I like the revived interest in Latin and the greater availability of the Tridentine Mass as an alternative, I have a hard time getting too worked up about the supposed defects of the Novus Ordo. Perhaps it’s because that is the Mass I grew up with — I have absolutely no memory of ever having gone to a Tridentine Mass until I was an adult — and for better or worse, it’s the “real Mass” to me. Plus the vast majority of NO Masses I have attended have been properly celebrated and not marked by any of the grosser liturgical abuses others complain about.

    I used to work full time in a Catholic organization, and back then it was easy to be consumed with urgent life or death questions such as Communion on the tongue vs. in the hand, whether it was liturgically correct to sing first person songs like “I Am the Bread of Life,” and whether it was OK to hold hands at the Our Father. Today, however, living and working in an entirely secular “real world” environment, when I go to Mass on weekends, I’m just glad to be there. As long as the priest is a real priest, nothing that contradicts or misleads concerning Church teaching is said in the homily, everything is done according to the rubrics, and they don’t pray to Cesar Chavez, I’m OK with it.

    I hope nobody gets me wrong here, but to me, I don’t necessarily see it as a sign of virtue or piety to be overly picky or critical about what liturgy one attends — so long as it is valid and celebrated according to Church rules. Isn’t being content with what one has a virtue?

    What I am saying about being content with the liturgy one has applies ONLY to the attendees or congregation. Celebrants, on the other hand, show piety by exerting every effort to make their liturgies as “first class” and reverent as possible. There is absolutely no virtue in CELEBRATING a sloppy or rushed liturgy for no good reason.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Elaine,

    I grew up with NO too, minus a brief excursion my family took into the Maronite rite to connect with our roots (it ended when the only Maronite priest around left town). In all my youth, however, I never attended a Latin Mass and only had a vague notion of what it was all about.

    It wasn’t until after my decade of atheism that I discovered the TLM. The first time I heard the magnificent schola chanting was probably when I decided I wouldn’t be going back to NO. As I learned more about the TLM, and then went back and saw the NO, I was pretty sure I made the right choice. There’s just no comparison.

    It isn’t just about the tiny things you bring up, though when you add them altogether, they do make for two very different experiences. With NO, who knows if you’re going to have a reverent Mass, who knows if what they did last week will be what they do this week. In my parish, the TLM is the same every month, with alternating low and high Mass, as well it ought to be.

    I don’t think you give the liturgy the importance it is due. And why should you? It is hard to take liturgical matters seriously when the NO is the liturgy that defines your experience as a Catholic, because NO doesn’t really take itself seriously. I don’t know how to put that in a way that doesn’t sound rude, but no offense is intended.

    No, I don’t think we ought to hammer fellow Catholics over the heads with our liturgical preferences, but I do think it IS a virtue to introduce people to a form of worship that I believe is objectively more worthy of God, more reverent, more beautiful.

  • American Knight says:

    If you have not assisted at a TLM, do it with an open mind and do not focus on what is different than the NO, nor on the fact that you probably don’t know the rubrics. Just pray the Mass – you are transported to Calvary/The Last Supper/Eternity all at once – just be with Jesus.

    Also, try praying the Rosary in Latin (any good Catholic book store should have a cheat sheet in ecclesial Latin for you). Allow thirty days for it to really sink in and become familiar and you will be drawn by the beauty and majesty.

    Warning: It will become increasingly more difficult to assist at an NO.

  • Rob says:

    Taking parts of what Elaine writes:

    …as long as…nothing that contradicts or misleads concerning Church teaching…I’m OK with it…

    such would be true enough, if only such were the case…but the Novus Ordo designers deliberately stripped the Old Mass of much of its Catholicity for the very purpose of undermining it…so as not to cause their ‘separated brethren’ to stumble over it…compare the texts of the two Masses, and note well the suppression of the traditional prayers, and look for the offending terms which doomed them to oblivion…case in point, the suppression of the lovely Psalm 42, at the beginning of Mass, due to its repeated sacerdotal antiphon ‘and I shall go unto the Altar of God’ and its response ‘to God, who giveth joy to my youth’…altars are material to the concept of sacrifice, thus the Altar of God, provides the imagery of the Divine Sacrifice of Jesus Christ in the context of our worship. This is inimical to the Protestant vision, which purports the one time sacrifice of Christ and the subsequent commemoration of, but not renewal of, that event in its faith. The reference to ‘youth’ in the response again grates on the Protestant ear, inasmuch as it invokes the imagery of ‘rejuvenation’, which as Catholics, we receive through confession and absolution, a second chance as it were to lives our lives anew.
    Other instances of this suppression of Catholic thought abound, but I’ll close my post with only one other…consider the removal of the phrase ‘Mystery of Faith’ from the consecrational formula, referring specifically to the transubstantion of Christ’s Body and Blood,to a awkward proclamation after the Confection, consisting of the imagery of Christ’s death, resurrection, and the impemnding parousia…curious is it not? The designers of the NO clearly intended that the true mystical event of the Mass evolve aroung the universal Christian concept of dying and rising, and coming again, instead of the unique Catholic concept of the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist under the guise of bread and wine…I fail to see how deliberately deemphasizing the transubstantiation of the matter of the Eucharist can be called not misleading the Faithful as to the teaching of Mother Chuch…

Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Archives
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .