|Photograph from a children's Mass-book |
shewing the celebration of Mass
according to the "Interim Missal".
One of the characteristics of the Roman Rite until the Introduction of the Pauline Missal in 1970, was the balance it achieved between silence, singing, the spoken word and ritual action. Even the so-called Interim Rite, which had various iterations between 1964 and 1968, still preserved much of this balance. The Roman Rite "spoke" to people on a number of levels, not just the cerebral level. Its silences spoke, its aesthetics spoke, its unique and other-worldly music spoke.
On the other hand, one of the great flaws of the Pauline Missal is that it is far too cerebral. Everything has to be comprehensible intellectually. The Council Fathers decreed that the Church's Rites had to be "intelligible", but unhappily, the Pauline Missal took this injunction too far.
The typical celebration of the New Mass, Ordinary Form - call it what you will - is very wordy. If the texts in the Missal itself weren't more than enough, we are also subjected to little commentaries, entertainments, even ferverini during the Mass. Words, words, words. Too many words.
At the same time, ritual action in the New Mass has been reduced to a minimum. Silence is imposed by the celebrant, rather than being organic to the Rite. One strange example of this, which we experience too often, is the celebrant - having preached his homily - goes and sits down and a period of silence is endured. Presumably we are to meditate on his spoken wisdom: but does anyone remember more than two sentences that he said?
Let us be very careful to avoid an overly-cerebral approach to the Sacred Liturgy (New or Old). Might we not aim, rather, to recapture and preserve that old balance of the Roman Rite: silence and sacred music supporting the Ritual actions?