Monday 28 April 2008

Bishop Elliott launches Order of Mass book

Responding to the Pope’s initiative in Summorum Pontificum, the Ignatius Press has now released an Order of Mass for the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, prepared by Michael Sternbeck of the Saint Bede Studio. The Mass-book may be purchased online here. This is a completely new edition, not a reprint of previous books, published under the Imprimatur of the Archbishop of Melbourne, Australia, the Most Rev’d Denis Hart.

The new Mass-book will be made available to World Youth Day Pilgrims for use at Juventutem Liturgies in the Extraordinary Form in Melbourne and Sydney.

Well-known liturgist and auxiliary bishop of Melbourne, the Most Rev’d Peter J Elliott, recently launched the Order of Mass book at a ceremony in Melbourne.

The ceremony was preceded by a Solemn Mass celebrated in the bishop’s presence in the church of S’ Aloysius, Caulfield (Archdiocese of Melbourne). The Old Mass community of Saint Aloysius graciously made available their facilities for the launch ceremony. The bishop was welcomed on the occasion by Father Glen Tattersall, chaplain to the Old Mass community in Melbourne. Following the bishop’s speech, Michael Sternbeck made a brief reply explaining his philosophies and aspirations in preparing the Mass-book.

The following is a slightly-abridged version of the Bishop Elliott’s launch speech:
Michael Sternbeck has done a great service to all English-speaking Catholics in preparing this beautiful book, The Order of the Mass, The Missal of Blessed John XXIII, Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Ignatius Press have presented it in a convenient and elegant form, first in terms of the noble cover design by the author, who is a noted expert in the field of liturgical art and sacred vestments. The book is enriched by noble and symbolic drawings of key moments in a Solemn Mass, a reminder that this is the normal way of celebrating the Roman Liturgy.

The Order of the Mass is a timely response the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. The text of the Motu Proprio has been included in this work, together with the important covering letter the Pontiff provided to explain his magisterial ruling and to promote and reinforce its generous provisions.

As the title indicates, this is primarily a worshipper’s guide to the Order of Mass Missale Romanum of 1962, authorised by Blessed Pope John, the last edition of the so-called “Tridentine” missal. The first edition of this universal missal for the Roman Rite was authorised by Pope St Pius V in 1570. The 1962 edition may be further enriched by including various new prefaces from the post-conciliar Missale Romanum of Pope Paul VI, and the author has included a good selection of these prefaces. This provision is recognised by the Ecclesia Dei Commission and will no doubt be incorporated in some future edition of the Missale Romanum, “extraordinary form”. Here Michael Sternbeck has anticipated what a further stage is the organic development of liturgy.

In a most affirming forward, the Archbishop of Melbourne, Most Rev. Denis J. Hart, says: “The book will serve to help us understand the prayers and be united with the priest in offering the one, perfect, unbloody sacrifice to God the father, which brought our redemption.”

I see this assistance being offered to the reader at several levels. At one level this book may be used as a guide to the Mass, providing a rich liturgical and theological commentary, deeply spiritual in tone, full of interesting but relevant details, presented with an originality which engages the reader. This work can serve as an introduction for those who may not be familiar with the “extraordinary” form. The explanatory material wisely assumes that the reader knows nothing about the classical rite, particularly celebrating towards the East, the use of Latin and the sacred setting. Yet this is not done in a patronising way. Those of us familiar with the rite will find original nuances in the explanations which invite us to deeper faith in the Divine Mysteries. The author writes in the best perspective - “faith seeking understanding”. So there is another level of Eucharistic catechesis offered to the reader.

At the same time, at a deeper level, this book is meant to be used during Mass to promote that authentic participation in the liturgy, pioneered by the Liturgical Movement and endorsed by the Second Vatican Council. There is provision for the dialogue Mass. But, as Michael reminds us, echoing Pope Benedict, full participation is spiritual and interior, not merely by word or posture, and participation therefore includes personal prayer.

The interior dimension of participation is supported in this book by a careful selection of traditional devotions from the East and West. Some of these prayers are not well-known but they are of a quality that avoids cloying pietism. I also note a gentle ecumenical touch, the inclusion of a beautiful private prayer before Mass written by the seventeenth century Anglican divine, Jeremy Taylor.

Returning to the original quality of this work, I am delighted to find the unusual translation of the Canon, derived largely from Mgr. Ronald Knox. In his translations, Mgr. Knox was able to give us the style of the Latin, retaining the pace and rhythm of the ancient tongue in English, and that is no easy feat. At various points, this paraphrase helps the jewel at the heart of the Liturgy to shine more brightly. One discovers surprising nuances in the meaning of various stages of the Canon, certainly absent in the banal English paraphrase currently used in the ordinary form of Mass, soon to be replaced by a richer and more literal translation. In Michael Sternbeck’s book, the worshipper is able explore the depth and scope of this great prayer of thanksgiving, consecration, oblation, and intercession. This reinforces my belief that the supreme Eucharistic prayer of our Western liturgical tradition surely goes back, at least in part, to the age of the Holy Apostles.

As I launch this book, I wish to express my own gratitude to the author, anticipating the gratitude of all who will use it. This will be a key instrument in the spread of the classical form of our Roman Rite. I take up the words of the Holy Father in the opening sentence of Summorum Pontificum. I believe this book responds well to “the constant concern of the Supreme Pontiffs…to ensure that the Church of Christ offers a worthy worship to the Divine Majesty, ‘to the praise and glory of His name’ and ‘to the benefit of all His Holy Church.’ ”

In addition to a new and fresh translation into English of the prayers of the Mass, placed alongside the Latin, there is an excellent introduction to the Mass, instructive to those familiar with the Rite and those who are not. Here is an excerpt:

In 1970, when the New Order of Mass was introduced, much was changed pertaining to the celebration of Mass and everything associated with it. The nature of the Mass, of course, did not change, but how it was presented changed very markedly. It was far more than a change from Latin to English: it involved a change in emphasis. In trying to simplify the Sacred Liturgy and make it more readily comprehensible, the architects of the New Order of Mass have emphasised the communal aspect of the Mass. Typically, the celebrant stands on one side of the altar, facing the congregation, and all are gathered around the table of the Lord, to partake of the Sacred Banquet. Very often there is a strong emphasis on active external participation.

When the celebrant is not facing the congregation, however, the entire atmosphere of the Mass is changed: both priest and people are facing the same direction to pray. Many have forgotten that from earliest Christian times, Mass was celebrated looking towards the rising sun (a great symbol of the Resurrection, and of Christ’s Second Coming in Glory): everyone faced this direction. Furthermore, the Mass is not limited to the confines of the building in which it is being celebrated, but is a cosmic event, involving the angels and saints and the souls of the faithful departed who are yet to receive their eternal reward. Simply by changing the position of the celebrant, a different sense of the Mass as a sacred event is conveyed to all present. The great silences, the solemn ritual actions of the celebrant and the beauty of the ancient Latin prayers, all reinforce the mysterious and sacred atmosphere of this More Ancient Use of the Roman Mass.

The sense of the sacred is not only manifest in the celebration of the Liturgy itself, but in all the things that surround it: the way the celebrant is vested, the manner in which the altar is decorated, the manner in which the celebrant and his ministers conduct themselves in the sanctuary - all of these things are governed by rules which the Church in her wisdom adopted over the course of centuries.
The translations themselves deserve our attention, this being the rendering of the prayer Suscipe Sancta Trinitas at the Offertory:
Accept, holy Trinity, this offering which we make to you in remembrance of the passion, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in honour of blessed Mary ever Virgin, of blessed John the Baptist, of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, of those whose relics rest here, and of all the Saints. To them may it bring honour, and to us salvation; and may they, whose memory we keep on earth, be pleased to intercede for us in heaven. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Furthermore, commentaries on the prayers and rites of the Mass are included, such as this one (on the prayer Suscipe Sancta Trinitas, translated above):
This beautiful prayer, a summary of the things a Catholic should keep in mind when praying the Mass, is deserving of especial attention. It reminds us firstly that all our worship is offered to the One God, who is a Trinity of Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Secondly, in reflecting the Anamnesis after the consecration, the prayer insists on the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery that is re-presented for us in sacramental form: His Passion, Resurrection and Ascension. Finally, it asserts that a secondary end of the Mass is the honour of the Saints (that is, the victory of Christ in His members is being praised), and accordingly it begs their intercession for us on Earth. Make a point of praying this prayer in the silence of your heart, uniting yourself with the words of the celebrant.
This is a section of the translation of the Last Gospel:
The Word is the true light, who enlightens every soul born into the world. He through whom the world was made came into the world; but the world did not recognise him. He came to his own, and his own did not receive him. But to all who did receive him and who believed in his name, to these he gave power to become children of God: those who were born, not of blood, nor by the will of flesh, nor by the will of man, but are born of God.
Following remarks made by the Pope in Summorum Pontificum, and previous permissions of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, this new Mass-book includes as an Appendix a selection of Prefaces from the 1970 Missal. These are: Preface of the Baptism of the Lord, Preface of Saint John the Baptist, Preface of the Annunciation, Preface of the Angels, Preface of Pentecost, Preface of Pastors, Preface of the Transfiguration, Preface of Martyrs, Preface of the Assumption, Preface of Religious & Holy Virgins, Preface of the Immaculate Conception, Preface of Matrimony, Preface of the Apostles Peter & Paul.

Other prefaces, which had been included in some post-1957 editions of the Missale Romanum, are also included. This is the translation of the Preface of the Lord’s Supper (for use on Holy Thursday):
It is truly fitting and just, right and profitable for our salvation, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Lord, holy Father, almighty, eternal God, through Christ our Lord, the true and eternal High Priest and, alone, the Priest without stain of sin. In the Last Supper, establishing the form of the eternal sacrifice, he firstly offered himself to you as a victim, thus teaching us the noblest and best offering. By his body, sacrificed for us, we are now fed, we are now strengthened; by his poured-out blood we are now given drink, we are now cleansed. And so, with the Angels and Archangels, with the Thrones and Dominations, and all the strength of the heavenly host, we sing without ceasing this hymn to your glory:
Pictures attached to this post shew the cover and also one of several line drawings which were prepared especially for this book.

Lastly, attention might be drawn to a small but lovely collection of devotional prayers included in the Mass-book. This is one:
For the Church
(Missal of Robert of Jumieges - 11th century)
Almighty, Eternal God, by ever giving strength to our weakness, you enable the Church to flourish even amidst its trials, so that when it appears to men to be utterly cast down, then rather does it gloriously prevail. Whilst, then, it accepts affliction as a proving of its faith, let it persevere, by your grace, in triumphant loyalty.