It looks like Joe has taken his bat home over the increasingly smug and self satisfied nature of the debate on the blogs regarding the use of the older (extraordinary form) of the Roman Rite as opposed to the newer (ordinary form). I’m not happy about this, there are too few Catholic Physicist bloggers as it is. There is certainly nothing wrong with Joe’s statement that Archbishop Conti makes some reasonable points regarding the use of the EF, I'd agree with some of what ++Conti says too. EF friendly bloggers are too quick to snipe.
What neither ++ Conti or Joe can do, because they are no lovers of the older form is add to the debate (currently somewhat one sided) over “mutual enrichment” between the two forms. There is far too much smugness out there that the OF could not possibly enrich the EF. It is this that I wish to challenge.
I wish to point out that I am in a very privileged position of being able to get to both forms, appreciating both forms, and being able to attend Mass where both forms are done exceedingly well. This is not a position I think many people in this country are lucky enough to be in.
With regard to the newer rite; how many people have access to it in Latin? Paul had insisted on his requiem Mass being done in Latin. He didn’t specify OF or EF so I chose the OF for him. The EF would simply have been too much of a culture shock for his younger Catholic relatives. They were staggered by the beauty of a Latin Mass and the older Catholic relatives remembered the responses and quite significantly were unaware that it was the newer rite. They had forgotten that before 1972 they would not have been making responses in the way they do now (dialogue Masses were never widespread). I would argue that we will not get anywhere until the newer form is offered more widely in Latin. This provides the continuity with the older form and makes it less of a stumbling block for those who think the older form is a minority rite (or is that “right”) and wish it to remain so.
So what can the newer rite bring to the older? Firstly, I’d say that diction is important. People are now used to hearing the Mass. To those who have never really understood the older form and for all newcomers, it is important that the words of the server and the celebrant that should be heard, can be heard (even if only softly). People must also recongnise that the server (in the EF only) is there representing us. When he says the Confiteor, so do we, when the server says “Domine non sum dignus” so do we, in so many ways the “priesthood of all believers” is beautifully expressed in the actions of the server at the EF…. The newer rite also brings with it an appreciation of the structure of the Mass and quality prayerful responses (chugging your way through the rosary during Mass is not a satisfactory option). The newer rite also brings with it an understanding of the speed with which words should be said. There is far more of a tendency to speed up the Latin in the EF than there is with the English OF, the newer rite tells us explicitly this does not enrich the Mass. A rushed and garbled Last Gospel at the end of an EF Mass can be such a disappointment. Newer rite people want to feel they are participating, this is as it should be, they are just a bit hazy about what participation is. Get them following the priest and being with the server during the EF and you will be astounded by how much richness they get from the experience.
Also, and I may be being more controversial here, I will argue that a NO High Mass in Latin is the supreme Mass of the Roman Rite, it is superior to the EF High Mass because it flows better. Also being usually versus populum , seeing the incensing of the altar and the cleaning of the sacred vessels and the interaction between deacon, sub-deacon and celebrant makes for a far more staggeringly complete and sacred experience. Never seen this? Well I think you can guess which congregation may be able to provide this on a routine basis.
Unless we recognise the prayerfulness and validity of the objections of many for whom liking the older rite is a mystery, we will not succeed with the “mutual enrichment” which is simply has to happen and which is not an option.