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"One historical problem in this area is the fact that, canonically, prior to the 1970 missal there were only two forms of the Latin Rite Mass: the "high Mass" and the "low Mass." Since the former was too elaborate for regular congregational use in many parishes, while the latter was clearly intended for private masses, this left a huge gap in between. While the Liturgical Movement was endorsing the simple "sung Mass" for parishes, this form was unofficial and could only be used with the bishop's permission--which wasn't always forthcoming."

The so-called "low Mass" is a medieval innovation, an example of a liturgical abuse hallowed by time. Prior to the eleventh or twelfth century, there was no such beast. It arose because so many people were endowing monasteries to celebrate requiem Masses for the repose of their souls that it became necessary to celebrate around the clock. Thus, first the principle of one church, one alter, one Eucharist in one day was abandoned, and side chapels became common in monastic churches. Then, because it was difficult even in a monastery to rustle up a congregation at two in the morning, dispensations were given for the priest to say both his prayers and the congregation's responses--the innovation of "private Mass", which certainly would have puzzled the Fathers. At first this was limited to monastic churches, but by the thirteenth century it had migrated into parochial use, and by the fifteenth century it had become the predominant form used in the West.

Once that happened, the Mass became totally clericalized--the people really did not have anything to do, since the priest was doing it all for them. He "said" Mass; they "heard" Mass.

The Council of Trent more or less codified this situation. Though historically the pontifical form of the Eucharistic Liturgy in all rites was considered the normative form, redacted for parochial use, the Tridentine liturgical commission assumed, based on the usage of the day, that the "low Mass" was normative. Thus, the so-called "high Mass" of the Tridentine rite is actually an elaborated derivation of the low Mass, an inversion of the usual relationship.

Vatican II aimed to do three things with its revision of the liturgy, aside from the overall aim of restoring the Roman rite to something like its first century form: (1) restoration of the role of the laity in the Mass; (2) suppression of the low Mass (done) and of "private" Mass (partial success); (3) restoration of the pontifical Mass as the normative form from which parochial use is derived (I can't comment on that).

The Vatican II Missal does indicate that the Mass ought to be chanted. On several occasions I suggested that we should have a chanted Mass at the Orientale Lumen Conferences (in order, among other things, to show the Orthodox what Western liturgy really can be). My suggestions foundered mainly because it was not possible to find a Latin priest willing to do it, and a schola willing to sing without being paid through the nose.

Nonetheless, here and there, you really can find parishes that chant the Mass, that celebrate versus apsidem, that follow the rubrics as they were intended, and not "as everyone else does it". All it takes is leadership.

I believe that to restore congregational chant in the Latin Church will require a process similar to that which is being used in the Orthodox Church--special training classes for cantors, traveling workshops, free distribution of music for parochial use. In some ways, the Latins have it easier, since they have so many Sunday Masses, whereas we have but one. Thus, one can be used as a "laboratory", in which the people can experiment with the sung Mass, gain experience and confidence in its celebration, and gradually expand it to the other Masses in the parish. The multiplicity of Masses also means that those who dislike the sung form will not be shut out or alienated, though they may find the number of options open to them declining over time.

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"Vatican II aimed to do three things with its revision of the liturgy, aside from the overall aim of restoring the Roman rite to something like its first century form: "

This should read "first millennium form".


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There is an excellent blog called the New Liturgical Movement [newliturgicalmovement.org] which deals with how to improve the quality of liturgical celebrations in the Latin Church. Fortunately, we are seeing more of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite as well as many examples of the so-called reform of the reform, i.e. more traditional celebrations of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite (whether in Latin or in the vernacular).

Indeed, Pope Benedict XVI himself is doing all he can to set a good example. In England, the London [bromptonoratory.com], Birmingham [birmingham-oratory.org.uk] and Oxford Oratories [oxfordoratory.org.uk] are important examples for others to follow, and in Scotland there is Pluscarden Abbey [pluscardenabbey.org], all of which are using the Ordinary Form with Latin, celebration ad orientem (except the Oxford Oratory, because St Aloysius had already been reordered before being taken over by the Oratorians), etc. Even here in Norway we are seeing some movement in what I would call the right direction.

So there is no good reason why we should not be celebrating the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite in a dignified and traditional way. However, stumbling blocks in many places may be a combination of lack of knowledge, lack of resources, lack of leadership, and a fear of appearing "divisive."

If anyone is interested, do please have a look at the New Liturgical Movement blog, which deals with both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, as well as other Latin rites (Ambrosian, Carthusian, etc): http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/

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Hang on there

The Glasgow Archdiocese has a Latin Mass [ Ordinary Form ] celebrated every week at 4pm on Sunday in the centre of Glasgow.

Attendance is sadly only about 15 - but they come every week.

There is also this :- Mass 10.00am (1962 Missal,) in one of the Parishes in the East End of Glasgow

I can't answer for any other Diocese.

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I second a look at the New Liturgical Movement blog. Excellent source for news regarding liturgical reform. There is hope on the horizon.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
The so-called "low Mass" is a medieval innovation, an example of a liturgical abuse hallowed by time. Prior to the eleventh or twelfth century, there was no such beast. It arose because so many people were endowing monasteries to celebrate requiem Masses for the repose of their souls that it became necessary to celebrate around the clock.
Stuart,

Another explanation that I've heard is that around the 10th Century, monks from France and Germany started being ordained as priests in order to serve as missionaries to the Scandinavian countries. That began the anomalous practice of having entire monasteries of priests, which then became the norm.


Originally Posted by StuartK
Though historically the pontifical form of the Eucharistic Liturgy in all rites was considered the normative form, redacted for parochial use, the Tridentine liturgical commission assumed, based on the usage of the day, that the "low Mass" was normative. Thus, the so-called "high Mass" of the Tridentine rite is actually an elaborated derivation of the low Mass, an inversion of the usual relationship.
Thanks, I had not heard this before. Not being familiar with the pontifical form of the TLM (except for the "sit nomen Domini benedictum ... ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum!", which I like because of its similarity to the Byzantine "blessed be the name of the Lord now and forever!"), smile I don't really know how it differs from the more familiar "high Mass." Can you give any examples?


Originally Posted by StuartK
I believe that to restore congregational chant in the Latin Church will require a process similar to that which is being used in the Orthodox Church--special training classes for cantors, traveling workshops, free distribution of music for parochial use.
Now, that sounds like a great idea! (I especially like the "free" part.) smile It seems that the old Liturgical Movement, which had been completely derailed by the "Liturgical Reform," is now in the early stages of a comback. smile


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"Though historically the pontifical form of the Eucharistic Liturgy in all rites was considered the normative form, redacted for parochial use, the Tridentine liturgical commission assumed, based on the usage of the day, that the "low Mass" was normative. Thus, the so-called "high Mass" of the Tridentine rite is actually an elaborated derivation of the low Mass, an inversion of the usual relationship."

Stuart,

Not saying you are wrong, but I've read many times that this is a common misconception, and that the Low Mass definitely evolved from the High Mass (I suppose the Sung High Mass, which I suppose derived from the Solemn High Mass, which I suppose derived from the Pontifical Mass). Can you elaborate, hopefully with some sources?

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It is a two-step process: the low Mass did evolve, in the Middle Ages, from the full Mass (which you could call "high", but really was just "the Mass"). By the 16th century, the time of Trent, the low Mass was the predominant form, and so the term "high Mass" emerged to describe the full celebration of the Eucharist. Thus, when the Tridentine rite was formulated, the low Mass was taken as normative, and the high Mass was derived by expanding and elaborating on that. I believe that Father Serge wrote an article on this some years back.

The cycle of development can then be traced as follows:

Full Mass-->Private (low) Mass-->Tridentine low Mass-->Tridentine High Mass

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"Another explanation that I've heard is that around the 10th Century, monks from France and Germany started being ordained as priests in order to serve as missionaries to the Scandinavian countries. That began the anomalous practice of having entire monasteries of priests, which then became the norm."

This may certainly have contributed to the situation, since the Latin Church gradually lost the practice of concelebration while at the same time developing a custom of requiring a priest to "exercise his faculties" by celebrating the Eucharist daily. it may also be that having whole monasteries of priests was a response to the demand for requiem Masses.

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Stuart,

What's the difference between the "Full Mass" and the "High Mass"?

I've always understood that Solemn Mass is the "normative Mass," regardless of the prevalence of the Low Mass (or Sung Mass).

Alexis

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I use the term full Mass to describe the situation prior to the development of the private or low Mass. Before that time, there was just "Mass", just as there is just the Divine Liturgy--one form, which may have been slightly abridged for parochial use, but which had the same rubrics and the same text, and was celebrated in the same way, in the presence of a congregation.

With low Mass, the priest subsumed the roles of the congregation, and could thus celebrate in the absence of any other people--it could be a "private" Mass. "High Mass", at first, was just the original way of celebrating. However, under the Tridentine Missal and its rubrics, the High Mass likewise does not really require the presence of the congregation, because, though the ceremonial is more elaborate, and requires the presence of deacons, readers and other assistants, the priest still subsumes the responses of the people. The choir might sing the responses, but their words are not considered to have any efficacy. That's why the five-part Mass suite developed from the Baroque through the classical era: there was no need to be concerned with the propers of the Mass, since the priest himself took care of that.

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The post Vatican II mass of Pope Paul VI was a great blessing for the whole Church of God. Now the mass is the dominion of all the people of God and not a private devotion of the priest up on the altar. This was the fruit of centuries of anticipated liturgical reform and renewal. Thank God for it!

It might be nice though to see the mass of 1965 come back because they allowed the vernacular to be used while still retuning the Tridentine style of worship (although with priest facing the people and communion distributed standing). This missal may be a model for future reform but, in the meantime , the Novus ordo remains the ordinary (thankfully) rite of the mass for all RC's.

PS. Maybe I'll be attacked like crazy by traditionalist on this forum for daring to express this un PC (by modern Internet Catholic forum standards) view of the Novus ordo mass. I just feel that the changes made by the Church WERE necessary and will be looked on far more kindly in the future then they are today.

Robert

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Glory to our risen Lord Jesus Christ

Why should the priest face the people?

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Originally Posted by Robert K.
It might be nice though to see the mass of 1965 come back because they allowed the vernacular to be used while still retuning the Tridentine style of worship (although with priest facing the people and communion distributed standing).
Robert,

Thank you for your comments, and please don't look at this reply as an "attack."

With regard to the priest facing the people and communion distributed standing, there is nothing in the rubrics of the 1965 missal--or even the 1970 missal--that calls for either of these practices.

With regard to the 1965 missal itself, there were a number of little oddities in it--the one I remember specifically was the re-designation of Palm Sunday as the "Second Sunday of the Passion." (Whoever came up with that gem would have a field day with the Byzantine Liturgy and things like "Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers," "Sunday of the Paralytic," etc.)

With regard to the 1970 missal, one of the most lamentable changes from an Eastern perspective was the elimination of the traditional Offertory prayers. These prayers, in addition to their time-honored status, spoke of the gifts on the altar almost as if they were already consecrated. This hearkens back to a time when even the West viewed the consecration more as a process and less as a single moment in time. Thus, the Eucharist was clearly seen as more mystical and less cosmological.


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One of the oldest liturgical Traditions of the Church is celebration "facing east" (ad orientum), which can be seen in house churches dating to the second and third centuries. The symbolism is quite clear: we face East because Christ is the Orient From Above, and because Ex Orientum lux--Light comes from the East, and Christ is the Light of the World.

When the priest faces East, he is not turning his back on the congregation, rather, he is standing with the congregation, and leading them forward to greet the Risen Christ (for every Eucharistic Liturgy is a little Sunday, and every Sunday is a little Pascha).

There was nothing in the rubrics of the Revised Latin Liturgy that required celebration facing the people (versus populum); indeed, the rubrics assume the priest is facing East, since he is instructed to turn and bless the people at various intervals. Just why versus populum became the norm is an interesting question. I can think of only one ancient church where this was done--Old St. Peter's, where the configuration of the ground and the desire to locate the altar above the tomb of St. Peter meant that the celebrant had to face the people in order to face East (as you can see, the need to face East trumped just about everything--it is believed by some historians that the entire congregation of St. Peters would turn its back on the altar at various times in order to do so).

Celebration versus populum is a serious liturgical abuse, one which induces cringes in just about all Eastern Christians whether Orthodox or Catholic. Among other things, it increases the clericalization of the liturgy by separating the priest from the people with the body of the altar. The symbolism there is also quite clear: the priest is in charge; his is doing his thing independent of the people--and this more than negates the value of congregational responses and singing.

It also places a huge burden on the priest, who is now host, MC, and star attraction of the Mass. For many, it is more than they can sustain--and it shows. Versus apisdem celebration (as well as chanting of the prayers) depersonalizes the liturgy, takes the spotlight off of the priest and puts it back where it belongs.

The use of pews began the process, but celebration versus populum culminates it: the liturgy is seen as a performance put on by the priest and the others around the altar; the congregation is the audience. This is of course, a fundamental error: in the liturgy, both the congregation and the the celebrant are the performers--it is God who is the audience.

Restoration of celebration versus apsidem would therefore bring the Latin rite back in line with all the other rites of the Church, would restore the rich liturgical symbolism found therein, and would go at least part of the way to restoring a proper understanding of liturgy itself.

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