Saturday, October 25, 2008

A sense of the sacred provides a lengthy, very interesting and helpful description of the background and significance of the liturgical - and theological - dispute within Catholicism about the Latin Mass in "Rediscovering Traditionalism" by John Casey. It clarifies for me why Vatican II caused such turmoil within Catholicism and why so many Catholics find a return to older traditions so attractive.
Vatican II decreed that the people should `actively participate' in the mass. To the older idea that active participation could take place largely in silence and stillness was opposed the feeling that the congregation should always be doing things, saying prayers aloud, reading passages of scripture, presenting the bread and wine for the mass. The priest became less one who offered an awe-inspiring sacrifice, and more like one who presides over a community meal. Altars were turned round, so that the priest faced the people, rather than praying on their behalf to the East, as had been done from ancient times. (Critics of the new order often suggest - rightly - that this leads to a cult of the priestly personality.) The first part of the liturgy is now given over to scripture readings, somewhat in Protestant style, so that when the priest goes to the altar to say the actual canon of the mass, this can seem like an afterthought, rather than the focal point of the whole proceedings. The priest''s genuflections and other ritual signs of assent to the real presence, which in the old mass enacted an idea of worship and transcendence, seemed to have been cut to a minimum. For many, the remarkable beauty of the Latin text itself, set by so many great composers over the centuries, and a profound influence on the authors of the Book of Common Prayer, had helped create a sense of the sacred which had now all but vanished. [much more]
Thanks to Arts & Letters for the reference.

Rediscovering Traditionalism | open Democracy News Analysis

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