Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Sunday, April 8, 2012

One Sacrifice

This weekend, we Catholics did an amazing thing, or rather we participated in an amazing thing. This amazing thing was the one sacrifice of God which was the only way we could be reconciled with God. God became Man so that Man could be reunited with God.

This got me thinking about the Mass. Over the Triduum, I went to Tenebrae service in Latin, Mass of the Lord's Supper in Latin and English, The Lord's Passion in Latin and English, the Stations of the Cross in Latin and Italian, the Easter Vigil in Latin and Easter Mass during the Day in Latin and English and a whole lot of other languages.

It did not seem disjointed.

Now you may be wondering why I say this. Well, it is often the case that people make the argument that the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form are necessarily at odds with each other, are in conflict. They are like two ships constantly at war with each other, hoping to recover the treasure supposedly taken by the other. To support one is to reject the other. One is the face of Catholicism in its true form. The Ordinary Form is the Mass of Tradition because we tradition is a continual thing in the Church (a position I have taken). The Extraordinary Form is the Mass of Tradition because the Novus Ordo has rejected some parts of the tradition of the Mass, like the use of Latin, ad orientem worship and many poetic and beautiful prayers thrown out the window (I have also taken this position).

I have, as I mention, participated in this debate. In fact, since the Liturgy means a lot to me, I have to defend and define good liturgical practice. I didn't make up the word Marchiturgy for nothing.

Yes, I have recently written something about this, but I came to a further realization this weekend. Yes, the Novus Ordo may currently use some prayers that are not as poetic as some in the Tridentine. The thing about the Novus Ordo is that you can always write new prayers for it. Heck, you could always write new prayers for the Tridentine. Pope Pius XII did it in 1955. You could even decide that the prayers from the Tridentine would be used in the Novus Ordo. Nobody is stopping the Pope. You wouldn't have to change what the people say (much, if at all) and the prayers would be more poetic, if that's what you care about.

But there's also some poetry in the Novus Ordo that the Tridentine doesn't have, particularly in the Third Eucharistic Prayer (my favorite). The Novus Ordo gives the opportunity to include motets and music that strict Tridentine traditionalists couldn't allow. In the history of the Church, there has always been adding of prayers into the Liturgy.

Now, I'm not saying "We no longer pray in Greek, so we should just throw out Latin too." I'm not a progressive in the sense that progress means throwing things out. The thing about the Novus Ordo is that the Vatican Council didn't call for throwing things out either, and the Missal was written with a lot of external similarities. Like I said, I went to a Novus Ordo in London and I thought I was at a Tridentine.

All of this is more or less irrelevant though. The main point is not that there are differences in the forms, but whether those differences mean anything essential. Is the Ambrosian Rite different from the Roman Rite? Yes, I believe it is. Was the Sarum usage different than the Parisian usage? Assuredly. Did Trent try to create a unified rite? Yes. Is that the end of the story? Not in the least. Unity is not the same as uniformity. Continuity does not mean identical in form. A Gothic Cathedral is not the same a Baroque church. There is a formal difference, and yet there is an obvious continuity in meaning.

Essentially, the Ordinary Form is the same as the Extraordinary because both are the One Sacrifice of Christ as expressed through the public prayer and work of the Church. They are merely two different ways to do the same thing. Is that so wrong? And in any case, it is not we who do it, but Christ. It is Christ who is continually making sacrifice to the Father on our behalf and the Mass is that sacrifice manifest in our lives. If he chooses two forms in the Roman Rite in which to do it, who are we to question that? Will it change? I don't know. Should it? I don't know. Can it? Of course.

All around the world, priests are offering the Mass in persona Christi and no matter what form, the sacrifice is the same. The Church has not abolished the Tridentine. It has not replaced it, no matter what some may say. We have not retired the ship to build another. We have added a boat to the fleet and though some may steer it poorly (for maybe it is not well understood at this point), both boats take us on the Voyage of the Eucharist toward the Rising Sun. When the Ordinary and Extraordinary form are not steered against each other, they sail side by side in perfect rhythm and there is no issue in going from one boat to the other, to catch the better breeze on one, to catch the better sun on the other.

This is what the Triduum in Rome was like, and the glory and the wisdom of the Church shone forth in its two battleships.

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