Sunday, July 10, 2016

Travel Log - Day 8 - Reflections on the last week

Liturgical aspects and considerations two days after Sacra Liturgia UK 2016:

Now that Msgr. Newton has met me and knows my Anglican Use background, he asked me after the Solemn High Mass at Our Lady of the Assumption & St. Gregory what I thought of it. I told him I liked it, but … well, it wasn’t what I expected. And I immediately remembered a significant aspect of pre-Vatican II Liturgy that people on both sides of The Pond might not be aware of. I was expecting to participate a bit more than just responses and a couple of hymns. The music performed was wonderful – it was a beautiful Mass. It just wasn’t anything like what we were doing at Our Lady of Walsingham 15 years ago. Fr. Moore and I were on the same page all those years with the level of congregational involvement.

I will expand on that in a moment. Let me first give a parallel.

Sunday morning I attended a Low Mass at St. James Spanish Place. (I might go back there for a High Mass before I leave, but that’s what fit in my schedule this morning.) The Celebrant was Fr. Michael Cullinan, who had given a talk Friday on The Ethical Character of the World Liturgically: Stewardship of Creation and Care for the Poor. We chatted at the coffee hour in the crypt afterwards. I mentioned my surprise that no one responded to anything, and didn’t even follow all the postures I was used to – nor did they say the Pater noster, not even the last line. Only the Altar server responded to anything. Father was greatly surprised when I told him that our congregations respond to all but the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, the way Pope Pius XII had instructed for the “Dialog Mass”. He told me that never happened in any Diocese in the UK! The Bishops were dead set against the congregation doing anything that innovative. He was even more astounded when I described learning at least four of the Gregorian Ordinaries in parochial grade school, and that classes took turns learning the Psalm Tone Propers for High Masses while everyone else present was expected to sing the Ordinary and hymns.

So, in the USA, both Catholic and Episcopalian congregations were far more “active” than their counterparts in the UK. All American hymnals, both Catholic and Episcopalian, have had Mass Ordinaries (or Communion Settings) for generations. No hymnal in the UK has ever had any of that – ONLY hymns. And both EF Masses and Anglican Ordinariate Liturgies in the UK are going to lean heavily on choral music, while in the USA both are going to allow the congregation to share in more of the singing. Until chatting with both Msgr. Newton and Fr. Cullinan, I had not realized this. I’m not sure they realize it either. This means that everything we talked about at the Conference, when it comes down to practicing in the parishes, is probably not going to as “universal” as we might expect.

Is this a problem? I don't think it's as big a problem as the over-arching need for Liturgical Catechesis. It might not even be as important as allowing Laint in the to be the tool of evangelization that it can and should be, or for the Ordinariate to blossom and grow in its own patrimony. I'm just suggesting that we all be aware that our Liturgies are still not going to be all the same - and noticeably so.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you got to talk to Msgr. Newton about the previous experience of the Anglican Use and before that the Dialogue Mass which was in force from the pontificate of Pius XII
There is a cultural difference between the UK and and USA which MIGHT be explained by the more "egalitarian" nature of the US church which welcomed participation by the congregation...
See if you can ask some elderly UK priest or church historian for their insights as to why the UK didn't welcome the Pre-Vat 2 dialogue Mass as the USA did .

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