Thursday, January 17, 2008

"An Extraordinary Liturgy Returns to Campus": More on Summorum Pontificium at Notre Dame

There is a very fine article about the return of the Tridentine Mass to campus in the Winter 2007-2008 edition of Notre Dame Magazine. Fr. Zuhlsdorf has offered his own comments, here. While there are a few references to pre- and post-Conciliar dichotomies, the article is on the whole very positive, and thus very welcome. I am told by friends the Sunday morning Extraordinary Form mass continues to be well-attended; there are steps being taken to upgrade the liturgy to a missa cantata, which is very exiting.

I see with a little smile part of the web address for the article is "newmass.html," which pleases me. For many people, the "old" Tridentine mass is indeed a new mass, and we are blessed to live at a time when so many are discovering with fresh minds these ancient beauties.

For those of you unfamiliar with campus life at my alma mater, please remember that Notre Dame has changed considerably for the better since the late '80s. This is not an isolated incident but the fruit of a long series of beneficial shifts in ethos and praxis that have affected student religious life, masses of both forms on campus, and the general Catholicity of the place. Much of it is the result of the labor of devoted students; it has now begun to shift from the grassroots level beyond merely official approbation to significant support on the part of Campus Ministry.

My only comment on the article itself is the author initially describes student masses as drawing on "a sampler box of musical styles and aesthetic surroundings," which, while true to some degree, and not intended as a criticism, inadvertently makes Notre Dame seem a liturgical cafeteria. This doesn't quite reflects my own experience of campus liturgy.

While there are a number of different ways the mass is celebrated on campus at Notre Dame (some of which I might prefer more than others, and some of which may be closer to the ideal than others), the masses and other liturgies sponsored by the Basilica, the campus's principal chapel, have had a consistent level of reverence and technical execution, especially in terms of music. As Fr. Ayo remarks in the article, "If we’re going to do it at Notre Dame, we’re going to do it right." And when Notre Dame does something, American Catholics sit up and pay attention.

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