Sunday, November 23, 2008

A "Carolingian" Christ the King

Call it an instance of the "reform of the reform," or call it simply the way things ought to be. But whatever you call it, it deserves our accolades. I refer to the "ordinary form" Mass celebrated today, the Solemnity of Christ the King, at the St. Martin of Tours Chapel of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia. Msgr. Michael Magee was the celebrant. Here's a rundown on the liturgy, as related to me by a seminarian there:

Entrance: "Christus Vincit" (Roman version)
Introductory Rites: chanted in Latin (including the Sign of the Cross and greeting)
Kyrie and Gloria: chanted in Greek and Latin, respectively
Gospel: sung in English
Creed: Credo III (Latin)
Offertory: Arcadelt's "Ave Maria"
Preface and Sanctus: chanted in Latin
Canon: chanted in English
Pater Noster: chanted in Latin
Agnus Dei: chanted in Latin (De angelis)
Communion: "Ubi caritas est vera" (VI)
Post-communion meditation: Mengali's "Jesu, salvator mundi"

My only regret, besides not having photos of the event, is that the Proper antiphons were not used. As for the sung Eucharistic Prayer, I'm of a divided mind: on the one hand, it is perfectly legitimate (in the ordinary form) and it enhances the external solemnity of the celebration; on the other hand, there is much to commend a silent (or at least softly spoken) Canon, especially when one considers the verbosity of the novus ordo (whereas silence was built into the older liturgy). But enough. I do not want to detract from the value of what happened today at St. Charles. Such generous use of Latin in the modern Roman rite would have been unimaginable even in the "conservative" seminaries only a decade ago. Language aside, the overall ethos is cause for rejoicing. It is also reason for hope. A case of "the reform of the reform?" Maybe. The new reform, after all, starts with celebrating the reformed liturgy well. In any event, St. Charles goes on my personal map of far fewer than a thousand points of light in the cause of liturgical renewal.

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