Monday, July 13, 2009

Re-Enchanting the Parish Mass: Basic Textual Projects and Resources for the Reform of the Reform

It has been in my mind to collect together different practical liturgical resources for parish priests working toward the re-enchantment of the liturgy in typical parish churches -- that is, within the context of the modern Roman liturgy.

Of course, one of the admitted difficulties in doing so at this present moment in history -- a wonderful dilemma truth be told, even if a bit frustrating for those of us trying to promote parish resources -- is that with the official English language liturgical texts being revised, we find ourselves in a period of transition. Accordingly, those resources which have presented us with English or Latin and English options to date will find themselves somewhat outdated once the new and better translated texts take their place on our altars.

One related question that arises is, after the final approvals have been secured, when we might begin to see new resources that will be adapted to the new editions of the Missal texts and how those resources might be manifest. Thinking ahead to some possibilities, as well as to what might be particularly beneficial to priests and laity alike who are eager to push forward on the project of reforming the reform, the following theorized projects would seem particularly useful:

1. An altar edition of the modern Roman Missal that is of the quality and beauty of that published by Midwest Theological Forum (see below), and which, through the use of double-columns (as in the editions of the Missale Romanum of the usus antiquior) incorporates both the text of the Latin text and the new English translation in parallel -- approved for formal liturgical use of course.

This would allow for (and help encourage) priests to use either the Latin or English texts, or (as is more likely) both, with great convenience and ease. (The use of sacred art of the crucifixion at the beginning of each of the four Eucharistic prayers would be very welcome as well, as would other echoes of our tradition of altar missal design and typesetting.)

2. For the laity, editions of pew missals (Sundays and Feastdays or a daily) which contain the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin as well as om the new English translation, while also providing parallel Latin-English presentation of the Proper of the Mass would also be beneficial. The readings could simply be in the vernacular.

3. To accompany the Gregorian Missal which provides the proper and ordinary chants of the modern Roman liturgy in Latin, a similar type of work which provides for the new official English texts for the Ordinary of the Mass, set to chant. (Here, of course, there is a creative dimension which is added, which makes this a much more significant and longer-term project. The recently announced Gradual Parvum by the Society of St. Catherine of Siena is likely something to watch for in this regard.)

* * *

Despite the difficulties mentioned earlier, I have decided to proceed with at least a start on a listing of some very basic parish resources, focusing on those which are not particularly affected by the present translation project. This will necessarily mean, therefore, that the emphasis will be on those resources which operate mainly in the context of the Latin edition of the Missal.

The Missal

While I have only had a chance to see it from a distance, this edition of the Missale Romanum (Editio iuxta typicam tertiam) put out by Midwest Theological Forum is quite noteworthy.

This is the Latin typical edition of the modern Roman missal, beautifully bound and typeset in the tradition of missal binding. It's features include that it is leatherbound, and includes sacred art within it; six ribbons are also included and the edges are gold gilt with leather tabs.

Evidently, if your parish wishes to also incorporate certain English texts, such as for the propers, you will need to employ a workaround of some sort.

Sacred Music

The Parish Book of Chant contains a complete order of Mass for both the modern Roman liturgy and usus antiquior in parallel Latin and English. The ordos include the sung responses of the people and celebrant.

It contains a large Kyriale, or collection of chants that make up the “ordinary” of the Mass: the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. It collects together 71 Latin chants, with English translations, that are for occasional use in Mass in various seasons of the year, such as hymns for Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, as well as Marian hymns and chants for funerals and other occasions. Additional features include the order of service for Benediction, Gospel canticles, litanies, and Alleluias for both forms.

The focus here is the Latin chant, with the English translations being unofficial, though more proximate to the forthcoming translation. This particular resource is oriented toward the pew.

The Gregorian Missal (also available in an electronic edition for free) is another excellent resource, containing all of the chants for Sunday Mass in Latin.

It also includes English translations of the various prayers and chants which will become out of date with the new translation, but the primary use of this book is for the choir loft and the singing the Latin chants of the modern Roman liturgy. Accordingly, it will continue to be extremely useful (even though it would be nice to see a new edition).

The Adoremus Hymnal will be very familiar to many. It contains a number of English and Latin hymns, while also containing Latin chant settings for the Ordinary.

(Also sold in choir and organist editions.)

Ceremonial Guides

Priests and others are often looking for ceremonial guidance. Bishop Peter C. Elliott's works have remained unique as an approach toward the ceremonial of the modern Roman liturgy in the tradition of Fortescue. (On that note, it would be good to have these volumes side by side with the latest edition of Fortescue, O'Connell and Reid as a complement.)

Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite by Msgr. Peter C. Elliott

Description: Sets out the liturgical duties of bishops, priests and deacons, acolytes and servers, lectors and EMHC's etc. Includes a wide range of guidance on such useful themes as: vessels and vestments, how to carry out ceremonial actions, the deacon, ministering the Eucharist to the sick, Eucharistic adoration, Eucharistic processions, celebrating vespers in a parish, the location of the tabernacle, etc.

Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year by Msgr. Peter C. Elliott

Description: A guide to the most important moments of the Church year from Advent and Christmas to Holy Week, Corpus Christi and to the Solemnity of Christ the King.

Bishop Elliott also wrote a work, Ministry at the Altar, for the Archconfraternity of St. Stephen (also known as the Guild of St. Stephen) which was an excellent guide and tutorial for altar servers, inclusive of posture and other elements of serving, which are equally important in the project of re-enchanting the liturgy. Unfortunately, I cannot see whether that title is yet in print. If it isn't, it should be.

* * *

It goes without saying, of course, that there are other resources and other liturgical considerations that can be looked at, and indeed, need to be looked at in the project of re-enchanting parish liturgy.

I hope these, however, will provide some basic textual considerations for the parish, and those which will continue to have application after the revised missal is formally issued.

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