Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Do Mass Booklets at the EF Help or Hinder?

An issue has come up with the first extraordinary form Mass in a local parish: whether to distribute those large red books with the complete text of the Mass, including all parts said in a low voice, or whether to only distribute minimalist aids with propers and readings.

I've been to many first-time EF Masses and it is my strong impression that these red books can be a hindrance rather than a help to those who are attending for the first time. People who use them as if they are like the Missallete -- a linear account of what happens -- and end up completely lost, and flipping through pages for an hour trying to find out what is going on, and feel sort of left out and stupid because they can't follow along.

Meanwhile, they end up spending the entire Mass with their heads in a booklet rather than watching and listening and appreciating the beauty. It would be like going to the opera and spending the entire time looking through the music score rather than appreciating what is actually happening. As a result, they are left with an overall negative impression that they can't figure it out and were certainly left out as a result.

Anyway, it has become my view that the EF Mass, the first time out, is best left with a minimalist program for the people, printed for that event only and without the large-scale booklet that doesn't have the readings and propers in any case. I'm pretty sure that I will lose the debate on this one, though, but I'm curious just as a point of interest what the views of other readers are concerning this issue.

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