Who wants to answer this one?
Do we really want to go back?
Lex Grandi, Lex Credendi.
“Have you ‘heard’ Mass lately?”
In recent months I have seen reports of a move in the church to make the Mass of Pope Pius V (Tridentine Mass) more available to the laity. This would include returning to the Mass being “said” by the priest with his back to the people. A recent article on this subject in the Tupelo paper, the Daily Journal, quoted one lay woman who attends this Mass describe the priest as the pilot and the laity as passengers. She said she would not want the pilot flying her plane to be facing the passengers.
I have some questions I wish to raise regarding the Mass of Pius V.
1. Does the Mass of Pius V give the worshipper a sense of God’s presence (the holy) among the worshippers gathered or is the “holy” only present on the altar?
2. Does the Mass of Pius V give the worshipper a sense of being gathered together for corporate worship or private, personal devotion?
3. Does the Mass of Pius V help foster in the worshipper a sense of their own priesthood (per baptism) which enables them to offer the Mass with the priest (per ordination)?
4. Does the Mass of Pius V promote in the worshipper a sense of God who is immersed in the world and their life, or a sense of God removed from the world and their life? A God removed from flesh or a God made flesh?
5. Does the Mass of Pius V help convey the bond of intimacy between God and his people intended by the covenant ritual or does it promote a sense of God’s aloofness from his people?
One of the most potent tools the church has to catechize both the priests and laity is the way Mass is celebrated, whether that of Pius V or Paul VI. These two forms of the Mass operate from very different theologies. They convey very different ideas about God, Jesus, holiness, priesthood, laity, worship, and spirituality – I believe the Mass of Pius V, with its heavy emphasis on the transcendent nature of God contributed to most Catholics not receiving Holy Communion at Mass. It took Pope Pius X to make it a law of the church for Catholics to receive Holy Communion at least once-a-year for them to be in good standing in the church. I am old enough to remember those days.
Do we truly want to go back to an experience of Mass where the priest’s role is described as “saying Mass” and the laity’s role that of “hearing Mass”?
“Lex orandi, lex credendi.”
Fr. Henry Shelton
St. James Parish, Tupelo
Monday, August 27, 2007
From a letter to the editor in the Diocese Of Jackson Mississippi.