So, there has been a lot of bickering across the interwebz lately about the reform of the reform. I've been part of some of it, so I've decided that perhaps a scholarly look at what could be reformed is in order.
So, let's see...this will be a summary post, but I would like to expound upon it and see if there cannot be something done about a hypothetical reform. I will speak to language, architecture and the Liturgy of the Word in this post.
I will add this caveat. This is not an archeological excercise. I am not interested in taking the Mass back 1000 or 1500 years. That is not the point. The point is that if the idea of a true reform of the Novus Ordo is to take place, what can be done immediately. Let's start with the language. The vernacular language of the Latin Church is Latin. Therefore, to ensure uniformity and universality at Holy Mass and foster a mutual understanding of the Mass across cultural lines, the majority of the Mass will be in Latin. However, the readings will be proclaimed in the vernacular, once they have been recited by the priest in Latin. This is practical, so as to keep the universality of the Mass in tact. Example...if a German is assisting at Mass in France, the readings being proclaimed in Latin first would afford him the opportunity to hear and follow the readings in a tongue that is familiar to him and allows for him to follow with his missal prior to the proclamation in the vernacular which he may not understand.
Next let's speak to architecture.
There must be a return to vertical theology with regard to architecture. This necessitates several things.
1. A separation of the sanctuary from the nave. There must be a step up into the sanctuary and there must be a boundary to know that the sacrificial action is taking place...so the return of an altar rail. (We'll deal with other functions of the altar rail later).
2. The return of a praedella for the altar and the altar should be elevated by 3 or 5 steps. It should be an odd number, because the final step (traditionally an even number) is to heaven.
a. a crucifix must return to the center of the altar elevated on a throne (if a tabernacle is on the altar, then above the tabernacle).
b. six candles must return to the altar for the celebration of high Mass. Two smaller candles to be brought out for the celebration of low Mass.
c. a return to ad orientem positioning even on freestanding altars.
3. The tabernacle should be central. If it is not returned to the altar, it should be immediately behind and it should have a pride of place (raised upon a pedestal) which allows for proper adoration and meditiation outside of Holy Mass.
4. There should be a proper pulpit for preaching. There may be a smaller ambo, but it should not be the same as the pulpit.
5. The priest's sedelia (chair) should return to a north facing direction and should be flanked on either side by chairs for the deacons/acolytes (servers if deacons/acolytes are not available). The reasoning for the north facing direction is to be ever diligent for the heathens coming from the North.
6. Extra seating for choir or extra servers will be choir fashion both on the epistle and the Gospel side.
If there are any non-sacred objects in the sanctuary, they should be removed, such as pianos, clavinovas, electric organs, choral areas, etc. There should be either side altars returned to the sides or shrines to the BVM and the appropriate saint or to Christ himself. This will add to the sacrality of the space.
While this seems like a very large undertaking and one that is very expensive...how large of an undertaking was it for the original parishoners to build churches in the early days, which still stand, or how large of an undertaking was it for our parents and grandparents to destroy that in the 1970s? This can be done. It is not impossible. Obviously there are degrees of ceremony, but following the model of three, let's assume there are three levels...low (said Mass), high (sung Mass), solemn (sung Mass with deacons/acolytes).
The rubrics have force of Liturgical Law. They must be adhered to otherwise the consequences will result in ecclesiastical correction up to and including censure. Liturgical law holds the same weight as Canon Law.
Liturgy of the Word.
1. The priest and ministers process in (remove biretta if wearing one), genuflects to the Blessed Sacrament and the priest reverences the altar with a kiss. He then begins the Mass at the altar.
2. At the altar he starts the introductory prayers. This should be some form of oblation similiar to the Prayers at the Foot. It could include Psalm 42 or some other appropriate Psalm, but it must be uniform and not be a proper...it cannot change. And the confetior is said.
a. He is flanked either by his deacons or master of ceremonies/servers (in lieu of deacons), who will respond to him with the faithful.
3. He then approaches the mensa, and prays the Introit and says the kyrie.
a. If there is incense, the altar is incensed at this time. Flanked by his deacons, if present.
b. The master of ceremonies will remove the Missal for the incensing.
c. A Kyrie may be sung at this point.
4. He intones the Gloria and remains at the altar while it is sung.
a. If deacons are present, they are lined up behind him. Deacon of the Mass on the second step, deacon of the Word/acolyte on the floor.
5. He turns to face the people and then moves to the epistle side and prays the collect, with hands in the orans position.
a. If deacons are present they will line up behind the celebrant. Deacon of the Mass on the second step, deacon of the Word/acolyte on the floor.
b. Immediately following they will move to the sedilia.
6. He immediately begins the proclamation of the readings
a. If there are two readings he will read the gradual between.
b. The gradual will be sung at this point.
c. The responsorial psalm is suppressed.
d. The alleluia/tract is then read by the priest on the epistle side and he moves to the center to offer prayers for the reciting of the Gospel.
e. The master of ceremonies moves the Missal to the Gospel side.
f. The priest proclaims the Gospel with a slight turn northward.
a1. during Solemn Mass, the readings will be sung as the priest recites the epistles.
b1. during Solemn Mass, the gospel will be sung in lieu of the priest reciting it, but the priest will turn from the center of the altar to face the readings.
g. Immediately following the readings, the priest will move to the sedilia for the first time to sit while the readings are proclaimed in the vernacular (sans the gradual and alleluia/tract). This is done from the smaller ambo. At the conclusion of the reciting of the readings, the deacon of the Word/acolyte will offer prayers for the sick and infirmed, those needing prayers, the parish, the diocese, the Church and for vocations to the priesthood. This is not a call an response prayer, but rather a meditation upon the list he brings forth to the faithful.
7. The priest then moves to the pulpit and preaches on the Gospel. This is a reflection upon the Gospel only or a theme related to the Gospel. To preach upon anything else is not appropriate during the homily, unless it is of imperative need to the parish church (this could be extended to include proper catechesis on a particular issue or a specific directive from the bishop, but it should be rare).
8. The priest then moves to the center of the altar, genuflects and ascends to begin the Creed.
This ends the Liturgy of the Word...the formula is not necessarily an exact copy of the TLM, but it is close. We must not forget that the reform of the reform must have a starting point. It should not be started from how the liturgy is now, but rather how the liturgy was at the time of the first reform. So, it necessarily will have similarities to the TLM, much more so than the Novus Ordo. That is to be expected though, as the growth of the reform should be organic.
Regarding music: If the Mass is sung, the following will be adhered to; the propers will be chanted and the ordinaries will be sung. Several of the propers (introit, gradual and alleluia/tract, communion) will always be chanted by a schola in Latin. The ordinaries may be either sung or chanted. They may be sung, if the music is deemed to be apt for the liturgy based upon very clear criteria, which has been laid out throughout the history of the Church and using those intruments which are apt for sacred music.
What would you add, change or remove?