FYI – Pastor’s Reflection (June 26, 2016)
As you know by now, our new Mass schedule takes effect next weekend. To borrow a term from retail, this is the “soft opening.” We make this change at the most quiet stretch of the cycle so as to work out the kinks. As we begin, some explanations will be in order.
From now until September we are without choirs, and so we will employ just two forms of celebration. We will celebrate “Low Mass” twice each weekend. On Saturday at 4 pm at St. Catherine’s and on Sunday morning at 8 am at St. Vincent’s the Mass will be recited without music. Hopefully we will help those who profit from a quiet Mass, and those benefit a
40 – 45 minute liturgy.
The remaining Liturgies will take the form of the “Sung Mass.” When everything is up and running in the fall, this format will prevail at the 6 pm Masses on Saturday and Sunday at St. Vincent Ferrer. Our aim here is a quiet, contemplative experience of the liturgy. We direct it to those who found our liturgies to be too loud and too long. We plan for these Masses to last about 50 minutes. We seek to engage the congregation in two ways.
I. Singing the Ordinary of the Mass
The Ordinary of the Mass refers to its fixed texts. Many of us could recite, Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, Mystery of Faith, and Agnus Dei in our sleep. Singing and saying these texts, along with responses such as, “And with your Spirit,” constitutes the most important part of the “Liturgy” (work) of the People at Mass. At Sung Mass the cantor and organ will quietly support the Faithful in carrying out their duty to sing the Ordinary of the Mass. By custom the Creed is not sung but recited, except at Solemn Mass.
From now until Christmas we will sing the Ordinary in the form printed in the Roman Missal itself. There are two reasons for this. First, this setting of the Mass is simple. If the congregation truly can internalize this form, it will be able to sing it unaccompanied on weekday special occasions when the organ might not be played. Second, to use this setting connects us firmly to the universal Church. The Missal setting of the Mass can thus become a liturgical lingua franca, so that we people are gathered from many places for celebrations, there is something for everyone to sing. As a matter of fact, the Missal setting corresponds to one of the simple Latin Masses and so can facilitate international celebrations.
II. Listening to and praying with the Propers of the Mass
The Propers of a given Mass are those texts assigned specifically to it. The readings from Scripture offer a familiar example of “proper” material. Each Mass also possesses texts meant to accompany three of its essential movements, the priest’s entrance and walk to the altar (representing all of us), the presentation of the gifts, and the movement of the congregation to receive communion. These texts are called antiphons. In both churches, we already recite the entrance antiphon and the communion antiphon at low mass. In the ancient tradition of the church these texts are sung. Not only do they accompany a movement, but they comment on its significance.
At sung Mass the cantor will sing these texts and the Ministers and People will pray along. In other forms of the Mass, the antiphons, or “propers,” will comprise part of the work (liturgy) of the choir.
III. Variations on a Theme
1. The 10 am Mass at St. Catherine’s will evolve into the “Family Mass” for our parish. In view of the more robust character we seek in this celebration, we begin now to include a hymn of thanksgiving after communion. Commentary on the place and role of the hymn at Mass will be forthcoming.
2. The Noon Mass at St. Vincent Ferrer will develop into the Solemn Mass for the Parish. Therefore, we will go ahead and include now in its celebration, the hymn of thanksgiving after communion and the marian antiphon after the conclusion of Mass.
3. The 5 pm Mass at St. Catherine’s on Sunday afternoon will be a Sung Mass, yet more contemplative than the others, and will be led by a cantor alone.
However, all of the foregoing has the nature of a plan, and you know what happens to plans. Please pray for the parish as we make these changes, and please pray for your fellow parishioners, that each may find a congenial place and time for Mass.