In “Support Dropping” combox, Gavin wondered
(D)oes Todd also support the banning of the Ordinary Form Low Mass as well?
My short answer is yes. Though I see the query as a trick question of sorts. A clarification:
The Roman Missal no longer makes a distinction between High Mass and Low Mass. From my reading of the Missal, the GIRM, and the documents, I see an ideal held out to the clergy and faithful of Catholicism: sing the Mass with full and active participation at every opportunity. The High/Low dichotomy of the 1570/1962 rite is a needless and impoverished boxing-in of the celebration of liturgy.
While I recognize the efficacy of the Mass celebrated under conditions of privation, either imposed from within the Church or without, a more perfect celebration takes place when the full flowering of ministry and participation is allowed to take place. It’s eminently sensible of Rome to employ the principle of progressive solemnity: do what you can, when you can, eyeing the hierarchical nature of the liturgical year, and taking into account local sensibilities and abilities.
Daily Mass, for example, ideally includes a sung psalm, alleluia, and Eucharistic acclamations. Probably a song or two, too, because this is an accustomed practice from the four-hymn sandwich years. Obviously, the priest singing the dialogues is an easy step to take as well.
If there was a significant observance at a daily Mass (Annunciation, or a major feast) maybe musical accompaniment would be added for these sung pieces. A holy day Mass would look like Sunday: a full set of liturgical ministries. For the purpose of faith formation, Masses with children and teens would be more developed than the usual daily Masses. In most places already, they look like Sunday Masses, as well they should, considering they are the apprenticeship for young Catholics. It goes without saying that additional effort is put into major solemnities–and most parishes instinctively recognize the importance of Christmas and Easter, if not First Communions, Confirmations, and the pastor’s anniversary.
Before 1970, you had two choices: High or Low. The modern Roman Rite is far more sensible in this regard. The local leadership chooses an appropriate level of celebratory effort. We don’t quibble about High and Low; we aim in between much of the time, and hope that next year we get a little higher.
I think this has been a successful principle for Catholic liturgy over the past forty years. I’m not enough of an expert on the TLM or its practitioners to know if they would start gurgling at the suggestion that elements of the Low Mass and High Mass can and probably should be intermixed. I can tell you that after two decades of Massgoers accustomed to some a cappella singing (at minimum) at daily and early Sunday Masses, I’m not sure the silent Low Mass has anything whatsoever to offer me or my parishes or the Catholic Church at large. The modern Roman Rite has already improved and reformed it. It’s a dead consideration in my view.
What the Traditional High Mass might offer is a sense of reverence, style, and solemnity. But the best OF liturgies already do this. Rather than look to a form for inspiration, I’d prefer to look to Christ, and the observance of his Paschal Mystery. At the top of my list of liturgies to emulate are the Easter Vigil, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and season, Christmas, and the major events when participation is vigorous, the preparation has been thorough, and the assembly is deeply motivated and spiritual. If you’ll pardon my borrowing a frequent criticism of traditionalists, the allure of the EF strikes me as more people-centered.
All that said, the Roman Rite gives pastors the leeway to make pastoral adjustments. I’m aware of parishes in which people choose not to participate, or their involvement is minimal. I don’t have the answers for them. I would wonder that such communities suffer a grave spiritual lack, and it would be the task of the pastor to help them reinvigorate an appropriate expression of faith in worship. It might be that resistance to music or other forms of participation is grounded in negative experiences of the past. In some cases, the busy schedules of modern life prevent people from entering fully into the Eucharistic mystery. In which case, the onus for the liturgical leadership is to ease people into a fully Catholic expression with the highest quality at judiciously chosen opportunities.
It might beg the question: is a quickie Mass better than none at all? We might ask the question of any of our bugaboos (certain hymns, certain priests, etc.) and we know that some people indeed think not going to Mass is better than its celebration.
As for my own perceived antagonism to the EF, I have little more to say. I see it as inferior to the modern Roman Rite in many ways. I think it works for intentional communities more because these folks are more open to God’s grace, but I suspect that is, in part, due to the commitment level they bring as a community. If one of our students were to ask me point blank if I thought the TLM had anything to offer our parish, I would have to honestly say, “Vanishingly little.”