Thursday, December 1, 2011

And with your spirit!

It's been a few days since the implementation of the Missal so I've had a bit of time to collect my thoughts.

Since a large part of my job is teaching, for the last several months I've been looking at the Missal from an education standpoint: it provided a teachable moment to educated families and youth about the Mass, and even those who have been "Catholic their whole life" needed to learn something new. My coworkers and I provided handouts, powerpoints, special sessions, videos, and email updates in our preparation. We did everything we possibly could to make sure our families knew what was coming and why.

Now that it's here, I can let go and simply enjoy it.

Before I loved the new Missal because it was a teachable moment, another very visible sign of how seriously Pope Benedict takes the renewal of the liturgy, and a chance to "freshen up" how we see the Holy Mass.

Now I love the new Missal for all those reasons, but mostly I love it because it is beautiful. It is fresh. There were hiccups along the way, of course; I'm sure it'll take most people the better part of a year before "and with your spirit" is our reflexive answer to "the Lord be with you." But the depth of the prayers, especially during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, is amazing.

I've only been Catholic for four years, but I already had most of the prayers of Mass memorized. But now I get to listen anew, and delve into the beautiful language with brand new ears.

Is the language more formal and complicated? Of course. Is that bad? Of course not. Formal language is required for that which is important. When the Supreme Court is called into session, the marshal says, "Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United States and this Honorable Court!" Despite the fact that nobody ever uses "Oyez" during their every-day speech, it's still appropriate. It's 2011, but this traditional formula hasn't yet been replaced with "Hey! Can y'all listen up? These guys are important, ok?"

Might it sound silly? Perhaps a bit. But it conveys the seriousness of the occassion: a meeting of the highest court in the country.

How much more reverence and seriousness ought we bring to the celebration of the Holy Mass?

Something I dislike about the Missal is the way it has brought into sharp relief the various (and often opposing) views about the purposes and attitudes people have about the Liturgy. The comboxes of the blogosphere and the Catholic news outlets (and secular news in some cases) were full to bursting with angry comments from both "sides" of the argument. Ad hominum attacks, misquotes of Sacrosanctum Concilium, sweeping generalizations, and awful rhetoric gave me such a headache that I threw up my hands and refused to read comments at all.

But still I see hope. The Missal is beautiful. Much of the Church is young and orthodox. It's a good time to be Catholic.

Deo gratias!

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