Sunday, July 14, 2013

Why the OF Lectionary Is a Bad Idea in the Extraordinary Form

There has been talk about replacing the lections of the Traditional Latin Mass with the three-year Sunday cycle of readings and the two-year cycle of daily readings. The argument weights most heavily against changing the cycle. First, authors believe that the lectors in the liturgies of St. Gregory the Great were proclaiming nearly the same cycle of readings. Now of course, the calendar was not precisely the same, as Sundays until 1910 were trumped 2/3 of the time by another feast. New saints and devotions have been popularized. But, it seems to have been a remarkably fixed aspect of the sacred liturgy by the 6th century in any event. One should have a healthy fear of changing something inherited from the Church Fathers. Why? They got it from the Apostles, who got it from Jesus Christ, Our Lord.

Two, the propers are thematically connected to the readings, if not excerpts from them. Good Shepherd Sunday during the Easter Season not only has the Gospel reading where Our Lord declares, "Ego sum Pastor Bonus," but this serves as an antiphon for at least one of the propers (sorry, can't remember which one it was right now). In contrast, the Gospel in 2 out of 3 years does not even contain this declaration, in the Ordinary Form. It is from another section of the Gospel passage...the institutional memory of Sundays is short with the new Lectionary. Except on Sundays in Lent where the priest uses Year A readings (when the Scrutinies are celebrated, I believe) or where it is "ABC," one has to stretch back three years for the last homily on these readings.

Three, the argument that these are for the instruction of the faithful is a bit weak. It is at most a secondary function of Mass. A sermon is not usually required, for crying out loud! How can the readings be didactic if the chief instructor of the faith in a church is not going to explain them? They need unpacking, and we all need help to do that.

Fourth, the notion that the new order of Mass has more Scripture is just bunk. Yes, the Lectionary is 'longer,'  covering three and two years' worth respectively. But, ferial days still use the preceding Sundays. The propers-mostly Scripturally derived- are not sung or recited in most parishes. Psalm 25 Lavabo was cut out in favor of a meager verse from Isaiah. Most noticeably, Psalm 42 Judica Me was cut.

And finally, the modern Lectionary adaptations just...are terrible, if last Sunday-the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time- is any example. It is from Luke, chapter 10. One, it is very obvious that the Lectionary compilers skipped over verses. Why have a short form, especially when the short form is read straight through (in this cases verse 1-9, compared to 1-12, 17-20). The Holy Name of Jesus does not occur at all in the short form, and it is in the bottom paragraph of the long form. Now, I also referenced the Nova Vulgata which is the Latin Bible for the Church, and the Holy Name is implied, I think, but otherwise completely absent.

So why is this an issue? Because in illo tempore  is a cultural marker of Western Civilization. The real reason is that the server in the TLM is taught to bow his head (as is proper!) at the Holy Name and then return to his place on the Epistle side (if alone) or the Gospel side (at Low Mass with two servers or in a more solemn Mass). He'd stand on the platform for virtually the whole reading! All the ceremonials would have to be rewritten. Granted, this is only one reading. Most actually do open "In illo tempore dixit Jesus..." But still, it's ridiculous. It doesn't feel like a reading of the Mass with its awkward opening, and its lack of references to Our Lord's Holy Name. In fact, it has taken me so long to finish this post that today's Gospel for the 15th Sunday is an example. It doesn't start off in illo tempore dixit Jesus, and the Holy Name is mentioned as "...said to Jesus." It is often the indirect object, not the subject. Weird. And, that means it either takes longer to get to or takes one by surprise.

No comments:

Post a Comment