A recent. tout • of some 3,000 kilometres of France has unfolded for me a picture which, according to choice, might be described as of a new and exciting liturgical experimentation, or alternatively of a liturgical chaos depressingly familiar in the context of Anglicanism. to those of us in these islands.
There is of course the traditional Mass with the priest at the head of his people before the altar of God. There is Mass with the priest facing the people. There is even (this at the Basilica of Pius X at Lourdes) Mass with the priest at the side of the people.
It is encouraging, especially to the foreigner, to find the Dialogue Mass in some form almost universal, but all too often it is accompanied with every mixture of Latin and French it is possible to conceive.
The choir seems to have become almost a thing of the past. In its place is the priest-conductor, of undoubted zeal. resounding vocal powers and fascinating technique, whose Chantez Finites!, not unassisted by the amplifiers, thunders at the congregation. C'est magnilique MOiS cc n'est pas le MeAsel The celebrant is quietly proceeding with the Mass in the background.
A recent letter in the CATHOLIC HERALD referred to our "incomprehensible forms of worship". In a philosophical sense that must always be a precise statement of the truth concerning the mystery of the offering of the Mass. The idea that siou can in some way unveil the mystery by slow motion or telescopic lens techniques is an illusion. The historic development of liturgical forms has been founded on the impersonalization of the act of worship, through the use of ves(ments. chants. and the rubrics generally. so as to show forth the universality of the Sacrifice offered.
It was the Reformation which denied the sacrificial character of the Eucharist, and directed attention away from the central act to the pulpit and the personality of the preacher.
The development of the true dialogue as it is steadily proceeding. though admittedly all too slowly. in this country. would appear to be based upon far sounder principles than much of the extravagant experimentalism to be seen on the Continent. since it does nothing to contradict or ignore either what the celebrant is doing, or what the genius of the Church through the ages has achieved.
John E. A. Bennett Croydon. Surrey.