THE LITURGY AND THE PEOPLE
The Voice Of Authority
SIR,—In reply to "Secular Priest ": the letter is irrelevant; this correspondence deals with " Low Mass "; his leaflet deals with " Sung Mass "; there could not reasonably be any discussion as to participation in Sung Mass, when the instructions of Rome are so clear. May I clear up a misunderstanding which his letter may cause?
There has not been written, by either side in this correspondence, one syllable which, by the widest stretch of imagination, could lead to the mildest revolt against authority. Loyalty is not the monopoly of one side or the other. Let me explain.
The laity share, to an extent, in the priesthood of Our Lord (II St. Peter ii, 5-9). The Pope calls for an exercise of that priesthood by a more intimate and intelligent union of the faithful with the sacerdotal hierarchy of the praying Church (cf., e.g., Cardinal Pacelli to Archbishop of Genoa, November 1934). For the exercise of that priesthood authoritative guidance is needed. The Roman authority competent to give that guidance is the Congregation of Rites (S.C.R.). The S.C.R. has decreed that the Bishop of a diocese, or other Ordinary, may allow vocal participation, if he considers that confusion and disturbance will not result: but at the same time it gives its view that ordinarily the common practice of having a server answer the priest should rather be followed. (S.C.R.. August 4, 1922, and 1935). If space allows,
I should like to give those decrees in full; they are important.
(a) " May the people who assist at Mass answer the priest in place of the server?
Answer: Ad Ordinarium. iuxta mentern. And the mens (or view of the S.C.R.) is: What is in itself permissible is not always advisable, and, as confusion and disturbance may be caused to both priest and people by this manner of answering the priest, the common practice of having a server answer the priest should rather be followed." (S.C.R., August 4, 1922.)
(b) "I. In seminaries, in religious houses, and in some parishes, the practice has been introduced whereby the people, together with the server, respond in private Masses, provided no confusion is
thereby brought about. It is asked whether this practice may be allowed or even propagated.
II. In some' places, the people in private Masses recite the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Del together with the priest in a loud tone of voice. Protagonists of this practice adduce the following reason : private Mass is a shortened form of the chanted
Mass. But in the chanted Mass the people sing the Gloria, etc. Hence the same may be done in private Masses by means of recitation. It is asked whether this practice as well as the reason alleged may be allowed?
Answer: This sacred Congregation replies that according to decree August 4, 1922, it lies within the province of the Ordinary to judge in each particular case whether, considering respective circumstances of place, population, number of Masses celebrated simultaneously, etc., the practice in question, although praiseworthy in itself, will be the occasion of disturbance rather than result in in creased devotion. This (disturbance) may more easily occur in the practice mentioned in the second question,— abstracting entirely from the reason adduced for the practice, viz., that ' private Mass is a shortened form of the chanted Mass.' In accordance with the above mentioned criterion, Your Eminence has the full right prudently to regulate this form of liturgical piety." (Reply of S.C.R. to Cardinal Minoretti, 1935.) That is the voice of authority. The practice can be propagated where feasible: we have held that all along. It has its dangers: we recognise them. Its regulation is the province of the Bishop, not of individual priests: very important. Till the S.C.R., on account of changed circumstances. relaxes these decisions—or till authority, either Papal or Episcopal, decrees the introduction of the " Missa. Dialogata," individual priests are within their province in discussing the question of silent assistance at Low Mass.
JOSEPH M CK ENNA.
A Case in Point
SIR,—Some years ago I said Mass one morning at a church in the Midlands. Beforehand I was warned by the parish priest not to be disturbed when I heard the people not only answering the Mass with the server, but joining in for the Gloria, Credo. Sanctus and Agnus Dei.
That Mass was certainly a most inspiring experience for the celebrant. Therefore, I resolved when I should have the chance to introduce the practice into my own parish. When the opportunity came I formed a study class so that there might be a nucleus of active " dialogists." Then, on reading up the subject I found it was a lawful practice under certain conditions and subject to the consent of the Ordinary.
Before instituting the dialogue Mass, therefore, I took the first essential in all these things and wrote for permission from the Bishop. The Bishop, who cannot be accused of being a spillcr of cold water. refused this permission in very definite terms. It may be owing either to the spirit of obedience making me ask for the permission and accept the decision. or else to my own fatal lack of extreme enthusiasm, but the result is that we do not have the dialogue Mass in my parish.
In the most respectful manner possible 1 have tried to project myself into the mind of the Bishop. I do not know his reasons, but they must be good ones. It does occur to me that he may consider that the dialogue Mass can be a positive distress and distraction for those who arc attached to the quiet of the customary low Mass, while the absence of the public answering may be a grievance but not a distraction, to the militant lay dialogist.
Perhaps it might meet the case to have the customary undisturbed Mass on days when " contemplative " and " active " have to go to Mass, and reserve the dialogue Mass for weekdays. What a test for true Love of the liturgy!
The essential reference to a member of the episcopate is the only reason for contenting myself with the signature of AMBIDEXTER.
The Sound of a Great " Amen" SIR, —Mr. E. I. Watkin begs the question. Nobody thinks or has said that the exercise of the lay sacerdotium depends
on verbal participation. Therefore his reduction is unnecessary.
Why limit vocal co-operation to the sound of one great and admittedly important " Amen "? Once again, at the risk of being tedious, there can be no such thing as " silent Mass." It may appear to be as a layman said to me recently, " all for himself, one mumble from beginning to end," but it must even so be faintly audible and distracting to the " freedom and recollection " of complete silence. The fallacy of the suggested compromise is evidenced by the fact that Mr. Watkin himself regards it as a " brief interrup tion in the midst of private prayers!
SIR,—II is with some reluctance that I write again on the " Church Unity Octave" but as your correspondent, Miss Dow, has accused me of participation in a false position and has at the same time made grave implications concerning the Society for Catholic Reunion, 1 feel bound to make a reply both in vindication of my own position and of the honour and sincerity of the members of S.C.R.
Let me emphasise that the sole mot;ve of my former letter was to commend to the prayers of English Catholics— (and at a time particularly approved by the Holy Father himself) those separated Christians who desire to return to the unity of the Holy See that light and understanding may be given them and that a way may be found for the consummation of their desire,
My reasons for a specific mention of the S.C.R. were first, that beiqg a minority they had little chance of making their aims known (it must be remembered that the Church Times has not an " open forum" as the Catholic. Herald has); and secondly, that their definite stand for the full teaching and claims of Holy Church should not, I think. be overlooked by those who have the conversion of England at heart.
Your correspondent suggests that by admiration of S.C.R. I become a sharer in their " utterly false position." Rather a curious twist of logic seeing that my position is already defined and determined by the Church of which I am a member! One may surely admire the motives of a pacifist without sharing the falsity of Pacificism.
The old taunt of disloyalty is revived.
I could say much had I space to refute this but it may do something to clear the ground by quoting the following by way of analogy : —Last week in the Upper House of Convocation the Bishops of Ely and St. Albans spoke in defence of the absolute nature of Christian morality against the pragmatic nature put forward by the rest of the Bishops. By parity of reasoning in defending the teaching of the Catholic Church these two Bishops are guilty of the same disloyalty to which your correspondent refers.
Our first loyalty is to the truth. There may be secondary loyalties but these must always be subordinated to the first and greater. The idea of corporate reconciliation is nothing new. The case for it has been stated in the current number of Reunion and an interesting comment appears in Blackfriars this month. I reiterate my admiration for S.C.R. and for similar bodies and I am not alone in me, admiration as any who have appreciated the attitude of the better part of the Catholic press will readily see.
BERT WATTS. 247, Wingrove Road, Newcastle-uponTyne.
A MALAGA CORRESPONDENT WRITES
S1R.—As persistent efforts are being made
to assure the world that the Valencia Government and its supporters in Spain are innocent of the atrocities attributed to them, the following extract from a Malaga correspondent may be of some use: "I am hanging on to my property but, as the result of what I have seen and heard since July, am now a confirmed Fascist. In this district 12,000 to 14,000 have been massacred. In the majority of cases the men have been mutilated before death, and the women hacked with knives and acid poured in the cuts. Resident English, in sympathy with the Reds, cleared out quickly, and their testimony cannot be accepted. There is no need to enlarge on this; Hell's gates are open, and its Evil Spirits are Russian inspired."
Yet in face of these abominations we still have among us people who support such a cause as that of the Reds, and have even volunteered to fight on their side!
E. H. RUMMY. 17, Edgar Street, Winchester,.