Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Series: Why Does Crazy Fr. Hardesty Do That?!

On Monday I got a wild hair and ran with it… let see how it goes.  I’ve been thinking lately that I do some things differently from Fr. Chuck, my pastor, or really many priests for that matter, especially in the way I celebrate Mass.  I don’t do this to necessarily draw a contrast or set myself apart or anything like that.  It’s just how it is.  I celebrate Mass how I was trained in seminary, with close adherence to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and with an eye toward celebrating the new form of the Mass in continuity with how the older form was/is celebrated.  Different priests have different formation, different convictions, different priorities, different interpretations of the G.I.R.M., etc.  So, for example, if the instructions for the new Mass aren’t clear or specific on a certain point, I’ll default to the more fine-tuned instructions of the older form (where this can be done legitimately).  An example of this would be how I hold my orans position (hands extended in prayer), how I use and place my hands during the Eucharistic Prayer, points of focus, etc.  On the other hand, what I don’t do is carry over ceremonial actions from the old form into the new, like blessing the water before it is used, making a sign of the cross with the Particle before it is dropped into the chalice, incensing the gifts with a large Sign of the Cross over them and three swings around them, etc., etc.

ANYWAY, what I’m getting at is: When people see things, especially in the Mass, that they aren’t used to or haven’t learned about, the difference is often internally disruptive rather than edifying, especially if a rationale or explanation hasn’t been given.  I vividly remember experiencing this in the pew myself.  And I’ve been thinking lately that I haven’t really explained Why I do what I do.  Perhaps that could be edifying?

SOOO… I’ve decided that during my Daily, Non-School, Masses I will preach briefly on the day’s readings for a couple minutes and then briefly explain for a couple more minutes one particular thing that I do that people don’t often experience.  This isn’t meant to spotlight me or the differences between other priests and me.  It is meant to be a brief, light-hearted, non-defensive, self-deprecating explanation in a catechetical or “New Evangelization” kind of spirit, to ease some of the disruption that folks might feel when they experience something they aren’t used to.  Each person can then judge if this is helpful or not.  Preaching to the Daily Mass crowd is often singing to the choir, but my hope is that they will share the bits of explanation (and the homily!) with their family and friends who may have these questions.

Let me know what you think.  Is this a good idea?  Feel free to suggest (charitably) future installments of, “Why Does Crazy Fr. Hardesty Do That?!”

Part 1: “Why does crazy Fr. Hardesty juke us out when he introduces the Gospel?  He goes, ‘The Lord be with you’ and we respond ‘And with your spirit.’  Then he says, ‘A reading from the Holy Gospel’ **PAUSE** ‘according to Luke’ and we respond ‘Glory to you O Lord’, but that pause throws us off.  And what does he whisper at the end?”

Answer: Before the Gospel is proclaimed the priest signs the Gospel Book, his forehead, lips, and chest as he introduces it with this short dialogue.  I personally like to do this as the rubricians (commentators on rubrics) of the old form of the Mass suggested.  The Gold Standard in my opinion is J.B. O’Connell’s, Celebration of Mass and The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described.  Again, where the new G.I.R.M. is imprecise my tendency is to default to the older instructions.  In this case, in the Latin of course, the priest signed the first letter of the first word of the Gospel reading as he said “A reading…”, his forehead as he said, “from the Holy Gospel,” his lips in silence (hence the pause), and finally his chest as he said “according to Luke.”  He then fixed his hands throughout the reading.  After he said “The Gospel of the Lord” and the server responded “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ” the priest whispered “By the words of the Gospel…” then kissed the first letter of the reading and continued, “… may our sins be wiped away.”  So that’s what I do now.  In the revised Missal of the new form the rubric says that this and other private prayers are “said quietly” not “silently” and so they are vocalized as a whisper and not merely said internally or skipped.  So there ya have it!

1 comment:

Angelo Cardinal Fratelli said...

// It’s just how it is. I celebrate Mass how I was trained in seminary, with close adherence to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and with an eye toward celebrating the new form of the Mass in continuity with how the older form was/is celebrated.//

I have seen priests shirk the rubrics and that has made me sad. Actually recently switched parishes because of it. Would I be wrong if I wished more were like you?