Novus Ordo is a Penance
Excuse me while I vent a little…
This Lent, for my many sins, offences and negligences—and for the manifold needs of my family— I decided to try to go to Mass each day. It’s difficult, because I’m not entirely happy going to the Pixies in Mounttown, and the Novus Ordo as it is often celebrated constitutes a danger to one’s faith. Fortunately I have a choice of several churches without having to get into the car. But you never know quite what to expect.
I can just about bear the “Good morning, everybody!”, and the sycophantic response “Good morning, father”, which are now de rigueur almost everywhere. But at so many Masses the ad libbing and the altering of the text of the Mass (even the plain words of scripture) are becoming intolerable. I find it very difficult to believe that the celebrant is aware of the fact that he is offering the sacrifice of Calvary in an unbloody manner, changing bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. All too often, his manner indicates a belief that he is merely celebrating a memorial of the Last Supper. He seems to think his primary function is to entertain the congregation, and maybe to edify them a little as well. Sometimes he recites most of the Mass in a relaxed, conversational style. The rubrics are an optional extra: he thinks nothing of breaking the host before the Consecration; and changes “for many” (the actual words of Our Lord) into “for all”—presumably because he believes everyone is saved.
Recently Father, vested in just alb and stole, told the mainly elderly congregation that they ought to be happy, as there was nothing worse than a miserable old person; and so they shouldn’t be worrying about their children. I thought this was singularly unhelpful: of course all parents are concerned about their offspring—in these times more than ever. He had a real opportunity to help stress the importance and the efficacy of prayer—and he muffed it. One lady in the congregation was so distressed by this tacky celebration that she didn’t go to Communion: she told me she would go to a later Mass.
The best Novus Ordo I have been to in recent weeks was at Our Lady Queen of Peace on the Merrion Road. When I arrived, a little early, Benediction was going on. The O Salutaris, the Tantum Ergo, the Divine Praises, Deus Qui Nobis, Adoremus in Aeternum—the lot. The Mass itself was reverent, and the brief sermon workmanlike. Proof, if proof were needed, that even the Novus Ordo can be spiritually uplifting if priests would only just follow the rubrics: say the black, do the red.
Queen of Peace is run by Opus Dei. Wouldn’t you know?