Monday, June 05, 2006

of Pentecost readings, Propers, and castrated liturgy

One of the interesting finds linked from fisheaters.com is an article by Jacob Michael about the “whitewashing” of the Scripture readings in the 1970 Lectionary. I think I’ve happened upon one.

It started with exploring the Propers for Pentecost and writing a congregational Communion antiphon and psalm for the day. I was struck by the psalm verses in the Gradual:
God will arise for battle; the enemy will be scattered; those who hate God will flee. .. Then the just will be glad; they will rejoice before God; they will celebrate with great joy. Sing to God, praise the divine name; exalt the rider of the clouds. Rejoice before this God whose name is the LORD. Father of the fatherless, defender of widows-- this is the God whose abode is holy. .. God, when you went forth before your people, when you marched through the desert, Selah. The earth quaked, the heavens shook, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel. Blessed be the Lord day by day, God, our salvation, who carries us. Our God is a God who saves; escape from death is in the LORD God's hands. Summon again, O God, your power, the divine power you once showed for us. Awesome is God in his holy place, the God of Israel, who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!
The Introit verse is the first line from the above.

This made me step back and think: singing of God’s enemies scattered, on the day on which we celebrate the institution of the Church. Almost a re-enactment of the “wondrous battle” referenced in the Easter sequence: the Church takes Christ’s role and does battle with evil in the world, since Christ has conquered the evil that is not in the world (death).

Thinking back to the article on fisheaters, I checked the Gospel in the old Mass with the one(s) (a few options) in the new. Sure enough......

The traditional Mass has John 14:23-31...
Jesus said, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name--he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe. I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.”


The new Mass offers a couple options for year B. Option #1, John 20:19-23...
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Option #2, John 15:26-27 and 16:12-15...
Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”


Sure enough, the passage left out in the 2nd option, John 16:1-11...
“I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour 1 is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you. I did not tell you this from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.


What’s more, this verse of the “Veni creator Spiritus” hymn (“Come, Holy Ghost”) is nearly always left out of hymnals:
Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.


So, your typical Catholic Mass today will have no mention of a spirit of battle with evil that pervades the traditional liturgy and even the Propers of the new Mass.

I don’t really identify with those who insist the traditional Latin Mass is the best way to go. But I do think they have some valid points that should be addressed. Did the makers of the new Lectionary really intend to remove all references to battle with evil, damnation, etc. and give us a “happy-smiley” Mass? (Lucien Deiss, I know, was involved with at least some of the resp. psalms in the Lectionary.)

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