Last week I answered a simple question about why there are no responses at the Low Mass. (If you missed it, you can always go to our parish website and find past bulletin articles.) This week I want to answer questions about which postures of the congregation (when to sit, stand, and kneel, for instance, or when to make the sign of the cross or genuflect) at both the Low and High Masses. Notice, though, that I wrote, “I want to answer” rather than writing, “I will answer” such questions. This is something you must--absolutely must!--get used to when reading these bulletin articles, namely, reading very carefully what I write. I have been known, in the not-so-distant-past in a not-so-distant-parish to write all sorts of outlandish stories, which, if one or two lines were overlooked by a casual reader, might lead one to believe some very outlandish tales.
Now, back to the question at hand. What postures does a congregant make at Mass? For those who attend the “ordinary form” Mass, it should be but isn’t, clear. The “rubrics” or instructions clearly spell out what the congregation does and when they do it. For instance, at the beginning of Mass everyone stands for the procession and make the sign of the cross over themselves when the priest does so while he says aloud, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The congregation, along with the priest, strikes their breast if the confiteor is said, at the words, “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” All that is very clear in the rubrics. Less clear, and not even thought of by most people, I believe, is how to hold the hand when making these gestures. When you cross yourself the normal way of doing so for a Roman Catholic, at least, is to hold your hand flat open with the fingers together and gently touch your forehead, your breast and your shoulders, left one first, then the right. But do you have to touch the front of your forehead or, if you are follicularly challenged like I am, does touching further up on your baldpate “count” as touching your forehead? Do you touch your shoulders on the top, on the outside, or where they meet the torso at the joint? At the confiteor the old books state that we are to gently strike our breast three times using the same open palm and only allowing our fingertips to actually come in contact with our clothing. But is it wrong to use a closed fist and “thump” your chest? It is not spelled out quite so clearly in the rubrics, so you will see various authors now allowing for, or even encouraging, variations on the posture.
But the question at hand was for the Traditional Latin Mass, for which the answer is even more elusive. For, unlike the copious rubrics for both clergy and congregation at the ordinary form Mass, most of the rubrics of the TLM are for the clergy only and not for the people. So the people in the pew can, within good taste and decorum, reverently take just about any posture the others in the congregation will allow. Various “experts” suggest various postures and customs vary from parish to parish, from diocese to diocese, from religious order to religious order and from country to country. The suggested postures in the much used little red books are different from those in the larger hardcover missals, which vary from those which come with the Baronious Press missals, which are not the same as... well, you get the picture.
Now perhaps it is dawning on you why I used the phrase, “I want to” rather than “I will” answer the question on postures. Eventually (soon?) there will be a standard for our parish. But right now I simply do not have the time to do it justice. I do not plan to reinvent the wheel. I will simply, I think, say, “please follow such and such an authority” and give you his suggestions. Until then, don’t look askance at those who do things a bit different than you are used to.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Question and answer
There have been a few questions raised now that Epiphany has become the Center for the Traditional Latin Mass™ in Tampa and people have come from the surrounding area and numerous parishes to attend this Mass of the Ages. Here is question number one from those who previously attended the TLM at a local parish: Why don’t we (the congregation) make the responses at the low Mass when we used to do it at Incarnation? Answer: Because I said so. Yes, for those of you who are raising children, you know this is a pretty stock answer to any question which you would rather not answer because either 1. you don’t know the answer or 2. the explanation would be beyond the ability of the child to grasp or 3. you are short on time (or patience) or 4. for any other good parental reason whatsoever. As a child, that was not ever the answer hoped for nor was it a fulfilling answer. Sooooo here goes a “real” answer.
I don’t know the TLM very well. I have no formal training in it and I did not grow up with it. All I knew about it when I started came from books and the insights of several adult altar boys. I think I celebrated the Low Mass for about two years before I ever had the opportunity to even attend one and see if I was “doing it right.” While some of the old books I consulted mentioned a “dialogue Mass” in which the congregation responded, it was almost always put forth as a novelty that never really caught on most places. Exceptions to the “silent Mass” seemed to be mostly limited to places where altar boys were not available, such as cloistered convents and all girls’ schools. At such places one or two Sisters or female students were allowed, if properly trained in the responses, to kneel outside of the altar rail and make the responses in place of the altar boys (who were themselves, in fact, making the responses in place of additional clergy). Upon seeing that the “dialogue” in the Mass was originally between priests and between the priest celebrant and God the Father, it made sense to me that the congregation remained silent. Altar boys (men) who helped train me came from a TLM which was a “silent Mass” and the first TLM which I finally attended was a “silent Mass” so I naturally started with and continued with a silent Mass.
I have a book in front of me by Rev. J.B. O’Connell (one of the main sources in celebrating the TLM) in which, in a section detailing proper use of the organ at Mass, he writes in passing, “At low Mass, in which the people are not participating by common prayer or song...” and contrasts it with a “sung Mass.” This is a pretty clear indicator that at the low Mass the people are silent, neither responding to the prayers, joining in with the responses, nor singing as if taking on the role of the (non-existent) schola. But later he adds an appendix on “the active participation of the people in the Liturgy.” In this section, based upon a late 1958 document, he changes his tune, so to speak, and gives directions to be followed if the people are to engage in a “dialogue” at Mass. He first states that “participation” in the Mass is already achieved when the people “spontaneously share in the Mass by due attention to its principal parts and by their external behavior” (in other words, by silently praying, sitting, standing, kneeling, striking the breast, making the threefold sign of the cross on the head, lips and breast at the introduction to the Gospel, dressing appropriately, keeping custody of the eyes, etc.). Then he gives other ways of participating, which fall in line with the methods described in the Baltimore Book of Prayers which I explained to you the first weekend we celebrated the TLM here. “If possible, they ought to follow the Mass in a Missal--at least in a small Missal arranged for the use of the laity--but if they cannot do this they should meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ and say prayers in keeping with the sacred rites. Better still they should pray aloud and sing hymns in common--prayers and song in accord with the different parts of the Mass at which they are used. Such common prayers and hymns should not, however, be said or sung when the celebrant of Mass is reciting aloud important parts of the Mass, especially the presidential prayers (such as the Collect, Preface, Postcommunion). And silence is desirable from the Consecration to Pater noster.” Whew! So in the low Mass the congregation can “better participate” by praying together the rosary or stations of the cross, for instance, as long as they know when to shut up? Now I have to ask all of you who either are currently or were formerly lost trying to do what he says is the simplest form of participation, namely, following in the Missal: would you be able to understand and pray the Mass more fully if everybody started singing hymns and/or praying the Litany of the Sacred Heart together at some point and then abruptly came to silence and then started again somewhere along the line? Would you ever truly learn the various Mass parts and their significance? I don’t think so.
In case you haven’t yet figured out why my short answer was a simple, “because I said so”, let me continue with O’Connell. He goes on to explain four different methods of “dialogue Mass”, each getting “more complete”, and ends by stating, “it is not of obligation, nor is any one of the four possible forms imposed--it is for the rector of the church to judge which of these is feasible at any time--but if it is used it must follow one or the other of these forms and other parts of the Mass may not be recited aloud.” So if and when I decide a “dialogue Mass” is going to be used I believe I must first teach you all four forms and be sure you do not mix them. Without going into detail but giving you simple examples of how the four forms differ, it is not allowed for you to respond at a “form 2” Mass (saying altar boy parts) but also pray aloud the Pater noster as in the “form 3” Mass. Want to say the Domine non sum dignus? Not in form 1 or 2, you don’t! Can’t recite the Introit and Offertory in Latin? Too bad, but you just lost out on the number four form! Too confusing for my blood. So, at least for now, I simply tell you to remain completely silent throughout the entire Mass. Why? Because I said so.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
Did you know?
There are two liturgical Calendars in use by the Roman Catholic Church. This weekend the Sunday, August 2 Mass is the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time according to the Ordinary Form Mass calendar and the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost according to the Traditional Latin Mass calendar.
Those at the Ordinary Form Mass will have readings from Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15; Ephesians 4:17,20-24; and John 6:24-35. Those at the Extraordinary Form Mass will read I Corinthians 12:2-11 and Luke 18:9-14.
Although this can be confusing and there is not space available today for an explanation, it gives one very clear indication that the “Latin Mass” is not simply the “ordinary Mass” said in Latin! Come and experience it for yourself!
TUESDAY, AUGUST 04, 2015 A New Home for the TLM in Tampa, Florida GREGORY DIPIPPO (written in the New Liturgical Movement) (not by the pastor) http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2015/08/a-new-home-for-tlm-in-tampa-florida.html
Three days ago, on the feast of the Holy Maccabees, Epiphany Catholic Church held its inaugural Mass as the new home of the Extraordinary Form in Tampa, Florida and Hillsborough County. The pastor, Fr Edwin Palka, writes on the parish website: “As of August, 2015, Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Church will become the home for the Tridentine Latin Mass. Mass will be celebrated according to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the request of -- and with the complete blessing of -- the Bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Bishop Robert N. Lynch. In fact, the idea of my coming to Epiphany to turn it into a center for the Latin Mass did not come from me nor did it come from the Diocesan Priest Personnel Board (whom the Bishop usually consults when making changes of assignments) but rather came directly from him, bypassing all normal protocols. Those who love the Traditional Latin Mass can take comfort in what can only be described here as a great love of this form of the Mass by the Shepherd of our souls. Please, right now, offer a prayer of thanksgiving for this and pray for his sanctification.”
In addition to a daily Mass in the EF, and two such Masses on the weekends, the parish will continue to have daily OF Mass in English, and two Masses in Vietnamese on Sundays. The full schedule is available on the parish website(which is being written by someone with rather a clever sense of humor...) The church is located at 2510 East Hanna Avenue in Tampa; there is also a page with a map on the website. Please be so good to offer a prayer for Fr Palka and for Bishop Lynch that this initiative will flourish.