So important are seasons and festivals that in the Old Testament the sun, the moon and planets are created in order to mark them and the routine of daily life, of work and commerce, even war and sexual intercourse are made to fit into the liturgical calendar.
Perhaps the deepest liturgical changes are those which affect the calendar, so it is interesting that Rome's latest moves on the liturgical front is to restore the more ancient usage
, but for the Ordinariate.
- As in England, Ordinary Time will no longer be referred to, being replaced by Sundays after Epiphany or Sundays after Trinity, thus ensuring the whole liturgical year is now explicitly anchored and referenced to the mysteries of salvation.
- The three “-gesima” Sundays are restored.
- Rogation days before Ascension, and the Ember days in the four seasons of the year are restored.
- The Octave of Pentecost is restored, to be marked properly except for the readings which will be of the particular weekday.
Already the Ordinariate have announced its liturgy should be eastward facing. The replacement of Ordinary Time is obviously a reflection of calendar of the Book of Common Prayer, but it is probably more than that, the same could be said of Rogation and Ember days but the rest, the -gesimas, the Octave of Pentecost are used by some Anglicans but at least here, it is not mainstream.
This isn't going to happen tomorrow, if the whole Church is to be carried forward but for the rest of the Church these are interesting developments, one hears rumours of a new Missal being prepared, an Usus Medior; a reconciliation of the Usus Antiquior and Recentior, so there is one Roman Usage, rather than two.
This is could be one of the reasons why Cardinal Canivares has been speaking about concelebration being ancient but really, in the West, being something that should be about celebrating with a bishop, rather than as so often happens a gang of priests electing one of them will preside over the rest. The same can be said about the Pope, Cardinal Canivares and others raising the issue of the reception of Holy Communion in the traditional manner: kneeling and on the tongue, or again the whole discussion raised by the then Cardinal Ratzinger about liturgical orientation at the turn of the millenium. What serious liturgists would argue for Mass facing the people today?
The big problem is that "Traddies" are not going to take kindly to the Missal of Pius V or as we say now, the Missal of the Blessed Pope John XXIII being interfered with, and yet it is now permissible to celebrate the Traditional Mass and use vernacular readings, that is done on the continent by the SSPX. There is talk about adding new Feasts which for most is hardly problematic, many would actually welcome the addition of some of the new Prefaces. As far as language is concerned the CDW has been encouraging the use of Latin. There were rumours a few years ago that there was a move that all sacramental formulas in the Latin Rite should be said in the language of our Rite.
One trend which is significant is discussion on allowing the use option of the Usus Antiquior offertory prayers.
As we “celebrate” the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council we will see an increase in Rome issuing re-presentation of the major documents – read in the light of Tradition – the hermeneutic of continuity. I would be very surprised if the Pope did not start devoting his Wednesday Catechesis to this.
A significant part of this reappraisal will be re-evaluating Sancrosanctum Concillium, a lot of groundwork has already taken place like the reassessment of paticipatio actuoso. An important area will be the whole examination of “lay ministry”, yet already to an extent this has taken place with, officially instituted acolytes being able to take the place of subdeacons at High Mass, or in their absence a member of a religious institute, a brother, may fulfil the sacred ministry, though sans maniple.
The big problem is women’s ministry.
In other areas, music for example, chant is coming back in many places, there is a tendency to prefer the Introit, Gradual/Tract, the Offertory and Communion Antiphon to songs and that preference is already in the rubrics of the Paul VI Missal. The gradual insistence on the importance of the rubrics, including the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, is beginning to take hold.
For many the reconciliation of the two Missals seems like squaring the circle but the rise of younger priests happy to celebrate both Usages and developing a “feel for Tradition”, perhaps the impossible is actually is beginning to happen.
At the moment so much seems to be happening on the level of bread being cast on the waters, discussion amongst experts or in journals but little by little the fruit is being passed on in seminaries, in certain parishes, on diocesan committees. I noted with some astonishment recently that our own Bishops Conference appointed a real liturgical expert, fully conversant with both forms and the intellectual trends in liturgical thought as Secretary to the Liturgical Commission. The Benedictine way is to capture the intellectual high ground.