Saturday, January 7, 2012

Opera Consecrata: Novus Ordo Mass

Pope John Paul I at his Papal Inauguration Mass

Today I am beginning a new series: Opera Consecrata (Consecrated Works).  In this series, I will attempt to look at the liturgies of the Church throughout the world, both those formerly celebrated and those currently celebrated.  I will look at the liturgies of all rites, not just the Roman Rite.  My goal is to provide a short history of each liturgy along with a very short description of the liturgy, along with aspects that make each one unique.  I hope the series is informative and interesting, and I hope it brings us all (myself included) a deeper appreciation of both the liturgy and the diversity within the Catholic Church.

[Etymological note: The name of this series is etymologically related to the word "liturgy": "liturgy" comes from the Greek λειτουργια (leitourgia), which itself is made from the words λαος (laos, people) and εργον (ergon, work).  Since the Greek word for liturgy contains the word for work, I decided to make the name of the series based on the Latin word for work (opus in the singular, opera in the plural), and since in all liturgies bread and wine are consecrated and become the Body and Blood of Christ, I decided to include the Latin word for consecrated (consecrata in this form).]

The first liturgy I will look at is the liturgy that I (and probably most of my readers) grew up with: the Novus Ordo Mass, or the Mass of Paul VI (Pauline Mass), which is presently the Ordinary Form of the liturgy for the Roman (Latin) Rite.  The term "Novus Ordo" means "new order," and it refers to the Ordo Missae, the Order of the Mass (that is, the parts of the Mass that do not change from day to day).  In referring to the older form of the Mass (the Tridentine Mass), the term Ordo Missae was used, so, to eliminate confusion, the term novus Ordo Missae was used to refer to the new Mass when it was still being revised.  Eventually, the term became shortened to Novus Ordo, and now it is used to refer to the Mass of Paul VI in its entirety.

The revision of the Tridentine Mass into the Novus Ordo Mass began slowly, most prominently with Ven. Pope Pius XII's changes to the liturgies of Passion (Palm) Sunday, the Easter Triduum, and the Vigil of Pentecost in 1955.  Pope Bl. John XXIII, who called the Second Vatican Council, made some changes when he promulgated the 1962 Missal (which was still the Tridentine Mass), including removing the word "faithless" (perfidis) from the Good Friday prayer for the Jews and adding the name of St. Joseph to the Roman Canon (now Eucharistic Prayer I), a part of the Mass that had remained almost completely unchanged since Pope St. Pius V promulgated the Tridentine Mass in 1570 (and before that, the Canon had been mostly unchanged since the time of Pope St. Gregory the Great in the late 500s, if not even earlier).

The creation of the Novus Ordo began in earnest at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), whose Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilum, called for a reform of the liturgy:

In order that the Christian people may more certainly derive an abundance of graces from the sacred liturgy, holy Mother Church desires to undertake with great care a general restoration of the liturgy itself. For the liturgy is made up of immutable elements divinely instituted, and of elements subject to change. These not only may but ought to be changed with the passage of time if they have suffered from the intrusion of anything out of harmony with the inner nature of the liturgy or have become unsuited to it.

In this restoration, both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify; the Christian people, so far as possible, should be enabled to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively, and as befits a community (21).

In particular, the Council Fathers called for the rites of the Mass to be simplified while at the same time "[restoring] to the vigor which they had in the days of the holy Fathers" other elements which had "suffered injury through the accidents of history," the selection of Biblical readings to be expanded in order to read to the people "a more representative portion of the Holy Scriptures," the homily to be a more esteemed part of the Mass, the "prayer of the faithful" to be restored, the use of the vernacular to be expanded, the laity's frequent reception of the Eucharist to be "strongly commended," and the practice of concelebration to be extended (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 50-58).

All this was done in the years following the Council.  The first public celebration of the Novus Ordo was in the Sistine Chapel in October 1967 with the Synod of Bishops present.  Following the celebration, the Synod voted on the new liturgy, with most approving it, although a slightly smaller amount approved it with reservations.  Thus more revisions followed until Pope Paul VI issued the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum on April 3, 1969, promulgating the Novus Ordo Mass.  This missal, the first edition typica of the Novus Ordo, was the Missal of 1970; over the years, two more typical editions were promulgated, that of 1975, and that of 2000 (or 2002 for the Latin), the latter of which (the third edition typica) is the missal in use today.

In describing what the Second Vatican Council called for in a new liturgy, I mentioned some aspects of the Novus Ordo, but I'd like to explain it a bit more.  Of course, this liturgy was written in Latin, since it is based on the Tridentine Mass, which was also in Latin (it is for the Latin Rite, after all).  The liturgy is split into two main sections, termed the Liturgy of the Word (which lasts until the Prayer of the Faithful, also known as the General Intercessions) and the Liturgy of the Eucharist (which starts with the Offertory).  The former includes opening prayers, the Penitential Rite, more opening prayers (including the Gloria on certain days), the Biblical readings, the homily, the Creed on certain days, and the Prayers of the Faithful.  The latter includes the Offertory, the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer, the Sanctus, the Eucharistic Prayer, the Pater Noster, the Sign of Peace, the Agnus Dei and the preparation for communion (the Ecce Agnus Dei and the Non Sum Dignus), Holy Communion, the concluding prayers, and the Dismissal.

Many of the more special parts of the Novus Ordo are its differences from the Tridentine Mass (which maybe I should have discussed first).  Some of these were mentioned above when discussing Sacrosanctum Concilium, but others include the addition of three more Eucharistic Prayers besides the Canon, the possibility of the priest's orientation towards the people rather than towards the altar (this latter is referred to as ad orientum, towards the East, based on how churches used to be built), almost all of the priest's prayers being audible, the possibility of using the vernacular language rather than Latin, the peoples' reception of communion under both species, the expansion of the Sign of Peace to the people, and a recommended translocation of the tabernacle (a fancy way of moving the tabernacle off of the main altar).

As I mentioned before, a lot of the particular aspects of the Novus Ordo Mass are related to their differences from the Tridentine Mass.  It is also difficult to discuss unique aspects of this liturgy when it is the first one being discussed.  Some of its changed aspects are actually common in other liturgies (not counting the Tridentine Mass), such as communion under both species (though other liturgies often use intinction, which I will explain when it comes up later), the Prayers of the Faithful, and the use of the vernacular.  Some aspects that are closer to being unique are placement of the Penitential Rite so early in the liturgy (I think it is often much closer to the reception of the Eucharist), the greater prevalence of the priest's facing the people (although the ancient Liturgy of St. James, which I will discuss later, also included this), the small number of inaudible prayers on behalf of the priest, and the greater selection of Biblical readings (especially the use of the Old Testament).

[A short sidebar on the Biblical readings: at most Novus Ordo Masses, there is one reading usually from the Old Testament (it may also be from the Acts of the Apostles or the Revelation of St. John), a responsorial psalm that involves the faithful's responses (rarely, this is actually not a psalm, such as the use of the song of Miriam from Exodus 15 during the Easter Vigil), and a reading from the Gospel.  On Sundays and other greater feasts, a reading from the Epistles of the New Testament is included before the Gospel reading.  In many other liturgies, including the Tridentine Mass, there is usually only a reading from an Epistle or other New Testament book, a short responsory that often does not involve the faithful, and the Gospel reading.]

In conclusion, the Novus Ordo Mass, or the Mass of Paul VI, is a Latin liturgy first promulgated in 1969 which is the present Ordinary Form of the liturgy in the Roman Rite.  I apologize if this post was too technical or dry: if you have any suggestions or critiques, please let me know in the comments or in an e-mail.

The latest English translation of the Novus Ordo (the translation whose use just began this liturgical year) can be found here.  The entire Roman Missal of 2002 (the third edition typica) in Latin can be found here, with the Order of the Mass beginning here (sorry for the difficult formatting on this site: if you have an easier-to-use site, please let me know). 

I hope this post was helpful to you.  Thank you for reading, and God Bless.

Pope Bl. John XXIII, Opener of the Second Vatican Council, pray for us!

Nota Bene: Most of my information for this post comes from Wikipedia's posts on the Novus Ordo and the Roman Canon.  I also looked at AskACatholic for a bit more information.

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