ERY SOON, Watershed will be releasing a special pew book for the traditional Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form). We’re so excited: the book is extremely complicated and jam packed with amazing stuff, and I’m certainly not able to go into the details in a short little blog entry like this. However, one of the most singular things (to quote Sherlock Holmes) about the St. Edmund Campion Missal & Hymnal is that it pays special attention to the elaborate gestures in the traditional Latin Mass. I’m speaking here of the numerous instances where the priest bows, genuflects, kisses objects, makes the Sign of the Cross, holds his hands a certain way, etc. These gestures are fantastically ancient and truly beautiful: I’m glad our book goes to great lengths to show them.
It just so happens that these physical gestures of reverence and adoration play a huge part in Catholic worship . . . because it just so happens man is made of both body and soul. If man were soul only, physical gestures would, indeed, be unimportant. These gestures really do become wedded to the prayers in a way I never realized until I stopped attending the traditional Mass. I will speak more of this as time goes on.
As we know, the Reforms following Second Vatican Council got rid of almost all these gestures (the Council itself did not), and I have to wonder if this was a mistake. I sometimes wonder if the feeling of the time was akin to: “Modern Man does not need medieval feudal gestures like kissing and bowing and genuflecting. These are not essential to the prayer of Modern Man, who has progressed to such a level he can pray just as well without such gestures.” As time goes on, perhaps “mutual enrichment” will return some of the ancient gestures. Pope Benedict, a Peritus (special expert advisor) at the time of the Council, has called for a re√´valuation of how well the Reforms called for by the Council were realized by Pope Paul VI’s Consilium.
Now I see that I have typed too much (which usually happens) so I will have to continue my thoughts in another Blog entry.