N A WEEK’S TIME, we will celebrate Laetare Sunday. It can be difficult to explain the meaning of that term to your average Mass goer, and it is not because of the Latin. It is, rather, because most Catholics have none of the framework necessary to understand the proper of the Mass to which it refers. Thus, one must begin by explaining that there is such a thing as an introit.
This state of affairs is a reflection of the near-total domination that has been achieved by the so-called “fourth option”—the provision in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal that permits “another suitable song” (alius cantus congruus) to replace the propers at will. The eminent professor, László Dobszay, suggested in a 2010 essay that rescinding this permission may be the best path to reclaiming the musical genius of the Roman Rite.
A brief article I wrote on this subject was published in this month’s issue of Adoremus Bulletin. It is freely available, along with many other excellent articles and resources, on the group’s website. Adoremus remains one of the foremost organizations working for the renewal of the sacred liturgy. If you are not already familiar with their work, do yourself a favor, and explore the riches available on their website.
Great strides have been made over the last decade in promoting more propers-based liturgies, but much work remains to be done if we are to regain a widespread appreciation for the structure of the Roman Rite, with its brilliant balance of proper and ordinary elements.
As a bonus, since this is the feast of St. Joseph, I am also including links to a “triduum” of reflections in his honor that I posted five years ago. Ite ad Joseph!