To acquire a ”notable liturgical formation and a deep, personal familiarity with the earlier form of the liturgical celebration” (Motu Proprio, Benedict XVI, July 2007) or an exploration into the theological, historical, devotional, liturgical, ritualistic, architectural, artistic, linguistic, practical, legalistic, mystical… aspects of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Why is the Extraordinary Form so important?
Contrarily to a common misinformed affirmations, the desire to follow this Old Rite is not the fruit of a certain futile nostalgia of the past. It suffices to look at the crowds of young families and seminarians to be convinced. The EF carries within itself a mysterious strength, a power that transcends times and generations.
Since there is only one and unique teaching of our Mother the Church about the Sacrifice of the Mass, the core theology, divinely taught, cannot be the point of differentiation between one rite or another. They are all diverse expression of
the same doctrine. They bring from the East to the West some beautiful variation of expression of the same Sacrifice. The Extraordinary Form is a treasure chest in this regard.
The Extraordinary Form greatly insists on the notion of Present. Present as a gift: Jesus Himself, substantially present, is given to us and offered to His Father. Present as The Instant: Mass is not only a commemoration, a souvenir of a past moment, Mass is the same act offered once and for all in the Upper Room, once and for all bloodily executed on the Calvary, once and for all sacramentally continued at each Mass. All rubrics tend to mark this unity of Christ, Host, Priest and Altar.
The Extraordinary Form gives a great part to beauty as a reflect of God Himself. Beauty of Christ that is adored by genuflections, ton of voices, silence and respect due to the sacred space. Beauty of every objects that are used: sacred vessels made of precious metal, embroidered vestments, architecture expressing faith, music. Beauty of the disappearance of the Priest.
It is the perfect expression of the Revelation and its two sources that are Scripture and Tradition. The Scriptures quoted from the Vulgate, its original translation, are mainly used to form the words of the Mass. The ars celebrandi, or the way to say Mass is totally received from Tradition. Rubrics are established as they are since immemorial time .
Indeed the Extraordinary Form is a vivid part of the legacy of the Church, a beautiful treasure to be kept, cherished, and taught.
Next Week: The Notion of Sacrifice and its Structure
Canon Olivier Meney, ICRSS