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Monday, April 02, 2012

Diary of a Papist Convert: Vigilantes

Jeffrey A. Tucker of the splendid Chant Cafe points out something so obvious it's no wonder that many of us have failed to notice it: the Mass celebrated on Saturday evenings (or afternoons) should not be called a "vigil" Mass. True vigil Masses are celebrated before Easter and the Feast of St. John the Baptist; most Sunday Masses celebrated on Saturday are more accurately referred to as "anticipated" Masses (which hardly trips off the tongue but neither does "Extraordinary Form"--whaddya gonna do?).

The anticipated Mass (there now, that wasn't so hard, was it?) is a creature of the post-Vatican II reforms and for once this hidebound conservative has little cause for complaint--in principle, mind you. I recall my in my youth first observing the then-odd sight of worshipers filing into our neighborhood Catholic church on Saturday. I also recall my younger brother and I, who as budding Episcopalians naturally were  being carefully (if subtly) taught the myriad joys of anti-Catholicism, gleefully dubbing the service the "Get It Over With Mass" (obviously a case of envy projection). Later on, of course, I learned attendance at Sunday Mass was obligatory for Catholics and to that end Holy Church took efforts to make fulfillment as convenient as possible. That seemed reasonable to me, even if the Mass were to be celebrated the evening before.

As a Catholic, my only real objection to the Get It Over With Mass is, for reasons I do not know (but I'll bet Novus Ordo bears at least partial culpability), it has become the repository for some of the most egregious abuses in modern Catholic worship: for clergy, sloppy, even slovenly, liturgy; for laity, arriving late, wearing dress tank tops and chattering non-stop throughout. Part of the reform of the putative reform, which steadily continues its course albeit at a glacial pace, is for traditionalist Catholics to be ever-vigilant (if you'll pardon the expression) to these abuses and lovingly shaming the perpetrators thereof into larnin' to behave.


Anonymous said...

Saturday eve mass was not taught by Jesus, whereas the Catholic Church is supposedly based on Gods (Jesus & HS) teaching, which is found in His holy word, the bible.

The Bovina Bloviator said...


William Tighe said...

I tend to agree, but, on the other hand, what is "Saturday evening?" Almost alone of ancient peoples, the Romans held that one day gives way to the next at Midnight. For Classical Greeks it was at dawn, and for the Jewish people it was at sunset. Latin Christians eventually adopted the Roman reckoning (although the Latin Church kept "vigil Masses" and "first vespers" on the evenings -- originally after sunset -- of certain great feasts); Eastern Christians still follow the Jewish reckoning.

It was a greater and more total innovation in the Latin tradition for Pius XII in the 1950s to allow Sunday afternoon and evening Masses under as a potentially "normal" way of fulfilling the Sunday Mass obligation than it was for Paul VI to allow for Saturday evening "Sunday Masses" a decade later,as the former was without any precedent, and the latter at least had a "shadow" of one -- but if those who sponsored Saturday "vigil Masses" really were intent on following old precedents such Masses would have been permitted only after sunset.

The Bovina Bloviator said...

...but if those who sponsored Saturday "vigil Masses" really were intent on following old precedents such Masses would have been permitted only after sunset.

It is my impression for most of the post-concilliarists the policy was first: impose the reform [sic], second: dig up some (any) earlier practice with which to rationalize the first--no matter how speciously.

Robbo said...

Normally, I avoid the Saturday evening Mass for all the reasons you cite, although my cradle-Catholic friends generally seem to have no problem with the "Get It Over With" approach.

Easter Vigil is, as you note, another matter completely, and I look forward to this one eagerly, as it will mark the fourth anniverary of my own reception into HMC.

And congrats on your own (5th?) anniversary!

The Bovina Bloviator said...

Actually, Robbo, it's my fourth, just like yours. You and I took the swim within minutes each another! I'm too am looking forward to my anniversary vigil. This year I'll be up in the loft at Holy Innocents chanting my little heart out with the Schola Cantorum.

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