Thursday, January 15, 2015
Then I read a discussion between Roman Catholics of the Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo and found them distinguishing the two rites in similar fashion. The Latin Mass was described as a symphony in which different instruments play, different voices are heard, and melodies and counter melodies play at the same time. So in the Latin Mass people are doing different things during the Mass -- some praying the rosary, some listening to the chant, some praying the prayers of the priest, and some meditating. All, however, are doing the right thing since the Latin Mass is not linear (according to the point of view in this discussion). In contrast, the Novus Order was a clear attempt to have a designated starting point and ending point, and to keep people together on the same page, literally on the same word, at the same time. This was described as a more Protestant notion of worship that was somewhat alien to the thinking of the Latin Mass and to worship prior to the changes made in the wake of Vatican II.
I can understand much of what is being said by both discussions and yet I am not sure where Lutheran worship falls. Clearly, the worship the Lutheran Reformers envisioned is much more linear than the worship they had known from Rome but it is not quite the distinctive linear worship of the Calvinists and later Protestants who turned the nave into a lecture hall and put all their eggs into the sermon basket. The worship of Lutheran high orthodoxy is somewhat less linear than the worship I grew up with in the 1950s and early 1960s in which page numbers defined us and we literally memorized what was on the page.
The whole idea is somewhat intriguing to me. I will have to mull this over a great deal more but initially I think that great damage has been done by structuring what happens on Sunday morning in such a literally linear fashion that the only way you benefit is to follow so that everyone is on the same page, the same word, and the same thought all the way through. It has also contributed to the unfortunate idea that worship is an hour long activity, that we are captive to the clock both in start and stop. Even where we do not have a clock in the nave or chancel, it is hard to shake that idea that worship begins at 8:15 and goes until 9:30 am.
I have known pastors whose services were broadcast on radio or TV in which these issues of timing were mandated and know how hard it is to quantify every aspect of Sunday morning to fit the rigid time constraints of the allotted hour. Even those who do not broadcast find themselves under the gun when it comes to time and this is not a good thing.
The whole idea of worship as a journey with a definite starting point and ending point can easily be distorted into the idea that you are going somewhere, that you can define where you are going and that you will have something to show for it when you arrive. This kind of tangible result has crippled the preaching of the Word and the character of worship and left us with a self-help idea of Sunday morning in which I can find useful resources to deal with the problems of home, work, and community (or else something and somebody -- the pastor -- has failed to "feed" me).
This is definitely something I will need to think more about. . . and I hope you will as well.