4 minute Mass

30 01 2019

Looking up things for the last post, I came upon this video of the complete Mass of the schismatic church of Palmar de Troya. As you can see, it’s four minutes long.

There is sort of a “lost generation” of pre-Vatican II Catholic culture that I referred to some posts ago, one that sought to double-down on Catholic Counter-Reformation triumphalism instead of mitigate it (as the Second Vatican Council ended up doing). The problem is that neither side really liked tradition. Even Marcel Lefebvre of all people didn’t mind most of the reforms of Vatican II, just the fuzzy things like ecumenism and fudging the limits of the Church. On the other hand, conservatives wanted to codify all sorts of stuff like Mary being Co-redemptrix. Liturgy in common practice became a quantitative affair: How many Masses, how many Holy Communions, etc. What was said and why, no one had time for that.

In that sense, a four minute Mass makes sense. Half of the things mentioned in the liturgy, as well as most of the mentality behind them, weren’t really important, and few appreciated them anyway. Indeed, I remember once being told by an SSPX priest that Lefebvre witnessed the “dry run” for the reformed Mass under Paul VI that was only 15 minutes long. Upon the objection to its brevity by another bishop present, one of the authors of the new liturgy said something to the effect of, “Don’t worry, we’ll throw some other stuff in.” As former priest and philosopher Pierre Hadot recounted:

For a time I would sometimes attend religious ceremonies, but they always seemed rather artificial because, following the council of Vatican II, they were recited or sung in French. I was not opposed to the translation in principle, but it always seemed to reveal the immense distance between the world of the twentieth century and the mythical and stereotypical formulas of Christian liturgy – a distance that was sensed less when people did not understand what was being said. I believe that Henri-Charles Puech had the same impression I did when he told me with a big smile, “Jesus, God’s sheep”, alluding to the translation of the Agnus Dei. It was not the Latin that was incomprehensible, but the concepts and the images hidden behind Latin for centuries.

I guess when the head of theology overwhelms the heart of prayer, the less you pray things you “don’t understand”, the better. Just get to the good stuff. It’s not like God cares.


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