A word to celebrants: Stick to the script! I doubt that you have the authority to ad lib at the liturgy anyway, but few priests have the gift to do it well anyway. Say the words that are given to you, exactly as they are given to you. Don’t add, don’t subtract. Please don’t start the liturgy by saying “Good morning.” Please don’t tell us in your own words why we have gathered together for Mass. Just start the Mass and get on with it. The liturgy has its own logic, its own rhythm and cadence. It is one musical composition in the Spirit. Every time you depart from the rite, you disrupt the flow of the liturgy and simply draw attention to yourself and away from the Lord. Preach away at the sermon, with as much enthusiasm and energy you can muster. That is your time. But for the rest of the liturgy, slip back into the role and hide behind your chasuble. The liturgy will carry itself, especially if it is conducted reverently, graciously, prayerfully, beautifully.
The constant, fervent plea of Open Book. The problem that makes us sympathetic to a liturgy that’s heavily Latin – if it’s in Latin, they can’t get extemporaneous. The primary symptom of the fundamental problem with liturgy: ego. Everyone’s ego. The presider’s ego, the musician’s ego, the congregation’s ego, the blog commenter’s ego. Agendas and ego: the death of the liturgy.
The end result of forty years of liturgical reform in this country, at least, is a Church with absolutely no idea of what they’re supposed be doing when they attend Mass, with most thinking it has something, vaguely, to do with building community and maybe doing something that gives a nice kick-start to the week. I’m not looking for extremely precise rubrics or ecstatic, glorious music when I go to Mass. I simply want to immerse myself in the prayer of the Church, with the Church, present and past and future. Get the operative word: prayer.
The Open Book liturgical motto: Pray, sing and then get out of the way.