Almost thirty years since the Novus Ordo (or New Mass) was introduced, following the Second Vatican Council, many Catholics have wondered: 'Will the real New Mass ever stand up?' This has been prompted by the apparent fragmentation of the liturgy - not only by virtue of numerous officially permitted alternatives, but especially so as a result of the personal whims of celebrants or liturgists.
As many Catholics encounter it today, the New Mass has become a virtual 'free for all', with 'inclusive' language substituted into the prayers and readings, despite the absence of official approval, various individualised alterations to the Mass wordings, some parts omitted (e.g., the Nicene Creed) and assorted comments and explanations added. It is no wonder that a decline in a sense of the sacred is evident in more than a few parishes.
The Holy Father's recent address to a group of American bishops (see page 7) draws attention to this on-going problem once more. For despite a host of post-Vatican II liturgy documents clarifying what is or is not permitted in the liturgy, the irregularities continue seemingly unchecked in some dioceses.
The heart of the matter is that the Holy Father cannot be everywhere at once. He relies on bishops to ensure that Catholics around the world are able to participate in authentically Catholic liturgies which reflect the Church's universality and enhance Eucharistic faith and reverence.
In some cases this will require courageous and decisive action if the problem is to be overcome - for the good of the Church.
Michael Gilchrist: Editor (email - firstname.lastname@example.org)