Patrick REGAN. From Advent to Pentecost, Comparing the Seasons in the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite. Collegeville, MN: Pueblo Books, the Liturgical Press, 2012. Pp 313. $39.95 pb. ISBN 978-0-8146-6241-0.
Skya ABBATE. The Catholic Imagination, Practical Theology for the Liturgical Year. Eugene, OR: RESOURCE Publications, 2012. Pp. 157. $21.00 pb. ISBN 978-1-62032-051-8. Reviewed by Francis BERNA, La Salle University, Philadelphia, PA 19141
While Regan begins with an examination of the Advent season, his observations regarding the intercessory prayers for the Good Friday liturgy drive home the radical differences in both ecclesiology and spirituality. He notes regarding the prayers, “Those in the Missal of Paul VI stem from a post-Christian world in which a more modest church values freedom of conscience, religious liberty, ecumenism, and interreligious dialogue” (185). And, while Benedict XVI mandated a change in the intercessory prayer for the Jews when he gave permission for the extraordinary form, the established change aroused significant controversy. While the term “perfidious” was removed, the invitation to the prayer asks God to illuminate the hearts of the Jewish people, “that they may acknowledge Jesus Christ, the savior of all mankind” (185).
Each of the liturgical seasons, with its corresponding liturgies, provides evidence of significant difference. Advent, for example, in the extraordinary rite, holds only one reference to the Second Coming of Christ. The Missal of Paul VI places a renewed emphasis on Christian eschatology and clearly establishes the season as one of great hope and joy, contrasting the gloom of the older rite.
While the text does not raise the question, one has to wonder how one church can walk two different spiritual paths. The ordinary rite reflects the suppression of the pre-Lenten Septuagessima season. The origin of these days, Reagan proposes, may well have come from monastic practice to extend a season of penance or to harmonize with the calendar of the East. Similarly Regan notes that the covering of statues in the last weeks of Lent is “leftover from a liturgical period that is now abolished” (90). The revised rite connects the signing with ashes to the Paschal Mystery, a theme to be carried throughout the season. The 1962 Missal of the extraordinary rite, emphasizes a season of penance marked by fasting and abstinence, while making no mention of Baptism, the dominant theme of the Missal of Paul VI.
In these days of what some would call a “new clericalism” the reader will value Regan’s exposition on the Chrism Mass. He proposes that the original intent, prior to what he identifies as the “presbyteral intrusion”, celebrates the royal priesthood of all the baptized. With a similar spirit, he recognizes the place of the sacraments of initiation as the central theme of the Triduum, wherein the church celebrates and actualizes the Pascal Mystery of dying and rising with Christ. His description points to the stark contrast to a spirituality identifying the Triduum with the three days Christ spent in the tomb. Though the feasts of Ascension and Pentecost receive a shorter treatment, Regan still offers a full treatment of the Easter season with fine detail.
Skya Abbate concerns herself with the ordinary rite. Her interest lies in spirituality and a celebration of seasons and feasts that presupposes the “full conscious and active participation” of the faithful. Abbate writes as a pastoral theologian, blending together solid theological insight with sound application. Like Regan’s text, The Catholic Imagination, deserves the attention of pastors, liturgists, and anyone who seeks a deeper appreciation of Catholic liturgy.
A parish liturgy team would benefit from a reading and prayerful reflection on the individual seasons and particular feasts given in the text. One can start with any chapter, put the book down, and pick it up for the next season or feast. In addition to its usefulness for liturgical planning, the book stands as a solid resource for adult faith formation as well as parish-based faith renewal groups.
The real strength of Abbate’s text lies in her artistic creativity and her genuine love for the liturgy reflected on most every page. The reader will recognize that some of her perspectives work better in her own cultural setting. And, the careful reader will recognize that in a few places her pastoral perspective can trump a more critical theology; for example, her perspective on confirmation requires some nuance. What she offers, however, does constitute the lived experience for most people in the church. And, in this regard, she wonderfully blends both contemporary and more traditional treasures from the storehouse of Catholic spirituality.
Massimo Faggioli directly challenges the wisdom of Pope Benedict’s establishment of the extraordinary form. The Tridentine rite proposes, in Regan’s terms, “the single priest offering Mass alone” (19). The ordinary form, resting solidly on the initial reform of Holy Week by Pius XII, reflects the finest theology of the Second Vatican Council in both the church’s self-understanding, and the way in which the people of God ought to live in the modern world. Regan’s scholarship makes clear that the reformed liturgy relies heavily on many of the church’s most ancient traditions, prayers, and practices. Abbate and Regan provide two solid resources for those who continue to hold to the Council’s reforms in a church where some pastors seek to impose an spirituality of another age.