Since when do we have Mass like it was in 1957?

I recently attended Mass at a small rural Catholic church that we have visited every year while on vacation. One of my daughters was married from this church so we are familiar with the parish. They have a new priest and when I arrived for Mass I noticed that many of the women were wearing mantillas, the altar being used was the high altar with the tabernacle in the middle, six candles were lit, the priest said the entire Mass facing the wall, and the priest’s vestments were positively antique! There were no women as lectors and only altar boys wearing server clothes from the '50s or '60s.

At Communion there were four priests present and kneelers were in place. Everyone knelt and received Jesus in both forms via intinction and on the tongue (no hands). The parishioners all acted as this was quite normal. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone! Is this the wave of the future … to return to the past? This Mass made me feel like I did as a child, watching the priest DO Mass while I was a bystander. There was no sign of peace or shaking of hands, responses were sung, and incense was used several times although this was a Mass in Ordinary Time with green vestments. It was very unsettling.

First, please allow me to ask readers not to bother asking me where you are going to Mass. I don’t know, but I am positive that there are many members of this forum who wish they could attend Mass at this parish.

Sounds lovely, although I should point out that the priest was not “facing the wall” but the altar … just like the rest of the congregation – which, if you think about it, is a more humble, “collegial” position than facing the congregation as if he were “at the head table” like the lord of a castle.

[quote=JeannieMarie]At Communion there were four priests present and kneelers were in place. Everyone knelt and received Jesus in both forms via intinction and on the tongue (no hands). The parishoners all acted as this was quite normal. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone! Is this the wave of the future… to return to the past? This Mass made me feel like I did as a child, watching the priest DO Mass while I was a bystander. There was no sign of peace or shaking of hands, responses were sung, and incense was used several times although this was a Mass in Ordinary Time with green vestments. It was very unsettling.
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Yes, well, now perhaps it will be possible to empathize with how “unsettling” many found the changes to the Roman liturgy in the 1970s. Rest assured though, that liturgists of the school of thought of Pope Benedict XVI do not intend to rip the liturgy another 180 degrees (bringing it full circle back to where it was before the Second Vatican Council); rather, they plan to recover those forms of worship and pious customs that uplift the soul to God while respecting the ordinary form of the Roman liturgy now in place.

As a side note, please keep in mind that the liturgy is not about either the priest or the congregation “doing” Mass. It is about the priest, standing in persona Christi, offering the Mass to God on behalf of the congregation; and it is about God, in turn, making present in time and space the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on Calvary for the salvation of the world. Any examination of the particular forms of the eucharistic liturgy should be directed toward that end and should not be considered ends in themselves. Or, to boil it down, there is no need for a layperson attending Mass to brood over who is reading Scripture, or about the gender of the altar servers, or about the methods of distributing Communion. Laypeople are there to worship according to the ecclesially-approved liturgy being offered; they are not there to be theater critics or performance artists.

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