Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mass chat: The Ethiopian Orthodox Divine Liturgy and the Novus Ordo ...

Taste and see that the LORD is good...

The biggest surprise I've had in discovering the Ethiopian Divine Liturgy is how much sense the Novus Ordo - or the revised Latin Mass of Paul VI now makes.

The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, may be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved. - Sacrosanctum Concilium

The Ethiopians are definitely active participants, singing, 'dancing', chanting, and obviously fully understanding what is going on.  There are those who remain penitent and quietly prayerful at the back of the church - yet they participate.  Children wander about, participate in dance and song; parents and singles come and go, which reminds me of the Greeks.  It's a living liturgy.  Of course I'm not familiar enough to discuss the Ethiopian liturgy, but I am deeply impressed by their reverence and piety - and the length of time they spend at Mass.

Hence, the activity we can experience at the Novus Ordo makes more sense to me.  For instance, I used to do an eye roll every Sunday we had a baptism included in Mass, or a blessing of a longtime married couple - but the Ethiopians seem to include these rites in their Liturgy - with no trouble.  Some Sundays I've noticed they have weddings within the Sunday Mass - the entire community witnesses it.

I'm not a liturgist by any means, but I've accustomed myself to the Mass of Paul VI - I love the revised Mass.  Some Sundays may be a bit more active than others, but by the grace of God I am able to actively participate - devoutly and prayerfully - and the greatest grace of all is to be able to receive the precious body and blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  I live for that.

The Ethiopians are an obvious, recognizable community - gathered together to celebrate the Divine Liturgy.  They are living, breathing, praying, moving, audible, people; praying, adoring, worshipping in communion with one another and the priest and deacons.  I used to complain about the sign of peace at the Ordinary Form of Mass, or someone talking to their neighbor or child, while still more people complain about children making noise or moving about.  (More recently, Catholics are discussing children with autism - as if they shouldn't be included at Mass!)  That is so ridiculous.  We are not angels, we are human beings - God delights in the children of men; we are told all of heaven, indeed the angels rejoice over one sinner who repents - therefore what is the joy when we come to worship and offer prayers and thanksgiving each Sunday?

I love the traditional Latin rite, the Extraordinary Form - and to be sure one fully participates prayerfully in the EF.  Nevertheless, there is absolutely nothing wrong, nothing lacking in the Ordinary Form or Novus Ordo - yes, even despite some of the liturgical abuses the OF has suffered over the years.

Again - I'm not a liturgist and I don't make a study of liturgical rites - I just participate.  My prayer is centered upon the liturgy.  I may be wrong in my observations - but I'm always looking for ways to praise the Ordinary Form of Mass when so many today disparage it.  I understand it better in and through the ancient rites of the Orthodox as well as our own Extraordinary Form.

One more thing.  The Ethiopians veil, fast rigorously, remove their shoes before entering the church, and so on - I have never seen a long, dour face, nose stuck in their Missal (yes, they use them) or unwilling to acknowledge their neighbor.  Just the opposite.  They are full of joy, and though recollected, they always seem to be smiling.

Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the stalwart one who takes refuge in him.

Fear the LORD, you his holy ones;
nothing is lacking to those who fear him.


  1. But ... but ... the Novus Ordo was concocted by a freemason! and six (count 'em, SIX) protestants were involved! and the offertory prayers are JEWISH!!!


    1. I heard that the cause for canonization of Archbishop Annibale Bugnini has been opened in Iran..


  2. Thank you for posting this! I tend to get caught up in the bad music and liturgical abuses, and miss the joy of experiencing God and worshiping Him with my fellow Catholics during the liturgy. After reading your comments here, I can't for Sunday's Mass!


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.