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Final thoughts on Parisian Catholicism

posted Jul 14, 2014, 7:50 AM by Rochester Ordinariate
Although I am back in the U.S. now, I continue to think about my final Sunday mass there in Paris, and the overall picture.  Below, I have posted a video I took of the Kyrie and incensing of the altar at the sung mass at Saint Eugène in Paris.  Similarly to the other Extraordinary form masses I attended in Paris, it is also at a church that has both forms, led presumably by the same priests.  The video gives a better feel of what is going on than the photos in the previous posts on this topic.  There was a range of practices and impressions I received at each mass I attended.  In this mass, my sense is that this was much more "pure" 1962 TLM, complete with the oscula, and other distinctive elements.  I was pleased that the Epistle was chanted in Latin, to the proper tone (we also chant the readings at S. Albans, though in English), followed by the reading of the lesson in French. 

There was less of a neighborhood feel here, in the sense of there not being as many children as in the other EF Sunday mass I attended, I had the impression that the congregation had a large intellectual contingent.  The acolytes did a wonderful job, and I was especially impressed by the M.C.  Of course, the ability to have these services in a church built in 1852 did not hurt. (I should mention, S. Germain-l'Auxerrois, the location of the other sung EF mass I attended, was destroyed by the Normans in 885, and rebuilt in 1220, with extensions and remodeling in 1580).  While I was impressed by the devotion these folks have to the liturgy and the church, I found myself preferring the other EF mass I attended, for reasons I cannot completely articulate.  Perhaps because I found it more of a family oriented church.

I wish to finish with some general thoughts and conclusions about Parisian Catholicism, as I experienced it.  First, it seems that Paris is something of a paradise for Catholics devoted to the older liturgical practices - I believe there are about a dozen churches offering EF masses on a regular basis.  Second, my sense is that the people and clergy there have embraced Pope Benedict XVI's vision of there being two forms of the mass*, the OF and EF, with the same parishes and priests offering both on the same Sunday - I think the dear Bavarian chap would be quite pleased to see it.  This is quite distinct from the attitude I find in other places, where there tends to be an iron curtain of separation.  I think it is because of this vision and claim of continuity and the ability of the communities to embrace both, that the EF has been able to steadily grow in that city.  While I did not attend the OF masses in these same churches, I suspect the results were much happier than the default setting.

*Of course, being a card-carrying member of the Ordinariate, I am the first to point out that there are in fact three forms of the Roman rite - OF, EF, and Anglican Use, or Ordinariate Use, as it now seems to be called in official circles.

I believe strongly that the Ordinariate Use stands in that same space of finding continuity between those forms, within the context of our particular Anglo-Catholic history of the English experience of Christianity.  The whole history of Anglo-Catholicism was one of trying to restore continuity; and that experience, especially within the expressions of the English and Anglican missals, can be seen as the core of our current liturgical books, Divine Worship

As a last thought, I should at some point give an update on how the last year of the changes from the Book of Divine Worship have gone.  I will try and do that in a future post.