I have been looking at the Propers for Passion Sunday in the Extraordinary Form: the fifth Sunday of Lent and the start of what we used to call Passiontide (remember that?)
Here is the Introit:
Judica me, Deus, et discerne causam meam de
gente non sancta: ab homine iniquo et doloso
eripe me : quia tu es Deus meus, et fortitudo
mea. Emitte lucem tuam, et verita-
tem tuam : ipsa me deduxerunt, et adduxerunt
in montem sanctum tuum, et in tabernacula
If you are at all familiar with the Traditional Mass, you will instantly recognise these verses from Psalm 42, because they are recited by the priest and server at the start of every Mass (except from Passion Sunday to Maundy Thursday).
So when one comes across them on Passion Sunday, one instantly notices that. Which means that subsequently (at least for the first few Sundays after Easter, until one forgets) at the start of each Mass we are reminded of the start of Passiontide.
That is an example of what I call resonance, and relates to what I blogged about here, regarding a symphonic analogy for liturgy. There is a richness and a depth to traditional liturgy, in the same way there is a richness and a depth to family customs and rituals around birthdays and Christmas. The way the Mass had developed, organically, over the years led to many such felicities.
The writing of a new Mass by committee, and particularly a committee that took such a reductionist and mono linear approach, stripped all these away. They seem to have been actively hostile to popular piety, and to anything that did not conform to a rigid, and simplistic, analysis of the structure of the ideal Mass. The analogy with architecture is also relevant (cf my extended metaphor here).
Part of the problem is the three year cycle of the Lectionary. With a yearly cycle, one can get used to the Mass for Passion Sunday. But if they change every year, and recur only every three, we don't develop that instinctive familiarity.
Another impoverishment: and we are the poorer for it.
In the interests of accuracy, I should note that the Judica me is used as the Introit for the 5th Sunday of Lent (no longer Passion Sunday, it would seem) in all three years. However, the resonance of which I speak is lost entirely, as it is no longer said at the foot of the altar at the start of Lent, and (at least according to my missal) Passiontide (along with the season of Septuagesima, qv) has been abolished.
The larger point about the three-year cycle still stands.
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