Other blogs are carrying the comments of Sandro Magister who reports that the Holy Father is due to hold an audience with thousands of members of the Neocatechumenal Way on January 20th and that this could be the occasion for the approval of the rather strange liturgical practices observed during the Mass.
If Magister's analysis is correct, I think any approval of the manner in which "The Way" celebrates the Mass would be a serious set back for the work of liturgical reform. We would, in effect, have three approved forms of the Roman Rite: the Ordinary Form, the Extraordinary Form and the Neocatechumenal Form. I can't see why The Way shouldn't conform to the universal norms of the Church.
Magister describes some of the peculiarities of the Mass celebrated by "The Way" ("Placet" or "Non placet"? The wager of Carmen and Kiko):
1. They are celebrated in small groups, corresponding to the different stages of advancement on the catechetical journey. If in a parish, for example, there are twelve Neocatechumenal communities, each at a different stage, there will be twelve Masses, celebrated in separate places more or less at the same time, preferably on Saturday evening.Anyway, read Magister ("Placet" or "Non placet"? The wager of Carmen and Kiko) for yourself and decide.
2. The surroundings and furnishings trace out the image of a banquet: a table with the participants seated around it. Even when the Neocatechumenals celebrate the Mass not in a parish hall but in a church, they often ignore the altar. They put a table in the middle and sit around it in a circle.
3. Each of the biblical readings of the Mass is preceded by an extensive "monition" on the part of one or the other of the community and is followed, especially after the Gospel, by "resonances," or personal reflections by a substantial number of those present. The priest's homily is added to the "resonances" without being distinguished from them.
4. Communion also takes place in banquet form. The consecrated bread – a large unleavened loaf, two thirds white flour and one third whole wheat flour, prepared and baked according to detailed rules established by Kiko – is broken and distributed to those present, who remain in their places. After the distribution, it is eaten at the same time by all, including the priest. After this, the priest goes from one person to the next with the chalice of consecrated wine, which everyone drinks.
There are also other peculiarities, but these four are enough to understand how different in form and substance the Masses of the Neocatechumenals are from those celebrated according to the general liturgical rules. A difference that is certainly more pronounced than that between the Masses in the ancient Roman rite and in the modern rite.
The Vatican authorities have repeatedly sought to bring the Neocatechumenals back to greater fidelity to the "lex orandi" in effect in the Catholic Church. But with a weak pulse and almost no results.
The strongest reminder came with the promulgation of the definitive statutes of the Way, approved in 2008.
In them, at article 13, the Vatican authorities established that the Masses of the communities must be "open also to other faithful"; that communion must be received "standing"; that for the biblical readings, only "brief monitions" of introduction are permitted, apart from the homily.
There is no trace of the "resonances" (permitted in the previous, provisional statutes of 2002) in this same article 13 dedicated to the celebration of the Mass. It is mentioned only in article 11, which, however, concerns the weekday celebrations of the Word, which each community holds with its own catechists.
The fact is that there has been very little change between the way in which the Neocatechumenals celebrate the Mass today and the way in which they celebrated it until a few years ago, when, moreover, the cups of consecrated wine were passed festively from hand to hand.
It is only in theory that their group Masses have been opened to other faithful as well.
Standing or seated, their convivial way of distributing communion is still the same.
The personal "resonances" of those present continue to invade and overwhelm the first part of the Mass.
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