Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Random Nit to Pick: Novus 'Ordo Missae' or 'Novus Ordo' Missae?

Just a short one for today, folks.
As many readers may know, the Mass of Pope Paul VI (aka the Ordinary Form/Forma Ordinaria, et al.) is known in some circles as the 'Novus Ordo Mass'. A stroll through the awl-mightee internetz reveals that this bilingual term is actually quite well-known and used. Some folks even use the term in a pejorative manner, even drawing connections between it and Novus Ordo Seclorum of the US' Great Seal, and from there, the Freemasons or the Illuminati or Jewish bankers or whatnot (take your pick) or even Hitler and his Neuordnung - as good conspiracy theories often tend to do.

There is, however, something wrong about the usage of this term that I find hard NOT to nitpick. Many of the people who use the phrase parse it incorrectly. The original Latin term from which 'Novus Ordo Mass' comes from is novus Ordo Missae. Pope Paul VI himself used the phrase once in a speech for the Consistory for the creation of twenty new Cardinals in May of 1976:

Peculiari autem modo id eo gravius censendum est, quod illuc divisio inducitur, ubi congregavit nos in unum Christi amor, scilicet in Liturgiam atque in Eucharisticum Sacrificium, cum denegetur obsequium normis de re liturgica statutis. At vero, nomine ipsius Traditionis Nos ab omnibus filiis Nostris atque ab omnibus catholicis communitatibus postulamus, ut cum dignitate pietatisque fervore renovatae Liturgiae ritus celebrentur. Usus novi Ordinis Missae minime quidem sacerdotum vel christifidelium arbitrio permittitur. Instructione autem edita die quarto decimo mensis Iunii anno millesimo nongentesimo septuagesimo primo provisum est, ut Missae celebratio antiquo ritu sineretur, facultate data ab Ordinario, tantummodo sacerdotibus aetate provectis vel infirmis, qui Divinum Sacrificium sine populo offerrent. Novus Ordo promulgatus est, ut in locum veteris substitueretur post maturam deliberationem, atque ad exsequendas normas quae a Concilio Vaticano II impertitae sunt. Haud dissimili ratione, Decessor Noster S. Pius V post Concilium Tridentinum Missale auctoritate sua recognitum adhiberi iusserat.
That being said, because of Pope Paul's use of wording here in the Latin, many thus have the misconception that 'Novus Ordo' is somehow the actual title of the OF Mass, sometimes even ascribing spookily vague and threatening qualities to it. Newsflash; It isn't. Folks often parse novus Ordo Missae as Novus Ordo / Missae (which gives us 'Novus Ordo Mass', but the correct way to do it is novus / Ordo Missae, the "new Order of Mass". As everyone may know, the form of the Ordinary (i.e. the regular, unvarying parts) of the Mass, be it the 1570 or the 1970 Missal, has no official title: it is simply called the Ordo Missae, "Order of Mass". Names like 'Tridentine' or 'Pian' or 'Extra/Ordinary Form' or 'Pauline' or 'Latin Mass' are simply unofficial titles. In context Novus Ordo is thus not meant to be a title in the sense of the 'Mass of the New Order': it's just a (rather bland if you ask me) designator - the 'new Ordo Missae'.
Hence, I'm not too fond of calling the 'Ordinary Form' Novus Ordo Mass: it's a misuse of the Latin and gives off the wrong connotations in the wrong hands, in my humble opinion (seriously, 'New Order' (of the Ages?) Mass??). I'd rather people have it called in full English as "the new Mass Order" or suchlike. Or why not use Latin - novus Ordo Missae? ;)

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