The pontifical Mass in pre-Vatican II form from the National Shrine, EWTN broadcast, is nearing its end. What can I say?? Really beautiful but, at this late date, pretty wierd too. (How’s that for trying to find some middle ground? And now…everyone start shooting at me from all sides.)
The webcast prompts me to make just one point. It applies to all forms of the liturgy, new or old, any liturgical tradition – Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, whatever. It’s for commentators. When the choir is singing, when the celebrant is chanting, when most anything audible is happening in the liturgy, here is the mode of active participation proper to you: SHUT UP.
The Austrians have broadcasting liturgies down to an art form. There is careful collaboration between the national TV network (ORF) and the Church, including liturgists and musicians. Consideration is given to what (little) needs to be said and what is best put on the screen as a text. Translations on the screen are accurate, idiomatic, and beautiful (hint, hint, CNN and Fox). The commentating leads you into the liturgy and does not compete with it. When I saw the funeral Mass online from Stefansdom for Cardinal Franz König, I assumed it was a documentary carefully spliced and edited and sound-mastered. It wasn’t – it was the archive of the live broadcast. I wish U.S. broadcasters could learn how the Austrians do it.