Sunday, October 9, 2011


(Click on photos once or twice to enlarge)

Or presiding from the Chair for both the Introductory Rite and Concluding Rite:

Instead of the motu proprio (i.e. on his own initiative) Summorum Pontificum, the Apostolic Letter of Pope Benedict XVI, specifying the rules for the Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form being offered more widely in parish churches, WHAT IF the Holy Father had simply restored the "ad orientem" style of celebrating the Ordinary Form of the Mass?

By "ad orientem" we mean facing the Lord or facing the liturgical east. The great basilicas of Rome where the altar is oriented facing the nave of the Church (like St. Peter's, St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran, St. Paul's Outside the Walls)the priest is actually facing the geographical east which is symbolic of where the Church believes the Risen Lord will return, just as the sun rises.

The Liturgical East normally means that the priest and laity face the same direction toward the apse of the Church (priest having his back to the congregation).

Sometimes I wonder if just reorienting the Mass but keeping it as we have it in the vernacular Ordinary Form wouldn't be the best solution to returning a sense of awe and wonder to its celebration and enabling the priest-celebrant to be more humble and less flamboyant in the manner in which he approaches the celebration of the Mass and its rubrics.

I've suggested this before, but I'll remind you of it again. Without changing any rubrics of the Ordinary Form of the Mass except for the following, this is what I would have thought would have been a better motu proprio:

Plan A option:

I. The procession begins with the chanting of the official Introit with the option of adding a metrical hymn if the shorter version of the Introit is chanted by a cantor or schola alone.

II. After arriving at the altar, the priest reverences it in the normal manner and incenses it if incense is used.

III. Then he descends the altar or goes to the foot of the altar and "ad orientem" sings or says the "Sign of the Cross." He briefly turns to the congregation and greets them using one of the official formulas and invites the people to reflect on God's mercy.

IV. Turning back to the altar one of the forms of the Penitential act is used with the absolution. The priest then ascends to the altar for the intoning of the Gloria which is sung with the priest standing at the middle of the altar. Afterwards he moves to the Epistle side and sings or says the Collect.

V. All are seated for the Liturgy of the Word as it is currently celebrated.

VI. After the homily, the priest sits for a few moments of contemplation and then rises and goes to the center of the altar. The Credo is said or spoken and afterwards the priest introduces the General Intercessions and the deacons or another minister reads or chants them and the priest concludes them.

VII. The priest sits again and the collection is taken and the offertory antiphon and another suitable anthem is sung as the altar is prepared which includes the ceremonial moving of the Roman Missal from the Epistle Side of the Altar to the Gospel Side (although in the Ordinary Form of the Mass the Scriptures are not read from these locations).

VIII. The priest receives the offering gifts of money, bread and wine and prepares the bread and wine as usual.

IX. After incensing the gifts and altar, washing his hands, he turns to the congregation for the "Orate Frates" and turns back for the Prayer Over the Offerings, Preface dialogue, Preface and Eucharistic Prayer and Lord's Prayer.

X. He turns to the congregation for "The Peace of the Lord be with you" and the Sign of Peace which is offered soberly.

XI. The lamb of God is intoned, the priest "Breaks the Bread" prepares himself for Holy Communion,then turns to the congregation for the "Behold the Lamb of God" and the "Dominus Non Sum Dignus." Then he turns back to the altar to receive Holy Communion as immediately the Communion Antiphon is chanted and then the Holy Communion Procession begins. Communion is distributed to those kneeling and the option of intinction is highly recommended but not mandated. The people join in singing the refrain to the official Communion Antiphon.

XII. After Holy Communion, the chalices and ciborium are purified,all sit for a time of silent contemplation and the priest returns to the altar for the Prayer after Holy Communion prayed at the Epistle side of the altar. Brief announcements are made and then the blessing and dismissal is offered and the Recessional occurs.

(The choreography of the Altar Servers is as in the EF Mass--they need to be highly regimented and take their ministry very seriously as in the EF Mass--it is possible and necessary to do this!)

Plan B option:

Everything above except after the incensing or reverencing of the altar the priest presides from the Chair for the Sign of the Cross, Greeting, Penitential Act, Gloria and Collect. The Credo and Intercessions are also from the Chair, but beginning with the Preparation of the Altar through the Communion of the Priest, all is ad orientem. After Holy Communion, the Post Communion Prayer, blessing and dismissal are done from the Chair.

So, would my motu proprio have been more advisable than Pope Benedict's? Of course I'm too humble to say "yes" for myself as I blush!


Father Shelton said...

I think you are accurately predicting the future of the ordinary Roman Mass. Plan "B" would be easy enough because the rubrics already allow each priest to celebrate this way on his own initiative, and the Vatican has thoroughly clarified this freedom. But given the attitude of most priests and laity to such traditional options, I think it unlikely the Holy Father would mandate it. Once the traditional form is common in parishes, I suspect we (or a future generation) will see a gradual shift towards such options in the ordinary Mass without a single rubric needing to be altered.

The Little Way said...

Well, I would have to agree with you, especially since the Holy Father has yet to publicly celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form (at least that I'm aware of). Celebrating Mass ad orientem is something that would require only a minimum of adjustment and would not involve weeks or months of formal training, so it is easily within grasp. I think one of the things I loved most about my trip to Italy is that it was nearly impossible at many of the altars for the friars to celebrate Mass versus populum. And none of the folks in our group, most of whom are not familiar with the EF, raised so much as an eyebrow.

Templar said...

And what would this MP have said? You are hereby permitted to do what you are already permitted to if only Modernist Bishops weren't denying you and the Laity what was theirs by Right?

Hey come to think of it, that's exactly what MP:SP said now didn't it?

Marc said...

What's preventing you or any priest from doing either of these options on your own (personally, I think Plan A is better because the priest standing at the chair during most of the Mass is peculiar to me)?

I hope the Ordinary Form is "influenced" in this manner and improved significantly. I also hope that the Mass of the Ages continues to exist independently of the Ordinary Form, in its timeless state, unadulterated and free from any and all influence from the Ordinary Form.

Frajm said...

I know of only one priest who is doing Plan B in his parish in Charleston. I presume his bishop has approved it although some would say that a priest doesn't need his bishop's approval for this. I beg to disagree as the Bishop of Phoenix feels it in his right to remove the freedom that priests in parishes have had to have the common chalice to the laity at all Masses. I think there is a parallel.

The reason I would not do it without the bishop's awareness, approval and/or encouragement is that it would make me stand out as ideocynratic. Of course I am, but I hate standing out like one! On top of that, what if the next pastor comes in and yanks things around again--what does that do to a parish community or the parochial vicar wants to do it only facing the people or a visiting priest. That's just a bit too divisive for me on the parish level. In fact if I had a parochial vicar tell me that he would only celebrate ad orientem his Masses and I had not made that decision in consultation with the bishop, I would ask the bishop to intervene if I could not persuade a holy vicar to reconsider!

Marc said...

I see. I definitely understand the pastoral concerns and the relations with the Bishop. I thought there might be some prohibition in the GIRM of which I was not aware.

Of course, I would point out that the reason our liturgy is in the state it is in is because priests, for whatever reason, decided to read the GIRM in a certain way. Presumably, to fix the problems, some priests are going to have to stick their necks out or continue waiting for a motu proprio that will never come (for the reason Templar mentioned - odd to have a motu proprio saying "let's do things the way they're supposed to be done!").

Marc said...

Sorry, in my last post, stating "the reason" is overstating the point. Probably something like "a contributing factor" would be more accurate.

Henry said...

I might speculate that, if such a sacral OF Mass were celebrated in a typical parish of 1110 people, then 1000 would either not notice or not care, 100 would approve but say little, and 10 would complain to the bishop. Apart from the exact numbers, isn't this the general situation? That most who care strongly want better liturgy, but the small minority who don't are louder.

Henry said...

Several years ago, I witnessed a regular daily Mass exactly like Plan B at the cathedral in St. Louis, and no one appeared to think anything amiss.

Frajm said...

Henry, maybe you can correct me, but in a High or Solemn High Mass in the EF form with a bishop, after the prayers at the foot of the altar, doesn't the bishop go to his throne for the Kyrie, Gloria and Collect?

It seems to me that in the OF revision of the Mass, that the episcopal arrangement of the EF Mass was extended to ordinary priests. Am I wrong?

pinanv525 said...

Well,whatever you do, I wish you would re-address this EMOHC business. This morning, there were eight of them. They detract from the reverence of the processional in their varied dress and their place right in the middle of everything. Then they sort of peel off and wander to their seats. I swear, it looked like a Star Trek set with all of them wearing those little triangular shaped stoles hanging down their backs. Again, when they go up to serve, they crowd around getting ready, then people have to walk around them and, God help us, after they are through serving, they stand by the baptismal and the side tabernacles and pull the stuff off over their heads and plop them down on the altars, some folded and some just flung...sort of like the
locker room after a Falcons game. Please, deliver us from this distraction.
You have me confused, Fr. All indications are that you wish to gradually move away from a lot of the post VAT II liberties and nonsense in the Mass,but this EMOHC stuff and all the unnecessary busy-ness just seem to be a part and parcel of the whole post Vat II mess. Help me out here.

pinanv525 said...

Also, in a format like the OF, less is more. If we must continue these extraneous inclusions, it would be nice if you could provide one Sunday EF on a regular basis...I know I am grumbling, which I usually do not do except at Ignotus. Besides, I am not as bad as Templar (with whom I agree most generally completely).

Joseph Johnson said...

I'm in a much smaller parish in the same Diocese and I share your feelings about the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC's). Except for the common chalice, (which I see as Sacramentally unnecessary or redundant--it's still complete Communion under one form!) I think EMHC's are completely unjustified in a smaller parish.

In fact, we did not have EMHC's (and Communion in the hand) in our parish until sometime in the mid-1980's (so I served Mass with the hand paten and lived through my college years without them). This is probably due to the fact that we had a great pastor from the mid-1970's to the mid-80's who may have kept these things out while he was here.

Maybe we were behind the times but this was well after Vatican II and the advent of the Novus Ordo. Incidentally, we did not have "Glory and Praise" hymnals until around the mid 1980's! Folk Masses were a short-lived phenomena in the 1970's here.

I look back on my days as an "altar boy" in the earlier years of the Novus Ordo (1970's)with fondness because, at least here, it was a pretty sane period. There were no female altar servers and we still wore the black cassock and surplice. The priests usually (possibly from old training and habit) still held their thumbs, index, and middle fingers together from the Consecration until after the ablutions (after distributing Communion). With the exception of the need to restore ad orientem, Communion rails and better more reverent music, this early saner period is actually a pretty good model of what I hope we are trying to work our way back to.

Templar said...

And I just let the 5pm Mass where the 8 EMHCs caused the normally beautiful Procession to come to a literal halt with Father standing and waiting for the beshashed to bow and "peel off". Then there's the joy of watching the be-shashed be permitted to stand while the rest of us kneel. Are the EMHCs perhaps more worthy than I? Perhaps they are half Priests or something. Then all 6 of the Cup bearers appear to self communicate with the cup that is handed to them. Or are these extra cups never even really consecrated? They sit at the barest edge of the altar outside the furthest expanse of Father's extended arms....perhaps no one worries about profanation because these cups never get sprinkled with any Grace. And yes then there is the chug contest as the EHMCs struggle to down all the left poor woman went to the well 3 times to drain her cup. Amazed she could walk straight. Finally there is the de-shashing withe the locker room scene. All this "so no one feels excluded". I see how this is reverent while my simple request for a kneeler simply will not do. Yup, thats fair.

Henry said...

Actually, Fr. Macdonald, in a solemn pontifical EF Mass in his own cathedral, a bishop says the prayers at the foot of the altar, then incenses the altar, then goes to his throne and presides there until after the Credo. Where he lacks jurisdiction to use the throne, a bishop presides instead at a "faldstool" in front of the altar on the Epistle side.

Joseph Johnson said...

I correct myself regarding which fingers the priests held together after the Consecration--it was (and is still, in the EF) only the thumb and index fingers (those fingers which have touched the Consecrated Host) while the priest used his remaining fingers to hold the "nodule" and base of the chalice during the elevation.

This is just one more of those little things (along with the hand patens for servers) that helped reinforce reverence and a strong belief in the Real Presence, especially when the reasons for them is explained to children. I wish they would also be used (again) in the Novus Ordo (Ordinary Form).

pinanv525 said...

Eight EMHC's at 5 pm Mass...sheesh. They probably don't have 8 EMHC's at St. Peter's on Sunday morning...

Joseph Johnson said...

Well, Pin, I just noticed another story about the 2005 expiration of the U.S. indult for Communion under both forms.

Fr. Zuhlsdorf just today posted an article about Bishop Morlino of Madison, WI announcing that it (Communion under both forms) will be ending in his Diocese as well-- I think Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix, AZ was the first to announce that his Diocese will act in conformity with the expiration of the indult.

Let's see how fast our Diocese deals with this new reality!

Templar said...

Huzzah for Bishop Morlino, Huzzah for Bishop Olmstead!! Be gone this unnecessary intrusion!

pinanv525 said...

Well, Joseph Johnson,Ya' know that horrible old Baptist hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers?" I have a new Catholic verse: "Like a mighty snail, moves the Church of God. Bretheren, we are standing where we always stood." When it comes to implementation, the Church often confuses time and eternity...

pinanv525 said...

What about it, Fr? I say go for it!Maybe the new Bishop will be receptive to the idea.

Jenny said...

Plan "A" is what used to occur at the televised EWTN Mass. know what their Bishop at that time did to them--and he even petitioned the Vatican to back him up! The Shrine in Hanceville did not suffer the same mandate because they are under the auspices of their Abbess... Eh! There are saintly bishops, and not so saintly; I do feel for priests who are "subject" in obedience to the not-so-saintly!
BTW, you know what St. John Chrysostom said about bishops? Look it up..

SouthronCatholic said...

I honestly hope something is done to the OF soon. This current OF is exactly (aside from the wording of some prayers and the Creed) like an Episcopalian service I attended with some friends in TN a few weeks back.

If a change in the Liturgy is really so necessary, we should scrap the 2nd Protestant Heresy Revolt... er, VII and the OF and start over. What's the point of converting to the One True Church if we act just like the heretics we're supposed to be converting? Are we even still actively trying to convert them?

After attending Fr. Dawid's EF (my 2nd EF) and then the OF this morning with all the (ick...) EMOHCs and everything being sung, I prefer the EF to the point I'll be driving the 2hrs to St. Francis de Sales in Mableton for strictly EF.

Everyone singing everything, all the (ick...) EMOHC clogging things up, the thought of sacrilege as I walk out due to people brushing off particles of our Lord from their hands... it's just too distracting.

pinanv525 said...

Most serious, theologically educated Protestants (read Calvinists) never thought of the Episcopalian church as anything other than a source of pretty good jokes. The last time I was in an Episcopalian church was a couple of years ago for a funeral. The priest had on a cassock with doves and quail and pine branches all over it. I'll swear I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing out loud at the service.

pinanv525 said...

I don't know why, but the OF at St. Jo's seems to have gotten more convoluted since I first joined about six years ago. The 5 pm OF used to be simple and reverent, and somwwhat contemplative. The High Masses in the AM have, at times like Sunday, become filled with distractions. Maybe this is just the turmoil involved in getting it day.

Henry said...

Jenny: " know what their Bishop at that time did to them--and he even petitioned the Vatican to back him up!"

It might be clarified that the Vatican did NOT "back him up" and, in fact, forced the bishop to retract his written policy prohibiting all ad orientem celebration in his diocese. However, even though he could not prohibit uniformly something that is valid, he retained the power (under USCCB policy, as I understand it) to prohibit the televising from his diocese of Mass celebrated in a manner that would be "confusing" to the faithful.

Thus, it is ok for the OF Mass to be celebrated ad orentem, largely Latin, communion on the tongue at the altar rail, etc. at Mother Angelica's Shrine in Hanceville, under the condition that such a potentially misleading spectacle not be shown on EWTN. So, despite the fact that the Shrine was built at such great cost precisely as a showcase for televising the Mass, the EWTN Mass remains restricted to the friars "shack chapel" in Irondale.

Marc said...

SouthronCatholic: "I prefer the EF to the point I'll be driving the 2hrs to St. Francis de Sales in Mableton for strictly EF."

Join the club... perhaps we should start a carpool. If you're like me, you'll be surprised how many familiar faces from St. Joseph's you'll see when you go to St. Francis de Sales!

SouthronCatholic said...

@Marc There is a club? Do I get a neat decoder ring and a card? Joking aside, I'd love to team up with like-minded fellows in this regard. It's always more beneficial when finding others to share a love of Tradition with and to learn from.

Also, I rather like the idea of carpooling. I hate driving through Atlanta and I don't know my way around up there either. Not to mention that my lil truck isn't the best in traffic like that. I'll be more than happy to contribute gas money too of course.