Tuesday, March 20, 2012


(I will post pictures of our actual Ad Orientem Reform of the Reform Ordinary Form Mass when I get them and the video when we have it ready for the internet.)
Well, we did it. We celebrated a reform of the reform Ordinary Form Solemn Sung Mass! I want to thank our combined choirs under the direction of Ms. Nelda Chapman for their hard work in preparing for Schubert's Mass in G. They sung the Kyrie, Credo and Agnus Dei at Sunday's 12:10 Cherry Blossom Mass; the entire Mass at our St. Joseph Feast Day Mass Monday and will sing it again at our Annunciation Mass next Monday as an Extraordinary Form Mass. In addition to getting ready for Holy Week and Easter, this is a great amount of work and doesn't go unnoticed by me.

Let me offer some of my reflections though on our Reform of the Reform Ordinary Form Mass.

1. It is a no-brainer and if only the Ordinary Form was implemented strictly as we celebrated it last night (I don't mean here the fancy Mass parts of Schubert), I don't think we would have had half of the liturgical and disciplinary problems that we've had in the Church over the last 50 years. If we had simply focused on the Lord rather than the Lord we made out of Vatican II and liturgical renewal, Vatican II well may have been a new zenith for the Church. But that's water under the bridge and we'll never know if my hypothesis is correct if or until we get to heaven.

2. The direction of liturgical prayer is important, very important, of the utmost importance. Facing the people does three very unintended things that are the antithesis of what Liturgical Prayer should be: 1)it places an unintended and deleterious emphasis on the celebrating priest's looks, facial piety or lack thereof, and personality which then overpowers the "sacramental sign" of the ordained priest being a liturgical image of Jesus Christ the High Priest who is the only One who offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and brings the ordained priest and the laity with him in that act; 2) it makes it look as though the priest is proclaiming prayer to the laity rather than God; and 3) it tempts the priest to gesture toward the laity during the Eucharistic prayer and precisely at the Consecrations as though the laity are the 12 Apostles at the Last Supper.

What the ordained priest is doing "In Persona Christi Capitis" is simply calling God's attention to His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ's most solemn and meritorious Sacrifice on the Cross on Good Friday as Jesus anticipated and memorialized it for the Apostles, the first bishops of the Church, on Holy Thursday, to be perpetually offered by them and their assistants, ordained priests, as a perpetual memorial until our Lord returns at the Second Coming.

We celebrated the entire Mass ad orientem, except for the Liturgy of the Word which as in the Ordinary Form was completely at the ambo. This included the Penitential Act, Kyrie, Gloria and Collect. The missal for this part was at the Epistle side of the altar. Of course the Liturgy of the Eucharist was ad orientem with the missal being transferred to the Gospel side as the "deacon" prepared to take the Book of the Gospels to the ambo. And the Concluding rite was celebrated ad orientem as the missal was transferred back to the Epistle side as Holy Communion was distributed. However, I could see the Introductory and Concluding Rites celebrated at the Chair as it would have been done in the EF Mass if a bishop were celebrating a Sung Mass.

3. There is a noble simplicity of Holy Communion by intinction. A hoard of Extraordinary Ministers ascending upon the altar at the Agnus Dei was not needed nor a multiplicity of additional chalices cluttering the altar. We had kneelers in front of us two priests distributing Holy Communion and people had the option of standing if they wished. Everyone, except for one elderly woman who could not kneel, knelt for Holy Communion. It was very easy though to give Holy Communion to someone standing even over the kneeler. Hospitality and liturgical flexibility should allow us to provide a kneeler and let the laity decide if they wish to kneel or stand for Holy Communion, although I believe that kneeling makes the act of Holy Communion more reverent "feeling and looking" for the one receiving and those observing. This truth has profound implications!

4. The Introit, Offertory and Communion Antiphons chanted in Latin were marvelous, although I believe an English chant of these would have be wonderful as well.

5. The Gradual and Tract chanted in Latin were effective as well, although English would have been great too. This is the first time I have experienced these chanted in an ordinary form sung Mass. We used Gradual after the Old Testament reading and the tract after the Epistle reading as the Gospel acclamation. But don't get me wrong, I love the chanted Ordinary Form Responsorial Psalm and Gospel acclamations as well, but I don't think the two forms should be mutually exclusive.

Final thoughts:

Now that we've broken the ice and celebrated the Ordinary Form of the Mass in this way, I'd love to celebrate it again with simpler music that the laity can sing with gusto, the parts of the Mass we already know. We've learned the Latinized parts of the Mass in English that are contained in the new Roman Missal (except for the Credo, but believe me, that is coming too!) But even the other parts we know, such as the Mass of Creation (with organ of course) would work very well in place of the Schubert parts we sung.

I was asked why don't we celebrate the Mass this way every day! That's a good question. I would want my bishop's endorsement to do so beginning with one of our Sunday Masses, but I'm chicken to ask. But time will tell. If I can wear pink at the Cherry Blossom Parade, asking permission shouldn't be so hard, or at least forgiveness if I don't ask!


Templar said...

It was late last night Father, and I needed to begin my long drive south after Mass so could not stay and Thank You personally last night, but I was so very proud to be at that Mass last night. Thank you for it, even more so since I gather you were exercising your Pastoral Authority in doing this. I know from conversation with you that doing so was no easy feat for you. God Bless you for the strength and conviction to do what you felt was right.

I can not adequately express my extreme joy at being vindicated over my years long belief that if kneelers were provided the people would avail themselves of them. Even Monsignor Cuddy knelt to recieve, God Bless him, I know that was hard for him and all the more powerful for it. After I had received and had returned to my pew, an elderly woman and her middle aged daughter were in line to receive right next to where I sat, and the daughter leaned into her Mother's ear and whispered, "Do you want to kneel?", the emphatic yes was delightful to the ears. The Laity want this.

Something you obviously could not see, and may not have been reported to you afterwards, is that with you properly oriented, I saw almost none of the hand gesturing that is customary when you say Mass versus populum. Like during the Preface Dialog, the "And with your spirit" is usually accompanied by half the congregation or more making a gesture towards you with their hands, or at "We lift them up to the Lord" we usually see the same number raises hands in a semi-orans posture, all missing last night. Whether they know it or not, the ad orientem posture was isntructing them as much as your Homily was. I have never felt so united with the Congregation at an OF Mass.

All Glory, Honor and Praise to Jesus Christ, it was a wonderful Mass. And thanks once again Father, your Father was well pleased with you last night.

Unknown said...

Congratulations on adopting Melkite Greek Catholic liturgical customs! I almost thought I had died and gone to heaven when the Latin Church returned to "And with your spirit" but now, intinction and ad orientem! If this keeps up, I might have to become Latin:)

TCR said...

St. Joseph was honored in a grand, sublime manner last night. I cannot describe how real and palpable the Lord's presence was to me when I received His Body and Blood kneeling and by intinction. The Amen resounded so deep in my soul that I forgot to voice it before receiving! God bless you, Father, all those who served, Nelda and the dedicated, angelic voices of the St. Joseph choir for giving God His rightful glory!AMEN!!

Anonymous said...

ditto to everyting Templar wrote.

I didn't get a chance to speak to you either last night, but the expression on your face after Mass said everything.....The underlying nervousness and bold trusting that all would be ok and well received that you'd been holding in.
A good deal of courage, 'blood, sweat, and prayers' went into deciding to do this and pulling it off....and I'm just referring to YOU.
(It's obvious how much preparatory work the choir and organist put into it!)

I also wish this could be the norm...or at least normal.

What is the worst possible thing that could happen if you (or any priest) as permission from his bishop?
The bishop says 'no'? The bishop gets perturbed and then has some sort of personal vandetta against the priest from then on, refusing all future requests?
The bishop sends the priest to a remote rural poor latino parish?

praying for Courage and Right Judgement, for you (and also myself in my affairs).


Anonymous said...

Vid and pics?! When?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Soon, waiting for photos, vid a bit longer