Monday, May 28, 2012


Since I'm so good at making modest proposals for the reform of the reform of the Ordinary Form of the Mass, (proposals that in some ways could be implemented now if a priest didn't mind getting on the bad side of his bishop by doing these reforms independent of the rest of the diocese or without endorsement, which having the bishop's endorsement is always nice to have), I thought that I would make a modest proposal for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass which I think is in continuity with the hermeneutic that Pope Benedict is suggesting for the gravitational pull on both forms by having both forms of the Mass celebrated today by priests and congregations.

It has to do with the Liturgy of the Word, or The Mass of Catechumens. I had this brainstorm yesterday in fact. Currently at St. Joseph, we read the Scriptures in English and I have one of the adult servers read the Epistle on the Epistle side of the altar, but below the steps and facing the congregation.

I would see no difficulty and would find it totally acceptable for the Epistle to be read from the ambo. At St. Joseph, the ambo is on the Gospel side of the Church. I would have no difficultly reading the Gospel from the ambo also. I find it totally unnecessary for the priest to have to read both of these in Latin first at the altar and then again in English and I find it even more absurd to read it in English at the altar facing away from the Congregation. The readings are for the laity and priest to hear, these are not prayers directed to God.

If there is ever a return to a unified Roman Missal for the Latin Rite, meaning that we only have one form of the Mass rather than two as we currently have, I think for the most part the revised missal will look and feel more the like the 1962 Missal in many ways but the Liturgy of the Word will look and sound like the reformed missal. I am not clairvoyant but some think that I am. Who knows but God?

I might add that our little men's schola led us in Gregorian chant marvelously for our EF Pentecost Mass. And yes, there is a very different traditional spiritual feel that I get from a Gregorian Sung Mass and it is called the Catholic Feel! I don't get that with more contemporary sounding music we have in the OF Mass. There is definitely something different about Gregorian Chant. And the Pentecost Sequence was out of this world.

The difference in Gregorian Chant versus the contemporary styles of music we have is that it enables contemplation of heavenly mysteries without the cheap narcotic-like stimulus of the contemporary sounds!


Kitchener Waterloo Traditional Catholic said...

A Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form has the option of not saying the Epistle and Gospel in Latin, only saying it once in the vernacular from the ambo.

Sacrosanctum Concilium references duplicity in the liturgy; I'm sure this is what they were referring to along with the second Confiteor.

Those new to the Usus Antiquior probably do ask themselves why the readings are done twice (I'm sure I did). Is it then redundant thus lowering the majesty of the Mass?

For the active participant the readings in Latin can be used as a means of learning the language, or a time of reflection, or preparation, or other good intentions. For the person just fulfilling their Sunday obligation it must seem like a waste of time.

It would be a mistake to cut the readings in Latin in order to save time. Our society is in need of the timeless, a focus on the eternal. The notion Mass needs to be completed in fifty five minutes just as any television show is too common.

Having the readings in both Latin and the vernacular allows a traveler not fluent in the local language the chance to fully participate if they brought their missal.

Given the current state of the Church it may be advantageous to extend the non-Latin option to the High Mass as well. Until seminaries start turning out priests fluent in Latin (and they need to) most diocesan priests need a lot of time to prepare themselves for the readings.

If there is to be a blending of the two forms one thing that absolutely cannot enter the ancient is laity strolling into the sanctuary to give the readings. Banality at best, distraction as standard.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I know that in the low Mass that the readings can be entirely in the vernacular. But there is then this odd distinction that in the Solemn celebration of the Mass it must be first in Latin and then again (as was the custom in the USA prior to the Council) to have the reading in the vernacular at the ambo by the priest. It seems to me that perhaps the document is speaking of the Solemn Sung Mass with sub-deacon, deacon and priest and not the poor man's (parish's) celebration of a sung Mass without sub-deacon and deacon. Technically, one does not have to even use incense at a Sung Mass in the EF without sub-deacon and deacon, but I believe it is require in the Solemn Sung form. Correct me if I am wrong.

ytc said...

Having laypeople read at Solemn Mass ruins the classical set up of having the Epistle read by a member of the order of subdeacons and the Gospel read by a member of the order of deacons. There is a reason for this.

I do not think it is permitted to read the readings in the vernacular from the ambo unless it is only a repeat. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it is required to read the readings at the altar at High Mass, and the only way to allow them at the ambo would be if they are like a pre-homily. So at High Mass you can have: readings all in Latin at altar, readings in Latin at altar followed by readings in vernacular at ambo, readings in vernacular at altar, readings in vernacular at altar and also at ambo (but this would be redundant). But any way it's done, the readings MUST be read at the altar in Latin or the vernacular and anything else is an optional add-on pre-homily type thing.

At Low Mass it is also required to have the readings at the altar (in whatever language of course) and so the same options would apply as for High Mass.

I would also like to point out that there is a ritual reason for having the deacon sing the Gospel to the North (or liturgical North if the altar is not built to the East) and so this cannot be dispensed with, regardless of what language.

In short, having the readings in the vernacular does not require them to be read by laypeople, and indeed I think it would be illicit except for having the Epistle read by a straw subdeacon who is really an instituted acolyte at Solemn Mass. I know you didn't say such but you used pictures of laypeople. It would be illicit to be read by laypeople because the Missal does not envision this. So only the priest can repeat them in the vernacular. Also, the rubrics for readings at the altar/facing the altar and facing North cannot be dispensed regardless of the language, unless it is a repeat pre-homily.

I agree it does make sense to have readings in the vernacular, but I also see a good argument for maintaining them in Latin. But regardless of the language, the rubrics for the direction of the official readings should remain the same, I think. Have a pre-homily repeat if you like, but if it is the "real" reading(s), then have it the way it is supposed to be.

Kitchener Waterloo Traditional Catholic said...

I believe you are correct, Father. Incense and the sprinkling rite are options in a Missa Cantata, but required in a Missa Solemnis.

Again, given the state we're in, I think a Missa Solemnis should be left for special occasions and not expected on a regular basis in most parishes.

The days of a typical parish even having three priests is a memory for most; finding one with three able to say the EF very rare.

One change to the Usus Antiquior I can see happening, a blend from the Novus Ordo, is the congregation saying or singing the parts we do now in the new form. Yes, that would require people learning some Latin, but we have the most educated laity in Church history now. Most people can read, there are tools like Loretta Stone, even websites that teach the basic liturgical Latin.

I predict the New Evangelization and Reform of the Reform will bring a new zeal to laity active participation. The younger generation yearns for a reverent worship and gets bored quickly with novelty.

We're coming out of this modern crisis and as with the others there will be a renewal. Maybe people were just going through the motions pre-V2; superficial Catholics. Things couldn't have been great otherwise our Lady wouldn't have kept appearing with warnings.

ytc said...

You are correct about the incense. In fact, it was (is still, I believe) technically forbidden for use at High Mass. So is having six candles rather than four. The Sacred Congregation for Rites eventually released a document stating that these are "abuses" that can only be "tolerated" if these practices have been in place for a period of more than "one hundred years." So technically incense and six candles at High Mass are abuses which are only "tolerated" via decree of the SCR. Incense and six candles are technically only proper at Solemn Mass.

Of course the common practice is to have incense and six candles at High Mass, but this is certainly not the "norm." And this practice was widespread, and so I don't see any problem with it, since it is tolerated. It isn't purist, but meh.

But say we discover some new island in the Pacific Ocean. Well, High Mass with incense and six candles would not be tolerated there, since they haven't been in use for more than one hundred years.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

YTC, the whole point of this post is to show that the gravitational pull of the OF Mass can be exerted on the EF Mass. But keep in mind the OF Mass is a reform of the EF Mass not something from outer space, although I know some think that. The EF Mass is an unreformed Ordinary Form Mass (UOF)not (UFO).
So having the Liturgy of the Word in the EF using the EF's reformed version of it isn't out of the question if we buy into the gravitational pull thing.

ytc said...

KWTC, what parts of the EF can't the laity participate in vocally that they can in the OF?

In the EF the laity can:

sing the Ordinary parts of Mass
sing the Propers if they so desire
sing the Et cum spiritu tuo
sing the Laus tibi, Christe
sing the responses of the Preface Dialogue
sing the Deo gratias at the end of Mass

The only things they can't do are say the Confiteor, sing the thing after the Epistle since there is nothing, sing the majority of the Pater Noster, and sing that silly post-Pater embolism thing since it doesn't exist.

I think there is an excellent balance at Solemn and High Masses between vocalization and quietness on the part of the laity.

Lewis said...

If a printout with the readings in Latin and English are provided for the congregation, as I know they are at St. Joseph, why bother reading anything in English? Challenge the parishioners to take some responsibility and either learn how to follow along in the readings or familiarize themselves with the true tongue of Mother Church.

rob said...

Not sure if here, where you mention chant or the other thread, but I'm here and here goes. One nice thing I've found about chant during Mass is that when a tune gets stuck in your head it's a prayer and not some pap. I've found myself humming Kyrie Eleison. Not a bad thing at all. I could use God's Mercy! ;D

Anonymous said...

The 9:30 Mass at SJ (Fr. Dawid presiding) had the privilege of hearing the Sequence beautifully chanted in Latin by the St. Joseph Choir, with the congregation able to follow the translation in the missalettes. The sense of peace and stillness in the church during the singing was moving. Even if one was not following the translation, this was an infinitely more spiritual experience than having the congregation sing the metric hymn version (used at non-choir Masses). And it is a far cry above what I have seen done years ago: having the old WLP really bad translation read in unison by the congregation because "it takes too long to sing the hymn!"

Kitchener Waterloo Traditional Catholic said...

ytc, I've yet to experience the laity sing/say as many parts of the Mass as you describe. If that's the norm where you live then I'd like to know where that is or watch a recording on-line.

Another commentator mentioned 'challenging' the laity. I like that idea. We should have a grown-up faith, one capable of skill and knowledge.

One of the goals of the Novus Ordo was making the Mass more open to the laity so they could understand it. How's that working out? Quiz the average pewsitter about any aspect of the liturgy. Most of us are liturgically illiterate but that can change very quickly.

Henry said...

There seems to be an certain amount of confusion in this thread. Though this kind if confusion itself is not so unusual, especially in a time when (thankfully) there are so many newcomers to the TLM after a long lapse in its accessibility. I found it a bit confusing at first, when I was a TLM newcomer in the 1950s. Even now, after a half century of continued interest in these topics, I still need to keep close at hand copies of Fortescue, the general rubrics, and the Ritus servandus--which is most specific (and prescriptive) about a number of the points raised here. Some points:

1. At either low Mass or a Missa cantata, the celebrant reads or chants the Epistle and Gospel at the altar, facing the altar. I know of no recent provision for replacing this reading at the altar by a reading elsewhere, either by the celebrant or by anyone else (other than the prescribed manner of the Missa solemnis). Of course, duplicative readings in the vernacular are permitted--especially during the interruption of the liturgy for the sermon. (Although, personally, I find repetitive readings a tedious bore; the second reading has nothing of the impact of the first reading followed in one's hand missal or propers leaflet.)

2. Although the readings at the altar can be vernacular at a low Mass, I'm not aware that this provision has been extended to the Missa cantata or the Missa solemnis.

3. The statement that "the readings are for the laity and priest to hear, these are not prayers directed to God" sounds persuasive enough in the OF context, where the readings generally appear to have a didactic rather than a liturgical purpose. Where, for instance, on successive weekdays in ordinary time, the readings tend to march through predetermined swatches of scripture, without reference to the liturgical themes--the saints or events being commemorated--of different days.

However, a standard traditional view is that the readings are an integral part of the liturgy itself. In traditional liturgical treatises one may read, for instance, that in the Epistle and Gospel we worship God by addressing Him in His own words (without any view that these words may be addressed also to the people). For this purpose, the readings in the EF calendar are selected to fit the liturgical theme of the particular Mass (rather than some general didactic purpose).

Ironically, this EF approach has a correlative didactic benefit that can be more powerful than generally experienced in the OF approach. For instance, the repetition of the same or similar readings on different days with the same liturgical theme has a cumulative effect--by repeatedly evoking the same images and feelings on similar liturgical occasions (e.g., commemoration of a virgin martyr)--just as frequent repetition of psalms in the divine office has a cumulative effect different in kind from uncoordinated isolated readings.

rcg said...

FrAJM, Kitchener beat me to it. Far be it from me to contest one of your revelations ;-) as they are actually well considered, but perhaps you should apply your dialectic to the Low Mass and the OF rather than the High Mass of the EF. Also, the EF and OF as distinct in the readings as much, maybe more, than anywhere else now that we live in the era of the New Translation.

Also, if the readings are for the congregation, where they read toward the altar, just asking, really.

Also, YTC has good points and points that may be lost on folks who don't attend a TLM parish. There is lots of singing, the good stuff, too. as a minor point the minor doxology after the Pater Noster is awkward as we have more ecumenical services, e.g. funeral services. I attended one this weekend and the Protestants continued right through the doxology. I have asked, but I think they believe it is part of it.

Henry said...

In the talk by Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth (ICEL exec. dir.) that was discussed here recently, he said:

" Currently, the teachings of Sacrosanctum Concilium are rather more likely to be evidenced in a well-prepared presentation of the Extraordinary Form than in most Ordinary Form celebrations. That’s a great irony."

In particular, in my experience, in regard to not only internal but external participation of the laity, with vocal and postural participation combined in the EF greatly exceeding that typically seen in the OF. At all the Sunday high Masses I've attended in recent years:

1. The congregation sings all the usual dialogue responses--not including those in the preparatory prayers at the foot of the altar, which are covered by the introit chanted by the choir.

2. The congregation generally joins in the Ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria, etc.) when it's the familiar Missa de Angelus, though not in less familiar seasonal ordinary chants, nor when ordinary parts are sung by the choir in sacred polyphony on special solemnities. The familiar Credo III is almost always sung by choir and people together, as well as usually the Gloria.

3. In my community, the choir and congregation also sing the Pater Noster--as has been sanctioned recently by the PECD, as well as the closing Marian antiphon and the processional and recessional hymns.

I'm not aware that it's common practice anywhere for the congregation to join the schola in chanting the propers (introit, gradual, etc.) which really cannot be sung properly without following the chant notation in a Liber Usualis.

Incidentally, none of this is specified in the 1962 rubrics, which are silent on what the congregation can and cannot do. Indeed, the (micro)management of congregational behavior by means of written norms (rather than shared custom) is strictly a Novus Ordo thing.

Father Shelton said...

I wish to echo Henry's third point, and add that the Gospel is proclaimed towards the dark "Barbarian" lands which once extended north of Rome (present Germany). At least that's what I was taught by a professor of Sacred Liturgy who is also a devoted proponent of the Roman liturgical tradition.
Is there any evidence that Catholics today are more familiar with the Bible than were Catholics before the 1960's? I'm just curious.

John Nolan said...

I have attended Solemn Mass in the EF in a modern church with a proper fixed ambo on the epistle side, and which was used for the singing of both Epistle and Gospel. By the 14th century the ambo as an extension of the sanctuary had largely disappeared in the West, being replaced by a pulpit in the nave, and was (to an extent) restored at the time of the Second Vatican Council. There is a historical and liturgical logic to using it if it is there.

The Missa Cantata (without deacon and subdeacon but with incense) was given full official recognition in 1960 but for a long time was allowed on Sundays and solemnities where clerics to act as deacon and subdeacon were not available (ie most American and English parishes). Since the celebrant has to sing the Epistle and Gospel from the missal, he cannot leave the altar, so the ambo option does not apply.

If you want vernacular readings versus populum but the music and ceremonial of the Missa Cantata, opt for an OF Latin Mass ad orientem. There's actually quite a bit more Latin chant (especially on the part of the celebrant) and Benedict XVI has even suggested that the 'silent' Canon is an option.

Ted said...

"The readings are for the laity and priest to hear, these are not prayers directed to God."
I disagree. The readings are part of Lectio Divina in which God certainly speaks to us through them if we care to listen, but like St Gregory the Great taught, these words spoken out-loud to a community is a preaching, and in hearing God speaking to us through these words, we can speak back to God with these same words of Scripture, that is, to pray to Him.

ytc said...

Yes, Fr. Shelton, that is indeed the reason I have consistently heard for having the Gospel reading(s) from the Missal either slightly tilted North on the altar (Low Mass and Missa Cantata), or completely facing North and held by the subdeacon while the deacon chants (Missa Solemnis).

Honestly, I think unless a priest/deacon/subdeacon really has no lung power, he should be quite able to power out an Epistle or Gospel reading sufficiently loud enough either towards the altar or facing North for the people to hear it, in whatever language.

That leads into a huge problem that constantly plagues homilies: the volume. Sound systems turn celebrants into mice. Unless it's St. Peter's or something, it should be well within the reach of all but asthmatics to loudly and forcefully read or sing all orations/readings/homilies. Lung power, come on.

Joseph Johnson said...

I agree with you about the volume thing. I've often wondered why, even in relatively small Churches, we still have microphones. Is it an unconscious extension of the entertainment mentality (since the choirs "up front" tend to have them as well?).

In my profession, on a monthly basis, I usually have to present at least one case to a jury. I do not have a microphone at the podium I use for opening statements and closing arguments. In the tradition of many old-school lawyers, I have a tendency to walk around the courtroom when questioning a witness--obviously no microphone. We only have microphones at our tables but I'm usually only there when it's time for me to sit down and be quiet.

Many might think it quaint and dated but I definitely prefer the speaking style of Fulton J. Sheen and many clergy of his generation. I wonder if elocution is taught in seminaries these days.

Bill Meyer said...

Actually, Father, I think that the OF, as celebrated at my parish, may be form outer space. It is all but inconceivable that its roots could have been in the pre-Conciliar Mass.

ytc said...

Yes, Fulton Sheen was a fabulous speaker.