Friday, September 28, 2012


Pre-Vatican II nostalgia?

One of our aging retired diocesan priests, Fr. Timothy Ryan laments the return of some pre-Vatican II practices (which are practiced in many places in the post-Vatican II Church by the way) at St. Joseph Church. Fr. Ryan is a native of Ireland and came to the USA and our diocese in the early 1960's when I was but a baby and oddly enough to my very home parish in 1962 when I was but 9 years old and in pre-Vatican II bliss.

I reprint an email he sent that laments all things pre-Vatican II and his gratitude that he doesn't have to experience the horrors he experienced in pre-VAtican II Ireland. The Irish have never been known as liturgists and even to this day I think the Irish people still prefer a quick, spoken Mass as Mass with music or the singing of the Mass reminds them of the Anglican Church which took over their land and churches in centuries past and the Catholics had to worship hidden and quietly as it was outlawed to practice the Catholic faith. What a pity to carry that cross to this day!

His drivel gives us insight into why people of his generation, the generation that is now dying but valiantly tried to put into practice not only Vatican II but also its corrupted spirit of discontinuity after Vatican II are having such a hard time with something as benign as ad orientem, an irrational phobia if you will! It is best to pity them and pray for their easy passage unencumbered by the shackles they have from the past and present.

My final comment before you read is long drivel, is that he says he doesn't know my childhood. Well in fact he should know quite well my pre-Vatican II experience because I was a member of St. Joseph Church in Augusta from 1960 to 1976 where he in pre-Vatican II time with Fr. Nick Quinlan as pastor, was the assistant pastor for his first assignment. Much of my admiration for the Liturgy came from Fr. Quinlan's care in celebrating the pre-Vatican II Mass! What a small world.

He asks if I ever milked a cow or shoveled manure. Yes, I did at my father's farm in Cape Breton, NS and I worked at the Dairy Queen beginning in 1968 when I was 14 years old having been a paper boy for several years when I was in elementary school.

My mother grew up poor in Livorno, Italy, had what little they did have destroyed in World War II, had to find food where they could get it and had to deal with fascists, Nazis, Mussolini and other horrid types. In fact, Fr. Ryan's life compared to my mother or father's life was a fairy tale!

At any rate for your edification from Fr. Ryan:

Dear Friends:

OH for the Pre Vatican Council Days! The Good thing about them is THAT THEY ARE GONE AND THEY ARE NOT COMING BACK! The Mass in Latin or Fiddle Back Vestments or the Priest Facing the East is not going to bring the X Generation or the Millinium Generation back to Church in any great numbers.

From a recent Pastor's Comments on the Parish Bulletin, Saint Joseph's Church, Macon, Georgia, 16 September 2012, the Pastor FR Allan J. McDonald wrote and I quote.

"Next month, on October 13, marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council in 1962 by Blessed John XX111. Vatican 11 has been praised and blamed for the way the Church is today, some 50 years later.

" What is truly good about the Council is when it is properly interpreted and implemented. What has truly been dastardly is when the Council is interpreted and implemented according to the theory that Vatican 11 was a rupture with the church of the past and previous ecumenical councils and that a new " spirit " was ushered in contrary to what the Church was prior to the Council. This has had deleterious effects on the Church for the past 50 years and created a crisis of such magnitude that many Catholics have lost their Catholic identity and thus their relationship with almighty God, as Catholics have understood God and Church for almost 2000 years. No greater horrors the fact that in 1962 nearly 90% of all Catholics attended Mass every Sunday whereas today in many places it is as low as 20%. That is not good and it must be reversed, but only by emphasizing the true nature of Vatican 11 and our Catholic identity that we have inherited from 2000 years of Catholic Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church.

Pope Benedict XV1 has emphasized since the beginning of his papacy that Vatican 11 must be interpreted in light of all that preceded Vatican 11, and all of the various ecumenical councils down through the years, and this especially includes how the Mass prior to Vatican 11 and the Mass after Vatican 11 to make it look and sound like that the two are completely different. "

Now let me comment on the above. The Second Vatican Council was the First Global Ecumenical Council. The other previous councils were limited in scope and truly Roman Councils while the Council of Trent was a Hold That Line type of council and Vatican Council 1 was never concluded due to the outbreak of the First World War and many Bishops never made it to the council...

Priests and Ministers were Gods. The law was laid down and woe be tide any one who bucked the system. As times moved on and new generations grew up with greater options many things changed. The Bully Pulpit became the Abandoned and Ignored Pulpit. The Times They Are A Changing...

I grew up during the Second world War and in its aftermath. I had a spark for life and living but still grounded in reality. As a young man I enjoyed the new type of music and Rock and Roll. Our Bishops were condemning everything and anything. Archbishop John McQuaid came back from the Vatican Council and announced the " NOTHING HAPPENED IN ROME!" The President Eamon De Valera was squandering the National Treasury in trying to restore the Irish Language at a time 40,000-50,000 youth were emigrating to England each year at age 14 or 15. So I see the folly of listening too much or trusting Older People in Positions of Authority.

The younger generations have grown up in a different age. When the American POW's were coming back from Vietman I gave a few of them who were coming back to teenage children a book called We Were Never Their Age by James DiGiacomo, S.J. and Edward Waken. When Lt General LeRoy Manor saw a copy he called me in and told me to get 250 more copies of the book ASAP. We had the books in a few days. See, the POW's were coming home to a different America. Woodstock had happened and Martin Luther King had happened and Martin had had a DREAM.

I remember the hornets nest I opened when I read from The Cotton Patch Gospels by Clarence Jordon in Albany Georgia in 1968. I remember the letters written to the new Pastor in Columbus, GA when one Friday during Lent I used not the traditional prayers and reflections for the Stations of the Cross but I used a little book on the Stations written by a FR. Ton Luka which were based on the Social Gospels of the Day in 1967...

The world has changed and did not the Late Cardinal Martini, S.J. say before he died a few weeks ago, " the problem with the Church was that it was 200 years behind the times!" If he is right the Mass in Latin is not going to bring the Faithful back. The Present Church Authorities still live in a world that is long gone. If we are to bring the Teaching and Value systems of Jesus Christ to these new generations and hand on to them the Traditions of the Church for the past 2000 years it must be a Living Tradition not Dead Traditionalism!

The Blessed Pope John XX111 was a man of his time. He was in the Vatican Diplomatic Corp and the Papal Nuncio to Bulgaria, Turkey and Paris. While he was in Turkey, Francis Cardinal Spellman who was Archbishop of New York but also the Bishop of the Military Ordinariate went to Turkey to visit the Troops. Spellman met with the Papal Nuncio Roncalli and decided Roncalli was a Bliddering Old Fool.Roncalli gave Spellman an Antique Turkish Plate and Spellman took the plate back to New York, handed the plate to an aide and is reported to have said, " Put that someplace in the basement that silly Old Man in Turkey gave it to me...

While in Paris Roncalli as Papal Nuncio got rid of all the French Bishops who had cooperated with the Vichy Government during WW11 without any publicity. He also witnessed the Student Unrest and Student Uprisings. That is what inspired him to call a Global Ecumenical Council to not change the old but to have it grow and develop to meet the new needs of a post WW11 world sans Colonies, Global World. Like Christ he could well say, " I did not come to change the Law but I came that you may have life and have it to the full. The " Keep the Rule and the Rule will Keep you " philosophy was not working any more...

So many of the Schools in the Pre Vatican Schools were terrible places especially in Ireland. Read, Ireland My Ireland, Memories of an Irish Childhood by Arnold Meagher. Read about The Irish Christian Brother's Schools and Teachers. Read The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein about growing up and going to school in Manchester, England.

I was never beaten much in School myself as I had five older brothers who had cone to the Christian Brothers in Tipperary and my Late Brother Michael had told the Brother if they put a hand on one of us they would hear from him. Once when we got a bully I asked him if he knew my brother Michael? He said he did. Then I said. " I will be big like him some day and I will come back and take care of you." I never got " Six of the Best " after that.

Those Brothers had leather straps which they lined inside with Coins, Irish Pennies, and would beat the children with them. I saw many of my classmates beaten for not knowing their Catechism Lessons. With that type of athmosphere it was easy to get good attendance at Sunday Mass! I stole one of those straps once and we cut it open and kept the Pennies and used the two lengths of the strap to Donkeys Britches!

So when FR Allan McDonald and others like him rant about Mass attendance 50 years ago and the Correct Interpretation of the intent of the Second Vatican Council I feel they are talking through their Hat.

I know nothing about the youth of FR Allan McDonald but I doubt if he ever milked a cow or cleaned out a barn.

Now another Quote from FR. Allan McDonald's Pastor's Comments on the Saint Joseph Sunday Bulletin, 16 September 2012.

" One of the things we will do at our 12:10 Mass only beginning October 14, one day after the 50th anniversary of Vatican 11 is to celebrate this Mass more like the Mass prior to Vatican 11."

Well do I remember the Celebration of the Mass Prior to Vatican. I had 24 years of it. In my home Parish, Saint Michael's in Tipperary Town, the priest had his back to the people. During May and October another priest was in the Pulpit leading us in the Rosary. The Christian Brothers policed the aisles to see we boys were all behaving and if not they might give us a slap across the face. Rosary over Mass was pretty much over when the Mass was over too. Only the Priest received Holy Communion. Then most people went home.

Those who wished to receive Holy Communion would remain behind and the Priest would return to the Sacristy. That is after we had prayed for the Conversion of Russia. Prayed to sent Down to Hell Satan, Old Nick, and in dry weather prayed for Rain and most summers we prayed for Fine Weather. God was that Old Budda in the sky and unless you prayed for it you did not get it. God at all other times was a Talliban Chief with a computer Mind who would punish you for every failing or sin. Of course Most things were Sins!

The Priest without his chasuable and the other priests with Surplice, Cassooc, Stole and Biretta would come out and there would be another Penetential Rite as if the one in the Mass were not sufficient and then Holy Communion was Distributed. Those who received Holy Communion regularly were known as Holy Willies! My Saintly Father went once a year and My Saintly Mother made the First Fridays and followed up with the First Sunday. We boys went once a Month with the School Mass on Friday but it would be pushing it to go again the following Sunday. Besides, that took time.

Even to this day in most Parishes in Ireland the Sunday Mass lasts about 20-25 minutes. Then on sundays when there was or is a bih ball game like Tipperary and Cork the Mass could be knocked off in 15 minutes. It was always a great year If Tipperary beat Cork and the farmers got the Hay saved and in the Barn!

In Mableton, Ga there is Saint Francis de Sales Catholic Church. That community started about 17 years ago and the priest who belonged to the F.S.S.P Latin Mass Society is now the pastor in Jackson, GA without the F.S.S.P. and has been pastor there for about 3 years. There are two priests now in Mableton and they have two Massis in Latin each Sunday with about 400 People attending. Knowing the growth of the Catholic Population in the Archdiocese of Atlanta that does not look too impressive to me after 17 years.

In the United States there are over 2 Million persons in Jail. 7000 students drop out of High School each Day! I think if I was young enough to work in a parish or I had found a Bishop in the past who would risk me having a Parish I think I would offer the people something different than the Pre Vatican 11 Latin Mass. As our neighbor said one Sunday after one of our Local Curates gave Hell to the Farmers for working in the Meadows saving Hay on a Sunday. Bridge Herr said. " That makes sense to him. He will not have to feed the cattle in February or March and he will get 2 Pounds Sterling for singing a song, ( i.e. a Requiem Mass ) regardless of the weather! "

One final Quote from FR. Allan McDonald's Bulletin at Saint Joseph's Catholic Church Macon, 16 September.

" We are not like the 12 apostles at the Last Supper, rather this prayer reminds God of the Last Supper and that it anticipates how the Church will remember the Sacrifice of Good Friday."

I did never figure that God the Father could be that forgetful and in fact I could not see any father been that Forgetful after what had happened in the Garden at the Mount of Olives and on the Hill at Cavalry! But then, I may be wrong?

A Belated Happy Yom Kippur!

Lord G.


Henry Edwards said...

I recall the Masses I experienced in East Tennessee prior to Vatican II as glorious and inspiring, but my personal memories are just as irrelevant now as Fr. Ryan's quite different memories.

What's important now is how the Mass is today. The traditional Latin Mass today is celebrated almost uniformly in a glorious manner. Frequently, the TLM may be the only place in his diocese where a bishop can see the Sunday high Mass celebrated in the both worshipful and participatory manner envisioned by Vatican II, lasting an hour and 15 minutes with Gregorian chant or sacred polyphony. Whereas the most typical OF parish Mass is basically a low (recited) Mass overlaid with banal and trite music and random noise.

Even today's typical EF low Mass is quite different from any anything Fr. Ryan describes (as well as from anything I ever observed in the old days). Reports of 15-minute masses, then or now, seem dubious to me. The typical EF low Mass I see today runs at least 30 minutes if no sermon or Credo, usually closer to 40 minutes with a brief sermon and Credo, closer to 50 minutes on feast days with longer sermon and lots of communicants.

ytc said...

Please excuse me while I go barf.

On another note, I would like to talk to Father in person. Older priests are great to talk to; I quite like it. One of our parochial vicars, 92, is actually our pastor's semi-retired uncle!

John Nolan said...

While it is quite true that there was never a sung Mass tradition in the Irish Catholic Church, the established (Protestant) Church of Ireland was very low-church compared with the post-Oxford movement Church of England, and so the association of decent music with Protestantism is exaggerated.

Most Irish clergy I have come across can't or won't sing and I have to admit the Irish as a race are not particularly musical; they'll listen to 'folk' music in the pub and join in when in their cups, but can anyone name an internationally known Irish composer? John Field and Charles Villiers Stanford were Anglo-Irish, and don't count.

I won't decry the enormous contribution that Irish immigrants made to Catholic life in England and America, and my own background is Irish on my father's side; but the present dire state of the Church in Ireland is partly due to a non-liturgical attitude to worship which left piety to the womenfolk with their predilection for popular devotions.

John Nolan said...

Referring to Henry's post, can we lay to rest the urban myth that a priest could get through a Low Mass (which would have included the Leonine prayers) in twelve minutes? It is, of course, quite possible in the Novus Ordo, especially if EP II is used.

rcg said...

I won't besmirch the Irish as John has done, not that they would ever be able to read this if I did, but I think Fr Ryan may be missing the point entirely. The clods that he and his brothers dealt with in his school won when they got the imprimatur of clericalism in Vatican II.

Gene said...

Little Irish boy goes to his dad: "Dad, can I have three dollars for a guinea pig?"
Father replies: "Here's a five. son. Go find yourself a nice Irish girl."

Irish boy: "Dad, what is rabies?"
Father: "Rabies is Jewish priests, boy, now eat your supper!"

Two Irish Priests who have had too much to drink are walking down the railroad tracks one night. First Irish Priest: "Fr. Sean, this is the longest staircase I have ever seen."
Fr. Sean: "Yes, Fr. James, but it is these damned low bannisters that are killing me!"

Ah, the Irish...LOL!

Anonymous said...

"Happy" Yom Kippur?

Father Shelton said...

"Vatican Council 1 was never concluded due to the outbreak of the First World War": No, it was Italian unification, not WWI.
"Priests and Ministers were Gods": No, that is and was heresy.
" must be a Living Tradition not Dead Traditionalism": Agreed. The '60's are dead, but the EF Mass is producing many vocations.
"Rosary over Mass was pretty much over when the Mass was over too...": contrary to pre-Vatican II legislation and official sentiment (cf Pius X and the 1958 instruction of Sacred Music).
"I did never figure that God the Father could be that forgetful and in fact I could not see any father been that Forgetful after what had happened in the Garden at the Mount of Olives and on the Hill at Cavalry!": Indeed, the Father "remembers" his Son's Sacrifice in the Mass because that is where the Sacrifice is still happening.

Fr. Cory Sticha said...

Am I the only one who sees any irony in Fr. Ryan starting out with "So I see the folly of listening too much or trusting Older People in Positions of Authority."? If it is folly to listen too much to Older People in Positions of Authority, I guess we shall not listen to you, Fr. Ryan, as you are an Older People in Positions of Authority.

Unfortunately, priests like this are widespread. Just last week, I visited with one priest ordained in the 1970's who was upset because he visited a parish where the priest "turned his back on the people!!!!" He was upset because he "didn't like it!"

Anonymous said...

Oh how I wish there were more Irish style non-singing, only spoken Masses today instead of the awful folk-pop-broadway style liturgical music and mass settings we have to suffer through!!!!

But have you noticed, it seems like the biggest, highest profile traitors to the faith seem to be Irish: the Kennedys, Joe Biden, John Kerry, pretty much any judge with an irish surname.