Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Is this clericalism?

Or is true clericalism?

Some people say the the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is clericalism at its worst because everything during the Mass centers on what the priest does and the laity are reduced to observers or worse yet, preoccupying themselves with other things that are not a part of the Mass, such as daydreaming, praying the Rosary, looking at the artwork in the church, etc.

However, it seems to this humble priest that the EF Mass exalts Jesus Christ the High Priest for which the sacramental ordained priest is merely a meager sign. It exalts Jesus Christ and subdues the sacramental priest precisely by giving explicit rubrics for the priest to follow which are not made up by him or neglected by him and by having the priest face ad orientem or joining the congregation in facing the same way, thus situating the ordained priest in the same position as the laity. In a sense we see in the sacramental sign of ad orientem the two natures of Jesus Christ who is Divine. His two natures are human and divine.

Whereas in the Ordinary Form of the Mass, much is left to the personality and quirks of the priest to "make or break" the Mass. Some laity today prefer priests who are good looking, dynamic and easily engage the audience, I mean, the congregation and pull them in to the actions of the liturgy as a good talk show host might do. I think this could certainly be called clericalism for all that I describe does not come from the explicit rubrics of the Mass which places all priests on the same plane, but rather comes from the gifts, talents, looks and creativity of the individual priest thus separating him from the pack. That's clericalism to the nth degree.

So one could easily say that the embedded "clericalism" of the EF Mass, which in reality is not clericalism at all, leads to the exaltation of the High Priest Jesus Chrsit who is the center of the Liturgy, whereas the true clericalism of the OF Mass leads to the exaltation of the ordained priest and his gifts and talents, his acting abilities.

Give me the "clericalism" of the EF Mass any day! Give me Jesus Christ the High Priest.


Steven Surrency said...

Father, I think you hit the nail on the head. The EF requires a great deal of restraint on the priest. It limits the priest in many ways! This humbles him. However, I do ultimately support SC's reform of the liturgy because there was too little participation of the faithful in the mass. The priest and servers did everything while, in an ordinary low mass, the congregation did nothing. That wasn't good for helping the congregation understand their role. It made it look like there was clericalism in the mass. The congregation didn't participate interiorly because they didn't understand that they had a role. Now, in the OF, they understand it. But they misunderstand it. They think more outward participation is better. Alas, this is wrong too.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I agree that the fault of the EF Mass and those today who desire it, is that the laity are not encouraged or cajoled into pariticpating in all the ways that actual participation requires, first of all spiritually and internally--no one disputes that is the most important, but the outward signs of participation, the "sacramental" with a little "s" are meant to signify the inward disposition and to neglect this aspect of actual participatioin seems to skew the sacramental aspect of using one's voice and body to indicate externally the inward disposition at Mass. It is high time traditionalist acknowledge that the laity at Mass in both forms should focus on the Mass and participate to the degree that they are called which means in sung Masses that good, simple chant be taught and an repertoire in this regard developed.
In fact, I do see the vernacular as aiding this outward participation and see no reason why at the prayers at the Foot of the Altar that the laity are not included for they too are participating in the sacred mysteries and should be involved in this act of preparation rather than just the clergy and other ministers of the Mass. Just my two cents.

Father Shelton said...

Stephen Surrency,
While it's true that many congregations did not participate vocally in the Ordinary parts of the Mass before the 1960's, their lack of vocal participation was contrary to liturgical legislation. For example, the 1958 instruction of Sacred Music mandates the vocal participation of the congregation in both the Sung and Low celebrations of Mass. This legislation only built on that of Saint Pius X and succeeding popes.
Similarly, there are many liturgical requirements today that are not being followed in the majority of Roman Rite churches, such as bowing the head at the name of Jesus and Mary, giving Gregorian Chant "pride of place", teaching the faithful their parts of the Ordinary in Latin, etc.
It should be noted, however, that in some countries and communities the congregations DID participate vocally in the Ordinary of the Mass, both at Sung and Low celebrations.

Henry Edwards said...

I must wonder whether the first two comments may suffer from a lack of long-standing experience with the TLM.

In my current TLM community, every Sunday Mass is fully participatory, e.g. with most of the congregation joining in chanting the Gloria and Credo and all the usual responses, the Preface dialogue, the triple Non sum dignus, etc. Most appear to actually pray the Mass in union with the priest, following not only the Ordinary of the Mass, but also the propers, either in their own hand missals, or in the missalettes and propers leaflets which most pick up on the way into Mass.

Moreover, from my observation of other TLM communities, this is the norm and not the exception nowadays. Whence the common quip that, in order to experience in his own diocese the actual participation recommended by Vatican II, the typical bishop must attend a TLM. (Indeed, I rarely sense such prayerful participation by the congregation at OF Masses I attend.)

However, this is little different from my pre-Vatican II experience, attending Sunday Mass in a parish only several blocks from my present one, as well as in several parishes in different regions of the country. Though, admittedly, the expectations for quality of Gregorian chant and polyphony were not so high then as in TLM communities today, so perhaps the EF has benefited from Vatican II more than the OF!

Steven Surrency said...

Fathers McDonald and Shelton,

My experience with the TLM is limited. However, I do think that a reform of the liturgy was called for, based on my knowledge. While I know that there was legislation in place, it was ignored in so many places. Perhaps that was the main thing that was needed: enforcement of the rubrics. This is the same thing that is needed now. I will say that, when I experience a TLM today, I rarely see such dialogue. I quietly respond with the servers, but I never felt this was the norm, except in sung masses. I think the type of reform Father McDonald was encouraging is what should have happened. I think that it is what SC actually called for. TEACH THE PEOPLE THEIR PARTS. Sure, it had been legislated, but not implemented. I am by no means saying that I am happy with the OF as it is. But, my experience with both High and Low EF leaves me feeling (and who am I to say?) like there is an ethos that lends toward exclusion. I think that the OF has an ethos that lends toward banal improvisation and a muddling of the roles. I am just saying that, given my limited experience, SC was needed. The resulting reform was not

Steven Surrency said...

Henry, You are right that I don't have longstanding experience with the OF. My experience with the OF is the same as yours: no real participation by the laity in the Holy Sacrifice. However, my limited experience with the EF, however, is different than yours. I see people participating interiorly, but not exteriorly. At least not normally.

Henry Edwards said...

Steven, perhaps I should clarify that the participatory experience I cited is with the Sunday high Mass. However, I'd argue that the.quiet daily low Mass, with it's different but also deep spirituality, is also a glory of the Roman rite.

John Nolan said...

In the Sung Mass prior to V2 people did join in; the Asperges was known by heart by dint of repetition, as was Gloria VIII and Credo III, plus a few other Mass settings. The Low Mass (Missa Privata prior to 1960, Missa Lecta afterwards) was of course a late medieval development (or aberration) yet people valued it, and new generations value it, for its quiet reverence. For my part, since I served it as a boy, I supply the responses sotto voce. The Dialogue Mass was an altogether noisier affair. Evelyn Waugh once remarked in his usual percipient fashion that it was a particularly Germanic trait that equated participation with making a row.

In a lecture given at Oxford only a few years ago the liturgist Laurence Paul Hemming reminded his mostly clerical audience that someone who came in and knelt at the back of the church for ten minutes during Mass was connecting with the liturgy. This is something the Eastern Church understands, and the medieval Latin Church understood when it didn't oblige the people to be present for the entire duration of lengthy cathedral services.

Father Allan, your idea of participation is I'm afraid very much of the late 20th century. Your penchant for the vernacular, for EMs swarming all over the place, for women in the sanctuary, for some very dubious musical settings - all symptomatic. You also show a regrettable clericalist tendency to want to bully the laity into doing what you think they "should do". Believe me, I had enough of this in the years immediately following the Council.

Henry Edwards said...

Steven, although I have always favored exterior participation in the Gregorian chant of the ordinary and responses of the Mass, it's possible to be too doctrinaire about this. Interior receptivity to sacred polyphony, for instance, can be just as "active" and prayerful (or more so) as joining in verbal responses. And I recall reading a remark of Card. Ratzinger that we ought not be too quick to assume that the spiritual participation of the little old lady with her Rosary is less meritorious than our own. Surely, the goal of Pius X--in urging people to pray the Mass--was primarily interior prayerful participation, and exterior participation has (I believe) merit only to the extent that it reflects interior participation.

Henry Edwards said...

John: "... to want to bully the laity ...?

My candidate for the most clericalist single statement I've seen in recent internet browsing:

"I personally feel that a lay person who consciously decides not to be vocal in spoken and sung responses in protest to these commits at least a venial sin in doing so and perhaps mortal."

Presumably, the view of a liturgist (certainly not that of a moral theologian). In any event, prior to the great leap forward, their were no rubrics dictating the behavior of the laity at Mass--the bullying micromanagement of whom evidently is a strictly Novus Ordo thing.

Gene said...

Now, if you want clericalism, check out protestant ministers. They have it down to a fine art...LOL!

John, in Fr.'s defense, I believe he is caught between two worlds, the 70's liturgical world in which he was trained and the pre-Vat II world he is beginning to see is the better. He is still under the illusion that the two can somehow be blended, as are many in higher places than he.
I struggled similarly as protestant minister for years between the post-Reformation world in which I was trained and the pre-Reformation Catholic Church which I, on some level, realized even then was the True Church. Once I made the move to Catholicism seven years ago, I realized immediately that this same struggle was going on within the True Church, as well.
However, it was Fr. MacDonald that brought me into the Church, and I likely would not have remained if I had stumbled upon some of the other Priests or parishes I have encountered since. His devotion and genuine struggle with these issues is apparent when you know him, and his pastoral/teaching skills mitigate his liturgical ambivalence. He is no bully...unless competence intimidates some.

Steven Surrency said...

Friends, just to clarify. I do think that there is something wonderful about the Low Mass. But, as someone pointed out, it was a late aberration whose worth could be exaggerated. I think I agree with the substance of every point that has been added: participation doesn't have to be external; external participation should aid the external, there has always been some variation is these things, the high mass was the norm, participation can be listening, etc. I think most of us agree about most of this. The question now, fathers, brothers, and sisters, is, "How do fix what is broken?" I would disagree that simply returning to the EF wholesale is the answer for both pragmatic reasons (people would be horrified) and for theological reasons (I think the changed called for by SC were good.) What to do? What to do?

ytc said...

Does anyone have the HARDEST time remembering those awful, drasted refrains of those awful, drasted "Responsorial Psalms?" !!! I can NOT, for the life of me, meditate on the first reading when the liturgiotyrannosauruses are expecting me to sing those things! Give me a gradual any day.

rcg said...

FWIW, my family and I are attending the TLM Parish Local 101 now and I have noticed the High Mass has more participation than in even the recent past. Mostly Old People, and me and my wife, but many others are joining in. Last Sunday in particular I was a little surprised at how many were participating verbally. There are lots of young single folks and not a few young marrieds with a squadron of little ones in tow. And many fine young men serving.

John Nolan said...


I couldn't agree more about the so-called Responsorial Psalm. What prevents the NO from becoming the inter-denominational Communion service which Bugnini wanted were not in his original plan; firstly the retention of the Roman Canon, and secondly the continued (and indeed recommended) use of the Graduale Romanum for the sung Propers. The gradual and alleluia/tract are meditative, and the meditation is not on the lesson which has just been proclaimed, but on the text of the chant itself. Indeed the sung Propers constitute a lectionary in their own right.

I cannot imagine Mass on Easter Sunday morning without Resurrexi, Haec dies, Pascha nostrum and Victimae paschali laudes.

Joseph Johnson said...

For many of us, unfortunately, the "drasted" Responsorial Psalms to which you refer are not yet a memory--they are still the de rigeur standard procedure at most parish Sunday Masses in the Diocese of Savannah where I reside.

I long for the day when the EF is a realistic alternative by being more available and when the OF is transformed by the use of musical resources such as Corpus Christi Watershed and the Simple English Propers (the resources that Jeffrey Tucker advocates) rather than more Haugen/Haas/Responsorial Psalm OCP, GIA, and WLP stuff.

The continued regular use of bad music resources (which don't contain graduals but only responsorial psalms) and articles such as the one I mentioned in the last post from a recent issue of our Diocesan newspaper (about lay people preaching) are tangible evidence of how far we have yet to go in our fight to aid in the restoration of the Church!

Anonymous 2 said...

John, Henry, and Gene,

I would also like to come to Father’s defence, although my defence will be somewhat different. If Oswald Spengler is correct, then we_all_want to “bully” others into doing what we think they “should do.” According to Spengler, as “Faustian” man, we in the West cannot help ourselves and so we practice “ethical socialism” in which we tell everyone else what to do. As Spengler writes in his “Decline of the West” (1928; 1991 Werner Abridged Edition, at pages 176-77):

Western mankind, without exception, is under the influence of an immense optical illusion. Everyone_demands_something of the rest. . . . In the ethics of the West everything is direction, claim to power, and the will to affect the distant. Here Luther is completely at one with Nietzsche, Popes with Darwinians, Socialists with Jesuits; for one and all, the beginning of morale is a claim to general and permanent validity. It is a necessity of the Faustian soul that this should be so. He who thinks or teaches “otherwise” is sinful, a back-slider, a_foe_, and he is fought down without mercy. You “shall,” the State “shall,” society “shall” – this form of morale is to us self-evident; it represents the only real meaning we can attach to the word. But it was not so in the Classical, or in India, or in China . . .
What we have completely failed to observe is the peculiarity of moral_dynamic_. If we allow that Socialism (in the ethical, not the economic, sense) is that world-feeling which seeks to carry out its own views on behalf of all, then we are all without exception, wittingly or no, Socialists. . . . .

I must admit that I am somewhat perplexed by Spengler’s claim here. After all, why does he restrict this observation to “Western man”? Despite what he says about the Classical, India, and China, has he not identified a more general human tendency? (On the other hand, even if that is the case, perhaps it is particularly pronounced in the West. I wonder if this may have something to do with John’s observation regarding the Eastern Church.) Also, as a Roman Catholic, I am troubled by Spengler’s claim that “It was not Christianity that transformed Faustian man, but Faustian man who transformed Christianity” [at page 177].

In any event, Spengler’s observations do give me pause and I try to be aware of this tendency in myself. I also find myself constantly falling prey to it.

Anonymous 2 said...

P.S. Lest my comments above be misunderstood, let me quickly add that the defence I offer is in no way intended to deny the validity of Gene’s comments. My comments are rather intended to be complementary. I have no doubt that Father is deeply and sincerely engaged in the genuine, and heroic, struggle Gene identifies. However, I also believe that if there is any truth to Spengler’s observations, being mindful of them may help each of us to be more charitable than we might otherwise be towards those who disagree with our respective views regarding various issues.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

As far as the responsorial psalm in my parish and my last, we know the psalm refrains as we always do each Sunday's psalm in a chanted fashion and so these are easy to sing.

John Nolan said...

At Papal Masses the norm is the Responsorial Psalm in Latin or Italian, although last Christmas the Gradual Tecum Principium was sung for the first time in years. I admit that the Gradual is probably a non-starter in most OF parishes; even where there is a schola and cantor(s) capable of delivering it you'd have to get the priest to agree. However, the RP settings by Arlene Oost-Zinner recently collected in the Parish Book of Psalms are in Gregorian idiom and worlds removed from the advertising-jingle style of the Haugen-Haas school.

One way of sneaking in at least part of the Graduale Romanum is to pick out a few of the simpler Alleluias and sing each for a few weeks running with the verse in psalm tone. People are thereby introduced to the Gregorian Alleluia with its jubilus on the last syllable and may even be encouraged to join in!

Gene said...

Anon 2, Oswald Spengler? You have got to be kidding...a German National Socialist who supported Hitler then said, essentially, Oops! A fan of government without equal who complains because we want to tell people what to do?
If you want to read a sociological view of what is wrong with society, try Marcuse's "One Dimensional Man," or Jacques Ellul's, "The Technological Society." If you want a deeper look at the individual drive to control others, try Freud. Of course, we don't really need those when we have Romans. But, Spengler...I don't think so.

Gene said...

Anon 2, I do find the idea that cultures have a tendency to decline after a certain time and that forms of government tend to "morph" into other manifestations somewhat interesting. I do not think it is socio-economic "law," as did Marx and Hegel, however, but Government needs to be held in check and populations must remain motivated and free if some form of "Totalitarianism," whether benign or not, is to be avoided.
This nation was founded on the principle that men function best when allowed the highest degree of freedom under law possible. Our Constitution, our educational system, and our economic system were all based upon this notion and formed to support it. This was chipped away at beginning with the Jacksonian era, the Civil War, the New Deal, etc. until, in the 60's, we integrated a huge underclass that had no appreciation for, or understanding of, our founding heritage, its principles,its traditions, or the sacrifices made to maintain it. Instead of teaching them these things and creating in them, through proper participation, an understanding and respect for these principles, we lowered our standards, compromised our traditions and principles and perpetuated this same underclass with the illusion of equality supported by a huge leap in government control and support. Consequently, government has failed both races and become a huge controlling monolith which we may never be able to tame. People are taught to be dependent rather than self-directed and ambitious; a facile egalitarianism has replaced Republican (not the party) governing principles; education has become a tool of government rather than a basis for supporting and understanding a free economy (however you wish to interpret that), a duty ethic, a self-directed populace and, yes, Judaeo/Christian moral values. It did not/does not have to be this way, but our Leviathan government has so completely supressed these principles that it may be impossible to recover them.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene, Thanks for your helpful responses. I have no time now but will try to reply later this evening, although it may be late evening after Mass.

Anonymous 2 said...

I still only have time for a very quick response to your interesting comments.

First, I try to resist the temptation to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Thus, I would not dismiss Spengler out of hand any more than I would Aristotle, because they were both creatures of their times (if I recall correctly, Spengler said “oops” rather quickly but Aristotle continued to believe in natural slavery). Despite his shortcomings and quirkiness, I find Spengler’s thoughts regarding our Faustian soul cautionary. I am pleased to get the additional references in your first comment. I wonder if Jacques Ellul’s “The Technological Society” is resonant with Heidegger’s “The Question Concerning Technology” (which is itself resonant with Spengler). I will look forward to reading it.

Second, I agree with much of what you say in your second comment. However, I am not as sanguine regarding the operation in practice of the “principle that men function best when allowed the highest degree of freedom under law possible,” although much depends on what you mean by “possible.” In my view, the problems we face extend beyond the situation of the “underclass” and the overreaching of government you discuss. I am also discouraged by the excesses of the “overclass” (to coin a phrase). Perhaps we need to search for the Aristotelian mean in the case of both. Perhaps, too, you are gesturing towards this with your reference to the duty ethic and Judaeo-Christian moral values. I think I may have said this before, but we could do far worse as a Republic than to try always to instantiate the various virtues extolled by Katherine Lee Bates in her poem “America the Beautiful,” which I, along with many others, would love to see as our national anthem. But there I go again – being all Faustian!