Friday, May 17, 2013


Where in the name of God and all that is holy did the once powerful Catholic sense of reverence and awe and mystery when it came to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass go?

I just learned that a number of our parishioners who are seniors graduating from our Catholic High School while attending their Baccalaureate Mass with our Bishop, were acting up throughout the Mass (sitting on front rows) and creating such a distraction that it was noticeable to some of the con-celebrants and to our deacon who coordinated the Mass. I was completely oblivious and did not see it, but it occurred throughout the Mass and while the bishop was preaching. These are Catholic kids, who have gone through Catholic school all their lives.

What could be the cause of the less serious offense, although a mortal sin nonetheless, of complete disrespect for the bishop who celebrated the Mass and the more serious mortal sin of sacrilege during Mass, irreverence for Christ in the bishop and in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? One of the seniors in cap and gown was seen popping something in his mouth to eat as the Mass was in progress.

I am flabbergasted at this whole scenario and praise God that His grace prevented me from seeing it. These kids are seniors, in their cap and gown, with family and friends present and in the solemn place of the Church and during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and completely disinterested in what is happening and even more disinterested in showing common decency and respect for others, bishop or not, priest or not, not to mention Almighty God.

These are what I think are the reasons for such contempt from young people who should know better:

1. They are extremely immature for their age and completely self-absorbed and care little about the money their parents have spent to send them to a fine Catholic High School and the time and effort that the school put into their education

2. They have a completely casual approach to God and I can't help but think it revolves around the manner in which the post-Vatican II Mass is celebrated, which is more horizontal than vertical in its ethos and thus tends to diminish reverence (just my most humble opinion).

3. Coupled with this is the casual handling of sacred things such as receiving Holy Communion in the hand , on the run and popping the Sacred Host into one's mouth with little or no contemplation or acknowledgement of the sacredness of this event. It boils down to a loss of Catholic faith, Catholic spirituality and Catholic devotion and the sense of unworthiness we should have before the awesome presence of God. I wonder how these kids will act at their personal judgement before the throne of God? As disinterested as they were during Mass?

4. The emphasis on the Mass as a Sacred Meal, which it is, to the diminished awareness of the sacrificial nature of this somber Sacred Meal much of which is created by the enclosed circle of Mass facing the people. Do we realize that the Mass is the memorial of Good Friday and the suffering and pain our sins inflicted upon our Lord's Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity as he was judged, scourged, crown of thrones placed on His Holy Head, nailed to a cross, left to hang in agony and then died? Does this mean nothing to Catholics anymore? Are we numb to what happened to our Lord during His Sacred Passion which the Mass makes present and which our personal sins, offenses and sacrileges caused our Savior to suffer so cruelly?

These are just my humble thoughts and opinions and I could certainly be wrong but what happened at this Mass (which again I did not notice because I wasn't looking at the congregation, but others are livid about who did see it) must have to do with something that is broken in the Church and our revised Mass and our spirituality and devotional life that needs desperately to be fixed. My solution is ad orientem, kneeling for Holy Communion and music that directs us to God, especially the propers of the Mass and even Latin!


John Drake said...

I wonder... the Catholic high schools in our area (Columbus, OH) frequently have their all-school Masses in their gymnasia, which to my mind are completely unsuitable places for worship. Knowing how infrequently most Catholics attend Sunday Mass in a real church, perhaps it is somewhat understandable that the teens don't know how to conduct themselves. One would hope they would be taught by the teachers or their parents...but then again, look at how lax many of those folks are!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

These kids come to our ornate Church for their school Mass and these Masses are celebrated in a serious way. These kids are also my parishioners, some altar servers, and know from how we celebrate the Mass here that it is meant to be sacred.

I think it has to do with something intrinsically wrong with the OF Mass which wasn't wrong with the pre-Vatican II Mass and it boils down to the sense of the sacred that we have diminished by so-call noble simplicity, facing the people and standing to receive Holy Communion and in the hand and all kinds of people chosen to distribute Holy Communion. It also has to do with a loss of the Catholic devotional life in all its varieties. Much of it can be traced to the home, but I don't want to blame these parents for I know they love their children and would be mortified if they had seen what they were doing.

John Nolan said...

I'm afraid, Father, that your analysis is right on all counts. I watched the recent canonization Mass from St Peter's Square. Half the men in baseball caps. Waving of flags and gurning at the TV cameras even at the most solemn moments of the Holy Sacrifice. Compare this with the demeanour of the Holy Father who avoids anything that might smack of grandstanding (Cardinal Dolan, nota bene). When greeting others at the offertory procession and the sign of peace Pope Francis allows his natural warmth to shine through - at all other times during the liturgy he is reverent and focused.

qwikness said...

I think its the M-TV generation. Cutting up and being a buffoon gets immediate gratification. Kids want and crave attention. They don't think long term, much less vertically. Everything is a joke. I don't know if it necessarily has to do with the Liturgy as it does catechesis. Does MDS teach anything like John Henry Newman, Chesterton, CS Lewis, Fulton Sheen. I know they didn't when I was there. I had never even heard of these guys. Only thanks to EWTN did I. There is no depth in learning the faith at Catholic Schools. If left up to the parents, well good luck with that, especially after the lost generation following V2.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

JN, these outdoor papal Masses are a problem and I would wish Vatican Radio or whoever is directing the Mass for television would not scan the congregation as they have these huge video screens where they can see themselves and thus they act as complete buffoons when they see themselves on TV. This doesn't occur when the Mass is televised in the Basilica. I think all papal Mass should be in the Basilica with more giant screens on the outside and a huge screen where the current outdoor altar is. Then after the Mass the Pope can go and greet people outside.

Gene said...

Egalitarianism breeds human refuse and ill-bred kids. It is in all the schools. Seniors or not, our Dads would have slapped the well-known substance out of us if we had ever acted like that. Of course, we never acted like that because our Dads had slapped the well-known substance out of us before for being little well-known substances...

rcg said...

FrAJM, I am truly pained for you, especially in light of the efforts you have gone to bring the Sacred to the attention of your parish. Now you know how Moses felt.

This is standard for the Mass in my old parish and was the epiphany that caused me to move.

Jacob said...

Father I must confess that I can't believe you would criticize someone attending your church. It doesn't matter how they are dressed or how they act, at least they took the time out of their busy schedules to come to mass. Isn't that enough? You are trying to impose your views on others in your parish. What happened to respecting the freedom of conscience of the children. The spirit of Vatican II was blowing in the window of your church and you closed the window. What are you going to do next, require people to go to confession. Are you going to preach that contraception is a sin. What about welcoming our brothers and sisters who are in committed same sex marriages, are you going to deny them communion? I bet you even hate women and want to take away their right to choose!!! Father you are not up with the times.

Carol H. said...

I think the Pope addressed one of the reasons for this- the lack of popular and personal devotions. Christ himself said that when we pray we should close our door and pray to the Father in secret.

When we only pray in public, where we can be seen, we are hypocrates. We need to also pray in private if we are going to have a true relationship with God. If families send their kids to Catholic schools, but don't pray together at home, what does this teach the kids?

True reverence comes from true love for God.

Gene said...

The more disturbing question is "did no adult male step up and make them behave or ask them to leave the Church?" I have called down people for inappropriate behavior at Mass on two occasions...once at Christmas when some thirty something woman's cell phone kept going off and her boyfriend thought it was so funny. I spoke very quietly but harshly to both of them...they got up and left. Another time was when some ill-bred kids (yeah, the ones that always can't miss them) were being allowed to romp up and down the aisles during Creed. I scared them so bad that, now, they always sit as far away from me as possible. If you do not want me to do this anymore, Fr., tell me now. I cannot abide that kind of stuff. I never let my own kids behave like that, and it is a damn sorry parent that does so.

Carol H. said...


NO. "Taking time out of their busy schedules to come to Mass" is NOT enough. Mass should have top priority on their schedules.

Children have no "freedom of conscience", their consciences are still undergoing Catholic formation.

Catholics are required to go to confession at least once per year.

Contraception is a sin.

There is no such thing as a same sex marriage. Non-abstaining homosexuals should not present themselves for Holy Communion.

I, as a woman have a right to choose to "just say no." If a woman thinks she is not ready to welcome a baby then she should choose to keep her pants on.

I am hoping that your post was tongue-in-cheek, but I felt the need to address it for the sake of the wandering bloggers out there who wont know any better. You never know who's reading.

God bless you.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Carol, I took Jacob's comments as tongue in cheek and certainly, please God, that it was; but the tongue in cheek argument unfortunately does have many adherents.

rcg said...

Tongue in cheek? Uh, oh. I just put them in my signature block.

Dymphna said...

Since it was a graduation Mass I imagine that the kids were just celebrating one more hurdle until they are free. I graduated 30 years ago and I'm pretty sure my classmates were awful during the grauation Mass too.

Gene said...

Dymphna, So, it is ok, then...

Flavius Hesychius said...

Gene, now you've got me paranoid you're going to come after me with your mighty hammer of correction.

Carol, I think you're right about the devotions. There was a time when things like psalm books, the Rosary, and the Little Office of the BVM, etc. proliferated throughout the Catholic world. Those things all but disappeared after VII.

Father, perhaps they simply have the same "screw the rules, I'm graduating" that 90% of my class of 2013 has. Of course, the seniors at my school are "screwing" the school rules, not the "rules" of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

That is completely inappropriate, especially given the number of clergy who choose to "screw the rubrics" and substitute them with their own made-up version of the Mass.

Joseph Johnson said...

I couldn't agree more that to begin the restoration of a sense of the Sacred, ad orientem and Communion received kneeling and on the tongue are NON-NEGOTIABLE and ESSENTIAL "no-brainers." Sacred music is a close third.

Why (oh why?)don't more bishops (and priests) see this? It seems SO obvious yet they continue their contortionist exercises of how many varied ways the Mass can be celebrated and still be argued (by them)to be reverent.

Let us return to the tried and true. Centuries of experience and what has happened since we cast all that experience aside is the evidence to support the return of these practices. We have waited long enough!

ytc said...

Why is this surprising? I'd have told them to shut up or leave.

Although, I must say, when I graduated in 2011 my very large class was very well behaved for our graduation, which lasted in excess of two hours in the sweltering humidity of South Carolinian summers.

Joseph Johnson said...

That black and white illustration at the top of this post pretty well sums up my mental and spiritual understanding of what the Mass is all about and what our attitude should be given this understanding (or mental picture). This should explain why it is very easy for me to be very impatient and discouraged when I see the predominant practice continue to be for the priest to face us from across the altar and to read the prayers aloud (as if he is reading them to us rather than offering then solely to God).

Once you develop this understanding of the Mass (as depicted at the top of this post) to attend a versus populum Mass with Communion in the hand is a great external distraction and detriment that you have to mentally and spiritually "work around", constantly reminding yourself of what's really going on despite the bad externals. This is true regardless of the language used in the Mass (even though I am a fan of the use of more Latin).

Jacob said...

Father to clarify, my comment was tongue in cheek. I am on your side, I say drive those kids screaming from the temple with a clinched fist. Their actions were a sin that needs to be confessed. Thank you Father for speaking out against this behavior, too many priests don speak out!!!! God Bless you

Pater Ignotus said...

As a priest for 28+ years, I have never had the understanding that I am praying the prayers of the mass to anyone other than God.

When the prayers begin, as the prayers for the mass during the day for Pentecost begin, "O God,....", "Grant, we pray, O Lord..." and O God..." there is no lack of clarity concerning to whom the prayers are addressed.

While the prayers are prayed to God, they are solely for God. They are also for us to hear and to understand, that the mysteries of the faith may be voiced in the midst of the People of God who are gathered around the altar of the Lord, offering in an un-bloody manner the sacrifice of our salvation.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

But PI, it isn't about the priest, you or me or any other priest it is about sign and symbol and how the manner in which we pray comes across to the cathchized and uncathecized, the believer and non-believer. For one that may not know the nature of Christian prayer, ad orientem would indicate that prayer is to someone outside the circle, who transcends the circle, although certainly God is in the circle, but quite transcendent too. I have attended Mass where the priest proclaims the prayer in a fashion like proclaiming to the congregation, with eye contact and all and in a affective way to indicate it is to us. That is simply not liturgical prayer or in our tradition, it is foreign and it is entertainment. No we don't need to hear every prayer that is prayed on our behalf as though its effectiveness is predicated by our hearing it.

Pater Ignotus said...

God is inside the "circle" as well as outside. God transcends geography.

I think a catechized or uncatechized person who hears a prayer that begins "O God, our heavenly Father..." or "Grant, we pray, almighty God..." understands to whom the prayer is addressed.

No one ever suggested that the efficacy of prayer is predicated on hearing the prayer - you are setting up a straw man here.

Joseph Johnson said...

Pater Ignotus,
Just to clarify, I wasn't saying that you or any other priest who says a fully audible versus populum Mass is praying to anyone other than God.

What I was saying is that it LOOKS LIKE the prayers are being read to us (especially when there is eye contact). In an ad orientem Mass with some prayers offered in a low voice it appears much more clear that the prayers are directed to Someone outside of our immediate sight and human physical presence. This contributes to a clearer understanding of the true nature of the Mass. The current prevalent manner of celebration detracts from or distorts that understanding--despite the audible vernacular prayers.

Gene said...

Ignotus, Baptists and Methodists know to whom the prayer is addressed, as well, but their worship is shaped by their is called "protestant." If you cannot understand the difference in the theology conveyed by ad orientum as opposed to versus populum, then you should become a Methodist. Think of the press and adulation you would get. I can see the headlines now: "Former Catholic Priest Converts to Methodism,Says Enough of Hocus Pocus." "Yes," Ignotus said, "I've faced the people for so long that I feel like they are my buddies. I wanted to be in a place where this kind of friendliness and human interaction are the norm in a worship service." Ignotus spoke to the press while on his honeymoon with his new Episcopalian priestess wife in San Francisco.

John Nolan said...

I can understand where Fr Kavanaugh is coming from and he is quite correct. Not long ago an English Oratorian priest celebrated Mass at S. Georgio in Velabro, Newman's titular church. He instructed the congregation to turn to the east (conversi ad Dominum) since the altar is that way orientated. So the congregation were turning their back on the priest! But everyone was facing the same way, which is surely the point.

Joseph Johnson said...

I also understand where Fr. Kavanaugh is coming from as well.

All I am saying is that praying to God in the Mass can and should be indicated by more than the meaning of the words contained in the prayers. Actions and postures historically have been used (and should still be used) to aid in understanding what parts of the Mass are priestly prayers and what parts are addressing the people.

I know that "ad orientem" literally means "to the East" but not all churches have been built with the nave facing the East. When I use the term ad orientem in this context I don't mean the literal East but, rather, a liturgical "East" where the priest stands in front of the altar (not behind it) and turns to face it and the Crucifix when he prays (thus both priest and people face the same way in prayer). He should turn to face the people when saying "The Lord be with you" or when he goes to the pulpit to read and to preach. There is a clear visual distinction as to what is prayer and what is something else.

Yes, God transcends geography but we people are aided in our Faith by symbols, postures, and gestures which accentuate our beliefs and, in this case, remind us when prayer is taking place. To do everything facing the people blurs this distinction and forces people to focus more on the words and not so much on the actions.

Pater Ignotus said...

JJ - I would not agree that prayers offered in a low voice indicate that the prayers are being directed to someone outside of our immediate sight. If I wanted to communicate with someone not in my presence, I would raise my voice, not lower it. The audibility of the prayers is not, in any case, for God's benefit, but for ours.

JJ - And God is not "here" or "there." If I face one direction I am not more fully facing God than if I were to face another way. If we all lean to the left or to the right, if we all close our eyes, if we come to mass with one eye covered with a pirate patch, God is still God and God is still omnipresent.

JJ - And we are to focus as much on the words as the actions. They are both essential, they are both meaningful, and they are both indicative of our belief in the Incarnation.

Pin/Gene - I am quite happy being a Catholic, thank you very much. And these fantastical "conversations" you offer are wholly indicative of what is in your own mind, not what's in mine.

Gene said...

Ignotus, Hey, you are the one who doesn't know the theological implications of ad orientum as opposed to versus populum. And, the message that you convey to others does not have to reflect what is in your fact, that is the wonderful irony contained in many statements you make. Now, if you will turn in your Methodist Hymnal to "Amazing Grace...."

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - Again, I am not interested in patterning my life according to your fantasies. And they are YOUR fantasies, reflecting YOUR thinking, not mine.

The "irony" you may find in my statements is also your own. It does not flow from what I say or think or do, but only from your thoughts.

Gene said...

Ignotus, Heh, heh...LOL!

Joseph Johnson said...

If you read what I have written you should realize that we are in agreement as to God's omnipresence. The posture or movement of a priest (or anyone else) at Mass has nothing to do with whether God hears our prayers--I think we can agree on that point as well.

What I am referring to in advocating that the Mass be prayed to the liturgical East has more to do with its value for people in helping them to realize, both in words AND IN ACTIONS (we agree, both are important!) what is happening. A priest is praying to God for us, on our behalf and we are asked to join ourselves to his prayers. This is more powerfully shown (sign value) by having us all face in the same direction towards the Altar of Sacrifice with its Crucifix and Tabernacle as we direct our prayers to the omnipresent God.

You and I both know that God's omnipresence wasn't suddenly revealed to us sometime in the 1950's or 1960's. Given this fact, why did we have to change our mode of orientation in praying the Mass? The popular perception is that our population is better educated now than it ever has been yet most modern Catholics are a good bit more poorly catechized than their grandparents. We will likely never agree on this point but I contend that a lot of it has to do with some bad decisions that were made in how the liturgy has come to be celebrated in most places most of the time.

Anonymous said...

Good grief- To those embroiled in the side-bar issue on a Sunday morning (and a priest, no less!): don't you have anything better to do on a holy day, particularly an important Feast day?
Getting back to the "original sin" that prompted this post: hasn't anyone else wondered if these youthful offenders might have been indulging in liquid cheer pre-Mass? A rather common occurrence with predictable, sometimes tragic results. And why in heaven's name didn't some responsible adult (or USHER!) step forward quietly and remove the offenders. Intrusive, yes, and requiring some courage, but very much needed here. All it takes for evil to succeed is for good people to see a wrong and do nothing. In this case, lack of courage meant that wrong won the day...

Anonymous 5 said...

PI and others: Let's try a thought experiment. Have the celebrant turn 90 degrees to his right so he's facing one of the side walls of the church, changing nothing else. During the liturgy of the Eucharist, he occupies one of the sides of the altar and continues to face the side of the church. Would there be any cognitive effect on the congregation, and for that matter on the priest? What would the theological implications be, if any?

Anonymous 5 said...

As for horsing around during Mass: This is what the modernists and the authors of the OF wanted; either that or they were very naive, dense people. (I heartily welcome Fr. McD's statement that the problem here is intrinsically with the NO Mass.) I got my first taste of this modernism in the early 70s when other kids my age started showing up in church in jeans and rather unkempt for church, while my parents, quite correctly, made me continue to dress properly (coat and tie). Of course I felt alienated and out of place--I was the weird one.

We throw around the terms liberal and conservative too much on this blog, as I've said, but in one way the terms do work. Liberals, both classical and collectivist, tend to have more faith in human nature than conservatives do, a trust that people will do the right thing. Often that trust is misplaced, and sometimes catastrophically so. When utopian humanist movements have come to power, bent on restoring us to Eden through human effort alone, they've always become brutal dictatorships. So injecting this sort of celebratory humanism into the form of the liturgy was likely from the very beginning to damage the reverence at Mass and downplay God in His majesty and God as judge. It was inevitable. In fact, it was the objective--either that or the liturgists were fools. So kids cutting up in the presence of the bishop, if you will, is exactly what the modernists set out to do. In the words of Colonel Taylor from Planet of the Apes, "You got what you wanted, tiger. How does it taste?"

Final point: Gene and I, along with one or two other former Protestants who know much more than the average Protestant churchgoer about Protestant theology and liturgy, have been talking over an interesting point. It seems to us that we, and not cradle Catholics--including, with respect, priests who are cradle Catholics--are probably the best at spotting Protestant liturgical and theological trends. And if liturgy matters--if lex orandi really is lex credendi--it would be well for concerned parties to give us a bit more credence that has sometimes been the case here in the past. The NO is shot through with Protestantism. It's just a plain fact. My first reaction at my first Mass more than thirty years ago was how familiar and comfortable it was compared to the Protestant liturgies I knew. That in itself should be a huge red flag.

Postscript: Star Trek Into Darkness rocks. Go see it. :-)

Pater Ignotus said...

"As for horsing around during Mass: This is what the modernists and the authors of the OF wanted;..." "So kids cutting up in the presence of the bishop, if you will, is exactly what the modernists set out to do." These statements, for which NO support is offered, are utter claptrap. You impute motives, with nothing other than your own disgruntlement, as evidence.

As to spotting "Protestant trends," the assumption seems to be that anyting Protestants do, have done, or will do in the future is inimical to Catholic orthodoxy and/or orthopraxis. This, too, is unsupported claptrap. And it is a false premise to boot.

I give you credit - but for having a too narrow understanding of Catholic theology and an intensive and erroneous sense that the Church was created to serve your personal preferences and predelictions, that your experience and critque of Catholicism trumps that of every scholar or theologian who disagrees with you, and that unless your plan for the future of the Church is enacted, it will disappear from the face of the earth. That, too, is claptrap.

Gene said...

Anon 5, you are speaking my mind. I'll go further...I believe that, to many post Vat II Priests, liturgy really does not matter. The form is not important as long as the Eucharist (read "spiritual meal") is distributed. Now, this distribution is not necessarily important because it contains the Real Presence (or not), rather it is essential because it is the ritual that binds us as a "human family." I have heard this "binds us as a human family" from a Catholic Priest at a Mass I attended recently. The Mass was sloppy, unenthusiastic, and uninspiring. The Priest patted people in the near pews on the back while walking down during the processional, he came down the steps from the Sanctuary and walked back and forth in front of the Church during his homily just like some prot ministers do. I have seen many Priests who, through their actions, "play down" the Liturgy this way and it is deliberate as Hell.
Protestants do all kinds of off the wall stuff in Church... from dramatic monologues, comedy, rock and roll, clowns (of course), dancing (not Baptists) to snake handling, having fits, and drinking strychnine. The NO, as it is most often celebrated, is more in continuum with this kind of stuff than it is with the EF. Most Catholics have probably never seen it celebrated as Fr. does at St. Jo's. I have been to a number of Catholic churches in several states and have rarely seen a well-celebrated NO.

Gene said...

Ignotus, Anon 5 and I were THERE. I was at the seminars on Vat II and on COCU back in the 70's. I listened to the modernists and the deconstructionists. I went to class with them and was taught by them at Vanderbilt, Chicago, and Emory. I witnessed the "Communions" done by Catholic Priests with Kroger french bread and Dago red. I heard them play "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Is That All There Is" at Mass. I knew Catholic Priests who were shacking up with coeds and concelebrating "ecumenical" communion services with protestants I would emphatically state that "anything protestants do, have done, or will do is inimical to Catholic orthodoxy/orthopraxy." Every time you open your mouth, you reveal your birthright in Vat II. You were not there and you do not know what you are talking about.

Marc said...

I can understand that, from time to time, Protestants might get something right. After all, they walked away from Truth, so it stands to reason they would maintain some semblance of Truth in their praxis and theology.

However, they lack the fullness of Truth. So, what can they possibly offer as instruction to the True Faith? How can those lacking fullness of Truth contribute to orthodoxy and orthopraxis?

The Catechism says that whatever Truth the Protestants have they have as a result of their Catholic patrimony. Therefore, there is no need for Catholics to look outside the Church for orthodoxy and orthopraxis. So, to the extent Protestant praxis lacks Catholic patrimony, it is antithetical to Catholicism and should be rejected outright as such.

Anonymous 5 said...


You accuse me of imputing motives, yet that is precisely what you do in my case in your most resent post. You claim that I'm disgruntled and that I think my opinions trump that of people who disagree with me. As a matter of fact you're wrong on both counts. So maybe you'd better take your own advice regarding the imputation of motives.

I know Protestant influences when I see them. I spent 40 years immersed in them. I have a degree in them and I've studied them for as long as you've been a priest. How much experience do you have with Protestantism? And how much evidence would you like me to provide for my assertion? I have loads, believe me.

As to my opinions: I'm always ready to have my errors corrected--by someone who, by using reason, can point out those errors. Referring to my statements as "claptrap" doesn't rise to the level of logic. Have you any further arguments to make? I'm listening, I promise you (though the heterodox sorts who frequent this blog never seem to take me at my word when I tell them that--perhaps because they can't find arguments that are good enough to beat mine and have to result to invective instead?).

So once again, to show that I'm genuinely interested in an intellectual exchange, I would really like your thoughts on my hypothetical, which I repeat here. Would there be any theological implications, or cognitive/catechetical impact on the congregation, if at Mass we had the celebrant turn 90 degrees and face the side wall of the church during Mass and especially the Liturgy of the Eucharist? If so, what implications/impact?

So what's next? A civil, reasoned discussion in a mutual search for the truth regarding the ramifications of ad orientem, or a repetition of your charge that I'm an ignorant, arrogant spouter of claptrap who thinks he's more Catholic than the pope?

Your move.

Gene said...

*crickets chirping*

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - You impute motives: "As for horsing around during Mass: This is what the modernists and the authors of the OF wanted" and "So kids cutting up in the presence of the bishop, if you will, is exactly what the modernists set out to do."

Do you KNOW any of the "modernists" that you accuse? Did you ever ask them about their motives? Do you have the extensive academic and scholarly and personalexperience they have?

The answer to every question is "No." But, as you see it, if a theologian, bishop, teacher, priest, or pew-sitting Catholic disagrees with your opinions, they are either naive, ignorant, or
they are evil, intentionally trying to destroy the Church.

To use Good Father McDonald's word, they are "imbeciles."

That is claptrap.

No, I'm not going to enter into an intellectual discussion about a hypothetical. I'd be happy to do so when the discussion centers on ONE "Protestant" intrusion into Catholic liturgy and theology.

I choose the intrusion: The Priesthood of the Baptized.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

PI, I don't recall using the word imbecile, but I do use the word inimical often, are you sure I used imbecile?

Gene said...

Anon 5...TOLD YA'! Last night, in a private email, I predicted to Anon 5 that Ignotus would reply just as he has done. Ignotus' intellectual dishonesty (or perhaps it is just that he is a dilletante) is astounding. And, yes, Ignotus, I would say that Anon 5 and I both have the "extensive scholarly, academic, and personal experience" that your hypothetical "modernists" have. Are we now going to play "my degree is bigger than your's?" I'm game..where's the ruler (or yard stick, as the case may be)...LOL!

Anonymous 5 said...


I never said I don't impute motives. I said that 1) you're wrong about the motives you impute and that 2) _you_ condemn the imputation of motives and then you turn right around and impute motives to me. Please do me the courtesy, Father, of reading my posts carefully. If you don't give evidence of doing so in future, you will have proved yourself a troll.

Further, to paraphrase your words, do you KNOW me, to whom you impute motives? Did you ever ask me about my motives? Do you know much about my academic and scholarly background and personal experience I have?

The answer to every question is "No."
Again, you are imputing motives to me while telling me it's wrong to impute motives. So please stop doing it, or else let me do it. Either practice what you preach or preach what you practice; I don't care which, but it would be well for you to quit being a living inconsistency on this point.

You further believe, apparently, that one cannot impute motives unless one meets at least one of the above criteria. False. It's done, accurately, all the time. Here's just one example for you: Why would anyone change the form of the Mass unless he thought the current form somehow deficient or otherwise failing to achieve desired results? Can you think of any other motive one might likely have? (Note that you don't need to know the particular_nature_ of the deficiency to know the general motive.) The Mass was changed, therefore the person changing it perceived a need for change, probably something lacking in its old form, which motivated him to make the change. QED.

Next, in addition to putting thoughts in my head without meeting your own standards, you (as you have in the past) put words in my mouth. Whether or not Fr. McD used the word "imbeciles" is irrelevant to what I've said. You're talking with me here, not with Fr. McD. By quoting him, you're attempting guilt by association.

And here you go imputing motives to me again: "But, as you see it, if a theologian, bishop, teacher, priest, or pew-sitting Catholic disagrees with your opinions, they are either naive, ignorant, or they are evil, intentionally trying to destroy the Church." Again, false. But I ask you: since I'm disagreeing with you, what do _you_ think _me_? Naive, ignorant, or evil? You've already suggested naivety and ignorance with your rhetorical questions to me about what I know, so once again you're hoist with your own petard. It's wrong for me to think these things of others, but ok for you to think them of me.

"No, I'm not going to enter into an intellectual discussion about a hypothetical. I'd be happy to do so when the discussion centers on ONE "Protestant" intrusion into Catholic liturgy and theology.

I choose the intrusion: The Priesthood of the Baptized."

First: You must be very afraid of where my hypothetical might lead you if you refuse to discuss it. That's a shame; I'm genuinely seeking a mutually-enlightening dialogue with you on that point, though my guess is that you'll claim I'm lying about that. My mind is far more open than you give me credit for.

Second: Where I come from, a person gets to choose his own evidence to prove his thesis. You seek to stack the deck. But I'll play anyway.

Third: give me a thesis to dispute, not a freestanding phrase. So we're going to debate the Priesthood of the Baptized? Fine. What's your thesis, though? Is it an innovation? Has it always been there? Was it not there in the Tridentine Mass? Is it there too much in the NO, or not enough? I'm not going to waste time shadowboxing. Tell me what you're thinking and we'll have a discussion, which is all that I'm seeking. But then I'm going to come back to my 90 degree hypothetical, either to make you discuss it civilly or to show all the people who read this blog how frightened you are of its implications.

Marc said...

How is the priesthood of the baptized a "Protestant intrusion"?

Can you show this concept originated with the Protestants?

By the way, Anonymous 5 has more than sufficient academic and experiential credentials to opine on this topic.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - I see no point in discussing a hypothetical for which there is 1) no historical precedent and 2) no possible resolution. You may like to engage in pointless discussions, I don't.

We could just as easily discuss, to no avail, the hypothetical: "What if the servers all walked on their hands during mass." "Would there be any theological implications, or cognitive/catechetical impact on the congregation...?"

I'm not worried about the size of my degrees. You do seem, however, to have concerns about your own.

With which of the as yet unnamed "modernists" accused here of being naive or evil do you share the extensive scholarly, academic, and personal experience." What Catholic universities have you studied in, which Catholic religious orders have been your formation centers, what Catholic university courses have you taught, which Catholic periodicals are you been published in, which books of yours have been reviewed in Catholic periodicals?

No, you have scholarly experience, but your experience is vastly different from the "modernists" being lamented here.

Good Father - You used the word imbeciles: “…progressive liberal Catholics are, how shall I say, imbeciles. I don’t mean to be hurtful, but they have presided over the Catholic Church..."

Anon 5 - If you allow yourself to impute motives, why condemn me for doing the same? What's sauce for the goose...

As to "Why Change?" SC 62. "With the passage of time, however, there have crept into the rites of the sacraments and sacramentals certain features which have rendered their nature and purpose far from clear to the people of today; hence some changes have become necessary to adapt them to the needs of our own times. For this reason the sacred Council decrees as follows concerning their revision."

The motives for the changes expressed in this passage are not evil nor are they naive.

I'm not afraid of where discussion of your hypothetical may lead since, for the reasons stated to Pin/Gene above, it will lead nowhere.

I'm happy with the freestanding "The Priesthood of the Baptized" as an issue we can discuss. In what ways has the re-emphasis of the Priesthood of the Baptized, long a standard aspect of Protestant theology, been evidenced in 1) the ecclesiology of COMMUNIO as a foundation for the Second Vatican Council's call for changes in the liturgy; 2) in Catholic liturgical practice; and 3) in the Catholic Church's current emphasis on the essential role of the laity in the New Evangelization?

Gene said...

Marc, It is not the concept that is the problem, rather the Protestant interpretation of it.

Anonymous 5 said...


Do you not understand the concept behind hypotheticals at all?

In the wake of VII, liturgists turned the priest 180 degrees. Presumably they thought this made some kind of difference or they wouldn't have done it. There's now debate among liturgists as to what this 180 degree rotation changes/adds/takes away. To help clarify the discussion, I propose a scenario where the priest is turned 90 degrees, thus eliminating any changes caused by the 180 degree turn while still deviating from the initial position that was changed and thus possibly introducing some theological variant, though not the variant of a 180 degree change. The scenario isn't supposed to be realistic; it is a diagnostic tool. Your refusal to discuss it indicates to me that for some reason you're uninterested in exploring the theology involved in the 180 degree change. I often see such refusal from people who feel threatened by the ramifications of the hypothetical. Whether or not this is your motivation, you disappoint me greatly in your refusal. it shows you're not really here to discuss matters of substance in a mutual search for the truth.

Re priesthood of the Baptised: The form of your question presupposes my argument, i.e. that a protestant idea _has_ influenced the NO Mass. I'm tempted to rest my case right there since you've proved my point.

Gene said...

Ignotus, You continue to dodge the simple and direct question that Anon 5 posed to you...just as you dodged questions about whether you believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ or the Real presence. You reveal yourself to be nothing more than a troll, which you have been from your very first post here. If this were a forum, an admin would have long since banned you. I'm sure Fr. has political niceties to consider and so cannot do so. Shame, that...

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - I understand hypotheticals. And I understand that discussing hypotheticals isn't a particularly valuble use of time. I'm not refusing to discuss it; I am saying that discussing it is as meaningful as discussing the implications of having altar servers walk on their hands during mass.

Why have you refused to discuss my suggested topic "The Priesthood of the Baptized" with the attendant queries. You haven't discussed it - rather you have dismissed it saying "You have proved my point." Again, what's sauce for the goose...

But there is more to the Priesthood of the Baptized than Protestants might imagine, no?

Anonymous 5 said...


1) Your statement about the lack of value of hypotheticals is subjective. A great many people, some of whom are frequent contributors to this blog, know from experience that hypotheticals are often extremely valuable, contrary to your claim. A2, Marc. and I (A2 and Marc more so than I) use hypotheticals regularly in our professions. If hypotheticals are good enough for Socrates, they're good enough for me. Some of the smartest people I know--people who can think circles around me and everyone else here (except perhaps for Marc) use them often, so forgive me if I disagree when you turn your nose up at them. Again, in my experience, people who do that usually do so because they feel threatened; they see where the hypothetical is likely to take them and they are afraid to go there because it will shatter their world. I've seen this many, many times.

The direction the priest faces is important; otherwise the liturgists of the 1960s and 1970s would have felt no need to change it. My hypothetical goes directly (no pun intended) to the issue of that direction, unlike your hypothetical of altar servers walking on their hands. Thus, your statement that my hypothetical is as valueless as yours is incorrect.

2) Re my response to your questions: frustrating, no? :-) Actually, I was late for an appointment and had no time to answer at that moment. Nevertheless, the form of the question you put is indeed such that you concede the influence of Protestant theology on the Mass, which is the very point i initially argued. If you'd like to rephrase the question in a way that doesn't concede that point--for instance, "_Is_ the priesthood of the Baptised a Protestant concept?" then that's a different matter. On the other hand, Protestants have concepts that are Catholic, so I suppose it's possible that one could correctly say that Catholics have Protestant concepts. It's debatable. The better form of question, then, might be a substitution of the word "heretical" for "Protestant" to indicate the influence of a Protestant idea that is incompatible with Catholic doctrine.

These are just suggestions. I leave the rephrasing of the question to you. But my initial response is--perhaps not coincidentally--that the direction of the priest will be implicated in my answer, since it's part of a framework that consists more of a dialogue between the priest and the laity, perhaps one in which God is sorta kinda left out. (Example: "And also with you," which is one human greeting another without regard for God. That, at least, has been corrected.) If that is the case, then Catholicism has taken humanism of Protestantism to its natural conclusion, in which the priest is everything and the god who makes his priesthood significant is ignored, or at least downplayed.

That's an initial thought. I await your rephrasing.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - OK. If the priest were to face 90 degrees - not the east, not the people, there would be implications. Some people would be pleased, some would not be pleased, some would not notice at all.

I can't tell you what the cognitive implications would be, because those are subjective. I can suggest what they might be, but my suggestions (and yours) might be wrong.

Theologically, as I understand things, choosing a 90 degree posture doesn't seem to fit into the reasons we face either ad orientam or versus populam.

Yes, I concede the influence of Protestant theology on the mass. It would be impossible to have the mass without Protestant theology since, as we both know, Protestant theology is Christian theology and we Catholics are, like the Protestants, Christians.

I don't necessarily find the influence of "Protestant theology" in the mass to be a bad thing.
Not every Protestant idea is incompatible with Catholic theology.

I don't find "And also with you" to be "without regard for God" since the "you" being addressed by the people is a creation of God, a sacramental servant of God, and a representative of the Church which is the Body of Christ who is God.

And the motives for the people who changed the mass - see SC 62 - were not evil or naive.

Marc said...

Now we are having a discussion!

Follow up for Fr. Kavanaugh: What is the theological basis for versus populum?

And by "theological basis" I mean the Catholic basis since this change was neither evil or naive. Surely those who changed this and encouraged it had a theological reason. I can't think of a theological basis rooted in Catholic theology...

Anonymous 5 said...

Thank you, Pater, for deciding to answer the hypothetical. I very much appreciate it.

I agree that there are likely no good reasons for a 90 degree posture, while there _may_ be reasons for versus populum, but the latter I'll leave for another discussion or Marc's line of inquiry.

I think that generally it _is_ a reasonable likelihood that many members of the congregation would have their attention focused at the point the priest appeared to be looking, in the case of my hypothetical the side wall. I'm reminded of an old Abbott and Costello scene (or something of that vintage) where a man with whiplash leaves the doctors office to keep looking up for 24 hours. As he exits onto the street, people see him and they begin to look up themselves.

If my analysis is correct, then one can further state that the literal focal point of the Mass changes dramatically from ad orientem to versus populum. With ad orientem, people look in the same direction as the celebrant--past the celebrant, perhaps upward past the celebrant, especially if the sanctuary is elevated. This has us looking at two things: 1) the crucifix and 2) an invisible god floating somewhere in front of the priest--a concept that may be a bit anthropologically primitive or even superstitious, but which within the context of Mass helps us conceptualize God the Father to whom the sacrifice is being made.

That's lost with versus populum. I would argue that with versus populum, "I look at him and he looks at me," but while the words are those of the Cure d'Ars, the meaning is different. The "him" is a priest whose human identity, since he is known to the congregants, tends to outweigh his rloe as acting in persona Christie. It's a closed circle with the people in the circle all looking at each other, rather than beyond the circle.

Are these patterns universal? Probably not. Can we consciously break out of them? Probably. Are they influential in how people think about a) God and b) the nature and the meaning of the Mass? Based on the common knowledge about visual cues, I'd have to say "certainly." Is that influence bad? if one accepts my above reasoning to the effect that versus populum takes the focus off God, it follows that any orthodox Catholic would have to say "yes."

Even if all this is completely wrong, though, we're left with the presumption that the liturgists thought that a 180 degree turn would accomplish _some_ sort of change in meaning, otherwise they wouldn't have done it. So if not my change, then what change?

"I concede the influence of Protestant theology on the mass. It would be impossible to have the mass without Protestant theology since, as we both know, Protestant theology is Christian theology and we Catholics are, like the Protestants, Christians."

I believe you have the above backwards. Protestant theology grew out of Catholicism, if only because Catholicism came first. it's Catholic theology that influences Protestant theology. If there's anything generic, it should be, by definition, Catholic. It's Protestant liturgy that can't exist without a Catholic basis andnot vice bersa (unless you wish to argue, as the Baptists do, that Catholicism came about after early Christianity). If, on the other hand, there's something that _began_ with Protestantism influencing the Mass, shouldn't that something be suspect since it comes from a heretical sect? Maybe it's still OK, but is it safe to presume that?

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - Here's a start: A theological rationale for celebrating mass ad populum begins with a theology of COMMUNIO (or Koinonia). The foundations for this overarching theology are both biblical and patristic. (One of the major emphases of the Second Vatican Council was ressourcement – a return to the sources.) Not only is this “return” found in the teaching of the Council, but it is found in the way the Council taught. The Fathers of Vatican II adopted the writing style of many of the Patristic Fathers, including the ars ludandi – the art of praise.

In a communion theology, which Cardinal Kasper described as “one of the central themes of Vatican II’s ecclesiology, perhaps even the central theme of the Council” the action of the mass is understood to be an action of the whole communio or community. The priest has a role, as do the people, including servers, musicians, lectors, etc. (This would be the basis for the call for “full, conscious, and active participation” in the liturgy by all present.)

The entire worshipping community, then, approaches God as a community. With the priest as presider, the community is led in the prayer (worship) of the mass. In the view of the German liturgist Balthasar Fischer, “the fact that the celebration versus populum has become the dominant practice of the Latin Church shows the astounding extent to which ‘ the active role of the people in the celebration of the Eucharist’ has been realized; for Fischer this is indeed the the fundamental issue of the liturgical reform after Vatican II. (B. Fischer, 'Die Grundaussagen der Liturgie-Konstitution und ihre Rezeption in fünfundzwanzig Jahren', in Becker, Hilberath, and Willers, Gottesdienst-Kirche- Gesellschaft, 422-23.) [As quoted in “The Reform of the Liturgy” by Uwe Michael Lang, Ignatius Insight, Aug 09]

Continuing to quote Lang: “Two main arguments in favor of the celebrant's position facing the people during the Eucharist are usually presented. First, it is claimed that this was the practice of the early Church that should be the norm for our age. Second, it is maintained that the "active participation" of the faithful, a principle that was introduced by Pope Saint Pius X and is central to Sacrosanctum Concilium, demanded the celebration towards the people. (See, for instance, O. Nußbaum, Der Standort des Liturgen am christlichen Altar vor dem Jahre 1000: Eine archäologische und liturgiegeschichtliche Untersuchung, Theoph 18 (Bonn: Hanstein, 1965), 1:22, and B. Neunheuser, 'Eucharistiefeier am Altare versus populum: Geschichte und Problematik', in Florentissima proles Ecclesiae: Miscellanea hagiographica, historica et liturgica Reginaldo Grégoire O.S.B. XII lustra complenti oblata, ed. D. Gobbi (Trento: Civis, 1996), 442-43.)

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - I don't buy the "closed circle" argument as a reason for not celebrating versus populum. If God is at the center of the circle, then we have not created a "closed" liturgical tableau from which God is excluded or by which God's presence is minimized. I would argue that putting God at the center may actually lead to a greater realization of His centrality in our lives, our worship, our existence. So I don't agree that we lose the sense of praying "to" God by using a versus populum style.

Protestant theology did grow out of Catholic theology - I wasn't attempting to make a chronological distinction. I would not say that something that begins with Protestantism is, ab initio, suspect. I would say judge that "something" on its own merits. (I recall the words of Nathaniel, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?")

Joseph Johnson said...

Just today on Fr. Zuhlsdorf's blog he featured an article by another priest which originated on "The Deacon's Bench" blog entitled: "A Priest Writes: A New Translation Cannot be Expected to Accomplish Everything." The full version is on the Deacon's blog while an abbreviated version, with Fr. Z's comments, is on his WDTPRS blog.

In that article, the priest shares my view that the change to versus populum celebration was a "core" mistake or error. He recounts his experience concelebrating a Novus Ordo versus populum Mass with an older priest who was, apparently, having some difficulty with the new Missal translation as he was having to constantly look down and read from the Missal rather than have plenty of eye contact with the congregation (which he had apparently gotten accustomed to doing with the memorized older translation).

I had written here earlier that, in the versus populum Mass, it LOOKS like the priest is reading the prayers to the congregation rather than praying them to God. In this article, the writer priest actually had the impression that his concelebrating older brother priest thought he was supposed to READ the prayers TO THE CONGREGATION. Read the article and see what you think . . .

Marc said...

Thank you for posting that explanation, Father. That is precisely what I was grappling with. I hadn't encountered an actual theological defense of the practice.

I'll consider this and it may lead to further research if time allows.

Anonymous 5 said...


I think there's a distinction in the closed circle argument and the one I'm making. As I understan the closed circle argument, it starts with theology, whereas I start with anthropology and then investigate its impact on theology. In short, if we're looking at each other, there's a strong psycological/mental diminution of the sense of God. Maybe not on everyone's part, but statistically I would bet its very significant. Again, I base this on the simple idea that if the priest were to face sideways, people would look at what the priest seems to be looking at or wondering what he's looking at.

I don't say that something is automatically heretical/erroneous because it comes out of Protestantism, so I'm in agreement with you there. I do think it safest to presume error until sufficient proof to the contrary exists. I can't imagine anything uniquely Protestant that is necessary for the Church to accept in order to further her salvific mission. helpful, perhaps; necessary, no. Thus nothing is lost by the caution of my presumption.

I would argue that the Nathaniel quotation is inappropriate in this context. He was talking about Christ, the founder of the Catholic Church, his ignorance notwithstanding. We are talking about potential or actual heresy.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

We must take seriously the deleterious effect of the priest praying any prayer in a fashion that makes it look and hear like the prayer is being prayed to the congregation as one would proclaim a Scripture reading or the Gospel to the congregation. The two proclamations are quite different and to call prayer a proclamation which many liturgists have shoved down our throats in the last 50 years is truly absurb.
I've heard PI proclaim the Eucharistic Prayer and from hearing and watching it, I'm not sure where that prayer is directed, the sign and symbol points to the congregation, although I suspect, but cannot envision it when he prays, that it is praying the prayer to both the congregation and the Lord, in the sense that the Lord is in the congregation. This style of prayer has absolutely no tradition in the Catholic Church and was made up in the post-Vatican II confusion.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - I don't agree that by looking at each other in mass we diminish the sense of the presence of God. If you cannot see God in the person next to you, in the priest presiding at mass, in the lector proclaiming the Word, in the servers, ushers, and even in the crying baby or the late-comer to the Sacred Synaxis, you are not going to be able to see God in some ineffable "focus point" of the priest.

Grace builds on nature. We "see" God where we look for God. If we look for him in the poor, in the dying, in the bothersome, in the enemy, we will find Him there. And seeing Him there, we must, by grace, worship him there.

The Nathaniel citation isn't about Christ, but Nathaniel. Nathaniel's prejudice against Nazareth is being challenged, not the nature, role, or person of Jesus. "Can anything good come out of Protestantism?" Yes. Since God uses Protestant ecclesial communities as means of salvation, since Protestants are, with us, baptized into the Mystical Body of Christ, since Protestants, moved by grace, can feed the hungry, house the homeless, visit the sick, console the mourning . . . . Yes, good, even great good, can come from Protestants and Protestamtism.

Anonymous 5 said...


1) A lot of people _can't_ see God in other people. I'd argue that the ability to do so isn't natural, otherwise Christ and the Church wouldn't have to spend so much time telling us that we can/must. That's the danger in too much humanism--we see human but not God, and ultimately matter but not soul, in which case gas chambers are just fine.

2) The Mass is primarily a sacrifice to God the Father, not a rumination on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (see: Quaker)--or to put it another way, isn't the indwelling of the HS pendent, i.e. without the sacrifice these is no such indwelling, no grace, no adoption, no salvation, no eternal life? By having us look at each other we introduce trinitological confusion and tend towards unitarianism, as well as humanism. The very fact that it's so hard for us to see God in another person (i.e., see God at all in the natural world) is precisely why we need an exercise in visualizing God, which we get from ad orientem. Only then can we understand that this God we visualize "out there" is also "in here," because the God "out there" has authoritatively told us so. We stand around and talk to each other all the time. At Mass we need to break out of that mindset, not have it reinforced. When you link the change in the priest's direction with the general movement to make the Church a social welfare organization stripped of supernatural elements, as has clearly been the trend for the last century or so, it's obvious that versus populum is reinforcing all of the wrong things.

3) If God uses Protestant ecclesial communities as a means of salvation, it's in spite of their Protestantism and not because of it. And I never said that nothing good can come out of Protestantism, but the good you mention (feed, house, visit, etc.) aren't what we're talking about here. We hold these things to be good, and so do most Protestants--but only because they got them from Catholicism, or else because they happen to be doing what Catholicism defines them as good. That still doesn't make it safe to accept Protestantism as a source of teaching on what behavior _is_ good (or salvific or liturgically correct. For instance, Westboro Baptist Church, to take an admittedly extreme example, adds to your list "lynch the fags" and "distress the bereaved families." We have to be leery of any theology that could teach that such a thing belongs on the list.

And, just so you know, I'm married to a confirmed Protestant, and she's a much better Christian than I am. I doubt my salvation but not hers because she's far more selfless than I. But it isn't because of her Protestantism, but despite it, that I believe in her salvation.

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - If, when you hear me pray, "To you, therefore, most merciful Father..." or "Therefore, Lord, we pray..." or "Be pleased, O God, we pray..." you are not sure where or to whom that prayer is directed, then the problem, I assure you, is YOU, not the direction I am facing. Maybe a trip to the audiologist is in the cards for you.

No, I am not "praying the prayer to both the congregation and the Lord." I was taught well in my seminary days, even if, as you have noted repeatedly, you learned nothing in seminary. Prayers are directed to God and are prayed for the benefit of the congregation.

This "style" of prayer is, indeed, part of our tradition. I would direct you to John 11:42 where you will read the words of Jesus, "I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here,..."

I find the "style" employed by our Divine Saviour to be eminently laudable and worthy of imitation. You should give it a try and stop attempting to form the tradition according to your own personal preferences.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thus PI, you hit the nail on the head, it is the sign and symbol of the priest facing the congregation during liturgical prayer, not you in particular, but most priests (but certainly not all) where to the casual and not so casual observant and listener it appears the priest is directing his prayer to the congregation--it is a built in liability of this novel way of liturgical prayer only with us for about 50 years. That's the point, not what you intend, because it isn't about you, but the symbol and sign of facing the congregation during liturgical prayer, an anomaly for the past 50 years and only in the Latin Rite.

Marc said...

Illustrative experience from a daily Mass at my parish this week:

We have a true Benedictine Altar arrangement with crucifix in the center and two candles on each side (a third tall candle on a floor stand next to the altar). This is versus populum.

The priest, during the Eucharsitic Prayer, was literally craning his neck around the crucifix and standing off center of the altar in order to speak at the people without obstruction. It was quite noticeable at all times during the prayer.

Now, I am sure he was directing the prayer to God the Father and not to us the congregants. But, it certainly appeared he was talking to us as evidenced by his craning about to make sure he could see us and we could see him.

(I am not knocking this priest... I like him quite a bit. He just showed up a couple weeks ago. I guess he's been in Africa or something. My parish is weird. I can't really figure out which priests are actually running it or in residence!)

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - To the Casual Observer it looks like we are "Worshipping Saints." To the "casual observer" it looks like the pope is wearing a white dress. To the "casual observer" Latin sounds like mumbo-jumbo or hocus pocus.

But we don't adjust our practices according to what the "casual observer" might think, now do we?

I don't agree that there is a "built in liability" here; but if there were, then there is also a built in liability to the ad orientam pasture in which it looks as if the priest is praying to 1) no one, 2) a tabernacle door, 3) a book on a stand, or 4) some other inanimate object.

I never understood the mass to be about me. Again, you should not project the paucity of your seminary training onto those of us who were so blessed and graced to attend seminary at "The Cradle of American Bishops," "Holy Mother Mountain" (bow the head), aka Mount St. Mary's Seminary.