Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Some are saying the OF is irreformable! The only wave of the future is a return to the EF. I don't buy it because it is't going to happen. The OF Mass as Pope Francis celebrates it at the Vatican is the wave of the future.

At the Vatican there is an opening preludal hymn prior to the prescribed Introit while the altar is incensed and the pope goes to his chair. The other proper antiphons are chanted too.

I still hold out hope that the privileges accorded the Anglican Ordinariate in terms of an EF-like calendar as well as the PATFOTA, the EF Offertory Prayers, the EF rubrics for the Roman Missal and the Last Gospel will be extended throughout the Latin Rite thus accomplishing the "mutual enrichment" that Pope Benedict XVI foresaw and planned with SP.


JBS said...

Fr. McDonald,

I think those who claim the O.F. is irreformable are usually just overreacting to liturgical abuse. The abuse is real enough, but their overreaction is ridiculous. The O.F. of the Roman Mass is fine, but I do think it needs a hefty dose of E.F. influence to keep it vibrant.

It seems to me we have two problems in O.F. usage today: (a.) there is often a lack of basic reverence (i.e. focus on the Passion of Christ), and (b.) there is a lack of appreciation on the part of Latin Catholics for the work of the Holy Ghost in developing the Roman liturgical tradition. I think God will use the E.F. Mass to address both of these problems.

rcg said...

Sort to snark: the OF can be reformed, of course, and will eventually look like the EF.

Let me ask this in seriousness: what would you graft from the OF onto the EF?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Keeping the OF Missal and lectionary with the EF order of things. That is the OF influence on the EF.

Anonymous said...

My thought on the OF reform is on the time it will take to achieve this. We all know the Church moves in decades/centuries.

At the point where the OF resembles the EF, how many Catholics will actually be left in the western world/South America. And of those that are left, how many non-TLM attending Catholics will there be?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but in France and other places in Europe, isn't it the TLM & SSPX where Mass attendance is highest?

For the record I do not hate the OF, do I prefer it no, but I don't hate it.

My main concern with the OF is that it mimics who celebrates it. In my town there are 3 parishes and each parish is different from the other. At my parish one mass is English/Latin, Gregorian chant, AD orientum. This would cease to exist if another priest came in. This is why Catholics have to "church hop" like Protestants because 3 parishes within 10 miles of each other in one town are all different. I don't see this as a good thing.

Could it be that the Church will be too little too late?

Anonymous said...

Fr JBS, you are incorrect that those liturgical scholars who see the OF as irreformable are reacting to liturgical abuse. They are reviewing the Latin Novus Ordo Missal as written to come to this conclusion, just as Cardinal Ottaviani did in the 1960s. It is the Missal, not its abuses that is problematic.

For more, read the recent articles by these scholars at New Liturgical Movement.

Anonymous said...

Fr McDonald, the OF lectionaries is part of the problem, as has been demonstrated time and again. The one-year cycle is clearly superior, as evidenced by its antiquity and the amazing, poetic commentaries produced to support it. I have read no meritorious defense of the three-year cycle here or elsewhere, just unsupported, subjective conjecture.

John Nolan said...

Since 1970 I have probably attended more Latin OFs than English ones, which is why I don't associate the OF with the exclusive use of the vernacular or with liturgical abuses. I also think it should be judged on its own terms. The Introductory Rites and Penitential Act now involve the people, which isn't a bad thing, and I don't see the point in replacing them with the Tridentine PATFOTA, which are only audible in a Low Mass anyway. All the traditional prayers are available since the EF is available.

The Gregorian Propers are wonderful and should be encouraged, but they were developed in a monastic context, and we need something simpler for everyday parish use, something that doesn't require accompaniment and actually sounds like sung prayer.

The tendency of the OF to become subjective can be countered by a greater use of the Missal chants, particularly in the dialogue parts; priests should also know how to chant the orations and the Preface. It's not difficult - can you imagine a Byzantine Rite priest or deacon refusing to chant?

More use of ad orientem for the LOTE would also foster objectivity and reverence, and discourage priests from drawing attention to themselves.

Also careful attention to detail should characterize both OF and EF. What would you graft from the OF onto the EF? I can't think of anything. The multiplicity of Prefaces is more appropriate for a vernacular Mass. There are eight Ordinary Time Prefaces in the OF, and by the time you've worked out which one Father is using and turned to the right page in your missal, you're into the Sanctus.

JBS said...


I've made no reference to liturgical scholars; liturgical scholars helped get us into this mess by encouraging extra-canonical experimentation in the 1970's.

The O.F. lectionary is not without its faults, but it does provide preachers far more opportunities to preach on the Pentateuch and the prophetic texts.

JBS said...

I suppose I could add my opinion that the E.F. missal should be left alone, but that use of it should be in full conformity with the Vatican's 1958 instruction on sacred music (e.g. congregational singing of their parts of the Ordinary, and congregational dialogue at the Low Mass).

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

There should also be active chanting by the congregation for the sung Mass too which SC desired for this Missal which requires no revision of the actual 1962 missal.

Anonymous said...

Fr JBS, "Those who claim the OF is irreformable" are liturgical scholars. I believe Fr. McDonald is referencing recent essays from such scholars posted this week on NLM. Your point that scholars can be "good" or "bad" is well-taken. It seems in modernity we are prone to blindly accept the opinions of anyone purporting to be a "scholar." (Discussing that phenomenon and its consequences would likely be much more interesting than discussing liturgical movements.)

At any rate, preachers had ample opportunity to preach on any aspect of the Old Testament in the Mass when there was no "rule" that the sermon had to relate to the readings. This, then, is not a feature of the OF lectionary. Even if it were, you'd have to show this is somehow beneficial as a subject for homiletics as biblical knowledge for its own sake is rather meaningless.

Anonymous said...

Why should there be active chanting by the congregation?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Full conscious and actual participation that SC desired as a culmination of this actually occurring in many parishes beginning in the early 1900's.

Fr. Anthony Forte said...

Even for those who wish for a complete a return to the EF should welcome and support a reform of the OF. A return to the EF in one fell swoop is just not going to happen. For a realistic return to the EF to happen a reform of the OF must happen first to be a bridge to such a return.

While there are indeed true problems with the new Missal the greater discontinuity is with how it is celebrated. The OF Mass celebrated in a EF manner is closer to the EF than it is to the typical OF of today. The establishment of an EF style OF Mass would go a long way to dispel many of the common myths and misunderstandings of the purpose and scope of Vatican II's call for reform.

JBS said...


Good points, except that I would clarify that homilies in the O.F. Mass do not have to relate to the Biblical readings. It is, for example, possible to preach on the Credo. The 2002 GIRM says the homily should be, "an explanation of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text from the Ordinary or the Proper of the Mass of the day..."

Henry said...

LECTIONARY So far as I know, no one has argued specifically that the EF one-year cycle of Sunday readings is not pastorally superior to the OF 3-year cycle, with the same readings repeated every year on the same Sunday engraining them in the traditional Catholic consciousness.

But I think arguments in favor of the OF weekday readings are on target. The EF lectionary has proper weekday readings essentially for only 9 weeks of the year--the weeks of Lent and the octaves of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. In calling for richer use of scripture at Mass, the Vatican II fathers plainly meant expansion of the 1-year cycle of Sunday readings to be retained, but to be expanded to a full 1-year cycle including weekdays also. But adaptation of the 2-year cycle for ordinary time (i.e. the EF Sundays after Epiphany and Pentecost) would seem a worthy and indeed needed "mutual enrichment" of the EF by the OF.

PREFACES The richness of the 70-odd proper prefaces for feast days seems to me a clear superiority of the OF missal. This goes back to pre-Trent times when almost every feast had its own proper preface in most areas (though Rome itself was spare in prefaces). But after Trent these spiritually and liturgically rich prefaces were severely pruned, far too ruthlessly, in my view. And in their Latin, most if not all of these prefaces are eminently suitable for EF use.

As for the OF's 8 Sunday prefaces and 6 common (weekday) prefaces for ordinary time, there's nothing confusing about them if the priest uses them systematically--cycling through the 8 Sunday prefaces in weeks 1 through 8, then again in weeks 9 through 16, and so forth. Likewise, cycling through common prefaces 1 through 6 on the weekdays of weeks 1 through 6, then again in weeks 7 through 12, and so forth. So you know what the preface of the day will be before you go to Mass, and can set your hand missal ribbons accordingly. The confusion that John alludes results from priests evidently receiving no liturgical training in seminaries, not even anything so basic as knowing what is the proper choice of the preface for a given day.

John Nolan said...


Congregational dialogue at the Low Mass was one of the problems the Liturgical Movement had
to confront. Since the Sung Mass is the norm, the PATFOTA are said between the celebrant and the ministers (or the MC if there is no deacon and subdeacon). So the so-called dialogue Mass, as well as being impracticable, was also a liturgical anomaly. The function of the faithful at this point is actually to sing the Introit and Kyrie, and if the former is too difficult for most congregations and has to be delegated to the schola, the principle still remains.

Joe Potillor said...

Looking across the pond at Byzantium....has given me an idea as to what Vatican II was seeking for the Roman Church....

Each has their own parts during the Liturgy (clergy, people, cantor, reader)...and there's a fluidity to how this works. And these parts need not be usurped.

Thinking of this in the Roman Rite, it should work like this IMO:

Parts for the Faithful:

a. sing the introit (now this might be a difficult thing, perhaps adjusting the introits to the Byzantine 8 tones might make this easier...)

b. Sing the gradual psalm (again, adjusting to the Byzantine Tones might make this piece easier)

c. Sing the Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei as normal

d. Sing the Communion psalm.

Parts for the Choir

lead in a-d of parts of the faithful

Parts for the Cantor

Sing the verses in a, c and d.

Parts for the reader

a. Sing the readings

b. Sing the gradual and alleluia verses

Parts for the Clergy

Chant everything else.

I agree that the EF should be the template from which reform comes...the only things from the OF that I can even see useful are the extra prefaces and the weekday readings.

John Nolan said...

Henry, how common is the practice of using the Tempus per Annum Prefaces in sequence? At the London Oratory they tend to use those with the peroration "Et ideo etc." since most of the new Prefaces have non-traditional endings.

It isn't due to poor liturgical formation; telling the Oratorians they can't do liturgy is like telling the Brigade of Guards they can't do foot drill.

Henry Edwards said...

John, I suspect that the "in sequence" use of OT prefaces is uncommon, and that the younger priests whom I frequent because of their liturgical sensitivity are unlike many priests of the problem generations.

What I would question is those priests who choose elements of the liturgy (including) prefaces with no liturgical rhyme or reason--which has often appeared to be to be the case with many priests, for instance, when they select a preface having nothing to do with the liturgical character of the day.

I'd not thinking of worrying about this in the case of the Oratorians, whom as you indicated undoubtedly have sound liturgical bases for their selections.