Friday, March 28, 2014


While I love celebrating the EF Mass and thank Pope Benedict for allowing for its liberal celebration, thus removing an unnecessary mystique about it (this happens when something is simply forbidden for no real good reason) I believe that the Ordinary Form of the Mass should be the focus of renewal and refinement in parishes.

This is a part of the comment that John Nolan who lives in London made about our recent EF Solemn High Mass:

I liked the altar arrangement. The large candlesticks either side of the altar are ideal for versus populum celebration, but your noble free-standing altar can easily take six candles and a central crucifix when celebrating ad orientem. The vestments were great; the difference between the dalmatic and tunicle (rarely seen in Roman sets) was evident.

The Mass itself was a mixture of EF and OF. I was surprised to see the Asperges - this is reserved for Sundays. During the incensations the celebrant and ministers should all genuflect when passing the centre of the altar. The deacon, when handing things to the priest and receiving them back should kiss the object and the priest's hand (except in Requiem Masses); these osculations were only removed in 1965. The Deo Gratias after the Epistle and the Laus tibi Christe after the Gospel are NOT sung in the EF. Nor does the priest sit while the deacon prepares the altar at the Offertory - this is OF practice. At the Offertory everyone is incensed in order; the priest, clergy in choir and the subdeacon by the deacon, who is himself incensed by the thurifer, who then incenses the people.

The ministers were not familiar with the EF - aside from the subdeacon not holding the paten in a humeral veil, a practice which again was not suppressed until 1965, the deacon is supposed to remove and replace the chalice pall before and after the consecration. What happened to the Kiss of Peace? It wasn't in the video.

The chant switched from Mass VIII (Kyrie and Gloria) to Mass XI (Sanctus and Agnus Dei). Nothing wrong with that, of course, although I suspect the congregation would have been more familiar with the latter two items in the Mass VIII setting.

Even on my computer I could hear every word of the Canon. Again, this is pandering to OF expectations. The Mass was beautifully done, but I would prefer an entirely Latin OF Mass to something which falls between too stools. You could keep the Roman Canon, omit the Prayer of the Faithful and congregational sign of peace, give Communion in one kind only, dispense with the extraordinary monsters and serviettes and still stay within the rules. The chant is identical.

MY COMMENTS: So he didn't miss the things that I simply think should be optional in the EF Mass except for one thing, none of the clergy wore birettas. The kissing of objects and the hands of the priest and the scrupulosity of where the thurifer incenses the elevations and the pecking order of who gets incensed and how make for fine trivia but not very good liturgy.

Yet, how many rank and file Catholics, even those well imbued with the celebration of the EF Mass would have noticed these omissions or alterations?

However, when we speak of the Ordinary Form of the Mass, we find way to much simplicity and laxness in rubrics. While it might be wise to uncomplicate the EF Mass's Solemn High Form it would also be wise to re-complicate the Ordinary Form's Mass.

John Nolan seems to think that most people prefer the Latin. I would disagree. If I celebrated the EF Mass in the video below exactly the way it is celebrated but entirely in English, I could get away with it this Sunday (although most of our congregation does know the Jubliatio Deo Mass parts in Latin which we sing during Lent).

I would be rounded criticized if I celebrated an OF Mass entirely in Latin at a normal Sunday Mass, without warning the people weeks ahead of time!

Our current 12:10 PM Mass is celebrated Ad Orientem for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. During Lent it is, as are all our Sunday Masses, a mix of Latin and English.

The question is not how many more parishes can we get to celebrate the EF Mass, but how many more parishes can we get to celebrate the OF Mass with true solemnity and in continuity with the EF Mass but by following the rubrics of the OF Mass?

That is the million dollar question and where the new liturgical movement should be moving.


Anonymous said...

I would be satisfied if priests would stop changing words and actions during the Mass and making commentaries about everything. There are days I get so fed up with the nonsense of some priests I feel like throwing my missalette at them. Just stop the silliness.

Why can't priests just offer Mass with some dignity and piety? If I want to go to a comedy hour I will go to one but I expect the celebration of Mass to be done soberly and with a CATHOLIC sense about it. I don't want some quasi Protestant service. If I wanted to attend a Protestant service I would go to one. And one more thing. If I who work all week long can get up on a Sunday morning and get washed and comb my hair I think the priest could do the same. I am tired of unshaven, sloppy looking priests who look as if they would rather be in bed sleeping.

And something else priests should realize. We the laity can tell when you are faking it. We can tell if you are practicing what you are preaching and we can also tell if you are not.

John Nolan said...

Actually, Father, I live in rural Buckinghamshire about fifty miles from London, which is an easy commute by train; the nearest Sung Latin OF Mass is at the Oxford Oratory (29 miles).

The point I was making was that in the EF there are few options and to make alterations and omissions is illicit. Birettas can be considered optional, likewise maniples if the vestment sets one is using don't have them.

When I lived in the Midlands I regularly attended the sung Mass at the diocesan cathedral, which has a fine choir which sing traditional chant and polyphony. About fifteen years ago there were two young priests attached to the cathedral, who gradually increased the amount of Latin until it became more-or-less a Latin OF Mass. They also celebrated in a more reverent way. Special booklets were produced. The congregation increased - one couple making a round trip of 120 miles.

Cathedral clergy are transient, and when the priests moved the Mass reverted to a Latin/English hybrid, with a slight drop in the numbers attending. Parishes which do a sung Latin OF Mass every Sunday usually also have a 'family Mass' in English with hymns, so no-one is forced to go to a Latin Mass when they would prefer an English one. (Those of us who prefer a Latin Mass but are not given the choice presumably don't count.)

A Solemn Latin OF Mass would be little different from what you did on 19 March, but you would not need to be so punctilious about the rubrics.

By the way, if your deacon is so tone-deaf he cannot manage the Epistle tone, it is quite licit for him to monotone the Epistle (in Latin, if it's an EF Mass). Another advantage of the OF is that the readings may be said or sung in English if desired.

Gene said...

But, you are describing a "cut-and-paste" Mass, a mosaic of EF and OF, which only serves to highlight just how messed up the Mass and, therefore, the Chruch, is. So, we have cut and paste Masses and cut and paste Catholics. Can you not see how desperately in trouble the Church and Catholic identity are?

Henry said...

"So he didn't miss the things that I simply think should be optional in the EF Mass"

Admittedly, none of the things you mention seems in itself vital to the liturgical effectiveness or integrity of the Mass. Nor is it important whether or not anyone present notices them.

But by simply omitting or changing unilaterally those things you in your own wisdom think ought to be optional, even if they aren't, you reveal an attitude that you are the master and not the servant of the liturgy--which, as Card. Ratzinger pointed out, is every priest from parish to pope (in his discussion of whether even a pope has the proper authority to change the liturgy unilaterally).

This attitude--that better liturgy can created by man on the spot, than the liturgy received from Church and tradition, might seem to be solely between you and Our Lord, in whose person you are acting as celebrant--is however precisely the hubris that in recent decades has resulted in the disintegration of the liturgy and thence (according to Card. Ratzinger) to the present crisis in faith.

This is why even the most seemingly inconsequential liturgical rubric is important in times of chaos like the present, even though such stability might not so critical in a happier time of well-defined Catholic belief and identity.

Henry said...

But apart from your personal apologia for variant EF celebration, you surely are correct in that the goal of more EF parish Masses is far less important than the restoration of the sacred to typical OF parish Masses. Indeed, it has always seemed to me that Pope Benedict's primary intent in Summorum Pontificum was to provide the EF as a model for the restoration of the OF, rather than as an end in itself.

The very flexibility of its rubrics--which at the hands of an errant generation of priests has almost led to the demise of the OF as an effective carrier of the faith--can be a source of strength for its reform. For nothing in its rubrics prevents the celebration of the OF in a reverent and holy manner faithful to liturgical tradition. As most of the current generation of recently ordained young priests are doing, subject to current boundary conditions (versus populum, communion in the hands, etc.).

Latin lover though I am, my opinion is that beautiful and reverent celebration in our glorious English language is far more important than injecting Latin into vernacular Masses (apart perhaps from the Ordinary sometimes). Indeed, instead of a goal for the OF, in many or most circumstances an Oratory-style Latin OF Mass might be a fine substitute for the Latin EF Mass that many (though certainly not all) of its advocates have sought mainly as a refuge from the liturgical chaos of recent decades.

Brad said...

The future of the OF is in the past. The main defect in the OF is in Bugnini's order. The rest of the Roman Missal is fine. Its the order of the Mass, with its non-existant rubrics, multiple options, and encouragement for ad libbing that is the problem. Suppress Bugnini's order and replace it with the 1965 Order of the Mass into the current Roman Missal, and it would be a huge upgrade.

John Nolan said...

Gene, I don't think I'm talking about a 'cut and paste' Mass. The Novus Ordo assumes the practice of 'graduated solemnity', as well as the principle that the GIRM rubrics may need to be supplemented, and if they are, attention should be paid to what is traditional to the Roman Rite (GIRM 42).

In its most solemn form the OF would have the following features:
1. It would be in Latin, which is the normative and definitive text, and the sacred liturgical language of the western Church since the fourth century. The use of vernacular languages is a concession.
2. Those parts that can be sung will be sung. This includes the Scripture readings. Where there are three readings, the first has its own distinctive tone.
3. The Introit, Gradual, Alleluia/Tract, Offertory and Communion will be taken from the Graduale Romanum, not from the Missal or Lectionary.
4. The celebrant is assisted by a deacon and a subdeacon. Since 1972 the subdeacon's role can be assumed by an instituted Acolyte or Lector, or even a layman who is not an instituted minister, in case of necessity. As in the EF, a priest can take on the role of deacon or subdeacon.
5. There will be an MC, two acolytes and a thurifer. There may be a crucifer and torchbearers.
6. Although ad orientem celebration may be deemed to add to the solemnity it is not strictly necessary. Anything which may detract from the solemnity, for example people in street dress coming up from the congregation to perform certain roles, or the messy and unliturgical congregational 'sign of peace' will be avoided.

The only OF Masses I have attended which fulfil all these criteria are those organized by the Association for Latin Liturgy. Most parishes would not necessarily want this level of solemnity, even supposing they had the resources to attempt it. But it's there as a legitimate option.

Henry said...

Gene, I'd suggest that a solemn Latin OF Mass as described by John Nolan would be a loftier and better objective for most parishes than an EF Mass. And, for sure, it would be the pearl of greater price. In comparison, EF Masses are virtually a dime a dozen. For instance, each Sunday there are several EF Masses within driving distance for me (to which end I've long worked and prayed) but I'd probably have to drive 500 miles to find a solemn Latin OF Mass offered ad orientem.

he rigidity of the EF Mass is necessary at the present time to protect it from abuse by 1970s trained priests (at all levels) who think they know better and see themselves as masters rather than servants of the liturgy. However, Latin must be retained, both as the Church's priceless heritage and as an additional shield--show me a priest who seriously advocates vernacular in the EF, and I'll show you one already taking other liberties.

But the flexibility in music. language, and progressive solemnity of the OF Mass will in the long run (probably after you and I are gone) be the basis of a glorious liturgy for the whole Church (as opposed to a small minority preferring the EF).

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Gene. I started a young men's schola recently to sing gregorian chant. We sung our first Mass on the Annunciation and it went very well! But the whole time while I was singing I felt that there was something missing. We were in a hideous church for starters but we wanted to reach the people that are in the more liberal Churches anyways. We had over 300 people show up for the Mass which was way more than expected. I have been going to EF on Sundays for about 2 years now and after that Annunciation Mass I just didn't feel like I just went to Mass, it was kind of weird. I served at an earlier 7am daily Mass that day at a novus ordo parish with much more silence and I found that was better than the Sung Mass. I feel at home and can pray more in the EF and I'm finding what Dom Kirby said about the reform of the reform being over for him seems to resonate with me more and more.

I certainly do not have all the answers but as a young man searching for the truth in the middle of this mess the EF provides for me the consistency that I so crave and the great support that I need to grow in the spiritual life. To me it comes down to how long will I live in this life, I do not know so I want to be spending my time very wisely and I really don't want to waste my time on something that may not be perfected for another 50-100 years. When I have the EF which has basically been the same since the early Church why do I need to seek other things. Change for change sake is horrible and as a young man in this world God never changes and that is something that I can totally trust on. Also the complaining about the Latin is getting old, get over it it's not that difficult we are just to lazy. Also, I am an MC in the EF and the rubrics no matter how small and tough to remember will always keep you humble when you make a mistake and they will teach you to take more responsibility in life and they teach you how to be ordered and organized. I love the little things because a man who is trustworthy in the little things is trustworthy in the big things.

Pax Christi,
-John H.

JenJer said...

"...a dime a dozen..." , Henry, where do you live?!
I'd give anything to have ONE EF mass within driving distance!!

Henry said...

JenJer, you can check the EF Mass schedule in my particular neck of the woods here:

I meant "dime a dozen" relative to the availability of ad orientem Latin OF Masses, which we have locally only when a non-trad family requests it for a "properly reverent" funeral Mass (which has begun to happen occasionally). In this case the flexibility of the OF is an advantage, because for an unscheduled weekday funeral it would be hard to arrange quickly a full choir and corps of servers for a sung EF requiem Mass, but we can have a nice OF black-vestment funeral Mass with the readings in the vernacular but the ordinary sung in Latin and enough to chant the Dies irae, dies illa and the In paradisum. Incidentally, on such occasions the celebrant will ordinarily say the offertory silently and the Roman canon quietly though barely audible, so much of the quiet ambiance of the EF is present.

Anonymous said...

I certainly agree with Gene. We have a young priest who celebrates the OF of the Mass and the EF and he sticks religiously to the rubrics for both Masses. He and other priests who celebrate both forms of the Mass are sticklers and let people know that they also must receive communion kneeling and on the tongue.

I can't praise those priests enough and all priests should follow their example. It shows integrity.