Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Yes Virginia, this is the Ordinary Form of the Mass at St. Joseph Church, Macon!

With the summer upon us and downtown Macon right off of the very heavily traveled Interstate 75, we have had a few visitors at Sunday Mass. I am struck by their comments to me after Mass.

Many say that St. Joseph Church rivals any church building in Europe--of course I say.

Others say they haven't attended a "high" Mass in decades. I say, this is how we do it each and every Sunday (although I have battle scars from 10 years ago when I implemented incense at every 9:30 and 12:10 Mass!).

Another visitor who is a member of her liturgy committee in the mid west stated that she was going to bring back to her parish priest what we do in terms of the "High" Mass, the kneelers available for those who choose to kneel and the decorum/formality of the Mass.

Then on Sunday I received the following email:

We live in Atlanta but we LOVE coming to mass at St Joseph's whenever we are traveling through Macon! We prefer the traditional Mass style offered. What a blessing to have that restored to an Ordinary Form Catholic mass. It was so wonderful to have a paten (the use of the paten at St. Joseph, oddly enough, was never dropped after Vatican II and has been in continual use here!) and kneeler to receive the sacrament! I could just go on and on about how much I love Mass at St Joseph!!!

I wanted to talk with my parish priest here about incorporating more traditional elements/options into our weekly masses (although I know its a long shot in the land of guitar masses). Is there a rubric or special rite followed by St Joseph's that I could reference?

Do you know of any parishes in the Atlanta area that offer masses as reverent as yours?
Thanks for your help!

This was my email response:

Thank you for your email. Were you at the 12:10 PM Mass or another one? We strive to make all our Masses beautiful  and allow for options that other priests and maybe bishops might not encourage. 
We celebrate our 12:10 PM Mass ad orientem for the Liturgy of the Eucharist and at all our Masses we have a kneeler available for those who prefer to kneel for Holy Communion. Our instruction is that the norm in the USA is to stand and kneeling is the exception but the choice the communicants’.

We strive for solemnity and are formal and not casual in our approach to the Mass.

We do things by the book but are flexible with the more traditional elements, especially allowing the exception of kneeling for Holy Communion by providing a kneeler that enables those who desire to do so comfortably and with an ability to rise easier.

The ad orientem position for the 12:10 PM Mass is clearly allowed and presumed in the Roman Missal, but of course is not the norm in the USA or elsewhere, but certainly not forbidden.

At any rate, the local bishop could intervene and prevent these two things. Our bishop knows what we do and has not stopped us but I can’t say he has encouraged it either.  We also have the EF Mass each Tuesday at 5pm and once a month on Sunday at a special time, so there is a significant group that appreciates the ability to kneel easily and the ad orientem Ordinary Form Mass each Sunday.

God bless you.

Fr. Allan McDonald

My final comments: What strikes me the most is that those who comment on our liturgy comment on our traditional elements and the fact we are formal and solemn in our celebration of the Ordinary Form of the Mass. We priests chant all the parts of the Mass too and I do beginning with the Sign of the Cross through the final blessing at our 9:30 AM and 12:10 PM Masses. 

But apart from the traditional look of the Church, the ad orientem for the 12:10 PM Mass only and the fact that we have kneelers available to be hospitable to those who would like to kneel for Holy Communion, we still have the following which many ultra-traditionalist find anathema:  
1. We have male and female lectors who approach the ambo from their seats in the nave.
2. We have male and female Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.
3. We have the chalice for the Most Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior (four to six depending on the Mass) for those who choose the option of receiving from the chalice.
4. We have male and female altar servers who are well trained.
5. We use the vernacular mostly and have strong congregational singing of not just hymns but the parts of the Mass and encourage actual participation on all levels. 
6. We make use of deacons for most of our Masses.
7. We have a ministry of adult servers which is male exclusively and their role is different from the children servers as they act as a sort of subdeacon but not in the strict sense. I see this male only ministry as a recruitment for the diaconate and priesthood although many of the adult servers are married.

I think traditionalists who oppose the any of the seven options I have included above shoot themselves in the foot and push away Catholics from a more traditional approach to the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Just as I have allowed people to kneel for Holy Communion when this is the exception and not the norm in the USA but a choice that is allowed, I feel I must be consistent too in the other choices that are allowed the laity in the Ordinary Form of the Mass.  


John Nolan said...


The bishop is indeed responsible for liturgy in his diocese; it his pastoral responsibility to ensure the liturgy is celebrated worthily and in accordance with the norms laid down by the Holy See, and to act promptly to suppress abuses. Bishops' Conferences have certain responsibilities regarding vernacular Masses, particular with regard to the suitability of texts and music which may accompany the Mass. However, a bishop may not:-
a) Override the right of the faithful to receive Communion kneeling and on the tongue if they so desire.
b) Prevent any priest from using the 1962 Missal or the older Roman Ritual under the conditions laid down in Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae. Some did indeed try to impose their own restrictions but were overruled.
c) Prevent any priest from celebrating the Novus Ordo either wholly or partly in Latin. Any Mass may be in Latin unless it is specifically scheduled to be in the vernacular. However, since the vernacular Mass is authorized by the Holy See, he has a duty to ensure that the faithful who might benefit from it have access to it.

d) Oblige any priest to accept a female server at any Mass he celebrates. The bishop may authorize female servers in his diocese but may not impose them.

I regard myself as a traditionalist, but would not be put off attending Mass in the OF simply because there were lay readers (they're not lectors, by the way), female servers, EMHC (usually necessary if the chalice is being offered), or the Mass was in the vernacular. These are legitimate options, whether I like them or not. If Communion is given standing, I will stand but receive on the tongue and only from a priest or deacon. I don't take the chalice as a rule.

What I do find off-putting are general sloppiness, unauthorized departures from text or rubrics, and bad music. If I get any of these I am likely to leave after the priest's Communion and make a mental note never to return.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I think where any priest might be on thin ground with kneeling for Holy Communion is that by providing a kneeler (which I do as an act of hospitality and respectful of the laity's legitimate choices) is that it could be perceived as forcing the issue, being divisive and making it equal to the norm for the OF Mass in the USA. However, anyone attending St. Joseph would know that it is not divisive and the majority still stand.

What drives me crazy though is that these legitimate traditional elements that have a long standing tradition of centuries are called divisive but doing what was done at the Pentecost Mass after Holy Communion would not earn any slap of being called divisive.

rcg said...

I think you have done the Church a huge service in your Liturgical "research". I am missing toes 2 and 4, but they don't contribute to my balance.

Flavius Hesychius said...

I can agree with the e-mail. I spent January-July of '13 driving an hour back and forth to Macon from Bleckley County. Although my bank account might not agree, it was well worth it.

I was visiting family for Father's day and went to a parish closer to my location. There was a guitar and piano and 'song books' and no bowing at 'came down from Heaven &c'. No one received by kneeling—and all took the Eucharist in the hand. I think the (young) priest was 'green', so I avoided making it awkward for the both of us by not receiving.

The gravest thing I encountered, however, was that the Blood of Our Lord was spilled on the floor. Although cleaned up properly, it's still a Very Bad Thing.

Thankfully, there were no deviations from the Missal text, and I have a small suspicion the older lived-through-V2 deacon/priest (I can't tell which he was) may be exercising influence on the young priest, who looked slightly uncomfortable with some of the elements occurring in front of him.

***I want to hear about the Incense Wars of 2004.

Flavius Hesychius said...

Fr. M (or others to whom this applies),

(Nota Bene: this is completely irrelevant to this blog post)

I assume you pray the Ordinary Form of the Divine Office (the US edition, of course). My question is this: HOW?

I know what parts need to be said &c, but I am completely unable to get past the language. The translation is so gross... I can't use it. I'd like to, but every time I wind up closing the book after reading three sentences and instead pick up my copy of the 1662 (Anglican) Book of Common Prayer.

Don't get me wrong, I like the form of the OF breviary—but I can't stomach the current US translation. Harry Potter was more spiritually edifying.

Seriously, does anyone here have any tips on how to better stomach the current Office?

JBS said...

If the Vatican says kneeling communicants in the USA "should not be imposed upon nor accused of disobedience and of acting illicitly", I think making them kneel upon the floor is certainly an imposition. This would be even more the case if a group of communicants specifically requested a prie Dieu to kneel upon for Holy Communion.

JBS said...

As for the communion plate, its use remains mandatory, as indicated in Redemptionis Sacramentum 93. The GIRM (118) also lists it as one of the items to be prepared for Mass with a congregation.

Flavius Hesychius said...

JBS, not to mention it seems like forcing kneeling communicants to kneel on the floor/ground creates an unnecessarily dangerous situation, given they might accidentally fall over trying to get up, possibly knocking the priest over, and causing the Body of Christ to wind up on the floor.

JBS said...

Good point, Flavius Hesychius. Catholic Mutual should require prie Dieus!

JBS said...

Flavius Hesychius,

Since VCII requires clerics to pray the Office in Latin, I obey. Therefore, I am rarely faced with the issue you describe.

Flavius Hesychius said...

JBS... I knew someone would come along and say "use Latin" :P

Yeah... it'd be easier, but the used bookstore was fresh out of the Liturgia Horarum. I know it's online... but the use of electronic devices is a distraction (I shamelessly admit to being unable to withstand the siren-like call of various websites).


Joe Potillor said...

Sloppy Liturgy is something that absolutely tortures me (and torture is a mortal sin now you know), it's a matter of justice to give God His due rights in the Liturgy. The only thing I'm opposed to is female altar servers (which never serve when I'm MC) Otherwise all other options are legit and good.

I must say though one thing I'm starting to see is the wisdom of having the Scriptures sung Ad Orientem...

John Nolan said...

Flavius, 'prie-Dieux' would imply that more than one God was being prayed to. In French the noun is invariable. In English it is legitimate to pluralize it '-s' according to the usual rule for foreign words which have passed into Engish usage.

Flavius Hesychius said...

Yes, Mr. Nolan, I know. I was being silly and referencing something no one on here could possibly know about.

I have, however, seen 'prie-dieux' written by elderly francophone Cajuns. It's clearly a nonstandard word used regardless of its implications.

Like I said, I was being silly. Or maybe not... I wrote that comment yesterday morning after going 36 hours without any real sleep, so who knows what my state of mind was.

I should stay away from the Internet after sleep deprivation, since it apparently causes me to become a pedantic ass and shout at priests on Fr. M's blog.