Sunday, December 14, 2014

TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHY 88% OF CATHOLICS TODAY DO NOT ATTEND MASS, COMPARED TO 90% OF CATHOLICS WHO DID ATTEND MASS IN THE EARLY 1960'S

UPDATE: A time capsule from 1980! Michael Davies on the Liturgy and Pope John Paul II's theology and renewal. Very revealing!
 
If sociologists asked non-Christians to attend two forms of Catholic Mass (one in the Ordinary Form Mass with Contemporary Music, church building in the round and casual atmosphere, and the other an EF Mass in a traditional church building with hushed silence and strict reverence) on two separate weeks and then pose questions to them about the "reverence" of one or the other of these two Masses and which one was more reverent and transcendent in their way of thinking, I wonder if we would get some sense as to why 88% of Catholics in many places no longer attend Mass?

I don't know if there has been any good sociological studies as to why there has been such a drop in the percentage of Catholics who attend Mass on Sunday, from a peak of nearly 90% of Catholics attending Mass until the early 1960's to only 12% in some major metropolitan areas doing so today.

I have my hunches. But it is all anecdotal. It is not just any one thing but the "perfect storm" beginning with the Second Vatican Council and what is called now, "The Council of the Media" which manipulated what the actual Council and its Fathers were saying and teaching at the time. Then after this was the false "spirit of the Council" that continues in some places to this day..

Coupled with this was the social revolution across the world in the 1960's that wrought the sexual revolution and the disdain for authority be it secular or religious. The negative reception of Humanae Vitae by so many, especially in the Church, is a prime example and the failure of Catholics to embrace the Church's teachings highlighted in Humanae Vitae and what it did to the practice of the Faith cannot be underestimated.

 And of course we cannot underestimate the effects of the sex abuse scandal and how the bishops of the Church, to include former Bishops of Rome, handled it.

But let's just speak about the negative effects of some of the reforms of the Mass on the ground in local parishes since it is locally and at Mass that the vast majority of Catholics experience the Church and are formed in the Faith.

 Does the Mass and our worship of God reinforce what the Church actually teaches about the Majesty of God as the Supreme Being who will judge the living and the dead or does it contribute to a lack of piety, reverence and mystery, a casual approach to God and Church and in the most superficial way?

These are some of my thoughts as to why only 12% of Catholics in many places today attend Mass:

1. Early on and beginning with Folk Music as the four hymns of a Low Mass with the slightly revised 1965 Missal, people grumbled that the reverence of the Mass was being compromised by this style of music, although most at first like the priest facing the congregation and the first translation of the Latin into English but with a goodly amount of Latin still mandated for some parts of the Mass to include the Roman Canon prayed in a low (not silent) voice. (Many contemporary hymns still create this sense of a loss of reverence to this day. Music has played a pivotal role in all of this).

2. The subsequent transition to a more simplified Mass with the elimination of the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and the revised Offertory Prayers and the elimination of the Last Gospel contributed to more suspicion that the reforms were taking a wrong turn and even more reverence was being removed by the Council.

3. The English translation of a completely vernacular Mass that codified the transitional changes prior to it in Advent of 1969 alarmed many Catholics that even the new English was less reverent than the early English translation.

4. Then priests began in the most clerical way possible to use their own words for the Mass dumbing down further the inelegant new English translation and contributing to even more loss of reverence at Mass.

5. Creativity and planning by liturgists and liturgy committees that presented novelities almost each Sunday at Mass contributed to more of a sense of the loss of reverence at Mass.

6. The removal of altar railings to make people stand to receive Holy Communion and to do so in the hand and with bread that was homemade and with many crumbs that fell to the floor and carpet is perhaps the single worst idea that placed a dagger into the heart of Catholic reverence for Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament and belief in the Real Presence of Christ, for if it didn't matter than crumbs of Holy Communion remained on people's hands to be brushed off or crumbs, large crumbs, fell to the floor, that meant Christ our God wasn't really present because if He was we would not allow it as we had been so scrupulous about not having it happen prior to the changes in the Mass.

7. Then the tabernacle was moved from the Church or demoted to an insignificant side altar or chapel and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament or Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was severely curtailed and lambasted in high places as an "accretion" from the Middle Ages. This killed reverence!

8. The use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, style of dress for them and those in the congregation, talking before and after Mass and a general loss of focused participation at Mass with some chewing gum, getting up to go to the bathroom even at the consecration and other things of this nature certainly creates a less than reverent atmosphere and contrasts sharply with the reverence in Catholic Churches and at Mass prior to Vatican II.

9. While at first with the 1965 missal and the priest facing the people was accepted, it soon degenerated into the priest playing to the congregation in a sort of clerical drama or dialogue and the priest praying the prayers of the Mass as though these were directed to the congregation and not the transcendent God! By clerical drama, I mean the priest as a secular performer whose goal is to please the congregation at Mass during what should be a sacred rite directed to God and not toward human applause. 

10. The homily that has no meat or signficance for people's lives or leads them in faith and reverence to celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist which follows and to live their lives in continuity and reverently in the world and homilies that are like stand-up comedy routines. 

What do you think?

63 comments:

Gene said...

RE: #8...so, why do you still have a whole herd of EMHC's every Sunday and why not play down the ridiculous sign of peace?

Joseph Johnson said...

The latest issue of "Latin Mass" magazine has a tribute to the late Michael Davies, a man for whom, apparently, the Pope Emeritus has a great deal of respect. I have been familiar with Mr. Davies writings on the miss steps in thel liturgical reforms for years.

I recently found and viewed an old episode of the late William F. Buckley's show, "Firing Line" from 1980 entitled "The Fight for Catholic Orthodoxy." The show featured Michael Davies, the former Jesuit and author Malachi Martin and Monsignor Joseph Champlin. The most of the discussion has to do with the (then) recent liturgical reforms. As you would expect, Buckley, Davies and Martin all express their great love for the "Tridentine" (which, thankfully, Martin points out was not concocted at the Council of Trent but which is, essentially, a millenia older). I ordered a DVD of this episode. Father, you should watch this!

Veronika N said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head, Father.

Bernard Fischer said...

I wasn't around for the introduction of the vernacular, so I can't comment on that. I'm sure some people did leave in the immediate aftermath but that's before my time.

There's definitely a casual-Friday aspect to the Mass, especially in the 1970's with Father ambling up the aisle and slouching in his chair and altar servers wearing sneakers and chewing gum. If it isn't important to them, why should the congregation get out of bed early on Sunday morning?

Communion in the hand is destructive, I think, because in addition to the obvious risk of profanation, it puts the recipient on the same level as the minister, especially when that minister is an EMHC. So if there's no hierarchy, no one has a duty or right to tell me how to live. No one can ask questions about who's distributing Communion, so no one has a right to ask questions about who's receiving.

About the homilies: they are just a disaster. I go to a pro-life march every year and the Protestant speakers outshine their Catholic peers every year. It's obvious which churches put an emphasis on good preaching and which ones don't. On the other hand, those churches are losing members too, so that's not enough to keep people in the pews.

Pater Ignotus said...

Much research on the practices, beliefs, and attitudes of Catholics has been done and is available at PewForums.org and CARA.georgetown.edu.

I recently encountered a Methodist minister at Coliseum hospital on a Sunday afternoon. In the course of our brief elevator conversation he told me that all three of his children had converted to Catholicism.

I asked, politely, what might have drawn them to Catholicism. He said that his daughter, told him that the preaching of Catholic priests was far better than what she had heard in the Methodist churches she attended...

Not what I expected to hear, but gratifying !

Gene said...

Bernard, The primary sacrament, in effect, for protestants is the preaching of the word. That has its own set of problems, but does generally account for the superiority of prot homiletics. I have to say, though, that several of the most memorable sermons I have heard have been from Fr. MacDonald and a couple of his Vicars.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Certainly she goes to Saint Joseph's Church and was speaking of me as I blush. thanks for the compliment PI!

Gene said...

PI, that is because Methodists are barely a Christian group anymore. Methodists were a laughing stock in the late 70's when I was in seminary and grad school. I, too, prefer Catholic homiletics because, generaly speaking, the sermons are Biblically and doctrinally correct. I do not need the stimulation of preacherly histrionics and irrelevant chumminess. I will confess that, as a Presbyterian minister, I did occasionally draw upon the homiletical techniques of Jonathan Edwards and Cotton Mather in order to jar the congregation out of their country club coziness. Nothing like a reminder of the "gaping maw of Hell" to screw up the
ir golf game.

Joseph Johnson said...

Father,
Thanks for the update. As I said, I strongly recommend that anyone (especially you, Father)either watch the free preview of the entire episode or pay 99 cents to download it from Amazon. The really good part comes after the free short clip you posted!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Does the full show have an embedded code? Although I know that would be piracy.

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father, the Methodist minister's daughter is in the military, stationed far from Georgia. There' a wise Irish saying you should keep in mind: Self Praise Sucks.

Gene said...

Bernard @ 8:15, Yes, all churches are losing members. And, surprisingly, I agree with Ignotus that the Catholic Church is losing members, not primarily because of Vat II but because of the overall creeping secularism and modernism of our culture. Vat II was a symptom of a process begun with the Reformation and which exploded in the 18th century Enlightenment. But, the loss of TLM and the overall degradation of the Church brought on by Vat II is still a symptom and symptoms must be treated. The Church should stand over against the cultural process and not be co-opted by it with a "let the good times roll" attitude.

Henry said...

Yesterday I attended a quiet OF Mass entirely in English. Celebrated at a side altar of our old church, hence necessarily ad orientem. Roman vestments. Ordinary and all the proper prayers, dialogs and preface chanted. No songs, just the introit and offertory antiphons chanted. Silent offertory, visually the same as one would observe at an EF Mass--nothing heard audibly before the “Pray, brethren” except the clinking of the thurible chain during incensing of altar and offerings. EP III recited quietly but not silent. Communion (only one kind), standing or kneeling at the altar rail as desired. Every bit as beautiful and reverent as a TLM. I was there when so many Catholics left in dismay at the liturgical chaos, and feel sure that if the Novus Ordo had developed along these lines with chanted vernacular—the new English translation sounds quite hieratic when chanted well--then most would have stayed, and would still be at Mass every Sunday.

Henry said...

Also, I believe the key to the spiritual intensity of that OF Mass was its ad orientem celebration. With the resulting quiet reverence of the whole liturgy, it seemed not to matter whether the language was English or Latin, or that some received standing and some kneeling, etc.

Bret said...

I think the one huge mistake made by St John Paul the Great, was when he became pope, the Bugnini Mass was less than a decade old. John paul's first act as pope should have been to declare the Bugnini Mass a failed experiment, supressed it, and go back to the 1965 revision of the Missal of St John XXIII. I don't think Pope Benedict was around to advise John Paul at the beginning of his papacy. If he was, I'm sure this is the way it would have been.

John Drake said...

I echo Joseph Johnson's encouragement to watch the entire Firing Line episode. I have the Amazon DVD and have watched in several times over the last couple of years. Not only is it a good insight into the difficulties of the liturgical reform, it's a great reminder of how edifying television once was. I can't think of anything on contemporary TV, even with all the cable channels available, that comes close to the serious and intelligent conversation that typified Bill Buckley's great show.

Anonymous said...

Bret - Is there any indication whatsoever that Pope St John Paul II thought that "the Bugnini Mass" was a failed experiment?

Carly said...

I am reminded of:

"You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You're so vain, I'll bet you think this song is about you
Don't you? Don't You?"

Anonymous said...

I believe the decline in Mass attendance has to do with a few things:

1. The majority of bishops, priests and especially the nuns do not teach the Catholic Faith anymore and haven't for 50 years. Instead they have taught either a watered down version, or they eir own personal ideology. Many times their theology isn't even Christian let alone Catholic. The result is a few generations don't even know what it means to be a Catholic and they don't care. So they don't bother with things like going to Mass. And why should they when sister has taught them that they are perfect and are going to heaven no matter what. And they don't need to adhere to some man made rules for God to love them.

2. The liturgy of the Mass in the Roman Rite has collapsed. The missal of Paul VI is a complete invention and not a revision of the Mass of Pius V. But a bigger problem is the liturgical abuse that has spread world wide. The majority of priests do not even celebrate Mass according to the reformed missal of Paul VI. That is the elephant in the room. Every priest does his own thing. It is no longer possible to step into a Catholic Church around the world and attend Mass as formulated in the Missal approved after Vatican II......you never know what you are going to find. Basically it is what does Father feel like doing today.

3. The music is horrendous.

4. The homilies are an embarressment to behold. Even
Orthodox homilies from rather conservative priests are below par. Not to through stones but watch the daily Mass from EWTN sometime. And they try to do a good job. But they butcher the Latin and the homilies
are.......well I'm not going there.

5. The priest himself. Fathers hear this, we can tell when you aren't praying and you are not living the life you should be as a priest. Priests no longer pray the Mass they perform for an audience.

Just my 2 cents.


Jdj said...

Yes, Father, I've been using the same term for a long time now having been in HS and college in those years living it: "the perfect storm".

John said...

I prefer the TLM.
My main objection to the OF is that it invites performing by the the priest, musicians, and singers.

Actually, Mass is often turned into into a cabaret show. How? If the preaching starts by saying Good Morning or how about them Redskins?, proceeds with a joke or two, MM plays flourishes on the constantly playing piano will usually set the stage for secular entertainment.

Novus Ordo rubrics are so loose that any oddball behavior fits right in with the goings on and sure to please congregations who are only barely catechized anyway. The more the mass becomes a situation story, a la a TV program, the more it is acceptable to many and the less it is a worship service.

Of the 12% who still go to Mass, perhaps 1/2 are there to fulfill Sunday Mass obligation and would prefer a TLM were it available. Exceptions must exist to everything I just said but the trend is toward 6 percent in the next decade, I believe.

John Drake said...

I echo Joseph Johnson's encouragement to watch the entire Firing Line episode. I have the Amazon DVD and have watched in several times over the last couple of years. Not only is it a good insight into the difficulties of the liturgical reform, it's a great reminder of how edifying television once was. I can't think of anything on contemporary TV, even with all the cable channels available, that comes close to the serious and intelligent conversation that typified Bill Buckley's great show.

Joseph Johnson said...

Father,
I don't know how to tell if a video has an embedded code or not. Because the full video requires payment to download I would presume that it would be piracy to reproduce or publish it in its full form. I would not recommend doing that.

However, I still strongly recommend that you take the time to watch the full episode yourself and, if you think it worthwhile, recommend it to others. I thought it was good enough (I want to share it with others) that I ordered the DVD version.

John Nolan said...

The Solemn OF Mass I attended this morning at the Oxford Oratory
featured Roman-style rose-coloured vestments with matching antependium, tabernacle veil, chalice veil and burse. Apart from the scripture readings it was in Latin, and celebrated ad orientem.

In view of recent exchanges I imagined with some amusement Pater Ignotus gnashing his teeth at the uselessness of it all (despite the fact that the priests were all a generation younger than he is, and the congregation mostly consisted of those who had no memory of the pre-V2 Mass).

However, his minimalist heart might have taken some cheer at the absence of maniples, since Oratorians only use them in the EF.

Next Saturday at 7 a.m. there will be a 'Rorate Mass', a votive Mass of the BVM in the EF, celebrated by candlelight. Enough to finish poor old PI off for good.

JBS said...

At some point we must be honest and acknowledge that Catholicism is not an art form, but a competition with the devil for souls. When the goal is to lead souls away from the devil and towards the Father, Catholicism works very well. But when we try to transform the Faith into a mere earthly aesthetic, it no longer attracts the crowds.

This is the case with the Mass. When it is the means of liberation from the devil and for communion with the Father, it works and it is attractive. But when it is used to merely paint a picture of earthly fraternity, it fails.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - "..of it all"? Hardly. I wore rise colored vestments. We have no antependium, but two large standards of the color of the season/day that hang behind the altar on the well. I use no burse or chalice veil because both are unnecessary.

We did not use Latin for reasons I have explained many times previously.

The same sacrifice offered at the Oratory was offered in my church. The same sacrifice by which we are set free from sin. The same sacrifice of the Son to the Father.

Also, I don't gnash my teeth at what some people do in the liturgy. I do shake my head sadly, sometimes, wondering.

It's the Traddie side - yes, you inhabit those realms - that becomes apoplectic regarding the liturgy. Witnsss Anonymous' comments: "The missal of Paul VI is a complete invention and not a revision of the Mass of Pius V."

Joseph Johnson said...

John Nolan,
I'm envious! As I may have stated before on this blog, in the summer of 1994, I attended a summer study law school program based out of Magdalen College (pronounced like "maudlin" by the locals). The church I attended while there for six weeks was the oratory (St. Aloysius). I attended the Ordinary Form on Sundays and it was as you describe (Oratorian birettas and Roman vestments but no maniples).

You're truly blessed to have this option for worship!

Daniel said...

1) Birth control
2) Church child-molestation scandals -- or, more to the point, the church's response to the child-molestation scandals. Many people tired of being lectured about moral failings that had placed its hierarchy above their children.
3)Social and demographic changes. In the 1950s, most American Catholics lived in ethnic enclaves in big-city neighborhoods and there was more social pressure to be "seen" at church. Now we do not live in "Catholic neighborhoods" or, for the most part, attend Catholic schools, we intermarry and the children of the 90 percent have moved out to the suburbs. The church is not central to daily life in the way it used to be ( this is also true of some other institutions).
Worth considering: For the reasons I mentioned, people are just being more honest in 2014 than they were 50 years ago. Are there really fewer people attending Mass at a place like St. Joseph's, or just fewer people claiming that they go. I don't know.
I doubt it has anything to do with the changes in the Mass. If that were so, people would be flocking to the monthly Latin Mass instead of staying away.

Joseph Johnson said...

I was intrigued to read this afternoon, while browsing the internet, that one of the first modern versus populum Masses to be offered in Georgia may have been at a farm in a small community of Between, Georgia (near Athens, I believe) and that this had been approved in advance by the then-Atlanta Archbishop Hallinan, who was on the Vatican II Commission on the Liturgy as well as on the infamous post-conciliar Consilium which drafted the Novus Ordo Missae. Hallinan was also the mentor of later Chicago Archbishop and Cardinal Josep Bernardin.

Incidentally, getting back to the Firing Line video, on the full version, Michael Davies states that he actually spoke with one of the fabled six protestant ministers who advised the Consilium (the post-conciliar liturgy Consilium---NOT Vatican Council II, which is where I think a lot of people get it confused).

Flavius Hesychius said...

Also, I don't gnash my teeth at what some people do in the liturgy. I do shake my head sadly, sometimes, wondering.

Ah, so you do actually '...roll your eyes and make tut-tut sounds'. (source)

Not that it matters.

George said...

Daniel:
The reasons you listed cover a large part of the problem, but not everything. Number 3) would apply to parishes in some of the larger American cities(especially in the
Northeast and Midwest).

From everything I read, studies do show that indeed fewer people are attending weekly Mass than was the case 50 or 60 years ago.

One thing that has not been emphasized is that faith (belief in the Catholic faith) is something which has to be continuously worked on and strengthened, much as an athlete trains and works out on regular basis to keep himself in shape. This is accomplished with prayer, fasting and almgiving. Of course this is all in co-operation with the freely available grace of God. The grace is always there in the sacraments,sacramental and devotions but it must be accepted by availing oneself of these God-given instruments of holiness . Too many people have looked for an unrealistic return on something they have put too little investment of time and effort in. So not finding what the desire because of their sinfulness, and because they neglect or refuse the gift of God's grace, they fall away.

dominic1955 said...

"I use no burse or chalice veil because both are unnecessary."

Why did you bother to wear a rose chasuble, or even a chasuble at all? Why bother to do about 90% of Mass because, quite frankly, its unnecessary. All you really need to do is say the words of consecration over the elements and bam, you're done.

I can still smell incense from my trip to the local Ordinariate parish this morning. Minimalism is such a terribly sad way to approach liturgy.

Henry said...

"I use no burse or chalice veil because both are unnecessary."

Well, it probably is "unnecessary" for the celebrant to show any visible signs whatsoever of respect for the sacred vessels and elements on the altar.

And the fact that so many priests eschew any such visible signs of respect and reverence probably has something to do with the fact that many Catholics in the pews evidence little respect and reverence either.

That said, I must agree somewhat with PI about the maniples (even if I do not share his apparent obsession with them). The maniple is specified in the EF rubrics, and therefore should be worn by an EF celebrant. It is not specified in the OF rubrics, and therefore need not be. Indeed, it arguably has lost its symbolic value. However, it might be beneficial for the many priests who seem not to know what they are about in offering the Holy Sacrifice, to say before Mass the prayer for humility that the priest traditionally says while putting on the maniple:

“May I deserve, O Lord, to bear the maniple of weeping and sorrow in order that I may joyfully reap the reward of my labors.”

Pater Ignotus said...

Dominic - If I were a liturgical minimalist as you suggest, I would not wear a chasuble.
A minimalist doesn't wear a chasuble, I wear a chasuble, therefore, I am not a minimalist.

"For the liturgy is made up of immutable elements divinely instituted, and of elements subject to change. These not only may but ought to be changed with the passage of time if they have suffered from the intrusion of anything out of harmony with the inner nature of the liturgy or have become unsuited to it."
Chalice veils and burses are not "elements divinely instituted." Therefore, the use of such is subject to change.

Are they "out of harmony with the inner nature of the liturgy"? I would say that they are, but not in some earth-shattering way that, seeing them used, would cause me to gnash my teeth…

Just because some item, like a burse, or some gesture, like the kiss of a bishop's hand, or some inclusion, like the reading of the "Last Gospel," was, even for hundreds of years, included in the liturgy doesn't mean that 1) it was Divinely instituted or 2) that it should remain a part of the liturgy.

Following the Reformation our Church operated from a position of “No Change.” For to have acknowledged the need for change, even in something as inconsequential as a burse or a lifted chasuble hem, would have seemed to have been a capitulation to the Reformation ethos. Rather than make gradual changes that were entirely in keeping with liturgical theology and history, not to mention common sense, we retreated into a very closed system. We saw ourselves as a perfect society, even to the extent that many taught that the Kingdom of God and the Catholic Church were essentially identical. We damned anyone we considered to be outside that system to the fires of Hell.

I am neither a minimalist nor a traditionalist in terms of the liturgy. Make the case that something serves the twin purposes of the liturgy – the worship of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit AND the communication of the saving mysteries of Jesus Christ to the People of God – and I’ll be all ears.

dominic1955 said...

"Dominic - If I were a liturgical minimalist as you suggest, I would not wear a chasuble.
A minimalist doesn't wear a chasuble, I wear a chasuble, therefore, I am not a minimalist."

I'm saying you just as well be if you requirement for something to be used is that is has some necessary use. Why bother with the chasuble? Its just a Roman poncho, and since churches are climate controlled these days in America, its really not needed. A chasuble is no more necessary than a burse or chalice veil is.

"Are they "out of harmony with the inner nature of the liturgy? I would say that they are, but not in some earth-shattering way that, seeing them used, would cause me to gnash my teeth…"

What, oh do praytell, is the "inner nature of the liturgy"?

"Just because some item, like a burse, or some gesture, like the kiss of a bishop's hand, or some inclusion, like the reading of the "Last Gospel," was, even for hundreds of years, included in the liturgy doesn't mean that 1) it was Divinely instituted"

Next you're goin' be telling me the earth is round. Pshaw...

"or 2) that it should remain a part of the liturgy."

There is nothing saying they should be cut out either.

"Following the Reformation our Church operated from a position of “No Change.” For to have acknowledged the need for change, even in something as inconsequential as a burse or a lifted chasuble hem, would have seemed to have been a capitulation to the Reformation ethos."

In the 1570 Missale Romanum it had the priest give the triple blessing we now usually associate with a bishop. That got cut in subsequent editions, for example. Various things had changed, they didn't think little bits of this and that were a capitulation to the thinking of the Reformation. I think they did see accurately that the Reformation cut to the very quick in its run to "restore" the "pure" worship of what they thought was the "Early Church". We saw that same mindset in the people who made up the NO. The Tridentine-era Church did, however, see it fall on the side of keeping more that had been passed down that cutting it out.

"Rather than make gradual changes that were entirely in keeping with liturgical theology and history, not to mention common sense, we retreated into a very closed system."

Why did the Mass need changing? The Easterners seem to think their liturgy doesn't need tampering with either.

"We saw ourselves as a perfect society, even to the extent that many taught that the Kingdom of God and the Catholic Church were essentially identical. We damned anyone we considered to be outside that system to the fires of Hell."

Well, we can't "damn" anyone. It just follows logically that heretics and schismatics put themselves in danger of eternal damnation from cutting themselves off from the One True Church, outside of which there is no salvation. EENS was taught long before the Counter-Reformation, I'm sure you know.

"I am neither a minimalist nor a traditionalist in terms of the liturgy. Make the case that something serves the twin purposes of the liturgy – the worship of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit AND the communication of the saving mysteries of Jesus Christ to the People of God – and I’ll be all ears."

Make the case that the chasuble does. Make the case that three readings do instead of four, or six, or two. Make the case that precious materials are needed. Make the case for six candles, or two or none. Make the case for ANY of this stuff! What you have already laid down, i.e. being necessary, could be used to cut down the Mass into some 10 minute affair that would make a Calvinist blush for how stark it is. I would say our traditional liturgies (East and West) do both precisely because they are traditional, but you reject that out of hand.

Pater Ignotus said...

Dominic - Do you agree or disagree with the passage I quoted from SC?

"For the liturgy is made up of immutable elements divinely instituted, and of elements subject to change. These not only may but ought to be changed with the passage of time if they have suffered from the intrusion of anything out of harmony with the inner nature of the liturgy or have become unsuited to it."

If you do, then we can discuss the elements that can be changed and why they should be changed or omitted. If you agree, then you acknowledge that it is the Church that decides what needs changing and, with the Divine Authority given to it, makes those changes.

If you do not, then your beef is not with me, but with the Church who gave us SC #21.

JBS said...

Pater Ignotus,

Holy Mother Church says that the use of the chalice veil in the Ordinary Form is praiseworthy/laudable. That is her ruling on the matter.

John Nolan said...

PI, there is also SC 36/1 and SC 54 which you choose to ignore. Actually quoting SC at one another serves little purpose since it is a deliberately ambiguous and in my opinion dishonest document. It's interesting that it was the first V2 document to be signed off, and certainly set the tone for what followed. Perhaps in a hundred or two hundred years' time the whole issue of V2 can be dissected and clarified. It's already looking remarkably dated.

Even you must realize that what was 'dans le vent' in the 1960s and 1970s regarding the liturgy no longer has the same resonance in the second decade of the 21st century. I don't know on what evidence you assume I inhabit 'realms' other than those of the Catholic Church and I can assure you that I am never 'apoplectic' - I avoid bad liturgy since it is obviously an occasion of sin but I suspect I am more tolerant than you are. I can attend an all-vernacular Mass with equanimity, whereas you seem to think that a Latin Gloria is unintelligible to all but competent Latinists, despite the fact that congregations have been reciting it in English for decades, and there is hardly a word in it that doesn't have an English cognate.

A chalice veil ('praiseworthy' according to GIRM 118) is seen by you as 'unnecessary'. Have you ever wondered why the GIRM considers it 'praiseworthy' or do you arrogate your own opinion over that of the guidelines for the only form of Mass you are prepared to celebrate?

dominic1955 said...


"If you do, then we can discuss the elements that can be changed and why they should be changed or omitted."

It all comes down to interpretation. OK, so I agree with the passage-as I would interpret it which obviously must be different than how you do.

"If you agree, then you acknowledge that it is the Church that decides what needs changing and, with the Divine Authority given to it, makes those changes."

Which would also mean that you have painted yourself into a corner. As other posters have pointed out, even the new GIRM considers it "praiseworthy" to make use of the chalice veil.

In other words, don't get all uppity about "Divine Authority" when you pooh-pooh things that same authority considers praiseworthy.

"If you do not, then your beef is not with me, but with the Church who gave us SC #21."

Sacrosanctum concilium is a snapshot of liturgical history. I would say it was authored by radicals who wanted to reinvent the liturgy in their own image but written so it could be interpreted any which way and peppered with plenty of traditional things to keep everybody happy. Plenty of it has been conveniently ignored (i.e. Latin to remain in the Latin Rites) and it is sufficiently vague to justify anything. I would furthermore say that at this point, relying on SC for guidance on liturgy is like looking to the Lateran Council on how to deal with the Jews.

When I get into arguments like this, I just have to remember to thank God I am no longer in the seminary and am now in an area where I have an FSSP parish, an Ordinariate parish, a Byzantine Rite parish, and a NO parish which does use "unnecessary" things like chalice veils and palls. Blessed peace and beauty in tradition.

Pater Ignotus said...

Dominic - So, then, how do you interpret SC 21 regarding the elements of the mass that cannot be changed because they are of Divine origin, and those that can be changed because they are not?

I am in no chalice veil corner. Its use is "praiseworthy" but not mandated. It is praiseworthy to sell all that one has and give to the poor, but I'm not chasing in my IRA just yet... Are you?

John Nolan said...

PI, it's interesting that you are as incapable of answering dominic1955 as you are of answering me. Both he and I ask you to consider certain points and perhaps engage in debate over them. Unfortunately all you do is reiterate your own position which admits of no nuance or contradiction. Latin? Useless. Palls and chalice veils? Useless.

It seems to have escaped your notice that something is not useless simply because you decide not to use it, or that those who disagree with you are simply giving their own subjective opinions.

That is why it's pointless trying to argue with you. I persist a) because I am bloody-minded and b) because the truth can penetrate even the thickest carapace of ignorance. Magna est veritas et prevalebit, n'est-ce pas?

dominic1955 said...

Absolutely strictly speaking, She couldn't change the basic words of institution. Maybe the basic structure, other than that, there isn't much that is absolutely untouchable.

In the time in which the liturgy was properly reverenced, they though it was highly imprudent to touch the Canon. For instance, I believe it was in the time of Pius VI or Benedict XIV that they said that they would not add St. Joseph's name to the Canon because the Canon hadn't been altered since the time of St. Gregory the Great. It wasn't that they thought they "couldn't" do it, its that they thought they shouldn't. St. Joseph is a great saint, powerful intercessor and Patron of the Universal Church, but the Canon didn't really need to have him in there either. Now we do, nothing wrong with it, but I think it was an unfortunate line that was crossed with innocent and pious motives but gave a green light that something so untouchable now was to people with less stellar motives. As I said before, the liturgy can be altered and other things were altered, for better or for worse in both the Roman Missal and the Roman Breviary (not to mention other major local liturgies) throughout the centuries.

Let's take the pressure of Bugnini and Co. for a bit and look at the Lyonese Rite. During the Neo-Gallican craze of the 18th Century, I would say that the Lyonese Rite was ravaged by the bishop of the time. Under the conventions of the day, it was under his authority, but I think he abused that authority to follow a will o' the wisp and in doing so did irreparable damage to the Rite he was charged in handing on in purity. They tried to fix it back when the liturgical movement was sane, but the winds surrounding Vatican II dealt the final death blow to it. Sad.

So, getting back to Rome, the fact that things "can" be changed does not mean they should be. Pope Francis has the legal authority to tear St. Peter's Basilica to the ground and erect some East German office building looking monstrosity in its place but I would say he doesn't have the traditional or moral authority to do so.

"I am in no chalice veil corner. Its use is "praiseworthy" but not mandated."

That is minimalism, not in the most extreme, but it still is of that same mindset. I obviously have no idea what your parish is like, maybe its poorer and was built later and thus has no older sets of vestments. It would be pretty far down the totem pole of concerns to get matching chalice veils and burses. As in the missions, you make do with what you have. But, and I'm just guessing here, it seems like you are saying that have them or not you wouldn't use them. Whole different ball game.

The problem with the loosey-goosey GIRM is, you aren't in the wrong. You are completely correct in that they are not required and that if you do not use them everything is still totally licit.

"It is praiseworthy to sell all that one has and give to the poor, but I'm not chasing in my IRA just yet... Are you?"

Apples and oranges. You aren't put out in the slightest if you use chalice veil and burse, especially if they are just in the vestment drawers anyway. Selling all you have and giving it to the poor is a vocational thing that is a real sacrifice, one that simply cannot be done by everyone because of their state in life. The "praiseworthy" is different in the two things. We've used chalice veil and burse for hundreds of years, it adds an extra level of reverence for sacred things. What sacrifice does it entail to use traditional things other than maybe having to subject your own opinions to a tradition you don't get or don't like and maybe getting BS from other priests of "that generation" in your deanery?

dominic1955 said...

As an aside, these days (more so a few decades ago) they started introducing those ugly squatty chalices and soup bowl patens that pretty much made it impossible to use the traditional burse and chalice veil as intended. I would say this is at the core of the rejection of the previous way, that its a casualty of trying to overemphasize the meal aspect of Mass over the sacrifice aspect.

Anonymous said...

I have attended the TLM for over 12 years, which I grew up with. I am very happy to be back to my roots after attending the Vatican II Mass. I saw all the negative reasons already stated by all the comments, before I left and found the TLM, in Littleton, Co.

I. Romero said...

Good morning father. I can't comment about the mass in the 60's because i was not born yet. Being a Mexican immigrant in 1976 at age 7 to California, i can only speak for my experience. (1). I do believe the sex scandals in the Church have made it very convenient to for some Christians to point fingers and use that as an excuse to distance themselves from mass and even religion as a whole. (2). I strongly believe that the majority of the mass has been done out of text and tradition and therefore has left the Holy Spirit out of it and without the Holy Spirit the mass has been boring and predictable.
At the same time Father, i would like to say that i strongly believe that it is not the Churches fault for our lack of responsibility to follow our ten commandments and attend mass. I believe the Church and our creator have been there for us all this time and we have just been finding many excuses to live out will and not the Lord's. I will continue to say that it is the competition that has been touching more hearts, minds and souls. By this i'm referring to the evil one using more means to cloud our minds to be unholy and therefore win our souls. For example. Pornography, violence, drug's, alcohol, entertainment and different religious denominations. I can't help to believe that perhaps maybe nothing is wrong. That maybe everything is happening according to revelations in the bible and maybe we are living those times now. That maybe the Church should be preparing us for judgment days and should guide us to maintain a clean heart daily because everyday can be our last.
I cannot express how grateful i am for the Catholic Church for not only feeding me bread when i was hungry and poor, but for also feeding me bread for my soul. Not only with mass but with activities with the nuns and the missionaries. I strongly believe that the Churches are not more responsible than us parents to live the word and teach the word to our children and our brothers and sisters.
Thank you father for your concerns in recovering your lost sheep and may the Lord have mercy for us all. May the Lord fulfill you with the Holy Spirit to guide you in your mission and in his service. I deeply apologize if my opinion offends anyone. God bless you and i love you father.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - I'm not sure how, in one breath, you can tell me that SC is "...deliberately ambiguous and in my opinion dishonest document" and in the next breath, refer to is as authoritative.

Even a "philistine" like me can recognize the contradiction there, one that must have escaped your notice...?

Pater Ignotus said...

Dominick - In response to your question, “What, oh do praytell, is the "inner nature of the liturgy"?” I offer the following:

The celebration of Mass, as the action of Christ and the People of God arrayed hierarchically, is the center of the whole Christian life for the Church both universal and local, as well as for each of the faithful individually. In it is found the high point both of the action by which God sanctifies the world in Christ and of the worship that the human race offers to the Father, adoring him through Christ, the Son of God, in the Holy Spirit. In it, moreover, during the course of the year, the mysteries of redemption are recalled so as in some way to be made present. Furthermore, the other sacred actions and all the activities of the Christian life are bound up with it, flow from it, and are ordered to it. (GIRM 16)

“The Liturgy is an action of the whole Christ (Christus totus).” (CCC 1136) “It is the whole community, the Body of Christ united with its Head, that celebrates.” (CCC 1140)

In its inner nature, the liturgy is communal. That which emphasizes, points to, or encourages the full, conscious, and active participation of those present for mass is in tune with the inner nature of the liturgy.

“A sacramental celebration is woven from signs and symbols.” (CCC 1145) “As a being at once body and spirit, man expresses and perceives spiritual realities through physical signs and symbols. As a social being, man needs signs and symbols to communicate with others, through language, gestures, and actions. The same holds true for his relationship with God.” (CCC 1146)

more...

Pater Ignotus said...

...more

In its inner nature, the liturgy is sacramental – it involves the use of signs and symbols that point to and contain a spiritual reality. What we cannot understand with our mortal
faculties, we believe to be true through the gift of God’s sanctifying grace. (“What our senses fail to fathom, let us grasp through faith’s consent.)

“In fact, it must be firmly believed that, in the mystery of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6), the full revelation of divine truth is given: “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him” (Mt 11:27); “No one has ever seen God; God the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has revealed him” (Jn 1:18); “For in Christ the whole fullness of divinity dwells in bodily form” (Col 2:9-10).”

“Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord's supper.”

In its inner nature, the liturgy is universal – it is the consummation of true belief, it is the full proclamation of salvation to all people, and it is the source and summit of Christian life and, I would suggest, human life.

That’s what I think SC may be referring to when it speaks of the inner nature of the liturgy.

John Nolan said...

PI, where did I say that SC was 'authoritative'? Its general observations concerning the liturgy are unexceptional but as a blueprint for reform there are those who argue that what happened exceeded its remit and those who argue that the subsequent reforms didn't go far enough in terms of realizing its intentions.

There is also the uncomfortable (for some) fact that it is only authoritative with regard to the Novus Ordo or Ordinary Form which we now know did not supplant the classic Roman Rite or Extraordinary Form.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - As Catholics know, "All the arguments which go to prove the infallibility of the Church apply with their fullest force to the infallible authority of general councils in union with the pope." (Catholic Encyclopedia)

You don't have to say Councils are authoritative. They simply are.

Even if you don't think SC was authoritative, you are still left calling it "...deliberately ambiguous and in my opinion dishonest document" yet, in the next breath, citing it as authoritative regarding the use of Latin in the liturgy.

dominic1955 said...

What you say about the inner nature of the liturgy I would agree with. However, going back to what we were talking about, none of this makes any sort of argument about ditching things. If anything, it points towards it making more sense to keep things largely the way they were.

As to councils, no one serious would try to argue that SC is "infallible". The only parts of Councils recognized as infallible are the Canons and Anathemas, i.e. like those of Trent and Vatican I.

One (of many) problems with SC is that in one part it would argue Latin needs to be maintained but then it says silly things like Prime needs to be suppressed, etc. etc. It is contradictory, it is vague, and takes liberties with assumptions that are in no way self evident.

If you look into the writings of the architects of SC and the big wigs of the pre-Conciliar Liturgical Movement and you read some of the opinions of bishops before the Council, one can see that it would be stretching it to say what came after Vatican II was more a creation of the Zeitgeist than the Heiliger Geist.

Flavius Hesychius said...

Ignotus, it is my opinion that certain parts of the GA Code are deliberately ambiguous and dishonest, but that doesn't mean the GA Code somehow loses the full force of law (which would make it 'authoritative').

I don't why that's so hard to understand, but maybe my example will help you.

John Nolan said...

PI, you are being disingenuous again. You are well aware that SC does not contain any new dogma which would indeed require our assent, and I was having a go at you for 'cherry-picking' the document, citing those portions of it with which you agree, and ignoring those with which you do not. (Traddies do the same, which says a lot for the ambiguous nature of it.) Considering its provenance (the Bugnini schema) and the fact that those who drafted it had their own liturgical agenda which they were unwilling to unfold in full in front of the Council Fathers but pushed forward with all haste as soon as they got the green light from Paul VI leads me to the conclusion that it is fundamentally dishonest. This is only an opinion, however. Michael Davies (mentioned above) gives the best-informed analysis of the whole process, and Cardinal Ratzinger seems to have concurred with him.

Sacrosanctum Concilium can be seen as the starting-point for the process which led to the Pauline Missal of 1970. However, it has no bearing on the Eastern (Catholic) rites, save in its insistence that they be preserved, and it has no bearing on the pre-Conciliar Roman Rite, which in its 1962 version has been given parity of esteem by the Motu Proprio of 2007. Its authority is therefore circumscribed and conditional, and those who claim it to be 'authoritative' in the accepted sense of the word need to get round this.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - Try as you might, you can't dismiss SC as "deliberately ambiguous and dishonest" on the one hand, and then turn around a cite it as a document to be taken seriously (or authoritative) on the other.

I would love to hear your theology and history of how a Motu Proprio or two trumps ("Its authority is therefore circumscribed and conditional") Conciliar documents...

Flav - Can you cite a section of the GA code that is dishonest? Pls include footnotes!

Gene said...

Flavius, notice how Ignotus deliberately misses the point and begins an oblique maneuver by asking you for specifics about the Ga Code. This is such typical lib maneuvering it does not deserve a response. You may as well spend your time talking with the cat.

John Nolan said...

PI, I certainly take SC seriously, as I do the other Council documents. SP has juridical force and does trump (in the sense of superseding) QAA and EDA; it doesn't of course 'trump' SC. It does, however, undermine it to a certain extent in that it gives parity and status to pre-conciliar rites unaffected by any changes mandated by Vatican II. Whether the Council Fathers envisaged the extent of the changes is another matter.

Flavius Hesychius said...

Gene, it is my general experience that cats are right even when all facts point to the contrary (a similar observation may be made about Siberian Huskies).

I wasn't going to respond, which would likely have been taken as me not actually knowing anything about the GA Code; on the other hand, had I responded, it would have opened up an unnecessary (Ignotus's favourite word, no?) rabbit-hole where Pater Ignotus would have argued my opinion was wrong.

This would then take the focus off of the fact he is, for whatever reason, unable to understand the relatively easy concept of personal opinions not having any effect on the legal weight of a document, whether the OCGA, or Sacrosanctum Concilium—although, as far as I'm concerned, SC is about as relevant as the Constitution of India.

I'm not stupid enough to pretend my opinions about the law are more valuable than they are. Those more knowledgeable about the law might explain why (well... damn... I'll indulge Ignotus) OCGA 3-3-23 doesn't contradict itself.

I freely admit to being beyond my area of expertise concerning the GA Code; however, in my opinion it seems like a rather duplicitous law that prohibits something just to turn around and 'un-prohibit' it.

(And Ignotus, I don't know what you mean by 'footnotes', so I'll assume you mean citations from the OCGA)

Pater Ignotus said...

Flav - Actually, my favorite word is "vermillion."

Personal opinions don't have any impact on the legal weight of documents. We opine here all the time - that's the nature of most contentious blogs.

But when a person, say, John Nolan, dismisses, say, SC, then turns around and says that SC is a document that must be implemented, even a "philistine" like me can see that there is a profound discontinuity in the opinions that underpin such an argument.

Laws are enacted and un-enacted all the time. There's nothing duplicitous in this. It's the nature of legislating.

Pater Ignotus said...

Dominic - I would be interested to hear how what I have posted regarding the inner nature of the liturgy points to keeping things the way they were.

What essential connection do you see between some aspect of the inner nature of the liturgy an lifting the hem of the chasuble at the elevation or the wearing of a maniple, to offer only two examples?

John Nolan said...

PI, where did I say that SC is 'a document that must be implemented'? I merely pointed out certain passages which were not implemented in the subsequent reform, and since those who authored the reform included those who drafted the document in the first place, it doesn't take a genius to infer that the passages which were ignored were always intended to be ignored. So why were they included in the first place?

This is important, since the reformers (and to an extent Paul VI himself) claimed the authority of the Council, and SC in particular, for the outcome of the reform. So what the Council Fathers thought they were voting for, and therefore the precise content of SC, is crucial.

If you want to score cheap points, you should be advised not to accuse me of self-contradiction. I don't claim infallibility but I weigh my words carefully and don't stumble into obvious traps.



Pater Ignotus said...

John - So, you're telling me you DON'T think 36/1 should be implemented?

John Nolan said...

PI, now you're being silly as well as tiresome. SC 36/1 hasn't been implemented, and in any case it is contradicted by 36/3 - this supposedly auhoritative document cannot even agree with itself in adjacent paragraphs. I call it ambiguity and dishonesty. What's your take on it?

Your last question would indicate that you have completely failed to understand my argument. I can't make it any plainer. Try reading it again - perhaps the penny will drop. Or are you being deliberately obtuse? Most commentators here seem to think so.

Anonymous said...

Fighting over worship. Nice. And you wonder why people don't come to church.