Saturday, February 21, 2015


We don't have the exact words of Pope Francis' recent discussion with the clergy of Rome concerning the manner in which to celebrate the Mass and the needed reform to recover the sense of wonder and awe in the Mass that was lost after its revision. Suffice it to say that even if the Pope was concerned about those who want to do away with the Ordinary Form of the Mass altogether (one interpretation of the Reform of the Reform) His Holiness would be completely correct in saying this is wrong or a wrong approach.

There is no uniform definition amongst those who desire it for the term "reform of the reform." My preference is "reform in continuity" which is what Pope Benedict used and I have said over and over again the best example of this is what the Anglican Ordinariate will soon have in their new Roman Missal, developed under Pope Benedict's papacy but approved by Pope Francis!

It seems, though, His Holiness' criticism of the "reform of the reform" has more to do with ultra-traditionalists who take in candidates for the priesthood who have been rejected by other religious orders or dioceses, who have serious mental and emotional issues that can harm the Church in the long-run. They are rigid and  hide their problems under a pious regimen that appears to be holiness rather than pathology. This is quite legitimate, although if the truth be told, progressive bishops did more of this indiscriminate selecting of priestly candidates prior to the sex abuse scandal than did traditional bishops. Progressive corrupt candidates for the priesthood wreck havoc on the Church as well and perhaps more so in the last 40 years!

As per His Holiness talk on the Liturgy, we are now learning that the talk was based on a very long presentation given to the Congregation for Divine Worship in 2005 when he was still Cardinal Bergoglio. The text for this talk is in the Vatican Newspaper,  L’Osservatore Romano but in Italian  and hasn't been translated.

But here is another take on that talk to the Roman clergy:

Cardinal Bergoglio on the celebration of the Mass

Catholic World News - February 20, 2015

L’Osservatore Romano has published comments made by the future Pope Francis on the celebration of the Mass. 

The March 2005 address was delivered during a meeting of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. L’Osservatore Romano reported that the text was the basis of Pope Francis’s February 19 remarks to the clergy of Rome. 

The future Pope called for a recovery of Eucharistic awe and wonder in the face of the reality of the mystery being celebrated. It is important, he added, that the priest be a man of prayer who puts on the Lord Jesus Christ and that in the homily, he speak from the heart. 

Cardinal Bergoglio added that the variety of options in the current missal is “remarkable” compared to the Eastern liturgy and that there is thus no need for “superfluous, poor texts of wild ‘creativity.’”
In speaking the words of the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest, he added, should neither be a “showman” of “superficial animation,” nor use “rigid gestures,” as if the faithful were not present.

My final comment: The greatest problem today for the Mass in general does not come from those priests who use "rigid gestures" but precisely from those priests, usually my age and older, who are "showman and use superficial animation." I experienced this in the most dreadful way this past weekend when I attended Mass while on vacation.

Of the two extremes highlighted by the pope, please give me "rigid gestures" over "showman, superficial animation"!


Rood Screen said...

Sounds reasonable enough to me. It's even intelligible!

rcg said...

Many people are attracted to the Church because they are attracted to power. Some people also desire power for themselves and think they can attain it by becoming clergy. A certain authority comes with the position and some will pursue the adoration of their congregation as an audience through their actions. Some desire the trappings of higher office to satisfy their desire for power. A casual survey of wealthy or ostentatious clergy seems to show that conservatives do not monopolise, or even are over represented, among the showy or ostentatious except in the stereptypes.

Ryan Ellis said...

I think we all kind of know what the ROTR is, Father. That's not really in dispute in its major elements: Latin, ad orientem, male servers, kneeling to receive, the Roman Canon, Mass propers, incense, chant, etc. That's not the issue. The issue is that this pope is clearly hostile to efforts to have an ars celebrandi in the ordinary form which is in continuity with the ars celebrandi of liturgical tradition. That's bad, and there is simply no dressing it up.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Ryan, your description is but one form of the "reform of the reform." Not even Pope Benedict would describe it as you have.

There are those in advocate a "reform of the reform" and I would include myself in this, who are not opposed to altar girls in principle, accept the other Eucharistic Prayers of the Ordinary Form and its lectionary.

We are open to Ad Orientem and what Pope Benedict recommends short of this, the central crucifix when facing the congregation.

We are open to kneeling for Holy Communion but do not disregard standing outright or even receiving in the hand although I happen to think it leads to abuses of the Eucharist, intentional or not.

Pope Francis "ars celebrandi" at the Vatican and elsewhere since he has become Pope is a very much "ad orientem" style even when facing the congregation. He prays by the book, there are no ad libs not even at the Introductory of the Penitential Act which is so commonly done by bishops and priests.

Ryan Ellis said...

OK, we could split hairs here like lawyers, or we could simply admit the obvious: this pope is simply not on the same page as liturgy-first Catholics. He thinks we are out of touch nerds who are anti-pastoral. Why do some need to bend over backwards to explain him away? Can't he just be a bad pope in this area?

John Nolan said...

ROTR did not mean celebrating the Pauline Missal in a reverential way or resacralizing the liturgy. This was always an option - in fact I have been attending Novus Ordo Masses celebrated ad orientem in Latin since the early 1970s.

The idea was that there would be a fusion of Rites and a definitive Missal within the next 30, 50 or 100 years. This isn't going to happen, since the two forms are radically different both textually and in the way they are celebrated. Fr Kavanaugh is probably right here when he claims that the Novus Ordo is based on a different ecclesiology.

Given the number of options in the NO it is possible to celebrate it in a 'Tridentine' way. In particular, and largely thanks to the monks of Solesmes, the musical structure remained intact although a redistribution of chants was necessary.

If you think, like Fr McDonald does, that the changeable parts of the Mass should be in the vernacular, then by all means stick to the Novus Ordo. There are plenty of options and that is certainly one. But leave the Roman Rite intact, otherwise you get 1964, followed by 1967 (with a number of changes in the interim) followed by 1970, followed by a lot of dubious legislation allowing Extraordinary Monsters and nail-gazing, hair-flicking serviettes.


Anonymous said...

What "reform of the reform" means may not be self-explanatory, but Benedict's "reform in continuity with tradition" surely is:

--with tradition: ad orientem celebration as solely contemplated at Vatican II
--with tradition: kneeling to receive on the tongue as solely contemplated at Vatican II
--with tradition: the Roman Canon as solely contemplated at Vatican II
--tradition: ordinary and propers chanted as contemplated at Vatican II
--with tradition: male servers as solely contemplated at Vatican II
--with Latin heritage preserved as directed by Vatican II

Does it look like Benedict's "reform in continuity with tradition" simply look like "in accordance with Vatican II"

Anonymous said...

"Can't he just be a bad pope in this area?"

The pope like Benedict who was a liturgical expert and leader--or was even sufficiently knowledgeable about the liturgy to talk about it--is the exception rather than the rule. Most popes have always just followed the direction of their MC's.

But quite exceptional in the history of the popes is one who blatters about liturgical matters without being especially qualified to do so. More typical has been the pope who spoke only about something where he had something special and reliable to say.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Ryan - No, you can't say Pope Francis is a "bad pope in this area."

You can say that he does not share your views regarding how the liturgy should be "reformed" or if it needs reformation.

You can say that it certainly seems that his understanding of the ecclesiology of communion does not lead him to favor the EF.

You can say that you are disappointed that he has not continued with the promotion of the EF as his predecessor.

You can say that you are unhappy, that you are crestfallen, that you hope the next pope will see things your way.

But you can't say that, because Pope Francis does not agree with the liturgical aspirations of a tiny minority of Catholics that he is a "bad pope."

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mr. Ellis. I think we can disagree with the Holy Father, and pray for him, without having to reinterpret his statements or resort to attacking him.

Православный физик said...

I happen to agree, the mental gymnastics being used to explain the obvious is rather said.

The clear answer is that, while he (Pope Francis) is not of the mind of Benedict XVI on the Liturgy, he does allow things. People can do things in spite of their own personal opinions....(And in many times, they should)

So a non-Liturgical pope we have, a talker we have, pray for him we must.