Wednesday, May 25, 2016

WHEN THE LITURGY BECOMES A PRODUCT OF TASTE, A CRITIQUE OF QUALITY CAN BE DIFFICULT

Those who have a taste for this image have been repudiated in the last four years or so. The irony in this look is that it comes from the masculine ethos of the EF Mass in terms of its army like marching regimentation but its very feminine ethos for liturgical garb. For many, this photo is the epitome of what is wrong with the EF Mass and recovery of its ethos in the OF Mass :
And of course there are many who have a taste for this and denigrate the above look. For many this photo is the epitome of what is wrong with the OF Mass!!!

Let's face it, the liturgy has become a product. For some it is new and improved (meaning for those who only experienced the post Vatican II Mass, the EF Mass is the new and improved.) For others who knew the EF Mass when the Church was at her peak in the USA, the new is certainly seen as a part of the overall devolement and corruption  of the Church in this country.

How can we be rational when it comes to the Mass given what has happened liturgically and otherwise in the Church and that the hand of God is somehow in it all despite the chaos and messiness of the Church today?

I think those who love Latin and the EF Mass must understand that the one area that most Catholics, traditional Catholics at the time of Vatican II, truly appreciated was the inclusion of some vernacular in the Mass. It was exciting and made participating in the Mass easier to watch as one didn't have to look at their personal missal for the vernacular translation. As a child of 12 years old it was for me a breath of fresh air.

Mind you, it was the Tridentine Mass or what was called the 1965 Missal. The ceremony was the same, the solemnity was the same and above all the reverence was the same. 

Now I have to admit my father preferred the 8 AM Low Mass, so I can't judge music of that period. I have recollections of a few high Masses that made an impression on me, such as midnight Mass. But my main memory of the pre-Vatican II Mass was the Low Mass.

It wasn't until liturgical theologians of the 60's and 70's promoted experimentation with the revision of the Mass, mainly musical experimentation, that a course was set for what is now called the liturgy wars.

On top of that, what was called real bread and communicants eating and drinking made a mockery of the scrupulous care that priests and laity once took with even the smallest particle of a Host. Crumbs and splashes of Precious Blood didn't seem to matter anymore. The flippant remark, God can take care of Himself sums up all the irreverence. The apex of changing liturgical reverence towards the Sacred Species was standing for Holy Communion, receiving in the hand and drinking from a common chalice.

Then a departure from the texts of the Mass with verbose ad libs and changing of the words of the Mass turned the Mass into the playground for the corrupt spirituality and idiosyncrasies of the priest. And this was extended to liturgy committees when they seized control of planning the Mass. Creativity, not tradition, reigned supreme.

However, where traditionalists go wrong is to think that the EF Mass will ever be reimposed upon the Church in an all Latin all clerical form.

Our best hope is for the resacralization of the OF Mass along the lines of the EF Mass is the Ordinariate's Divine Worship, the Missal. That missal is that hope!  What that missal has the current OF Mass could have as an appendix today!

The one area that is not truly being addressed by the Magisterium is music in the Mass. Way too many styles are being allowed under the ambivalent heading of inculturation.  If you have a secular mentality about rhythm and bodily movement during music, then what constitutes reverence is called into question and anything goes from the black Gospel perspective to the Pentecostal, neither of which are Catholic but have Protestant roots which evolved from secular styles and tastes, even fads.

The other area that traditionalists will never ultimately succeed is banning the laity of either sex from liturgical roles of lector, EMHC and altar servers.

What needs to take place is a formal program for installing adults as lectors and communion ministers. There should be a sufficient number who are actually installed have undergone a "seminary" course curriculum which includes doctrine, spirituality and promises.

Many pastors are unscrupulous in selecting lay ministers and the term minister implies ordination. I don't know how many lawsuits there have been from lay ministers taking advantage of vulnerable children or adults, as this is not reported at all.

The hope for the future is the current OF Missal redesigned in such a way that it appears to be a vernacular EF Mass. Mandating Latin for the Canon and fixed parts of the Mass would be a wonderful solution to maintaining why the Latin Rite Mass is called the Latin Rite. The changing parts could be the vernacular exception.

I would say that the single most important recovery from the EF Missal is kneeling for Holy Communion for the OF Missal. If Communion in the hand it allowed, the ancient form of it should be mandated. All we need to do it to look to the Episcopalians who do not formally accept the dogma of transubstantiation but nonetheless  receive their communion in the hand and in the most reverent way possible. 

In doing so the current OF Mass will be what Sacrosanctum Concilium actually requested, minor simplifications, some vernacular and "full, conscious and active participation."

But with that said, the EF Mass can still flourish and make its way for those congregations that have it to include the FSSP and SSPX along with parishes like my current one which embraces both forms of the Mass with no difficulty.

17 comments:

John Nolan said...

There is nothing effeminate about the baroque style of vestments. Only in the nineteenth century did men start dressing in the blacks and greys of the Industrial Revolution, with headgear resembling the chimneys of steam locomotives.

The traditional Roman Rite does not have to be re-imposed; like all legitimate and orthodox rites it cannot be abrogated. Lay readers (not Lectors, there is a difference) EMHC and female servers were not imposed, merely permitted, and no parish is obliged to use them.

Sacrosanctum Concilium is the blueprint for what the reformers had in mind and the 'traditional' elements were included to ensure its acceptance. Had the Council Fathers believed they were voting for an entirely novel ad-hoc vernacular liturgy to replace the Roman Rite they would have rejected it in toto. This was Cardinal Heenan's judgement, and he was there.

Anonymous said...

Traditionally in the Episcopal Church, communion was always received at the altar rail, but perhaps in part because of handicapped access, their parishes often given the option of receiving both species standing. Perhaps ironic despite their liberal tendencies on just about everything else, they keep some tradition for communion. However, some Episcopal parishes still have a "low church" mentality about the Eucharist in light of their vestments---the use of the chasuble is not mandated in their denomination. Up here in Atlanta (the Episcopal Diocese) its head bishop often just wears a rochet, chimere and stole (basically "choir dress") for confirmations, and ditto for one of his assistant bishops---except when presiding at functions at the high church Cathedral of St. Philip, where a cope and/or chasuble often is worn. Despite all the problems---and they have many these days---in the Episcopal Church, one positive development is that the Eucharist largely has replaced Morning Prayer and Sermon as the main worship on Sunday; in days of old, a typical southern Episcopal parish might only celebrate the Eucharist on the first Sunday of the month---now it is pretty routine to be held every Sunday at every service.

Julian Barkin said...

I agree on the point of formal instruction. It should be more widespread to have formal "instituted" acolyte/lector programs as per the changes of that 1970's document that reduced the minor orders. Some dioceses in the USA have instituted acolyte programs, so why not in the Church? Guess priests are too afraid to combat our raging ultra-feminists in the crowd (and some miscatechised laity. I must note there IS a difference between true feminists who partake in TRUE social justice, and the crazy radicals.) The sad part is true complainers are in the minority yet clergy are afraid of a few liberal whiners.

TJM said...

IT's the bottom photo that looks like a scene from La Cage Aux Folles, not the one immediately above. Very telling.

Jan said...

There is only one problem for the Ordinary Form of the Mass and that is retaining sufficient numbers of people to attend the Mass in the future to keep it going. In future, the only group in the Church who are likely to be around to attend are the Opus Dei who are having children and largely their children appear to continue practicing the Faith when they leave college. Most other young people stop attending Mass after they leave college.

The families who attend the EF Mass are having children and their children in the main continue on the practice of the Faith after they leave college. But the vast majority of people who attend the EF Mass will never attend the OF of the Mass, nor will they accept the introduction of lay people, readers, and extraordinary ministers into the EF of the Mass.


If we compare the EF of the Mass with other rites it is closest to the Orthodox.
If we compare the OF of the Mass with other rites it is closest to protestant services and many forms of the OF are closest really to pentecostal gatherings.

If lay people could be imposed on the Church as they were in the new form of the Mass there is no reason why they couldn't be removed at some time in the future. It will largely depend on how conservative the Church becomes over time. With the way things have gone since the Second Vatican Council it is quite possible that the Church will revert and become traditional once more.

However, I don't see any problem with there being two forms of the Mass as there is now but I do think that it requires priests ordained in traditional orders to offer the EF Mass and sacraments because the two groups of Catholics traditional and conservative are poles apart.

rcg said...

When you are the executive officer for a general and attend a meeting on his behalf you are to be treated as he should treated. This means you should act as he would act to maintain respect. He can be a very personable fellow, and afterwards you can also be genial, play the banjo, and sing with the children at the cocktail party or barbecue. In the official meeting, however, you carry not only his power but his dignity on display. You must not let your own familiarity incorrectly display his office even if the uniform is sort of silly by current fashion standards. Lives are at stake.

Henry said...

"There is nothing effeminate about the baroque style of vestments."

Indeed, Roman-style vestments appear to be modeled on the vestments of the (prototypically masculine) Jewish high priest as described in Exodus 28. For instance, take a look at the "ephod" (worn over a blue robe) shown in the illustration at

http://www.bible-history.com/tabernacle/TAB4The_Priestly_Garments.htm

to see (with startling clarity) where the style of the Roman or fiddle-back chasuble surely comes from.

One quibble with this excellent post:

"However, where traditionalists go wrong is to think that the EF Mass will ever be reimposed upon the Church in an all Latin all clerical form."

I don't recall ever having heard a single traditionalist say such a thing (in the flesh, as opposed to loony internet stuff). I wonder if anyone even expects to sometime see 5% of Catholics attending Mass in its traditional Latin form.

Anonymous said...

The insertion of women into traditionally male roles in the Mass is a perfect example of an uncalled for accommodation of western culture. This is the culture forming the church instead of the Church forming the culture as it should. The Priests and Bishops are afraid to stop it for the same reason Elijah was afraid of Jezabel. This gender equivocation is coming from that same spirit and is behind the whole LGBTQ thing. Until we have some leadership that recognizes this and says " throw her down" we cant expect too much progress in other areas.
Hopeful signs though, an alter rail is planned to go in at a large parish in our Diocese.
Saint Michael the Archangel defend us in battle...

Marc said...

Henry, I can't agree with your last remark. No one would have expected the Church to throw out the TLM in the first place, especially considering its substitute. In that light, I don't see that it is impossible for the Church to return completely to the traditional Mass. This is a gift thing to hope for, even though we know it's a difficult thing to imagine.

George said...


In the military and corporate worlds there sometimes develops what is termed "mission creep" . This occurs when a person or persons in a responsible position presumes, assumes, and interprets, according to their own personal agenda or perpective, on that which what was originally constituted and set forth, and ends up exceeding the bounds of what was originally intended. Looking at the history of the Church over the last fifty years,something like this occurred in implementation of the documents after Vatican II. What ensued was compounded by the fact that this occurred across different eccelesiatical jurisdictions without prudent or sufficient consideration to any uniformity or consistancy. A pastoral council needs guidelines for a faithful and consistent implementation and I would say especially so.

Henry said...

Marc, I have cited as my all-time favorite internet post the following Christian Order feature:

I Had A Dream
“On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, at a Pontifical High Mass in the Tridentine rite, the new Pope was surrounded by all the Bishops of the Catholic Church. . . . . Then in an announcement which stunned the congregation, the new Pope announced that the ‘prolonged experiment’ of the ‘Novus Ordo’ Mass would be rapidly phased out and although, as his predecessors had pointed out, it is a valid Mass, he had no doubt that the great sacramental gifts of the Tridentine Mass, the ‘Mass for all times’ formulated by St Pius V, would soon once again be embraced universally. To bring this into effect he had ordered all bishops and priests everywhere to re-institute the Tridentine Mass on a daily basis in all churches and to make it available on Sundays at times when the majority of the Faithful would have easy access to the ‘Sacrifice of Calvary.’ He noted that some ageing priests and prelates might not be able to grasp the necessary skills to say the Latin Mass and that therefore these, after due examination, would be permitted to say the Novus Ordo in private, after the prayer book apportioned to that version of the Mass had been adjusted to correct the errors and omissions imposed over the decades.”

But wouldn’t you agree any such expectation is actually quixotic? If what is meant is the traditional (entirely) Latin Mass precisely as you and I see it every Sunday. Some (perhaps limited) use of the vernacular was exciting and attractive to most Catholics initially--including those who remained traditionally faithful in the 1960s--before rampant abuses set in, and now, having been ingrained in a couple of generations, vernacular usage in the Mass is surely here to stay.

Is it not the most we can realistically expect, that the model of the EF Mass afforded by Summorum Pontificum can eventually lead to wholesome reform the OF Mass, perhaps along the lines of the Ordinate missal that Fr. M references? That is, a traditionally celebrated Mass, textually close to the classical Roman Mass, but largely in a hieratic vernacular, allowing for fixed parts in Latin and preservation of the Church’s treasury of sacred music. (While realizing that even this seems unattainable so long as a de-Cathologizing papacy is in place.)

RSC+ said...

Being from Georgia myself, I appreciate the functionality of fiddleback chasubles and lace. In the summer, it is HOT, much like, I would guess, in Italy, southern France, Spain, etc. What is dismissed as effeminate is actually quite practical, for the same reason that heavy Gothic chasubles and thick albs make more sense in the winter or in England, where it gets quite a bit chillier. I find birettas to be gilding the lily a bit, but that says more about me than about them. ;)

Flavius Hesychius said...

I prefer the conical chasuble to the Roman one, though my opinion here is moot since I'm not going to be wearing a chasuble to begin with.

Marc said...

Henry, I concede that the dream of every parish returning to the traditional Latin Mass is rather far-fetched. I'm just not willing to concede that it is impossible because the elimination of the traditional Latin Mass also seemed impossible at one point. Yet, here we are!

As for the vernacular, I just don't know. I'm inclined to agree with you since you've been paying attention to these issues for much longer than I have. But I question who is the audience for vernacular in the traditional Mass today. None of the traditional priestly groups are clamoring for it, and neither are their faithful. Traditional Catholics that I encounter aren't worried about doing anything to the liturgy except maintaining it as it is so that their families can have it from generation to generation.

An anecdote on the lack of need of vernacular. After Masses at the local FSSP parish, the priest intones, in Latin, the seasonal Marian hymn. I have heard 5 year olds belt out the Salve Regina in Latin with amazing proficiency and love. I was somewhat ashamed upon first going to this parish because I did not know the hymn in Latin, but I heard little kids behind me singing loudly and proudly. With that in mind, I will never be convinced that there is any need for vernacular in our liturgy.

Henry said...

Marc, for a variety of reasons--in addition to the fact that its unneeded for those attending the TLM (as you mention)--I would be altogether opposed to the introduction of any vernacular into the EF. Even the readings in the vernacular is (I believe) a step down the slippery slope.

In references to the vernacular, I meant only in the OF, and the hope that Summorum Pontificem, by providing the EF as a model and anchor for reform, will lead eventually to a sacralization of the OF in celebrations that combine Latin, Gregorian chant, and hieratic vernacular (like the Ordinariate Mass as I understand it).

Dialogue said...

Given their fondness for contraception and their high rates of apostate children, we can predict, with great sadness, that much of the present O.F. participation will dwindle down to near nothing in coming decades. In that case, all that will remain of religion in the West will be "EF Catholicism", Pentecostalism and Islam, with a remnant of Hasidic Jews.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if a good start might be to return to receiving only one species of the Eucharist, particularly during the obligatory (Sunday) Mass. Second, returning to some form mandated, structured High Mass on Sunday might help bring back some reverence. The Ordinariate's Divine Worship, the Missal you mention might be the ideal blueprint. By structuring the obligatory Mass, people could still enjoy the more casual Masses they are accustomed to on the weekdays. At those Masses the participants are much fewer in number, and the true liturgical abuses can be better monitored and controlled.