Saturday, April 15, 2017


It is easy to be negative and cynical about the state of the crisis of the Church today. Many want to bury their heads in the sand and simply be grateful that at least 12 % of Catholics in some American dioceses actually practice the Faith by attending the Liturgies of the Church.

For Holy Thursday and Good Friday, my new church that can seat up to 1,200 people, was less that half full which is about 500 people. It looked half full, but if the same number were at the previous church that seats 500 it would have looked packed. So it is all a matter of perspective. And Richmond Hill, Georgia only has about 30,000 people but is a fast growing bedroom community of Savannah, if that many, compared to Macon with over 150,000 people, but a declining population.

I am not as negative about the modern liturgies of the Church as some are. I am not negative at all about the extraordinary form liturgies either. I've only celebrated Mass, baptisms and Nuptial Liturgies in the ancient form, never Holy Thursday, Good Friday or the Easter Vigil. I would find that I would be a fish out of water if I had to do it now after 37 years of the modern forms of these liturgies.

I think where ultra-traditionalists miss the mark is in their negativity about the modern forms which can be celebrated well if there is attention to detail, rehearsals when needed, and doing it by the book, meaning that old cliche, do the red and read the black, but without being robotic.

I know from experience that prior to the reforms of the Mass, most priests were not robotic with the ancient form of the Mass. Younger priests today, and maybe it is scrupulosity that also existed in the pre-Vatican II Church, seem so robotic, as though the liturgy is foreign to them, not integrated into their very soul and they are trying just a bit too much to disengage their humanity from the divinity they celebrate, not realizing that the Mystery they celebrate is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, one Divine Person, with two natures, human and divine and the human part comes from the humans that God created in His image and likeness, especially the Blessed Virgin Mary who was no robot!

The hope for the Church is coming from not only our Emeritus Pope's liturgical legacy, but from the likes of Cardinal Sarah and  Bishop Morlino. They recognize the crisis in the Church and have a "Marshal" plan to fix it beginning with the Liturgy of Vatican II celebrated in continuity with the Liturgy of the Church from all times, with beauty, care, solemnity and sobriety.


John Nolan said...

When it comes to Holy Week it is of little advantage to follow the 1962 Missal which incorporates the ill-conceived reforms of the 1950s.

However, the solemnity required for these services in their 1970 form means that the lazy 'hymn sandwich' formula normally associated with the Novus Ordo simply will not do. By all means sing the Exsultet in English, but sing it in the correct tone (it can be downloaded from the ICEL website). Don't bowdlerize it and submit it to a catchy tune. In any case, the antiquity of these rites seems to demand more use of Latin and plainchant.

On Good Friday the Improperia and Crux Fidelis are part of the liturgy. Yet how many Catholics have actually heard them? The Easter Vigil should never, ever be celebrated as a Low Mass with a few hymns thrown in.

Anonymous said...

"Younger priests today . . . seem so robotic . . ."

I don't know which young priests you're seeing. Evidently, not the dynamic young priests we see in East Tennessee, whose fidelity and reform enthusiasm are revitalizing the newer liturgy in in the parishes they serve, along with their Masses in the older form.

John Nolan said...

There can't be many priests left who used the old Rite on a daily basis before the changes of the 1960s. In a few cases familiarity may have caused them to rush things, and the more deliberate pace usually adopted in the Low Mass these days is no bad thing.

There is no way that the celebrant can impose his personality on the Mass (and this also applies to the Eastern Rites, so it is not peculiar to the Roman Rite). When he turns to the people he is instructed to keep his eyes downcast.

However, in the vernacular Novus Ordo he is encouraged to engage in a face-to-face dialogue with the congregation; in most cases he eyeballs them from start to finish; even when seated he sits in his chair like Kipling's 'Great Gawd Budd' as he presides over the assembly.

This is probably the greatest difference in the two rites. Other things, like the unprecedented vernacularization of the liturgy, or the equally unprecedented innovation that allows the celebrant, as he approaches the altar, to decide what Eucharistic Prayer he is going to use, are also significant.

This is why the idea of a ROTR whereby the two forms can somehow be 'fused' is a non-starter. On this Anthony Ruff and Alcuin Reid are agreed.

Agnes said...

I agree completely that both forms can be celebrated well. I am fortunate to have access to both the EF and a wonderfully celebrated OF (Latin, chant, no liturgical abuses, etc.), and each has its positive and negative points. However, I have to say that the prayers of the Mass in the EF far exceed the prayers in the OF. When I attend the OF Mass the prayers are missing so much depth that is present in the EF, and I can see how this adversely affects my praying the Mass.