Monday, September 4, 2017


With the 10th anniversary date of the implementation of Summorum Pontificum on September 14, 2007, the Solemnity of the Holy Cross, in what ways has the celebration of the EF grown, not only in the number of these Masses, but in actual participation?

I don't think the number of these Masses has increased and if so only in a minuscule way. I know that in Macon at St. Joseph Church, I had about 130 people who were interested in this Mass out of a parish of about 1,500 households at that time.

Prior to the implementation at St. Joseph on 9/14/07, I had a class on the EF Mass and the difference between it and the normative Mass. About 80 people attended. And on 9/14/07, a Friday night, with horrible thunderstorms and a tornado watch, we had about 300 attending a low Mass at 7 PM.

Once we began the once a month High Mass on Sunday at 2 pm we averaged about 80 people, sometimes more, sometimes less. When we had solemn celebrations for our St. Joseph Feast Day or All Soul's Mass, we had about 150 to 200 attending.

Then when we moved the once a month EF Mass to our normal 12:10 PM Sunday Mass, but once a month, there would be 300 or so in attendance.

We also had a weekly Tuesday 5 PM Low Mass.

In the Diocese of Savannah in 2017 there are only two parishes that offer the EF Mass regularly, the Cathedral each Sunday at 1 PM and St. Joseph Church, once a month on Sunday.

At the Cathedral there are a couple hundred locals who attend with a many tourists as well.  The locals could not form their own parish, but I think that would be a wise thing for the future but they would have to support it with their financial offerings.

So as far as the Diocese of Savannah is concerned, the EF Mass draws a minuscule number of people and is in fact a "boutique" Mass--it does not have popular appeal. But those who like it are fierce about it.

As far as actual participation, I tried hard in Macon to have the congregation chant their parts and for the most part they did and they did chant well the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei as well as the responses to the priest. At the Cathedral, not so much. They rely on the excellent schola and I think this is a weakness in actual participation at the Cathedral.

At St Joseph, we would sing a fine Catholic vernacular hymn during the procession, with it ending once the priest arrived at the foot of the altar and then the Introit was chanted and an English hymn, was sung at the recessional.

Those of you who attend the EF Mass, how many of you actually chant with the choir the parts that are yours?

Thus, I continue to recommend that parishes have priests who know both forms of the Mass and that the Ordinary Form of the Mass be improved along the lines of the ethos of reverence of the Extraordianry Form as the normative Mass is the Mass that most Catholics attend and receive their Catholic Liturgical formation for better or worse.


Anonymous said...

I always chant the parts of the Mass at a High Mass and everyone I know does. However, I don't feel that I am "participating" anymore than when I attend Low Mass. I certainly "participate" more at the Extraordinary Form of the Mass because it is conducive to prayer but I find the Sunday Novus Ordo Mass very boring. The first 15 minutes is usually a band and you would think you were at a talent show where the band performs in that manner. I came across this which I think sums it up:

Ten things you will “miss” by going to the Traditional Latin Mass.

Altar girls. Look all you want, you won’t find them. As the justification for this modern innovation comes from the 1983 Code of Canon Law and a 1994 clarification from Rome, the traditional Rite (using the 1962 liturgical books & norms) does not permit for them.

Lay readers. Only the priest (at a Low Mass), or deacon and subdeacon (at a High Mass) can read the Lesson & Gospel, as this function is, of course, a liturgical function. In fact, prior to their elimination by Pope Paul VI in 1972, minor orders included that of lector for this very purpose.

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Or as they are sometimes erroneously called, Eucharistic ministers. Nowhere in the traditional Roman Rite will you find armies of laity (often female) storming the sanctuary in secular clothing to assist with the distribution of Holy Communion. When you assist (i.e. attend) at the traditional Mass you will only receive Our Eucharistic Lord from the consecrated hands of a priest.

Communion in the hand. At the Latin Mass the faithful receive as all western Catholics have since the first millennium: kneeling and on the tongue. This is, of course, a means by which the Church demonstrates her reverence for the Eucharist and our very belief in the Real Presence. It’s also a way to guard against profanation of the Sacrament.

Mass offered facing the people (versus populum). Not happening at the Latin Mass. Much like the pilot of a plane or driver of a car, the priest faces the same direction as we do during Mass, ad orientem (toward the east). Remember: the Holy Sacrifice is an action directed to God, and not simply a service or a conversation among friends.

Bad music. Oregon Catholic Press (O.C.P.), Marty Haugen and David Haas music, those banal folk hymns from the 1970’s and 1980’s, Protestant Praise and Worship songs…all are missing from the Traditional Latin Mass. In the ancient Rite you will have to either “settle” for the sacred silence of the Low Mass, or the sung Propers, Gregorian Chant, or even (if so blessed) Palestrina, Mozart, and Bach of a High Mass.

Part 2 cont'd


Anonymous said...

Part 2

Standing. While you will still stand for portions of the Mass, there are three distinct occasions in which you kneel, instead of standing, at the Traditional Mass: during the Creed (at the profession of the incarnation…“And was incarnate by the Holy Spirit…”), for receiving Holy Communion (as stated previously), and for the final blessing at the end of Mass (following the Ita Missa est).

Improvisation. At the Traditional Mass you will not be subjected to the celebrant’s personality, attempts at humor, or personal preferences. The rubrics of the old Rite are precise (some might say rigid), and for good reason. The Rite demands obedience and fidelity. It’s been given to us, to priest and faithful alike, and forms us rather than being formed by us.

The Sign of Peace. In the old Rite there is no interruption in the Mass for a meet and greet with the guy and his family in the pew behind you. Nothing at this moment will pull your attention away from the altar. We are all (together) proceeding forward in the liturgy, singularly focused on Our Eucharistic Lord.

The Vernacular. Maybe this one should be obvious, but it still requires mention. The liturgical language of the Roman Rite will indeed be heard at Mass offered in the Traditional form of the Rite, as has been the case since the third century. Of course, the homily (or sermon) will be delivered to the faithful in their language. Many Catholics unfamiliar with the Traditional Rite do not know this and assume otherwise.

Yes, the Mass attendance is small by comparison to the Novus Ordo, but I can say that it is only the immigrants in my country that are keeping up Mass attendance at the Novus Ordo Mass, even though many of the Masses have improved in reverence a bit to what we had before.

There are very few vocations to the priesthood and in fact in recent years there have been as many young men go into traditional orders than into the Novus Ordo seminary. That means that the congregations of those attending the Traditional Mass are producing far more vocations per head.


John Nolan said...

The vast majority of baptized Catholics do not attend Mass IN EITHER FORM. Priests would be advised to have this statement framed and put on their desks.

In England and Wales the provision of the EF has increased substantially since 2007. That is what matters - the number attending is less important, but the number of priests who are willing and able to celebrate it continues to grow.

The country nearest to a 'tipping point' is in fact France, where a majority of priests being ordained either belong to traditional societies or are traditionally-minded. Attendance at the OF continues to decline, whereas attendance at the EF continues to increase.

I have said this before, but to describe the venerable Roman Rite as a 'boutique' Mass is insulting, sacrilegious and crassly ignorant.

Celebrate the old Mass once a month at 2 pm (the graveyard slot) and you won't get many in the congregation. I, for one, would not attend, not least because I can attend at a reasonable time any Sunday of the year. Back in the 1970s I remember travelling some distance to attend an indult Mass at 3 pm on a Saturday - which would have happened only two or three times a year.

Victor said...

"They rely on the excellent schola and I think this is a weakness in actual participation at the Cathedral."
Like the modernists, I see that in order to actually participate in the drama of the Mass you have to sing, notably as a community, like the Protestants do for their prayer services.
The issue between musicians and liturgists, both before and after the Council was was which was more important, high art or "active participation" by the people through their singing. I need not tell you who won out in Bugnini's Consilium.
When St Pius X mentioned "partecipazione attiva" in the introduction to his Motu Proprio, he was referring to the liturgy. The official Latin translation of this phrase was "communicatio" for a while, and currently it is simply "participatio". It was the modernist Dom Beaudoin, one of the founders of the 20th century's Liturgical Movement, that took up Pius' Italian phrase and made it into the ideological progressivist edict of "active participation".
Yet, when I go to a performance of Madame Butterfly, I do not sing along out loud with the singers on the stage even though I have payed big bucks to participate in the performance, but I still can and do sing along silently in my heart with them. When I look around me as Butterfly is holding her knife, I see tears in the eyes of the audience. Is this actual participation by the audience? How many tears do you see in people's eyes during the Canon of the Mass, which, as Amalarius pointed out, recalls the Passion and Death of Our Lord?
It was Benedict XVI who also pointed out that the faithful in the pews can sing silently in their hears along with the excellent choir at Mass, and that constitutes internal actual participation. Indeed some people are best off keeping quiet with their poor voices. In other words, which is more important at Mass, the glorious praise of God through high art (from a people's culture), or the people's participation?

I leave my last words to St Pius X:
"12. With the exception of the melodies proper to the celebrant at the altar and to the ministers, which must be always sung in Gregorian Chant, and without accompaniment of the organ, all the rest of the liturgical chant belongs to the choir of levites, and, therefore, singers in the church, even when they are laymen, are really taking the place of the ecclesiastical choir. Hence the music rendered by them must, at least for the greater part, retain the character of choral music."

John Nolan said...

One would have to be tone deaf not to be able to make the sung responses - Amen, Et cum spiritu tuo, Sed libera nos a malo, and so on. By dint of repetition congregations have no difficulty with the Asperges me (and the responses which follow). The Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei (when sung in chant) allow the congregation to sing along with the choir, alternatim in the case of the first three.

Sing Mass XVII on Advent 1 and by Xmas everyone will know it, and recognize it when it returns in Lent. There is evidence that in medieval times people did sing their parts of the Ordinary - for a long time the only setting of the Credo was what we know as Credo I.

The Propers are the preserve of the schola - they are more complex and change week by week. The Gradual and Alleluia/Tract are essentially meditative. They may, of course, be used in the Novus Ordo in place of what is in the Lectionary. In the case of Lent, the psalm-based Tract, of very ancient origin, is far preferable to the perfunctory and untraditional 'Gospel Acclamation' (for which no melody is given).

John Nolan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

I have in my time often advocated congregational participation in chanting the Ordinary of the Mass--the Gloria, Credo, etc--but have come to realize that the more active and fully conscious participation may be the receptivity required in following a polyphonic Gloria or Credo or the melismatic Gregorian chant of an elaborate Gradual sung by a schola. And the most active and prayerful participation may be that at a quiet low Mass where the ordinary and propers are recited by the priest alone, and the participation of the people is entirely interior.

In any event, the actual participation by a hundred people at the typical EF Mass I've attended exceeds (in my experience) that of a thousand people at a typical OF Mass. Indeed, as Fr. Z remarked recently, you ordinarily must go to a TLM to find the actual conscious and prayerful participation promoted by Vatican II.

Dialogue said...

What I think Father is getting at is that there are eager priests offering the EF Mass as a treasured compliment to the OF Mass, but who encounter wayward Catholic laymen assisting at these Masses who reject both the Liturgical Movement and the liturgical reforms of VCII. The attitude of the latter begins to render futile the efforts of the former.

Henry said...

For instance, anyone who attends EF high Mass regularly can chant Credo III on auto-pilot, just as any Novus Ordo attender can sing the Our Father without any thought of its seven distinct petitions. Vocal participation simply does not imply actual conscious participation, nor does the silence of a congregation imply the absence of participation in the liturgy. I suspect that, more often than not, the opposite is true.

TJM said...

Back in the late 196os, I used to advocate to the parish priest that the guitar Mass be placed at 2 pm on a Sunday afternoon and he should have a parishioner count attendence. Being a liturgical "progressive", he was not amused

ByzRC said...

That the EF has grown the way it has with light support within most diocese is remarkable. Growth will never be scalable, however, until the EF is integrated into parish life at times that most people would attend mass. It, to me, is difficult to criticize the laity for lack of interest when EF masses are only offered monthly/periodically/weekly at locations beyond reasonable for the average busy person and of course, mostly at odd times. Given this and perhaps by design, most laity still require an OF parish to fulfill their Sunday/Holy Day Obligations. Additionally, where there is a diocean Latin Mass Society, it has overhead requiring contributions to cover the expense of using a church facility, stipend, schola (if hired), musicians (if hired), vestments etc. Here, lay participants are basically supporting two 'parishes' which, in this day and age, might be difficult for some. My point, St. Joseph, Macon was by far the exception, not the norm and outside of this type of arrangement, the EF is not supported such that it would result in increased demand.

rcg said...

I wonder, FrAJM, if your concept of participation is a little distorted by time and the intervening years of the NO? Participation is not simply reciting the parayers of the Mass along with the priest but praying with his intent. The prayers of the Mass are a setting and package of the prayers of the congregation not only in specific pleas but in general meditations on our relationship with God through ancillary prayers e.g. the Rosary. Simply having a ceremony in a foreign language at a very inconvenient time and there is no wonder attendance was low.

In many ways the people are undergoing a conversion when they switch from NO to EF. They need some help to get the full benefit so an explanation during the homily is very helpful.

Yvonne said...

ByzRC, well said.

I attend the High Mass at my parish, which is staffed by the FSSP. In answer to Father's question, I sing as much as can be sung by the laity, though for some reason I still have a hard time with the Gloria.

Dialogue said...

I think even the casual visitor to this blog knows that Father McDonald views actual participation as more than congregational recitation and chanting. But the Mass is Christ's gift to the Father, and we are part of that gift. So, since we are not incorporeal beings, laymen should willingly lend their voices to the prayers and acclamations, were appropriate. No stubborn liturgical Platonism, please.

As for the quality of mental participation, I have no doubt that it is much higher at EF Masses than at OF Masses. Bring on the mutual enrichment!