Monday, January 29, 2018


I had an interesting, if not dysfunctional, Sunday yesterday as I suffer from multiple liturgical personality disorder. Let me explain.

This week I am scheduled to celebrate Mass for our cloistered Carmelite nuns in Savannah, 25 miles away from my rectory. It began yesterday with a 6 AM Mass. Our Carmelites are from Kenya and thus they have an incluturated form of the Mass as it concerns their music, language and bongo drums. It is quite interesting and it was the first hybrid Kenyan language/English Mass I have ever celebrated as normally when I celebrate Mass there it is always in English. It was quite lovely and I was not in anyway put out by the language, music or bongos. I was appreciative of it in fact.

Then I had my normal 8:30 AM Mass. Our music is a blend of organ and piano and musical selections are often more contemporary than what I have experienced since 1985. But it was very beautiful, reverent and strengthening of our Catholic Faith.

Then our 11:00 AM Mass was our once a month "childrens' Mass". We have a lovely children's choir and their selections are juvenile but in the positive sense of the word. They are fun to listen to and they do sing their hearts out and are quite proud of what they do. We also have children lectors, a child cantor who is as good as any of our adults and at the homily time, a give a children's homily and invite the kids to the altar to sit in front of me. My homily was quite good, if I do say so myself, and given the Gospel of the day, with Jesus expelling a demon who tells the world who Jesus is, "The Holy One of God" I mentioned that if a demon knows who Jesus is, how much more should we and then I said let's talk about demons and a four year child raised her hand and said "I don't know what a demon is." And I said, "that's good for me to know and then I explained the fall of the angels and how  the Archangel Lucifer began the rebellion and disobeyed God with complete freedom of the will for an eternity and brought other lesser angels with him who would forever fight a losing battle against God and drag many human beings to their losing side. I spoke of the great Archangel Michael who defends us in battle. Then I concluded the homily by passing out the St. Michael the Archangel prayer and we faced our lovely statue of him and prayed it together. Stunning no?

Then to cap my liturgical diversity day that has led to my liturgical multiple personality  disorder dysfunction, I celebrated the Cathedral's 1 PM Extraordinary Form for the First Sunday of Septuagesima! I wore lovely violet Roman Vestments. The Catheral Schola is a good as any in our country and they need to do a CD of their complicated Gregorian Chant and polyphony. The leader of the band is 27 years old and the oldest in the schola of about 12 kids who are all much younger than he!

I have to say that I am transported by this form of the Mass into a form of mysticism that I have never experienced in the OF Mass. And since I am facing the apse of the church/cathedral, I can allow my facial expressions to symbolize the euphoria and mysticism I am experiencing especially with the absolutely splendid chanting. I feel as though I am in a 6th century monsastery and could well be--time stands still and I am in eternity which is palpable in this form of the Mass, not so much in the OF Mass unfortunately. 

So doctor, how serious is my multiple liturgical personality disorder? Can I be helped? 

I feel like the character in the movie "The Three Faces of Eve" who lived near Augusta, GA in the 1950's and brought worldwide attention to multiple personality disorder at that time. I grew up in Augusta and I hope it isn't contagious!


TJM said...

Why aren't you using the Benedictine arrangement at your new parish? It would also give the altar a much needed sense of heft.

Anonymous said...

I did not know you could say four (4) Masses on a Sunday. I think in Eastern Orthodoxy, a priest can only celebrate one divine liturgy in a 24-hours period, or at least one on the same altar. Because they tend to be a lot smaller than Catholic congregations, Orthodox churches seldom have more than two Divine Liturgies on a Sunday.

At least you did not have any evening Masses on Sunday! A lot of Atlanta parishes have Sunday night Masses (some as late maybe as 7), I guess for those who can't or don't want to get up Sunday mornings. Which brings the question---is a liturgical day more than 24 hours? Could you have a Saturday night Mass at 5 and a Sunday night Mass at 7 and still be counted for "Sunday", even if they are 26 hours apart? I think in the Orthodox Church, the liturgical day goes sundown to sundown...

Anonymous said...

Variety is the spice of life!

rcg said...

i can sympathise with you, FrAJM. Is there a way to make the bongos respectful and appropriate for Mass? I think so, although that is a theoretical response and I can not provide an example, myself. It seems that it is incumbent on the pastor to provide guidance in this regard and help the parish help him provide a respectful Mass that is also expressive of the devotion and joy of that particular parish.

ByzRC said...

I find your choice of descriptor, dysfunctional, to perhaps be telling. It is as if subconsciously, you already have drawn a conclusion as to the problem here despite the moments of enjoyment that you experienced earlier in the day.

Putting aside the debate over the number of masses that you celebrated, as we know, 50+ years ago, mass was celebrated in the same manner wherever you went. As the EF mass provoked the most spiritual response from you, perhaps one could conclude that this is our best model.

Regarding TJM's points, I agree. It is unfortunate that though dignified, the purchased altar is undersized/not in proportion with the space in which it sits. Likewise the tabernacle stand (why Our Lord only warrants a stand in so many places, I'll never understand). Even if secure, it, visually, doesn't look it. That grand tabernacle looks as though it could easily be pushed over.

I accept Blue Cross Blue Shield btw....

Anonymous said...

I also recall that a priest was only permanently to say two Masses in a day. I remember that because a priest had mentioned in a Homily that there is only one day a year where they are given permission to say a third. I can’t remember which day. All Souls Day?

John Nolan said...

There is no Kenyan language. The country has 69 languages, the official ones being English and Swahili. How's your Swahili, by the way? Swahili has long been a lingua franca - a bit like Latin, in fact, or koine Greek.

Anonymous said...

The level of liturgical diversity is now so great in the Roman Catholic Church that it,s mass, once a powerful universal act and symbol of unity has lost that international status and devolved into a whatever you are having yourself mish mash.
A tragedy and a disaster .
It is clear that the so called reforms of Vat 2 are a total failure when it comes to the churches liturgy.
Signed: John Larkin.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

So here's what my take away from your Sunday Mass celebrations: Mass number
1) Nice
2) Nice
3) Nice
4) Transformative ("...time stands still and I am in eternity which is palpable in this form of the Mass.")

I doubt it's a matter of personality. Somehow I expect your spiritual experience at Mass #4 is typical of the experience of many Catholics prior to the Vatican II changes. (I remember occasionally having similar experiences in my own childhood at the old Mass and devotions.)

On my most cynical days, I expect the devil knew that, and found a way to do away with such worship of God. He did a splendid job! Pretty soon there will be hardly any Catholics alive who have experienced such at Mass.

I don't despair though...didn't John the Baptist say (to paraphrase) God could create Sons of Abraham from the very stones lying around? The devil has been allowed to have his day. But God will triumph, because our hearts long for Him, and always seek Him, and once people get hip to the antics of the devil, they turn away from him, and toward God.

I guess these past 50 years can be thought of as a kind of test of Roman Catholics, though; winnowing out the chaff from the grain. I think the empty churches indicate how many actually passed the test.

God bless.

Adam Michael said...

"I guess these past 50 years can be thought of as a kind of test of Roman Catholics, though; winnowing out the chaff from the grain. I think the empty churches indicate how many actually passed the test."

I don't agree with this line of thinking. Why would God test the faith of members of His Church and anticipate the end of time by separating the chaff from the wheat (forgetting that a lot of wheat became chaff through the poor teaching their shepherds allowed them to be fed) by turning many of the places they trusted with their salvation into places of spiritual abuse? Certainly, God permits all kinds of evil, but I hardly think he is actively turning up the heat on the Church to test his innocent flock. Leaders of the Church must take responsibility for their role in this spiritual abuse and the contraction of Catholic life to the person of the Pope that has paralyzed the faithful in defending their traditional patrimony.

Adam Michael said...

In Orthodoxy, the liturgical day begins at Vespers of one day until the Vespers of the next day. Priests and Bishops only celebrate one Divine Liturgy each day. Also, only one Divine Liturgy is celebrated on a single altar on a single day.

rcg said...

Yikes! Poor Bee has the deep winter funk. Needs some Sunshine, I think. Dynamite in the groundhog den gaurantees early Spring. 😉

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

@rcg: hee, hee... :-)

God bless.

Anonymous said...

Dear FR.Allen.
The cure is a return to a mass that contains ordered rubrics, appropriate silences, and a return of respect to the laity present.
That respect was removed when the hierarchy imposed the dialogue mass.
Now you have an audience required to mumble set responses.
Did you know this idea was tried in the early church and fell into disuse because the congregation were never enthusiastic .?
That is why altar servers were brought in to substitute and represent the laity.
In my local church there can be up to 8 so called altar servors who fill no real function. Two bring up cruets and one rings a bell.
The liturgy was and remains badly damaged by the effects of Vatican 2.
That is probably the primary reason for the loss of catholic faith.
Lex Orlandi Lex Credendi.
Saying mass used to be the central act in the life of a catholic priest and it never required the participation of the laity.
As an ordained priest you are in a position to do something about the contemporary liturgical mass and its current form which IMO leaves very much to be desired from the laity,s point of view.
Kind regards.
John Larkin.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "disorder", looks like a lot of Catholic Democratic senators suffer from that---they probably go to church on Sunday and then on Monday vote as if they were a million miles removed from Sunday....yesterday the Senate failed to get 60 votes to advance an abortion ban after 20 weeks (of course it is not as if the Church approves of abortion at 19 weeks, but these days incrementalism is the only way to advance pro-life legislation)---and most Catholic Democrats voted against advancing such legislation, including the 2016 vice presidential nominee, Tim Kaine of Virginia (who obviously was raised in the "social justice" era of the Church). Even Dick Durbin of Illinois, who has been sanctioned by his bishop (Springfield) for his pro-choice views, unfortunately has not had a change of heart. And in the US House, 99 percent of Democrats voted against the 20-week ban---including of course Nancy Pelosi. It is probably long past time for bishops, where needed, to invoke Canon 915 (which is not an issue with Georgia's congressional delegation in the sense all of the delegation is Protestant).

TJM said...

Anonymous at 9:50, you're speaking of all of Kavanaugh's pals! Not nice to point out the hypocrisy rampant there. Our bishops are gutless wonders. That's why I only give money directly to an orthodox, Catholic parish. Nothing to Peter's Pence or any diocesan fund. And I specify it may ONLY be used for the parish.

Anonymous said...

"Did you know this idea was tried in the early church and fell into disuse because the congregation were never enthusiastic .?


Henry said...

"I am transported by this form of the Mass into a form of mysticism that I have never experienced in the OF Mass."

It seems as though every priest who learns to celebrate the EF Mass says he experiences something in it that he's never experienced in the OF Mass, learns something about his own identity as a priest, serving as mediator between God and Man, that he never knew as a Novus Ordo priest.

And I know that, as a layman, I experience something at EF Mass that I've never quite been able to duplicate at OF Mass, try as hard as I may. (And I've tried very hard indeed, over and over, at both Sunday OF Mass during the decades the was unavailable and at many years of daily OF Mass every weekday.)

Anonymous said...

TJM, perhaps instead of blaming the clergy (for the Dick Durbins and Tim Kaines of the world), we should blame ourselves---the laity. It is not as if these pro-abortion Democrats appointed themselves to office; someone had to elect them. And I don't know of any state where Catholic clergy alone (even if they were all conservative) could elect someone to statewide office, or local office for that matter. As a bishop in New Jersey said years ago, Catholics should be known for voting on moral concerns, not membership in a political party.

White Catholics generally vote Republican these days, but doubtless more so in the South than in the liberal Northeast. Trump actually won the white Catholic vote in 2016, crucial to his success in Rust Belt states like Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Anonymous said...

CARA reports: Data from the American National Election Study (ANES) shows Catholics voted 48% Clinton, 45% Trump.

Catholics born between 1961 and 1981: 46% Clinton, 46% Trump.

Catholics born 1982 or later: 59% Clinton, 28% Trump.

Non-Hispanic White Catholics: 37% Clinton, 56% Trump.

Hispanic/Latino Catholics: 74% Clinton, 19% Trump.

Other races/ethnicities: 75% Clinton, 18% Trump.

'Tis the hand of God on the wall...

TJM said...

Anonymous Kavanaugh,

Interesting there are no numbers for Catholics born and trained before Vatican Disaster II worked its magic and Catholics no longer were taught their Faith in a meeaningful way. The difference between the first two categories is shocking. It shows and utter and complete collapse of Catholics believing in their Faith.

Can you imagine a Catholic politician being pro-Abortion in the 1950s or early 1960s when the Church was at the zenith of its influence in the US? They would not have dared. Cardinal O'Connell of Boston in the 1920s or 1930s demanded and the Massachusetts legislature killed a bill authorizing the sale of contraceptives. If Cardinal Cushing had done his job and told lady killer Teddy Kennedy that he would excommunicate him for his pro-aborton stance, the game would have been over then. But we have corrupt bishops and priests who care more about their tax exempt status than the Faith

Tis the whiff of Satan's smoke in the sanctuary and may God have mercy on your soul

Anonymous said...

Catholics born b/w 1942 and 1960: 53% Trump, 46% Clinton

James J. said...

Pres.Trump, what ever his faults, is far better than having another Clinton in the Oval office. You don't believe that?

How about the fourteen "Catholic" senators who voted against a ban on abortions after 20 weeks? Are these the type of politicians you support and would vote for?

Mr. Trump, in his persona, leaves a lot to be desired; but in the end he will be judged by his policies,the judges he nominates, and the laws he helps to enact. It is too early in his term to assess him.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

I recently was talking to one of those Clinton voting Catholics. She also happened to mention that she doesn't believe in having to go to confession to be forgiven for your sins either. And neither does her 80-something year old father, who was educated by Jesuits (by which she seemed to imply she was justified in her practice).

I would love if the poll conducted by the American National Election Study had also asked the Catholic voters the last time they went to confession, and how frequently they go per year. I would love to see the data broken down by that further sub-category. There are lots of cultural Catholics out there. Some of them are clergy.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

Somebody asked me for a source concerning my assertion that altar servers were introduced initially to represent the responses of the congregation.
I can not remember where I first came across this but it makes perfect sense.
The early small Christian masses could mange dialogue between celebrant and congregation.
As numbers grew it became unwieldy and altar servers started to recite the responses on behalf of larger congregations.
That working sensible practice was discarded after Vatican 2 and you now have a generally unhappy congregation forced to mumble these responses in a lacklustre muted manner.
That is what happens now at most catholic masses around the world .
It is caused by the iarrogant theology that infected the second Vatican Council, a theology that saw all past forms and practices as deficient
And ineffective.
Now a bunch of still out of date cardinals and bishops keep insisting that the so called reforms of Vat 2 were all wonderful!
The drastic decline in priestly vocations since Vat 2 is the answer to that.
Signed:John Larkin

TJM said...


Correct and one of those cultural catholic priests posts here regularly. They are buying a one way ticket to hell, they just don't know it yet.

Anonymous said...

John Larkin - Your claim was not that responses from the congregation became "unwieldy," but that the congregation was "never enthusiastic."

No one I know feels "forced to mumble responses" and none I have ever encountered are "unhappy" about it.

If the dialogue between the priest and the people in the congregation, representing the dialogue between God and the people, is the preferred style, then relegating the responses to altar servers seems not to make perfect sense, but to be a capitulation to convenience.

Pope Pius XII De Musica Sacra, 1958 : "22. By its very nature, the Mass requires that all present take part in it, each having a particular function.

a) Interior participation is the most important; this consists in paying devout attention, and in lifting up the heart to God in prayer. In this way the faithful "are intimately joined with their High Priest...and together with Him, and through Him offer (the Sacrifice), making themselves one with Him" (Mediator Dei, Nov. 20, 1947: AAS 39 [1947] 552).

b) The participation of the congregation becomes more complete, however, when, in addition to this interior disposition, exterior participation is manifested by external acts, such as bodily position (kneeling, standing, sitting), ceremonial signs, and especially responses, prayers, and singing.

The Supreme Pontiff Pius XII, in his encyclical on the sacred liturgy, Mediator Dei, recommended this form of participation:
"Those who are working for the exterior participation of the congregation in the sacred ceremonies are to be warmly commended. This can be accomplished in more than one way. The congregation may answer the words of the priest, as prescribed by the rubrics, or sing hymns appropriate to the different parts of the Mass, or do both. Also, at solemn ceremonies, they may alternate in singing the liturgical chant (AAS 39 [1947] 560)".

John Nolan said...

Quoting late 20th century liturgical directives on lay 'participation' is not particularly helpful.

Nor is the idea that delegating responses to altar servers was anything other than a second millennium development resulting from the proliferation of 'low' Masses. In a Solemn Mass the said responses are made by the ministers (deacon and subdeacon).

In fact, a Solemn Mass in the Roman Rite has always been a clerical affair - celebrant, ministers, schola cantorum. And the Solemn Mass is normative. Even nowadays when a lay schola sings in the sanctuary its members wear clerical choir dress, since they are substituting for clerics.

By all means adopt a late 20th century version of the Mass with lots of dialogue and lay participation, if that's what turns you on. Let dolly-birds in short skirts hand out Communion wafers, if that lights your candle.

But don't kid yourself that it represents the traditional Mass in any shape or form.

Anonymous said...

"In fact, a Solemn Mass in the Roman Rite has always been a clerical affair..."

And, therein, lies what was seen to be an essential weakness of the Solemn Mass of the Roman Rite.

It certainly came to be a clerical affair, but I suspect there is little in the way of theological reasoning for it to be so.

Anonymous said...

The teaching office of the Church, in particular the Supreme Pontiff, in the late 20th century is as authoritative as it wss in any and all previous times, is it not?

So, I think it is helpful, indeed, to know the mind of the Church in this regard.

Even the "dolly-birds" appreciate this reality.

John Nolan said...


If you wish to believe that the overturning of nearly two millennia of liturgical tradition is 'the mind of the Church', then no-one is stopping you. If you believe that a vernacular 'over-the counter' performance, with trite music written since 1965 and lay people of either sex swarming all over what used to be the sanctuary, somehow represents the best of the Roman liturgical patrimony, then go ahead and think it. If you think that Latin is of no use, then that is your prerogative. (You might be hard pressed to find authoritative papal teaching which explicitly endorses your preferences, but this is unlikely to stop you.)

After all, you are in a multitudinous company of like-minded clerics of your generation. O brave new world that has such people in't!

However, the more discerning of us are with Prospero rather than Miranda. We know what to avoid, and by the grace of God we do. And the likes of you are at the top of the list.

Anonymous said...

"...the more discerning of us..."

You might as well have added "Sniff! Sniff!" Go, discerning one, and be happy with yourself.

And, there, folks, you have it.

John Nolan said...

Yes, anonymous, it is a fact that the discerning minority are outnumbered by the ignoramuses. 'Twas ever so. One proof of discernment is to identify with the former rather than the latter.

No prizes for guessing to which camp you belong.

Anonymous said...

"...the discerning minority are outnumbered by the ignoramuses."

Yes, we "ignoramuses" (or "deplorables" if you like) should simply bow down to your superiority and that of your "discerning" ilk.

Enjoy the wait. And enjoy your self-congratulatory prize.

John Nolan said...

Anonymous, should you go to a psychoanalyst with your obvious inferiority complex he would no doubt say: 'Don't worry about it. It's not a complex. You ARE inferior.'

Anonymous said...

Believe me, John Nolan, we "ignoramuses" are just laughing at your imaginary superiority. That is our real prize.

John Nolan said...

Anonymous, the laughter of you and your fellow ignoramuses is 'sicut sonitus spinarum ardentium sub olla' (Ecclesiastes 7:7).