Wednesday, January 3, 2018


This past Sunday I celebrated the Cathedral's EF High Mass. It is suburbly chanted by a schola that rivals anything I have ever experienced and all done without accompaniment. As I celebrate this Mass once or twice a month, I feel as though I am stepping back to the time when even the organ had not been invented and instrumentation was not allowed in the Catholic liturgy. But it really isn't stepping back into time but remembering in the Jewish way of remembering and bringing a past event forward in a timeless way.

But in my parish at St. Anne's, we have a more contemporary sound to our singing and use more contemporary hymns and Mass settings. Catholic purists won't like this, but there isn't anything "unCatholic" about it or irreverent.

We chant the propers in a simply way in the vernacular in addition to any hymns or anthems that are sung. I chant all my priestly parts and the congregation sings all their parts of the Mass to include the Our Father. I use incense at our 11AM Mass.

I know that in pre-Vatican II times, many, many Catholics preferred the Low Mass on Sunday and were quite willing to go to an early Sunday Mass to fulfill their Sunday obligation. My father was this way, although I remember quite well attending sung Mass on a somewhat regular basis.

And yes, in the EF Mass it is possible to sing Mass settings that aren't Gregorian Chant or even Polyphony but secularized productions of the great masters which were questionable two centuries and more ago and papal concerns were voiced.

Can't a traditional Catholic love all legitmate forms of Masses and music and still be traditional. Yes you can!


Marc said...

"I know that in pre-Vatican II times, many, many Catholics preferred the Low Mass on Sunday and were quite willing to go to an early Sunday Mass to fulfill their Sunday obligation."

This is still the case in traditional parishes I've attended. But there are good practical reasons for it, from my own experience: the low mass is usually earlier and doesn't last as long, which is much easier when you have very young children.

Also, it is easier to fast for the earlier low mass than the later high mass. And traditional Catholics tend to fast from midnight until communion time.

As for the use of organ accompaniment, the organ is typically not used during fasting seasons at our parish. So the vernacular hymns are sung without an organ. Our priests are quite adept at singing, so they are well-equipped to lead the way. We usually have vernacular hymns at the procession and recession of the high masses, and sometimes, there is a vernacular or Latin Marian hymn after the low mass. Our parish has just gotten these new hymnals and our pastor has been giving sermons to encourage the people to sing both the hymns and parts of the sung mass (Kyrie, Gloria, & Credo).

Henry said...

Why should one, who is devoted to prayer and worship at Mass, love a form of liturgy at which it is practically impossible to focus on prayer and worship? As Peter Kwasniewski says at NLM today:

“In fact, it would be no exaggeration to say that the Novus Ordo, in its very design and especially in its typical instantiation, stands in tension with interiority, recollection, self-awareness, and sensitivity to the divine — that keen sensus mysteriorum - that is practically convertible with the traditional Roman Rite in any of its levels (Low, High, Solemn, Pontifical).”

He further quotes Joseph Shaw:

“What is quite out of the question, in this kind of liturgy [viz., the Novus Ordo], is that you should engage with it at your own pace, on your own level, in prayer. Prayerful contemplation is simply not allowed: it will be interrupted within a few minutes”

In the first comment to your post (here) on “Predictions for 2018”, I described—quite lovingly, perhaps—the Novus Ordo Mass that I attended New Year’s Day. It was celebrated ad orientem with just about as much reverence and solemnity—priest and people both chanting most parts, with no offensive music--as is ordinarily seen at a vernacular OF Mass. Nevertheless, despite, serious effort, I found it impossible to pray and worship personally as I do at an EF Mass.

Mark Thomas said...

In 1998 A.D., Cardinal Ratzinger echoed that which many Churchmen had insisted — that when the TLM was in place throughout the Latin Church, the Faithful were not in contact with the Roman Liturgy. During Mass, the Faithful concerned themselves with private devotions...were not in touch with the Mass.

Cardinal Ratzinger:

"On the other hand one has to admit that the celebration of the ancient liturgy was too lost in the realm of the individual and the private.

"One must admit that the communion between the priest and the faithful was lacking.

"I have great respect for our ancestors who during the Low Mass, said the prayers "during Mass" which their prayer book recommended. Certainly one cannot consider that as the ideal of the liturgical celebration!

"Perhaps, these reduced forms of celebration are the fundamental reason why the disappearance of the ancient liturgical books had no importance in many countries and caused no pain, There was never any contact with the liturgy itself."

Conversely, Catholics who grew up with the TLM, and most important for today, Catholics who have discovered and are attached to TLM insist that they were/are in contact with, and moved spiritually, by the Traditional Roman Liturgy.

However, our Churchmen, Cardinal Ratzinger included, have insisted otherwise. Our Churchmen's attitude is that they know best. They, not laymen, will determine as to whether laymen benefit spiritually from this or that form of liturgy.

Catholics attached to the TLM are content with the TLM. However, far too many Churchmen have determined that that is impossible. Our Churchmen determined that the Faithful required radical liturgical reforms so as to connect with the Mass...even though the Faithful insisted that they were connected to the Mass.

Our Churchmen were/are unable to keep their hands off the Roman Liturgy...they "fix" that which is not broken.

Dear Churchmen, please grant access to the TLM so that Catholics who wish to worship via the TLM may do so...and please stop telling laymen that they (laymen) are not connected to this or that form of Mass.


Mark Thomas

The Egyptian said...

I had a priest explain active participation to me quite succinctly, and this can also refer to the older form.

"put down the rosary and the personal devotions, follow the mass and do the responses"

That is all that active participation meant then and now, all the lay people traipsing around the sanctuary is NOT what it means

ByzRC said...


Herein lies the problem. Everyone is employing their own "style" as opposed to submitting to organically developed liturgy.

"Can't a traditional Catholic love all legitmate forms of Masses and music and still be traditional. Yes you can!"

I don't in principal disagree with this but, Father, you have enough posts on this topic that it is obviously on your mind as it is for many others here. I'm not saying that you or, anyone else is distracted but, at the end of the day, trying to mentally be at peace with all these 'styles', contemporary being the most prevalent among them, is distracting. Does anyone truly love light ice cream? If you keep telling yourself that the compromise is good - light ice cream is better than no ice cream - I suppose in time you can convince yourself that it is a good thing.

In recent months, I've about totally devoted myself to the Byzantine Catholic Church and its liturgies. I had no idea the extent to which the above is distracting until I about removed myself from it. In the Eastern Church, we have liturgy, with variations for season and solemnity but, nothing approaching the scale of the 'styles' you reference. What's more, in the Eastern Church (ignoring the latinizations of past that are gradually disappearing) we have liturgy and people respect it, want to learn it and celebrate it carefully. There isn't this tug of war between tradition and the contemporary - just timeless liturgy. I watch in amazement from the eastern side of the street this debate that will never find an end - just people compromising and accepting one of the 'styles'. So many Catholics do not know their faith anymore and, perhaps, it's all these 'styles' beyond organic tradition that are keeping them from seeing the substance - Christ, who is among us and is totally free from style, trend and the contemporary. He is just timeless.

rcg said...

It seems that the claim that the old Mass was uniform in everyway is not true and most people know it. The Liturgy was more uniform, perhaps fewer allowable options, but there were elements of the Mass that established both that it was Catholic and allowed for local traditions and cultural expressions. The claim that it is a form of European cultural imperialism betrays the goal of putting the self above the Church and horizontalism.

Marc said...

ByzRC, I have seen expressed the opinion that moving from the Latin Rite to the Eastern Rite is a refreshing change because, among other things, it means that one's attendance at a particular liturgy is no longer a ecclesio-political statement.

In other words, due to the deliberateness involved, attending the traditional Latin Mass is almost necessarily a statement of one's affiliation with and support for a particular doctrinal-ecclesiological movement that is opposed to the "mainstream" situation in the Roman Church. On the other hand, one does not find that sort of thing inherent in the Eastern Rites. As you say, the liturgy simply is what it is and what it has been so without the strings attached.

Anonymous said...

I wont complain about the quality of the more modern music at Mass. I wont complain about the choice of instrumentation either, I don't object to folk-guitar. I don't object to any other instrumentation I have seen. My biggest concern has been the quantity of music, it seems that in some Masses it is the musicians that are leading the Mass. IMHO they should neither interfere with the Priests or the parishioners participation.