Saturday, February 17, 2018


An example of a "Mass" in desperate need of renewal in continuity; is this in any way visually appealing, inspiring or satisfactory?

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Paul Knitter presides at a service at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, Wisconsin. (NCR photo/Peter Feuerherd)

While there are pockets of renewal of the Ordinary Form of the Mass, I often wonder just how prevalent it is. I don't think that it is very prevalent nor a desire to change the bland status quo.

I was on vacation last weekend and attended Mass in a very large parish with almost 900 people there. The priest in his homily lamented that so many people don't go to Mass anymore despite the fact that his Mass was packed with people who do go.

But the Mass was blah and visually uninspiring. Thus I kept my eyes closed for the most part and only looked in adoration during the elevations and "Behold the Lamb of God." I found nothing edifying to my personal sanctification by looking at the face of the priest who was front and center the entire time.

The two major renewals that could increase the visual appeal of the Mass and and bring about the traditional devotional qualities and reverence for the reception of Holy Communion are despised by way too many people in places where these decisions could be made.

What are these two reforms? Ad Orientem and Kneeling for Holy Communion. These two powerful helps for the renewal of the Mass are totally dismissed by the majority of people, in particular bishops, in a phobic sort of way or a prejudice towards anything that appears to be pre-Vatican II.

Until hearts of bishops and lower clergy are renewed and there is a willingness to have a powerful catechesis about these two awesome ways to renew the Mass in our day, the status quo  of  the blah and uninspiring will continue unabated.


Anonymous said...

I didn't care for the priest's face. I said nothing about the Presence of Jesus under the forms of bread and wine brought about by the words of the priest and the action of the Holy Spirit.

I found the situation "blah." I said nothing about the Word of God proclaimed to remind me of my need for salvation and the promise of eternal life in heaven.

I found the mass visually uninspiring. I said nothing about being grateful for the sacrifices of the members of the congregation who built and who maintain the "uninspiring" (read: not my taste) church.

My personal sanctification was unaffected because I could see the priest's face. He suffers from arthritis and/or acute Crohn's disease and is frequently in pain. But, my personal sanctification takes pride of place.

"Individualism" run amok.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, and individuals like me have become nones because of your callous indifference to the visually beautiful, that the focus of the Mass should be on God, not the priest or congregation.

Anonymous said...

Yes, everything is always someone else's fault, isn't it?

Adam, what have you done?


Eve what have you done?


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...


Henry said...

"Until hearts of bishops and lower clergy are renewed and there is a willingness to have a powerful catechesis about these two awesome ways to renew the Mass in our day, the status quo of the blah and uninspiring will continue unabated."

As will the currently precipitous slide of so many bishops, clergy, and laity into apostasy.

Henry said...

"I found nothing edifying to my personal sanctification by looking at the face of the priest who was front and center the entire time."

Reminds me of the account of a bishop who, upon arriving in a church where he was to celebrate Mass, found 6 candles arranged on the altar in Benedictine fashion. He immediately ordered that the candles be removed, lest they impede the people's view of His Excellency's face.

Seriously, I believed every priest I've personally heard speak in vigorous defense of versus populum celebration, has seemed one who basked in the spotlight of attention focused on no one but himself.

Rood Screen said...


True, but it must also be admitted that congregants object to ad orientem because the priest does not focus his attention on them. In these conversations, God has become little more than an analogy for our own self esteem, whether lay or clerical.

TJM said...

Father McDonald,

Then you should be doing at your present parish what you did at your former parish, begin the shift to ad orientem worship or at a minimum implement the Benedictine arrangement. Have you given up? Is your bishop the problem?

ByzRC said...

Father AJM,

I have to agree with TJM. Since leaving Macon, it seems this topic is regularly considered. As it is your blog and, you get to choose its content, my assumption is that it is very much on your mind perhaps to the point of bothering you somewhat. So, if you are willing to share, I would be interested to hear what concerns you have with either causing upheaval within your current parish or, perhaps the diocese itself that prevent you from bringing some of that re-enchantment to St. Anne.

In a different post, a very good comment from Fr. Fox notes that Fr. Anthony is basically indicating some disappointment with the faithful. I think this point is very fair. A priest/pastor can only do so much. At some point, there has to be willingness on the part of the faithful. I don't think most priests who try to reintroduce tradition are islands rather, they merely are trying to bring back that which never was intended to have been cast aside. If I had to guess as to the problem(s), probably resistance from the pews is heading the list.

TJM said...

It appears that Fr. McDonald is not comfortable answering my question directly as to why he hasn't attempted ad orientem celebration at his new parish. The photo at the top of the blog suggesting this is a compromise ad orientem, really isn't what Pope Benedict proposed. The Benedictine arrangement indeed places the crucifix in front of the celebrant when the celebrant is facing the people, but it tended to be larger and obscured the celebrant's face AND there were 6 candles/candle holders on the altar, not 2, with the rest on the side of the altar resting on the floor. The Benedictine arrangement was the traditional arrangement depicted in the Missale Romanum.