Wednesday, January 2, 2019


Yes, yes, I know, that only about 25% of Catholics attend Mass each Sunday compared to almost 90% or more in the late 1950's early 1960's prior to Vatican II.  But today, that 75% who are not attending the Ordinary Form of the Church aren't attending the EF either when provided. If they were, our Cathedral EF Mass each Sunday would be packed and more would need to be added.

The 75% who aren't going may be going to Protestant churches. But I suspect the majority are just Christmas and Easter only Catholics and prefer to be disengaged or nones. Even if the OF Mass were suppressed (fat chance!) we would not see them returning in droves and we might see even more departures from the Church.

So given what I just wrote, just how bad are the Ordinary Form Masses for those who attend each and every Sunday. What opinions would they have about improving the Mass. I don't think for the majority of these people, adding traditional aspects to the Ordinary Form would be what they would suggest.

In my most humble opinion I think this is what you would hear:

1. We need more praise and worship music to keep our young people from going to the non-denoninatioin churches.
2. We need lively music
3. We need better preaching
4. We need priests who don't speak with an accent in English which we can't understand.
5. We need more programs (which has nothing to do with the liturgy which says that for so many the Liturgy is not the source and summit for them but programs, educational and otherwise that create fellowship and connectivity with people).

You will not hear from typical OF faithful Catholics who go to Mass each Sunday the following:

1. We need to kneel for Holy Communion
2. We need to receive on the tongue
3. We need to get rid of lectors, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, we need to have all males in the sanctuary doing anything and women keeping it clean.
4. We need ad orientem
5. We need to ban the common chalice
6. We need more Latin, Gregorian Chant and Polyphony

So what to do, what to do, oh, what are we to do?

There are Catholics, though, who love their Ordinary Form Mass, their parish, are very engaged and don't want to see anything change. The status quo is just fine!


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I recently came up with an acronym that I had not heard before for the Christmas/Easter folks: PAL Catholics (Poinsettia, Ashes, Lillies). Ash Wednesday brings them out of the woodwork!

Other call them "Blossom Catholics" since they are there with the celebratory flowers. There may be other cute names...

I did say "I want to say a word to hose who have not been here since the altar was covered with lilies..." at the Christmas masses I celebrated. When I said that there was silence, then uncomfortable laughter. I continued, "I want to say a serious word to those who have not been here since the altar was covered with lilies...", and encouraged them and challenged them to get regular with their attendance.

At one of the two masses, I got a very loud, "AMEN!" from a regular.

I don't know that we have any evidence that the drop-outs are going anywhere to church. Some few attend other services, but I suspect that is fairly rare. The majority seem to be the "nones," those who have severed any times with any organized religious observances, save the PAL times.

TJM said...

Well, when I attend the EF I see that the congregation has many more young people and young families with children than at my territorial OF parish, where it's mostly grey hairs "enjoying" the Glory and Praise music. That's a clue that most clergy will not pursue because it is contrary to the "Agenda."

I also noticed that on the Feast of the Circumcision the congregation was just as full as it was on the Sunday immediately preceding Circumcision. Another clue: the EF folks are more faithful than the OF folks where Holy Day Masses are much sparser.

Gene said...

I think there is a generalized and, sometimes, vague awareness among many Catholics, that something has been lost since Vatican II. But, it is hard to explain it all by blaming Vat II. The overall trend in our culture toward humanistic religion and secular answers to spiritual problems is the base cause. Vatican II was a result of secularism/humanism, not the cause of it. The protestant denominations have experienced the same things. If we are looking for some kind of philosophical basis for these cultural trends and Vat II, we have to go all the way back to the Enlightenment and come forward. Reason and rationalism have ruled since that era and have shaped theology and preaching to a large extent. I don't know what the answer is but, to this point, I have not seen anything that looks very encouraging. Most of the efforts to recover "something" have only led to more sectarianism and division.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

An aside - I do like the Tissot painting of the Magi. I discovered his works several years ago and find them evocative, elegant, and, sometimes, entertaining.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Father McDonald and the two lists in his article. Those who do go to Mass have different interests. It is all so sad. Yesterday, January 1 was a "holy day of obligation." We had one Mass, usually there are four for Sunday, and you could have shot a canon off and not hit anybody. In speaking with people, they will may times bring up the scandals. They say their kids tell them, "if this is what the bishops and priests are doing, why should I go?" I know we are supposed to rise above that, but for many it is hard.

rcg said...

My big turn-off for the NO is when it trades respect and fear of our Lord for a “Jesus is our friend” attitude to the extent it approaches disrespect. This seems to be justified by the opposite of being “ close to Jesus” to wit that He is so far above us that he needs nothing from us. Even, apparently, respect.

My second turn-off is when the melody of a hymn trumps the lyrics so that non-Catholic theology is sung under the guidance of the lady with the unfortunate music charism. We should have been suspicious of McCarrick and his posse when the music was changed to sound like an off Broadway Judy Garland Revival.

Anonymous said...

The second list sounds far better to me. I will admit I have a hard time understanding polyphony. The last thing we need is more fluffiness. That is personal opinion. I doubt anybody will listen.

Victor said...

Fr McD:
"...only about 25% of Catholics attend Mass each Sunday compared to almost 90% or more in the late 1950's early 1960's prior to Vatican II..."
I think you are being quite generous,as it is more like under 15% in many parts of the old world. That in itself should say something about Vatican II, from whence the melt-down originates, but that will not be my point.

Rather the question I have is why should anyone go to church/Mass? My point is that we must go to the fundamentals and observe that one wants to give worship to God to go to church/Mass. Basically, one must first admit that God the creator exists and is worthy of our gratitude, that He has incarnated as Jesus Christ for us, is incarnate as the Bread and Wine in the Mass, and that the Catholic Church is the one and only True Church of Jesus Christ through which salvation is only possible, something which Vatican 2 was not clear about.

Do Catholics today even admit these preambles? But these are the preambles of going to Mass, that is to say, why people would go to Mass in the first place, which is to worship God, and not go to an event that places the people first before God as the Vatican 2 document on the liturgy proposed. That is why I maintain that the future of the Church is with the ethos of the EF liturgy which is centred on God first and above all, not on the Communist inspired community of the 1960's, not on a time for fun and merriment, not on an occasion for understanding and learning about what is going on (another way of focusing on the people first). When one accepts the preamble, worship becomes a duty, a very bad word in the Novus Ordo crowd of bourgeois liturgy.

In short, if people believe in God today it is generally with a deistic view of the world, the result of Enlightenment thinking. We must start with the fundamentals, and that is done outside the liturgy as missionary work. Such missionary work must be grounded on solid philosophical training to defend against neo-modernism and relativism, the way it used to be before Vatican 2, not the colouring book way of inculturation.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with the Mass of Paul VI. But I would love to actually attend one.

I am 54 years old. I grew up with the Ordinary Form. But I have never, not once, ever seen that Mass celebrated according to the Missal.

Every single priest without exception has added, changed or removed something in the Mass.

Even that I could deal with if it wasn’t too jarring. But the reason I have stopped going to Novus Ordo parishes is the utter disrespect of not only the priest (which I have come to regard as normal), but the lay people.

Walk into any Novus Ordo parish and you walk into a circus.

Nobody genuflects to the Blessed Sacrament.

Talking in a loud voice, laughing is the norm.

I have seen people running, cursing, drinking coffee, tossing the Eucharist in the air like a quarter, smoking (in Italy at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels), holding loud cell phone conversations, eating, people dressed like hobos or strippers. I have seen priests who were concelebrating having cell phone conversations during the Mass. I even had my confession stopped so that the priest could take a cell phone call.

One time I made the grave mistake of thinking that if I addressed the situation in a reasoned adult manner something good might happen. So I politely and calmly asked the two men in front of me if they could stop laughing and talking about a baseball team and to either stop or go outside because I can’t concentrate because of them and we were in Church. I almost got punched in the face.

Go into any Traditional parish and you experience quiet reverence. People are dressed appropriately and I know without a doubt that every single person in that church believes 100% everything the Holy Roman Church teaches and believes. I can’t say that about a Novus Ordo parish. You can keep your Novus Ordo nonsense. I have had enough. If the Traditionl Mass were stopped tomorrow I would take my chances and just read my missal at home and say the rosary. If God, according to Francis, can have mercy on adultery and allow them to commit sacraligious communions, then I should be able to stay away from a Mass that is irreverent without committing a sin.

Anonymous said...

I am a regular OF churchgoer (in 30327)---we have introduced some Latin at our parish (the Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei) at our 10 am Mass and I haven't heard any complaints (if you don't want the Latin, go earlier or later---we have 4 Masses on Sunday). As for kneeling for communion, that would be more consistent with our kneeling during the consecration, but it is not a "deal breaker" for me, and besides, the knees are not what they used to be! I don't see why we would rid ourselves of lectors, though maybe I could do without some of the MC parts like "our opening hymn is..." we can figure that out from looking at the hymn numbers on posts by the altar.

ByzRC said...


They wouldn't be if the Novus Ordo did not lend itself to being such a compromise with organic tradition clearly taking a losing position.

Not attacking you, Fr. AJM, but, it seems that those who love tradition are more often on the defensive than not. If you live like this long enough hearing statements similar to the following, you become part of a reprogrammed, survivalist fringe element: "Why can't THEY get with the times?" "He's a throwback!" "I can't believe THEY want Father's back to us during Mass". "THEY are so rigid." Etc... There's an inherent problem when something that is supposed to unite us ends up being so divisive.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with many of the comments above. My church time is split between my NO parish, and the local FSSP parish 35 miles away in a remote part of town. There is a stark contrast between the two. The NO parish is characterized by the typical low spoken liturgy, "presider" ad libbing, EP2 is used almost exclusively, all socializing is done in church before and after Mass, never incense or chant - everything spoken, commentator asking everyone to stand and greet before the beginning of Mass, cantor raising arms as high as possible and bellowing into the mic, almost all girl servers, etc. etc. etc....

When I enter the FSSP parish the quiet reverence is so apparent, one is completely drawn into the Holy Sacrifice. All socializing is done afterward, either outside the church or in the parish hall. Typically there are between six to eleven servers. Yesterday's Holy Day Mass was about the same as Sundays, and it was one of three Masses for the day.

As someone said in an earlier post, now the chasm is too great.

However, I think too the future lies in the hands of the brave diocesan priests, like Fr. McDonald and Fr Firmin, leading the faithful at large back to tradition in any way possible.


ByzRC said...

In the quest for "vibrancy", the first list, in some form, always seems to be the what the people in the pews come back with when surveyed. This is the Church that is expected to be eerything to everyone. At some level, this is unrealistic where a parish has only one priest, less people and limited resources.

To me, the second list is more representative of the core competencies that one would expect a parish to have which, in turn, enables said parish to achieve its spiritual and social goals.

We've spent decades striving to be something that we are not while at the same time maligning what we were (even if that wasn't executed perfectly in some parishes - said for the benefit of Anonymous who may feel inclined to provide yet another lecture on why this is Wrong! Wrong!! Wrong!!!)

John Nolan said...

It is an oversimplification, but it used to be said that Anglicans went to church in order to appear respectable, nonconformists in order to be part of a worshipping community, and Catholics because they were obliged to.

Now that church-going is no longer a sign of respectability and obligation has more or less vanished along with the liturgy and culture which engendered it, that only leaves the nonconformist paradigm; and most Catholic parishes strongly exhibit the features of congregationalism.

Once upon a time we talked of 'practising' Catholics as opposed to 'lapsed' Catholics. For some decades now the key word has been 'committed'. Catholicism is a club for the committed. There has, of course, always been parochialism - but parishes nowadays, often re-labelled 'Eucharistic communities' are self-referencing and exclusive to a degree unknown in the old days. Priests may come and go, but the middle-class and largely middle-aged activists who effectively run things remain. In the church porch you will see a list of readers and 'extraordinary ministers' in numbers far in excess of actual requirements; 'active participation' has spread far beyond the liturgy, whose form and content is in any case determined by a 'liturgy committee'.

The fact that its members know little about liturgy is irrelevant. As Fr McDonald shrewdly observes, the liturgy is merely one aspect of parish activism, and not necessarily the most important one. With its banal informality and trite music it is not designed to be uplifting, transcendent or even God-centred; Ratzinger's famous comment about the community celebrating itself is all too true in many cases.

There are of course honourable exceptions - any parish run by the Oratorians, for instance, or those (especially in London) which have a decent musical tradition, which usually guarantees a greater respect for the liturgy - but they are exceptions.

Mark Thomas said...

Victor said..."...the Catholic Church is the one and only True Church of Jesus Christ through which salvation is only possible, something which Vatican 2 was not clear about."

Vatican II made it clear that the Catholic Church is the one and only True Church of Jesus Christ.

Lumen Gentium: 14.

"This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation.

"In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church.

"Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved."



2. "The Holy Catholic Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, is made up of the faithful who are organically united in the Holy Spirit by the same faith, the same sacraments and the same government and who, combining together into various groups which are held together by a hierarchy, form separate Churches or Rites."


"The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council.

"Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only.

"In order to establish this His holy Church everywhere in the world till the end of time, Christ entrusted to the College of the Twelve the task of teaching, ruling and sanctifying.

"Among their number He selected Peter, and after his confession of faith determined that on him He would build His Church.

"Also to Peter He promised the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and after His profession of love, entrusted all His sheep to him to be confirmed in faith and shepherded in perfect unity."

"The Church, then, is God's only flock; it is like a standard lifted high for the nations to see it:"


Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

The pre V2 Church has, by now, de-facto devolved into one faithful and 2 schismatic successor factions. The 75% are inactive Catholics in name only; the NO Catholics who subscribe to their individually conceived version of Catholicism (here I include the Pope, and most of the Western hierarchy); the third group is made up of various initiatives using the TLM. I would add to this group Catholics who attend NO because they have no access to EF Masses or are lucky to have access to reasonably reverent NO Masses such as found in Fr.McD parish.

The in name only Catholics are the largest group. Unless they experience reconversion are really just lost to the faith. The second group are the next largest cohort. They may remain in the Church but because of their negative attitudes toward the sacraments (confession particularly) are in fact a schismatic (heretic?) Church. The third group is the future of Catholicism in this country. As Benedict XVI predicted it will be small and politically inconsequential for many decades to come.

The one thing that might help to improve the future outlook would require the formal abolition of the NO, a return to the TLM for a short period until a reformed TLM can be gradually be made available as an alternative for those who wish to worship in the vernacular of their mother tongue.

The NO is called a horse but its is really a camel designed by a committee. It is built on non-Catholic theology and people who attend it in good faith are not even aware of it. Do I think this can happen today? No, not really. But wait another 25-50 years. Then, who knows? May be even the reining Catholic Pope might propose such an initiatives. Remember, even the gates of Hell shall not prevail.

Robert Kumpel said...

It is insulting to young people and insulting to our general intelligence to suggest that young people demand "lively music" I.E. ENTERTAINMENT. As noted earlier, the largest followers of the EF are younger people. This canard about needing to be entertained needs to stop.

TJM said...

Robert Kumpel,

Couldn't agree more. I think the "lively music" is to appease the elderly juvenile delinquents running the show.

Victor said...

Mr Thomas:
You should know better than to avoid the issue of "This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church..." found in Lumen Gentium. The idea of "subsists in" rather than simply "is" has been debated for over 50 years, and is an important consideration for those who accuse the Vatican Council 2 of being heretical.

TJM said...


I do not believe Vatican II was heretical, just ill advised. Its "fruit" is exhibit A for my proposition.

I recall reading around 1964 or 1965 an article by a Jewish intellectual entitled "Why Change the Catholic Church?" in which he demonstrated the failures of most mainstream Protestant faiths in stark contrast to the Catholic Church which was wildly successful by comparison.

Mark Thomas said...

Victor said..."Mr Thomas: you should know better than to avoid the issue of "This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church..." found in Lumen Gentium. The idea of "subsists in" rather than simply "is" has been debated for over 50 years, and is an important consideration for those who accuse the Vatican Council 2 of being heretical."

I have not avoided any issue.

"Subsistit in" has not been debated for more than 50 years by those who are aware as to the Church of Rome's teaching in question.

Rome has never wavered from the fact that Vatican II taught without hesitation that the Catholic Church is the One True Church.

Via the term "subsistit in," the Church proclaimed at Vatican II that She is the True Church.


Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas said...

Victor said..."The idea of "subsists in" rather than simply "is" has been debated for over 50 years, and is an important consideration for those who accuse the Vatican Council 2 of being heretical."

The True Church has made it clear repeatedly that Vatican II is Her 21st orthodox Ecumenical Council.

Each diocese and Eparchy on earth holds that Vatican II is orthodox. Only those who've revolted against God and Holy Mother Church have held that Vatican II is heretical.


Mark Thomas