Sunday, August 11, 2019


Maybe I am wrong, but all the reforms of the Mass after Vatican II were not necessarily to under gird  a stronger way our belief in the Real Presence of Christ, but in fact has diluted this belief into heretical thoughts or instincts.

Striving to make the Mass intelligible and its signs clearer, has led to a malaise of Catholic belief in what the Mass is and how we are to approach our participation. One of the dilutions is that instead of holding up the Real Presence of the One Sacrifice and the Bread and Wine becoming the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Risen Lord as unique and the source and summit of other expressions of Christ's presence, the Real Presence was just one among many other real presence expressions in the Mass, first in the assembly who gathers, second in the Word proclaimed, third in the priest who presides and finally in the Bread and Wine consecrated. That makes the Real Presence in Holy Communion just one among many.

Think too how the Book of the Gospel or the Lectionary is enthroned to give the impression that the Book is like the tabernacle. At our cathedral it is enthroned  after the Gospel dead center on the old high altar while the tabernacle is in a side chapel, beautiful as it is. Is the Book equally important or more important than what is contained in the tabernacle. Visually, the answer is YES!

And in terms of making the signs bigger and clearer, let's use French Bread and break off chunks as the communicant arrives and force them to receive in the hand since they are adults and can feed themselves. Never mind that the crumbs of the crusty French bread litter the floor and carpet below, something I witnessed first had at a Jesuit's first Mass in 1978! After Mass he ridiculed parishioners who saw the crusty Bits on the floor and were scandalized and shocked by the sacrilege  and irreverence! He declared and pontificated that the Church was no longer into "Crumb" theology and they should get over it!

The other issue with some the "new theology" of the Mass, what I would call an ideology, is that what is more important is what the laity are doing in terms of active, what I prefer to call, actual, participation rather than what is believed.

Thus we need as many lay ministers acting during the Mass as possible. No longer will the Host be given to the laity with the Sign of the Cross and the longer formula, because laity cannot give a blessing with the Host prior to offering Holy Communion to a communicant. And the longer formula is too hard for them especially in Latin. So let's dumb down both which then leads to a malaise of Catholic belief.

Let's have everyone stand for Holy Communion because you can have more communion stations and need more extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion and since the laity are touching the host with their hands, let the laity receive in their hands too! Never mind that now people received in wildly different ways, Hosts are taken without consuming and discarded here there and everywhere. This really shores up belief in the Real Presence!

Let's have liturgical dance as a performance, we get more people involved but in reality is diminishes the faith of people because what the heck is the purpose of it?

Let's have the laity bring up the offerings to include the collection, extending the length of this part of Mass which has minimal symbolic meaning which most could care less about and better yet, let it be accompanied by cross, candles and incense. And for what reason?  It gets more laity, many reluctant to do it, doing something. Many laity now refuse to bring of the gifts. I think it is instinctual to them how superfluous it actually is!

Let's offer both forms the Eucharist so we can have a hoard of people, formed, unformed, moral, immoral, faithful, infidels, coming up at the Rite of Communion to assist the priest who he can move away from the "clericalism" of being the exclusive "giver of Holy Communion" and we have more laity doing more stuff many of whom think Communion is just symbolic anyway. The dress the part too!

But even with that, there is a new clericalism that develops, what is really laityism, a subset of the laity who do stuff while others, the vast majority, remain in the pew viewed as second class citizens by some clergy and some laity.

So the modern ideology places function over belief, people doing stuff over what is actually believed and what is believed is diminished, marginalized and seen as less important. Doing is more important than believing!


Anonymous J said...

in Africa, specifically Nigeria, the church is seeing its most explosive growth, a boom in vocations and a predominately traditionalist/Orthodox leadership (I.e. Sarah). You will also see vigorous dances, striking modern architecture & music that sounds foreign to our European-descended ears. It’s absurd to blame any of those factors for the state of the Western Church. My regular reminder that most Mass music that we consider “traditional” was written when the Church was 16, 17, 18 centuries old & likely looked upon with horror when first introduced. The Church will likely never look & sound the same as when we were children, God willing. That’s how you know it’s alive.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

AJ what you say is true enough. I have a newly ordained Nigerian priest. He would admit that Masses there extended to 3 and 4 hours are acceptable but come about by offertory processions where all get up and slowly dance their way to give their gift. Even my Ghanaian priest complained about all the liturgical antics in his country that make the Mass interminable.

Also both Cardinals Sarah and Arinze complained about the loss of kneeling for Holy Communion and other aspects of inculturation.

John Nolan said...

Anonymous J

The music at the Mass I attended this morning consisted of sixteenth century polyphony and Gregorian chant composed before the end of the eighth. That's not to say that more modern music is necessarily excluded.

But if the Mass neither looks nor sounds like it did when I was a child, it is not something I would recognize, and I would go out of my way to avoid it.

Carol H. said...

The Church is rapidly growing in Africa because Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, NOT because of liturgical nonsense.

Anonymous said...

How can a Mass last 3 to 4 hours?!? Long homilies? Lots of prayers? Thousands at communion?

The Egyptian said...

went to an inner city parish once, collection was done by placing a LARGE basket in front of the altar and one at a time you were expected to get up and place your donation in it, and the old lady on the electronic organ and her side kick the bongoist didn't stop till all had come forth, very uncomfortable, anything to stop the DRUMS.

on the real presence, many moons ago a reader on one of the Catholic blogs I follow commented and I wish I had saved, the following. He father left her mom soon after this woman was born, married another woman in the Mormon cult (church) now in his eighty's she got him to attend his granddaughters wedding, he commented " at least you catholics have finally given up on the stupid idea of the real presence" shocked daughter asked what ever gave you that idea, he replied, " well look at all those lay people handing out the host like cookies and everyone lined up like a drill and a women rummaging around in the tabernacle, don't look like there is any reverence left, nope it died and it's about time"
I'd say he hit the nail on the head

John Nolan said...

The formula for giving Communion to the laity was changed in 1965 when lay extraordinary ministers were still ten years in the future. Did the reformers know something that the rest of us didn't?

The practice of enthroning the book on the high altar is something I have seen in Lutheran churches in Germany. There is also a prominent crucifix - that, and the fact that there is no forward altar indicates to the visitor that he is not in a Catholic church.

The Oratorian church which I visit at least once a month has always celebrated its principal Masses on Sundays and Holy Days in the OF, but sung in Latin with deacon and subdeacon (usually these roles are taken by priests). Communion is received kneeling at the rail. The Roman Canon is standard.

However, since Easter this year there have been changes. The opening processional hymn has been dropped. Instead we have the old-rite Asperges with its versicles, responses and prayer, followed by the Gregorian Introit. The new director of music now always uses the full Gregorian Gradual and Alleluia; previously the choir used polyphonic or faux-bourdon settings of these. The chalice is no longer administered to the people - previously they had the option of receiving it from priests stationed in one of the two chapels which flank the sanctuary. And the Offertory procession seems to have been discontinued.

Is this mutual enrichment? Or 'back to the future'? Or part of a seamless transition to the EF? In any case, it is an encouraging sign of the times, along with the number of young people who are attracted to tradition, and the number of young priests who find no difficulty in reconciling liturgical beauty and pastoral outreach.