Saturday, December 5, 2009

Equal Time for Critique

As I look at my blog and the tendency for bloggers to leave no thought unblogged, I've noticed that I have not always been fair and balanced evaluating the Ordinary Form of the Mass with the Extraordinary Form. Is the Extraordinary Form perfect? Some would say yes and others would wonder.

Despite anything I have written, I do love the Ordinary Form of the Mass. I especially appreciate the new lectionary that has allowed Catholics to hear more of the Bible. I do think the biggest problem with the OF Mass has been the style of hymns that have been foisted on it and super creativity imposed upon it by priests and liturgy committees. Let's be clear, even in the OF Mass, there is a prescribed Introit now called the Entrance Antiphon. Almost no parishes anywhere actually sing it. Rather a Hymn is substituted. The hymns that substitute the official antiphons of the Missal are the problem. With the EF Mass, you must say or sing the official Introit, Offertory Antiphon (which is eliminated unfortunately in the OF Missal) and Communion Antiphon. Some even in Pre-Vatican II times, felt adding additional music to the EF Mass, like a processional hymn, offertory hymn, communion hymn and recessional hymn was a liturgical abuse but these were common and the vernacular was allowed for these hymns so they were popular.

When I was in Augusta, on the first Saturday of each month we sang a pure Gregorian Chanted Latin Mass in the Ordinary Form and facing the people. All the official chants were sung and there was no vernacular hymns. It was very monastic and spiritually powerful. It was beautiful. It was the purest form of the revised Mass I have ever celebrated. It touched the soul and not the hormones.

My critique of the EF Mass is that it can be too priest oriented. I am dismayed when I hear absolutely nothing coming from the congregation in terms of spoken and sung responses. The 1962 Mass allows for verbal and sung active participation while not ever negating interior participation that is silent. The two are not mutually exclusive. It is not either or, but both and.

I do love the Latin, but why the phobia of the vernacular for the EF. Just as there seems to be a phobia for Latin in the OF,why the phobia in the EF for the vernacular? With good vernacular translations, I would joyfully embrace the vernacular for all changing parts of the Mass, like the collects and prefaces. I would have no problem with the parts of the Mass in the vernacular. To maintain the tradition of Latin, I see no difficulty with the priest's and congregation parts that never change remaining in Latin. The laity could memorize these by heart in their own language thus not being befuddled by the language or glued to a missal. In other words, in Latin or in the vernacular, the congregation needs to be heard in all of the parts that the altar boys say and they should sing when possible, especially simple Latin Gregorian chanted parts of the Mass.

Keep in mind that Pope Benedict and Ecclesia Dei have confirmed that new lectionary can be used in the EF Mass with the readings in the vernacular and facing the people. This makes a tremendous amount of sense to me. In future revisions of the EF Mass, it would be a good idea to allow the option of adopting the Ordinary calendar of the Church for the EF Mass, which would simply mean doing the collects and preface and antiphons from the OF Mass for that particular Sunday or weekday in Latin with the English new lectionary readings. That would truly be a reform of the reform in an awesome way.

Your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Father, I prefer the Ancient Mass.

The laity are gradually flocking to the old and abandoning the new. Why? Because we are far hungrier for truth, for sacred mystery, for tradition, and for beauty than for “full, conscious and active participation.” I believe Common Meaning (I prefer “Common Mystery”) can be restored by the former. The latter has had its turn for over 40 years, and some might say "it" has somewhat failed.

Those who yearn for the old Mass do not do so out of some silly nostalgia, as so many have tried to insinuate. No, we do so because it is the very calling of our souls. It is not an act of disobedience to prefer this Mass; it is a devout prayer for salvation.

"The day the Church abandons Her universal tongue will be the day before She returns to the Catacombs." --Pope Pius XII (a few days before his death)

When the Church abandoned the Latin language, it did in a sense return to the catacombs. Numerous people drove many miles just to attend the Traditional Latin Mass. Some of these masses were held in funeral homes, hotel rooms and rented Protestant Church’s. You might say these were some of the modern day catacombs.


Templar said...

Hmmmm, as regards the EF I would say that the use of vernacular (beyond the epistle and gospel) would not be appropriate since the the current authorization is for the 1962 MR, correct? At one time I understand there was a 1965 MR that authorized the entire EF Mass in vernacular, at least I have read that. Being only 3 in 1965 I can have no conscious memory of it. As far as the lack of response from the congregation during the EF I would offer the following observation as someone who has attended almost every EF you have said Father; on the one hand I can hear the congregation (being part of it) but most of us are not speaking out loud for the simple fact that few are comfortable with the Latin. Many who are old hands with Latin probably operate under the "old customs" which had the congregation silent. I have read that in FSSP and SSPX Parishes it is not unusual for the congregation to be silent, in some cases reports of new comers being "shushed" for trying to create a dialog with the priest through the responses. What are your recollections from childhood Father? Do you recall the congregation being loud in their responses? Sometimes I confess that I get caught up in the EF Mass and just close my eyes and mouth, and open my ears and heart and let myself be spiritually lifted up towards heaven with the sacrifice on the altar. This is not anything I can ever recall experiencing at any OF Mass of any level of reverence. The Latin definitely facilitates my ability to participate in the EF Mass as something not fully of this world. It tears that veil a little for me.

As for the OF Mass, I am not an enemy of it by any means. I will be happy if the good Lord allows me to live long enough to experience one reverent OF Mass for every uninspiring one I have had to endure in life so far. I believe the OF Mass can be just as "other worldly" as the EF Mass if it is said strictly in accordance with rubrics, and opting for non of the shorter versions of the optional prayers. If I understand correctly, the original Pauline Mass of 1970 which is what we are essentially still using (with modifications) still envisioned the use of Latin and Chant, as called for in the V2 documents. That would be a lovely way to encounter our Lord, perhaps you should consider introducing it at St Joseph. Christmas Eve Midnight Mass would be a great opportunity. Consider how many folks attend only that Mass every year. Should many would be likely to grumble, but chances are the grumblers would not be back until next Christmas anyway. Who knows, maybe some of our lost 75% would be awed into returning to Mother Church which was proudly displaying her heritage.

I know, I'm dreaming Father, but man, wouldn't that be something?

Anonymous said...

Father, I wanted to add one more thing, please. Active participation can also include saying, or doing nothing. Thank you.


“The most perfect participation in that sacrifice is in fact exemplified by Our Blessed Lady at the foot of the Cross. And what is it that she does there at the foot of the altar of the Cross – nothing, in fact, that mortal eyes can perceive. What does she say there – nothing that mortal ears can hear. And yet no human being ever was or ever could be more fully or more intimately involved in that Sacrifice than she was at that moment. As always, she shows us the way. Thus with Our Lady at the foot of the Cross, we too can only be present and wonder, asking ourselves in union with the prayer of the priest at the altar, “Quid retribuam…..,” what return shall I make to the Lord for all that He hath GIVEN unto me……….. This is both the beginning and the goal of participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Everything that fails to lead to that reverence and interior union, or which impedes it, impedes authentic participation. And all elements of exterior participation consonant with these principles will inevitably have the character of authenticity.”


Anonymous said...

I grew up in the post Vatican II era and folk song Masses,watered down Catholicism,no family devotions, and hardly remember what the nuns taught me.
What did that do for me? Nada. Zilch.
It gave me NOTHING to carry me through difficult times or to turn to. It was empty, dead.
I think it's no accident that when I stumbled back into Catholicism in need of serious forgiveness by the God of the universe, that it was at Fr. McDonald's parish. Some other 'feel good' parish could not have drawn me back. It's amazing how we always get what we need despite what we think we need. I NEVER thought I'd be back into Cathoicism. It just blows my mind.
Therefore, my gratitude is immense to Father and the Pope and the Holy Trinity.

Father, what do we need to do to have that Gregorian Chant Mass in Macon? What about getting some of your other reform of the reform proposals?
No matter what, Padre, I'm with you all they way.

-Brian said...

Pastor McDonald you said, “I am dismayed when I hear absolutely nothing coming from the congregation in terms of spoken and sung responses.” Please Father, have courage and do not be dismayed. Out here in the laos we are so diversified in our engagement of the sacred and divine (when we can see it), that often times we present ourselves in liturgy filled with egocentricity, fear, suffering, and our own loss of our vision of God. That’s why we come to mass. Mass becomes a “can we find God” moment, rather than an intent to worship the father in public prayer. In that time we are distracted by our failure or success in that regard and we do not extend ourselves to the sacred movement as it calls to us through you and the Lord. But we do struggle with our reticence and persistently attend.

On the other hand, there are those present who are fully aware of the demands the verse and antiphons draw from us and as you recognized are steeped in the interior silence reluctantly aware of how the OF mass treats them. Still, you should not be dismayed on this account as well. Truly, those of the laos who manage to hear mass, those laity who struggle with the lack of silence, and those who are timid are victims struggling to tend their wounds. But do not be dismayed, because we are getting better at answering your call to us.

For example, I have been hearing mass the last ten or so years with a fellow who I do not know. He dresses the same, sports the same styles of appearance, and I have hardly ever heard him respond like a public response to “spoken and sung responses.” Yet today I heard him loudly speak and sing hymnal and response!!! So, you see...

Somehow, knowing you, I think you know this...Yet, those were my “thoughts.”

Robert Kumpel said...

As much as I love silence and crave more of it at Novus Ordo Masses, I have often wondered why it was not permitted to offer the TLM in the vernacular. I think Latin is beautiful, but I would be OK with English as well.

The biggest downside I can possibly see is the possibility of bad translations mucking it up. The great think about using a "dead" language like Latin is that the words cannot be manipulated from their original meanings which keep them pure and undefiled from the agenda-driven mistranslations that have plagued us for so long with the Novus Ordo.

I once had a very serious Catholic friend complain that he had a big problem with being silent for an hour, only to hear the chiming bells at the consecration (he held up his hands and made a ringing sound). It was not so much that he disliked the TLM, but that he believed it was not the end-all solution to the bad liturgies so common at most parishes. Maybe the Extraordinary Form in English could be helpful for people like him--but then again, that's not my call to make!

Henry Edwards said...


Now retired in Tennessee after 36 years in Georgia (at the University in Athens), I have been deeply impressed (and often moved) by many of your posts in recent months since discovering this blog. Two remarks on this post:

(1) I find it curious that you "hear absolutely nothing coming from the (EF) congregation in terms of spoken and sung responses." At our EF Mass in Knoxville (TN) you would hear every single spoken or sung response from many or most in the congregation, in addition to full-throated singing of the Gloria (in season), Credo, and Pater Noster (!). For instance, when the priest turns and says the "Orate, fratres: ....." at the end of the offertory, many or most will respond audibly with the full "Suscipat Dominus sacrificium ......", as does essentially every man, woman, and child with the triple "Domine, non sum dignus ....." before Holy Communion. This participation has been typical of high Masses (though not of all low Masses) I've attended over the years.

(2) Certainly something needs to be done to reconcile the OF and EF calendars. I realize this particularly because I attend EF Mass on Sundays and OF Mass daily, while praying the OF Liturgia Horarum in Latin.

Your idea of inserting not only the OF readings but the OF collects and antiphons in the EF would give an internally consistent solution and deserves some sort of trial. However, I must admit to some reservation. Our EF celebrant -- who celebrates the OF with the same devotion and reverence in English, Spanish, Latin, and (occasionally) French -- typically notes in his Sunday EF sermon when (if at all) that day's EF readings appear in the OF lectionary. It is disconcerting to find, time and again, that especially the "harder" EF readings are omitted entirely from the OF lectionary, or alternatively are heard only on (e.g.) every other 17th Thursday in ordinary time, and thus never by the ordinary "Sunday Catholic". It is particularly regrettable that such vital EF readings as the Gospel for the Last Sunday after Pentecost are not to be found in the OF lectionary. So I fear that the OF revision of the lectionary was considerably more successful in broadening its daily than its Sunday scriptural coverage.

Templar said...

In response to Robert Kumpel:

I do believe in 1965 there was an edition of the MR issued that had the EF Mass in vernacular. Even if I am correct, the MP:SP did not authorize the use of that Missal so it's a moot point, but to speak directly to your suggestion, I think it would be alright provided translations were closely monitored. But at my heart what I like about the notion of Latin for all masses is that the "Catholic" (as in universal) Church really should have a "Catholic" (as in universal) language. If I am in Manilla or Macon I should be able to hear the same Mass. Latin was the way that was accomplished, and seems like the most logical path to return to that ideal.

In response to Henry Edwards:

If I understand correctly, the LM Community in Knoxville has been in existence for quite some time, going back to JPII time as an indult parish, does it not? That would mean your congregation is much better equipped and experienced to participate in the direct manner. Those of us who have actively supported Father MacDonald's Latin Mass Ministry in Macon have had the benefit of perhaps 2 dozen Masses (give or take a few) if we have attended faithfully since he started in December 2007.

Father: Perhaps if we had a Latin Mass available every week we'd accelerate the pace of or learning; or better yet, if we used more Latin more often in the OF Masses, more OF regulars would be interested in crossing over to the monthly EF Mass. Food for thought ;-)

Henry Edwards said...


The Knoxville Latin Mass began in Advent 2005, and thus we celebrated our 4th anniversary this past Sunday. We had biweekly Masses until the implementation of Summorum Pontificum in Sept 2007, and weekly EF Masses since then.

We determined from the start to consciously and explicitly encourage the "active (prayerful) participation" that Vatican II directed for the traditional Latin Mass -- since no "new order" of Mass was envisioned by the Council -- repeating the urgings of the previous 20th century popes from Pius X through Pius XII

For instance, the people joined in singing the Pater Noster at our very first TLM -- same plainsong as for the Our Father in English. This seemed like an innovation to some, the Pater Noster in the past generally having been chanted by the celebrant alone, but the congregational singing of it has been affirmed by the PCED.

The key was having missalettes available for all to use from the beginning, and fairly quickly developing a choir to lead people in the chants.

It's clear to me (from this blog) that in Father MacDonald you benefit from pastoral leadership that most parishes can only envy from afar. Best wishes for your continued EF progress.

Anonymous said...

Henry Edwards said,

"...It's clear to me (from this blog) that in Father MacDonald you benefit from pastoral leadership that most parishes can only envy from afar. Best wishes for your continued EF progress."

I must say that Henry sure got that right!!!

Anonymous said...

Unless Latin is mandated for the Ordinary in Mass people will always be hesitant to allow vernacular into the 1962 Missal. They fear and rightfully so, a repeat of what happened with the NO Missal. Permission for an ALL vernacular Mass. Nothing short of a Papal Bull for retention of a Latin Ordinary will allay the fears of people who wish to retain Latin in Mass as stated in the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy from the Second Vatican Council. Too many people were deceived and deprived once. The Bishops trust and obedience must be earned back. As for the resistance in the OF Mass, I believe it is simple laziness and a viewpoint that they may have to do something else besides attend their Sunday obligation. Like learn it. No more than that.