Saturday, January 30, 2010


A very good and scholarly article I found in Rorate Caeli's blog this morning on the placement of the tabernacle in our churches. Read and enjoy:

Saturday, January 30, 2010
The tabernacle is not an obstacle

Rorate Caeli is pleased to offer the following translation of the article Ma il tabernacolo non è un ingombro, written by Michele Dolz of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome and published in L'Osservatore Romano on January 16, 2010. The translations of the Bible verses are taken from the Revised Standard Version.

The translations of the citations from Vatican documents (except for the brief passages from Sacrosanctum Concilium #122) are taken from the English version of the Vatican website.

Dear readers: this article is not "traditionalist" in any sense, and Traditional Catholics will certainly find certain passages to be objectionable. However, this article at least serves as yet another "bullet" in the continuing struggle against modernism in Church architecture, sacred art, and the place of the reserved Sacrament.Take what is helpful, and discuss with charity those passages that seem to reflect the spirit of unwarranted innovation.

Architecture and sacred art

The tabernacle is not an obstacle

On the themes of Sacred architecture proposed by Paolo Portoghesi on these pages on October 19-20 of last year, we publish here a new intervention after the contributions of Maria Antonietta Crippa e Sandro Benedetti.

by Michael Dolz

Pontifical University of the Holy Cross

It is to be hoped that the stone thrown into the pond by the architect Paolo Portoghesi will produce a long wave of reflections among those who are in his profession. The point he is emphasizing can be seen clearly: the Conciliar re-evaluation of the community aspect, which is so essential for the Christian faith, has -- when applied -- led to a desacralization which has nothing to do with the teachings of the Vatican II.

There is no lack of theological and scriptural reasons for this; on the contrary, there is a vision of the Ecclesia as the depositary of the sacred, or better said, of sanctity. Jesus explains to the Samaritan woman: “The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father (...) But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him”. (John 4:21-23).

There are no sacred places, properly speaking, in Christianity. God is everywhere and He is especially present through grace in man, which Origen proudly said was the most exact image of God: ”There is no comparison between the Olympian Zeus, sculptured by Phidias and man made to the image of God, the Creator” (Contra Celsum, 8, 18). Man is holy (or can be holy) and the Church is holy. And “for where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”. (Matthew 18:20).

On this basis, (which however is) the authentic ancient faith of the Church, we had an over-emphasis (on community), which sometimes arrives even at the denial of the validity of individual religious action. In this way the church building is seen as the headquarters for the reunion of the assembly or community. There a sacred action is performed when the community is present, but it remains an empty shell, and it is not considered to be for use as a personal, individual, “private” place. But the church which has been transformed into a conference room does not need pictures, and even these could be a hindrance. Let us think of a conference hall or a hall used for conventions: the emptier they are, the better they are for the gathering for which they are used since this helps the participants to concentrate their attention on the speakers.. The churches used as assembly halls do not need pictures because pictures do not serve, they even disturb. And this actually goes well with the minimalist and purist taste of many architects, however creative or repetitive they may be.

Sober and somewhat bare churches are of course not a novelty of the 20th century and have also helped people meeting God in Jesus Christ. But it is not possible to appeal to Vatican II in order to ask it to justify either the absence of pictures, or the invalidity of personal prayer inside the church. In Sacrosanctum Concilium we read that the purpose of works of sacred art is to “contribute as efficiently as possible to turn the minds of men towards God”, that ”the church has always reserved itself, and rightly so, to be the judge and choose between the artistical works those which respond to faith, to piety and the norms religiously transmitted and which are adapted to the use of the sacred” (122) And it goes on to say: “The practice of placing sacred images in churches so that they may be venerated by the faithful is to be maintained” (125), while at the same time recommending some moderation in order to prevent the exaggerations which are always possible in this field.

An extreme and very clear consequence of the “assemblist” (assemblearista) position is the loss of the importance of the Eucharist as the real presence of Christ in the Host after the mass. If one does not think of personal adoration, and as community adoration is no longer actually practiced, then the tabernacle becomes cumbersome and difficult to put between what are normally considered as the two liturgical poles, the altar and the ambo. In so many churches it has thus become subject to a progressive marginalization which has made it at times reach total concealment. The absence of faith in the real presence is vividly noticed in some sectors.

And yet, the story of the tabernacle reflects the progressive development of Eucharistic worship, according to that ”progress of the faith” for which Vincent of Lerins already set the parameters in his Commonitorium (434) and which in this case has witnessed two great moments: the 13th century and the initiative of the Catholic Reformation around the Council of Trent. The bishop of Verona, Matteo Giberti (+1543) for instance put the tabernacle on the altar table, and this action was quickly repeated by many. As John Paul II wrote in 2003, “The designs of altars and tabernacles within Church interiors were often not simply motivated by artistic inspiration but also by a clear understanding of the mystery" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 49). The way of looking at the church as a place for assemblies, on the other hand, looks on Eucharistic custody as something subsidiary and not something arising from the union of the faithful with Christ in Holy Communion.

The exhortation of Benedict XVI, Sacramentum caritatis of 2007 (simply) takes up the reflections and the propositions of the Episcopal Synod on the Eucharist, and hence is not to be seen as an expression of one or the other theological current. We read there: “During the early phases of the reform, the inherent relationship between Mass and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was not always perceived with sufficient clarity. For example, an objection that was widespread at the time argued that the eucharistic bread was given to us not to be looked at, but to be eaten. In the light of the Church's experience of prayer, however, this was seen to be a false dichotomy. As Saint Augustine put it: "nemo autem illam carnem manducat, nisi prius adoraverit; peccemus non adorando – no one eats that flesh without first adoring it; we should sin were we not to adore it (...) eucharistic adoration is simply the natural consequence of the eucharistic celebration, which is itself the Church's supreme act of adoration. (...)The act of adoration outside Mass prolongs and intensifies all that takes place during the liturgical celebration itself." (41). (CAP – These passages are actually to be found in #66 of Sacramentum Caritatis.)

The consequence in terms of planning of the churches, which we find in the same post-synodical document, is simple: “In new churches, it is good to position the Blessed Sacrament chapel close to the sanctuary; where this is not possible, it is preferable to locate the tabernacle in the sanctuary, in a sufficiently elevated place, at the centre of the apse area, or in another place where it will be equally conspicuous. Attention to these considerations will lend dignity to the tabernacle, which must always be cared for, also from an artistic standpoint”(69).

Ultimately, the highlighting of the tabernacle and the exposition of sacred images are in the same line of personal prayer and, as we have seen, cannot detract from community celebration. It follows that also the images are not only ornaments. “Sacred Art” - wrote John Paul II – “must be outstanding for its ability to express adequately the mystery grasped in the fullness of the Church's faith" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 50). And those words are echoed by the Synod in the words of Benedict XVI when he reminds that “religious iconography should be directed to sacramental mystagogy. A solid knowledge of the history of sacred art can be advantageous for those responsible for commissioning artists and architects to create works of art for the liturgy"(41).

There is, therefore, something to reflect on, not to invoke some kind of restoration, but to admit with nobility of mind the mistakes that have been committed and to envisage new lines of development of the sacred art. The next question will necessarily be how to make multi-faceted contemporary art adequately express the mystery of the faith of the Church. Because it is from the contemporary art that the solution must come, not from some nostalgic and impossible revival. But in any case we are faced with a theological and spiritual question, rather than with an aesthetical one.

posted by Carlos Antonio Palad

Friday, January 29, 2010


I need to give equal time to the Ordinary Form of the Mass which we strive to do very well at St. Joseph Church. We strive to do the "red" (rubrics) and read the "black" (Mass texts) in a way that shows all prayer is oriented to God,not to us, we simply offer it, the priest together with the assembly. The re-translated "orate fratres" makes this clearer: "Prayer brethren (brothers and sisters) that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the almighty Father." At any rate, some pictures of the OF Mass below which is the primary (ordinary or normal) Mass we offer at St. Joseph. I don't want you to get the wrong impression. Of course I am a bit younger in these photos. I prefer the anonymity of the EF, if you know what I mean! It hides a multitude of sins.


Continuing with my previous blog, some within my parish have asked me why I'm bothering them with trying to teach them their Latin parts of the Ordinary of the Mass despite the fact that the Second Vatican Council's document on the Liturgy explicitly states they should know it. They say that they now have to "think" about what they are saying whereas with the lame duck English, they didn't have to think! Yes! They didn't have to think, to reflect, to wonder, to engage in mystery, to be surprised by grace.

Yes, many of us have been doing things by rote and in an unthinking way for much too long. It is a general human tendency with ritual and habit to do so sometimes. But shouldn't we be thinking and praying and not just doing things through unthinking rote? Are we willing just to settle for that? I hope not!

Others have asked if learning the Latin is mandated. I say, "no," although I always point to what the Second Vatican Council teaches about Latin. As pastor, I have every right, though, to implement this even if no other pastor in the world thinks it is important. There is diversity here in terms of the entire issue of language in Latin or Spanish or what ever language a parish uses and I recognize that.

The same holds true for "ad orientem" worship (priest facing in the same direction as the laity, facing the liturgical east). This is not forbidden with the Ordinary Form of the Mass. The bishop in Oklahoma City has decided to implement it in his Cathedral. That is his prerogative as bishop. Fr.Jay Scott Newman, pastor of St. Mary Church in Greenville, SC, after a lenghty catechesis, has implemented Ad Orientem in his parish. As pastor he had the right to do so. Pastors also have the right not to do so, I might add.

But the greater issue, I believe, is that we need to take the time to think about what we do and what we say at Mass, in particular, how we participate, sing, respond, listen and the reverence that is due to Jesus Christ truly present in the Most Holy Eucharist, in Holy Communion. Is our interior and, yes, exterior disposition one of reverence, awe, wonder and gratitude; or is it one of casual complacency manifested both from the perspective of the interior and exterior
characteristics of our faith, devotion, reverence or lack thereof?

Personally speaking, since I have begun to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass regularly and to implement the Latin parts of the Mass in the Ordinary Form, I've had to really, really, think about what I am doing and to do it consciously. In this sense, Pope Benedict's stroke of genius in allowing the Extraordinary Form of the Mass with little or no restrictions was truly a stroke of genius on his part. In my own practice, both forms of the Mass are having a gravitational pull on the other and on me!

To conclude, I also would point out that in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, what the Second Vatican Council says about the Latin, that the laity should be able to say and sing out loud all the Latin parts that pertain to them is absolutely necessary. No longer are the laity allowed to just let the altar boys or the choir speak or sing for them--it is their duty to join, out loud and not just quietly. So let even the traditionalists get real about their active participation and what the Second Vatican Council teaches them too! Active participation can be quiet, where appropriate and can be out loud where appropriate. The two are not mutually exclusive. Those who love the "quietness" of the EF Mass need to know that in some cases we need to let that go and do their part out loud as the Second Vatican Council's document on the Liturgy says to do even in the EF!

Your thoughts!

Just a few photos on thinking about what one is doing at Mass--EF Solemn High Requiem Mass on All Souls' Day, 2009. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves> This Mass was our first Solemn High more than 45 years. It took a great deal of practice, work and energy for the choir in particular, but also the priest, deacon, subdeacon, master of ceremonies, altar boys and last but certainly not least, congregation. There were more than 300 people present at a 7:00 PM Mass that was not obligatory!:

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Fr. Allan McDonald helping the children teach the adults how to say their Latin responses at Mass. The children are frustrated that the adults think Vatican II did away with the Latin Mass. The children are chastising the adults for this lack of awareness of what Vatican II actually taught in Sacrosantum Concilium!

Even though the Second Vatican Council's Liturgical Document, Sacrosanctum Concilium, makes clear in no uncertain terms very, very few clergy or laity bother with or even care about the following: “The use of the Latin language, with due respect to particular law, is to be preserved in the Latin rites....Care must be taken to ensure that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.”

However, if you were to ask a rank and file Catholic who actually attends Mass, that person would probably tell you that Vatican II did away with the Latin at Mass. I know that I've had Catholics come up to me after Mass when we have used Latin and said Vatican II did away with that, sometimes in a rather caustic tone! Either they have unintentionally been misled by someone or worse yet, intentionally misled. This is terribly unfortunate, being misled that is.

At any rate, Latin after Vatican II certainly did disappear in many places not because of fidelity to Vatican II but because of infidelity to it. Now, today it is true that the majority of English speaking Catholics do not ask for Latin. I might add that the same holds true for the re-translated English Mass--I don't think the vast majority of English speaking Catholics are asking for it. The same is true of the Post Vatican II Mass, no one amongst the laity in the 1950's or early 1960's was asking for it. It was mandated by the highest authority in the Church.

What happened after Vatican II was that we were asked by the Magisterium to implement the New Mass. Through hard work we did it. Many older Catholic priests have the battle scars to prove it. We've also been asked directly by Vatican II to maintain the Latin. We failed there! It is hard work to do two things at one time, to maintain our mother tongue, Latin and to implement the exception to the mother tongue, the vernacular especially when no one amongst the laity asked for the vernacular to begin with.

In the very near future, we will be asked to implement a new English translation of the Mass. It will be hard work and we will have to lead our people in doing it. But in the meantime we have a splendid opportunity to actually be faithful to Sacrosanctum Concilium as it concerns our mother tongue, Latin. I think it a stroke of genius that we use this unique "interim" period to oust the old lame duck English for the people's responses and chants, and to implement the mother tongue of the Latin rite, which is Latin. Then, when is comes time to implement the new English, they'll have forgotten the old lame duck responses and it will go smoothly. In addition, they'll know the Latin responses which Vatican II mandated them to know. It will have taken us 50 years to do that, but what the heck?

Implementing Latin in a transitional period will be hard work. But it will help us to actually live liturgically what the Second Vatican Council envisioned for local dioceses (Churches) and parishes. Let's do it and have courage and fortitude in doing it. Seize the Day! CARPUS DIEM!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The exchange of wedding vows and rings, takes place as a prelude to the Nuptial Mass. Therefore the couple is already married for the entire Nuptial Mass, including the readings and homily!

As usual, but my first for an EF Nuptial Mass, a stunning, all captivating homily, but another first for me, this couple is not an engaged couple, they're already married for about 15 minutes! I like the fact that the EF Nuptial has them married prior to the Nuptial Mass; it makes sense:

The elevation of the Host:

The elevation of the Chalice:

The completion of the Roman Canon:

The panoramic view of our stunning church decorated for Christmas. What a Christmas Wedding!:

The Recessional, but no applause please, out of place in the sacredness of this Rite! (and no one really needed to be told that!):


Fr. Peter M. J. Stravinskas has recently pointed out in the Jesuit periodical, America what everyone who has read the Document on the Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium from the Second Vatican Council already knows:

Paragraph 36 of Sacrosanctum Concilium, states that, “The use of the Latin language, with due respect to particular law, is to be preserved in the Latin rites....Care must be taken to ensure that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.”

In other words, the Council Fathers, not being liturgical elitists, thought that the laity in the pew was smart enough to learn their Latin parts. What a radical breakthrough!

In terms of the revised English responses of the faithful, to the greeting "The Lord be with you, the following is most important from a sacral point of view:

And with your spirit. The earliest translation of the Mass from 1965 actually used this wording. St. John Chrysostom explains that when the people respond in this way they are affirming the ontological change that has taken place in the priest by virtue of the Sacrament of Order, thus enabling him to call down the Spirit upon the elements of bread and wine, transforming them into the body and blood of Christ.

What most Catholics don't know is that there was a very unfortunate agenda operative in the elite group of scholars who translated the Mass into English in the 1960's. I was taught in the seminary that there was a desire to neuter some references to the Church and not to offer superlative modifiers to the saints and other concepts, like, ever-glorious, most holy, etc. Repetition had to be avoided at all costs.There was a desire for "street-talk" in the Liturgy, not some highly exalted English that the person in the pew couldn't understand. Now keep in mind for centuries the person in the pew was exposed to Latin and the person in the pew wasn't complaining. But nonetheless, the linguists of this era thought they knew better. This is what Fr. Stravinkas has to write:

"When I first reviewed the translation guidelines sent by ICEL, I was disappointed. Ideology, it seemed, had taken precedence over accuracy. Anima was not to be rendered as “soul,” I was informed, because doing so would set up an unnecessary dichotomy between body and soul. No feminine pronouns were to be used for the church, and common words were favored over precise theological or liturgical vocabulary. The goal was to capture the general meaning of the text, rather than a faithful rendering of a rich and historically layered Latin prose."

At St. Joseph Church, we are beginning what the Catholic Church in all English speaking countries will be doing--we are making a course-correction. I have decided as pastor, that we will follow Vatican II by first honoring our Latin Rite heritage by learning what the "standard" language of the Latin Rite Mass is, Latin! We will do so with the laity's responses in the Mass. Eventually, when it becomes licit to do so, we will implement the new English translation of the Mass. Then in about one year, I am asking my parishioners to reflect on what we did and are doing and to ask this question to themselves and strive to answer for themselves: Are we more appreciative of the sacred and show more respect now for the Sacred, individually and collectively? If so, why?

Lex orandi, lex credendi. The way of prayer is the way of belief--how one prays has ramifications for good or ill on how one believes. Think about it.


A Blast From the Past: More 2009 Easter Vigil Photos:

Some neophytes from 2009 Easter Vigil:

The Procession in with candles:

The blessing of the fire outside, I'm always afraid I'm going to go up in flames especially if there is a burst of wind!

US bishops: Enact genuine health reform, oppose current language on abortion, conscience protection

The following is a letter released yesterday to the United States House of Representatives from the Pro-life Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Church believes that "orthodoxy" which really means "right worship" should lead to "ortho-praxis", the right practice of our orthodox faith. In other words, worship (faith) and praxis, (good works) walk hand-in-hand. Fortunately for us as Catholics, we don't go it alone, but rely upon our Shepherds to lead the way even in secular matters that should indeed be informed by faith and good works.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 FOURTH STREET NE • WASHINGTON DC 20017-1194 • 202-541-3000

January 26, 2010

United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative:
On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), we strongly urge
Members of Congress to come together and recommit themselves to enacting genuine health care
reform that will protect the life, dignity, consciences and health of all. The health care debate, with
all its political and ideological conflict, seems to have lost its central moral focus and policy priority,
which is to ensure that affordable, quality, life-giving care is available to all. Now is not the time to
abandon this task, but rather to set aside partisan divisions and special interest pressures to find
ways to enact genuine reform. Although political contexts have changed, the moral and policy failure
that leaves tens of millions of our sisters and brothers without access to health care still remains. We
encourage Congress to begin working in a bipartisan manner providing political courage, vision and
leadership. We must all continue to work towards a solution that protects everyone’s lives and
respects their dignity.
The Catholic bishops have long supported adequate and affordable health care for all,
because health care is a basic human right. As pastors and teachers, we believe genuine health care
reform must protect human life and dignity, not threaten them, especially for the most voiceless and
vulnerable. We believe health care legislation must respect the consciences of providers, taxpayers,
and others, not violate them. We believe universal coverage should be truly universal and should not
be denied to those in need because of their condition, age, where they come from or when they arrive
here. Providing affordable and accessible health care that clearly reflects these fundamental
principles is a public good, moral imperative and urgent national priority.
Whatever the legislative process and vehicle, the U.S. Catholic bishops continue to urge the
House and Senate to adopt legislation that:
• Ensures access to quality, affordable, life giving health care for all;
• Retains longstanding requirements that federal funds not be used for elective abortions or
plans that include them, and effectively protects conscience rights; and,
• Protects the access to health care that immigrants currently have and removes current barriers
to access.
In addition to meeting these moral criteria, restraining costs and applying them equitably across the
spectrum of payers, will make this bill more acceptable to more people. Although recently passed
legislation in the House and Senate may not move forward in either of their current forms, there are
provisions in the bills that should be included in -and some that should be removed from- any
proposals for health care reform.

Accessible and Affordable Health Care for All
Health care is a social good, and accessible and affordable health care for all benefits
individuals and the society as a whole. The moral measure of any health care reform proposal is
whether it offers affordable and accessible health care to all, beginning with those most in need. This
can be a matter of life or death, of dignity or deprivation.
The Senate and House bills make great progress in covering people in our nation. However,
the proposed bills would still leave between 18 and 23 million people in our nation without health
insurance. This falls far short of what is needed in both policy and moral terms.
The bishops support extending Medicaid eligibility to people living at 133 percent of the
federal poverty level or lower. However, states should not be burdened with excessive Medicaid
matching rates, particularly during the economic downturn. Cost-sharing and premium credits should
be offered to assist low-income families purchase insurance coverage and to make coverage more
affordable. We urge that the best affordability elements of the House and Senate bills be included.
Protecting Human Life and Conscience
Disappointingly, the Senate-passed bill in particular does not meet our moral criteria on life
and conscience. Specifically, it violates the longstanding federal policy against the use of federal
funds for elective abortions and health plans that include such abortions -- a policy upheld in all
health programs covered by the Hyde Amendment as well as in the Children’s Health Insurance
Program, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and now in the House-passed “Affordable
Health Care for America Act.” We believe legislation that fails to comply with this policy and
precedent is not true health care reform and should be opposed until this fundamental problem is
remedied. The bill’s provision against abortion funding should have the same substantive policy as
the Hyde amendment and parallel provisions in current law, should cover every program in the
legislation, and should be as permanent as the funding provided by the bill. The House-passed
language meets these criteria.
The bill passed by the House (and to a lesser extent the Senate-passed bill) recognizes the
need to protect conscience rights on abortion. However, provisions in both bills pose a threat to
conscience that is not limited to abortion. That threat needs to be removed before any final bill is
passed. Current federal law permits the accommodation of a wide range of religious and moral
objections in the provision of health insurance and services. For example, currently insurers are free
under federal law to accommodate purchasers or plan sponsors with moral or religious objections to
certain services. The proposed healthcare bills would change that by imposing new mandates to cover
certain services as “essential benefits,” including certain specified categories such as “ambulatory
patient services,” “prescription drugs,” and “preventive” services. Within these categories, the bills
designate an Executive Branch official to define what specific services plans must cover. Thus, any
item or service defined as “essential” must be provided—regardless of a conscientious objection on
the part of the insurer, purchaser, or plan sponsor. The freedom that insurers, purchasers, and
sponsors currently enjoy under federal law to offer or purchase health plans that are not morally or
religiously objectionable to them would then be lost. In addition, because the bills give the Executive
Branch the authority to regulate the selection of providers by health plans, these plans may also be
newly required to exclude providers because they have a conscientious objection to particular

It is critical that the final bill retain the freedom of conscience that insurers, purchasers, plan
sponsors, and health care providers currently have under federal law. Such a protection would not
amend any other federal law, or affect any state or local law, but instead prevent only the new law
from imposing new burdens on conscience. This would not affect a sea change regarding conscience
protection, but instead would prevent one.
Immigrants and Health Care Coverage
We strongly support the position of the House bill that does not prohibit undocumented
persons from using their own money to access the new health-care exchange. To proactively prohibit
a human being from accessing health-care is mean-spirited and contrary to the general public health.
We also support removal of the five-year ban on legal immigrants accessing federal means-tested
health care plans, such as Medicaid. Legal immigrants, who pay taxes and are on a path to
citizenship, should be able to access programs for which their taxes help pay.
We will continue to work vigorously to advance true health care reform legislation that
ensures affordability and access, keeps longstanding prohibitions on abortion funding, upholds
conscience rights, and addresses the health needs of immigrants. These are not marginal matters, but
essential to real reform. We hope and pray that both the Congress and the country will come together
around genuine health care reform that protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all.
Bishop William F. Murphy
Diocese of Rockville Centre
Committee on Domestic Justice
and Human Development
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo
Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
Committee on Pro-life Activities
Bishop John Wester
Diocese of Salt Lake City
Committee on Migration

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Some images from our Easter Vigil, 2009, now that I know how to post!


As a balance to my post concerning the Extraordinary Form Nuptial Mass, at St. Joseph Church, our brides and grooms also have an option for a "no cost, no frills" wedding that takes place at a Sunday Mass. If the couple chooses this (and we've only had the one in the photos below, last year), they must take the Mass as it is normally celebrated for the particular Sunday. Only 8 pews can be reserved for any guests, they process in the normal procession, behind the servers, in front of the priest and the Mass and music is for that particular Sunday. We do allow a choice for them when it comes to the offertory motet or song. After the normal homily, they come forward for the consent, rings, etc and then return to their place in the congregation for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, come forward for the Nuptial Blessing and recess with the normal procession with the normal recessional hymn. This particular wedding worked out extremely well and was a our Saturday 4:30 PM Vigil Mass.

A part of the normal Sunday (vigil) procession, all are singing the normal processional hymn:


Saint Joseph Cathedral, I mean, Church, Macon, Georgia!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Bird's eye view from the Cupola of the Extraordinary Mass:

Bird's eye view from the cupola!

Shot from my blackberry a half hour ago, Pope Benedict's Altar Arrangement for the Ordinary Form Mass (not good picture, but you get the idea!


FOUR pictures posted at one time! The first is the honor guard for the Solemn Eucharistic procession consisting of our First Communicants and the 4th Degree K of C which was celebrated my second year here prior to the completion of the interior of the Church restoration. The second is a Solemn Eucharistic Procession. The third is the actual Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The 4th is of me preaching at an Ordinary Mass in front of our new altar, before I went gray because of all it took for me to learn the Extraordinary Form and actually celebrate it!


Hooray for me! I've had assistance from the St. John Valdosta Blogger as to how to post pictures, step by step, but couldn't do it until now. The previous post of the Extraordinary Form of the Nuptial Mass was posted by a priest friend of mine. But this one I did by myself, following directions of course. Will I be able to do it again? I doubt it. Time will tell.

From Rorate Caeli:
Please pray for this new Archbishop in the Eastern Rite!

Emil Shimoun Nona was consecrated bishop and installed as the new Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul on January 17, 2010.

The new Archbishop is 42 years old. He is the successor of the martyred Paulos Faraj Raho, killed by Islamic militants in 2008.


The following article is written by Shawn Tribe of the New Liturgical Movement blog, and the book looks like it will be very exciting to read and yes, controversial. I love controversy.

Book Notice: The Restoration and Organic Development of the Roman Rite by László Dobszay
by Shawn Tribe

Many of you will already be familiar with the work of Professor László Dobszay, author of The Bugnini Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform. He has now come out with another work available in English, The Restoration and Organic Development of the Roman Rite.

From the publisher's description of the work:

The volume, like the series, will be aimed at moving the debate about liturgy out of the narrow confines of either ‘pastoral liturgy’, ‘reform of the reform’ or nostalgia and bemoaning of the ruination of liturgical tradition to an entirely higher plane, of serious, scholarly, measured analysis combining historical, philosophical, musicological and liturgical.

This book advances a provocative and controversial set of proposals for the development of future liturgical reform in its attempt to re-engage with a traditional sense of the Roman Rite.

The author is uniquely placed to make the case he does: a mediævalist and musicologist of unparalleled experience and breadth, Dobszay combines – almost uniquely – a profound knowledge of the history of the development of the Roman Rite – especially the Antiphonary – with a personal interest and passionate concern for the lived experience of the rite itself.

The result is a lively and vigorous text based around the idea of the actual liturgical sense of the Roman Rite – meaning a respect for its integrity as an historical tradition that found multiform expression across Europe and also across at least 1600 years, combined with a sympathy for the fact that the rite is still a living entity with a long future ahead of it. Dobszay provides an introduction to the whole meaning of liturgical study and the liturgical sense, scholarly insight, and practical understanding. The text is divided into two sections – an introductory section giving background and history and a rationale for the second section which, segment by segment, examines the current state of the Roman Rite and makes constructive proposals for its development. The text is a provocation – it will certainly excite both considerable hostility and sympathy from a wide range of quarters from conservative to radical wings of the discussion.

The table of contents of the book is as follows:

Part I
1. What the Roman Rite is
2. The Liturgical Movement
3. In the Name of the Council
4. Is the Medicine called Obedience?
5. Objections
6. Lex Credendi
7. From Ecclesia Dei to Summorum Pontificum
8. One Rite Two Forms?
9. The Co-existence of the two Rites
10. Mixing the Rites
11. The Method of the Organic Reform

Part II
1. Ritus, Usus, Consuetudo, Optio
2. The Language of the Liturgy
3. Ad Orientem
4. The Divine Office
5. The Calendar
6. The Readings of the Mass
7. The Proper Chants of the Mass
8. The Sacramentary
9. The Ordo Missae
10. Holy Week

To order:

304 Pages, paperback. $49.95 (Hardcover, $140.00)

Saturday, January 23, 2010


There is a new Liturgy blog, called Pray Tell. It is on the more progressive side of things, although it appears to strive to be balanced and ecumenical and includes the Orthodox Church's perspective on things. I appreciate having this as an alternative to the more conservative blogs on Liturgy, because we need to know what others are thinking and doing and we need to know the academic premise from which they operate. I believe this blog, like the New Liturgical Movement, strives for some type of academic integrity.

You can see the Pray Tell Blog at:

You can see the New Liturgical Movement Blog at:

When you go to the Pray Tell Blog, look at the article on "Coming From GIA." Read the article and then read the comments section below it. I have several entries and even get into a debate with one of the main bloggers of this site, Fr. Anthony, a very gracious young priest and one of the readers, Lynn. Let me know what you think when you read the article and the comments. Why do I do this???????????? Leave a comment on their blog too, but you must use your real name as I have done.


In this Year of the Priest, we have a "hopeful" who is entering the seminary. This is a great story. Share it with your young sons! Pray that Grant perseveres in the seminary and God willing is ordained. Many are called, few are chosen! The following story is from ESPN and AP News wire:

Top A's prospect enters priesthood news services

As a top prospect for the Oakland Athletics, outfielder Grant Desme might've gotten the call every minor leaguer wants this spring.

Instead, he believed he had another, higher calling.

Desme announced Friday that he was leaving baseball to enter the priesthood, walking away after a breakout season in which he became MVP of the Arizona Fall League.

"I was doing well at ball. But I really had to get down to the bottom of things," the 23-year-old Desme said. "I wasn't at peace with where I was at."

A lifelong Catholic, Desme thought about becoming a priest for about a year and a half. He kept his path quiet within the sports world, and his plan to enter a seminary this summer startled the A's when he told them Thursday night.

General manager Billy Beane "was understanding and supportive," Desme said, but the decision "sort of knocked him off his horse." After the talk, Desme felt "a great amount of peace."

"I love the game, but I aspire to higher things," he said. "I know I have no regrets."

In a statement, Beane said: "We respect Grant's decision and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors."

Athletes and the priesthood have overlapped, albeit rarely.

Al Travers, who gave up 24 runs during a one-game career for a makeshift Detroit Tigers team in 1912, became a Catholic priest. More recently, Chase Hilgenbrinck of the New England Revolution left Major League Soccer in 2008 to enter a seminary.

Desme spoke on a conference call for about 10 minutes in a quiet, even tone, hardly sounding like many gung-ho, on-the-rise ballplayers. As for his success in the minors, he said "all of it is very undeserving."

The Athletics picked Desme in the second round of the 2007 amateur draft and he was starting to blossom. He was the only player in the entire minors with 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases last season.

Desme batted .288 with 31 homers, 89 RBIs and 40 steals in 131 games at Class-A Kane County and high Class-A Stockton last year. He hit .315 with a league-leading 11 home runs and 27 RBIs in 27 games this fall in Arizona, a league filled with young talent.

Desme went into the AFL championship game well aware it might be the last time he ever played. "There was no sad feeling," he said. He homered and struck out twice, which "defines my career a bit."

The Big West Player of the Year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Desme was ranked as Oakland's No. 8 prospect by Baseball America. There was speculation the Athletics might invite Desme to big league spring training next month.

Rather, Desme intends to enter a seminary in Silverado, Calif., in August. He said abbey members didn't seem surprised someone who would "define myself as a baseball player" was changing his life so dramatically.

Desme said he didn't consider pursuing his spiritual studies while also trying to play ball. His family backed his decision and he said the positive reaction to his future goal -- the surprising news spread quickly over the Internet -- was "inspiring."

"It's about a 10-year process," he said. "I desire and hope I become a priest." In a way, he added, it's like "re-entering the minor leagues."

Desme's first two years in the minors were beset by shoulder and wrist problems. He said his days off the field gave him time to think about what was most important to him, to read and study the Bible and to talk to teammates about his faith.

In retrospect, he said, those injuries were "the biggest blessings God ever gave me."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Your comments?

Friday, January 22, 2010


One of the things that I have noticed with our funeral Masses is that it is difficult to have music that is mournful. Most want music that is uplifting and helps ease the burden of grief. I'm not sure how healthy this is either psychologically or liturgically.

The same is true of a Mass similar to what we celebrated today at St. Joseph Church for the Day of Penance and Prayer commemorating Roe V. Wade. If there is music, what type do you choose? Even the parts of the Mass that are sung can sound joyful even at a "penitential" commemoration.

Today I decided to use "black" vestments to show our grief over the United States Supreme Court's decision 37 years ago to legalize abortion. If this does not grieve the Catholic heart what does? Black or even violet can evoke a sense of grief over our sins and the sins of others and how this sin separates us from God. In the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, black vestments (cope not chasuble) are used for Good Friday. The same sentiment is operative on Good Friday in terms of what our sins have done not only to our Savior, but to everyone and the world itself, including us personally. Sin always effects us personally, familialy, ecclesially,and yes, cosmically. We should grieve about this and black symbolizes that grief.

At our 8:00 AM Mass, we sang no hymns, but spoke the official introit and communion antiphons. We sang the Kyrie in a dirge like tone, as well as the Alleluia. We sang the Sanctus, Mystery of Faith, Great Amen and Agnus Dei in Latin without accompaniment, slowly and mournfully. All of this added a since of dirge like, penitential quality.

It is here that I truly appreciate the flexibility that is the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Celebrating Mass in this manner would not have been possible in the EF Form of the Mass--a penitential Mass apart from a funeral simply does not exist and the flexibility in terms of singing some things and not others doesn't exist. You have either a Low Mass, a sung Mass or a Solemn Sung Mass--no other variations. And there would have been no choices for the readings as there is no Mass for an occasion like this.

We also celebrated a school Mass at 11:00 AM. Fortunately, we could choose alternate readings for our elementary school which only goes through grade 6. I don't think the children had ever seen a priest wear black vestments at Mass. I asked them in the homily what they felt when they saw me dressed in black. One student said, I felt sad. Another student said, I felt sorrow. Out of the mouths of babes! I used this as a springboard to tell them that we should all feel sad and sorrowful when people do not respect life and do violence to one another. I asked them if they had seen all the horrible things in Haiti. They all raised their hands affirmatively. I then asked how they would feel if the rest of the world just let them die and did nothing to help them to live. They all thought this would be terrible. While I never used the term abortion with these children, I did help them to understand that God loves everyone and He loves us. He loves us from the very moment He creates us! He wants us to help everyone to live, especially those who are threatened by violence and disasters, especially those who are not born yet.

I went on to explain that we should feel sorrowful and sad when people turn their backs on those who need us to live.

Mass today was not "happy and jolly" but captured the mood of what our judicial branch of government has done to the most vulnerable in our midst, the pre-born children of the USA. God help us if we don't do all in our power to cooperate with God to overturn this nasty piece of legislation and to convert the hearts of those who are pro-choice.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


When I was in the seminary in the late "good old" 1970's at St. Mary Seminary and University in Baltimore, we experienced the heyday (mayday?) of the touchy, feely approach to our Sacred Mass and other liturgies. One of the greatest proponents of this form of celebrating the Mass was the Sulpician priest, Fr. Eugene Walsh, (RIP). He was a very practical and down to earth, gentlemanly priest. I knew him rather well. He advocated for more flexibility in the rubrics of the Mass, creativity from the priest and liturgy committees. He wanted engagement by the celebrant with the assembly and vice a versa.

His own modeling of his preference for Mass was one where you always smiled at the congregation as a priest-presider, had big and generous bodily, liturgical gestures and made the prayers of the Mass your own through "adaptation" even with the Eucharistic prayers.

He has influenced perhaps two generations of priests, my age and those a bit older than me, you know the crowd heading for retirement or death (I include myself in that caustic description). These are the very ones who simply can't stand the "reform of the reform" that Pope Benedict has unleashed on our Church and her liturgies.

Oddly enough, the seminary that I attended which was staffed by Sulpician priests, was not that enamored with Fr. Eugene Walsh (RIP). We studied other so-called liturgical theologians and our worship, although certainly creative, was a bit more formal in our main chapel and not of the touchy-feely, personality driven, congregation-adapted style of Fr. Walsh.

At any rate, we do have two primary schools of thought operating today in terms of how the Mass should be reformed or deformed. Which will succeed? The one the Holy Spirit wants which is the one the Magisterium wants. Time will tell and all of us must wait and see.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


There is a great deal of misinformation concerning the two Masses that are permitted in the Latin Rite, namely what is now called the Ordinary (Normal) Form of the Mass and the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. I know that many people have a preference for one over the other and it is true that the majority prefer the Ordinary Form in the vernacular. But those who prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, do so because of the built in reverence, silence and solemnity of the Mass, even in its "noble simplicity" as a Low Mass. They seem to think that the Ordinary Form of the Mass causes people to be less reverent, because the "reverence" isn't built in as in the EF Mass.

I would concur with the last sentence above. Having celebrated both, I indeed see that the EF is more reverent and leads the faithful to reverence. It is not that the Ordinary Form of the Mass can't be reverent, but the manner in which this form is celebrated in so many places has removed so much that leads to reverence.

I have striven over the years to celebrate the Ordinary Form in a reverent way. I have always had for at least 25 years a "high Mass" in the Ordinary Form every Sunday with all the "smoke, bells and whistles." In these Masses, combined with the tabernacle centrally located, reverence permeates the Church and the Mass. I have had the faithful ask me as a result of this more reverent use of the "bells and whistles" why they can't kneel for Holy Communion. I've always stated that "standing symbolizes being raised up with Christ." While true, this theological perspective is more of the Eastern Rite of the Church rather than the Latin Rite. Kneeling for the Canon of the Mass as well as for Holy Communion in the Latin Rite always signified adoration, i.e. worship. It developed very early in the Latin Rite and has a longer tradition in our Latin Rite than standing does.

So, to help our Ordinary Form of the Mass to exude reverence and lead people to be reverent and in a mood of adoration and awe, I would suggest the following for the Ordinary Form of the Mass.

1. Silence before Mass
2. Silence before the Opening Collect, after the readings, after the homily and after Holy Communion. Pope Benedict models a very prolonged silence after the homily and Holy Communion at all his Masses.
3. Trained Altar Servers, who understand what they are doing, have clean and ironed cassocks and surplices and know how to bow properly, genuflect properly and a good choreography of their movements.
4. Trained lectors who dress properly, (Sunday best) and read well.
5. Attention to detail. Beautiful altar clothes, the traditional decoration of the altar, beautiful vestments.
6. Chanting the official Entrance Antiphon even if there is a metrical processional hymn. Chanting the official Offertory and Communion antiphons in addition to any motets or congregational hymns.
7. Have at least one "high Mass" that is sung, uses incense and Holy Water.
All this can be done in the vernacular, facing the people and instilling reverence.

In addition, I would hope that kneeling for Holy Communion would be the norm once again (although this is up to the conference of bishops) and that the tabernacle be prominently displayed at the center of the church, directly behind the altar. These two things will accomplish so much in the recovery of reverence and adoration in our Masses.

Did you notice that I did not mention Latin. While I appreciate it and the EF Mass will help to preserve it, I do believe that the vernacular has helped people to understand the Mass without resorting to missals, missalettes, and the like. I would hope that more vernacular will be possible with the EF Mass in the future.



Written by Alan M. Rees

February 2009

The greatness of the Roman rite lies in its antiquity and fidelity to tradition. [Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus.] Every worshiper taking part in the ancient liturgy can in this manner feel joined to all those who have offered prayer and sacrifice before him, and a unity with those who will be offering the same sacrifice in times to come, long after the last fragment of our mortal remains has crumbled into dust. The core of the traditional Canon from the prayer before the Consecration and including the sacrificial prayer after Consecration was in existence by the end of the 4th century. The Reform of the Mass by St. Gregory the Great (590-604) is substantially the same as today. The Missal of St. Pius V (1566-1572) was compiled and published in obedience to the Fathers of the Council of Trent (hence Tridentine). The fact that the Canon remained unaltered for thirteen centuries except for minor additions speaks eloquently of the veneration with which it has always been regarded. The words pronounced at the altar today are, to a very significant degree, the same words, gestures, and motions as those used by Blessed John XXIII, St. Pius V, St. Dominic, St. Edmund Campion, and by the martyrs of North America. Such is the perpetuity of the Church and the continuity of its teaching.

An alternative form of the present mass is now more widely available to those who prefer it. The Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum issued by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, defines two equal usages of the Roman rite. It is therefore permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass either by following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 or by using the liturgy of the Novus Ordo Missae of Pope Paul VI (1969). These two equal and co-existing usages of the Roman Rite are:

· THE ORDINARY FORM, [the Forma Ordinaria,] the Novus Ordo Missae, of Paul VI (1969)

· THE EXTRAORDINARY FORM, [the Forma Extraordinaria,] the Mass of Blessed John XXIII (1962), also known as the usus antiquior, Gregorian Mass, Tridentine Mass, or Traditional Latin Mass.

These two forms celebrate the same sacrifice and are co-equal. Pope Benedict emphasizes:

“The usus antiquior is not a museum piece but a living expression of Catholic worship … what earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred for us too … It is a treasure that belongs to the whole Catholic Church and which should be widely available to all of Christ’s faithful … It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer and to give them their proper place.”

Pope Benedict’s Motus Proprio of 2007 makes the Extraordinary Form more readily available, dispensing with the permission formerly required of the local bishop. [This was not entirely unexpected in that in 2000, Cardinal Ratzinger had deplored that anyone advocating the existence of the older liturgy is “treated like a leper” and had stated that the “proscription against the form of liturgy in valid use up to 1970 should be lifted.”]

It is important to correct a number of misconceptions:

1. The Traditional Latin Mass [i.e. the Extraordinary Form] is a product of the 16th century Council of Trent. Not true: it dates back to the beginnings of Christianity.

2. The Traditional Latin Mass was changed or replaced by Vatican II. Not true: the new mass (Novus Ordo) was crafted after the Council by a liturgical commission and promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969. Vatican II never abolished the Traditional Mass. The Council stated that the use of Latin should be retained as far as possible and that Gregorian chant should be preserved. It declared that “since the use of the Mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, and other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended.” Although this provided for a limited use of the vernacular, no mention was made of the total abolition of Latin and the substitution of a vernacular mass in its place. The Council had no intention of initiating a liturgical revolution and intended only to introduce a “moderate English alongside the Latin” with no thought of eliminating it.

3. The priest facing the people was introduced by Vatican II. Not true: it became the unwritten practice in the Novus Ordo mass without any directives from Vatican II or by the Missal of 1969. The orientation towards the East (ad orientem) is ancient and is shared by the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church as well as by the Orthodox Church. Cardinal Ratzinger said in The Spirit of the Liturgy that the priest in facing the congregation is tempted “to be an actor.” The mass is not a performance so there is no place for applause. The Mass is a sacrifice and must transcend the personality of the priest.

4. Mass in the vernacular was introduced by Vatican II. Not true: the official language of the Novus Ordo is Latin and the mass may be celebrated either in Latin or in English.

5. The practice of receiving Communion in-the-hand was called for by Vatican II. Not true: this sprang up as an abuse and was subsequently accepted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1977 by a slim majority. This indult can be withdrawn at any time.

6. The Motus Proprio of Pope Benedict making the Traditional Mass more available is intended as a favor to an élite group of nostalgic and pedantic traditionalists enchanted by a dead language. Not true: rather it may be viewed as a “reform of the reform,” a renewal of the Church catalyzed by liturgical renewal.

Certainly, the vast majority of the several thousand bishops at the Council neither wished for, nor mandated, a radical reform of the liturgy. It was never the intention to abandon the use of Latin, Gregorian chant, or requiring the celebrant to face the people. Nothing had been said about standing to receive Communion in the hand, or the use of altar girls. No mention had been made about the use of multiple Canons – in the Roman rite there had always been one Eucharistic prayer. The many changes in the liturgy were for the most part made after Vatican II. Interpretation of the Council’s intent was motivated by what became known as the Spirit of Vatican II.

A Concilium was established by Paul VI charged with task of reorganizing the liturgy. This was controlled by Archbishop Annibale Bugnini. The Concilium document Inter Oecumenici in 1964 was a triumph for the reformers. The rapid changes which followed included the abolition of kneeling to receive Communion, receiving under both forms, the almost exclusive use of the vernacular, the priest facing the congregation, deletion of many prayers in the Mass, no longer requiring kneeling at the Incarnatus Est in the Creed, omission of the Last Gospel, a shortening of the traditional prayer of the priest when placing the Host on the communicant’s tongue. These changes in the late 1960s bore a striking resemblance to Archbishop Cranmer’s reform of the Roman Liturgy in 1549 and 1552 at the time of the English Reformation. Cranmer also abolished Latin, allowed Communion in the hand, and under both species. The sacrificial nature of the Mass was downplayed – remember that Luther spoke of the sacrifice as “the greatest and most appalling horror” and a “damnable impiety.” It has been suggested that Bugnini’s reform following Vatican II introduced more radical change than that made by Luther.

Forty years after Vatican II, Alcuin Reid, a leading liturgist, considered that “the present state of the Roman rite is not all that it should be or what was intended by the liturgical movement or even by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council.” The tendency to creative modification resulted in “deformations” in the liturgy. In the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. In the words of Cardinal Ratzinger, “We abandoned the organic living process of growth over centuries, and replaced it, as in a manufacturing process, with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product.” Far from modernizing and rendering the liturgy more understandable with increased participation, there occurred a disintegration of belief.

The most grievous change following Vatican II was the loss of reverence. Consciousness of the Real Presence has diminished. The Gregorian chant, the smoke of the incense, kneeling to receive Communion, receiving the Host on the tongue from the priest, had created a sense of otherworldliness, a glimpse into eternity. Innovation replaced holy intimacy with Christ with an unbecoming familiarity, diminished reverence in the face of mystery, precluded awe, and all but extinguished a sense of sacredness. Allowing us to pop a wafer into our own mouths, tends to eradicate any consciousness that something truly miraculous has happened. When Pope Paul VI spoke of “the smoke of Satan entering the Catholic Church,” he was referring to those who wished to turn the Holy Mass into “dross in the name of creativity.”

Pope Paul VI promulgated the revised rite of Mass in April 1969. The new use of the vernacular, he said, is “intended to draw the faithful out of their customary personal devotions or their usual torpor ….. The divine Latin language, has kept us apart from the world of labor and affairs as if it were a dark screen, and not a clear window.” This substitution, he conceded, “will certainly be a great sacrifice for those who know the beauty, the power and the expressive sacrality of Latin.” He asked rhetorically, “What can we put in the place of that language of the angels? We are giving up something of priceless worth.” His answer may seem banal: “the understanding of prayer is worth more than the silken garments in which it is royally dressed.” im and not us.Hi

It is not just a question of talking to God in Latin. The Novus Ordo can also be offered in Latin. There is a difference in mood – the TLM is contemplative and is surrounded by silence. The words of prayer impregnate the silence and give birth to meditation and closeness to God. There is an overwhelming emphasis on the Mass as an actual sacrifice, a bloodless re-enactment of Christ’s sacrifice on Mt. Calvary. The priest begins at the foot of the altar, with prayers that he might be worthy to ascend unto thy “holy mount and into thy tabernacles.” These are the words of the psalms from the Hebrew Bible, and they go with an extraordinary insistence on using the language of the ancient Jewish Temple sacrifice – “A holy victim, a pure and unblemished sacrifice.” The priest mounts the steps, reads the epistle and gospel, and comes to the Canon of the Mass. The climax comes in the Consecration. Every gesture by the priest, the signs of the cross, the genuflections, are strictly controlled by the rubrics. There is nothing spontaneous: “The greatness of the liturgy depends on its unspontaneity.” (Ratzinger). The elaborate ritual is a manifestation of sacred time, of timelessness, of time outside of time.

On the positive side, many of the major changes flowing from Vatican II have been highly beneficial. These desirable reforms include extended Biblical readings and delivery of homilies deriving their content mainly from Scripture; Saturday evening masses to satisfy the Sunday obligation; an extended role for the laity in the form of altar servers, lectors, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion; Extreme Unction renamed Anointing of the Sick administered to those seriously ill and no longer restricted to those at the point of death; a new emphasis on praying the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office) by lay people; a revival of the office of permanent deacon; revision of the calendar of the liturgical year; a new Lectionary providing a 3-year cycle of Sunday readings and a 2-year cycle of weekly readings.

On the negative side, we have placed an on overemphasis on “doing things” -- an activism that impedes our understanding of the Mass as essentially a liturgical setting of an historic and present action of divine mercy and sacrifice. Excessive participation produces commotion, movement, and noise, often at the cost of contemplation. Too much attention is focused on our contribution as participants in the Mass at the expense of attention paid to the transcendence of the sacramental offering of the High Priest.

The Holy Father has emphasized that through the Motu Proprio he wishes to enrich the liturgy of the whole of the Church and not merely to protect the right of those who prefer the ancient form. George Weigel recently commented that “Pope Benedict’s point in making this more widely available is neither nostalgic nor retrograde. Rather, by encouraging the more widespread celebration of this classic form of the always-evolving Roman rite, he intends to create a kind of liturgical magnet, drawing ‘the reform of the reform’ in the direction of greater solemnity and reverence in the Catholic Church’s worship.”

I do not mean to suggest that there is anything wrong with preferring the Novus Ordo Mass. Likewise, there is no reason to regard the TLM as somewhat suspect or lesser. As Bishop Bruskowitz said, “The older rite need not be disdained in order to appreciate the new, nor must the newer rite be disparaged in order to love the old.” Those who favor the Novus Ordo and those who prefer the Extraordinary Form can agree to differ and still remain faithful.

The differences between the two forms can be overemphasized. Reverence is not a unique property of the Traditional Mass. The average Catholic without special liturgical formation would find it difficult to distinguish between a mass sung in Latin according to the old Missal and a sung mass according to the new Missal. However, the differences between a liturgy celebrated faithfully according to the Missal of Paul VI and the reality of a vernacular liturgy celebrated with all the freedom and creativity that are possible are enormous. This stems from the fact that many have accepted a great deal of creativity in celebrating the Novus Ordo while others have held that the old form, in Latin with the priest facing the altar, must be celebrated strictly and precisely according to the rubrics, with no modification.
My basic message tonight is expressed cogently and concisely by Pope Benedict:

“There is certainly a difference of emphasis, but a single fundamental identity that excludes any contradiction or antagonism between a renewed liturgy and the preceding liturgy.”
(Pope Benedict XVI. September 12, 2008)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A LATINIZED MASS IN THE LATIN RITE: who would disagree with that?

This past weekend at St. Joseph Church in Macon, we began to eliminate the "lame duck" English translation of the Mass for the people's parts. As Latin Rite Catholics, we are learning the Latin parts. We are doing this incrementally. Currently, all of the "Dominus vobiscum" responses as well as the preface dialogue will be in Latin. During Lent we will say goodbye to the English Sanctus and Mystery of faith. St. Joseph already knows the Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin. During the Easter season we will teach them Gloria. I'm doubtful of the Creed, but am tempted to paste the new translation of it on the inside cover of our hymnal and start doing it now, but I hate being illicit!

I had the 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM Sunday Masses and both of the congregations did exceptionally well. We sang the preface dialogue, which we have commonly done with the old English form. I was very heartened by the people's embrace of this. Not everyone likes it, but I think everyone is trying and they understand. Catholics I have found are smart and we are the most educated Catholics in the history of the Catholic Church, or so we are told!

I think the use of Latin for these lame duck English parts will make it easier for us to change over to the new English when it is finally allowed. I hope the Bishops will allow us to do it as soon as possible. If the priests of the parish are positive about the new translation and convey that to the people and show them where they can find it and study it, it will go more smoothly. But so far, changing overnight to the Latin parts I mention above went extremely smoothly. I can't imagine changing the English would be more difficult. I didn't have a lenghty catechesis for the people for the Latin transition. We won't really need a lengthy one for the new English--let's get it done and soon!!!!!


Why can't my Protestant brothers and sisters receive Holy Communion in the Catholic Church? Wouldn't that be a sign of Christian unity?

The reason we have the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and ecumenical dialogue is that Christians are not unified. The Great Schism began the first major division or "disunity" and the Protestant Reformation was the second. There have been smaller and larger divisions along the way to this day.

The reception of Holy Communion is the clearest sign and symbol that we are in unity with our Lord, the Church He founded and those He has placed to guide and lead His Church, namely the Pope and bishops who are the successors of St. Peter and the other apostles. Complete unity, which receiving Holy Communion implies, is that we believe the same things as well, not only about the Most Holy Trinity, but also about Sacred Scripture and Tradition, the seven sacraments and Christian morality. Orthodoxy in other words (right teaching) must always lead to ortho-praxis or (right practice) of the Faith.

We are far from the unity that being one in Christ implies. Being one in Christ implies being in Full Communion with Him, which receiving Holy Communion is the clearest sign. Therefore let us pray for the full, visible and corporate unity that our Lord desires. Let us not make Holy Communion a gimmick to make it look like we are unified. Your thoughts?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

School of Thought that my Generation of Priests were schooled in

When I was in the seminary at St. Mary's in Baltimore between 1976-80, Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx was one of the main theologians studied and his context of faith was seen as the "spirit of Vatican II" force shaping the Church of the future. While this article from the New York Times, which is an obituary, does not go into a great deal of depth, it does reveal many of the theological points of this theologian which if taken to the extreme is really the "deconstruction" of the Catholic Church in order to pave the way for something else altogether different, much like what the Episcopal Church has become. Fortunately, his theology is quite discredited today and by Papa Ratzinger in particular. We also studied Joseph Ratzinger's writing during the period immediately following the Second Vatican Council. His writing were solid! The paradigm that Fr. Schillebeeckx developed and we studied is responsible for the loss of faith of a number of our seminarians. By loss, I mean, loss of Catholic faith. But it certainly did call us to be good social workers. But as Catholics, Orthodox teaching and good works are what go hand in hand. He helped to develop the "New Dutch Catechism" in 1966. It is partially responsible for the heterodoxy of many Catholics in Holland today. The Church there barely exists because of it!

Edward Schillebeeckx, Catholic Theologian, Dies at 95

Published: January 16, 2010

The Rev. Edward Schillebeeckx, a prominent member of a wave of Roman Catholic theologians who helped reshape Catholicism during the Second Vatican Council and whose writings were later investigated for heresy, died on Dec. 23 in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. He was 95.

He died after a short illness, according to the Edward Schillebeeckx Foundation in Nijmegen, which preserves his work.

Although born and raised in Belgium, where he entered the Dominican religious order, Father Schillebeeckx (pronounced SKIL-uh-bakes) joined the theological faculty at the Catholic University of Nijmegen (now Radboud University) in 1958. He soon became a leading adviser to the Dutch bishops, especially during the four sessions of the Second Vatican Council, a marathon reassessment of Catholic life held in Rome from 1962 to 1965.

There he entered into discussions of the council’s documents, which eventually allowed celebration of the Mass in today’s languages rather than only in Latin, endorsed religious freedom, removed many barriers between Catholics, Protestants and other faiths and promoted a positive engagement with contemporary culture.

After the council, Father Schillebeeckx continued pressing for the kind of changes it had initiated. He published and lectured widely on basic theological matters like the nature of revelation and salvation, and on issues of church discipline he argued for democratic procedures in church governance and the ordination of married people, both men and women, to the priesthood.

He helped prepare the “New Dutch Catechism,” which the Dutch bishops published in 1966 and which sold widely.

From 1968 to 1981, the Vatican began three investigations of his writings for heresy. They all ended inconclusively with admonitions, complaints and requests for clarification but with no formal censures or penalties.

Like many Catholic theologians who influenced the council, Father Schillebeeckx had reacted against the neo-scholastic theology that the church adopted in the 19th century as a bulwark against hostile modern ideas. Distilled from the thought of Thomas Aquinas but frequently handed on without any examination of Aquinas’s writings or their medieval context, this neo-scholasticism articulated the faith in series of abstract concepts and propositions presented as absolute, ahistorical and immutable.

Father Schillebeeckx found alternative intellectual resources in modern phenomenology, with its meticulous attention to the actual experience of consciousness. And by studying Aquinas in his medieval context, he recovered a Thomism that expounded the presence and mystery of God in far less rationalistic and conceptual ways than did its neo-scholastic versions.

Strong emphases on human experience and on the importance of examining church teaching in historical context became hallmarks of Father Schillebeeckx’s work.

His early writing on the sacraments, for example, portrayed them as personal encounters with God rather than mechanisms for the distribution of grace. In two books — “Jesus: An Experiment in Christology” (1974) and “Christ: The Christian Experience in the Modern World” (1977) — he recast classical Catholic teachings about Christ around the experiences that gave rise to his followers’ faith in Jesus as messiah and the son of God.

These were groundbreaking attempts at rethinking church doctrine in light of the scholarly research about the historical Jesus that had accumulated in previous decades. But the fact that Father Schillebeeckx did not begin with Christianity’s great creedal statements about Jesus and the Trinity but instead focused on the subjective experience of the first generations of believers, as expressed in the New Testament accounts, stirred considerable controversy and a Vatican investigation.

Critics asked, for example, whether Father Schillebeeckx, by treating the resurrection largely in terms of the “conversion” experiences that Jesus’ disciples underwent after his death, was either denying that Jesus actually rose from the dead or suggesting that it did not matter.

Father Schillebeeckx said he was doing neither. His intention, he said, was to help contemporary people on a journey to belief by portraying the parallel journeys of Jesus’ first followers.

Not all of Father Schillebeeckx’s critics were theological conservatives. Some simply thought that he fell short in his ambitious efforts to master huge amounts of biblical scholarship or philosophical theory and that he consequently opted for arresting but unwarranted positions.

An emphasis on experience led Father Schillebeeckx to much reflection on large-scale human suffering and on salvation as liberation from it. For him, faith in Jesus required not just a mental assent but also a this-worldly response to suffering.

Edward Cornelius Florentius Schillebeeckx was born on Nov. 12, 1914, in Antwerp, Belgium. He was the sixth of 14 children in a middle-class Flemish family.

He attended a Jesuit-run secondary school, and joined the Dominicans in 1934. After a brief military service, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1941. In 1946, postgraduate studies took him to the Sorbonne in Paris and to Le Saulchoir, a nearby Dominican house of studies, where he encountered Marie-Dominique Chenu and Yves Congar, pioneers of the “new theology” that would be a major influence at the Second Vatican Council.

Father Schillebeeckx was variously described as “reserved” and “charming.” Mary Catherine Hilkert, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame who edited a volume of essays on Father Schillebeeckx, described him as “utterly gracious.”