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.


Robert Kumpel said...

Great ideas all. I would add that priests need to encourage silence AFTER Mass as well. At most churches, the loud chatter stops as soon as the "hymn" from the Glory and Praise book is ended. It would also help if fewer priests went through the congregation "working the room" by chattering and joking with the congregants.

Gene said...

People need to stop leaving Mass early, especially just before the final hymn. There are even some who receive and then return straight to the exit. This is inexcusable and should, at least, earn them a brief singing during Purgatory.

Gene said...

I mispelled "singeing." Can you fix it? Perhaps, sauteeing would read better.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

I agree with your ideas. As I've said at my blog, and in various forms, vernacular Mass isn't evil or anything like that. If I was to give my something the OF in line with Vatican II, it'd be like this

Introit (vernacular)
Penetential Rite (vernacular)
Kyrie (Greek)
Gloria (Latin)
Collect (vernacular)
Readings (vernacular)
Gradual/Tract/Alleluia (vernacular)
Creed (Latin)
Paryers of the Faithful (vernacular)
Offertory silent (Latin)
Offertory verse (vernacular)
Preface (Vernacular)
Sanctus (Latin)
Words of Consecration (Latin)
Everything else in the Canon (vernacular)
Our Father (Latin)
Agnus Dei (Latin)
Communion verse (vernacular)
Kneeling and on the tongue for Communion

The parts that were left in Latin were purposeful as to maintain our Catholic culture in the Latin Rite.

But I do like this post very much.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate all the ideas.
Definitely more silence, especially after Holy Communion.
After all the Communion hymns are done and the remaining Blessed Sacrament is safely in the Tabernacle, I'd really like to have enough time to at least pray the whole Anima Christi all the way through.

Marc said...

Great post! But, what would you suggest for those of us who would like to receive while kneeling?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

To Mark, not to be flip, but no one is stopping you from kneeling, or least shouldn't be stopping you. The only problem is that you have to do it gracefully on the floor, which could be hard and dirty and it might be difficult getting up again in a graceful manner. Now, with that said, I do think we need to assist people who would like to do this by providing a kneeler--I need to think about this and the logistics of it if there is a kneeler between the Minister of Holy Communion and the Communicant if they choose to remain standing--could be a long reach to them! Fr. McDonald

Anonymous said...

Personally, I would love to have a kneeler available. When there isn't a kneeler, my kids receive in the hand. This may sound silly and juvenile, but all I can think is that there is a possibility that they are walking around with microscopic particles of Christ on their fingers and hands.

Although the temptation to receive in the hand is great (as it is much more in step with what I grew up with)I can't help but cringe at the thought.

As I prepare each week to receive Communion, in the quiet recesses of my mind, something is telling me it is not an option for me.

Templar said...

1) I want to say that I like Joe of St. Therese's suggestion very much, and would only add that the Ad Orientem worship should be included. The OF Mass should NOT exclude Latin. If for NO OTHER reason than the V2 Council wanted it retained. It is our heritage and I dare say an OF Mass without any Latin (or Chant) could be argued to be not in accordance with the "spirit of Vatican II".

2) On the subject of knelling to receive Communion Father; I know I CAN kneel, but I do not want my Communion experience to be about me. I have tendinitis in both knees, my doctor suggests I not kneel at all but "kind of sit on the edge of the pew" and I can not bring myself to do this. But it is not the pain that stops me from kneeling for communion. It is the impression that the Church wants me to stand. Although I "can" kneel, in fact it is considered the "norm", no provision is made for those who wish to do it. If I kneel on those marble floors, the difficulty in getting up and down, will, even if executed successfully, be nothing but a huge distraction at the worst of times.

Would it be possible, to have the kneeler in place in front of you, and if a communicant wished to receive standing, could stand just to the right of it (or left of it if approaching down the left side of the center aisle)? I think the reach for you would be eliminated, but you and the Altar Server would have to shift slightly. Hmmm, sounds awkward.

Perhaps just make one line a "kneeling line" and give folks a few weeks warning and they can position their seating accordingly if they do not wish to receive kneeling.

Marc said...

I didn't mean to imply that anyone was stopping us from receiving while kneeling (very had to put tone and inflection on the internet.

I ask from a genuine sense of curiousity. I think many people would like to receive while kneeling, but don't want to upset the priest by unexpectedly kneeling. I think your suggestion about kneelers would let people know that they were welcome to receive kneeling.

Thank you for your response! If God wants me to receive while kneeling, now I know that I am welcome to do so at St. Joseph's, kneelers or not!

Anonymous said...


Talk to your priest beforehand. Technically, he can't refuse you communion, but if you explain your reasons, most priests will oblige. As for reverence, I just wish that we not define reverence with silence. People express reverence in different ways.

Anonymous said...

Latin should be in parts of the Ordinary Form, Ordinary of Mass. The fatihful need to hear it in order to learn it. 99% will not do this on their own. The Church has declared this as its' Mother Tongue and according to SC, the faithful should be taught the parts that pertain to them in Latin. Removing completely from the Ordinary Form seems wrong and against Council wishes. How can one argue for an authentic reform of the reform to the exclusion of Latin and Gregorian Chant? It just renders the entire Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy a pick and choose document and undermines its' premise. Don't get me wrong, I don't know Latin but will have to learn. But it is my heritage and I wish the Priests to teach me and help in growing said knowledge of heritage.