Friday, August 13, 2010


The pope models in the Sistine Chapel for bishops, priests, deacons and the laity, the option of ad orientem Mass celebrations:

I completely accept Vatican II’s document on the liturgy which explicitly states and without ambiguity that the priest has no right to change any aspect of the liturgy on his own accord or by his authority. I think too that this would extend also to Liturgy Committees. With this disclaimer, what do you think of my suggestions below for the Ordinary Form of the Mass to be more in continuity with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass?

The premise to the suggestions below is that “ad orientem” is used; the choreography of the EF is used for movements of the priest and altar servers. The priest would kiss the altar each time he turns from it to the congregation and that the greeting at the beginning of Mass be transferred back to the time prior to praying the opening collect (as it is done by the way in the Eucharistic Liturgy of the Episcopal Church, thus making the Mass more ecumenical, not to mention traditional.) Apart from that, I suggest no other changes to the rubrics of the OF Mass whatsoever.

Processional Hymn

At the Foot of the Altar, Sign of the Cross facing altar; the Invitation to prepare for Mass facing people

Penitential Rite, Confiteor and absolution, facing altar

After absolution, the priest ascends the altar with the priest, congregation, and choir singing the official introit. The priest kisses the altar and if incense is used, incenses it.

At the conclusion of the Introit and with the priest at the center of the altar, the Kyrie is sung and the priest intones the Gloria which is then sung by all.

Then the priest turns and greets the people with “The Lord be with you…” and goes to pray the Collect at the "Epistle" side of the altar.

All sit down for the normal Liturgy of the Word as it is currently celebrated.

During the Gospel Procession the missal is transferred to the left side of the priest or deacon as he faces the altar praying the prayer of preparation for reading the Gospel.

The Gospel is proclaimed.


The priest at the center of the altar recites or sings with the congregation the Creed.

Intercessions follow.

All sit for the normal collection, offertory procession and preparation of the altar. The offertory antiphon is sung and other music covers the action of the Rite of Preparation through the incensations and "Orate Fratres."

After the washing of the hands, the priest turns to the congregation for the “Pray, my brothers and sisters.”

Everything as usual, but facing the altar through the Lord’s Prayer.
Face the people for “The Peace of the Lord be with you” and Let us offer the sign of peace”

The Agnus Dei is Sung for the "Breaking of the Bread."

The priest turns to the people for the “Ecce Agnus Dei”

Priest and People Receive Holy Communion in the normal way

The Missal is placed on the "Epistle" Side of the altar during Holy Communion

The Prayer after Holy Communion is prayed at the "Epistle" Side


The priest goes to the center of the altar and kisses it, turns to the people, greets them, blesses them and he or the deacon if present dismisses them, he descends the altar, turns, bows or genuflects depending on where the tabernacle is located and recesses during the recessional hymn.

Other than these tiny rubrical changes and ad orientem, this is an Ordinary Form Mass in the vernacular. Your thoughts?


Templar said...

In all honesty Father, I find that your "proposal" is really nothing more than what the Council envisioned, with the elimination of pride of place for Latin. I happen to Love the use of Latin in the Liturgy because I think it helps distinguish us clearly as "The Latin Rite" Church. However, I would rank the use of Latin quite further down my list of requirements for beautiful Liturgy than ad orientem worship. Ad Orientem is, in my mind, the #1 most harmful thing which has happened to our Liturgy in the post V2 era, and therefore applaud your "modest proposal".

In fact, I don't think what you have posted is reform at all, I think what you have outlined is currently clearly within the rubrics of the GIRM. You could do this today and be in complete accord with the Council, the Church, and the GIRM.

I rather wish you would.

Henry said...

I agree that this appears within the norms, and certainly far closer to Sacrosanctum Consilium than what's usually seen.

But even if there were some tiny technical variance there somewhere, who would complain. What kind of departure from the norms can one not get away with nowadays?

However, it you wanted to make it real simple, I'd say that just ad orientem and communion on the tongue, and everything else would eventually follow in natural order.

I mean everything. Not just what the priest does in the sanctuary, but even how the people dress in the nave.

Seeker said...

This is very acceptable and in my view you should implement. Baby steps- change that lasts takes time, as you're doing currently. Proper action will change behavior.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

My disclaimer at the beginning of the post is important, because for me to implement my suggestion would be like a more progressive priest implementing puppets, changing parts of the Mass, etc on his own authority. We shouldn't do that and priests make promises to bishop to obey and respect them. I would not implement ad orientem even if some suggest that I have a right, without my bishop's approval as I have made a promise of respect to him and I know that he would not approve of me doing my own thing in this regard. I can't blame him, I would feel the same way if a priest came into my parish and did something that the parish did not expect. Common sense and respect for authority should prevail even when no canons are broken.

Seeker said...

Oh well, as some old rollin' sage once can't always get want you get what you need.

Anonymous said...

So out of respect for Bishops everywhere the Roman OF Mass continues to founder. I guess what I have left is to pray you are made a Bishop Father. Very sad for the people who support reform and wait for their Priests' to do "something". Pope Paul VI's statement about the Church being in a state of auto-demolition is still relevant today.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

We strive to celebrate Mass in the OF as best we can within the parameters that are acceptable to our bishop out of the integrity of our promise at ordination of obedience and respect to a particular bishop and his successors. Not all is lost in this context.

Seeker said...

... and I understand completely...and wouldn't expect anything less Father, Bless you.

Anonymous said...

In all due respect Father, can't you ask your Bishop for permission? And for permission to offer Intinction? Is it considered disrespectful to ask?

anon at 7:44

CN said...

Two suggestions, Father...

First, the General Intercessions are "optional". I believe they might be "optional" now, but there are sometimes good reasons to dispense with them altogether after the Creed.

Second, the "Memorial Acclamation" should also be "optional". I'd like to see the option where the priest puts "Mysterium Fidei" back into the formula of consecration... this would be the signal that there would not be an Acclamation afterwards. Again, there are good reasons to be able to dispense with this 'innovation' based on local conditions/discretion.