Friday, October 15, 2010


Below my comments and highlights of Archbishop Ranjith of Columbo's prescrption for liturgical renewal in the ordinary Form in his diocese is his complete talk. Simply press the link.

All of the Archbishop's points caught my attention, but number eight seems very controversial:"(8) No songs to be sung in the Holy Mass. The Priest is not to be a protagonist in celebrating the Holy Mass, but it is Lord Jesus who is present in the Priest while he celebrate the Most Holy Eucharist. Holy Eucharist is not the place to show off our talents, instruct your faithful to dress properly when they are coming to read the Word of God or read the intentions or when bringing offerings to the Altar."

I'm not sure about the later part of this paragraph about being a "protagonist" but the first part I think is very important but might need some clarification. I don't know what the music culture of the Archdiocese of Columbo is, but there must be some problems as in the USA. What the Archbishop is asking is that the Mass, meaning its texts be sung, these are the "hymns" or "songs" of the Mass. One the things that most parishes in the USA do not do is to sing the texts of the Mass and to see the texts of the Mass as the actual hymns and music of the Mass. What most parishes do is to sing other hymns and songs at Mass which are not integral to the Mass, but "fillers" for other actions and "additional" music not integral to the Mass itself.

For example, the actual hymns of the Catholic Mass are: 1. The Official Entrance Antiphon also known at the Introit. I know of almost no parishes that actually sing the Introit in some form of Chant because the current rubrics of the Mass does allow for it to be "substituted" by an "appropriate" hymn. This was a grave mistake in my humble opinion and this mistake goes all the way back to 1969. 2. The Kryrie; 3. The Gloria; 4. The Creed; 5. The official offertory antiphon (this has disappeared altogether and is not even printed in the Roman Missal, but it does exist! 6. The Sanctus; 7. The Mystery of Faith; 8. The Great Amen; 9. The Lord's Prayer; 10. The Agnus Dei; 11. The official Communion Antiphon (we sing the refrain once at St. Joseph, but not the complete setting).

In addition to the parts above, the priest is encouraged to sing the entire Mass, beginning with the Sign of the Cross and Greeting, the opening collect and all other orations; the preface dialogue and preface, parts of the Eucharistic prayer, the embolism of the Lord's prayer, and the final blessing and dismissal.

Do you see hymns out of a hymnal in any of the above? Certainly though, pious custom has allowed additional hymns and motets and we have a rich treasury of these in our tradition. So in addition to what is highlighted above, I would have very little trouble with an additional metrical "Entrance hymn", motets at the offertory and at Holy Communion as well as a recessional hymn (which by the way is not even mentioned in the rubrics of the Mass.)

So what do you think?

By the way, in terms of what theologians suggest and what some bishops might permit, I would not be allowed as a lowly priest to implement kneeling for Holy Communion, because the norm in the USA and in our Diocese is to stand. I could not even encourage our faithful to kneel because of this "norm." Our bishop could offer us an indult to do so, but that's his decision not mine. However, no priest should ever refuse someone who does kneel for Holy Communion. I would say this is true also of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, where kneeling for Holy Communion is the "norm." No priest should refuse someone who stands at one of the Masses. We're still at the stage of talking not implementing. But in terms of the Mass and what to sing, the norms I highlight are the norms and what we should be doing or at least strive to implement.


Henry said...

"I could not even encourage our faithful to kneel because of this "norm."

1. In the minutes of the pertinent USCCB meeting (posted at I recall that the bishops voted to the approve this "standing norm" only after having been assured by their Liturgy Committee chairman--in response to a question from one of the bishops--that it's intent was "descriptive rather than prescriptive". Of course, the pattern is than once the bishops obligingly rubber-stamp (with or without reading it) whatever is written and placed before them by the USCCB staff, the latter interpret it as they wish.

2. On a blog recently, a canonist recently explained the difference between a "norm" or guideline (e.g., GIRM) and a "law" (e.g., Code of Canon Law).

3. In some parishes there is a local custom that people enter the front pew if they wish to receive kneeling. The priest, upon seeing them kneeling there when he finishes with procession of standers, proceeds to distribute to the kneelers. Nothing need ever be said explicitly. Most pastoral priests surely will not ignore those who are kneeling and waiting.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Henry, as you can tell, I now sympathize with the hope that kneeling for Holy Communion in the Ordinary Form be allowed as a norm. This would not exclude those who desire to stand to stand if they wish. One solution is simply to have a stable kneeler (if no altar railing is present) in front of the priest/deacon or EMC, so that those who kneel may and do so comfortable and those who don't want to kneel may also. I have a few parishioners who do kneel, but they have to do so on the hard floor and it is quite difficult for me to watch them do it and it is awkward getting up from kneeling on the floor level, without a prop in front of you. But I think if I placed a kneeler in front of those distributing Holy Communion that some in high places would complain that I'm actually encouraging people to kneel and thus avoid the USA "norm."

Gene said...

I think he have trouble with the English...

Teresa M. said...

Fr., This isn't a comment on this post. I wanted to ask about your rat problem.

Dear Fr. McDonald,

You haven’t posted recently about your rat problem and I was wondering if you had finally gotten rid of them.

The rest of my email is a sad testament to the fact I lead a boring life and am desperate for entertainment. (Well, actually my life isn’t that boring, but I do like a good distraction now and then.)

I decided to do a Google search on giant rats and what I found was alarming. The tiny things you have in your rectory hardly merit comment in comparison to what you are about to see.

Giant Rat Species Discovered in Papua New Guinea

Giant Rat Caught in China

Giant Rodents in Great Britain (I think this one is a hoax, at least I hope so)

Aren’t glad you weren’t called to be a missionary priest? But don’t despair, giant rats live in the States, too.

Giant Rats Invade Florida Keys

I bet you haven’t tried this rat trap.

Giant Rat-Eating Plant Discovered in the Philippines

Once you have caught your rats, the question arises as to what to do with them. I have the perfect solution. Yes, you will be talk of the diocese (and may even have a surprise visit from your bishop) when you sport these custom made rat shoes. Waterproof and warm, they will also frighten away living rats from your abode. Need to deal with pesky parishioners? Just don your rat shoes and send them packing. Or, tell the kids you are wearing them as part of a new exorcism rite. The benefits of these shoes are endless.

Robert Kumpel said...

Your headline immediately got me.

For years, my favorite Masses have been the ones with no music. I love music, I just don't like much of the music that is performed at Mass since, say, 1970.

Maybe the key word here is "performed". Mass isn't a performance and those who provide music are too often stuck in the performer mentality. The soft organ music that prompted deeper prayer at Communion time long ago gave way to the folksy, sentimental slop that assaults the Communicant, leaving him barely able to pray.

The noon Masses I used to attend in my old hometown were quiet, prayerful and we could actually concentrate on what the priest was saying and doing, instead of watching "empowered" lay people scurrying around to make their contribution to "active participation".

Silence is golden. Music is nice too, when it's done right. The way it's done in most parishes today only reinforces the former: Silence IS golden.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Teresa, oddly enough as I received your comment, I was speaking to our "rat man" who works for the company we hired to get rid of our rats. I told him that we had killed the rat that we think was the last of a colony of five rats that found their way into our house. The last one was the smartest, the biggest and the most difficult to actually slaughter. But we were sucessful by the grace of God and a Vietnamese priest who had visited our parish the last weekend of September to solicit donations for the missions. We had advised him ahead of time of our rat problem in the house and offered to put him in a hotel, but he told us he was from Viet Nam and not afraid of little old rats. So when he came to preach on that last Sunday in September, I took a rat respite holiday at Panama City Beach! It was great! But the very night that our Vietnamese priest slept in our guest room our giant, smart and elusive rat took some bait from one of our clap traps right outside the priest's bedroom door. Our Vietnamese visitor got a hoot out of us killing it the first night he was there and told us that he had been born during the "Year of the Cat" in the Asian calendar. I kid you not! Since our Vietnamese priest's departure and the killing of the biggest rat I've seen, but smaller than the terrifying one's you linked, we've not detected any more rat-roaming that we know of and I am beginning to heal from my current and post-traumatic stress syndrome concerning this colony of five rats! I actually sleep better at night!

Anonymous said...

FYI, That web site you linked to is flagged as an attack site for hackers, trojans, etc. Probabaly should remove it and find another source.


Semper vigil

SqueekerLamb said...

If a kneeler was placed at the request of the parishioners, say for example a 'petition' signed by a sizeable group of them, would it prevent higher ups from accusing the priest of encouraging the parishioners to avoid the USA 'norm'?

Lovel said...

Fr McDonald,
In the parish where I go here in the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, during the student's(parish school)mass every Friday, I noticed that the children's choir sings not what the actual Psalm in the lectionery but they substitute a Psalm song with no relation to the readings. Even the passage that is said/sung in the Alleluia is changed. Are they allowed to make changes? Is this okay?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Lovel, I believe that the psalm can either be said or sung, but a seasonal psalm can be used. So I think one can change the psalm as long as it is a psalm. In other words a metrical hymn or a song that is not a psalm should not be used. I would caution against not using the psalm that is prescribed as there is a logic in its selection in relationship to the readings.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Henry, I'm not sure which link you mean? Is it in the comment section or on my post which I got from Rorate Caeli?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I should have asked RCG, not Henry about the trojans! Squeekerlamb I think a bishop would not be pleased if a petition to kneel came from a parish. The bishop might have to have a long talk with the pastor about it!

Sr Elizabeth said...

A few weeks back I was in New York. I attended mass in Brooklyn and Manhattan. In two churches the option to kneel was available. Those who chose to kneel came up the right and left aisle while the rest used the center. The priest distributed communion to those kneeling , while an EM distributed in the aisle until the priest was worked quite nicely.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Sister E. are you trying to plant ideas in my head to get me in trouble with the higher ups?

Anonymous said...

Father, the warning is about the news site you liked in your "PRESS HERE" link at the bottom of your post. This is flagged as hostile and appears to be used to load remote access software onto you computer allowing someone to take control of you computer. This is a common problem in sites in that part of the world. Even happens with proper sites like WSJ Asia.


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thanks RCG, I removed it!

SqueekerLamb said...

Could a pastor consult with his Bishop one on one about offering kneelers at Masses in his parish? Could he simply ask for the Bishop's permission?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, but some bishops might be put out with one of their priests even suggesting such a thing that would not be done in all parishes, thus being viewed by the bishop as being divisive.

SqueekerLamb said...

Then the hard floor it is!

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

I think we the laity should take the inititive on this. If we want Communion rails (and I do), we put them in.

At my parish I go to, we use the Communion rail for the OF and EF, those that wish to receive standing can.