Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Pope Benedict recently said that the Second Vatican Council was to urge a new way of thinking about the liturgy and its purpose; it never set out to be a mandate for wholesale reconstruction and upheaval.

But those who have a different vision of renewal of the Mass and Church, more in keeping with a deconstructionist mentality of both the Mass and the Church, the breaking of continuity between what preceded Vatican II and what occurred afterward are making loud voices of opposition to the Holy Father's "reform of the reform within continuity of pre and post Vatican II experiences." I think these loud noises are much like the Cicadas now coming out of a 13 year hidden life and mating. It won't last long and there will be quiet and calm once the Pope's agenda is fully realized.

What did Sacrosanctum Concilium actually say about the Mass?

1. It called for the reform of the rites to show forth noble simplicity.
However, now that I celebrate the Extraordinary Form Low Mass every Tuesday, I've come to realize that this Mass has a noble simplicity that is quite marvelous. Was it the Solemn Sung Pontifical Masses, such as papal Masses, that needed noble simplicity? If you ever watch a pre-Vatican II solemn sung papal Mass, you'll see just how complicated it was. Many bishops' Masses were equally so. Perhaps SC had these Masses in mind, not the ordinary parish Low or High Mass.

2. It called for some vernacular but maintaining Latin.
The vernacular Mass was very well received by clergy and laity and evidently the pope and very soon Latin was but a sideshow in the Liturgy. In a sense, Pope Benedict's allowance for the liberal celebration of the EF Mass will help to preserve Latin in the Church. But with that said, I hope and pray that the Holy Father will apply what SC actually proposed for the vernacular in the EF Mass--the parts of the Mass that change from day to day, the Introit, Collect, Offertory antiphon Secret,Preface, Communion Antiphon and Prayer after Communion. These should be in the vernacular while keeping the parts of the Mass that do not change in Latin. The Scriptures too should be in the Vernacular.

3. It called for more Scripture selections to be heard at Mass.
In this regard, it is my opinion that the reformed three-year Sunday lectionary and two-year daily Mass lectionary are jewels in the crown of the reform of the Mass and quite faithful to SC. I recognize though that many people say that having three readings plus the psalm might be a bit too much each Sunday, that only two readings are needed as in the EF Mass's lectionary currently (and also daily Mass lectionary for the OF). I hope and pray that the OF lectionary can be incorporated into the EF Mass as an organic development bringing the EF and OF closer together.

4. SC asked that Gregorian chant be maintained.
This has been an abysmal failure in the OF Mass. Music since the Vatican II has focused not on the Mass texts, such as the Introit, Offertory Antiphon and Communion antiphon, but rather on hymnody that is disconnected from these official texts. I hope that this will change in the coming years and that it be mandated that the actual texts of the Mass be chanted in one fashion or another. The liberal allowance of the EF Mass is bringing back Latin Gregorian Chant and will influence the OF Mass in the future. However, there have been very nice settings for the Gloria, Sanctus, Mystery of Faith, Amen and Agnus Dei in the vernacular. It is the newer, modern hymns that are the main problem.

5. Full conscious and active participation
This was already occurring by the 1950's in this country and much earlier in other countries of the world. By this, we mean that the laity participate in all the parts of the Mass once reserved to the altar boys and choir. They should actively sing or say these hymns, parts of the Mass that pertain to them. They should not be praying devotions during Mass such as the rosary, novenas or the Stations of the Cross. They should follow the texts of the Mass. In fact, even in the second grade prior to the Second Vatican Council, I was taught how to use my St. Joseph Sunday Missal and to follow what the priest and servers were doing and to quietly to myself say what the altar boys and choir were doing. The Second Vatican Council made this most explicit and much fruit has been born of this since the Council. With the more liberal celebrations of the EF Mass, this should not be lost and people should participate in this Mass as they would in the OF!

The Future:

I hope and pray that eventually the revised Roman Missal in the Ordinary Form will allow for the OF order of the Mass with rubrics that are closer to the EF Mass and that this very same OF Missal will allow for the EF order of the Mass and rubrics.

By this I mean we celebrate the OF Missal as an EF Mass. Of course only the Roman Canon would be allowed in this option. But all the other revised collects, prefaces, and various Masses would be allowed including the OF lectionary and calendar.

Where the OF Mass should converge with the EF Mass and have continuity is kneeling for Holy Communion and receiving on the tongue and more specifics on the use of the pall and when to genuflect as in the EF Mass. Just my opinions written above!


Mike said...

There's a real move afoot to make sure that the gains that have been made do not slip away.

We, in way way, will lose our Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Bass, Drums and Percussion.

Click here to see what I mean.

Pray, Pray, Pray, .............................

This cannot happen!!!!

Anonymous said...

I like that the OF Mass has more scripture readings during the Liturgy of the Word. I am not well experienced in the EF but it seems so much less.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The EF Mass has a good one year cycle for Sunday, but that is it. Daily Mass is abysmal and the reformed lectionary is to be preferred. I wouldn't mind though having a D cycle and include the one year EF lectionary for Sunday every 4th year.

Anonymous said...


I don't comprehend your post. Can you clarify your position on the changes in the Missal and music?


Marc said...

Father, since you're clairvoyant (or maybe not), would you care to "guess" what might be contained in upcoming instruction on Summorum Pontificum and how this might affect those of us in the pews, particularly your parishioners?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I don't think it will allow for the OF Missal to be celebrated like an EF Mass, but I hope that it will clarify the use of the vernacular for the readings and if it is possible to use the OF lectionary. I think it will encourage bishops to allow this Mass in their dioceses and pro-actively.
Time will tell. Fr. Z says that the National Catholic Reporter won't like it and not all traditionalists will have all they desired, but time will tell on Saturday I guess!

TK said...

I'm old enough to remember pre VII so I have experienced both forms of the Mass. I don't like the NO now because it lacks sacred "worship-ness." It's just so casual - even the language. So I like this post because I think if the Latin was returned to the constant parts, if there was sacred music, not Christian songs (which are fine for singing in the car, or around a campfire), if there was quiet time to pray after Communion, and if all the extraneous hand gestures by the congregation stopped, we would have a much better OF. We seem to have lost the idea that Mass is to worship God, not make us feel good.

Anonymous said...

TK, I agree. The last time I participated in an RCIA class we had a couple of prayer sessions. I really liked them and they were my favourite meetings. At the end of the class the RE leader stood and asked about what people liked and did not like about the class and volunteered, as an example, that she did not like the prayer sessions.