Saturday, May 14, 2011


With yesterday's release of the clarifying document on Summorum Pontificum, called Universae Ecclesiae just how pushy should we get in promoting the extraordinary form of the Mass?

At St. Joseph Church, our current practice for almost four years has been to have a monthly Latin High Mass at 2:00 PM on the first Sunday of the month. Granted that 2:00 PM is not the best time for Mass, we average about 80 people. Not all, though, are parishioners. Many come from far away.

Then every Tuesday we have a Latin Low Mass at 5:00 PM. that averages about a dozen people. Compare that to our OF 8:00 AM daily Mass which averages about 60 people, sometimes more.

We have celebrated the EF Mass for special occasions. Twice now we have had an All Souls' Commemoration singing Fauré's Requiem and we get about 200 attending. The same for our St. Joseph Feast Day Mass on March 19th. Keep in mind these are not Holy Days of Obligation.

On Easter Sunday our 1:00 PM Mass was an EF High Mass with about 300 attending. Many who were only Easter and Christmas Catholics came because of the time, not the type of Mass, but no one complained. Maybe C & E Catholics realize they have no right to complain?

Now, this is just in the realm of ideas and I have no intention of any sort of immediate change. However, having five Masses on the First Sunday of each month is becoming a bit of a drain. I've often wondered if I shouldn't make the following changes:

Make our normal 12:10 Ordinary Form Mass (which is completely sung, including the priest's parts as is our 9:30 AM Mass) an Ad Orientem Mass in the Ordinary Form, but in English. Then, once a month, on the First Sunday of the Month, make it an Extraordinary Form Mass.

Our 12:10 PM Sunday Mass averages about 400 people, although it fluctuates. I would not want to run these people off with the EF Mass. And certainly if I made it exclusively EF that is what will happen.

With that said, I have found that those who desire the EF Mass are very grateful for the arrangement we already have. No significant group is pushing for this Mass to be every Sunday. I could not do it every Sunday as an extra Mass and perhaps they are respectful of that reality.


Gene said...

If we are serious about this, and you are Fr, then there should be a regular EF Mass every Sunday...period. Make it one of the AM Masses or the 5 pm. As for the flock being disgruntled, educate and instruct them. After all, their preferences are being formed, not consulted, n'est ce pas."

Anonymous said...

Having the EF Mass at a regular Mass time would make it MUCH easier to attend.
2PM in the middle of the afternoon conflicts with many family responsibilites and sadly one is often forced to chose.
Your 12:10 idea sounds like a solid idea.
And pin is correct "their preferences are being formed". Your sheep are malleable.

One might say that the EF Mass shouldn't be regarded as an unusual novelty, but as an equal mainstay, just like the OF.
Bringing it into the mainstream of offered Mass times would certainly be appropriate and conducive to that endeavor.

Not to make light of the EF, but it reminds me of Flossing.
Flossing should be part of one's usual mainstay of oral hygiene procedures, not a once in a while novelty.
When Flossing is part of one's regular routine of oral hygiene procedures then one's overhall oral status is healthier. When EF is part the regualar routine of Masses then ones spirtual and Cathoic identity status is healthier.

(hey pin, if you linger longer after Mass, then one day when I see you, I have something to show you. I think you'll be pleased.)

Gene said...

Squeeker, I'm glad you stayed on the Blog, whatever the reason. I am usually at 9:30 or 5pm (mostly 9:30). Ha! I 'll bet it is a new mantilla...I approve already. LOL!

Henry said...

Fr. McDonald,

I'm too remote from your parish to comment sensibly on any pastoral decision you might make. But, thinking of your now wanting "to run these people off with the EF Mass", I wonder how you would hypothetically compare proportionately the following two situations.

(1) Some people who regard the noon Mass as their "slot" and would detest the EF Mass, and therefore would be forced to attend an earlier Sunday Mass (though only one Sunday monthly under your plan).

(2) Tens of millions of people who for decades were forced to attend Masses they detested, there being no reasonably reverent Mass offered each Sunday within a hundred miles of them.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Henry I see your point, but two wrongs don't make a right. We should aggravate people when they come to worship. Change is difficult too for many people. However, this parish never had a Saturday vigil until 6 years ago when I implemented it. When SP came out I thought that the Vigil Mass would have been perfect for it since our vigil was new and had a fluctuating population (although now it is mainly an older population). However, I was told that the EF couldn't be celebrate as a Saturday Vigil--so that idea went out the window and I came up with the First Sunday of the Month scheme. I wanted to see how many would eventually attend on a regular basis. It never got over 100 and has landed at about 50 to 60. If I had 150 or 200 attending I would not hesitate to make the 12:10 PM Mass exclusively the EF Mass and invite those who prefer the English OF to attend one of the many others we have on the weekend.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Henry, should have written (we should not aggravate..)

Henry said...

Fr. McDonald: If I had 150 or 200 attending I would not hesitate to make the 12:10 PM Mass exclusively the EF Mass

I don't know of adequate statistical evidence, but it's commonly believed that you double EF attendance if you move an EF Mass from a family-inconvenient afternoon slot to a Sunday morning slot.

Thinking about it the other way round, suppose you moved a Sunday morning OF Mass to mid-afternoon Sunday. Do you think as many as half of the folks would come to the afternoon Mass? I don't. Would guess no more than a quarter, if that, would show up in the afternoon.

Of course, the contrast may be misleading, since the average EF attender is more serious about Mass attendance than the average OF attender.

My own theory is that most people--at least those in a parish for a long time--are pretty much habitual with a particular time, and hence might come to whatever Mass is offered then. Might not prefer Latin orientem (either OF or EF) initially, but might stay and ultimately profit spiritually.

Henry said...

"We should aggravate people when they come to worship."

I assumed this a Freudian slip, that you (like me) have known priests who actually feel this way.

Templar said...

You know me Father, I asked for the EF in a regular slot starting around Jan 2008,band have never pushed the issue because you explained all the limitations you are working under. So maybe it will be a little shocking to hear me say this is a better idea than an EF in a regular Mass slot. I say that because I consider the re-establishment od ad orientum worship to be a greater priority. I would encourage you to do this and also not to be too shocked when your EF attendence goes up in the process.

TK said...

I travel a lot and have been to many, many churches and my opinion saying the NO ad orientum is a huge step towards covering the gap between the two rites. It's a great teaching opportunity and there's not such a culture shock when implementing the EF. And to me, ad orientum seems more in line with the mystery of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Anonymous said...

saw Bernstein's Mass tonight. Had never seen it before. I can say that t is apparently the Point of Departure of the OF from the EF. Lots dancers, people singing about themselves, and glory of glories, a banjo in the modern string section. The set looked like some of the modern monstrosities one sees in churches these days. No clowns, but Stephen Schwartz who wrote the libretto, also collaborated on "Godspell'. I suppose changes were made day by day. Almost every element of modern mass decorations were present. A lot of this can be chalked up to Bernstein's football battyness, but it was composed for performance at the opening of the Kennedy Centre of Performing Arts in 1971, commissioned by the family of President Kennedy. So it is clearly a product of its time and actually quite prescient. My wife asked me what a Protestant would get from that. Nothing, I expect except the most general order of mass. Although they could come away with a notion that it actually quite accurate with the dancers, etc.

I will say that there were few tunes that were actually quite good, as show tunes go. It showed a definite influence of 'West Side Story', too. Not sure if this means Bernstein was lazily resting on his laurels or was just out of ideas.

I did keep the libretto and will compare it's translation to the new missal when I get a copy. That should be interesting.


Gene said...

RCG, Who but you would sit through Bernstein's Mass? Of course, there is redemptive effect in suffering...maybe you are trying to get a leg up on the rest of us...LOL!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

In the late 1970's when I was in the seminary I saw it performed at the Kennedy Centre in Washington! I loved it then, but of course, up until that time, I didn't go to too many of these sorts of cultural things, except when "Hair" played in Augusta and the day after I saw it, the Augusta police shut it down--made national news and yes I was embarrassed for Augusta. Keep in mind, this was the 1970's and I was a late teenager in College.

Anonymous said...

Pin, your comments are true. I suppose whatever tunes the demons are singing I will, at least, be able to hum along.

After further contemplation I think Bernstein's Mass was intended to present the various reflections on the congregants and highlight the thoughts of the celebrant with a Mass as a background. It definitely succeeded in that, but was too narrow simply taking a collection of people one might meet on the streets of New York and missed entirely the chance to portray universal Man and the meaning in that regard. But I guess that is what the real Mass is for, isn't it?


ghp95134 said...

Father McDonald,

Would you not consider alternating Sundays (at 12:10 pm) with Mass in the Extraordinary Form?

--Guy Power

Marc said...

I agree with Templar's sentiments. (I guess Templar and I can band together to form the "group of the faithful" required to ask for a regular EF Mass under Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae.)

But, as Templar said, we understand that with so many Masses already being said every Sunday, this would be burdensome. I like the idea of having an ad orientem OF Mass almost as much as a weekly EF Mass, to be honest. I do think that alternating forms of the Mass each weekend would build that bridge and bring more people to have a devotion to the EF Mass.

To conclude my agreements, I think that having the EF Mass at 2:00 p.m. on the first Sunday (while we are very grateful for that), is that the optimum time to get people to come to the Mass. I would hope that many more people would come if the Mass were at a more normal time.

I do think, however, that people might need some sort of "training" Mass for the EF. My theory is that people might show up once and become lost. Then, they get embarrassed not knowing what to do. As a result, they don't come back because people generally don't like to be involved in things that embarrass them. Just a thought.

Afterthought regarding alternating forms of the Mass: here's the problem with that - the different calendars. Personally, I would love to be able to attend the EF exclusively and therefore become absorbed into the old calendar with its Ember Days and various things that have been taken away.