Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Why not do our own thing?

A few comments about "ad orientem" celebrations of the Mass focus on the permission from the bishop needed for such a move in the Post-Vatican II Liturgy.

My contention is that we are not congregationalists and thus the bishop should be seen as the primary liturgist of the diocese. This being my understanding of the liturgical role of the bishop, I would never choose to change the orientation of the Mass without consulting with the bishop and seeking his guidance and input. Facing the people has been the post-Vatican II norm, whether advisable or not. Even Pope Benedict continues to do this as the norm. Ad Orientem is the exception.

Now many argue that progressives do their own thing without ever contacting the bishop. I agree. But do two wrongs make a right? Shouldn't those of us who want to follow "policy," "say the black and do the red" and want to uphold the traditional values of the Church which includes respect and obedience for the Holy Father and the bishops in union with him, take the higher road and leave the progressives in the dust on this one?

Finally, I don't think we should impose upon people something they are not requesting. When we began the celebration of the EF Mass in this parish, we had a poll to ask people to let me know if they were interested in it. We had over 130 people say they were. But this polling was at the direction of the Bishop.

I'm not oppose to ad orientem, but what another commenting priest wrote that the crucifix dead center on the altar according the norm of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, suffices to help orient the priest and the congregation to our Lord during the celebration of His One Sacrifice. It does so without yanking the people and priest around again.

From my own experience of having placed a crucifix on the altar that the priest can see, this indeed helps the priest to focus his eyes not on the congregation, but on our Lord crucified.


Anonymous said...

While the "dead center" crucifix may help you, as priest-celebrant, to focus on the crucified Lord in the celebration of the eucharist, for others, including members of a congregation, this might not necessarily be the case.

Now, if it were only the "progressives" who were acting without episcopal authorization in their liturgical innovations, you might have a point. However,there are a gracious plenty of Traditionalist priests who make "adjustments" to the words and rubrical gestures of ther OF mass that are without such approval. Some of them rationalize that this is the kind of mutual enrichment that B16 hopes for between the OF and EF masses. Nevertheless, these additions, deletions, gesticular glosses, etc., are without approval.

Bill said...

Two wrongs do not make a right. However, does that mean that if the bishop is a progressive, the only alternative for the faithful who are of a more traditional disposition is to move to a different diocese?

We have all seen the Mass so altered that it is difficult to recognize, even in nearby parishes. Should there not be some consideration given to the more traditional forms? Does the decision of the bishop override the GIRM?

As I read it, and according to other opinions I have read, including those from Fr. Z (and if memory serves, the most worthy Ed Peters), the bishop cannot override Summorum Pontificum, so when the bishop proves to be progressive, is a Latin parish our only hope?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

All I can say Bill is that it is not wise for a priest to create an antagonistic relationship with his bishop. He has promised respect and obedience to him in the ordination rite. There is a great deal of flexibility in terms of how the OF Mass can be celebrated without resorting to the bishop for every request. However, and this is my opinion only, I think it unwise to change to ad orientem on a regular basis at a normal Sunday Mass without consulting with the bishop and one's pastoral council. Facing the people is the liturgical norm since Vatican II, officially, although one can make an argument that ad orientem is still presumed or allowed, but not really in practice and this is world wide.

Rood Screen said...

Very well said, Father. Discussion of this topic reminds me of our outdoor processions. I'm always having to whisper to the altar servers to slow down so the elderly folks in back can keep up. As the Catholic Church progresses liturgically into Heaven, the clergy must insure that we all stay together, even when the zeal of some tempts them to dash ahead.

Gene said...

There are already people I know leaving "progressive parishes." Some friends of mine in another state drive 40 miles every Sunday, passing two "progressive" parishes on the way, to go to Mass at a Church with a traditional Pastor and congregation and which also celebrates the TLM quarterly. I think we are going to see more of this sort of thing. I have mentioned before that I refuse to attend Mass at some Churches when I am out of town because I know ahead of time what to expect. Sin or not, I ain't going to Mass there and put up with morons like appear in the picture in this post.
The question may be asked, "which is more of a sin, to skip Mass at a "progressive" Church that makes a mockery of the Mass, or to be a part of the mockery?" All of this progressive nonsense is a deliberate, defiant, in your face taunt directed at the traditional Church and devout Catholics everywhere. I have absolutely zero patience with it.

Marc said...

Father, I want to clarify that with regard to my comments on the last post, I meant no disrepect to you or to any other priest who is doing what he feels is appropriate vis-a-vis his pastoral concerns and his relations with his bishop.

I mostly agree with what you've posted in this blog entry. The point I was attempting to make in the last round of comments is that ad orientem is clearly acceptable under the GIRM (while obviously not the norm in our diocese or country). Therefore, if a priest were to celebrate the Mass in this manner, it would not be a "wrong" whereas extemporaneously modifying the text or rubrics of the Mass is an objective wrong. The notion that a priest would be required to consult the bishop before implementing something that is clearly allowable seems off.

Now, if that consultation is done because of pastoral/catechetical concerns and concerns regarding the bishop's thoughts on the matter, that is understandable.

For example, I might ask my employer's advice on a particular issue wherein I am well within my rights to act in two allowable ways. So, it makes sense if a priest were to approach his bishop in the same manner.

I do have to laugh at the idea of consulting one's pastoral council, though... do you mean to consult them to "gauge" the feelings of the parish?

Finally, Father Shelton, you make a great point about the temptation to "dash ahead." I suppose I would respond that, in my view, the apparent willingness of many in the hierarchy to foresake a generation or two of Catholics to placate (what appear to be) modernists and progressives is frightening. There are souls at stake here and there are eternal consequences. Shouldn't that prompt us to move quickly to save those who might be lost?

Anonymous said...

"I have mentioned before that I refuse to attend Mass at some churches when I am out of town because I know ahead of time what to expect. Sin or not, ..."

Since you seem to be unclear on the nature of your refusal, the Code of Canon Law (1247) says, "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass; . . ."

The Catechism (2181)reiterates: "The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation . . . Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin."

Fr. William Saunders of Christendom College wrote in commentary on this passage, "...and grave sin is indeed mortal sin."

By trumpeting your Protestant refusal to attend a Mass that is not celebrated according to your peculiar tastes, it could be argued that you may well be guilty of scandal (Catechism 2284) by encouraging others to "refuse to attend Mass."

If this is the fruit of the EF, then it is clear why so many clergy and laity are, to put it mildly, not excited by this alternate form of the liturgy.

Henry Edwards said...

Fr. Shelton is probably correct in suggesting that in most parishes and dioceses, the pastor will need "cover" from laymen before instituting ad orientem celebration.

Perhaps not all are familiar with the program of parish catechesis that Fr. Jay Scott Newman at St. Mary's in Greenville, SC carried out before his parish "turned towards the Lord":

I suspect that in many parishes such a careful program might foster a sizable group of parishioners who would support an ad orientem experiment--perhaps a First Friday evening Mass, perhaps a midweek or Saturday morning Mass--which might in time lead to desire for just a Sunday ad orientem Mass trial, perhaps once a month or at a non-prime Sunday time.

I don't know much about particular bishops, but I suspect many are more concerned with issues or parish relations than with liturgy per se, and wonder whether such a bishop might not respond favorably to parish desire for some initially limited ad orientem exposure that wouldn't threaten those parishioners not ready for it.

Marc said...

Anonymous at 2:58: That is very charitably and logically stated. I agree there is a temptation to an ultra-traditionalism that tends toward schism. I know this is a battle I have to fight within myself from time to time and its root is most definitely demonic.

Thank you for your post that has caused me to again renew my dedication to Christ and his One Church under our Supreme Pontiff! We must never lose sight of the gift we have in the Deposit of Faith! Thank you!

Henry Edwards said...

anonymous@2:58 pm,

I am puzzled by your "fruit of the EF" remark. So far as I know, "parish shopping" to find a respectfully and reverently celebrated Mass is strictly an OF phenomenon, an activity carried out only by OF Mass attenders.

So I don't know what you might think this issue has to do with the EF. Other that wherever an EF Mass is available, it obviates the need for any further shopping around for a properly offered Mass. In which case, the EF is the solution to the problem, rather than its origin.

Gene said...

Anon/Ignotus, It isn't the fruit of the EF (Fr. said I cannot use the term "moron" on this BLOG). It is the fruit of progressive license and people like you who use the Canons and Catechism of the Church as a mere sophistic tool or quote them glibly in a "back at ya'" attitude. The EF has nothing to do with my attitude. It is the "progressive" misuse of the OF and the silly, humanism that so-called progressives have introduced into the OF that cause "scandal." I am very clear on Canon Law and what the Catechism says about missing Mass. It won't be the first time in my life I have committed a "grave sin." And, what responsibility, in your collectivist/humanist understanding of the Liturgy and Church Dogma, do those who take liberties with the Mass share with those of us who refuse to attend these liturgical Circe de Soleil?" Hmmmm?

Anonymous said...

The catch here seems to be in demonstrating humility toward the Church and the Hierarchy. The priest should carefully consider every word, gesture, and posture not only for what it communicates directly, but for what it communicates by insinuation. This is only prudent. It is easy to undermine authority with even a minor deviation from the standard.

It is nice to see the priest's face and easier to hear what he is saying versus populum, but that is really a personal convenience for me. I have also heard people complain about the priest 'turning his back on them'. Hogwash. The best leaders have their backs toward you.


Templar said...

With respect to Father, I do not accept the premise as presented of "two wrongs don't make a right". Saying Mass Ad Orientem is not a "wrong". It is clearly permissible under the GIRM, therefore it is not a "wrong" at all.

But then again the TLM was "supposedly" a "wrong" for 40 odd years too, until we were told in fact that it was not wrong, was never wrong, and never could be wrong. Which brings up another point I have a LOT of problems with, the casual reference (in this post of the last) that the Bishop wanted a survey done before he would approve the TLM at St Joseph...WHAT?!?!? That was explicitly AGAINST the dictates of SP.

Which brings me back to the case in point, exactly how many faithful Catholics have to be driven into the arms of the SSPX by Modernists Bishops before the Church wakes up to the problem? I fight to keep myself away from the SSPX, and I'm already one of those Catholics who has to drive 30 miles past a couple of Heterodox Parishes to find an oasis of Orthodoxy, but sometimes I simply can not argue myself into a convincing rationalization of why the SSPX isn't really truly right, and hasn't been right these past 40 years.

The liberals take every opportunity to push their agenda, employ ever trick, and opportunity to get it there way, while the good old conservatives play by the rules, being sporting about things, and fight for the status guo. The game can not be won that way. That's a never ending delaying action that ends only with Modernist triumph.

Matthew 10:34-40

Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. 35 For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man's enemies shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loves father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loves son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. 38 And he that takes not up his cross, and follows me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that finds his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for me, shall find it.

Templar said...

I just can't let this go, I'm sorry. This subject is one of the two most damaging distortions we suffer under.

The GIRM clearly calls for the Priest to turn and face the congregation. Why would it do that if the Priest was intended to be facing that direction all the time. It's not only ALLOWED it is ASSUMED!!!

Anonymous said...

There's no doubt that this very important element of the "Reform of the Reform" will need to be slowly and carefully introduced into parishes (and only then after a lot of preparation and catechesis). The program referred to by Henry Edwards sounds like a good model for implementation with ad orientem being used sparingly and at weekday Masses to begin the process.

In response to other points--my kids can tell you, when we go on the few trips we take, they have seen the gamut from the Extraordinary Form to Masses I guess Pinan would probably avoid. We don't miss Mass just because we don't like the external style of some of them.

And, yes, the Bishop is the chief liturgist of the Diocese (within universal bounds). I was just trying to better understand the limits of the constraints priests feel when dealing with the liturgical options of the Novus Ordo. This seems to be a very touchy subject that many priests are not comfortable in discussing frankly and this blog provides a forum for getting a better feel as to what they really think on these matters.

One other point---if a return to ad orientem is a long-term desirable goal in the "Reform of the Reform," (which I, at least, believe it is) how can it be brought about? It can't (at least for now) be based on the desire of the majority of laity who haven't ever (or recently) experienced the EF much less read "The Spirit of the Liturgy." Most laity need to first be catechised on this subject. To base decisions about ad orientem on what most of them now know and say they want would produce the predictable result of keeping things just as they are, possibly in perpetuity.

Harder than that question is the question about having a "progressive" bishop who doesn't favor ad orientem in the Novus Ordo, much less the EF (by the way, I put progressive in quotations marks because a truly progressive bishop is one who favors the "Reform of the Reform" and the EF).

While it is true that a bishop's ability to squelch the EF has been limited by the recent Instruction, I thought the real goal was to use the example of the EF enrich and reform the OF to be more in continuity with what came before (the EF). Somebody has to start somewhere or it will never happen! This is why "liberals" and "progressives" want to squelch the EF and more traditional practices in the OF (such as ad orientem and communion rails) by saying, "There's no demand for that!"

Meanwhile, I'm 50 years old, my two girls are growing up and I'm praying every day for the Pope, our priests and especially our new Bishop. I hope I will not be disappointed in the area of the return of liturgical traditions to our Diocese but regardless of the outcome I still plan to be at Mass!

Joseph Johnson

Anonymous said...

It is convenient, pinanv525, to be able to blame your choice to sin on someone else. Adam tried it when he blamed Eve and Eve tried it when she blamed the serpent. But the Lord did not fall for that adolescent form of evasion of personal responsibility.

"The devil made me do it" is a line from a great comedy routine. But it didn't absolve Geraldine.

Can you imagine a bank robber saying "They made me sin by keeping all that money there!" Or an adulterer saying, "She made my do it by wearing such seductive clothing!" "They made me skip mass by 'taking liberties' with the liturgy" is just another juvenile evasion. And when it comes to mortal sin, it is no comedy routine.

No, pinanv525, you bear the guilt of your sin.

And Henry, "parish shopping" is a far, far cry from "I skip mass." Pinanv525 is an outspoken proponent and defender of the EF - that is his right and I do not question that right. But if the EF is such an exceptional source of grace, how does an EFfer, then,
explain such an obvious and dangerous repudiation of that grace?

Gene said...

Ignotus, you are playing the progressive spin game. I did not blame my sin on someone else. I merely asked how much guilt do folks like you share who "tempt a brother to sin?" Get it right.
I also believe Canon Law speaks against parish shopping...

Henry Edwards said...


It is my understanding--from a competent canon lawyer--that the obligation of an individual Catholic to his local territorial parish was removed in the 1983 revision of canon law.

That new canon law imposes the obligation of the parish--and, specifically, of its pastor--to serve the spiritual needs of those in its territory. But does not impose a reciprocal obligation on those individual Catholics to a specific parish.

Thus, it appears that the 1983 canon law contains neither a prohibition nor even a caution against "parish-shopping" in search of worthy worship of God.

It might even therefore be suggested that one's primary obligation of worship and the salvation of his own soul might in some circumstances morally oblige him to "parish shop" to this end.

Marc said...

Templar, I agree with everything you've written and empathize with the struggle you mention vis-a-vis SSPX.

Joseph Johnson, I disagree with your proposition that the laity need to express a desire for allowable, more orthodox options in the Mass in order for priests to institute the changes. The laity are not liturgists and do not have a say in the liturgy.

I'm pretty certain that most lay people at this point, if asked, would suggest the liturgy look explicitly Protestant and would ask that we forego the Eucharist because "they don't get anything out of that like they do the homily."

Since when is the Catholic Church a democracy? Surely that must have happened after they completely changed the liturgy because I don't think many people would've voted for that change in the late 1960's (but, I was born in the 1980's so what do I know).

Anonymous said...

Pinanv525 - How much of Cain's guilt did Abel share for offering an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord? None.

No one "shares" your guilt for your choosing to skip mass. No one.

Can you imagine the following Sacramental scenario? "Bless me Father I have sinned and it has been one week since my last confession. I skipped mass last Sunday but the priest / cantor / lector / architect / liturgy coordinator shares my sin..."

You want to blame others to assuage your guilty conscience. A better response is to "Turn away from your sin and be faithful to the Gospel."

Gene said...

Henry Edwards, Excellent! Thanks for correcting me. Let the shopping begin!(If I were a Baptist, I would write a sermon about "Shopping for the true Gospel with your Jesus credit card." But, since I was a Calvinist (Presbyterian) pastor, I would have written it about, "You are in hopeless debt to sin; no one but Christ will redeem your worthless bonds." LOL! A timely subject, BTW.

Gene said...

Ignotus, you are being deliberately dense. No one shares my personal guilt. However, there is guilt incurred from tempting a brother to sin. get it? You're a bright guy...

Anonymous said...

Either you misread me or I didn't do a very good job of expressing my opinion regarding the opinion of the laity on ad orientem. My basic position is this:

1.The Catholic Church is hierarchical and is not a democracy.

2.Ad orientem is not just a theoretical option that can only be supported in argument by inferences from the wording of the GIRM and a lack of positive legislation expressly prohibiting it--it is a real but rarely used legitimate option (departing from the usual norm) in the Novus Ordo as the Pope's actions will confirm.

3. Most lay people don't constantly keep up with the kind of liturgical stuff that you and I care so deeply about that is discussed on blogs such as this one and others like Fr. Z, Rorate Caeli, and New Liturgical Movement.

4. The Church has an obligation to fulfill its mission to save souls and to provide the pastoral needs of the people in its charge.

5. As a part of its mission, the Church is charged with offering the Mass in the most meaningful and worthy manner and in forming our understanding of what the liturgy is about.

It's not about lay demand or consent for ad orientem (in my understanding)--it's about knowing that ad orientem is (in the long term) where things are headed and preparing people for this through catechesis and a paced introduction (probably at weekday Masses) until they "get it" as I did when I continued to attend the EF in law school. It helps to at least inform if not "win hearts and minds" as a part of the process.

Based on my reading of Pope Benedict's book, "The Spirit of the Liturgy" along with Summorum Pontificum and a lot of other information I've read and studied over that last 15 or 20 years, I personally don't see it as a question of "if" but "when." I might be wrong and really going out on a limb but, in the long view of things, I don't think so.

At my age (born in 1961) I just hope the "when" starts while I'm still in this world to appreciate it and support it. My worst fear is that I may have to live out my days shackled to the legacy of the "Spirit of Vatican II" generation when I'd like (to use Fr. Shelton's outdoor procession analogy about the young having to slow down for the old)to leave the bad things about that past (1960's-1990's) behind in the dust (Glory and Praise hymnals and all!) and enjoy the fruits of the EF and the "Reform of the Reform" with younger people like you.

In other words, I do agree with Fr. McDonald that you can't just "cold turkey" drop this on a parish one Sunday at Mass--it will take time, education, prayer, and, most of all a commitment to see it though on the part of clergy and the minority of laity like me and you who believe in this and want to see it happen. We lay people can only do so much--the clergy (who, ultimately must lead) needs to reassured that there is a perhaps small cadre of "true believers" out here who will support their efforts to reintroduce such things as ad orientem.

Joseph Johnson

Henry Edwards said...

No rocket science here. It's just a matter of keeping the apples and oranges separate. And also of distinguishing the concepts of sin and guilt.

Certainly, the priest who commits serious liturgical abuse thereby commits sin. If this abuse causes others to commit sin, such as missing Mass, there is the possibility of additional sin of scandal.

But a parishioner who misses Sunday Mass thereby commits sin. The seriousness of this sin (and the ensuing guilt) might possibly be mitigated by the circumstance of liturgical abuse.

However, neither the priest nor the parishioner shares any guilt with the other, because guilt for sin is individual.

Anonymous said...

Pinanv525 - I get what you are aiming at - implicating others in your choice to sin. Sorry - don't include me or anyone else in your choice.

Marc said...

@ Joseph Johnson: I misread you. Now that you have elaborated, I not only understand your point, but I also agree with you wholeheartedly! Thank you for clarifying.

Henry Edwards said...

Anonymous @ 3:06 pm,

It goes both ways. If a priest (or anyone else) commits the sin of scandal--by an action in the liturgy (or otherwise) induces another to commit sin--then he (the priest) himself is guilty of his own sin.

He need not be concerned--as you seem to be--about whether someone else chooses to "include" him in their decision to sin.

I'd think that a priest would know that there's no such thing as "inclusion" in the sin of another. If his action induces sin by them, then his own sin (if any) in so doing is entirely separate from theirs. (Is systematic moral theology still taught in seminaries?)

Gene said...

Henry Edwards, you are, of course correct. Fr. Ignotus, in typical lib/progressive fashion, continues to perseverate, deliberately misconstrue, and insist upon his own interpretations of what others say. On other forums, he would be known as an "agenda troll" and probably banned before too long. But, he remains here as a good example of a progressive, post Vat II priest and of the "Uriah Heep" personality.

Jody Peterman said...

Relax, Relax. I converted in 1993. My have times changed in the last 18 years for the positive. Most of the homosexual liberal Bishops have retired, died or been forced out. We have a TLM in Macon, Ga., Mableton,Ga. Savannah, Ga. and Jacksonville, Fl. We have even seen the TLM in Waycross, Ga. thanks to the tireless nagging (but charitable) efforts by Joseph Johnson. The English Translation is set to begin. We, my friends, are truly at the dawning of a glorious age for the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. And ad orientem will be the norm in 10 years. Viva Benedictus!

Anonymous said...

Most rank and file Catholics are totally unaware that an option of Ad Orientem in the Ordinary Form even exists.
How can one poll one's parish then?
Perhaps first one has to find ways to teach them of it's up a Blog.
Then increase the varieties of the discussion opportunites and venues more and more.
Then see how much desire is has been created and fostered.
Then ask the Bishop.

Personally, I'd LOVE to have some Ad Orietem options, now that I know it exists. Done in the vernacular, it would be it's intended to be.