Monday, November 7, 2011


Thanks to Pope Benedict, I am privileged to celebrate on a regular basis the two forms of the one Roman Rite, the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form.

I was ordained in 1980 and experimented wildly the more progressive ways of celebrating the Mass, although I tried to do it well. When I was assigned to our Cathedral in Savannah in 1985 not only as Associate Pastor, but more importantly as Diocesan Master of Ceremonies and Director of Liturgy, I realized that the Cathedral should be the "template" of how the Liturgies of the Church should be celebrated and that the Cathedral in particular should have "cathedral" liturgies!

It also helped that Bishop Emeritus Raymond W. Lessard knew a thing or two about Liturgy and Vatican II and decidedly put his thumb down on my free-lancing ways as it regards ad libbing at Mass. But that's another story, although I do tend to be a bit progressive to this day. It is no secret that St. Joseph Cathedral, I mean Church, in Macon has already implemented the Corrected Translation of the Mass and months before it is mandated. Of course I've done this with permission of another bishop emeritus although I don't think that he would have interpreted his permission as broadly as I did! Sometimes you just can't exorcised the 1970's out of a priest who went to the seminary in the 1970's; it wouldn't be natural!

I must admit though that celebrating the Extraordinary Form of the Mass has truly and in a most positive way made me look at how I celebrate the Ordinary Form and to be more careful in observing the Ordinary Form's rubrics and signs of reverence.

As far as the Extraordinary Form, I do try to bring the less "robotic" implementation of the rubrics that I have learned from the Ordinary Form to its celebration, but not wildly so.

I don't foresee the Ordinary Form changing in the way it is celebrated for the distant future. I do see a renewed emphasis on "saying the black (words of the Mass) and doing the "red" the rubrics of the Mass and in a factitious way.

The corrected English translation brings the English Mass to what the reformed Latin Mass of Post Vatican II actually is in language, devotion, spirituality and reverence. Those who revised the Mass after Vatican II and did so in Latin first, did understand the "hermeneutic of continuity" as it regards the 1970 Roman Missal and the 1962 Roman Missal.

It was those who translated the Reformed Latin Mass into the various languages in particular into English that implemented the "hermeneutic of rupture" as it regards the theology, devotion and reverence of the Mass reformed in Latin.

But if that wasn't bad enough, it was liturgical theologians and liturgical musicians schooled in the hermeneutic of discontinuity who leaped frogged the Mass into the abysmal state of irregularity that most parishes experience today.

More progressive blogs whose editors have serious authority issues especially with the bishops of the Church misplace their fear of authoritarianism as it regards the Liturgy. They should fear themselves and rebel against themselves.

Those we should fear are progressive liturgical theologians and musicians who influence ordinary parish priests and so-called liturgy committees and have brought about the worst kind of iconoclasm as it concerns our churches, liturgy and music. These characters steal authority and exercise it in the most insidious way possible. It is their authority that should be questioned, mocked and overturned. The old saying that the difference between a terrorist and a liturgist (musician) is that you can negotiate with a terrorist rings true with these progressive ones!

Fortunately there is a new breed of liturgical theologian and musician. You can read about them and see their leadership at the Chant Cafe and The New Liturgical Movement. The spirit of the "reform of the reform" is alive and well there and is the hope of the liturgy for the future.

So if the Ordinary Form of the Mass is what we will have for sometime into the distant future, what could be changed or mandated or made "rubrical" about it that would bring it into closer conformity with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass?

I'm not clairvoyant, but maybe I am, so these are what I see in my crystal ball:

1. The official chants of the Mass, the Introit, Offertory and Communion antiphons must be chanted and never substituted by a hymn of some other kind. (That doesn't mean hymns can't be sung, these simply can't replace the official chants). This is the case already with the Extraordinary Form.

2. The Benedictine Altar arrangement will be mandated. Then the option of ad orientem will be made more explicit and with specific requirements as to whose authority this option belongs, but ad populum will not be outlawed. (Keep in mind the Extraordinary Form of the Mass can be celebrated toward the people too, there is no rubric saying it can't!) But one would have to have the so-called "Benedictine altar arrangement" if ad populum is chosen for the Extraordinary Form.

3. Kneeling for Holy Communion will be the mandated norm although standing won't be outlawed.

4. Holy Communion in the hand will be banned and Holy Communion on the tongue will be the norm. If Holy Communion in the hand is continued, it will be modified according to the ancient tradition that the Episcopalians follow today: The Sacred Host is place on the palm of the right hand with the left hand under the right hand. Then one does not take the host with his/her fingers, but rather brings both hands in the throne position to the mouth for the Host and any fragments to be taken into the mouth with the lick of the tongue!

5. The common chalice will be eliminated but intinction will be allowed on the most liberal basis according to local choices.


Joseph Johnson said...

I'm ready for your predictions to come true!

Bill said...

I pray that in the writing of these predictions you were granted prescience.

Gene said...

Amen! Let's hope you predict these things based upon some internal currents of which you are aware. Otherwise, they are a great "want list." Can we write you in for Pope! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Alright, I'm in trouble. Was having a little post Mass coffee in the parish hall with the leaders of our Faith Talk group and managed to kick over a hornet nest. The leaders were positively indignant that communion in both species is going to be 'denied' to them although, as they claim, it is required by the GIRM. Furthermore, JPII had the audacity to conduct mass differently than the local bishops directed and now this current pope refuses to give communion in the hand. We discussed these concerns and how, as far as this layman knows, it is not required for the laity in attendance to receive in both kinds. (They became almost scandalised when discussion intinction as it would preclude EMHC) There was an exchange of chapter and verse citations re: V-II and how so much was being taken away. Again I posited that nothing was being taken away, but the interpretations were gaining rigour. Furthermore, I would be surprised if JPII did not have the latitude to conduct mass as he desires in any location. I think, in the case of BXVI, this is being done instructionally. And I seem to recall that BXVII placing the host in the hand of a communicant during his German visit. The conversation ended with the husband indignantly stating that he had converted so he could receive in both kinds and find another Church. Unfortunately, we have very few screen doors in the northern states so my response only perplexed him.

This was part of a larger discussion concerning the decreasing attendance, baptisms, marriages, and first communions in our diocese. After mass our priest asked what I thought of that statistic. I told him it was not at all surprising and to expect it ti get worse until it gets much greater. I am very unpopular in my own parish, this week.


Robert Kumpel said...

If I just see #4 in my lifetime, I would be very happy.

Templar said...

projewI would hope and pray that you are correct Father, however I feel compelled to make my own observation, as misguided as it may be from this side of the Sanctary.

I find it puzzling how the Church, having allowed these mistakes that are manifested in the OF (however they came to be) is left trying to point us back towards Tradition as the only real hope of saving what they created. It begs the question of, "why bother?". I mean, the mere fact that they are trying to refrm the reform is tacit admission that the reform was in error, and now rather than simply admit it and go back to that which was not in error, they are trying to point us in that direction and hope we creep back towards it painful step by painful step. The oft repeated reason being that you can't turn the Barque of Peter more than 1 degree at a time lest you capzise it. I just find it tiresome to have to pretend that something good came out of the Liturgical Reforms inspired by Vatican II when clearly, whether it was the intent or not, that is clearly not the case.

Marc said...

Great post, Father. I hope these things happen very quickly in our parish and the rest of the world. I pray more priests will celebrate the Traditional Latin Rite to increase their devotion to our beautiful liturgy - "the most venerable Rite in all of Christendom!"

Well said, Templar. While I agree with the "reform of the reform," I question the incredibly slow pace in which it is being carried out. There are souls at stake (which is cause to be both deliberate and speedy). Moreover, I think our experience with this much needed reform is different at St. Joseph than nearly any other parish. One need not look at many news articles to note the crazy amount of anti-new translation material coming from priests throughout the English-speaking world. A sad thing, indeed.

If turning the Barque more than one degree at a time might cause it to capsize, then is that an admission that the radical changes in the late 1960s capsized the Barque? If so, is it not necessary to turn the Barque back on course just as quickly to correct the capsizing?

Anonymous said...


My guess is that the Vatican, as a hierarchical institution that is traditionally slow to change, genuinely didn't come to understand "King Mob" psychology until roughly a century after mass democratic movements began for the rest of the western wold. Of course, it had experienced and suffered some at the hands of this god we call "the People" during the 1500s and in the late 1700s, and it had seen the results of popular/revolutionary movements in Europe in the first half of the 20th century, but it hadn't itself tried governance in that mode until VII. Maybe it didn't even intend to then. But intended or not, as a result of VII, the thing called "the People" has flexed its muscles, and the Church is finding that the genie of popular will can't be stuffed back into the bottle once it's been loosed.

So, take proper music, or ad orientatum, or kneeling, or public excommunication of pro-abort so-called Catholics, or making Friday abstinence requirements explicit, or anything else that "burdens" Catholics (i.e., makes them publicly live out their faith): If Rome and her bishops were to truly put their collective foot down about these things--by which I mean that Rome says it, means it, does it, and enforces it--you'd probably see a combination of open rebellion and mass exodus from the Church, on the order of tens or perhaps even hundreds of millions of people.

If Rome realizes this, and I think it must, perhaps it has decided that it's better to keep these folks in the church so as to reason with them (fat chance) or so that they'll perhaps get _some_ kind of benefit with their continued association with the church. That, too, is a fat chance. If they're only nominal about their faith as it is, they lose nothing by leaving, and the Church gains nothing by their staying. (Lots fewer sacrilegious communions, definitely.) What's that verse about lukewarm people getting vomited out--or is it spit? Either is quite unpleasant, I'm sure.

Templar said...

Anon: I agree completely with your explanation. For my part, as a Layman, I say so be it. A smaller, more Catholic Church, would be fine by me. I know the Papacy has other considerations, I just hope that it's reasons for fearing a smaller Church are not tied in any way to fear of lost donations or political "clout"; both being largely Temporal considerations which honestly I feel often run counter to what the Church should be focused on (Truth and the Salvation of Souls).

Gene said...

Anonymous, I doubt the exodus would be as great as you assume. Cynically, I think the Church does not want to lose all that money...which raises issues regarding the Church's intention and integrity. Personally, who needs them. We would have a smaller but truer Church, which is fine with me. The others may go merrily on their way to Hell...

Anonymous said...

pinanv: Yes, I do fear money plays a role--at least in terms of fearing for security if not outright greed ("How will we pay the bills/continue the ministries if people quit coming?").

Pinan and Templar--you both speak of a smaller church resulting. You're in good company: Pope B16 is on record as saying that that is what he expects/foresees/prescribes (I forget exactly which). I, too, think that this would be good for everyone, including those who walk. Their walk isn't with the Church, anyway, so they should be free to go in peace.

Anonymous said...

I don't want anyone to leave, but I think they will and in great numbers. If the clergy will hold the course they will be, again it is my belief, pleasantly surprised. If they get wobbly to get people to return then I think we will see a deeper crisis. I often get sentimental about the 'old folks' in my parish who are growing more and more upset about this coming change. I have to remind myself that 40 years ago these folks were wearing beads and tie dyed shirts. Look at that poor old mad man, Pete Seegar. They are seeing their revolution fail and don't want to go out quietly. They are Occupy the Parish retro versions. They are barren fields.


Marc said...

To add to what rcg has written: I firmly believe younger Catholics generally want a return to the Traditional Liturgy and its contemplative elements. If you don't believe me, go to an all Latin Mass parish and look at all the young faces with their noses in their 1962 Roman Missals.

Why are the SSPX and FSSP growing so much more quickly than the "mainstream" Church? Young people who recognize the value of Catholic tradition and reject the innovations that are often added to our current Liturgy (guitars, hand-holding, etc).

Why are so many young people agnostics? Because they have not been exposed to the inherent mysticism and beauty of true Catholic spirituality.

So, yes, many older folks may walk away from the Church, but a slew of younger people may finally find their birthright in a Catholic identity and spirituality that has been suppressed by the exiting elders of the Church.