Monday, April 9, 2012


First let me say I made it home to Augusta at about 5:00 pm and got to watch the last two hours of the Masters. I don't care for golf, but the two final hours of the Masters is always exciting and yesterday was no exception. And yes I cried when Bubba cried and I was grateful for the "iconotasis" between my 93 year old mother and me, a large lampshade. But I peaked around it and noticed she was crying too!

Now for my light bulb during our Easter Sunday Reform of the Reform of the Ordinary Form of the Mass but not before some kudos.

This is from our Saint Joseph Day OF Mass Ad orientem:

First of all it was purely a "Gregorian Mass" in the Ordinary Form Ad Orientem with Gregorian chant for all the parts. The schola sang splendidly "Vidi Aqaum" Introit, Kyrie, Gloria, Gradual, Sequence (and marvelously!) Alleluia with ordinary form English verse) Credo, Universal Prayer, Offertory verse, Sanctus, Mysterium Fidei, Pater Noster and Doxology, Agnus Dei, Communion Antiphon. I botched the Ite Missa Est, Alleluia, Alleluia as I had a senior moment as I faced the people for this and did not have the notes for it.

As a prelude to the Mass (similar to Christmas pageants that act out the Gospel for Christmas) we celebrated the Asperges in the EF Form which I absolutely love and find far superior to what is an option only in the Ordinary Form as a replacement of the Penitential Act and the revision of it is, well, not good.

Now for the light bulb moment. I have celebrated the Latin Form of the Ordinary Form of the Mass, but always facing the congregation and as a Gregorian Chanted Mass in my previous parish on the first Saturday of each month at the anticipated Mass. That was from about 2002 to 2004. At St. Joseph I did not do this, but once the Holy Father gave us permission to celebrate the EF Mass I saw no reason to celebrate the OF Mass entirely in Latin.

Yesterday was the first time I celebrated the OF Mass in Latin. This is now my light bulb moment and it concerns the Roman Canon and the sense of needing to be as reverent as possible in celebrating the Sacred Mysteries.

As I prayed the Canon out loud, I was more relaxed, did not worry about rubrics, but when it came to the places where in the EF Mass multiple signs of the cross are in the rubrics, I had to keep my hand from doing so and then I realized how "rubrical ceremonies" are prayer but in ritual form. I was not allowed to offer praise to God in a physical way with the additional signs of the cross. I did not "feel" as reverent in my physical prayers in the OF's rubrics of the Roman Canon in Latin.

The law of prayer is the law of belief for better or for worse. My question is did priests or do priests lose a sense of reverence for the Sacred Mysteries because the physical ritual actions, which are ritualized prayer, no longer require them to show physical acts of reverence during the Eucharistic Prayer as in the EF's Roman Canon?

In addition, I felt compelled to offer the double genuflections for each consecration and fortunately the altar server knew how to ring the bells as I did it that way. It was only natural! Priests need to offer as much reverence as possible for our Lord especially during the Canon. The need for priestly reverenced codified in rubric which makes clear that liturgy is not ceremony, but prayer and worship in physical ritualized form will have a beneficial effect upon the laity. The priest's reverence and priestly identity are sorely needed today and was weakened if not distorted following many of the reforms of the Liturgy after the Council.

So, this is my revised proposal to the Holy Father for the reform of the reform of the Ordinary Form of the Mass:

1. Obligatory Introit in Latin

2. After kissing altar and incensing if incense is used, the priest goes to the foot of the altar for the Penitential Act, which is always the official introductory to it, and the Confiteor followed by absolution.

3. The priest goes to his chair for the Kyrie, Gloria and Collect

4. The Liturgy of the Word as usual for the OF, but with the option of the Latin Gradual (and tract during Lent).

5. The Credo and Universal Prayer at the Chair

6. The Liturgy of the Eucharist AD Orientem

7. The Roman Canon exclusively in Latin and in quiet voice which is a symbol of the East's iconostasis. The rubrics for the Roman Canon, as in the Extraordinary Form, but keeping the Mysterium Fidei and the Per Ipsum chanted as in the OF with the Great Amen.

8. The Rite of Holy Communion as in the OF except for kneeling and intinction for Holy Communion (yesterday I provided kneelers for people to kneel, but no one was obliged to kneel, but the vast majority did. But I found for those who stood, it was not difficult giving them Holy Communion over the Kneeler and in fact made them more conscious of coming closer and receiving more carefully standing.

9. The Post Communion, Blessing and Dismissal at the chair.

10. Salve Regina or Regina Caeli always said or sung prior to the recessional

As an aside, I had a gentleman slightly older than me come up and tell me that he served this Mass when he was a child. He was overjoyed and loved the experience of it and had not been to this type of Mass since Vatican II. I didn't have the heart to tell him that this was an OF Mass with Latin and ad orientem. But therein lies the truth of true liturgical renewal, there should not be a major rupture between old and new and there need not be. It has taken us 50 years since the beginning of Vatican II to figure that out, new and improved is not necessarily improved, although it is new and old and improved can happen, but it has to been done very carefully. What I sketch out above as a reform of the reform accomplishes "old and improved" as far as I am concerned.


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

An email I just got:

Hi, Father,
Just wanted to tell you that yesterday's Latin High Mass was such a wonderful spiritual experience for me. God's presence was so evident, and I think the sanctuary was filled with angels watching over us as well.

Thank you for all you do for us. You are a good shepherd. (I hope we aren't too unruly a flock. :-)

ytc said...

You're right, Father. No matter how many people say otherwise, the fact that the OF is a rupture with the EF is fact. Granted, it shouldn't be, but it is. And we just have to get to the enlightened level of not lying to ourselves. Acceptance is the first step to recovery. Liuturgical archaeologism is a stupid lie that ruins everything. I really can't wrap my head around it.

Templar said...

Father let me say that up frnt that having now experienced an OF Mass in latin I can say with honesty that the differences between the OF in Latin and the EF Mass are clearly and plainly evident for anyone who is not a casual observer.

Like your light bulb moment on the rubrics there are things about the EF which I believe make it theologically superior to the OF (Even an OF Mass as we had on Sunday).

Having said all that, I would be one damned happy Catholic if THAT OF Mass were offered in Parishes as a matter of course. I would even be willing to agree to LESS Latin in the Mass provided the unchanging parts remained in Latin.

Well done Father.

PS -- On the way out of Mass I heard another couple, who regularly attend the monthly EF Mass make the statement that they were CONFUSED by the OF Latin Mass, and found it easier to follow the EF Mass. Not a back lash but an interesting comment.

ytc said...

Yes, I've always tried to find an expression to describe the necessity of heavy rubrics. On a conventional level, they are required to guard the supreme dignity of the Mass itself and protect it from abuses and mistakes. However, on a more subliminal level, they allow us to express prayer PHYSICALLY. What is a more beautiful way to compliment "hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam" than to make signs of the cross? Yes, these signs of the cross are a rubric, but more subliminally, they are the physical manifestations of the verbal prayer. I believe that these physical gestures and manifestations of prayer are necessary for a proper Mass experience. The OF is so rubrically emaciated that it is hard for visual people (like myself) to like or appreciate it.

Anddd... I just had a lightbulb moment!

Liturgical dance. Could it be that liturgical dance is sort of the profane, bastardized (using that term in the milder sense) attempt at "beefing up" the OF visually? We often attribute this to "liberal" or "cultural Catholics," but could it simply be some Catholics' attempt at making a more visual liturgy? I think so. Now, I am not defending them; it is still unequivocally inappropriate to dance in the liturgy. However, I can understand (maybe even appreciate?) where they are coming from. It so happens that the people who love liturgical dance so much will usually defend liberal liturgy to the death. But could it be that they themselves are disillusioned with the OF without even realizing it? I think so.

We have to examine the likely sources of rubrics. More often than not, these things probably started as innocent additions to the Mass when priests thought a particular phrase or sentence would benefit by a physical action to enhance its efficacy... And this ties back in with liturgical dance. What is liturgical dance except people thinking a phrase, sentence or passage from the Mass would benefit from a physical action to enhance its efficacy?! So much of the liberal "liturgist's" mindset fits perfectly well with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. Essentially, liturgical dance is a profane (and forbidden, to be sure) attempt at "physicalizing" what the texts of the Mass say in certain parts.

I think this is just one more good argument for stricter and more lavish rubric: even the liberals are trapped on this one!

Btw, this is the discerning 18 year old guy.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thank you discerning 18 year old! As far as liturgical dance goes the EF Mass is the dance--it is carefully choreographed and the movements of priest, deacon and subdeacon and servers quite like a formal dance! It would be redundant to add dance to it!

ytc said...

And that is exactly what I mean. The liturgy itself begs for a "physicalization." The EF already has that built right in. The OF has none of it, and so some people feel the need to add in "physicaliztion," which happens in the form of dance.

Most people who prefer the EF do like the additional rubrics and gestures, and the ones who prefer the OF oftentimes would like to see a more "physicalized" ritual. It ties back to the same attitude: gestures are the physical expression of textual prayers. Since the EF has lavish rubrics built in, it doesn't need anything extra. But since the OF has very little rubrics, it almost begs for dance or something else to be added to it. That is a huge flaw. When going to an OF mass it feels like the priest is just droning on and on and on without any visual breakup, especially in the EP. It is a less stimulating experience, sensually.

Anonymous said...

ytc, Go to a TLM (EF) and watch the 'dance' of the servers. That is almost distracting except it is leading you to focus on what is going on. As far as being confused: My wife reads the missal for the service of the day well before we attend. Then she can follow along with much less effort. This works regardless of the EF/OF as long as you get your head into the respective Liturgy sequence/content. "Liturgical dance" (cf 'Regurgical Dance?') is one example of people trying to impress the Almighty, Creator of the Universe with themselves. Cheap and tacky vestments and a garage band are supposed to be enhanced by a self-absorbed free-form expression? YGTBKM. Take a look at the controversy over the new translation of the Penitential Act. People are still resisting confessing what god already knows. Look at people who love and RESPECT God, they have no trouble supplicating themselves and confessing themselves while arraying the most resplendent settings and clothes. People might say it is the ego that drives this silliness, I think it is the id. You're looking in the right spots, keep it up.

FrAJM, my mother cried when Bubba won, too. She had ten bucks on Tiger....


ytc said...

Yes, I understand what you're saying. However, I think we also have to examine the underlying attitudes behind the rubrical lavishness of the EF and the (highly illicit) practice of liturgical dance in the OF.

Rubrical ceremonies, as Fr. McDonald points out, are the ritual physicalization of textual prayer. Thus the EF is a very physically expressive Mass by itself, and so satisfies visual people like me.

However, the OF is embarrassingly emaciated from lack of rubrical ceremonies. As a result, people who are especially (but not necessarily) visual, some of these people feel it necessary to add things like liturgical dance to the Mass to (in their opinion) make it more physically expressive. Like acting out the Gospel. While I think this is disgusting, I understand and am sentimental to the underlying attitude. It essentially boils down to the fact that the OF is rubrically emaciated and visually un-expressive ITSELF. This is not a problem with how the Mass is performed, but it is a problem with the Form, with the OF Missal itself. It is a problem integral to the Form, almost a ceremonial/liturgical version of the nasty barren modern architecture of the 1960s when it was born. Therefore, liturgical dance is their own compensatory "solution" to this ceremonial emaciation.

I do not condone liturgical dance in any way. I hate it. And I prefer the EF to the OF. However, my point is that if there were more rubrical ceremonies in the OF like there are in the EF, then the driving attitude behind liturgical dance probably wouldn't exist.

Joseph Johnson said...

I'll mention again one more physical act of the priest which reinforces belief in and reverence for the Eucharist: that of the priest keeping his thumbs and index fingers together from the Consecration and Elevation until the Ablutions after Communion.

This action, as far as I know, is part of the EF rubrics and continued with the '65 Missal. I even saw many older priests (such as Msgr. Daniel Bourke) continue to do this well into the Novus Ordo (OF) era when I served Mass as a boy in the 1970's. This action, along with the use of hand patens by servers and careful cleaning of vessels by the priest after Communion, reinforces reverence for, and belief in, the Real Presence.

Pater Ignotus said...

I am glad that Good Fr. McDonald is coming to understand, albeit late in life, what he should have learned in seminary.

Yes, the liturgy is the ritual enactment of the texts of the mass. It is existential theology, if you will. Each move, each gesture, each posture has significance. Keep i mind though, we (humans) are the source of the significance.

The misunderstanding of traditionalists, however, is that moves, gestures, postures are thought to be essential; to be "unchanging" elements of the mass.

They are not. They have evolved over time, changing over and over and over.

The same is true of styles of vesture, music, church decoration. The Scriptural Tradition gives us good insight into the "heavenly liturgy." But the rubrics of the EF, while precise, do not necessarily reflect the eternal liturgy on heaven

ytc said...


Absolutely! This is also a major source of contention for me. I don't understand how priests can conscientiously NOT hold their fingers to their thumbs and NOT use chin patens and use those obscene giant "break a piece off" hosts. All of these things just beg for the sacred specie to be barbarically desecrated. Just think of the pounds of crumbs that could be scraped up from carpeted naves just from not having the thumbs and fingers connected and not using chin patens!

Joseph Johnson said...

Another thing: What about (the priest) walking up to the Sanctuary carrying a veiled chalice (a chalice veiled and corporal folded up inside a burse--"clothed" for transport) and the priest doing so with head covered either by a biretta or by a cowl (if in an order which wears cowled habits under vestments)?

This emphasizes coming in from the outside world and the removal of these items at the altar (or, at its steps, in the case of headgear) symbolizes entry into the Sacred Mystery that is the Mass. Once again, the EF has these things as part of its rubrics while the OF does not require them (although they are not forbidden in the OF, they are seldom seen in that context).

Gene said...

Ignotus/Kavanaugh, The liturgy is not "existential theology." You are, once again, misusing a term.
The rituals, gestures, postures are significant because they point to Christ and only in so far as they point to Christ. We (humans) are not the source of their significance, the thing they signify is the source of their significance. You really don't know what the Hell you are talking about, do you? LOL!

ytc said...

Pater: "They are not. They have evolved over time, changing over and over and over."

Of course they change over time and no real "traditionalist" will disagree. However, they should not change for their own sake, that is, for absolutely no reason other than because they can. What is the sense of that? That is simply becoming a slave to fashion. And rubrics are not fashion like architecture and vestment style are. While they change, they do not (perhaps should not is the better phrase?) change on a whim and for no apparent advantage. So to equivocate these things goes a bit too far, methinks.

Where we get into a problem is in the fact that the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is basically devoid of rubrics. Oh, sure, there are loads of rubrics about this and that calendar conundrum and other random facts in the GIRM. But inter-textual ritual rubrics? Practically none in the OF. The OF is a visually emaciated liturgy. It is so boring to see a priest stare at a book for ten minutes reciting some "Eucharistic Prayer" in a didactic rant without any visual breakup except for the consecration.

The OF can probably be considered in line with the EF as far as the texts of the Order of Mass are concerned. But ritually? Absolutely not. Completely different species, and the OF cannot be simply called a "development." It is a devolution, a slave to selective archaeologism.

Henry said...

"The misunderstanding of traditionalists, however, is that moves, gestures, postures are thought to be essential; to be "unchanging" elements of the mass."

No one, traditionalist or otherwise, believes this.

Resort to a straw man like this reveals insufficient knowledge of the subject to frame a factual comment or sensible argument.

Gene said...

BTW, speaking of golf. Let's reform golf to make it a man's sport. I suggest the following changes:
1. 100 yard dash to each tee. Winner shoots first and from shorter distance.

2. Must break through a defensive line on the fairway to hit next shot. You get three tries or you are eliminated.

3. Must box one three-minute round to putt. Winner gains a stroke.

4. Eighteenth hole has beautiful maiden chained to a stake and guarded by really mean pit bulls in cages. If you make your putt in par, you get the girl and the dogs stay in their cages. If not...well, there are EMT's and a Priest on stand by...

Other interesting suggestions:

Rough is mined.
Water hazards have crocodiles sunning around them.
One sand trap has several Desert Sand Vipers in it. You get to guess which one.

This would vastly improve an utterly boring spectacle. Ratings would soar, and it would pander nicely to the grisly, voyeuristic mindset of most of today's TV viewers. Win/Win

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin - God did not give us multiple signs of the cross, double genuflections, lace-trimmed albs, the use of the pall to cover the chalice, Gregorian chant, Latin, etc.

These are of our (human) devising. We (humans) chose to include these in the liturgy and we (humans) can choose to liturgize without them.

The rubrics are not of Divine origin. If they were, then you have to explain why God prefers the use of maniples over the non-use thereof. Good luck.

Gene said...

Ignotus/Kavanaugh, You miss the point again. But, rather than repeat myself, let's look at it this way.
You are saying, essentially, that our gestures, rubrics, etc. are arbitrary, that is, they have no theological/Christological or revealed significance. There is no theologically "essential" reason for them; we may change them as we please based upon, perhaps, cultural changes, secular interests, social fads, or whatever. Now, I am not speaking of what you mean to say, I am speaking of the implications of your statement.

So, based upon this arbitrariness and your belief that there is nothing really essential about these gestures, rubrics, vestments, etc. I suggest the following:

At Sunday Mass, you should show up in overalls over a Grateful Dead t-shirt and wearing a John Deere cap and hip waders. You should process down the aisle behind a Georgia Bulldogs banner instead of a Crucifix, and the Deacon should be holding up a Playboy magazine instead of the Gospel. Instead of kneeling at the foot of the altar, do a back flip. When it comes time to distribute the elements, instead of having everyone receive in their hand or on the tongue, have them stand with their mouths open a few feet away and try to ring their mouths with the Host. Let them sip the Precious Blood throuigh a straw. Instead of the sign of the Cross, use the "Z" of Zorro throughout the Mass. Hell, it really doesn't matter as long as your "intention" is correct, right? I mean, God can use anything as a vehicle for His grace, so why not let the good times roll? Why, I'll bet he could even use graphic sex conducted in the pews if we meant it in a humanistic and genuine way...right? So, what the Hell? Oh, I have a gesture for you...but I mean it in a really sacramental way...God understands. LOL!

Gene said...

Now, Ignotus, regarding the origins of the gestures, rubrics, etc. I disagree with your humanistic/modernist view that these things are merely arbitrarily devised human gestures that may be changed as desired.

You may remember, if you have read the OT recently, how detailed were God's instructions to Israel with regard to the building of the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle, the Temple, and with regard to the Levitical Priesthood. You may remember the details of the proprieties of the Sacrifice, the preparation of the Offering, and the rituals of the Priestly office. You might also remember the prophetic acts and their peculiar behaviors and details.
These things were instituted by the Word of Jahweh and by the responses of the Priests and the Israelite people. They were not arbitrary (unless, of course, you do not believe the OT is the Word of God but merely a human document). You also learn from Leviticus that God appreciates and encourages rubrics. So, God has long accustomed His people to such devotional gestures and rubrics.

Now, the Church recapitulates in Her worship the worship of Israel (in fact, someone has said that, if Jesus were to return today, the only things He would recognize are the Catholic Church and the Jewish Synagogue). The Church believes that God has continued to speak, and continues to speak, through the Magisterium and the Popes...that means that the gestures, vestments, and rubrics which you so disdain have evolved organically through the Magisterium in response to the Word of God. They are not merely arbitrary and subject to whim or misguided philosophical fads.

I would argue (not here) that the proper gestures and rubrics of the Church over the centuries are reflective of "right belief" and that right belief and right worship are inseparably united.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin - You miss the point again. I am not saying nor am I implying that rubrics are "arbitrary." They are not "based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system."

Plainly the gestures codified in the rubrics are not random nor are they based on personal whim. And just as plainly, there are reasons why these gestures, and not others, have been included in the rubrics.

Plainly the rubrics are not unchangeable, since, in fact, they have been changed many times over the centuries.

And drinking the Precious Blood through a straw - a golden one encusted with emeralds - was a rarely used practice in some papal liturgies. The practice has been suppressed.

Anonymous said...

"God did not give us multiple signs of the cross, double genuflections, lace-trimmed albs, the use of the pall to cover the chalice, Gregorian chant, Latin, etc."

True, though I doubt that anyone alive believes that He gave these to us. Rather, we give them to Him--in the sense that they are visible signs of our adoration and reverence.

Anonymous said...

"Plainly the rubrics are not unchangeable, since, in fact, they have been changed many times over the centuries."

Indeed. And I think the point to this post is that rubrical changes in recent decades have contributed significantly to a loss of liturgical belief and awareness among priests as well as laity.

Gene said...

Ignotus, What, then, is the reason that these gestures and not orhers are used? Upon what are the traditional gestures and rubrics based?
Now, the fact that the rubrics and gestures may have evolved over time does not argue for or necessitate change. The Church's logic has been internally consistent and purposive...and sometimes it may have been wrong.

Henry, I actually think it is proper to say that these rubrics and gestures come to us from God through the Church and the Magisterium. If you reference my above post on the Priesthood of the OT, I think there is a very good basis for saying so. And yes, as you say, these gestures do become signs of our obedience and adoration of Him. The initiative is from God, our's is the response of obedience. Also, if the gestures and rubrics change, they should only do so if the Pope and the Magisterium, in fear and trembling, believe the initiative is from God.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Henry - It has been asserted here (and in my other places) by traditionalists that Quo Primum (Pius V, 1570) is binding "in perpetuity" and, therefore, the rubrics of the mass CANNOT be changed and no priest can ever be made to celebrate a mass except according to the 1570 rubrics.

Those who make this assertion are simply wrong. I would suggest that those who make this assertion have little or no understanding of 1) the history and evolution of the liturgy, 2) the correct interpretation and application of ecclesial legislative texts, and 3) the authority granted to the Church to change the liturgy (see canon 838).

That rubrics have changed does not mean that they MUST change again, but that they can change again. Anyone who has studied the liturgy knows that the rubrics have changed, many, many times, over the centuries. That, to me, is a pretty good indication that they will continue top change over time because, like language, liturgy is analogical.

The notion that God has bothered to reveal to us that chalice veils should be used in mass is absurd.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

In terms of the validity of the Mass in any officially accepted form, I would hope that everyone who reads this blog and comments on it does not question the validity of the Mass. Certainly certain practices in any official form of the Mass can be questioned as to whether it is good or bad. The silent canon and mumbled Latin words is legitimate to critique and wonder if vernacular and the canon out loud isn't better. Or that the OF Mass is too casual about rubrics and reverence and that it might be better to recover what was thrown out. Much of this is about taste and ideas of reverence and there is legitimate diversity there, but to call something invalid or that those who desire what is now called the EF don't have a valid need. That would be wrong.

Gene said...

Ignotus, no one that I know of is saying that the rubrics cannot be changed. The concern is the motivation for the change and the theology behind it.