Friday, August 17, 2012


When I was a young adult, around 17 years old, I always loved reading the Catholic newspapers my home parish in Augusta would provide. There were three, The National Catholic Register, Our Sunday Visitor and one other which I can't remember now, similar to the Visitor. We were also provided later with Catholic Update.

Later in the seminary I became aware of the ultra liberal, post Catholic, National Catholic Reporter and its mirror image the ultra conservative, reactionary Wanderer. I never read the Wanderer for I found it acrimonious and mean spirited, but I loved the National Catholic Reporter because its articles were written in a "hard news" style and you got a lot of news especially what was happening in the "developing post Catholic" part of the Church.

At the time in the late 1970's and 80's I thought the post Catholic ethos would rule the day even from the Vatican. That shows you how fallible I was and the NCR crowd was/is. As an aside, our former bishop, Raymond W. Lessard asked priests not to provide either the Wanderer or the National Catholic Reporter in parish churches. In a conversation with the famous Scripture Scholar, Fr. Raymond Brown in the 1990's, I asked him what he thought of the National Catholic Reporter and he told me directly, "It's a rag!" with his emphasis on "rag!" Fr. Brown was well ahead of Fr. Z who refers to it as the National Catholic Fishwrap, which it is except for their reporter John Allen who is decent!

But back to the normal, more orthodox and sensible newspapers of my wonderful youth.

I can remember reading articles in these newspapers in the early 1970's where some of the columnist, like Fr. Robert Fox and Joseph Breig would raise the alarm about what was happening in the Church in general and the Mass in particular. Read the following from the "History of Our Sunday Visitor during this time:

[Early on, the Second Vatican Council convoked by Pope John XXIII had been the source of high hopes, as reported in numerous articles in Our Sunday Visitor. A reader poll found that 60 percent of the paper's readers favored having the Mass in English. Hopes ran high with an upbeat mood as each new Council decree was reported.

Even the death of the Pope on June 3, 1963, had been the occasion for rejoicing about his accomplishments. Wrote Joseph Breig: "John XXIII made Catholics feel completely at home with their fellow man of other faiths. He made the laity realize that they had a voice and status in the Church that was their right. He relaxed tensions among Catholics themselves, making Catholics aware that they were not alone in possessing truth."
(MY COMMENT HERE: This first optimistic paragraph sets the stage for all that will go wrong when simple truths are exaggerated and the Catholic truth become just one amongst many other "truths" and even Jesus Christ will be questioned as to whether or not He is the universal Messiah with others in other religions!) Back to the article:

But what had begun in high hopes soon disintegrated into an atmosphere of factionalism and discontent. One writer asked, "Is this the Church of joy or of anger?" Catholics used to a lifetime of unchanging security suddenly faced numerous changes: Mass was no longer in Latin, the priest now faced the people, old hymns were abandoned in favor of folk Masses. Our Sunday Visitor wavered from whole-hearted endorsement of the renewal in the Church to questioning the direction such renewal was taking. It initially endorsed the anticommunist crusade against Vietnam, then turned against that ugly little war. It experienced a decline in readership as it alternately alienated the traditional and liberal Catholic reader.

On July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical forbidding artificial contraception. Overnight, birth control became the hottest issue of debate among Catholics. Our Sunday Visitor supported the Pope's decision; columnists asked why dissenting theologians should still be teaching at Catholic universities and seminaries.

The late 1960s witnessed the low-point for the Church in the United States: priests and sisters by the thousands left their ministry; the number of converts plummeted; vocations began to decline at an alarming rate; disagreement was widespread over whether priests and Religious should be involved in politics. Catechetical materials seemed to abandon much of the traditional faith, a development Our Sunday Visitor decried openly in print.]

Returning to my meme and comments:

It was the late 1960's and 70's that saw all of the above taking place after a Council that brought so much excitement and hope for a truly Catholic moment that would enable the Church to conquer the world with Christ's love. The greatest excitement, at least 60 percent of the Catholic liked was the vernacular liturgy. But they wanted the Liturgy of the Tridentine period in the vernacular and that is what we got to begin with, although the Liturgical Movement of the 1950's also wanted the Mass facing the people so the people could see what the priest was doing and make the "meal" aspect more intelligible.

And the vernacular Liturgy would make the Mass more intelligible to non-Catholics and spur more converts for the Church; it would aid in the evangelization of the world.

That well may have happened if the Tridentine Liturgy, with its strict rubrics and embrace of the truly beautiful in art and architecture had remained along with the pre-Vatican II ecclesiology but adapted to call the laity as well as the clergy to holiness. (This would have prevented the wholesale iconoclasm or destruction of traditional sanctuaries and churches built prior to the Council and new ones that were built afterward.) But once the door was open to change and Vatican II's documents written in an ambiguous, general way that allowed for exaggerated interpretations, even Pope Paul VI endorsed his committee's decision to revamp the Mass, dumb it down, allow for wholesale experimentation and inculturation with little or no central Roman authority. It left it to the local dioceses (Churches) and their bishops to carry out the reforms based on experimentation. And that is when the Church suffered division and fragmentation. Not only was the Mass different from diocese to the diocese but radically different from parish to parish, even parishes next door! And then the priesthood was dumbed down or "laicized" and the "priesthood of all the Baptized" elevated "clericalizing" the laity! This is the "spirit of Vatican II" ecclesiology that so disrupted the liturgy too as well as the life of the Diocese and the local parish!

The loss of the sense of reverence and sacredness did not come from the vernacular to begin with. It came from the loss of the Tridentine Mass rubrics, chant, ethos and quiet, austere, sober, appreciation for the action of God in the Mass. (God as Actor?)The second translation of the "dumbed down" Mass in the 1970 Missal did dumb down the English and dramatically so, causing the loss of the sacred content of words, Catholic liturgical spirituality and devotion, but this has been corrected in the revised English Mass.

Coupled with this was the poor catechesis that ensued that blinded new generations to the truths of the Mass and eroded the Tridentine roots of well formed pre-Vatican II Catholics into becoming something quite different than what they were prior to the Council and this difference was far from good and holy for many. They lost their Catholic identity and handed on that loss to their children and their children's children. And that's the way it is!

The reform of the reform based upon continuity with the council means returning to the basics of the pre-Vatican II Church in the areas of faith and morals, as well as personal discipline and the building up of the unity of the Church based on the acceptance of the faith and morals of the Church.

But it also means returning the Liturgy to the Tridentine spirituality and reverence. This can happen even if the vernacular stays and I believe today even more than 60% of Catholics would not want the return to an exclusively Latin Mass, but if they experienced the reverence of the Tridentine form of the Mass in English, they would embrace it wholeheartedly, at least 60% of them would!

Let me reiterate the only thing that needs to be done. The 2002 Typical Edition of the Roman Missal which we have in the 2012 English Translation of the Missal only needs to have the following changes made to the Order of the Mass and and the reconstitution of the rubrics of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass:

1. Prayers at the Foot of the Altar but eliminating the double Confiteor only (in other words it is recited by priest and laity together).
2. Introit (Gregorian Chant in Latin or English for this, as well as the Offertory and Communion Antiphons, mandatory).
3. Kyrie
4. Gloria
5. Collect (preceded by the sacred greeting "the Lord be with you" or the other options, no banal or secular greetings or introductions allowed).

6. Liturgy of the Word as it is in the Ordinary Form, with the option of the traditional Gradual and the addition of the Tridentine Lectionary for year A, the others becoming B, C, D

7. Credo
8. Prescribe Universal Litany which is brief with maybe one or two other options, but brief and very general

9. Offertory Procession (optional as it is currently in the OF)
10. Traditional Offertory Prayers
11. Roman Canon with traditional Rubrics required for Sundays and Solemnities, other Eucharistic Prayers for weekday, funerals, weddings and lesser feasts and recited in a low but audible voice
12. The Rite of Holy Communion beginning with the "Our Father" as it is currently in the Ordinary Form, but kneeling for Holy Communion by way of host only or by intinction only. The only Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should be well trained and installed "Acolytes" who are vested either in Alb or Cassock and Surplice and assist as altar servers!
13. The Final Blessing and Dismissal after the quiet recitation of the "Placeat" and the Last Gospel only for the Low Mass, not the Chanted or Sung Mass.
14. The Roman Calendar needs only a minor adaptation to make it like the Anglican Ordinariate Calendar that returns Ember Days, the Season of Septuagesima prior to Lent and the Octave of Pentecost and Sundays after Epiphany for winter's Ordinary Time and Sundays after Pentecost/Trinity for spring, summer and fall's Ordinary Time. It is easily done without changing the Roman Missal or the lectionary at all.

It does not take a liturgist or a rocket scientist to get things back on track!


Jake said...

Like your revision of the order of the Mass. A couple questions of points you did not mention:

Would you supress holding hands and/or lay orans during the Our Father?

Would you supress the "protestant" part of the Our Father?

Would you supress the handshake of peace?

Jake said...

One more thing. In the old unofficial English hand missal translations of the TLM, "per omnia saecula saeculorum" is translated as "world without end". But the official OF English currently is "forever and ever", which frankly sounds a little childish to me. Would you keep "forever and ever" or restore "world without end" for the English translation?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I'm not a Latin Scholar or a translator scholar, although I prefer literal translations of any original language (within linguistic reason) so that the culture and meaning of the original is somehow communicated in the other language. So as for "forever and ever" verses "world without end" it seems to me that "world without end" might be miscontrued as this world, or the worldly which will come to an end, but the new heavens and the new earth won't, so I think I prefer "forever and ever." As for the sign of peace, it has its place in the Solemn Sung EF Mass, but is entirely clerical, but can be passed to other, and it would not trouble me if we had it in a revised Mass in any form as long as it is properly and soberly expressed and in the Roman way.

In terms of laity's body postures, I think it is wrong to ask anyone to hold hands. What I did when I came to this parish was to tell people that hand-holding during liturgical prayer is not of our tradition. But beside that, many feel as though their personal space is invaded when a stranger offers his hand, say to a young attractive woman, etc. I said that if one plans to hold hands it should be only with their immediate family and no one should foist this on to anyone else. But I don't think we can forbid something like this or become preoccupied with a non Catholic, but traditional piety that some have embraced.
The orans position I don't get too excited about and think it is far superior to the hand hold, as long as hands are not raised high in the air as charismatics do which I find more offensive the liturgical setting for songs, prayers, etc.

Henry Edwards said...

Fr. McDonald, your program seems on target, with the usual disclaimer about the inch-deep-mile-wide OF lectionary, with its emphasis on instruction rather than a call to holiness, largely lacking both the beautiful OT wisdom readings on many weekdays in the EF, and the "hard" NT moral readings on Sundays.

However, it does seem to me that most of your fourteen points deal with the texts and order of the Mass, rather than in its ceremony and ritual that really embody the sacrality of the EF.

Although not fully satisfactory, I suspect that simply adopting the mandatory EF rubrics while retaining the OF text and order--but with no substitutions (e.g. songs) permitted--would do more to restore the sacrality of the liturgy. In particular, it's puzzling that that you did not mention ad orientem celebration, whose abandonment surely was the hole in the dike that let loose the flood of disintegration.

Henry Edwards said...

The prevalent sense of saecula ss age (time, temporal) rather than as world (space, locale)--although context can indicate the latter--so "per omnia saecula saeculorum" arguably is better translated as "for all ages of ages", a I believe the Orthodox do. To which "forever and ever" is perhaps pretty close.

As an aside, Fr. McDonald, whereas you don't claim enlightenment until the 1990s, wouldn't you say that the devastation was as clear by the mid 1970s as it is now?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Henry, I'm advocating the EF's Order of Mass, ceremony, and rubrics, including ad orientem or at least the Benedictine altar arrangement for the texts of the 2002 Typical Edition Latin Missal as well as its translation into English in the current 2012 Roman Missal in English. That should solve all the problems while even keeping English.

Yes, there were many prophets in the late 1960's as well as the 1970's who knew something was rotten in Denmark as it concerned the implementation of the documents of Vatican II and its resulting "spirit." Many were lammenting and quickly what was discarded and horrified at the number of clergy and religious abandoning their vocations and vows and the plummeting of new vocations and so quickly too after Vatican II. That the Holy Father and intelligent bishops and priests at the time did not put two and two together and realize the old adage that the Law of Prayer is the Law of Belief especially as it concerned the highest form of prayer in the Church, the Mass, the other Sacraments and the Liturgy of the Hours and the devotions that flowed from these, is astounding and does indeed indicated the intoxicating "smoke of Satan" that enter the Church and the blinded the eyes of so many who did not stand up to what was happening. Except for his horrible act of disobedience to the pope in ordaining bishops against the pope's direct orders not to, Archbishop Lefebrev could easily have been canonized a saint in the same category as St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis of Assisi and Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint John of the Cross. Alas he is more like Martin Luther but in a different way of course.

Henry Edwards said...

My point was that, by the mid 1970s, one did not need to be a prophet predicting the devastation that would result, because it had already happened. I personally believe this was clear to all who had not made contrary career commitments or formed other allegiances, including (as I understand private reports) Pope Paul VI himself.

As for Ab. Lefebvre, I would certainly need to be a prophet to predict his eventual canonization--as the slender thread by which God in His inscrutable ways chose to hang the preservation of the traditional liturgy to form a model for the new liturgy--but numerous saints now canonized were disobedient in their times.

Disciplinary disobedience may not be the least of sins, but it is far from the worst. It may be one whose consequence is more important, e.g, whether it was destruction in the case of Luther, or preservation in the case of Lefebvre.

Militia Immaculata said...

Sorry, but I just gotta say -- I love the Wanderer! I don't find it mean-spirited at all. It doesn't sugar-coat things, but in this day and age, where there are dangers to the faith galore, one can't afford to sugar-coat anything.

Henry Edwards said...

Fr. McDonald: As for the substance of your proposals (of all things), it's my understanding that in Vatican II's discussions of allowing the vernacular--at least in some parts and circumstances, if not universally as rapidly happened--the possibility of a vernacular Canon was never mentioned or envisioned. I suspect that most are now on auto-pilot now during the audible vernacular Eucharistic prayer, most not even consciously noticing which EP is being used, or the beautiful new translation of it.

I suspect return of a Latin-only canon is necessary to reinculcate a sense of mystery and reverence as well as awe and respect for this most awesome part of the Mass. And this would encourage the use of hand missals or missalettes to follow it. As did most who were serious in pre-Vatican II days, and as do most who attend the TLM today--they being self-selected and interested, whereas in the old days everyone attended whether interested or not.

I think missals are vital for serious liturgical devotion because in forty years of teaching I learned that most people absorb little of what they only hear in TV-viewer fashion, it goes in one ear and out the other. Instead, most (though not all) primarily learn visually, by taking notes and studying, by following along in a book, etc.

So, how about as the OF norm (with exceptions allowed): the fixed parts of the Mass (including the EP) always in Latin, but with vernacular more frequently allowed for the Ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria, etc.), the variable prayers (propers) usually in the vernacular, and of course the readings always in the vernacular.

Don't you think that this amount of vernacular--more than most Masses the pope models--would satisfy most of those who'd not be comfortable with all-Latin Masses?

Joseph Johnson said...

I've always wondered why we don't just stop using Missalettes altogether and simply save that money for parishes. They could make a once every few years investment in hard-cover hymnals (many of which have the Ordinary in the front, such as Adoremus). The people could be encouraged to purchase their own personal hand Missals (maybe from the parish book/gift shop--actually making a little money for the parish, possibly).

Baptists are well-known for carrying their often well-worn personal Bibles to church. Why can't Catholics be asked to take such personal responsibility (as they did in pre-Novus Ordo days) and purchase and remember to bring their own Missals?

A third benefit of this plan would be to remove the main "delivery device" (sorry, as a part-time prosecutor, I think of it like a crack pipe--a drug delivery device)for the "bad music," that being the OCP, GIA, WLP Haugen/Haas peddling missalettes which put the choice of this horrible music in our parishes in the first place.

Visitor said...

8. Prescribe Universal Litany which is brief with maybe one or two other options, but brief and very general

I'm curious why no one has ever suggested such a thing, but why not simply adopt the Orthodox "Great Litany" or "Litany of Fervent Supplication", as found here? Something unchanging and comprehensive.

In fact, to my understanding of the rubrics, there's nothing at all preventing this from being used for the Prayer of the Faithful. So why hasn't this ever been put forward?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Visitor, those litanies are great, and why in the world we allow some of the most horrible ones that we can come up with is beyond me.

Don said...

Father, I am not an expert, so I may be off base, but after reading your proposal for revising the OF Order of the Mass, it seems like it would essentially be the 1965 Missal.

Also, may I add that while I agree with your idea of only having Roman Canon for Sundays and Holy Days, for weekdays I think you could have only EP2 and EP3 as optional. EP4 should be supressed. Why? Well, in my entire life, which is long enough to experience the OF from the beginning, I don't recall ever hearing EP4. I don't think any priest uses it, so why continue to have it as an option?

I hope the very first thing to go into effect within, hopefully the next few months via Cardinal Burke, is the supression of the Penitintial Rite's form b and c.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

There are other Eucharistic Prayers, two for Reconciliation and four others for various needs. I see no problem in suppressing #4.