Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Yes, while on vacation I celebrated Mass at my former parish in Augusta, Georgia, the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, established on the same land in 1810! The new Church was begun in 1857 and completed in 1863, during the height of the Civil War or the War Between the States depending on where you live. At the time, it was the only Catholic Church in Augusta up until about the 1870's when Sacred Heart Church was built six blocks away. It was merged back into Most Holy Trinity in 1970 and the building sold in 1986 to become a secular culture/reception hall, the "Great Hall" of the Sacred Heart Cultural Center as it is now called.

But I digress. On both weekends I was tempted to no end to introduce myself (or reintroduce myself) to those who know me, or don't recognize me anymore and to those who are new since I departed on June 30, 2004.

In the past and to a certain extent today when I feel there is a need, after the liturgical greeting, I would indicate a few things and would have had no problem telling people who I was and that it is great to be back, etc. on and on, blah, blah, blah.

But the gravitation pull of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass has become so great on me, this is how I began the Mass the last two Sundays at Most Holy Trinity (these were different Mass times):

Fr. McDonald: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
All: Amen.

Fr. McDonald: The Lord be with you.
Response: And with your Spirit. (and by unanimous acclamation!)

Fr. McDonald: Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins so as to prepare ourselves to celebrate the Sacred Mysteries.

(pause for silence)

All: I confess...

Fr. McDonald: May almighty God have mercy....




It was not until the homily that I introduce or reintroduced myself to everyone. Oh, the anticipation!

The only reason I did not do this self disclosure at the introduction of the Mass is because of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass where this would simply be impossible to do.

Could you imagine the priest after the singing of the the Official Introit, or better yet, before the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, turning to the congregation and saying,"Good morning folks, I'm your long lost former pastor. I was here from 1991 to 2004 when I was named pastor of St. Joseph Church in Macon. I'm so happy to be with you all again. I know, my hair is gotten gray and I'm a bit heavier now than I was. I hope you still recognize me though. Well, it's great to be here, so let us get back to the Mass!

Then I would turn and pray the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, or if I delayed it until after the chanting of the Introit, I would turn back to the altar for the Kyrie.

Wouldn't that disrupt the unity and flow of the Extraordinary Mass? No one would even think of doing such a thing at an EF Mass, but how often has the time after the Greeting of the OF Mass been turned into the most secular, narcissistic time for announcements, introductions, etc and ad nauseum?

The worst offenders are papal Masses, and Masses with hoards of concelebating bishops and priests. Supposedly the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar were eliminated so as to make the sprint from the Greeting to the Liturgy of the Word more quickly since the Liturgy of the Word is the "meat" of the first part of the Mass, not the long, tedious lead up to it in the EF Mass.

But then we substitute the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar with a lenghty explanation of the purpose of the Mass, who's who of the Mass and maybe a mini-sermon on the readings and anything else of secular interest sometimes lasting up to 10 minutes. The recent close of the Fortnight of Prayer in Washington had Cardinal Wurel asking everyone to be seated prior to the sign of the Cross for a 20 minute pep rally of introductions and self-congratulations.

Folks, the OF Mass does not indicate a time of bantering after the Greeting. The rubrics say to the priest to say the following only:

Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins so as to prepare ourselves to celebrate the Sacred Mysteries.

Nothing else need be said and then the Penitential Act takes places using one of the too many options that are allowed.


Gene said...

Thank you, Fr. Once again, we are reminded that we are the vessels and not the Treasure...

Marc said...

Father, my guess is not that most priests make introductory remarks in an effort to be subversive or do anything wrong. I hypothesize that many simply do not spend very much time thinking about the liturgy.

That, in itself, seems rather odd to me considering the priest is ordained to offer Mass and forgive sins (and of course save his own soul) - everything else is pretty much extraneous to that or part of that mission. I think some priests have forgotten the simplicity of their mission and lost focus. They need our prayers.

Henry Edwards said...

Every priest I've seen learn the TLM afresh has been visibly affected in his celebration of the OF and, indeed, in his demeanor as a priest. As Father Z says, a priest celebrating the TLM learns what he is about when he as a priest offering the Holy Sacrifice in persona Christi, and this new self-appreciation and consciousness of his sacrificial role cannot fail to carry over into his celebration of the OF also.

As much as I wish a general restoration of the TLM were feasible to rescue the faith as a whole, I realize that the principal motivation of Summorum Pontificum must have been to rescue the OF for the masses via this one-way "mutual enrichment" of priests, one at a time, retrofitting them with the priestly formation that was not provided in the seminaries of the 70s and 80s.

Pater Ignotus said...

The presumption that priests who offer the OF do not understand that they is offering a sacrifice or that they is acting "in persona Christi" or that they has a "sacrificial role" is malarkey.

Those who, with little or no knowledge of the hearts and minds of priests, make such absurd statements, need our prayers.

If a priest fails to understand his role then he paid little or no attention in seminary (his own fault) or he has failed to continue his education by reading (again, his own fault).

Henry Edwards said...

The presumption that priests who offer the OF do not understand that they is offering a sacrifice or that they is acting "in persona Christi" or that they has a "sacrificial role" is malarkey.

Would that it were! But we certainly agree that it's a serious fault when a priest fails to fill gaps in his seminary preparation by constant study thereafter.

Whereas I've heard priests boast of not having read a book (other than liturgically) since ordination, I know that any professional scientist will tell you that almost all he knows was learned after receipt of the Ph.D.

Anonymous said...

No one made that presumption except you, Fr. Kavanaugh. I think maybe you read an ill intent into Henry's post that wasn't intended.

I agree with you that priests can understand their role of offering the Mass and forgiving sins equally well in both Rites. Of course, I think the TLM is more conducive to that and for the people to understand the priest's role. But, that is a different conversation. Since you brought it up, I also think many reforms have adversely affected priestly education, but that too is a different topic.


John Nolan said...

GIRM 50."After the greeting of the people, the priest, the deacon, or a lay minister may very briefly introduce the faithful to the Mass of the day".

Cue: Good morning, everybody; fa
cetious remarks about the weather or the football results; a mini-homily on the readings you are going to hear, which since they are in the vernacular you can understand anyway, and I'm going to expand on them in my main homily by which time you will have switched off entirely; I realize that the OF is so attenuated that unless it is padded out in this ridiculous way it will be over in less than a quarter of an hour ...

Yawn, yawn. Next Sunday I attend a Low Mass in the EF. Since the propers, including the epistle and gospel are in Latin, I read them up in advance, since although my Latin isn't bad, I don't think I can comprehend everything read at conversational speed. As a result I can tell you afterwards what the readings were about. My daily missal also has a lengthy and scholarly commentary on the readings, and also links them to the Office of the day, and since I don't recite the Office this is useful.

I recite the responses sotto voce with the server, since I learned them 53 years ago at the age of eight. I am not lectured to, patronized, or treated like a child (when I was a child I was flattered to be allowed to participate in something so obviously grown-up as the Mass).

I don't doubt that the OF, as a rite authorized by Rome and celebrated daily by the Holy Father, is valid. However, I only attend it if I have a reasonable expectation that I will not be irritated by sloppy celebration and bad music, which means that 90 percent of parish masses are off limits. Obligation works both ways.

Henry Edwards said...

Hardly a day goes by without a comment somewhere by a priest as to how learning the EF has newly informed his celebration of the OF. Such as this one

by an ordinary parish priest (in Ohio) whose previous comments have made clear that his primary devotion is to the OF (so far as I know, he has not yet celebrated a public EF Mass). He says:

It is certainly true that becoming familiar with the Extraordinary Form affects a priest’s ars celebrandi–so it has been in my case. . . . In any case, while I make (very) slow progress learning the older form, it has helped my approach to the Mass in the ordinary form. And a funny thing has happened. More and more, folks are thanking me: “for a beautiful Mass” or for “celebrating a reverent Mass.” . . . The thanks, I think, are less about my skill, but the light that shines rather strikingly if only one doesn’t get in the way.

I suspect that any priest unaware of this phenomenon is simply unfamiliar with what's happening among more and more of his fellow priests.

Marc said...

John and Henry, I really enjoy reading both of your posts on this blog. Once again, you have both made excellent posts.

Thank you.

Gene said...

So, Ignotus, you are saying there is no excuse for your progressivist nonsense...

Henry Edwards said...

In the past and to a certain extent today when I feel there is a need, after the liturgical greeting, I would indicate a few things and would have had no problem telling people who I was

Isn't it shocking to realize how the OF virtually constrains the priest, however well-intentioned he is, to think "it's all about me", to feel that he must interrupt the liturgy to say something about himself, as though the people had come to focus on him, rather than on God.

Whereas the EF priest is taught to sacrifice himself and completely submerge his own individuality in the liturgy, so that the people see Christ rather than himself when they look toward the altar.

John Nolan said...

In the EF when the priest turns to the congregation at the Dominus vobiscum he keeps his eyes lowered. His gestures, prescribed in detail by the rubrics, are restrained. The OF is too obviously "in yer face", to use a vulgar expression common on this side of the pond. This ars nova celebrandi has its origins in the 1960s with the introduction of the vernacular and versus populum celebration, and was as irritating then as it is now.

Bishops seem to feel it necessary to smile a lot, presumably in order not to appear too remote from their flock. His Lordship can be as affable as he likes before and after Mass, but let's have more dignity and reverence during the celebration itself.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I've also noticed that the blessings which a bishop is suppose to give during his recessional at the end of Mass as he walks down the aisle is being replaced by waving and glad handing as though the bishop was a politician or celebrity. It is all so very sad to see and for them who should know better to carry on in such a way.