Monday, December 3, 2012


Does your parish Mass in the Ordinary Form look anything like this Ordinary Form Mass? If not, why not? Is there anything wrong with this? Of course you can't tell who the celebrant is and that might disappoint those who have their favorite priest or bishop to look at, because in this image, you really can't tell who the celebrant is, it could be anyone in the world, maybe even the pope, but who knows? Of course those who appreciate the anonymity of the human priest in this awesome style of the Mass get it!

I know I live in a vacuum and that what we do at St. Joseph Church in Macon may well be extraordinary when compared to most Catholic parishes in the USA. And what we do I think is very main-line, nothing really radical. We are reform of the reform but not to the extreme. We sing traditional hymns from the traditional St. Michael Hymnal, with thee and thous in the traditional hymns no less, but I wouldn't say that we are on the cutting edge of having an all chanted Mass in English, although our Extraordinary Form High Mass once a month is all chanted and marvelously so.

We've been making the Mass at St. Joseph as solemn as possible, all are sung and two are completely sung. There is no Low Sunday Mass here. But we have active participation both internally and externally, we have boys and girls serving, men and women reading and men and women Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

Apart from implementing the new English translation smoothly and with absolutely no fuss and I mean absolutely no fuss, and this in a parish that is very eclectic with multinationals, people for whom English is a second language and from all over the country too, we have done only five things that are what some would consider radical, but nonetheless permitted by the Church and both which the Holy Father has observed and modeled.

The first is that we offer Holy Communion at four of our five weekend Masses by way of intinction. This means that the Ordinary or Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion "dip" the Host into the Precious Blood and say to the communicant, "The Body and Blood of Christ." The Holy Father has done this on a number of high solemnities. However, we have written instructions which indicate that if one wishes to receive in the hand, one must make that clear to the minister prior to the Host being intincted.

The second is that we have provided kneelers for those who wish to take the exception to the norm of standing in the USA to receive Holy Communion. No one is forced to either stand or kneel, it is the choice of the communicant to observe the USA norm or to take the exception and to do the exception comfortably. Of course the Holy Father mandates that communicants in his line kneel at the kneeler, nothing unusual here.

The third is that our Ordinary Form 12:10 PM Sung Mass is now being celebrated "ad orientem" for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The parts of the Mass from the priest's chair remain at the chair. I asked for constructive criticism or advice from the congregation. Everyone who offered me their opinion except one were all very positive about it. The one who was negative normally does not attend that Mass but wanted to see it to offer an opinion to me.

The fourth is that we have for the past three years had the cantor chant the official Introit prior to the processional hymn as well as the Offertory and Communion antiphons. I would like to see us move in the direction of a more solemn way of singing this with a schola or choir at least at two of our Masses.

The fifth is that we celebrate the EF High Mass monthly and on other occasions and have it as a low Mass each Tuesday at 5:00 PM.

Of course we have an extraordinarily beautiful church which is very ornate and a beatiful free-standing altar that compliments the older altars in the church. We hope to restore the altar railing within the next year or so.

Now, compare this to the following written at the Shazamaholic Blog yesterday. I wonder too, now that we only have about 25% of Catholics attending Mass regularly, if a good percentage of them who don't feel like Jimmy Fallon:

Well, its been a whole year since the new English translation of the Roman Missal has been promulgated. I can neither say it has been a success nor a failure. The rebellion against the translation the critics on the left were hoping for never happened. The vast majority accepted the new English words with nary a kick or a scream. Yet, there hasn't been a fundamental change in the way Mass is celebrated in the typical parish, either. Despite the new words, there are still the stripped down sanctuaries, with tiny wood altars that look like dining room tables. There is still the hand holding, the banal Broadway show tune Mass Settings and adult contemporary hymns that celebrate people while ignoring all things mystical and spiritual. In the typical parish, mine included, Mass is still a liturgical Woodstock wannabe. I don't listen to Broadway show tunes. Why in the world would I want to go to Church and hear Mass settings in a Broadway style? What I have come to realize is that the problem is in the rubrics, or more accurately the lack of rubrics, in the Ordinary Form (rubrics are the actions that go along with the words, such as kneeling, facing ad orientum, how often the priest makes the sign of the cross, etc... think of it as choreography). The Ordinary Form, aka Novus Ordo, was fabricated by Annibale Bugnini, and was to be a simplified form. It has so few rubrics, it allows priests to celebrate, or rather "preside" (as the Novus Ordo rubrics call it) Mass in their own individual styles, and sadly, many adopted a hippie social worker style that seems to be eternally stuck in the early 1970s.

I find myself agreeing with comedian Jimmy Fallon, who expressed his thoughts on the Catholic Mass in this interview with NPR. On the traditional Mass, he said,
"I just, I loved the church. I loved the idea of it. I loved the smell of the incense. I loved the feeling you get when you left church. I loved like how this priest can make people feel this good. I just thought it was, I loved the whole idea of it. My grandfather was very religious, so I used to go to mass with him at like 6:45 in the morning serve mass and then you made money too if you did weddings and funerals. They'd give you, you'd get like five bucks. And so I go okay, I can make money too. I go this could be a good deal for me. I thought I had the calling. "

But on the way Mass has gone since the Novus Ordo was implemented, he said,
"I don't go to - I tried to go back. When I was out in L.A. and I was like kind of struggling for a bit I went to church for a while, but it's kind of, it's gotten gigantic now for me. It's like too, there's a band. There's a band there now and you got to, you have to hold hands with people through the whole mass now, and I don't like doing that. You know, I mean it used to be the shaking hands piece was the only time you touched each other. Now I'm holding, now I'm lifting people. Like Simba. I'm holding them, ha nah hey nah ho. I'm doing too much. I don't want - there's Frisbees being thrown, there's beach balls going around, people waving lighters, and I go this is too much for me. I want the old way. I want to hang out with the, you know, with the nuns, you know, that was my favorite type of mass, and the Grotto and just like straight up, just mass-mass."

I find myself having similar thoughts. My own parish has the casual, Broadway-Woodstock style Mass, that I find increasing difficult to sit through. I want tradition. I want to hear chant. I want some Latin. I want to hear bells and smell incense. I want the priest to be a spiritual leader, leading us in prayer and sermonizing about faith and miracles, not a performer who tries to entertain us, while making social justice his only message. There is another parish in my neighborhood that has a more traditional Mass, with bells, incense, chant, and even some Latin. They even have the Extraordinary Form (aka Tridentine Latin Mass) every week. Can I bring myself to quit my parish and join this other one? In time, I may not have a choice, if going to Mass at my parish continues to be like a chore or a penance to suffer through.

If I had the Pope's ear, I would humbly suggest to him that the Order of the Mass for the Ordinary Form needs to be reformed. The 1965 Order should be restored to the Ordinary Form Roman Missal, replacing the Annibale Bugnini fabricated Order. The 1965 Order of the Mass was, essentially, a vernacular translation of the Tridentine Latin Order, slightly simplified in rubrics, with some repetition removed, thus making it fulfill Vatican II's requirements- - in fact, the 1965 Missal was heralded "The Mass Of Vatican II".

Posted by Shazamaholic at 2:32 PM


Joseph Johnson said...

While I was very pleased to see the new English translation of the Mass implemented, I have been sorely disappointed in the lack of fundamental change in the music (Mass settings as well as persistent use of hymns of the Haugen/Haas ethos). I am still waiting, as well, for a transition back to ad orientem. I am, however, thankful that we do have the option of kneeling for Communion at a kneeler (my long-term hope is for a rail to be constructed and for the choir to be moved up to the choir-loft!).

I share my pastor's concern about young people falling away from the Faith because they do not receive the necessary instruction and spiritual nourishment that they need. Some who share this concern for our youth may think that my focus on the need to further re-enchant our Masses by making the OF more like the Tridentine and making the actual Tridentine (EF) Mass available in our parishes is a wrong-headed waste of time (while Rome burns, so to speak) and a mis-directed priority. Call me stubborn, but I refuse to buy this criticism.

I firmly believe that until the Church changes course and gets away from the usual way of doing Liturgy and gets back to a more Tridentine way of celebrating the OF (powered by the availability of the EF), Rome will continue to burn and many will continue to fret and scratch their heads as to why we keep losing our young people--as the comments on this blog by ytc and others have demonstrated, the younger folks are a lot smarter than many elders imagine but they sorely need to be exposed to good Liturgy which is based on centuries of Catholic liturgical practice which is based on practical experience with human nature--anything else is (excuse the expression) "p---ing in the wind."

Joseph Johnson said...

For just one more crumb of evidence to support my stubborn beliefs about liturgy and young people, look at the latest post on Fr. Z's blog about a first TLM.

Unknown said...

Fr. McDonald;

"Does your parish Mass in the Ordinary Form look anything like this Ordinary Form Mass? If not, why not? Is there anything wrong with this?"

(Caveat, my home parish is not where I regularly assist, but it is still my home parish; I don't assist there because it is not the TLM.)

No, nothing. The reason, in my estimation is one which I have mentioned before. The rubrics do not hold the force of law any longer. Father Pastor chooses to do wonky stuff, because of his subjective view of how he thinks the liturgy should be.

Contrast the former reality whereby liturgical law was more or less enforced. We see this today in how the TLM is handled rubrically compared to the Novus Ordo. If the Holy Father would hold the bishops accountable to liturgical law, and in turn the bishops would hold the priests accountable to liturgical law, then it would more closely resemble your photo, Father.

Sadly, the turnings of Vatican Council II turned the legality of the rubrics into suggestion, by the wording of said rubrics and when the language ceases to be authoritative, then we have what we have.

And...your question ceases to be anything other than hypothetical.

ytc said...

Rubrics are nonexistent in the OF. The few that do exist are routinely ignored, or else priests aren't taught them in seminary and don't care to read them.

When it comes down to it, priests celebrate uglified crap Masses because the bishops let them, and because the rubrics are treated like one of those sad suggestions on your kid's new student orientation third grade packet that "strongly recommends that parents volunteer for the PTA." ROFL!

I am tired of seeing my priest's face at the altar*, I am tired of not being offered a railing to kneel at to receive Holy Communion, I am tired of crap piano ditties when we have singers who can more easily sing a Gregorian setting, I am tired of ugly polyponcho trashbag vestments, I am tired of the completely ridiculous love affair obsession with "Eucharistic Prayer" II, I am TIRED OF READINGS THAT HAVE A "SHORTER FORM**," and I am tired of the three EMs that my able-bodied pastor uses even in daily Masses with like 4 communicants, I am tired of the vapid homilies about groovy luv and the football game tomorrow night.

*When forced to attend a Mass celebrated versus populum, does anyone else here shove your face into your palms when the priest goes to the altar so you don't have to look at him?

**Interesting note: have you ever noticed that, in the readings that allow you to omit half of them, the part that is allowed to be omitted is typically about: judgement, Hell, purgatory, separation from God, tribulation, punishment, death, etc?

I am 19 years old and I can emphatically say that the Ordinary Form as ordinarily celebrated completely disgusts me. It is both a corporal and spiritual penance for me to go to Mass, except to receive Holy Communion. I do not pretend that everyone of my generation agrees me, but I have observed that, with those of my generation that are faithful of their own accord (ie not forced to go to Mass by family), more often than not they are attracted to a more traditional liturgical idiom. Old people singing 70s pop music does not attract young people. It makes us laugh because of how comical it is that they think that we like that crap.

I am a both/and kind of guy. I agree that we can have contemporary, vapid P&W music. But I think it should be done outside of Mass, in a prayer service or something. I personally will not attend it, but I support these kinds of things in their proper place because many people like it.

Signing out and going to listen to some Palestrina...

Unknown said...


"Rubrics are nonexistent in the OF. The few that do exist are routinely ignored, or else priests aren't taught them in seminary and don't care to read them."

That is not true. There are rubrics. But the language of the rubrics have changed. They are not authoritative statements of action, but rather since the reforms after the Council, they have become suggestive options which may or may not be employed, depending on the "pastoral circumstance."

That defeats the whole point. The rubrics exist, they just are not enforced as rule of law any longer.

"I am tired of seeing my priest's face at the altar*, I am tired of not being offered a railing to kneel at to receive Holy Communion, I am tired of crap piano ditties when we have singers who can more easily sing a Gregorian setting, I am tired of ugly polyponcho trashbag vestments, I am tired of the completely ridiculous love affair obsession with "Eucharistic Prayer" II, I am TIRED OF READINGS THAT HAVE A "SHORTER FORM**," and I am tired of the three EMs that my able-bodied pastor uses even in daily Masses with like 4 communicants, I am tired of the vapid homilies about groovy luv and the football game tomorrow night."

I am tired of versus populum as well, but I take my 1962 hand missal and I pray that as the Novus Ordo is being presided over, because as long as I am uniting my whole heart, soul, and mind to the Sacrament, I am worshipping properly. When I am forced to do assist due to logistics, in my home parish. As for kneeling; kneel down. It doesn't matter if there is a rail or not. The architectural fact is that there is no rail, so there is no rail. We must make due. That is a non-starter. If you are tired of pianos, simply take tra le sollectitudini to the next liturgy meeting and point them to #19. It was written in the 20th century, so it is contemporary. If you don't like the new vestments, buy him new ones; I did. Eucharistic Prayer II is a train wreck based upon a lie of epic proportions. Talk to your pastor. Have your ducks in a row. If you don't like the readings, talk to your pastor about the long form. It is less than a two minute addition to the Mass. Have your ducks in a row with that too. If you are going to talk about extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, then you must use the proper terminology. They are not "EMs," but rather they are EMHCs. using the outdated language doesn't help your cause. And if you don't like the homily, don't listen. Reflect on the Life of Christ, pray a rosary, meditate on the lives of the Saints, the homily, if not attuned to Sacred Scripture or some valid catechetical need is not as beneficial as your own reflection, based in right reason and Catholic thought.

Bottom line, if you want to affect a change, you have to initiate it. Otherwise it will be the status quo. Realize though, once you start, you can never stop. But then again, why would you want to stop?

Shazamaholic said...

Father McDonald,
Thank you for reposting my recent entry from my blog. I consider it an honor that you thought it was good enough to quote. I expect my view count will have a significant jump in numbers over the next couple days. If you or any of your regular readers wish to comment on my blog, feel free to. I welcome any new readers. Thank you again Father, and have a great Advent and a Merry Christmas.

rcg said...

There are people I suspect are simply waiting out Pope Benedict XVI and hope for his successor to reverse much of this. There were several people I heard looking forward to the exit of JPII in the smae way, late in his Pontificate. They may have a point. We look for the graying of the clergy to cleanse it, but they only have the College of Cardinals to leverage.

Anonymous said...

ytc, I'm 23 and completely agree with you. At my non-university parish, they play songs that my grandmas baptist church sings..the pastor thinks this is uplifting and encouraging the teens at the (blughh) life teen mass...from statistics I say it's encouraging them to leave for the giant bible church down the road.
Contrast that with our university parish that uses ad orientum and Latin in the Mass, were there is strict reverence....this is what people our age want who are ACTUALLY practicing

rcg said...

ytc, Good point. If you are there for the tunes you need to go Pentecostal, hands down.

ND said...

things have hardly changed; the only difference is our parish has started #4 on your list, Father. I grit my teeth and bear it, as this is the parish at which my family likes to attend. I take whatever I chance I get for a reverent Mass. Of course, it doesn't help that I'm in one of the worst places for liturgical abuses (South Texas)

Unknown said...

Fr. McDonald,

I agree with your view that priests should be granted the allowance to
say Mass according to the 1965 usage.

Recently, I have been going through this Missal and have found it to be a slightly reduced form of the 1962 edition; the pragmatic usage of the vernacular and Latin language is balanced and generally good.

Likewise, this Missal would serve the purpose of the "hybrid" Mass that was rumored to be in the works, since it combines the positive aspects of the EF and OF usages.

As an aside, I will find it humorous when the priest could switch from Latin to the vernacular in certain parts of the Mass; perhaps the Vernacular preface could be followed by the Latin Canon.

Tom K.

Joseph Johnson said...

I hope the earthy expression that ended my first post didn't offend any priests--I apologize if it did but I do not apologize for the point I was trying to make.

Because I will soon be 52, I get very impatient with the pace of needed change. I see the generation now in their 60's and 70's (for the most part, with some exceptions) as holding things back and I find myself agreeing with the younger folks (such as some who have posted here, including my young compatriot, ytc).

Not too many years ago, there used to be another generation (most of them are now part of the Church Triumphant) with which I used to find common cause--these are the folks who would now be over 100 if they were still alive. So now I guess it befalls me to assume the role they once had (a not so young person who longs for the restoration of good things from a past prior to the 1960's).

As my writings should show, I am not a rejector of Vatican II--I am simply a critic of the way Vatican II (and the so-called "liturgical reform") was implemented after the Council. I am a rejector of the cultural nonsense of the 1960's (including things that have nothing to do with the Church). The only major social changes of the 1960's that I recognize as positive is the basic premise of the civil rights movement (equal treatment of the races) and a limited recognition of the women's rights movement (equal pay for equal work but the sexes are still different and both are not suited to all vocations). Otherwise, the 1960's were a decade of rapid cultural decline and any reverence for or nostalgia for that decade I find repugnant.

Gene said...

There are a couple of Churches in the Atlanta diocese I attend when I cannot make it to St. Jo's. The entire experience is so bad and depressing that I have trouble believing it is a valid Mass. However, I remind myself that God once spoke through the mouth of an ass. I never thought would feel the need to go to Confession for attending Mass...sheesh! Sometimes I want to knock people out of the way getting back to St. Joseph's or another Church where the Sacrifice of our Lord is treated with dignity and humility.

John Nolan said...

@ Joseph Johnson

I was the same age as ytc (19) and in my first year of university when the Novus Ordo came in (1970).
Quite honestly, the impact was minimal; the Mass was already in the vernacular, versus populum, and with the informal music styles and ars celebrandi which people associate with the NO but which predated it by several years. Some of my Catholic contemporaries embraced this culture, turned up to chaplaincy Masses with their guitars, and attended Cathsoc meetings. A lot of them probably still run parish music groups and sit on 'liturgy committees'. However, many (myself included) instinctively shunned this and became in effect counter-cultural. It wasn't easy; by the late 1970s Catholics of my generation and level of education seemed to be polarized into two camps, and the traditionalists (for want of a better word) were very much on the defensive.

Looking back, it seems we have won the argument, but we are left with the fallout, namely a liturgical-musical culture which has been ingrained over two generations, which still has its vociferous defenders (many of them still in influential positions) and will not be easily changed - apart from anything else it is still the staple fare in Catholic schools, which will ensure its survival for generations to come. In order to be exposed to good Liturgy you need to belong to a parish which offers it, or be prepared to travel. You also need to be able to recognize it when you see it.

Православный физик said...

I rejoiced at the fact that my parish in California stopped pouring the Precious Blood after the Consecration