The Liturgy, from this:
When older people nostalgically recall the Tridentine Latin Mass of yesteryear, the greatest impression that remains is the precision with which the rites were carried out. From the priest’s well-rehearsed and solemn reverence, all the way to the altar servers’ disciplined, choreographed movement in their flowing cassocks and gleaming surplices, one knew something important and awe-inspiring was taking place. The choir added its embellishing panoply to the liturgy with majestic polyphony and solemn Gregorian chant both of which evoked inspiration, contemplation, and piety. There were “bells and smells” and this was not understood in a derogatory way. After all, Catholic worship is “sensual” making use of all our senses of sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing.
There were few complaints about the quality of the Liturgy in those days. No one would dare critique the sacred, because they had a deep and abiding respect for the sacred and the purpose of their participation in the Mass. Their participation in the Mass united them to Jesus Christ, the second person of the Blessed Trinity and his one sacrifice on the cross. It also united them to Holy Mother, Church and her pastors. This was a big deal!
But in the decades that followed the Second Vatican Council, complaints and criticism about the “renewed” liturgy soared to unprecedented volume. Many felt that what was once a fully loaded Cadillac had been stripped to a rear-engine Volkswagen. The caricatures were not without foundation.
Today (1988) we hear young people, who never experienced the Tridentine Mass asking for its celebration. Is it just to be obstinate or rebellious? Or has their experience of the renewed Liturgy left them uninspired and starving for awe and reverence? Is it more a commentary on how we have carried out the renewal of the Liturgy rather than a vote against the renewed liturgy altogether?
In an effort to promote the new Liturgy, many in the post-conciliar era often used the technique of denigrating the old Liturgy in order to establish in the hearts and minds of the faithful what was called the “new and improved” liturgy. Along with this trend, there was an undue emphasis placed upon the humanity of Jesus Christ to the neglect of his sovereign divinity. The “ordinary” was emphasized as the place where God could be found. And the ordinary slowly but surely crept into the life of the liturgy, architecture, art and technique. Combined with this was a pernicious mind-set which mistakenly equated “attention to detail and neatness” with a pathological scrupulosity.
For the first time, priests felt it was okay to improvise during Mass, not only with fixed greetings, such a “The Lord be with you” which was changed by some to “The Lord is with you,” or worse yet, banal, secular “good morning” or “how are you,” but also to improvising with the prayers of Mass in particular the Eucharistic Prayer. The spirit of narcissism was consuming some celebrant-priests, as though their spirituality, personality and personal prayer were at the heart of the liturgy.
Together with this, was the beginning of the “dark ages” of liturgical music in the vernacular that combined a banal, screeching style that ballyhooed a guitar strumming ensemble with a cadre of in-your-face vocalists. Narcissism and “it’s showtime” attitude of performance, as well, crept into those leading the assembly in the ministry of music. The organ was deemed outdated and overpowering. Fortunately, modern liturgical music is maturer today, but remnants of the “Glory and Praise” generation still rears its ugly head.
With all the trendiness of the late 1960’s and 70’s, the church had to contend also with the charismatic movement. Guitars, drums, piano and tambourine reigned there also. “Solemn Catholic devotion” which was outwardly passive prior to the Second Vatican Council was replaced by unfettered emotion, spontaneous prayer, speaking in tongues, hands upraised and handholding. “The Sign of Peace” became a “liturgy” unto itself! The same was true with the “General Intercessions.” They became open to all, spontaneous, personal and very particular, even to the point being classified as “gossip.” Those who promoted these liturgical novelties felt it was of the “spirit of Vatican II” and the work of the Holy Spirit.
Evaluation some 30 years later would indicate it was also the work of the “Assembly of God” theology and mentality that won the hearts of many Catholics of that period. Pentecostal worship by nature is less structured and more spontaneous that Catholic worship. Its music is more of praise and inspiration rather than liturgical. It relies heavily on the “movement” of the spirit, emotions and feeling good because it lacks the sacramentality of the Catholic Church and our rich liturgical history, prayer and spirituality.
The renewal of the Mass after the Second Vatican Council was not meant to break continuity with what had preceeded it. But it was to advance the Church in her worship by maintaining a continuity between the previous style of worship through the implementation of a “noble simplicity” marked by active participation of the laity in the Church’s worship. The outward form of the Mass was in transition, but its underlying doctrines and dogmas remained in tack. New ways of showing reverence were institutionalized, but not without roots in an earlier tradition of the Church. For example, standing to receive Holy Communion as a sign of being raised up in Christ was taken from the tradition of the Eastern Church and an earlier tradition of our own. Receiving Holy Communion on the tongue or in the hand both had long standing traditions as well. Now Catholics had the option of either.
Perhaps the greatest thing that the Second Vatican Council recovered, was the need for the assembly, that is, the laity, to take their rightful place in the celebration of the Mass. The entire assembly, not just the priest, altar boys and choir, have an important role in making beautiful, inspiring Liturgy that is pleasing to God and gives him glory and worship. The liturgical renewal of the 1950’s had already begun this renewal within the Tridentine Mass. The Second Vatican Council simply took it many steps forward.
The laity accomplish their important role by arriving at Church early, being hospitable to each other and robust in their spoken and sung responses. They are the ones who must help to create silence and stillness for active listening to prayers and scripture and the contemplation of them. Screaming, unruly, misbehaving infants and small children do not enhance the liturgy, nor does passive indifference to the singing and praying. The way the laity dress for mass may also indicate an attitude of awe and wonder or indifference for the sacred.
The clergy and those who have liturgical roles such as altar servers, choir, lectors, Communion Ministers and ushers must pay close and strict attention to their outward appearance and abilities. This obviously must be inspired and motivated by an inner spirituality and reverence. The roles of each of these ministries during Mass must be choreographed to look and sound good. It must be an art form that is pleasing to the eyes and ears. Attention to the details of choreography and movements will greatly enhance the post-Vatican II Mass. We can learn important lessons from the Tridentine Mass in this regard, for this area was a major strength of the Tridentine Mass and something that should indeed be recovered!
Tied into this “attention to detail” should be a concern for the environment of worship. Do our churches invite active participation, devotion and contemplation? If the priests and the laity understand the nature of liturgy, active participation and energy can be just as satisfying and edifying in a Church designed prior to the Second Vatican Council, with communion railing and high altar, as in a contemporary church building in the round. In fact the pre-Vatican II design may be more conducive since it does not exaggerate the need to see each other’s faces in worship as though that is of equal or more importance than seeing God in the Sacrament. The “sacrament presence” of Jesus Christ still has a position of greatest importance in the Liturgy without denigrating the liturgical presence of Jesus Christ in the assembly, the word proclaimed and the presider!
We must also use the talents of true artists and artisans to enhance the entire abode where we worship. When a beautifully crafted statue or crucifix are removed in favor of a homemade, burlap and felt banner filled with slogans and other symbols, we do a disservice to our liturgy, environment and people.
Vesture for priests and servers should be beautiful and becoming. Albs for altar servers with hoods and cinctures that tie them at the waste either make them look like giant potato sacks or members of the K.K.K. Albs that are too short or too flamboyant are also a distraction. Certainly all vesture from vestments to altar linens should be clean and ironed!
Catholics are hungering for the sacred in their lives which are otherwise filled with the profane. The profane is neither needed nor desirable in the celebration of the Church’s liturgy. Someone once said that when we begin to rediscover and prefer the sacred to the profane, our liturgies will be such that if the Parousia were to occur during Mass, we wouldn’t know it! Concomitant with this rediscovery of the sacred is a deep reverence and appreciation for the divine presence of God. This indeed is encountered in those who assemble for Mass, in God’s Word and in the sacred signs and symbols of all the sacraments. Particularly, in the sacred species of Holy Communion, bread and wine consecrated and shared which are the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ and his one sacrifice renewed for us, do we share God’s divine and redeeming presence.
When people long for the pre-Vatican II liturgy, is it really that liturgy they long for, or is it a liturgy that is sacred, awe-inspiring and dignified? The post-Vatican II liturgy can satisfy the hungry heart just as well, if the attention to detail is present and an appreciation for the sacred is paramount. Liturgy celebrated well will “foster and nourish faith; poor celebrations may weaken and destroy it.” Let our liturgical celebrations be the best they can be and in continuity with the best of our liturgical tradition gained from the pre-Vatican II days!
More than any other group, it is young people who hunger for a Mass that is reverent and reflects the sacred, solemn rite instituted by Christ.
And that scares the heck out of a lot of otherwise good priests.
This is an important article, Father. Aside from being an early account of the return of the Tridentine Mass, it shows just how well-rooted were the liturgical lies surrounding the advent of the Novus Ordo. I am thinking particularly about your paragraph on standing for Communion and receiving in the hand.
I certainly don't blame you for the presence of that sort of archaelogism in this article. I mean to say, its inclusion here shows the depth of falsehood in your formation as a priest that links back to your seminary days and the instruction you received on liturgical history. I know you have commented before about your difficulties in overcoming that formation and the few decades of your vocation subsequent thereto.
I can see how this deeply held, albeit erroneous, understanding of history and "reverence" is still working against the Church today. Presumably, the seminary professors are now priests of your generation with the same liturgical "baggage" and they are continuing the cycle of error (however innocent they may be of that personally).
Do you have any thoughts on that as you reflect back now and read your previous writings as compared with your current mindset and underdstanding (which has clearly grown in "Catholic-ness" over recent years since Summorum Pontificum)?
I'm impressed that you spoke so prophetically of "continuity" back then, two decades before it was to become fashionable!
"Or has their experience of the renewed Liturgy left them uninspired and starving for awe and reverence?"
Btw, as much as I complain about the OF, I don't hate it.
Has anyone ever witnessed a Mass celebrated by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem? He celebrates in the OF but it is absolutely glorious. His Masses and other ceremonies are governed by very old laws and concordats that he must heed. For example, he is required to celebrate in Latin and to wear the ermine lined cappa magna.
"Attention to detail". Now, there's the rub. I have heard it said that priests in the 1960s, released from the straitjacket of the old rubrics, went to the other extreme in terms of informality and creativity. There may be some truth in this, but actually the rubrics of the 1962 missal are not that complicated; many young priests have taught themselves to celebrate in the EF; and a professional actor recently wrote that he could easily learn it in an afternoon, particularly as you can read from the script.
An exemplar of how not to celebrate Mass is Timothy, Cardinal Dolan. He enters like a celebrity chat-show guest, grinning, waving and gladhanding everyone within reach. His idea of "saying the black" can be gleaned from the following from his Christmas Mass this year: "Glad you're here so that we might celebrate this Holy Mass. We begin as ever calling to mind our sins and asking Jesus to save us from them because that is what he was born for". Leaving aside the fact that the Confiteor is addressed to the triune God and not the Second Person, his Eminence continues to work his audience. They love it and show their appreciation by interrupting with spontaneous applause. What a contrast with the Solemn OF Mass celebrated by Cardinal Burke at the London Oratory earlier this year! The personality of the celebrant must not be allowed to get in the way. Yet Dolan and Burke are contemporaries (born 1948 and 1950 respectively) and both are regarded as 'conservative'.
Good Father, your Cadillac / Volkswagen comparison is more apt than you know . . .
The purpose of the automobile is to move passengers from one location to another. Does the caddy do this "better" than the VW? No, in both cases the passengers arrive at the desired destination.
The purpose of the mass is two-fold - The worship of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and the communication of the saving mysteries of Jesus Christ to the People of God. Does the EF do this "better" than the OF. No, in both cases passengers arrive at the desired destination.
Some will argue the Caddy is more beautiful. But, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some argue that the spare and minimally adorned, yet seductively elegant, chapel at the monastery of the Holy Spirit (Conyers) is far more beautiful than St. Joseph, Macon. Many would, of couse, disagree.
Does the Caddy with its fins and chrome and leather seats and other geegaws transport the passengers more effectively or more completely? No, with all its baubles, trinkets, doodads, and automotive tchotchke, the Cadillac accomplishes the transport of passengers no better than the venerable VW.
De gustibus non est disputandum.
But of course, good, PI, you make my point for me! The point of my 1988 article is that the Mass was stripped down out of a false appeal to simplicity and the ordinary as well as a low Christology. While unintentional, it did cause and still causes the Mass to sink to the ordinary and banal and not inspire faith. This has led many commentators to recognize what has transpired in the Church in the last 50 years of this Volkswagen of a Mass:
"A weakening of faith in God, a rise in selfishness and a drop in the number of people going to Mass in many parts of the world can be traced to Masses that are not reverent and don't follow church rules, said two Vatican officials and a consultant."
"If we err by thinking we are the center of the liturgy, the Mass will lead to a loss of faith," said U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, head of the Vatican's supreme court."
"Cardinal Canizares said that while the book's title is provocative, it demonstrates a belief he shares: "Participating in the Eucharist can make us weaken or lose our faith if we do not enter into it properly" and if the liturgy is not celebrated according to the church's norms.
"This is true whether one is speaking of the ordinary or extraordinary form of the one Roman rite," the cardinal said, referring to Masses in the form established after the Second Vatican Council as well as the Mass often referred to as the Tridentine rite.
Cardinal Canizares said that at a time when so many people are living as if God did not exist, they need a true eucharistic celebration to remind them that only God is to be adored and that true meaning in human life comes only from the fact that Jesus gave his life to save the world.
Father Bux said that too many modern Catholics think the Mass is something that the priest and the congregation do together when, in fact, it is something that Jesus does.
"If you go to a Mass in one place and then go to Mass in another, you will not find the same Mass. This means that it is not the Mass of the Catholic Church, which people have a right to, but it is just the Mass of this parish or that priest," he said.
Good Father - I don't agree that there was a "false" appeal to simplicity, but a real one.
The VW is not "banal" when one considers the purpose of the automobile - transportation.
"A weakening of faith in God, a rise in selfishness and a drop in the number of people going to Mass in many parts of the world can be traced to Masses that are not reverent and don't follow church rules, said two Vatican officials and a consultant."
This is an assertion that one often hears from supporters of the EF, but it is offered without any kind of evidence. It seems to me to be Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc - the mass changed, the number of people going to mass dropped, therefore the changed mass is the cause of the decline in attendance.
An assertion is not an argument.
Oh, dear! Father PI ostriches don't bury their heads in the sand and neither should you. We have seen since the 1960's the drop in Mass attendnace from a high of almost 90% of Catholics to as low as if not lower than 20% of Catholic in many places. While there are many things to contribute to this, the style of worship we've had for almost 50 years is certainly at its core, a man centered, priest centered, congregation centered style of worship, stripped of mystery, solemnity and wonder and awe. It is banal and trite. The re-enchantment of the liturgy certainly began in the 1980's and certainly my time at the Cathedral as MC we did our best to bring back solemnity and cathedral like liturgies every Sunday, but still some remain stuck in the Glory and Praise, and now Praise and Worship music genre, and even today with the elegant, gracious English translation,we find some priest manipulating the words of the Mass as though it was their personal property or arrogantly think they can do as they please, but would never do such to the mess that is Shakespeare by today's standards of English. Why is that arrogance so prevalent amongst congregations and their priests?
The Mass was stripped down and rather than seek the fundamental noble simplicity the parishes began filling it with all sorts of extraneous trash. People knew and longed for more and the clergy filled in, or allowed their lay handlers, to fill in the gaps. Isn't it obvious that the Mass in many parishes is as filled with gestures, singing, and symbols as the Tridentine, yet much more arcane or secular than the ones they replaced?
People that are confused about participating in the EF Mass are simply not educated in it. When they are shown what is happening they pick right up and run with it. It may be that the laity in the sixties was not educated in the Mass and were indeed lost during the prayer, only relying on the symbols for their understanding of their faith. So the Church, rather than teaching them what is in the prayers, removed the symbols and in those gaps allowed people to pile rubbish. Of course people left.
"The purpose of the automobile is to move passengers from one location to another. Does the caddy do this 'better' than the VW? No, in both cases the passengers arrive at the desired destination."
Well, actually, it appears that far fewer people arrive at their heavenly destination via the Novus Ordo VW, if obedience to the precepts of the Church--including Sunday Mass attendance--is a requirement. If so, surely the TLM caddy is doing a so much better a job of divine transportation that everyone ought to have one, and no one should be relegated to a VW. Even if some caddy types like me are also appreciative of the VW (at least when its maintained and polished like a caddy), and think the inferior performance of the typical VW suffers from incompetent drivers who've never corrected the bad habits they learned in the inadequate driving schools of the 70s and 80s.
Good Father, again, your assertion is not backed up by any evidence. And neither yours, not Cardinal Canizares'nor Cardinal Burke's opinions constitute evidence.
Would you say that at your parish mass is celebrated reverently and according to the rules?
When the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship talks about the proper celebration of the liturgy he is not giving his private and subjective opinion.
Si testimonium requiris, circumspice. There is plenty of evidence of liturgical abuse (as defined in Redemptionis Sacramentum, an official document, which can't simply be dismissed as someone's opinion), as well as widespread ignorance of the theology of the Mass. And the statistics relating to Mass attendance speak for themselves.
So we have the evidence, so what do we make of it? Those who support the liturgical revolution of the 1960s, which effectively dumped more than a thousand years of liturgical tradition and the music that went with it, need to prove that without it the situation would be even worse.
A historical argument based on cause and effect is perfectly valid, and is not simply a case of 'post hoc, ergo propter hoc'. We are merely warned not to assume that a later event is axiomatically contingent on an earlier one. Supporters of the EF are not making assertions without giving supporting evidence, as you imply; they are making deductions based on the available evidence, of which there is plenty.
Amen John! The blindness or inadequate training in things liturgical of many priests makes them think there is no problem or cause and effect with what they pass off as Liturgy!
John - When the Prefect of the CDW asserts that there is a causal link between the OF and the decline in attendance at mass, he is giving his personal opinion. Nothing more.
Personal opinions are not evidence of a causal link. (And I am not making any reference whatsoever to Redemtionis Sacramentum here.)
An historical argument based on cause and effect is perfectly valid, but no cause and effect has been shown, only asserted.
Good Father McDonald - The number of those attending St. Joseph in the time you have been pastor has declined, according to the numbers you have reported, by 29.9%. (Pin/Gene, I am NOT being desrespectful toward Fr. McDonald. I am simply reporting the facts has he has supplied them. The percentage decline in the same time period at some random parish, say Holy Spirit, Macon, has declined too. By 0.16% And since I have been here only 20 months, I am not attributing that stability to my presence.)
Now, I am NOT suggesting a causal link between Fr. McDonald and the decline in attendance. This trend is much more widespread in our Western culture.
Good Father, you have asserted that people flock to churches where mass is celebrated reverently and according to the rules, which is how mass is celebrated at St. Joseph. HOWEVER, there seems to be a substantial disconnect between your assertion and the facts.
What we need to consider prayerfully is the facts - Just the facts, ma'am.
PI you forgot to mention that Bibb county lost 10,000 of the white population to Jouston County 20 miles away and on that period St . Patrick increased by 500 families all due to better public schools thus negating tour premis and in addition St. Joseph Church has seen an increase in offertory and BAA quotas and pledges despite the fact there is no growth in Bibb county. Plus we have had a successful $5 million capital campaign to build a gym, three classrooms, altar railing ang $800,000 HVAC SYSTEM for the Church. All this follows another campaign 8 years ago raising $5 million--all due to the ROTF Movement here!
Good Father - They didn't go to Warner Robins. Their numbers are also down about 15%. So it's not just demographics.
You can keep your head buried in the sand if you like, but your "reverence" and "following the rules" are not having the effect you assert.
Maybe there's something else going on here?
Pater, where would the Catholics go in Warner Robins? There aren't any Catholic Churches there...
CORRECTION: During the period when attendance at St. Joseph declined by 29.9%, the attendance at Holy Spirit, Macon, declined by 1.6%, not the 0.16% previously reported. Pater Ignotus regrets the error. (He also regrets his congenital inability to approach anything mathematical without being overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy and, at times, terror,, which often results in stupid errors such as misplacing the decimal point. (Sigh)
I have been saying all alone that people are leaving the Church because they don't take it seriously anymore, nor do they fear damnation and they have had a superficial formation in the true faith and worship of the church, especially with guitar masses and the like. And when tradition is experienced, they are clueless and don't know how to enter into true mystery or true Catholicism. In addition the vapid form of Catholicism they have been given has not served them well in enduring the sins of priests and the institutional church as they see it as just one more human organization devoid of the divine. In fact they don't know what the divine is.
But with that said, even though our parish was (on the books only) about 2000 households, we are now only 1300 households and most of that census purged by us as there was absolutely no activity from the ones purged. But then how do you account that in 2003 the Bishop's Annual Appeal with over 2000 supposed households our parish only had a goal of $70,000 dollars (the 13th place in the diocese, although supposedly the second largest) and only gave $60,000. Where as today, we are the 5th largest but 4th place with the BAA with our goal last year being almost $140,000 with an acutal pledge of almost $153 with our parish being second in terms of those actually giving or pledging, Saint Mary in Augusta number one with almost 2900 households only having 660 giving and St. Joseph's with almost 1400 households having
continued, 550 giving! The only thing that can account for that is solid Catholic teaching and formation, traditional liturgy including the EF Mass and good pastoring!
Good Father - So when a parish, with what you would describe as having "superficial formation" or a "vapid form of Catholicism" does as well or better than St. Joseph in surpassing its' BAA goal, how do you account for that?
To be honest, using a parish income as a measure of the Catholicity of the people in the parish is about as meaningful as using someone's personal income to determine how much he/she is loved by God. After all, "He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matt. 5:45)
In any case, the matter of declining attendance at mass is the important issue here, not how well (or how poorly) a parish responds to the Bishop's appeal. Isn't that what we should be considering?
Cardinal Canizares has not to my knowledge criticized the missal of Paul VI or suggested that the rite of 1962 is inherently superior.
Redemptionis Sacramentum was issued under his predecessor Cardinal Arinze. Are you suggesting that the abuses detailed therein were a figment of his imagination?
Ignorance of Catholic stewardship of time, talent and treasure as Catholic discipleship is shocking coming from a priest your age! Get with the program!
John - Abuses exist - no one questions that. The question arises when an assertion is made that these abuses lead to a person's decision to stop attending mass.
And, when a pastor asserts that people are flocking to parishes where the EF and the OF are celebrated "reverently" and "according to the rules," but that same pastor's parish has seen a 29.9% decline in attendance in the last 10 years, the question is reiterated.
It's easy to blame demographics, but that's just smoke and mirrors. It's easy to suggest that a parish's level of giving to the BAA is the REAL measure of the Catholicity of a parish, but then there are those doggone parishes where, in the view of some, there is "superficial formation" and a "vapid form of Catholicism" whose BAA response is proportionately BETTER than that at St. Joseph.
The issues we face are serious, and facile, simplistic answers just don't cut the mustard.
PI I know you are not dense but indeed obstinate in your smoke and mirror shifting of thoughts on threads.
We have 80% of Catholics not attending Mass (although it may not be that high in Macon). Why are they not attending Mass. We can give all kinds of reasons and apart from real physical or emotional abuse at the hands of a nun or priest, sexual or otherwise, most of the reasons why Catholics don't attend Mass hinge on one thing and one thing only, a loss of orthodox Catholic faith and morals as well as spirituality and Catholic identity.
So if Catholics don't come become they are lazy, or have married outside the church or are living sexually promiscuous lives or are fed up with boring Mass or Masses too contemporary or Masses to traditional and that it all hinges on their attitude and personal opions which makes them neo-gnostics, the bottom line is they have lost their Catholic faith.
The reasons are many and complicated but high on the list is extremely poor Catholic formation and religious instruction since Vatican II, confusion sown by clergy and religious after Vatican II, the denigration of pre-Vatican II Church, prayer and liturgy and the bastardization of what Vatican II actually wanted for the church and her liturgy.
this is tied into fierce individualism, contempt for authority religious or secular and contempt for God's authority--which is sin and loss of the gift of faith that is found in the Church.
Good Father - I am glad that you are beginning to understand that the problem of non-practicing Catholics is not related to the non-use of maniples!
Also, the 29.9% decline in attendance at your parish cannot be blamed on the 700 registrants you culled from your lists. The numbers you provided result from a count of the people in the pews, not the number of non-participating ("absolutely no activity") Catholics who weren't there in the first place. Nice try - no ceegar.
Even the well-catechized, at times, give up the faith.
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