Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Parents who bring their children to Mass to both forms of the one Roman Rite, which Mass, EF or OF seems to capture their imagination more and keeps them more engaged during the Mass.

This is just anecdotal evidence, but at our EF High Mass, there are families with many children and there doesn't seem to me to be as much restlessness amongst them as we might have at the typical OF Mass on Sunday.

Of course, I can't see what is happening in the congregation and so don't become preoccupied by how well or how poorly the congregation is actually participating, but I suspect that fewer people get up during the Mass, as though they are in a theater, to go to the bathroom, answer the cell phone outside, and the like.

Of course, when I face the congregation, I become like a teacher in the classroom evaluating what the congregation is doing and experience rises in my blood pressure when I see children or adults getting up during Mass to go to the bathroom or outside or whatever, even during the words of consecration! Should the priest be a detective or policeman concerning how well or poorly the congregation is "actually" participating?

Isn't the priest's preoccupation with what the congregation is doing or not doing a form of clericalism and in the policeman mode?


Unknown said...

"Of course, I can't see what is happening in the congregation and so don't become preoccupied by how well or how poorly the congregation is actually participating... I become like a teacher in the classroom evaluating what the congregation is doing and experience rises in my blood pressure when I see children or adults getting up during Mass to go to the bathroom or outside or whatever, even during the words of consecration..."

I know that this will raise the ire of some, but I am refreshed to hear this from you. Your role at Mass is NOT first to be a teacher. Your role first is to be a celebrant. You are offering the Holy Sacrifice and what the faithful do outside the rail shouldn't really impact what you are doing inside the rail.

I know, I know, this is a very "old" way of looking at the Mass, but it is nevertheless true. There are (and always have been) two distinct actions taking place at Mass. First, the priest (with his ministers) is offering the Holy Sacrifice. Second, the faithful are worshipping and adoring God the Father as this action is taking place. It is the obligation of the faithful to assist (participatio actuosa) at that Mass, but not to participatio activa. And it is the blurring of that which has caused no end of trouble in the aftermath of Vatican Council II, liturgically.

You ask, "Should the priest be a detective or policeman concerning how well or poorly the congregation is "actually" participating?"

My answer is no. It isn't your concern. It is your concern to celebrate the Mass validly, licitly and with all reverence, honor and glory due it, EVERY SINGLE TIME. If there is a ruckus or if there is a disruption during the Mass with regard to the faithful, it falls on the ushers to do their job. If the same happens in the sanctuary, it falls on the MC to do his job.

Your glorious job, dear Father, is to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice.

John Nolan said...

Back in the 1980s when I taught in a Catholic school the "school Mass" was celebrated with the priest sitting behind a small table and everyone sitting around in a semicircle. When I objected I was told "the bishop says that Masses for children don't have to conform to the rubrics". The children in question were aged 11 to 16.

As a child in the 1950s I was taken to the Missa Cantata from the age of three or four. It certainly captured my attention and imagination. No-one suggested that the liturgy should be dumbed-down for children. By the time I reached my teens V2 had arrived, and very soon it was dumbed-down for everybody.

Hammer of Fascists said...

During a Latin Mass a couple of months ago there was a little boy running around during th Mass of the Faithful. I remember it well because it was so extraordinary, if you'll pardon the double entendre. usually that never happens.

Re being a policeman: While I agree with Andy, his answer does simply pass the buck. How far do you wish the ushers to go in making sure the congregation maintains an atmosphere of reverence, as in not going to the bathroom at certain moments?

Rood Screen said...

The EF is simply much more fun, for kids and adults. The OF is fun only if the priest adds extra-liturgical elements to it, such as imposing his own personality. We all know the Mass is, by its nature, a celebration of Christ's sacrifice, but the old rite of Mass just brings out this celebration more clearly. The OF is kind of boring, frankly.

ytc said...

Andy Milam, I think part of the problem with blurring the lines has been the essential shift in view of a priest from basically cultic in nature with pastoral considerations accidental (but in no way not important); to an on-demand social worker/guidance counselor, and glorified theatre call boy within the context of Mass.

Your "old" way of looking at the Mass is extremely intoxicating. I love it.


On another note:

For a while now we have had two essentially opposing views on Vatican II (I will only consider those which are orthodox, ie, no SSPV or LCWR/We Are Church views)

(1) Vatican II was good in implementation

(2) Vatican II was a mistake to a larger degree in implementation than it was a success

(Pre-note: it seems to me that those of both sides, at least subconsciously, accept that Vatican II, to some degree, tried to predict the future of the Church and the world.)


I wonder if it is time to consider a third view, that:

While Vatican II was ostensibly intended to respond to the pastoral problems of the time in which it was held, its scope was extremely limited because it could not and did not predict the impending cultural implosion that really arguably began in 1968, after the Council had ended. Since our pastoral circumstances are vastly different today (cultural and artistic death in the West, contraceptives/abortion used widely, absolutely atrocious Mass attendance rates and catechetical oblivion) it is past due time to reconsider our pastoral approaches and ask whether the themes and ideals of Vatican II are really able to sufficiently address our issues.


Father, you can use my text here as a blog post if you'd like. :)

Rood Screen said...

Perhaps Father would consider switching to Discuss for commenting at some time in the future. Maybe it's just me, but I'm having a harder time getting the Google "anti-robot" code right the first time.

Henry Edwards said...

Indeed, Andy, the sole responsibility of the celebrant at Mass is to offer perfect sacrifice in propitiation for the sins of men, offering prayers of adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication on our behalf to God.

It is none of the celebrating priest's business in what manner you or I choose personally to participate or assist. Not whether we join in with the choir or schola in chanting the Mass, or listen in reverent silence. Not whether we follow the Mass in our missal, or meditate prayerfully on the Holy Sacrifice as it proceeds, or perhaps say the Rosary according to some standard scheme associating different mysteries with differ parts of the Mass. Not whether we kneel or sit or stand at different times.

And, of course, none of these things are mentioned in any written norms or the rubrics for the TLM (even if there are well established customs in some cases). Indeed, the attempted micro-management of the behavior of the people at Mass apparently is strictly a Novus Ordo thing.

ytc said...

Fr. Shelton, I agree, the OF is so boring.

Henry Edwards said...

Msgr. Bruce Harbert, one of the more erudite authorities involved in the new English translation, remarked in a recent comment that understanding of the term actuosa participatio by English speakers has been handicapped by the fact that in Latin the word participatio frequently connotes a sense more of "sharing" rather than participating in some active sense. In effect, in some cases the English word "participation" is more like a false cognate, and there really no single English word that connotes the sense of the Latin original. In his daily blog Missal Notes on the daily collects, Msgr. Harbert adds today the following remark:

‘partaking’ translates participatio, a word that has assumed importance since the Second Vatican Council because of its use in Sacrosanctum Concilium 30 in the phrase actuosa participatio, usually translated into English as ‘active participation’. In Latin, both pre-Christian and Christian, participatio usually means ‘receiving a share’. It was Pope St Pius X who first spoke of partecipazione attiva in an official Church document, which was subsequently translated into Latin as participatio actuosa. The Italian partecipazione can denote simply ‘being present’. With these Latin and Italian uses in the background, one should beware of assuming, as so many commentators have done, that participatio always means ‘joining in’.

Thus we see that participatio may connote more a sense of receptive sharing, and that the current sense of active/actual participation is most likely a mistranslation and/or misinterpretation of what was meant in Vatican II and the pre-Vatican II liturgical movement.

Anonymous 2 said...

Father Shelton, It’s not just you. I get it wrong so often (and it sometimes takes three or four attempts for it to like me) that I am experiencing serious self-doubt as to whether I really am a robot.

Unknown said...

@ Anon5;

" How far do you wish the ushers to go in making sure the congregation maintains an atmosphere of reverence, as in not going to the bathroom at certain moments?"

However far it takes to regain control of the parish. I don't think there is a standard answer. Catechizing the faithful to understand/recognize the most sacred moments and to expect the ushers to enforce those moments.

I don't see it as passing the buck, but rather I see it as re-empowering the ushers to do the job they were intended to do (ie. the extraordinary ministry of porter), it's not absurd, it is just hard to implement without proper education, implementation and support.

Hammer of Fascists said...

ytc, I've been tossing your proposition around with Marc and another reader here for some time. Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the speed of technological (and thus social) change has constantly increased. Some of the problems that prompted the calling of VII were quite recent and, as it turns out, volatile. It strikes me that the passages of Dignitatis Humanae that seem to promote unfettered religious freedom can be viewed as pastoral statements aimed at Soviet oppression of religious groups. News Flash: The USSR is gone. Legal maxim: when the reason for the law no longer exists, the law itself ceases to exist.


ytc said...

Yes, Anon 5, I wonder if there are any major scholars exploring this view of ours.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon 5:

“Legal maxim: when the reason for the law no longer exists, the law itself ceases to exist.”

You asked for thoughts, so I have some questions seeking clarification and further exploration:

How broadly would you apply this maxim to magisterial documents, including those that pre-date Vatican II?

To what extent_can_ it be legitimately applied to such documents?

Gene said...

I have, on one occasion at Mass, sternly sent a ten or twelve year old boy back to his seat when he was playing in the aisle and, on another, got up and walked two rows up and spoke less than charitably to a grown woman whose cell phone was going off while she and her companion laughed about it and did not turn it off. They seemed incensed, but I am sure the look on my face was the reason she quickly turned it off and shut up. I have no patience with that kind of poor parenting and immature, irreverent behavior at Mass.

Hammer of Fascists said...

Anon 2:

Sort of time, so I'll reply in generalities that I hop will stimulate further thought.

When dealing with magisterial documents, you are (presumably) dealing with at least some statements that are universal in application. I suppose that according to a natural law view of the common law, you can say the same of legal rules, although that isn't a very popular thing today (unless you're talking about pseudo-natural law "fundamental rights").

On the other hand, most such magisterial pronouncements take place when they did and in the form they did due to particular historical events and developments, which provides some foundation (valid or not) for the proposition that all such pronouncements are relative and subject to change. (I don't think that an orthodox Catholic could ever accept this, at least without severe qualifications).

Note that the above analysis presumes we're talking about doctrine and not pastoral/disciplinary matters. My further premise on which I based my prior statement is that VII documents contain at least some pastoral/non-doctrinal matters.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - Dignitatis Humanae is not a legal document, therefore, it is not to be interpreted through the use of legal maxims.

An individual's religious freedom proceeds from his or her nature and precedes the existence of any state, USSR, USA, even the Confederatio Helvetica.

Gratian gave us "cessante ratione legis cessat ipsa lex" /
"when the reason for the law ceases, the law itself ceases." But this maxim is not properly applied to a non-legal document.

Human rights, including the right to choose one's religion, come from our human nature and, as such, are not the result of human laws. "Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that follow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it." (CCC 1930)

"This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits."

I don't think that Vatican II was called to respond to "problems." The problems the Church recognized in the late 19th and early 20th century are problems that have existed since humans appeared. They may have been evidenced or expressed in "modern" ways, but the problem of sin - including the denial of human rights - is as old as humanity.

Supertradmum said...

I was at a High Mass in the EF recently and as soon as the choir started singing the Palestrina Missa Aeterna Christi Munera, you should have seen the faces of the three and five years olds in front of me. They were enraptured. We respond to beauty no matter what the age...

Children really like Mozart as well. I recommend taking them, even as pre-schoolers to such as the Mozart Mass in C Minor.

Gene said...

There is "religious freedom" as a human right, and there is "religious freedom" as a theological concept. The Church believes in human rights vis a vis governments because the Church realizes that governments, by nature, have a tendency to become oppressive.
Human rights are, indeed, defined by society and governments, often in conflict with the "natural law" about which the Church speaks. You may want to review the HHS mandate of your Obama boy.

Now theologically,for the Church, religious freedom must be viewed a bit differently. The Church does not believe that true "religious freedom" consists of being able to choose whatever religion you like. True religious freedom means choosing the Catholic Church. "We are not free until our wills are enslaved to Christ." That's Augustine. The only way to subjugate our wills to that of Christ is through the Church. So, the philosophical/secular concept of religious freedom is really heresy and bondage. The US Constitution is not a religious document. The French Revolution was not an Epiphany.
Your statement, "Human rights, including the right to choose one's religion, come from our human nature and, as such, are not the result of human laws," is a careless one. It does not mean the same thing as the CCC statement you quote right after it, "Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that follow from his dignity as a human creature." There is a conflict between our religious freedom and our rights as a social creature and theological truth. That is because everything "social" about us is conceived in sin. So, this whole business about human rights and social justice is just more of man's frantic and failed efforts to create some kind of "just" society or social utopia. Your statement blurs those lines. Ecumenism means bringing all people under the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church's umbrella...without compromise. Don't that just make you nuts...LOL!

Hammer of Fascists said...


The jus commune, the basis of our legal system, was derived (at the hands of priest/jurists such as Bracton) from the Catholic understanding of authority, particularly canon law (and before you say it, yes, I know that conciliar documents are different from canon law). I'm not attempting to drag Dignitatis Humanae in to a courtroom. But Gratian's maxim is not principally one of law but of reason, and th jus commune and Church law are both presumably based on reason. Thus, if the Church uses reason to explain its teachings, I would expect its reasoning to be subject to reasonable inquiry, including maxims such as Gratian's.

Your use of the term "human rights," which is so much in vogue today, as opposed to "natural rights" is ironic, given the substance of your post. Most folks today use that term to mean rights that they subjectively want to beyond the reach of community authority--such as the right to abortion. It's a bastardized modern-day cross between positive law, which is made up by (sinful) human beings, and natural law, which is of Divine origin.

There's a reason why VII was called when it was. Councils are called in reaction to historical events. Transubstantiation has occurred since the very first Mass. The Church didn't see the need to formally define it in a council until certain events took place that required such a definition, i.e., the denial of it in some circles.

How do you personally square CCC 1930, which you quote, with the following teachings:

"This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone. It spreads ruin in sacred and civil affairs, though some repeat over and over again with the greatest impudence that some advantage accrues to religion from it. 'But the death of the soul is worse than freedom of error,' as Augustine was wont to say."

"For you well know, venerable brethren, that at this time men are found not a few who, applying to civil society the impious and absurd principle of 'naturalism,' as they call it, dare to teach that 'the best constitution of public society and (also) civil progress altogether require that human society be conducted and governed without regard being had to religion any more than if it did not exist; or, at least, without any distinction being made between the true religion and false ones.' And, against the doctrine of Scripture, of the Church, and of the Holy Fathers, they do not hesitate to assert that 'that is the best condition of civil society, in which no duty is recognized, as attached to the civil power, of restraining by enacted penalties, offenders against the Catholic religion, except so far as public peace may require.'"

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - Where do you find the basis for your assertion that the Church teaches about human rights because governments have a tendency to become oppressive?

I believe the Church proclaims human rights because it is the Truth, and the Church's mission is to proclaim the Truth, regardless of that governments may or may not do.

The statement ""Human rights, including the right to choose one's religion, come from our human nature and, as such, are not the result of human laws," does not originate with me. This is the Church's own teaching: "The Council further declares that the right to religious freedom is based on the very dignity of the human person as known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself." (DH 2) [The footnote to this passage references John XXIII Pacem in Terris, Pius XII Radio message 24 Dec 1942, Pius XI Mit brennender sorge, and Leo XIII Libertas Praestantissimum 20 June 1888.

No, this concept is not mine, nor have I "carelessly" asserted that which the Church itself does not already teach - authoritatively.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - what's the source of your quote re: CCC 1930, please?

Hammer of Fascists said...


The first quotation is from Mirari Vos 14. The Second is from Quanta Cura 3.

Gene said...

Ignotus, you did not place the statement in quotes. There is a difference between our human dignity as understood in natural law and "human rights" as defined by a culture or society.
The "religious freedom" the Church is talking about is freedom of expression, not a theological freedom of the will as I was using it to make a point that you missed completely.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - I use the same vocabulary the Church uses when speaking of Human Rights. Once again, I am comfortable in being with the Church on this.

An idea that the Church presents as its teaching is its teaching regardless of the use or non-use of quotation marks.