Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Perhaps I live in a different Church from those who read my blog, but I have never seen the Extraordinary Form of the Mass as anything but Extraordinary. If my parish had had over 150 to 200 people, from my parish, not the diocese, attending the once a month EF High Mass and others finding it what they need spiritually, I would have made our 12:10 PM Mass an EF Mass. As it stands only about 50 or so of St. Joseph parishioners find this Mass something they would want every Sunday. That is simply not enough to warrant displacing 400 people who attend the 12:10 PM Mass faithfully. Of course I have made the 12:10 PM Mass ad orientem and this has been well-received with only one complaint. So in this regard the EF Mass has had a gravitational pull on the OF Mass.

We also chant, in addition to any congregational hymn singing, the official Introit, Offertory and Communion antiphons at every Sunday Mass. This recovery has been wonderful and shows how these chants enrich the celebration of the Mass and set the tone for any given liturgy.

The reform of the reform in my estimation means celebrating the modern missal as it was intended to be celebrated. Where we get into heated debate concerns ad orientem, Benedictine altar arrangement, and music. There is no consensus on these elements and no mandates. The Church is all over the place concerning these three things with music being the biggest looser.

My understanding of the reform of the reform has nothing to do with limiting the expanded understanding of actual participation to include singing and speaking by the laity as well as internal participation quietly; it's not either/or but both/and and it is here that the Ordinary Form of the Mass must have a gravitation pull on the Extraordinary Form of the Mass with our laity who attend the EF.

The reform of the reform has nothing to do with eliminating liturgical roles given to the laity and women in particular as it concerns reader, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and altar server. Those in the EF community who see the elimination of women in the sanctuary haven't been watching Pope Benedict and his liturgies in Rome and elsewhere. This is not going to happen in the Ordinary Form of the Mass.

What I would like to see is a more sober approach to our singing to include more chant as it is truly noble simplicity. The modern music we use today is too triumphant in sound and style, to much geared to superficial excitement rather than any real debt of meaning and experience from a truly Catholic spirituality.

So the on-going reform of the reform I believe means:

1. Recovering Gregorian Chant and Polyphony and vernacular chant based upon these two styles

2. Singing the Propers that are assigned to any given Mass, i.e. Introit, Offertory and Communion Antiphons

3. Developing more sober expressions of the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Mystery of Faith and Agnus Deiin the vernacular and a recovery of the Latin ones and giving the organ once again pride of place or even no instrumentation

We had our Chrism Mass last night at the Cathedral. I found the selection of music and the instrumentation of the music a bit too triumphalist especially given the more simple emphasis of our new Pope Francis and that it is the season of Lent, Holy Week specifically. There was brass and a somewhat operatic setting of the Responsorial Psalm and an Easter-like Gloria with refrain that makes it way too long. The Mass of Creation is better suited for Eastertide, especially with brass embellishments.

I thought to myself how beautiful it would have been simply to chant the given Introit, a simple Latin or English Gloria, a plain chant responsorial psalm and had no instrumentation for the Sanctus, Mystery of Faith, Great Amen and Agnus Dei and simply sung the Jubilatio Deo versions of these in Latin. I think the entire diocese should know this setting of the Mass in Latin and when there are diocesan events, especially with mixed language congregations, it should be used.

Sobriety of music not musical triumphalism is what is needed in the on-going "reform of the reform" but I think this call is falling on deaf ears everywhere except in the Church Music Association of America, which like a mustard seed will help bring about a true "reform of the reform" without a radical redesign of the Mass or its style of celebration.


Gene said...

Well, if the EF had been presented as something to be desired by all and if the parishioners had been educated properly about it at things like Coffee and Conversation and RCIA, it might be better attended. As it was, it was sort of, "here it is, take it or leave it." For what ever reason, the introduction of the EF was a bit trepidated and tentative. Probably because you did not have the enthusiastic support of the Bishop. Anyway, I hope you continue the EF and, perhaps with time, find a way to actively encourage and educate the people regarding it.
Of course, I think celebrating the OF properly and with dignity as you do helps restore a true Catholic identity and worship. The more the EF informs and shapes the OF, the better.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Gene, five years ago when we got permission to have the EF Mass I had an educational experience for people several times. The first time I have well over 100 people in attendance.
As well I took a survey of the parish to find out how many people wanted this Mass. I got about 160 responses out of a parish of more than 3000 people. The first EF Mass we had had over 300 people in attendance on a stormy night. That was eye opening for many who realized how much they like the Ordinary Form of the Mass better. But I have always contended that the vast, vast majority of Catholics prefer the vernacular Mass and active verbal and singing participation. If the EF Mass could be in English, I think many more people would prefer it. Latin is the issue, not the EF Mass in this regard.
But with that said, I prefer to spend more of my liturgical energy on the normal or Ordinary Form of the Mass ant its proper celebration. I love the EF Mass, but when there is only a handful that are interested in it I find it disproportionate to make it the center of my life as a priest and pastor.

Gene said...

I understand what you are saying. I was at that first EF Mass, and it was a really powerful experience...people saying rosaries before Mass (you never see that in the OF), women with mantilla's, more coats and ties on the men. I believe that could have been capitalized upon somehow and that we missed the opportunity. If the OF were always and everywhere celebrated as you celebrate it, that would be fine. It is not. The EF (and the OF informed by the EF) demands and encourages uniformity...which might lead to a uniformity in belief, behavior, and theology. The Church needs this.

John Nolan said...

You are surely right as regards Latin. Teach Latin chants to children and they love singing them, the Latin being an added bonus. To many adults, particularly educated ones, Latin is an embarrassment. They weren't taught it at school, and it is no longer a requirement for university entrance. Although they would never admit it, deep down they are ashamed of their ignorance, and this emerges as antipathy to the Latin language.

Pre-V2 Catholics did not have a hang-up about Latin. They knew enough to be able to join in at sung Mass and Benediction. They sang Salve Regina in Latin but prayed Hail Holy Queen in English. The Angelus in Latin would have stumped them, as few people knew the Hail Mary in Latin (unlike the Pater Noster which was familiar from Mass). At the age of eight I memorized the servers' responses. I remember being puzzled by the different word endings in the Confiteor (it was another three years before I started learning Latin at school) but I knew what the words meant.

By the way, EMHC should not be seen as having a liturgical role. They should only be used in case of necessity, they must not approach the altar before the priest's Communion, and unless they are instituted acolytes may not purify the sacred vessels. Women have no business dressing as clerics and substituting for them in the sanctuary. In fact this ostentatious lay 'participation' merely sends out a signal that some laity are more equal than others.

qwikness said...

I like the idea of EF's in vernacular but Have a little Latin sprinkled in. I do get tired of kneeling for so long though. Divine Liturgies are in vernacular with Greek sprinklings, no kneeling.

Unknown said...

Father McDonald,

That is a bit of a straw man to say, "But I have always contended that the vast, vast majority of Catholics prefer the vernacular Mass and active verbal and singing participation. If the EF Mass could be in English, I think many more people would prefer it. Latin is the issue, not the EF Mass in this regard."

That SHOULD have absolutely NO bearing on the conversation at all. The fact is that Latin was never to be removed from the liturgical action. That it has is to perpetuate and support an abuse of monumental scale.

Nowhere, and I mean nowhere does the Church officially and specifically advocate your view, yet as pastor and priest, continue to move in that direction? Why? Because you're clairvoyant? I'm sorry Father, I won't buy that bill of goods.

You bemoan those of us who support the EF saying that we must be living in another Church. No, Father, we aren't. We understand that two things trump everything else when it comes to the liturgy.

1. There is 2000 years of continuous history which should not be discarded as part of the historical record.

2. The EF should illuminate and catechize the OF in all things. The reform of the reform (which was coined by James Hitchcock in the early 1990s, not Benedict in 2005) isn't based upon celebrating the OF more faithfully, but reforming the OF into something which isn't wholly different than the Mass of all time.

Finally, I read an article recently which spoke of Vatican Council II as being less of an "updating" of the Church into the modern world, as it was promoting an "anti-Tridentine" mentality within the Church. I'm doing research into it, but it does make a certain amount of sense.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Andy, when the vernacular was allowed with the first transitional missal of 1965 most Catholics and I would say about 90% of them, my very conservative father included, loved it and appreciated the authority of the pope and a council to allow it.

Quickness, I agree that the postures for the EF Mass could become much more humane if it followed the OF template. Kneel for the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and Kyrie, stand for the Gloria and Collect, sit for the Epistle and Gradual/tract and stand for the Gospel. Stand for the Credo, sit for the offertory, stand for the Orate Fratres through the singing of the Sanctus, kneel for the canon, stand for the Our Father and Agnus dei, kneel after that...

Dan Z said...

The solution is simple. I pray Pope Francis will do it. Keep the two forms, EF and OF (at least for a full generation), but altar the OF in this regard: same Missal as we have it now, but suppress the current Order of the Mass, replacing it with the 1965 Order. That way, you get a more EF-style OF: ad orientum, rubrics more in continuity with the EF, yet still (mostly) in the vernacular with the current 3 year cycle lectionary and calendar. Ironically, this would also be in line with Pope Francis' ideal of making the mass shorter, since many uniquley protestant Novus Ordo add-ons from the current order (handshake of peace, ad libbed greetings and closings, etc) will be eliminated.

John Nolan said...

Fr Allan, reference your last comment, kneeling throughout most of the Mass but sitting for the Epistle and Offertory and standing for the Gospels is a Low Mass custom which in any case varied from place to place.

At a High or Sung Mass it is correct to stand for the orations (standing at the Dominus vobiscum), stand at the start of the Preface dialogue (not at the Orate Fratres as in the OF), kneel from the Hanc igitur until after the elevation of the Chalice, and then - wait for it - stand until the Fraction. Clambering to your feet after the concluding doxology of the Canon is an OF thing. You should be already standing.

99 out of 100 EF Mass-goers do not know this. They either adopt the Low Mass postures or the OF ones.

Marty Haugen's 'Mass of Creation' should be hung around his neck when he is burned at the stake. As for Glorias with refrains, they are so anti-liturgical that their only use is to remind the listener early on that he has stumbled into the wrong church and so repair straight away to the pub so as not to waste valuable drinking time.

WSquared said...

"The modern music we use today is too triumphant in sound and style, to much geared to superficial excitement rather than any real debt of meaning and experience from a truly Catholic spirituality."

Absolutely true.

A lot of the more modern, even folk, stuff is also a lot harder to sing than simple plainchant.

A good example of a simple, but noble and humble, chanted Gloria setting is the one from Corpus Christi Watershed's "Mass in Honor of St. Ralph Sherwin."

Templar said...

Here's the real difference between TLM and OF Catholics.

OF Catholics attend whatever Parish happens to be convenient to where they live. Whether they be well formed in their faith or not, and many truly are well formed, they can't picture going too far out of their way "just to attend Mass". They have no problem catching Mass at St. Bozos while on vacation, since they are fulfilling their obligations. If they move they will give little if any thought to what their new Parish will be like.

TLM Catholics will drive great distances to attend Mass, carefully researching the Parish and it's Clergy before registering. They are universally well grounded in their faith. They will alter vacation plans if arrangements for Mass can not be met. Among the first priorities when considering a move to a new area is availability of a good Parish.

So, the OF Church can keep waving their banners about what "most people want" and "most people like" and it can continue down the same road that every main stream Prot denomination has already traveled. As time goes by, the Traditionalists will be the only ones left. Not because the OF church was in heresy; not because the OF church was heterodox; not even because the OF church was wrong. Because the adherents to the OF Church just don't see their faith as anything more than a 1 hour Sunday obligation they can fulfill anywhere for full faith and credit. There's no roots in that tree.

Mr. C said...

Whether tongue in cheek or not, John Nolan's last paragraph is so repugnant and malformed, I'm surprised FRAJM hasn't addressed it. I've never employed MoC for other than weddings and funerals per request, as it fails the "beautiful" sniff test. And if one is stymied by "refrain" Glorias of all thing liturgical aspects that need redress in this era, well, get thee to St. Peter's in the Vatican and revel in the chaos that Capella Sixtina has morphed Mass VIII (Angelis) Gloria.
FRAJM and W2, thanks for the shout out to CMAA and CCW. We sing the Sherwin out here, and the congregation actually voted for it!
CMAA has been the greatest lighthouse for musical reform worldwide for most of the last decade.

John Nolan said...

Templar is right. A year or so ago I went to Mass at a large local church. It was full, a lot of young families, the usual racial mix, ie two-thirds white indigenous. The liturgy was pretty dreadful, cheap white ceramic vessels, lots of abuses etc, and also mostly inaudible despite the sound system, as the kids were making such a row. In the choir loft a folk group was churning out the usual drivel of the "why sing something once when you can sing it five times" genre. A few old ladies in the congregation were attempting to join in. Most of the congregation were simply 'there'; they showed no sign of being engaged in any way. They didn't even look bored or irritated, as I was - they just looked blank and uninterested.

I haven't been there since; it was all too depressing and dispiriting. Full, conscious and active participation? What a joke.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Mr. C, I'm not a musician and thus I'm not really sure what is wrong with the M of C, to my ears it sounds very nice and is easy to sing and people love it. On the organ it sounds very traditional to me. I've never been really clear why some who are musicians are so adverse to it.

John Nolan said...

Charles, Massimo Palombella's inserts in the Gloria from Mass VIII were hardly Tomas Luis de Victoria, but the assembly did sing the plainchant alternatim, rather than a trite advertising-jingle refrain, so I won't consign the maestro to the flames just yet.

I have re-read my last paragraph and find no evidence of malformation. It makes perfect sense grammatically. On second thoughts Marty shouldn't be too worried. As he's a non-Catholic I would simply proscribe his music for liturgical use. Anyway, by the time I've finished with Margaret Farley, Tina Beattie, the LCWR and divers other heretics, there won't be many faggots left (no pun intended).

Hammer of Fascists said...

Templar's statement regarding the difference between those who attend OF and Tridentine Masses is one we should all cogitate upon.

Gene said...

Go, John Nolan! Yeah!

rcg said...

I do think the Music is a key, as well as Latin education. When I started attending the local TLM my biggest problem was hearing the priest at a Low Mass due my hearing loss over the intervening years. The Missals from Baronius Press are excellent such that the Latin came back quickly and I could follow the rubrical gestures when I could not hear. Teaching the parishioners should be easy and actually fun, using some of the recommendations above.

The OF Music is generally so dreadful it destroys the atmosphere of worship for anyone trying to actually pray along with the Mass. Templar is right about the nature of people who attend TLM parishes. Our area has scores of Catholic parishes, yet most of us drive past them to get to the EF that is conducted seriously and prayerfully. I drive past five parishes in about ten miles, there are some who load their kids in the van and go over an hour to get here.

My ex-parish was going through one of those consultant led vision exercises to revise how the Liturgy is presented. One of the leaders said that there was enough time at home to be quiet and respectful, we needed a more lively Mass with fellowship. And loads more Haugen songs. That was the end for me.

Participation: I have noticed a distinct trend over the last few months in my TLM parish where there are more audible responses and recitations of the congregation's parts. The number of people is constantly growing, too. I have no idea how people are finding out, but it is growing. And there are a surprising number of young, single, adults.

Honestly, there is little difference in people who would leave the Church over a vestment being conservative lace or liberal polyester. They would miss the point. However, there is a lesson I recall from high school study of the French Revolution that the intensity behind a revolution is much greater after things have gotten better then are taken away. In the 1970's people stopped attending Mass in large part due to the changes of Vatican II. We struggled with embarrassingly poor Liturgy until Summorum Pontificum loosened the choke-chain a little. It would be a disaster rivaling the sex abuse crisis for a reversal to happen at this point.

ytc said...

Kneeling for an Epistle is stupid.

rcg said...

ytc, kneeling for the epistle is a Low Mass posture.

ytc said...

There are no postures of the people at EF Masses, you well know that, in the Missal. Kneeling for Holy Commmunion and the Canon are really the only universal postures. I maintain that kneeling for the Epistle is stupid, bred of an outlook that considers Mass "the best devotion among many." And I love the EF!

Unknown said...


I'm afraid you're wrong. While the postures of the faithful differ in certain places than those of the choir, the EF does have postures for the faithful. This does apply only to the Solemn Mass, because that is the way the Mass is intended to be celebrated.

The postures of the the Solemn Mass were adopted for the so-called Missa Cantata, because the ceremonials remain the same save the lack of deacon/subdeacon. But for the faithful, the song remains the same, regarding posture.

The so-called low Mass is an further adaptation and as such, through time it became custom in the majority of Christendom to remain kneeling, as an act of adoration, through the whole Mass. While strictly not an official posture, it is part of the universal tradition that through the whole of the low Mass the faithful remain kneeling.

The idea of standing/sitting/kneeling for a low Mass was largely an invention of the indult when it was resurrected in 1984 (not, 1988, mind you).

(As a complete aside, I've been an MC for the TLM for 19 years.)

N.B. Kneeling for anything at Holy Mass is never "STUPID!" It is an act of adoration and that is why we are at Holy Mass.

Unknown said...

Fr. McDonald,

You say, "Andy, when the vernacular was allowed with the first transitional missal of 1965 most Catholics and I would say about 90% of them, my very conservative father included, loved it and appreciated the authority of the pope and a council to allow it."

That is all fine and well, but answer me one question.

When has the mob ruled the Mass?

You say that 90% of the people liked it. What about the 10% who didn't? What was their lot? Sadly, it is that mentality which has caused the problems since the reforms after the Council. Rather than chasing after the one sheep, the leadership has sought only to take care of the 90%.

And then they get mad when the 10% are calling for help.

This isn't about what the people want, but it is about what the Church has taught for 2013 years. And the mob has never ruled that, even if they like it better a certain way.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Andy, the "mob" was quite surprised when the Holy Father allowed the vernacular. They didn't ask for this gift but when it was given to them the mob loved the gift, opened it and used it. Kind of like God's grace which I suspect a higher percentage of Catholics do not receive when it is unexpectedly given to them.

Unknown said...

Fr. McDonald,

I wouldn't say that the "gift" was given, but rather it was imposed.

Can you show me the continuity which supports the move from the language of the Church to the vulgar language of the mob?

How is celebrating Mass in the vernacular a gift, when it clearly wasn't called for, by the Council or the Council Fathers?

Templar said...

I don't think there is any evidence to support the notion of 90% loving (or hating) the inroduction of the vernacular. No matter which side you of the argument you support, I think anyone would be hard pressed to come up with anything but anecdotal evidence.

The real point is, whatever the percentage is, the change was abrupt, unauthorized, and when placed in effect, how were the ones who objected treated?

I also dispute that the "Holy Father" had anything to do with this "gift" one way or the other. It was given to us by a committee, run by a Freemason, which ignored SC. The Church, in her "humility" can't bring herself to admit a mistake though, so proceed with speed, direction to be determined.

William Meyer said...

Father, some of us in the "mob" didn't like this "gift" and didn't consider it a "gift"; it was more of a chastisement.

Perhaps my view differs because I have several years on you. I was happily following the Latin when it was from our hands untimely rip't.