Friday, June 21, 2013


In the previous post I spoke of differing theologies in the doctrine of the Mass. This doesn't mean the doctrine is different but the expression of the doctrine through theologies that are different was the point.

For example we all know that many more prayers of the EF Mass are spoken in a low or quiet voice. Most startlingly for those who have only attended an OF Mass is to discover that the Roman Canon, is prayed in a low voice except for a few words here and there. In fact, I had forgotten from my childhood that the canon was mostly quiet and was discomforted by it when I celebrated as a priest the EF Mass my first several times.

Herein is a major shift in the theology of how the canon is expressed without changing it doctrine or dogma.

In the EF, the quiet canon leads to a spirituality of seeing this part of the Mass as entering into the "Holy of Holies." Added to that the gestures of the priests, the ad orientem position, the numerous bows and genuflections all lead those who follow it into a sense of the sacred, the sense of mystery and that we have left "ordinary" time for "extraordinary eternity."

What is happening at the altar is the same as at the OF Mass, the Holy Spirit is called down to change bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ and which the Most Holy Sacrifice of Cavalry is renewed, remembered, brought forward, made present in an unbloody way. God the Father accepts this Sacrifice and returns Jesus His Most Beloved Son to Us, Glorified and Risen and under the species of Bread and Wine for the Eucharistic Banquet, where those who worthily receive our Precious Lord's Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity are made a part of Him through His Church, His Bride, of which He is the Head and Bridegroom. We are strengthen in our Initiation into the Church by Christ through His sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. The Sacrificial Meal that occurs after the Holy Sacrifice (as in the Jewish temple of sacrifice) is meant to seal our relationship to the Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.

In the Ordinary Form of the Mass, the Eucharistic Prayer and there are many of these, not just one, but all accomplish the same purpose, is prayed aloud. This enables the laity to participate without having to follow along in a missal. They can see and hear the actions of the priest and unite their hearts and minds to the priestly actions visually and audibly. In a sense the Eucharistic Prayer becomes not only a prayer to God, but a proclamation of Prayer to God for all to hear and enter into.

Words rather that bodily gestures communicate the essence of the Mystery being celebrated, but the end result is the same as described above for both forms of the Mass. The spirituality and the theology are different, the experience is different in terms of "feeling" but the doctrine and dogma are the same, the Catholic faith is the same. This would also be true about the Eastern Rite liturgies, which have their own ethos, spirituality and theology to convey the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith.


Joseph Johnson said...

This explains why so many priests and bishops (formed by the OF mentality) are so opposed to Latin (even though the OF is in Latin, with approved vernacular translations as options) and why they are also so opposed to ad orientem celebration (which is also envisioned in the OF rubrics). It also explains their virulent opposition to the return of the EF.

Still, for many Catholics, myself and most of my family included, we are trying (despite this OF mentality) to experience the OF Mass with the reverent "entering into the Holy of Holies" EF mentality. Anything which hinders experiencing Mass this way is a detrimental irreverent distraction. As a result, though it's a long ride, I attend EF Masses whenever possible and openly advocate for the increased availability of the EF and for changes in the way the OF is celebrated so that it is experienced more like the EF (despite its differences and despite the option for vernacular).
It's harder to be a good Catholic with the typical OF theology and spirituality because the Mass is not so different in feel from the outside world. It should be a respite, a refuge from the ways of the daily world.

Marc said...

There's another difference in the ethos of the two "forms" of the Roman Rite: vocations!

The SSPX are ordaining 12 priests this morning in Minnesota. Also, 6 subdeacons will be raised to the diaconate. If only they'd set up a chapel in my archdiocese, where there is no weekly (or even monthly) Traditional Latin Mass.

Their flourishing growth continues... It reminds me of your discussion with Fr. Kavanaugh about his lack of converts at the Easter Vigil...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Most intentional communities are providing more vocations to the priesthood and religious life than the rag tag parishes are. For example, in Augusta, the Charismatic Covenant Community there, Alleluia, has produced more vocations than any parish in our diocese. In fact, let me list the ones I can now remember:
Fathers Tim McKewon, Aaron Pidel, Dan Firmin, Rich Hart, Jacob Almeter, Kevin O'Keefe, (the latter two just ordained) Mark Van Alstine and others in the seminary and still others I've forgotten more than likely. Their spirituality is Charismatic not Extraordinary Form although they would not run from it. (I might add, that my former parish in Augusta, Most Holy Trinity has had more priests ordained and not all Alleluia than any other parish in the Province of Atlanta!

Marc said...

Interesting. While I obviously disagree with the very existence of a "Catholic Charismatic" group, I have to ask what you think the correlation is to produce higher vocation rates? Is it just a self-selecting group of people who are more dedicated to the Faith or is there something more to it?

I don't think my archdiocese had anyone ordained a priest this year. But, they did ordain a very high number of older (and old) men to the permanent diaconate. There do seem to be a good number of seminarians, though, according to the posters. Maybe this was just an off-year for priestly ordinations. I don't think there are any charismatic groups here, but there are religious groups- a convent of Dominican nuns (in full habits and I'm thinking of going there for Mass tomorrow, which I'm looking forward to). I'm sure there's some religious in Mobile. And there's an Anglican Use group there that appears to be growing.

I think we are poorly positioned because Birmingham appears to be a flourishing diocese just to our north. Heck, there is a diocesan all Latin Mass parish in Huntsville - I've never heard of a diocese having that before. And there are Traditional Benedictines there too (formerly sedevacantist and now regularized by the bishop). Oh, and the Bishop emeritus offers the Traditional High Mass on a nearly monthly basis in Birmingham, at a parish with weekly Latin Masses. It seems to be a model for how a diocese should be run. That is probably due to the influence of EWTN to some extent. I'll have to check out their vocation rates...

Henry said...

It's not a question of theology nor even of mere expression of it; the "boisterous" canon--as opposed to an audible but reverent and respectful canon--is simply a perversion (or even a denial) of basic Catholic faith.

No priest who believes (as the Church does) that "the Sacrifice of the Mass is the perpetuation of the Sacrifice of the Cross down through the ages" would ever celebrate Holy Mass in a boisterous manner.

I believe it is a mistake to discuss the ethos of an errant generation as a coordinate or alternative "theology" also worthy of respect, when it is simply a perversion--however ubiquitous at all levels in the Church--of the theology the Church officially espouses.

Only when we can cease to regard the OF as something different from the traditional rite of the Church will the concept of two forms of the same rite make any sense. I believe the OF missal has the potential to wonderfully enrich the Church, though there is no indication of this in ordinary parish practice. Only when people can worship in the OF and the EF with the same deep devotion and spirituality will the OF finally be out of the ditch where an errant generation has put it.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

They are highly motivated in their faith and see their faith going to the world, but they are tightly knit in a common purpose. Their Charismatic spirituality is their "devotional life." But they embrace many, many traditional forms of Catholicism too but are quite comfortable with Hootenanny Masses but loved the solemnity of my former parish's Masses. But there are very, very spiritual.

Stan Meade said...

Not to distract from this discussion of vocations, I'd like to comment on the graphics for this post: They're perfect. Just looking at the contrast between these two types of liturgies by the postures of these two priests says it all. It ignited a visceral reaction that is hard to describe. I'll only say that the second photo creates a sort of revulsion. And I have to live with and swallow that revulsion nearly every Sunday.

It's also worth noting that the "Entertainer Priest" in the second photo appears to be considerably older than the "Reverent Priest" in the first photo. That seems to be the way it is all over. The Boisterous Church experiment has failed, but it is still holding sway by those with too much pride to admit their failure. The future is clear. I hope I live to see it.

Hammer of Fascists said...

Henry and others,

It seems to me that OF apologists or those hostile to the EF put forward in effect, the following as their apologia: "The OF is the same Mass, simply with a different (albeit equally valid/good/whatever) theological emphasis. Either Tridentine or OF is fine. [N.B. This may be lip service for public consumption.] But since they are/accomplish the same thing, it doesn't matter which we celebrate. Therefore, nobody should have any objection to the OF." In short, they do exactly what you object to--propose the OF as being grounded in a coordinate theology. It almost attains the status of a different rite.

(Of course there's the more extreme "progressive" argument, that we have "moved forward" liturgically and shouldn't "go back." At the heart of this argument, I believe, is the premise that The Tridentine is lacking or flawed in some respect, with not even the lip service of "one is as good as the other" being paid.)

The great advantage that OF adherents have, of course, is that Rome approved the OF. Those of us who object to it can only say in response that Rome was misguided, swept away by the spirit of the times, that Paul VI approved it under false pretenses, and that--above all--the approval doesn't rise to the level of infallibility. But until Rome buys into these arguments (don't hold your breath), we have to deal with the OF.

Here's a question: In 1950, were there any orthodox arguments to the effect that one form of Mass was superior to another? E.g., that one had the subjective (or even objective) opportunity to receive more graces from Solemn High Mass than from a Low Mass? If so, is there any reason why those arguments would not apply to OF/Tridentine today?

If not, what arguments would you make, based on the liturgical text of the OF, that its theology is inferior or less Catholic or that fewer graces are otherwise available from the OF? For the sake of fairness, we need to stay away from the subject of Kumbaya liturgical abuses and stick to the text itself.

Henry said...

Anonymous 5,

Unlike many traditionalists I would agree that ... Yes, the OF is the same Mass, in that the OF and EF are indeed two forms of the same Roman Mass. Although its questionable origins in a troubled and chaotic time are all you allude to--and I personally doubt that all those involved even had good intentions (in any defensible construction of this phrase)--I can still support the hope that when the reform now just beginning has borne full fruit, the OF may (perhaps decades hence) present a glorious flowering of the liturgy of the Church

However, two particular celebrations of the Mass, one OF and the other EF, though both valid, may not be equal or even comparable in efficaciousness. Contrary to a common but fatuous claim, validity is not all that matters.

Not in traditional Eucharistic theology, at least. In 1950 there was a well established and generally accepted theology of the value of a Mass, dating back at least to Aquinas, detailed in the manual on The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by Fr. Nicholas Gihr that is still readily available, and outlined in a (somewhat tendentious OF vs EF) Latin Mass Magazine article by Fr. Chad Ripperger posted now at

In brief, a distinction is made between the infinite "intrinsic merit" of a particular valid celebration of the Mass as a re-presentation of the Sacrifice of the Cross, and its finite "extrinsic value"--its effectiveness as a channel of grace to the faithful.

Unlike its intrinsic merit, the extrinsic value of a Mass depends greatly on all manner of exterior factors, all those particulars of that particular celebration--the beauty and fidelity with which it is celebrated, the dispositions of those involved, etc.--the faithful feel and hear and see in the liturgy that affect their individual receptivity to the grace made available by the sacrifice.

Indeed, any two celebrations of even the same form of the Mass are likely to differ in these externals, and hence in their extrinsic value. A sloppy celebration will be less efficacious in making grace available than a reverent celebration, a solemn Mass on a great occasion may be more efficacious than an everyday low Mass. Without any doubt, some of the brief daily low Masses I attended in the old days were less efficacious than the regular Sunday high Mass.

And Yes, almost every OF Mass in a typical parish setting is surely less efficacious than the typical EF sung Mass today. Even if some few OF Masses are more efficacious than many EF Masses. Although I regularly attend only the EF Mass, on certain occasions when given the choice, I have attended a special OF Mass that I anticipated might be more meritorious than the available EF Mass.

Anonymous said...

The Mass is a prayer, “the most perfect prayer” according to Paul VI. How does normally pray? Why would that change at Mass? When a group prays the rosary together do they do it boisterously, or in a prayerful and reverent manner?

The college I attend has four Masses a day, Mon-Thurs, three and two Friday and Saturday, and two High Masses on Sunday with a third that is without choir. The early morning Mass is always a EF, and it is one of the High Masses on Sunday. All of our OF Masses are in Latin except for the antiphons, collect, offertory, preface, and post communion.

The OFs are celebrated versus populum, but the three chaplains understand the nature of liturgical prayer, and it doesn't feel as if they are facing the people or proclaiming the canons, but rather are praying the canons and we the faithful are allowed to hear their prayer to God the Father. One old Jesuit sometimes will pray the canon in a low voice that is still audible to those in the back of the church. This causes a great sense of silence as everyone has to listen intently to hear his prayer.

It seems to me that to pray the canons in a normal voice is irreverent to the canon and makes it harder to perceive the mystery in this part of the Mass. Having the canon prayed in a lower voice or chanted causes those present to listen more intently and it really fosters the sense of mystery. If priests used a prayerful tone of speech, not just ordinary tone of voice or way of speaking, but truly praying the canons, either in a lower voice or chanted, because this is prayerful, the faithful will be drawn into a contemplative or prayerful state. Priests need to be taught how to pray the Mass instead of how to say the Mass.

Hammer of Fascists said...

Henry: Fascinating. I've only had time to skim the link you provided, but I look forward to reading Gihr. There does seem to be a touch of donatism in the link material, but if the analysis is correct, this is rather damning. It means that liturgical abuses obviously decrease the extrinsic value of the Mass. It's also pretty clear thatthere are way more abuses with No than with tridentine, so in this sense the NO is a "worse" mass than the Tridentine (not extrinsically, but--one might say--circumstantially).

Nevertheless, comparing an NO full of abuses to an abuse-free Tridentine isn't a fair comparison. Thus, the key question is twofold:

1) How much of this argument re extrinsic comparative worth is doctrinal as opposed to speculative?

2) All other things being as equal as possible, is the properly-celebrated, abuse-free, Novus Ordo, based on its black and red liturgical norms, of less extrinsic value than a properly-celebrated, abuse-free Tridentine Mass? If so, then is it acceptable for one to say that Rome, in its fallbility, either committed an error and/or sinned against the Tradition of the Church by foisting off a liturgy of less value on us than what it effectively suppressed?

If the answer to both of these questions is "yes," then it seems to me that the "law of necessity" argument so heavily relied upon by SSPX is vastly strengthened, in that SSPX is providing something clearly better (according to unimpeachable Catholic teaching) than Rome is providing. (And, I again state, I am writing as someone who has never gone to an SSPX Mass.)

Gene said...

I do not see anything to celebrate about a bunch more "charismatic Catholic" Priests. Sorry. Just more NO nonsense with congregations making oracular gestures and reaching up for Jesus. How 'bout a sack of snakes?

Pater Ignotus said...

Each year at the opening rector's conference, our seminary rector asked two questions: 1) How many of us had lived pretty much in the same location all of our lives, and 2) How many of us had a priest (pastor or associate) in the parish we attended for 10 years or more.

As I recall, 90%+ had lived in the same location and 95%+ had had a priest in his parish for 10 years or more. I think this was pretty amazing as the 182 of us in the seminary my first year came from dioceses that stretched from Vermont to Georgia in the east and from the Atlantic to The Dakotas and Nebraska.

I think the first datum indicates that a man with a strong sense of belonging to a community is more likely to be able to answer the call to priesthood. If a person experiences that strong connection, he can far more readily understand that he has a responsibility to that community, which is an essential element of priesthood - we are called to serve.

The mobility of families in our culture, the breakdown of families in our culture, and the drastic decline in the number of priests in our parishes, seem to work against the "natural" support for vocations that was present in earlier generations.

I don't think Msgr. McGuiness ever wrote up or analyzed this data. I wonder, though, if he was not on to something very important.

I'm not sure how to parse the second experience.

Now, there are exceptions. Our diocese has had, in the past, a number of vocations from military families. They have almost none of the stability the rector was asking about. I had a classmate who went to West Point and served 20 years in the Army. I spoke to his wife about this perceived anomaly and she said that, actually, in the military, there is a "built in" community among soldiers and their wives and families.

Marc said...

That's an excellent point, Father Kavanaugh. You'd think the Church would do some statistical analysis on this to help with their vocations marketing. Or perhaps they have and I'm not aware of it...

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - Fr. McDonald could share from his experience as diocesan vocations director regarding the analysis of candidates' backgrounds. I imagine this has been researched and the info shared among the VD's of dioceses and religious orders.

CARA has the data - CARA has researched EVERYTHING Catholic it seems...

John Nolan said...

To be fair, the priest in the lower picture is obviously preaching (some like to do this from the edge of the sanctuary). And his chasuble is a good example of an elegant modern style - it's not a 'polyester poncho'.

rcg said...

PI, I have spent most of my life in a military environment and the sense of community was quite strong, although it seems to have lessened and become 'secular' as we have diluted the force with non-operational careers. It is a similar phenomenon as what seems to be happening in our Parishes. When I retired from teh military I was surprised at how difficult it was to meet neighbours and get people to engage in community activities. Even in our Parish the sense of community waned of the years we were there. We can get so much, at least temporally, from sources other than the Church that there is little to attract us except the Mass. I think this was the 'bubble' that burst and has hurt the Church through the horizontal nature of the NO. I don't need to go to Mass to feel good, I don't need a Parochial School for my education, I don't need the Church to feed or clothe me. Our Church has been blessed by this affliction to have everything stripped from us, like a hurricane through our home, and to leave for us only the important things that gives us real strength, inspiration, and focus. The extemporaneous, and to some extent extraneous, nature of a typical NO Mass is like all of those silly nicknacks we have from our trip to Mexico. At some point they are in the way, require more upkeep than they are worth and our friends think we are tacky for having them. We are lucky that they are being scrutinized.

Pater Ignotus said...

rcg - I agree that our sense of needing Faith and the Church has waned significantly since the middle 1900's, but I don't agree that that loss springs from the TNO (Traditional Novus Ordo). The paradigm shift was culture wide in Europe and the United States and in any place where "western" culture dominates. And this shift is continuing in our own cultures and spreading to others where the dominant social ethos is consumerism.

If I can get everything that I need and most everything that I want from my own resources, how can I experience a need for Faith and the Church?

Add to that that consumerism reinforces a sense of "rugged individualism" and the loss of a sense of belonging to a community and being nurtured by a community falls away quickly.

Carol H. said...

I just got back from a trip to Birmingham. Of the 3 men ordained to the Priesthood this morning, 2 were EWTN Missionaries of the Eternal Word.