Sunday, August 4, 2013


I don't like getting into the arguments about which Mass is better because I think people have their tastes and have legitimate arguments for preferring one Mass over the other. I think the problems arise when we denigrate either Mass, but denigrate them even when either is celebrated well and by the book as they were meant to be.

I'm not talking about liturgical abuses in either form. Certainly these can be denigrated and critiqued in a charitable way, like the flying fish, which some seem to think is a flying flame. Either way, what was the liturgical committee thinking? That's right, they weren't thinking or they were fuzzy creative thinkers!

But let's get back to the OF and EF Masses. Obviously there are differences, although I continue to pray that the congregation would take more of an active singing part in the EF Mass for the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Pater Noster and Agnus Dei. I don't think they have to chant with the schola the Introit or Offertory and Communion Antiphons. One can also participate by listening.

Certainly each Mass has its ethos. The OF Mass is typically celebrated toward the people. This changes the ethos a bit, but it shouldn't be a drastic change. Both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis model very well how to celebrate the OF Mass in an EF sort of way, or better phrased how to celebrate ad populum in an ad orientem sort a way, especially with the altar arrangement and personal demeanor.

But apart from the Latin and vernacular differences and apart from the differences in the order of the Mass, its wording and rubrics, there should not have been other differences to make both Mass too dissimilar from each other. That which has caused the dissimilarities and in dramatic fashion so as to make both Masses seem completely different from one another could be remedied rather easily by the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome and mandated throughout the world. And this could be done without changing either Mass but allowing the ethos, spirituality and devotional reverence that is abundantly present in the EF to be similar in the OF. Isn't this the greatest divergence today, the ethos, spirituality and devotional reverence of the two Masses of the one Roman Rite?

Here are SEVEN SIMPLE RULES that I recommend for the Universal Church's Ordinary Form Mass in the Latin Rite:

1. Chant the Propers (Introit, Offertory and Communion Antiphons) that are in the Gradual for the OF Mass, meaning these can never be substituted by some other type of song or hymn. However, allow for the option of a hymn for the processional until the priest arrives at the altar. Once at the foot of the altar the official Introit begins, similar to what occurs at Vatican Masses.

2. Make clear that ad orientem or ad populum are permitted on an equal basis, but that the "Benedictine altar arrangement" modeled by both Popes Benedict and Francis be the norm for either way.

3. Mandate silence in the Church before and after Mass, which it should be when the tabernacle is present in the Church which is the case in the majority of churches in the world, but even when the tabernacle is in a separate chapel.

4. Making kneeling for Holy Communion the norm and standing the exception. Return to Holy Communion on the Tongue and make clear that intinction is on an equal footing with the Precious Blood from the chalice.

5. Demand more precision in choosing Catholic music with Catholic theology, spirituality and devotional qualities for adjunct anthems and hymns in the the Mass. Ask each language group to have a solid national hymnal in the vernacular approved by the Bishop's Conference and Rome, similar to what occurred with the new and glorious English translation of the Mass.

6. In that hymnal mandate that the Jubilatio Deo parts of the Mass in Latin be known by every parish in the world.

7. Mandate some Latin for the Mass, perhaps the Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei as a universal norm.


Anonymous said...

If we just do it right - all will be well.

If wearing the maniple is mandated . . .

If I have the "right" number of candles on the altar . . .

If the use of any instrument other than the organ is banned . . .

If mantillas are worn by ALL women . . .

If every so-called homily is little more than a recitation of passages from the catechism . . .

If women are in dresses and men wear ties . . .

If sacristans wear gloves to touch the sacred vessels, since only a priest's hands have been consecrated . . .

Liturgical Pelagianism

Joseph Johnson said...

Fr. McDonald,
I am very much in agreement with everything you have proposed except #2. Given that versus populum celebration has been the exception rather than the rule in the history of the Church, why is it desirable to place this practice on an equal footing with ad orientem/versus apsidem? Shouldn't versus populum be slowly "phased out" or, at least, be made the exception? I need not go into all of the deleterious effects that versus populum celebration has caused--we have discussed them at great length on this blog already.

Your new picture at the headmast of this blog shows what the Ordinary Form can be. We need to make "Ordinary Form towards the Lord" a priority.

Rood Screen said...

Fr. MacDonald,

Thank you for maintaining your fine blog. I think I now enjoy reading your posts more than those of Fr. Z. His blog was an excellent complement to the papacy of Pope Benedict, but somehow feels out of place under the pastoral care of Pope Francis. Your blog, however, maintains a certain reverent edge that keeps its relevance even in our post-BXVI era. Your frequent listing of proposed liturgical reforms can seem a little redundant and pointless at times, but perhaps you are laying the conversational groundwork for a bright liturgical future. Who knows? God's will be done. Maybe the simplicity promoted by Pope Francis will prepare us all to listen more to the Holy Ghost in liturgical and other matters, and less to modern fads. We'll see.

John Nolan said...

Father, if people attend a sung Mass on a regular basis, they will (most of them) sing. This applies to both forms. There are few people who will not join in if the following are sung:

1. The dialogue responses.
2. The Kyriale in its simpler or more familiar settings (not necessarily the same thing - Gloria VIII is more familiar than Gloria XV although the latter is much older, simpler and is actually Gregorian, and the same applies to Credo III and Credo I)

Also, make the Latin settings the default position even in masses otherwise in the vernacular. If other parts of the ordinary are being sung DO NOT allow the Creed to be simply recited - use Credo III.

Don't wait for Rome to mandate things (unlikely to happen anyway). Pope Benedict clearly intended that reform should be 'bottom up'; we had 'top-down' reform in the 1960s and look where it's got us.

Don't be suborned by loud-mouthed parishioners who throw a hissy-fit if they are deprived of a club-class hymn sandwich and Haagen-Dasz Mass settings. If they want to leave, let them.

John said...

Traditionalist and modernists not very well versed in liturgical theology tend to focus in on superficial issues when actually mean to say something else.

Name calling (Liturgical Pelagianism) is just an uncharitable remark no matter who makes it.

It is mean to be demeaning, bullying and ultimately an unrewarding argument.

Hammer of Fascists said...

Yes, anon at 8:46, It's _so_ much better if we just do anything we feel like, especially since it's easier to wear t-shirts and flip-flops than go to the trouble of dressing up and putting on mantillas, and it's so much more culturally comfortable for us to sing to a guitar. Since God loves us no matter what (unless we're pharisees or racists or sexists or Republicans) and is just grateful to us that we're there at all (at least on the Sundays we choose to show up) he wouldn't dare keep us out of heaven, no matter what.

I'll see your "Liturgical Palagianism" and raise you a "liturgical presumption" and a "temporal parochialism" (as in "we know better than all previous 50 generations combined").

Marc said...

Re: Accusations of Pelagianism

Rood Screen said...

Father MacDonald speaks of prayerful recommendations, and Anonymous treats him as a Pelagian. Is there really no place in your heart, dear Anonymous, for the kind of sincere dialogue amongst caring Catholics that does not lead to name-calling and medieval-style denunciation of heretics?

Gene said...

Hey, Anonymous, is liturgical Pelagianism anything like Pelagic Liturgicalism...where everybody has a whale of a good time at Mass?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Maybe the Holy Father is going to issue a syllabus of errors redefining the Hersey of Pelagianism? Or May be the Holy Father isn't really singling out traditionalist orthodox Catholics but heterodox Catholics who really are Pelagians?

Rood Screen said...

Dear Anonymous,

Here's a point by point response to your comment, since I apparently have the time to provide one:

It is certainly well to do "it" right. That is not Pelagianism, but common sense.

I've never heard anyone suggest that salvation or virtue depend upon the wearing of maniples.

Holy Mother Church tells us how many candles to light, and her rules are very simple and modest in this respect.

The organ is the official instrument of the Latin Rite. What does that hurt?

OK, mantillas should only be worn by 63.33% of women. Fedoras for men on the streets.

If by "catechism" you mean the Catechism of the Catholic Church, that would by an improvement in some cases, but who proposes doing so?

Yes, dresses and neck-ties are the keys to our salvation. Well said.

The hands of deacons are also consecrated.

Rood Screen said...

Yes, Father MacDonald, I think you're right about this new purge of Pelagian heretics! Bring on the Inquisition, and not the passive Roman one, but the Spanish Inquisition!
Anyone suggesting the Church will be amazing again if only she will ordain women, witness unnatural weddings, and make her priests drive go-carts: anyone making such suggestions could subjected to the SI (IE?).

Marc said...

I don't think the pope has any idea what Pelagianism is. The way he uses the term, he is like someone who heard a big word and decided he'd try to use it in a sentence.

Rood Screen said...

Sorry, deacons are consecrated, but not their hands specifically.

Gene said...

But, FrJBS, I like medieval style denunciation of heretics. LOL!

Henry said...

I suspect that Anonymous does not understand what Pelagianism actually is. It is not uncommon for contemporary Catholics (and others) to toss around words which they don't really understand.

At any rate, when how one prays affects what he believes, and what he believes affects his heart and mind, with the result that how he acts is changed, then the term tossed out (perhaps without adequate thought) does not fit.

John Nolan said...

The question remains as to how either form is meant to be celebrated. For an EF sung Mass this isn't a problem. But for the Low Mass there is still controversy over interior versus exterior participation. Regarding the OF, progressive liturgists (and there are still a few about)will point to the requirement in SC that full, conscious and active (actuosa) participation is to be the guiding principle of liturgical reform, and furthermore the people need to be able to understand both texts and rites "with ease" (facile) and "to take part in them fully, actively and as befits a community". In their eyes this clearly rules out Latin, or even a literal translation of it (check out St Rita and her cronies over at PTB). When SC talks about retaining Latin (and contradicts this in the very next paragraph) they can plausibly argue that this was meant pro tempore and cannot negate the overriding principle.

This is not a vague "Spirit of V2" concept - it's there in black and white in a Council document. An OF Mass celebrated ad orientem, in Latin, and with Gregorian Chant and/or polyphony might accord with the rubrics but they would argue it was not how it was meant to be celebrated.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I agree with you John on your assessment of those who seeing exactly what SC desired contradict it and I see it specifically in the blog you cite. It is an insult to those who accept SC and want to go back to this so-called founding document to get the liturgical renewal it desired right. And what you say about the OF Mass chanted with the propers and in Latin and ad orientem, one who was not schooled in the intricacies of what is different in either Mass would more than likely miss the differences, so closely aligned would the two Masses be.
But I read recently that in terms of active or actual participation, a new word is being thrown about that I think I like better and will begin to use and that is "engaged participation." This covers many aspects of what it means to "assist" at Mass!

Virginian said...

But that is where the PT Blog writers fail, allowing their own personal preferences to guide their interpretation of SC. The pointed admonitions to retain Latin in SC are precisely why Latin ordinaries can never be justly presumed to frustrate full, conscious and active (actuosa) participation. Furthermore, Latin ordinaries, according to V2's SC, actually promote active participation in the liturgy which is why the Council Fathers specifically direct that the people be taught to sing them. My guess is that the writers at PT Blog would be more likely to quote SC re. Latin if the council had directed that the people be instructed to sing the ordinaries in the vernacular instead of Latin.

John Nolan said...

SC, Article 21:

Qua quidem instauratione, textus et ritus ita ordinari oportet, ut sancta, quae significant, clarius exprimant, eaque populus christianus, in quantum fieri potest,
facile percipere atque plena actuosa et communitatis propria celebratione participare possit.

Now that, Father, is really deserving of the term 'bombshell' for it is saying that both the texts and the ritual actions of the Mass have to be easily understood (facile percipere) and lend themselves to a community-centred full and active participation. For the texts to be easily understood they have to be recited aloud and in the language of the people. Ritual actions the original purpose of which have been obscured over time but which connect us with the first millennium no longer have a place. Does mystery have a place? in this scenario, doubtful. It's all very utilitarian and protestant.

And remember this. The 'experts' who drew up Sacrosanctum Concilium were the same 'experts' empowered by SC (and, crucially, Paul VI) to oversee the liturgical revolution. And even before they embarked on it, they were clear about what the end product would look like.

Read Sacrosanctum Concilium from the perspective of even ten years later and everything that happened in the interim makes perfect sense. Forget Gaudium et Spes, Nostra Aetate et al., this is the scariest thing that came out of Vatican II, and had he lived, Bl. John XXIII would never have signed it off.

Unknown said...

It makes no sense. First of all the photo depicts altar girls. That should be done away with. Women can not be Priests. Encouraging altar boys encourages vocations. I bet just about every Priest was once an altar boy. It talks of adding more Latin to the Novus Ordo. Why bother? You may as well get rid of the Novus Ordo and use the TLM exclusively. All you need is a Latin/English missal to understand it, within a few months of attendance, you will know what is being said w/o it, other than the Epistle and the Gospel, which you would use the missal for. If every Mass was the TLM it would end the de facto segregation in parishes. In my parish you have the English Mass, then right after you have the Spanish Mass. It is like the Jim Crow South. If both groups had Latin missals in their respective language, all they would need is a print out of the Priest's sermon. As far as not exclusively celebrating the Mass Ad Orientem, why?? The Priest should not face God along with us?

William Meyer said...

Father, I agree with all your points, though I am unenthusiastic about versus populum. Still, it is not realistic to think we can see an end to that error in a time when thew minor changes in the new translation were made only after more than a year of gentle preparations.

Your item #3 is essential, and may be one of the hardest to achieve. In many parishes, the people seem to think it's a community gathering, and all about themselves. I think that a secondary point needs to be added, and it fits on #3 better than elsewhere, and that is about proper dress and comportment in the laity.

Finally, I would like to see the essential points of SC applied rigorously in all parishes. Hopefully, that would mean no more Haugen and Haas, among others.