Monday, December 30, 2013


said the following:

I converted about 7 years ago to the Catholic faith at the Cathedral in my diocese, which was my territory parish. However, five years in, I moved to an Extraordinary Form personal parish (FSSP) and it was like going through a second conversion - some have called the phenomenon their "tradversion".

In following God's call, He gifted me with an amazing job in my local diocese. However, I often find myself torn between two liturgical worlds. While I find myself spiritually fed by the spirituality of my priests and my parish, I find much beauty in the Novus Ordo when done reverently, and attend daily Mass often at my diocesan chapel. However, I have experienced grief at work for attending a Latin Mass parish, and have heard very negative remarks about my Bishop and my co-workers from people at my parish who treat the Bishop and the diocesan staff as The Enemy.

However, all is not lost - we do have many wise leaders in the church that understand this challenge and are working hard to help those searching for Christ find their path to Him. As a very wise Bishop recently told me, "There is only one Truth but within His Body, the Church, it is still quite roomy. " Or as Pope Francis said in Evangelii Gaudium, "We are all in the same boat and headed to the same port! Let us ask for the grace to rejoice in the gifts of each, which belong to all." (I highly recommend that everyone take the time to read the section in EG titled "II. Temptations faced by pastoral workers" and meditate on the truths about ourselves contained within.)


I appreciate Anonymous comments as they reflect my own experience. I find those who are opposed to the EF Mass the most fascist when it comes to the liturgy. They want to force everyone into their own mold and fear those who have a different liturgical perspective that is healthy and wise.

I call myself a liturgical liberal for within reason I can appreciate a variety of liturgical styles especially if these are beneficial for the salvation of souls and their Catholic witness and evangelization apart from the Mass that sustains them.  I am not a liturgical fascist!

When Pope Paul VI decided to implement his commission's design of the Mass based upon general guidelines offered by Sacrosanctum Concilium, he did so in the most pre-Vatican II way possible, by edict and in a monarchical way. Supposedly he "abrogated a nearly 1500 year tradition of the order of the Mass codified after the Council of Trent.

When Pope Benedict untied the knot on the 1962 Mass seven years ago, he did so not in a monarchical, fascist manner. He offered it to all priests with some conditions and made it clear that the Post Vatican II revised Mass would remain the ordinary, normal, regular Mass of the Church and the 1962 would be the extraordinary, out of the ordinary form of the Mass for those who requested it.

This has tied those liturgical fascists into knots who have promoted only the Ordinary Form of the Mass with an on-going emphasis on actions of the Mass, rather than the Divine Person of Jesus Christ. Thus the preoccupation with these liturgical fascists resides in the kinds of bread and wine used at Mass, the eatablility and drinkablilty of the bread and wine, which is broken and poured out to be eaten and drunk by everyone.

It is all about actions, the liturgical actions focused on the symbols and signs, leaving the Person of Jesus in the background while preoccupation with action and signs come to the fore.

At least the pre-Vatican II theology of signs and symbols got it right, these veil or hide what they also reveal, Jesus Christ who is invisible except through the veil of the signs and symbols of the Mass which make Him visible.

And on top of that, today's liturgical fascists think that the ecclesiology of the Church is the most important aspect of the revised Mass--it is a completely horizontal, sociological view of the Mass meant to be like a chart of what the Church's organization is and how we act together as a Church--it is herein that the horizontal emphasis lies and overwhelms the most important aspect of the Mass, its vertical aspect, point to God who saves us in Jesus Christ, who shows us Mercy and calls us to discipleship, not in a churchy sort of way but in a more important sort of way, where they live, work and play and even in their politics.

But apart from that, those liturgical fascists who desired and continue to desire that the 1962 Missal be suppressed or abrogated, they fail to recognize the most important aspect of both forms of the Mass! It is Jesus Christ, truly and substantially present who saves us through his suffering, death and resurrection, his Passion, the Paschal Mystery.

Both Masses have the Church collectively gathered, those on earth, those in heaven and those in purgatory. Both Masses have the Word of God, Sacred Scripture, although the EF has more Scripture although the Lectionary is limited compared to the Ordinary Form, but both forms have lectionaries!

At both Masses, not only is there the mystical Body of Christ gathered with her Head, Jesus Christ, not only is the Word of God proclaimed and not only is the priest acting in the Person of Christ, but also Jesus Christ's one Sacrifice is made present in an unbloody way and His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, the Glorified Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus is Food and Drink for the Mystical Body of Christ as they traverse this life of "knowing, loving and serving" Jesus Christ in order to be happy with Him forever in heaven.

Why in the name of God and all that is holy would anyone want to abrogate any legitmate form of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?  It could only be the case if they are a liturgical fascist! 


Henry said...

Hmm ... I wonder whether--with OF-EF "swingers" like you, me, John Nolan, FrJBS, and others who might prefer not be to be included in this list--Southern Orders might just be the most liturgically liberal blog found anywhere on the internet

Anonymous said...

I personally prefer the ER Mass. However I have no problems with the OF at all. My issue with the Mass of Paul VI is that I wish the Mass of Paul VI was actually celebrated. I' m sick and tired of walking into Mass and not knowing what to expect. Or to put it another way, what nutty thing is going to happen this time. Why do priests INSIST on changing the words and actions of the Mass to suit their own personal needs? If I acted at my job the way some priests do at Mass, I would be fired. Clericalism doesn't necessarily refer to the smells and bells. Clericalism is a cleric who thinks they know better than Holy Mother Church and will do whatever they think is best. That goes for liberals as well as for conservatives. All I ask for at Mass is reverence, decent vestments, Catholic hymns, a choir that can carry a note, an uncluttered sanctuary, no innovations at all by the priests, and a good solid Catholic homily. That's all.

Anonymous 2 said...

Good point, Henry. Accepting and supporting both Forms is certainly more liturgically liberal than accepting and supporting only one and seeking to suppress the other.

That said, perhaps extremists on both sides are afraid that legitimizing the other Form will give succor to their “opponents” and spill over into non-liturgical areas. If so, perhaps they need to have more faith in the working of the Holy Spirit.

John Nolan said...

I recognize the authentic liturgical voice of the Church in the Tridentine Rite, the Dominican Rite, and in the Novus Ordo when celebrated in a spirit of continuity rather than rupture. I have some experience of the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom as celebrated by the Ukrainian Catholic Church and can even sing some of the responses, despite an almost total ignorance of both Ukrainian and Old Church Slavonic. The Ambrosian or Carthusian Rites are unfamiliar but I would attend them with the same disposition. An ancient eastern rite in Aramaic would be as valid to me as the familiar Latin Mass, provided those celebrating it were in communion with the Holy See and not heretical. If this makes me a liturgical liberal, then so be it.

Rood Screen said...


Yes, this is certainly the preeminent blog of genuine Catholic liberalism. Fr. McDonald has fashioned a blog promoting Gospel freedom in liturgy in particular, and in Catholic life in general.

In medio stat virtus.

"...In faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way. The Council also desires that, where necessary, the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet the circumstances and needs of modern times." (SC 4)

Rood Screen said...


I think you are right in insisting upon a more faithful celebration that is in accord with Roman liturgical tradition. Sacrosanctum Concillium says, "Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop. ... Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority." (SC 22)

Rood Screen said...

Anonymous 2,

It could well be that one day the OF Liturgy of the Word and the EF Mass of the Faithful will merge into a single form for the Roman Rite of Mass. I would love to see this happen, but I will likely have to see it from beyond the grave!

Joseph Johnson said...

"It is all about the actions, the liturgical actions focused on the symbols and the signs . ." It is very interesting and ironic that you should refer to the OF-only "liturgical fascists" as having this obsession or focus since they regularly accuse those who have an affinity for the EF as being obsessed with "externals."

I suppose they see us this way because, when the EF Mass is offered in a place where it hasn't been, the EF promoters (rightfully) want to make sure that everything is set up right (altar, etc.) and that all the necessary articles (which are not typically used today in the OF) are available and in place. In other words, by setting up an otherwise OF church for an EF, these liturgical fascists see us an being "all about the externals."

They need to be fair and understand that the EF requires certain things, at a minimum, such as an altar set up for ad orientem, a '62 Missal and altar cards, Communion patens and a veiled chalice with burse, etc. This is not an obsession with externals.

Anonymous said...

It seems as if most of the discussion here is about liturgy, OF, EF, Latin, vernacular, vestments, altar set up, position of the priest, etc. etc....the things that go on inside of the church building. That seems to be considered the essence of Catholicism. Those who believe that this is the case seem to be worried...scared...angry, that Pope Francis may be more concerned about what goes on outside of the church building... that he sees this as the essence. If we look at the Bible, the Gospels, Catechism, the life of Christ...there seems to be a lot less said about what goes on in the building than what happens out in the world, how we live our lives and treat and relate to others.

John Nolan said...

Those who appreciate the Latin Mass (in either form) and the music associated with it don't expect everyone to share their preference, and if three out of four Sunday Masses in their parish are in English with hymns or even faux-folk settings, they are quite happy.

Not so the vernacular-only crowd. They demand the right to turn up at any Mass and have their preferences indulged. They are usually long-standing parishioners "of a certain age" who sit on various committees and are often lay readers and EMHC. It takes a brave parish priest to stand up to them, and if thwarted they threaten to take themselves and their money elsewhere. If he does stand up to them, the bishop will soon be made aware that he is 'confrontational' and he will be removed.

I suggest those who have not already done so should procure a copy of Stephen Oliver's 2004 novel "Smoke in the Sanctuary" about a young traditionally-minded priest who takes over a liberal parish in the west of England. It is hilarious in the PG Wodehouse vein, but also poignant and uncomfortably close to reality.

Joseph Johnson said...

"Today's liturgical fascists think that the Church's ecclesiology is the most important aspect of the revised Mass."

Do todays' liturgical fascist REALLY think that we raise our children to come to Mass and that we come to Mass ourselves because we want to somehow affirm the Church's current ecclesiology? Really?? Maybe some priests and liturgists care about this but I feel pretty darn confident that ecclesiology is not in the front of the minds of most average Catholics when they come to Mass. This is why I feel so blindsided and puzzled when priests who don't like the EF (or ad orientem OF with EF features) want to talk about a liturgy that affirms this ecclesiology while I'm focused on solemn worship of God and the unbloody renewal of the same Sacrifice of Calvary. Are we coming to worship God or his Church (ecclesia)?

It's as if we're living in two separate, parallel, universes (our minds on two entirely different aspects--thinking past one another and not meeting). I don't go to Church to affirm an ecclesiology because ecclesiology doesn't save me---Jesus' Sacrifice on the Cross does. The only ecclesiology feature that is necessary in any valid Mass is a validly ordained priest to offer the Sacrifice. I go to Mass to worship God and to partake in Jesus' Sacrifice--period. To put anything ahead of the worship and Sacrifice dimension of the Mass is, quite frankly, misdirected at best and sacrilegious at worst.

Gene said...

Joseph, can most Priests today even pronounce "ecclesiology?"

Rood Screen said...

Anonymous said, "It seems as if most of the discussion here is about liturgy".

Yes, the liturgy, the source and summit of Gospel faith, is the primary focus of this blog. Fr. McDonald cannot very well post details about the sick he visits, the couples he counsels or other private matters. The sacred liturgy is, by its very nature, public, and therefore easily subject to public discussion and comment on a blog. On the other hand, the sick, the frightened and the poor are all entitled to their privacy. When parochial priests discuss these latter groups in public forums open to comments, privacy is easily compromised and the vulnerable are subject to gossip.

Anonymous said...

So the message from FrAJM is not to be too hot for the Mass, nor be too hot for social justice and neither be too cold for either. Be moderate, lukewarm.

Hmmm... hey, wait... isn't there something in the Bible where the Lord says He wants us to be either hot or to be cold, but to be lukewarm makes Him want to vomit? That's the WORD of God.

Instead of the Trad name calling (neo-protestants,self-absorbed promethean neopelagian, etc... and that may be a reason why your EF Masses are getting you also call your parishoners "ignorant hillbillies"?), perhaps you should rejoice in the fact there are people whose main focus is the liturgy, just as there are people (the pope among them) whose main focus is the poor, and all will balance itself out. It is better to be a master of one thing than to be a mediocre jack of all trades. To try to censure Trads who want what's best for the Holy Mass, just because the current pope is focused more on the poor, is a defect in your character, Father. But perhaps you are just following the pope's lead, as he is the one who started all the childish name calling, even though from the other side of his mouth he calls for tolerance, mercy and non-judgement.

Pater Ignotus said...

If your characterization, "This has tied those liturgical fascists into knots who have promoted only the Ordinary Form of the Mass with an on-going emphasis on actions of the Mass, rather than the Divine Person of Jesus Christ." were true, I'd be running as fast as I could from the OF toward the EF.

But your comments are more of a unfortunate caricature, so I'm staying put.

It is in and through the signs - bread, wine, word, action, etc - that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ. Without them, the sacramental encounter would not take place.

This is made necessary by the Incarnation. It is in and through the elements of this material world that we can come to know the saving power of Christ. We are not angels, so we must have the bread, wine, etc., in order to be brought into a saving relationship with Jesus.

Pater Ignotus said...

Joseph - No one comes to "worship" the Church. And while ecclesiology, per se, might not be in the minds of many at mass, it certainly underpins the words and actions of the mass.

We come to do two things at the mass - and they are inseparable.

We come to offer worship to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to have communicated to us the saving mysteries of Jesus Christ.

Rood Screen said...

Fr. McDonald is passionate about God and the people of God. What he is lacking is an uncharitable attachment to the idolatrous worship of man-made customs, thanks be to God. He takes a firm, passionate stand against those would would co-opt liturgical rites for divisive purposes.

Rood Screen said...

I agree with the overall sentiments of Pater Ignotus' two comments.

Henry said...

"I'd be running as fast as I could from the OF toward the EF."

But surely no who experiences the full glory of Roman Catholicism runs away from either form of the Roman rite. Rather, he embraces both the EF and OF reverently and wholeheartedly. (Even if abuse of either form saddens him, as indeed it should.)

rcg said...

I think if the OF were consistently presented in the most respectful and prayerful way possible for the celebrant and the parish there would be very little controversy outside of esthetics. There is a lot of room for variety to account for circumstances.

George said...

The power and effectiveness of God's grace is is revealed and conveyed to us through certain material elements of the world we exist in according to and by His design.
God created us as physical beings and he chose to use bread and wine and water as the means to convey grace and even His very Self to us (although in the conveyance of His Body,Blood, Soul and Divinity
the material substances are transubstantiated).
The use of any wine or bread is doctrinally ordered and is according to what was instituted by Christ Himself when He said the words "do this". His Holy Church delineates and defines what is right and proper in the use of material elements for the Sacraments and in those things that are necessary and essential for true and proper worship and liturgy.

Joseph Johnson said...

Pater Ignotus,
I never said that we come to worship the Church when we come to Mass. I think we can agree on that point. We can also agree that we worship God (Who is Three Persons in One God).

I was merely making light of the point that it often can appear that less important things (like ecclesiology) can get emphasized in the way the Mass is celebrated in modern times over more important things (like the Sacrificial Nature of the Mass and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist).

It is far more important to show the utmost care and due reverence in handling, distributing and receiving the Eucharist (as is required in the EF Mass but varies widely in the OF Mass) than whether, for example, we insist on having EMHC's and female altar servers to emphasize a certain view of current ecclesiology.

Pater Ignotus said...

Joseph - I don't know what you mean when you say that ecclesiology is a "less important" thing when it comes to the liturgy. Ecclesiology, soteriology, eschatology, Christology, sacramental theology (systematics), etc., all shape and form the way in which we celebrate the mass.

As our theology develops, so does the way in which the mass is celebrated.

Any theology, taken to an extreme, risks becoming heretical. If the humanity of Jesus is over-emphasized at the expense of His divinity, if the sacrificial nature of the mass is over-emphasized at the expense of the communal meal, if the action of the Holy Spirit (epiclesis) is under-emphasized - then the mass is not a reflection of what we believe and needs adjustment.

One cannot say that the mass is ONLY a representation of Christ's passion and death and does not include a memorializing of the Last Supper and/or His Resurrection.

Finding the balance is what we aim for, a balance that brings together in a ritual synthesis, the saving mystery of Jesus Christ.

Gene said...

"…ritual synthesis…" Now, there's some theological psycho-babble…I used to hear that a lot in protestant Divinity and grad schools….also, crap like, "his presence refracted through our participation in the liturgy." Projectile vomit alert...

Pater Ignotus said...

The mass, being the "source and summit" of our lives as Catholics, is a synthesis of what we believe.

The mass brings together ecclesiology, sacramental theology (systematics), Scripture scholarship, eschatology, etc. That's what a "synthesis" is.

And the mass is a ritual. No one can deny that fact.

It is, therefore, a "ritual synthesis" of our faith.

It seems your Protestant divinity and grad schools knew what they were talking about.

Joseph Johnson said...

We receive Jesus Christ, (the Second Person of the Triune God, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity Who Sacrificed Himself once and for all for our salvation), under the appearance of Bread (and Wine, if we receive under both forms, but this is not necessary). The consumption of the Bread (and Wine) has the appearance of a meal and commemorates the historic Gospel event called the Last Supper. The form, or appearance, of food consumed as a part of what looks, outwardly, like a meal (at least in some respects) is the "delivery vehicle" that Christ instituted so that we could partake throughout Church history in the same Sacrifice of Calvary.

The ongoing Reality (not just a memory of a one-time historic event) of Who the Eucharist is (Jesus) should motivate how we behave at, and celebrate, the Mass. This Reality has not changed. We did not stop believing that the smallest visible Particles (or the most minute visible Drops) of the Eucharist are still fully Christ.

I was raised to genuflect when crossing in front of an Occupied Tabernacle. I was taught not to touch the Blessed Sacrament with my hands and that servers should hold patens under the Communicant's chin to catch any falling Hosts or Particles. I have seen priests (and deacons)rinse their fingers over the chalice after having distributed Communion so that Particles are consumed in the Ablution (which also includes any Particles from the hand patens).

Believing in the Real Presence and in the importance of these practices (which are consistent with that belief and reinforce it) is not something that I can cast off or diminish easily (like I stopped believing in Santa Claus as a child).

Am I a heretic (and need a labelled pointed paper hat like Joan of Arc) because it bothers me deeply that so many no longer believe in the Real Presence and because I blame a lot of this lack of belief on the Church's ill-advised changes in its practices in the handling and distribution of Holy Communion?

Gene said...

Ignotus, you don't even know what I am talking about...

Pater Igtnotus said...

Pin/Gene - Well, I was talking about the mass. What is it you are talking about...?

Rood Screen said...

I'm not sure what our dear Pater Ignotus is talking about now. While our participation in the Mass is certainly informed by theology, the Mass itself remains Christ's personal offering of us along with Himself to the Father for our redemption.

Dear Pater Ignotus said...

Our Dear FrJBS - I am talking about the theology that underlies how and why of what we do in the mass.

Why do we use 4 scripture readings on Sundays? What is the theological rationale for offering the sign of peace? When we pray for the dead, what good do we think this does for the deceased? The bow of the head during the Creed is a reverence to what theological understanding?

The mass itself is informed, shaped, reformed, guided by our theology.

Joseph Johnson said...

Pater Ignotus,
I'm glad that you mentioned the bow of the head during the words of the Incarnation during the Creed. This is so widely ignored despite the fact that most missalettes still contain the little note telling us to bow our heads for these words.

I must confess that I became even more conscious of the bowing of the head in the OF after having had to kneel for the words when I "discovered" the EF as a younger adult about 20 years ago. I knelt for these words at our OF Christmas Mass (as is still proper for that Mass, to my knowledge).