Saturday, December 28, 2013


The Mass I prefer is the Mass where I sense that everyone is engaged in the Mass in order to receive from the Mass what God wants to give us and how well we respond to God's grace to give Him the most beautiful expression of our faith, hope and love in the manner in which we give God right worship, which is in fact His gift to us to be able to do so.

In September of 2014, I will have been celebrating the gift of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass for seven years thanks to Pope Benedict XVI! I had hoped that the beauty of this Mass would have attracted more people to its celebration. I intentionally placed it at a time seperate from our normal Ordinary Form Mass (did not replace one of those in other words) to see what the interest would be and how long that interest would last.

From a peak of about 150 people at the first few Masses, it has declined to about 60 and sometimes less at our Sunday once a month 2:00 PM Mass. We celebrate this Mass completely sung and with a very good men's schola.  Our daily Low EF Mass on Tuesday's at 5 pm has fared better and has seen increases in the number attending, from about 15 to about 30 or so.

While I love the EF Mass and love the preservation of our Latin language heritage, both spoken and chanted, through it, I also love the vernacular and always have since the first days that it was introduced beginning around 1965, first with the 1962 missal and then with the 1970 Order of Mass and missal (although I did not like the "dumbing" down of either the Order of the Mass or how the English was translated into simplistic language which was reductionist and harmful to our Catholic doctrine, theology and spirituality. Even as a young person almost 20 years old I could tell this had occurred and most of the Catholics at the time could tell it too and we were not pleased.

I think when the Ordinary Form of the Mass is celebrated with all the options that are allowed it and with dignity, by saying or chanting the black and doing the red, it is as God intends our worship to be since God is the one who gives it to us and we return it to Him!

I've said all along that I would love to see the current, modern Roman Missal we have simply have an EF option to it but in the vernacular (or Latin if one desires). By that I mean it simply has the EF's Order and rubrics, which could easily be made possible with the current missal and its calendar, without changing anything but the order and rubrics.

This EF order for the Ordinary Form Missal would allow only for the Roman Canon. Of course the Introit, offertory and Communion Antiphons would need to be in this missal and the Introit in the EF style, with the Gloria Patri--thus there needs to be an antiphon and one verse for the Introit in the missal.

The only option that I would think would be important is the option of an audible Roman Canon that also could be chanted as currently allowed.

I should add, that I prefer the OF's Communion Rite compared to the EF's. It is there that I think a "reform of the reform" modern missal with EF order and rubrics could sustain an actual reform. 


Henry said...

I attend regularly both OF and EF Masses at which most seem actively engaged and participating, both prayerfully and vocally.

On the basis of experience with monthly, biweekly, weekly, and daily EF Masses in different locations, I would suggest, Father, that neither form of Mass can be expected to thrive and grow--either in numbers or in common participation--on a once monthly basis. In particular, only with a regular every Sunday EF Mass can families develop a stable pattern of attendance. And only with regular every-Sunday attendance can a Latin Mass community (either EF or OF) develop a sense of community with active joint participation. I've never seen this develop in a monthly or sporadic situation.

Rood Screen said...

I agree with Henry about weekly Mass. Sunday Mass is by its nature a weekly experience, and anything less frequent seems to me to be pastorally disingenuous. It also needs to be at a family friendly hour if the pastor is serious about attracting families.
I would also caution against an audible canon, even if it were allowed. The silence of the canon recalls the solitary presence of the Levitical high priest in the Holy of Holies, and the lone work of Christ up on the Cross. I'd suggest that it's a Post-Enlightenment poverty that everything must be placed immediately before our intellects for examination. Leave room for quite and mystery, please.

rcg said...

I have to wonder at the relatively small response to your EF Mass. Have you surveyed what sort of people attend it? Our parish is composed largely of people who travel about an hour to attend, although there is a sizable number that is more local. In our case we are drawn from the many Catholic parishes in this part of the country, so there is an advantage there.

Have you tried producing a youtube or Vimeo video explaining it? Perhaps education will help. I think many people are afraid they can't 'keep up'. You can tell them that they can also just come and pray along with you and they will eventually catch on. I also like it when the homily is used to expand on the lessons in the prayers with some translation thrown in. Southerners use words with effect and understand their power. I think that would have a great appeal.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all the above comments:
more frequent, family friendly hour, education.

Also the NO Mass celebrated Ad Orientem with all the reverence some Latin and altar rails is the REAL V2...and spiritually moving.


John Nolan said...

I'm with Henry, especially if you're going to schedule an EF sung Mass only once a month and at the graveyard slot of 2 p.m. when most people will be thinking of Sunday lunch.

As I've said before, concentrate your musical resources on your principal Sunday Mass, sung OF, ad orientem, with your schola singing the Graduale propers and your choir singing a polyphonic ordinary. The amount of Latin (apart from the above) would depend on your good self and the Missal chants work perfectly well in English.

Hymn singing is not excluded from the above, but the "family Mass with hymns" should be a separate Mass and would indeed be popular.

The EF Low Mass could be the early Mass on a Sunday. Those who like this want something quiet without music or noisy children.

Above all, don't hanker for even more options in the NO and leave the EF, with its own calendar and Office, alone for at least another century. God knows, we have had enough change as it is.

Joseph Johnson said...

You are absolutely right about the need for weekly Mass for either form of the Mass to thrive and grow and build a sense of community.

The problem for the EF, as I see it, in the Diocese of Savannah is threefold:

1. Lack of willing and knowledgeable priests to offer the EF (the lack of knowledge can be solved with training--the lack of will leads to my next point . .).

2. Priests who, as a matter of principle (probably because of their age-group, earlier formation and understanding of Vatican II) are opposed to the EF and wouldn't offer it even if they actually know how. Some will say that there should never be a Sunday EF because of their belief in the principle that all should, ideally, go to one (OF) Sunday Mass (of course, in larger parishes this is not feasible so there are multiple OF Masses but they would still, never agree to a Sunday EF Mass on the grounds that it might be "divisive").

3. Overworked, overscheduled priests due to the still existent lack of priests. This is especially true in small town parishes (like mine) in rural areas where there is only one priest and he may have to travel to one or two other smaller parishes in neighboring communities to offer Mass as well as the added burden of Spanish Masses.

What would you suggest as a possible solution? My suggestions would be for the Diocese to encourage and offer training to priests who are willing to learn the EF. This would help alleviate problem number one. Problem two can only be solved by prayer, change of hearts and retirements.
Ironically, I believe that problem three would begin to be solved by the availability of the EF as the overall evidence appears to suggest that the EF attracts vocations. Beyond that, maybe the Bishop should invite a group like the FSSP to send a priest or two into this Diocese to help train the Diocesan priests and to offer the EF around the Diocese.

What do you think?

rcg said...

I completely missed the part about it being only once a month. That is part of your problem. i also agree about focusing your musical efforts in the Sung Mass. The music types love that stuff and will support you.

George said...

I concur with pretty much all the previous comments.

The Sunday EF Mass at 2PM:

Given that most people expect to be settled into their normal Sunday afternoon routine by that time it is probably an overly ambitious goal to expect more than 50 or 60 to attend. Especially in the fall and early winter when many can fulfill their Sunday obligation at the Saturday vigil or on Sunday morning and then settle back in the afternoon to watch their favorite football team (which to some is almost like a second religion - especially here in the South).

Once a month is too infrequent. If your going to schedule it that way, it would be better to
substitute for one of the other Masses. You would need enough English-Latin missalettes of course (after all people are going to want to follow along).

The Tuesday 5 PM:

I don't work very far from the Church and there have been times when I barely made it. Might changing the time to 5:30 or 6:00 bring up the attendance?

I agree with FrJBS on the following:

"I would also caution against an audible canon, even if it were allowed. The silence of the canon recalls the solitary presence of the Levitical high priest in the Holy of Holies, and the lone work of Christ up on the Cross".

This signifies in a special way to those in attendance that there is something that transcends our everyday earthly existence taking place.

John Nolan said...

According to the GIRM the Offertory prayers may be said aloud if no singing is in progress. The same should apply to the Canon in a sung OF Mass when more elaborate settings of the Sanctus/Benedictus are used, with the Consecration said (or sung) aloud, followed by the Benedictus while the priest continues the Canon silently until the Per Ipsum. The Benedictus could even serve as an acclamation.

On Christmas Day at the London Oratory Mozart's Coronation Mass was used, and although the Benedictus was considerably shortened, which does the composer no favours, the celebrant and ministers were still left standing at the altar. The Kyrie and Gloria are not a problem since clergy and congregation can sit down, and the Agnus Dei can be sung during the people's Communion.

Otherwise I would leave the OF as it is, celebrate it ad orientem and in Latin, and sing as much of it as possible, including the lessons. The ICEL website gives the tones for all three and instructions on how to point the text in the current vernacular.

Rood Screen said...

John Nolan said, "The Kyrie and Gloria are not a problem since clergy and congregation can sit down, and the Agnus Dei can be sung during the people's Communion."

I wondering where you've found official permission for this in the O.F.?

John Nolan said...


When the Kyrie and Gloria are sung by the choir alone (which they have to be in polyphonic Masses) it is the custom for the clergy and congregation to sit, standing only for the celebrant's intonation of 'Gloria in excelsis Deo'. It doesn't require official permission. On the Feast of SS Peter and Paul this year in St Peter's, the Gloria was sung alternately by choir and congregation, so everyone remained standing; the Credo, however, was from Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli and everyone, including the Pope, sat down.

The Novus Ordo Communion Rite militates against anything other than a simple chant Agnus Dei. Mgr Georg Ratzinger established the practice at Regensburg of singing it during the people's Communion, with his brother's approval, but I think the London Oratory got there first.

The Council wanted to encourage choirs and foster the Church's musical heritage; Gregorian Chant first and foremost, but not excluding sacred polyphony and more recent compositions of high artistic worth.

Jody Peterman said...

I agree with the other comments. Your post seems to argue in a subtle way that there is not much interest in the EF at St. Joseph's. My wife wants to attend Mass as a family. My three year old naps in the afternoon. If I live in Macon, 2:00 pm on a Sunday is not practical, but I suppose I would go on a fairly regular basis anyway. I have a driven 2 hours to attend the Mass a few times in the last 4-5 years. As far as 5pm on a Tuesday, again it's a terrible time for us working folks. I'm not being critical of the times because I know you are overworked, but you cannot gauge attendance based on those mass times.

John said...

The Mass, as it has been accurately observed, is truly the source and summit Catholic Christian worship. History provides ample evidence that the enemies of our faith always start with attacks on the Mass. The Reformation in the 16th Century gloried in the rejection of the Mass, hence also the priesthood established by Jesus.

For example,the Church of England was rapidly and fatally diminished in less than a 100 years following the remaking of the Mass and the consequent separation from the traditional rites of the universal church.

The reformers on the continent also replaced Mass based, Christ centered traditional worship with a man-centered one.

Ideas have consequences. The Novus Ordo of Paul VI weakened the vertical and emphasized the horizontal aspects of worship in the Mass. The resulting new rite in worship corresponds to the "spirit of ambiguity" in Vatican 2 documents. The totality of ambiguities introduced in worship and doctrines is often talked about as the Spirit of the Council. Today, millions of Catholics, almost all of the young, are cut off from authentic traditions in worship. As a result many if not most, have rejected and no longer hold true modes of worship and important articles of faith (i.e.,the Real Presence in the Eucharist) which were believed and preserved for more than 2000 years.

I no longer believe that human initiatives without a radical return to traditional worship can revive the Church from its present state of decline. Latin or English is not the real issue. Faith is. The present form of the Roman Rite seems not to be able to inspire a radical turning to Christ because it fosters self referential attitudes in worship.

Rood Screen said...

John Nolan,
Thanks for this information. I appreciate the practices you describe, but I also note that they are contrary to the letter of liturgical law. If this conter-custom is as well established as you suggest, then perhaps the rubrics of the O.F. missal can be observed less strictly.

John Nolan said...


Where in liturgical law are these customs proscribed? I would love to know. GIRM 42 says, regarding posture "... attention should be paid to what is determined by this instruction and the traditional practice of the Roman Rite and to what serves the common spiritual good of the People of God, rather than private inclination or arbitrary choice". This seems to cover most bases. The OF rubrics are in any case minimal and (deliberately) imprecise.

As regards music, the GIRM is an unreliable source. It references back to SC and Musicam Sacram (the latter was the musical blueprint for the NO but now needs revision). GIRM 137 and 68 say that the Creed is to be sung or recited by the priest, together with the people, with everyone standing. In most cases, even in very solemn OF Latin Masses, this is what happens. But not always, even in St Peter's, most recently in June this year.

GIRM 79b says concerning the Sanctus: "This acclamation, which is part of the Eucharistic Prayer itself, is sung or said by all the people with the priest". This seems unambiguous, and would appear to rule out a polyphonic Sanctus. Yet when the CDW was asked about this some time ago, it ruled that a polyphonic Sanctus was permissible.

GIRM 64 states: "The Sequence ... is sung before the Alleluia". This makes no sense musically or historically and is contradicted by the 1974 Graduale Romanum which has the Sequence in its traditionally correct place.

For centuries there has been a tension between liturgists and musicians - it surfaced at the Council of Trent and again at the beginning of the 20th century. Since V2 it has got worse, and despite valiant efforts on the part of many individuals, shows no sign of being resolved.

Henry said...


I recall an ordinary-form papal Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict a year or so ago, with polyphonic Gloria and Credo, during which the celebrant and people sat after the celebrant's intonation. Though as we perhaps realize even better now than ever, papal exhibition hardly constitutes validation of a questionable practice.

But surely it is silly and contrary to common sense to follow the alleged "liturgical law" when the choir alone sings a lengthy Credo (though this is hardly the only instance in which current "liturgical law" is contrary to good sense, to say nothing of tradition).

On the other hand, how could law ever be less strictly observed than is liturgical law in typical parish practice nowadays?

Henry said...

In any event, polyphonic ordinaries (including sometimes the Credo) are fairly commonly heard in St. Peter's and elsewhere where "high" OF liturgy is practiced. Surely the area of sacred music more than anything else shows that the GIRM consists of "descriptive rather than prescriptive" norms (as it was sold to the bishops when they approved it circa 2002) rather than liturgical law. Indeed, the Achilles heel of the OF is that, despite its missal in many ways textually richer than the EF missal, it lacks the binding liturgical law that is is needed to ensure faithful practice.