Tuesday, February 18, 2014


When I was a child, the catch phrase that most of us at Mass and elsewhere in the Catholic world heard was "renewal." Of course for my generation, thanks to television commercials about various products that were old, was, "new and improved." It seemed that everything was new and improved, from automobiles to mustard and ketchup (catchup). But it seems the one product that was always being renewed and improved was laundry detergent.

So in the world of new and improved products for us to buy, it made perfectly good sense that the Mass could become "new and improved." Now, my question, when you go deep into the liturgy, rather than superficial, how do you improve on the "One Sacrifice of Jesus Christ" and "the salvation offered clergy and laity" through the Mass? As far as the vertical diminish of the Mass, God accepting the One Sacrifice of His beloved Son for the salvation of the world, there can be no "new and improved."

But maybe, just maybe, the Church could facilitate in a new and improved way the horizontal dimension of the Mass, how we participate in the vertical sacred mysteries of God's love for His beloved Son, His acceptance of His Son's One Sacrifice of love for our salvation and the salvation of the world.

Now I know from first hand recollection that many Catholics in the 1950's and early 60's prior to the Council did participate in the pre-Vatican II experience of the Mass in a full, conscious and actual way. We all had our hand missals and followed the Mass and said our parts at least internally but many said the words externally also. Either way there was actual participation in the Sacred Mysteries. Sure there were elderly and unchurched Catholics doing other things during the liturgy, like popular devotions to occupy their time, but by the late 50's and early 60's they were in the minority.

In terms of popular devotions, especially the Leonine Prayers after Mass, but also Benediction and Marian novenas and the like that were in English, the actual participation from a verbal or sung point of view would raise the roof of our churches.

Of course, hymns were not sung at the High Mass, but on Sunday,  Catholic popular devotional hymns associated with Benediction and Marian piety were sung as a four hymn sandwich at the low Mass on Sunday.

The only problem or at least one of the major problems with the "new and improved" Mass was the proliferation of very good Protestant hymns that were dragged into the four hymn sandwich even at Sung Masses that had perhaps nothing wrong with orthodoxy in terms of doctrine, but clearly a Protestant, not a Catholic piety or spirituality. For example I have always loved "How Great Thou Art." There is nothing wrong with the words of this song from a doctrinal point of view. But it is clearly Protestant in ethos, piety and spirituality. It is little "c" catholic, but not capital LRC, Latin Rite Catholic. We could lament the same if we dragged Eastern Rite Chant into the Latin Rite Mass. There is nothing doctrinally wrong with that, but it betrays our Latin Rite piety and liturgical spirituality for the Mass when we do it.

As I make my actual point and conclude this post on those who promote exclusively the EF Mass as barking up the wrong liturgy, let me just say that I think that we could have had new and improved participation in the 1962 Roman Missal without changing anything but allowing for more vernacular and developing propers of the Mass in a chant ethos that the laity could sing, which would have meant national hymnals with these official chants (not more hymns) and in a variety of styles that "chant directors" could choose for their parishes so that all Catholics every Sunday heard and sang in some fashion, the propers of the Mass as well as the other parts of the Mass we now sing congregationally.

In think the 1965 Missal was perfect with its minor adaptations, but even the 1962 Missal with no changes except the vernacular parts would have done just as well.

I am not in any way convinced by those who dislike the three year "new and improved" lectionary. While it could be improved again, it is a product of what SC asked in terms of the more lavish use of Scripture in the lectionary. Improve it don't discard it.

But we have the New Order of Mass promulgated April 3, 1969 by Pope Paul VI. It is unrealistic to think that this Missal will be abandoned, although it has seen some improvement over the years, but not enough.

And that is what traditionalists and orthodox Catholics who consider themselves Vatican II Catholics should be promoting. We should promote the improvement of the Missal of Pope Paul VI so that it is in continuity with the 1962 Missal in the following ways:

1. Requiring the chanting or saying of the Introit and in the 1962 Missal's manner of doing so even in the vernacular and also chanting or saying the Offertory and Communion Antiphons.

2. Reordering the Introductory Rite of the Mass to make it like the 1962 Missal but allowing for the Asperges as a part of the Mass replacing the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar when used and returning to the 1962 prayers for the Asperges or Vidi Aquam. 

3. Returning to the 1962 Missal's Offertory Prayers

4. Returning to kneeling for Holy Communion

5. Allow for the Last Gospel as an option

More importantly there needs to be a real thrust to recover Catholic reverence, piety and spirituality in all we do at Mass and in our churches especially in style of music sung at Mass and a return to a Latin Rite genre for hymns that are used in popular piety. But we need to recover our reverence for the Mass and thus for the Real Presence of Christ during the Mass and in a pre-Vatican II way.

Pentecostal, or main line Protestant hymns are precisely that, Protestant and compromise our Catholic spirituality and piety when these are sung by Catholics at  Mass, popular devotions and prayer meetings.

The same is true of a secular piety when religious words are set to trendy secular tunes such as Broadway plays or other forms of popular entertainment.

The Church needs to promote traditional Catholic spirituality and piety in our offical liturgies and popular piety!

So stop barking up the wrong Liturgy and let us work together to make the Ordinary Form of the Mass "new and improved."


Joseph Johnson said...

Fr. McDonald,
I am very much in agreement with what you write about what needs to happen with the OF Mass (although it hurts a bit to call the EF the "wrong" liturgy!).

As I have written before, the problem that motivates me to want to default to the EF (especially if it were more easily available) is that one cannot count on the OF being celebrated in the "EF way" you describe. When your pastor tells you that he is not a supporter of the reform of the reform of the OF because he thinks that the movement "lacks compassion" (I'm still trying to figure that one out) and he will not even use the new translation of the Nicene Creed, what are we supposed to think?

For me, it motivates me to want to go to where I know what to expect (the EF) until such time that things get more dependable and uniform in the OF. In other words, I support what you support, Father, but, given my situation "on the ground," what do you expect me to think and do when I have a pastor who doesn't see things as you and I do?

Anonymous said...

Tell Eastern Rite Catholics to revise and "improve" the Divine Liturgy and see what happens. Since the Mass of Paul VI was imposed on the entire Western Church by one pope the Faith of millions has been destroyed. The ordinary faithful had no problem with the old Mass. The faithful never asked for any changes. Once again it was bishops and priests causing trouble in the Church. How can something so deformed be reformed? Adding a last gospel isn't going to change a thing. Catholics today have no faith. They don't believe the Mass is a sacrifice and they don't care anymore. Since Vatican II it has become normal for chaos and disobedience and evil (pedophilia) to go unchallenged. Those few priests and bishops who have the backbone to speak the truth are margenialized and ignored and treated with disdain. And everyone wonders how the entire Catholic world has become full of apostates. It doesn't take a genius to understand how this happened. We have bishops who refuse to teach the Faith and cause scandal. And could care less. Even the Vatican is telling us the state of religious life is wonderful, never better. That's insanity. And anyone who dares to disagree is called disrespectful, mean, uncharitable. This blog for instance, you refuse to allow free discussion, especially about a pope who is causing numerous problems, because it doesn't fit your narrative. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. We now have a pope who could care less about liturgical abuse and has spoken in the most crass and derogatory manner about those who love the Church's liturgy that it shows there is no hope left. It will only get worse, the Churches will become almost completely empty within 20 years. And all crowds that come to see Francis could care less about the Faith, they care bout celebrity. Until the bishops purge the schools and seminaries and convents of people who are purposefully trying to destroy the faith nothing will change it will only get worse.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Joe I understand your sentiment and Catholics have a right to consistency from priest to priest and the only way to accomplish this is by doing the red and reading the black. However the EF Mass entirely in Latin will only appeal to a small minority of Catholics and a minority of them are elitists giving the movement an anti Catholic ideology which the comment after yours illustrates.

In terms of what that comment, elitist as it is, fails to acknowledge is the superficiality of those Catholics formed in the pre-Vatican II pedagogy that they were quite happy to throw the baby out with the bathwater after Vatican II and priests and bishops formed in the clericalism and authoritarian mentality of the pre Vatican II Church lived in adolescent arrested development that I'll prepared them for the society wide rebellion against authority and the embrace of the sexual revolution and drop-out generation who began the drug culture.

In addition the personal Faith of that generation of Catholics was so shallow that when changes tested their Faith they couldn't take it and left the Church for Pentecostalism, new age movements or schismatic expressions of the Church rebelling against the pope and bishops in union with him or departing for nothing at all.

To characterize all current Catholics so disparagingly as above might typify some but is horribly stereotypical.

Anonymous said...

"In addition the personal Faith of that generation of Catholics was so shallow that when changes tested their Faith they couldn't take it and left the Church for Pentecostalism"

Wrong again Father. Normal, well adjusted people walked away because they saw clearly that a bunch of modernist degenerates were in control. No normal man is going to stay in the seminary surrounded by a bunch of screaming queens doing Carmen Miranda impersonations in the dorms.

"In terms of what that comment, elitist as it is, fails to acknowledge is the superficiality of those Catholics formed in the pre-Vatican II pedagogy that they were quite happy to throw the baby out with the bathwater after Vatican II and priests and bishops formed in the clericalism and authoritarian mentality of the pre Vatican II Church"

Again, as always wrong Father. The destruction didn't happen over night. The laity had no say in anything. You priests and nuns destroyed the Faith. Not by accident, you knew exactly what you were doing. Archbishop Sheen told the story many times of how a former Communist confessed that they had begun to infiltrate the clergy as far back as the 1920's.

And how is someone an elitist by speaking the truth? That is a neo-cons way of stopping opposition. I work every day and support myself. You on the other hand live off my money. I can't afford to go all over Europe and broadcast it while praising a pope who says he wants a poor church. Who is the elitist, Father? You are a typical a Vatican II priest. Rationalizing heterodoxy and remaining silent while Rome burns. You will not tolerate a different opinion because you know that you will be persecuted for it and don't have the backbone to fight evil head on. And that's why the people think priests are irrelevant because you stand for nothing.

Rood Screen said...

Fr. McDonald,

I wonder if it would be better to say that those proposing the total replacement of the O.F. missal with the E.F. missal are "barking up the wrong liturgy"? I would suggest that it is contrary to Church law to criticize those who personally and exclusively prefer the E.F., but who do not advocate the suppression of the O.F. It is their right to have this preference for a form of Mass which Pope Benedict said, "must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage" (SP).

John Nolan said...

Since the Novus Ordo came into use in 1970 there have been a number of officially-sanctioned changes.

1. Communion standing and in the hand, illicitly practised in some European countries, has been legitimized and indeed made normative.

2. Communion in both kinds, envisaged as an occasional practice and not usually encountered in 1970, has become almost universal in Britain and North America, at all Masses. It is less common in continental Europe.

3. A whole army of EMHC has been created, mostly female. They are still referred to in many places as "Eucharistic Ministers" or "Special Ministers", conduct funerals and preside at so-called "Eucharistic Services", a sort of Mass of the Presanctified; despite official prohibition they frequently help themselves to Communion and communicate with the priest in the manner of concelebrating clergy; they also frequently and illicitly perform the Ablutions.

4. A whole raft of new "Eucharistic Prayers" for special occasions have been added to the four that were in the Missal of 1970.

5. Girls are allowed to serve at the altar and in many parishes outnumber the boys who are naturally reluctant to get involved in "girly" activities.

6. Most of the faux-folk sacro-pop schmaltz that passes for liturgical music had not been written in 1970. The heyday of the St Louis Jesuits and their imitators was the decade 1975-1985.

No doubt many will count these as "improvements". But although the liturgical revolution was well under way before 1970, we have (in most places) moved further away from traditional Catholic liturgical practice. Add to this the fact that in 1970 the majority of priests had been trained to celebrate the old Mass and to say the Office in Latin; and most adult Catholics had been properly catechized.

Anonymous said...

You acuse Catholics who walked away from their Faith after the Council as shallow. That is an unbelievable statement. A Catholic who for their entire life experienced the Mass and Catholic life as it had been for centuries one day walks into a Church and "Sister" is wearing pants and makeup and Father is telling everybody there is no sin anymore. You are telling me that it should have just been accepted! No I do not accept that. Those priests and nuns who taught heresy should have been removed. But were they? No. Decade after decade passed and nothing was done. And you blame lay people for being shallow. It wasn't lay people that raped and molested children in every diocese around the world. It's was priests. It was the same people who told us not to worry about sin, God is bigger than that. And you dare blame lay people. You priests and your fiflth have tossed the Church I love into the gutter by your perversions and you dare blame the laity. You should be ashamed of yourself. The arrogance of that statement is beyond understanding. After all the scandal you still don't understand the evil you all ignored and the damage it has done. How dare you.

Pater Ignotus said...

I suggest Anonymous needs a valium and a long-term relationship with a good therapist.

And, Good Father, why oh why do you continue to APPROVE these absurd posts for posting???

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I want to show it for what it is, "Chick" publications' anti-Catholic bigotry. But of course, those who write for Chick publications are former Catholics who in one way or another were hurt by sinners in the Church and thus seek a Church that is pure, that is gnostic. We need to pray for people like this, because like us, they too are sinners but of another breed.

qwikness said...

Can we get Father Lucien Lindsey to come to St. Joseph's and do a Anglican Use of the Mass for us?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I suppose we could, but I'm not sure what the point would be as this Mass is really directed to Anglicans/Episcopalians who are dissatisfied with their denomination. I don't sense a great deal of dissatisfaction amongst our Episcopalian brothers and sisters here in Macon.

qwikness said...

Well, I thought it be interesting to see a view of a Liturgy approved by the Church that is sort of English form of the EF. (If I understand it correctly.)

John Nolan said...

In an earlier comment I concentrated on the way that changes since 1970 have opened up the gap between the two forms of the Roman Rite. I would be the first to admit that my general predilection for the EF is at least partly driven by nostalgia. When Pater Ignotus describes the OF as the Traditional Mass he is uttering a truism; the continuity was made explicit in the preamble to the GIRM. The Church effects what she has always claimed to effect in the celebration of the Eucharist. Once one agrees on that, one can actually start to appreciate the Novus Ordo sui generis.

Firstly, a lot of scholarship went into its compilation. A key figure was Fr Cipriano Vaggagini, the theological advisor to Cardinal Lercaro. Eucharistic Prayers II, III and IV are largely his work, and although they are in a sense new compositions, they draw on a number of ancient sources, both eastern and western.

It was surely a mistake to let EP II stand apart from its proper Preface, since the elements from the Hippolytus prayer (which most scholars nowadays don't believe was used as an anaphora) are actually shared between the Preface and the Canon. EP IV is hardly ever used, which is a pity; it is ideal for weekdays when there is no Credo.

In the last few years there have been significant developments. Firstly, the classic Roman Rite has been given independent and equal status. Secondly, the rendering of the texts into English, the most important language in the world, has moved from baby-language paraphrase to fairly accurate translation. It was one thing for those of us who understood Latin, but for the majority who didn't, they actually never heard the Paul VI Missal until 2011.

There is an opportunity here, which I would like to return to later.

Henry said...

Some excellent points, John. My own "general predilection" for the EF on Sundays is driven partly by the fact that in my locale (like most) the ars celebranda expected in the EF is far superior to that expected in the OF. If I had a choice between an Oratory-style solemn OF Mass as the principal Sunday Mass and an earlier or later EF Mass of lesser solemnity, I might well opt for the OF much or most of the time. I regularly (and voluntarily) attend simple but well-celebrated OF Masses on weekdays, and actually regard the largely if not entirely vernacular OF Mass as more appropriate as a weekday Mass for most Catholics nowadays than a low EF Mass would be.

My feeling is that anyone who questions whether the OF and the EF are indeed forms of one and the same Roman rite is either misled by prevalent aberrations in typical parish OF celebrations, or simply does not understand both forms sufficiently to perceive their underlying ritual identity. For instance, the one-page "Latin Mass Newcomers Guide"

makes clear not only their correspondence in "big parts" of the Mass but in lesser parts as well. The corrected English translation, if adhered to faithfully, and especially if the missal chants are used rather than syncopated ditty settings of the ordinary, makes this still clearer. I myself like the fact that, although some EF propers seem superior to their OF replacements, the OF propers as a whole are fuller and richer than those in the EF.

In regard to EP II, one of the official documents makes (or at least originally made) the point that it is intended to be used with its proper preface, and hence is not intended for use on Sundays, solemnities, and feast days that have their own proper prefaces (when it follows that EP I or III should be used instead). If EP II were used as originally intended only on ferial days, there might not be the common objections to it.

Kneeling Catholic said...

Father, I wish I had your sunny disposition! It seems like I'm just getting used to the Holy Father, and then, BAM!, one of those other shoes falls and I'm back to bein' Pelagian! oh yeah, this post's topic, improving the OF. Great! I'd like to see how this could happen, especially without stirring up hurt feelings. So many laity are invested in their little part, like the army of EMHCs, how can they be let go without hurting their feelings?

John Nolan said...

Kneeling Catholic,

"Only out of true necessity is there to be a recourse to the assistance of extraordinary ministers in the celebration of the Liturgy. Such recourse is not intended for the sake of a fuller participation of the laity but rather, by its very nature, is supplementary and provisional".
[Redemptionis Sacramentum para.151, Ecclesiae de mysteria (1997) art.8]

This should be clearly understood by anyone who agrees to act as an EM in any capacity. A couple of years ago an incident was reported where a priest found that he had the services of a visiting deacon. Before Mass he approached the woman who had been rostered as EMHC to inform her that her services were not needed on this occasion; she took umbrage and the pastor got stick from a lot of his parishioners.

In November I was on a chant weekend which involved among other things three sung Latin Masses, one EF, two OF. Because of a lack of servers I had to MC all three, which is not my normal role. At the OF Masses the priest asked me to administer the Chalice. I don't like doing this, but in the absence of a deacon this was a legitimate request with which I complied. At least I was vested and in the sanctuary, substituting for an acolyte who would in turn have (in the EF) been substituting for the deacon and subdeacon. I did volunteer to sing the first two lessons in the OF Masses, thus substituting for a Lector. Others could have done this, but I think it looks better if the person doing the substitution is male, vested in choir dress and in the sanctuary.

As a layman it is a privilege to carry out a liturgical role which properly belongs to someone who is ordained or instituted for that role, but it is not a right, an entitlement or an indication of superior status.