Saturday, February 1, 2014


To many conservative moderate Catholics, not just progressive ones, what Fr. John Zuhlsdorf of the blog WDTPRS writes about his clericalism and the distribution of Holy Communion would seem to be too right wing. But is it really and would there be a recovery of the sacred and a recovery of those who would want to be priests, meaning an increase in vocations to the priesthood?

Keep in mind that traditionalist communities, even those that celebrate the Ordinary Form of the Mass exclusively, are the ones providing vocations to the priesthood today. And those communities that are primarily Extraordinary Form are providing more, percentage wise, than most Ordinary Form parishes.

This is what Fr. Z writes in one of his posts (my comments follow):

"And, yes, I am a clericalist. I think that priests are special. I think that priests have their proper role in the Church. I think that priests are ontologically changed by the Sacrament of Orders. I think that we should not blur the roles of priests and lay people.

And, yes, yes, I include deacons too. One of the things deacons are ordained to do, is to distribute the Eucharist. Operative word in that last bit? Ordained.

Moreover, bishops could install men to the ministry of Acolyte, which would help solve this difficulty. But that’s another pot of borscht.

Also, if we really want to speed up Communion in a reverent way, then install Communion rails and distribute Communion on the tongue to people who are kneeling. Communion distribution goes much more efficiently that way and it is more reverent by far."

MY COMMENTS: Prior to going in the seminary, when I was an early teenager and into my first couple of years of the 20's, my family's parish in Augusta, Georgia, St.Joseph, which at that time was a wonderful multi-cultural parish primarily with many Europeans, directly from Europe, war brides, but also Asians from Korea and Vietnam, Panama, not to mention those from the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico, and all this due to the U.S. Army post nearby, was a relatively traditional parish, but one that had implemented most of the liturgical changes after Vatican II.

Where our parish lagged, in comparison to many other parishes in Augusta and our diocese, but not all at that time, was standing for Holy Communion, Communion under both kinds and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. We continued to kneel for Holy Communion well into 1975 I believe, if my memory serves me correctly. We didn't think any of this was "backwards pre-Vatican II crap" because our parish had a profound reverence and respect for the sacred.

I think it was around 1975 or 76, prior to my entrance into the seminary, that a new pastor required us to stand for Holy Communion, encouraged Communion in the hand and then provided on some occasions Holy Communion under both forms, first by intinction then later with the common chalice. Eventually Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion began to be commissioned. Prior to that, one of the other priests would pop out to assist with Holy Communion at the rail and then when standing. The church building wasn't big.

I do remember grumbling from my parents and others in the parish when we were forced to stand for Holy Communion and told that it was childish to kneel and receive on the tongue. We were told our faith was incomplete in the Most Holy Eucharist if we preferred a priest to distribute Holy Communion to us rather than a lay person. We were told that we were being silly if we didn't want to drink from a common chalice because it was culturally inimical to us and unsanitary. In other words, those who preferred priests to distribute Holy Communion while the laity knelt at the altar railing and received on the tongue were marginalized and ridiculed as being backwards and so pre-Vatican II!

But what has happened in most parishes today concerning reverence for the Most Holy Eucharist and vocations to the priesthood? Both have declined if we measure these two things as they existed for almost 2000 years in the Church prior to the novelties that developed in the immediate post-Vatican II period, true novelties disconnected from the majority of the Latin Rite Church's tradition for 2000 years, the vast, vast majority, despite any archeologist's attributions to these novelties.

So I would agree with Fr. Z and I would classify myself as a "clericalist" but not in the derogatory, elitist sense of that word that leads to pride and lack of accountability for truly aberrant behavior and attitudes including those behaviors that are immoral and illegal of the ordained.

So yes, as the Church teaches over the centuries in our Sacred Tradition, there is a difference between the ordained and the laity, there is an ontological difference as Fr. Z states it.

It would do us well to recover the sense of the sacred as this sense was understood in the Latin Rite prior to some of the more useless and unhelpful changes in the liturgy concerning the distribution of Holy Communion. We must recover the devotional reverence we once had at Mass but within the context of interior and exterior full, conscious and actual participation (even in the EF Mass, not just the OF Mass).

So, I would pray that one day the norms for the distribution of Holy Communion throughout the world would return to the previous pre-Vatican II practice. This alone will enhance the road to recovery and the reform of the reform as it concerns reverence and proper popular piety at Mass and at the time of receiving Holy Communion.

My only change or disagreement with Fr Z's argument  would be the following:

I would advocate that the "ministry of Acolyte" be the formal one that requires a bishop to install the person. This ministry would be a "permanent" ministry, not one leading to Holy Orders necessarily.

It would require a in-diocese seminary program lasting one to two years, with vigorous screening of candidates, where the program is one of spiritual, doctrinal and pastoral development of the person. The candidate would be trained in what it means to be an acolyte, appropriate Eucharistic piety and personal prayer and the example that is to be given in terms of Christian witness and service. Most of all the pastoral dimension of this ministry would be emphasized, that of bringing Holy Communion to the sick and homebound.

The Liturgical dress of this ministry would be the alb. Those who distribute Holy Communion as officially installed acolytes would wear the alb, be in the procession and sit in the sanctuary. Candidates for this "permanent" ministry can be male or female.

In addition, the same preparation and "seminary program" but one cleared for those to be readers would occur with the same screening process and pastoral formation and for both men and women.

Finally, to all those who say, but Father, but Father, why don't you do this now?

My answer is that the bishop of every local diocese is the primary liturgist of the diocese and can legislate or approve of various practices even the return to the pre-Vatican II model . But if he doesn't desire to do this or sees it as opposed to his own vision of liturgical practice and renewal, he can ask a priest to simply follow the norms of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal for the Distribution of Holy Communion in the USA approved by the proper ecclesiastical authorities and ultimately by the competent Roman Congregation.

What so many heterodox progressives and traditionalists seem to agree on is disobedience to one's bishop if what one's bishop goes against their particular ideologies. In other words, these Catholics of two extremes are cut from the same altar cloth.


Henry said...

"And those communities that are primarily Extraordinary Form are providing more, percentage wise, than most Ordinary Form parishes."

Quite an understatement! It's many times more, not just percentage wise more. Our EF community is probably quite typical of TLM communities. With an average Sunday attendance under 100, we have 3 current seminarians.

Has anybody ever heard of an OF parish of 1000 with 30 seminarians?

Henry said...

"What so many heterodox progressives and traditionalists seem to agree on is disobedience to one's bishop if what one's bishop goes against their particular ideologies. In other words, these Catholics of two extremes are cut from the same altar cloth."

Surely you really know, Fr. McDonald, that this is an outlandish misrepresentation. What distinguishes the vast majority of traditional Catholics is obedience to and respect for their bishop, whether or not they agree with his approach.

My guess is that this in one reason traditional Catholics have consistently gotten the back of the ecclesiastical hand, in contrast with progressives, who have been allowed to get away with any thing they wished. Because bishops have always known they could count on the obedience of traditional believers. Whether or not you do. (Or are you, as I assume, merely playing a moral equivalence game for rhetorical purposes?)

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Have you not read some of the most outrageously disrespectful remarks about our Holy Father, Pope Francis, some of which I have posted, most of which I have not, that traditional Catholics who should know better are writing. And on other traditional blogs too. I have been and continue to be scandalized by it because it is so Protestant and so heterodox! It has nothing to do with Tradition whatsoever, but is of the same altar cloth as the progressives who are so denigrating of so much in the Church.

Anonymous said...

" I have been and continue to be scandalized by it because it is so Protestant and so heterodox! "

Catholics who are scandalized by the words and actions of this pope are completely justified. It is not "Protestant and heterodox" to speak against those actions and words that do not conform to Catholic teaching and Tradition/tradition, even if they are done by a pope. The Holy Spirit does NOT guide his every word and action. He is only protected by the Holy Spirit when he officially teaches something to be held de fide by the Church. Pope Francis has time and again shown the arrogance that is typical of all liberals, which is "I know best and you don't". Instead of being humble enough to allow the papacy to envelope him as did his predecessors he makes everything about him, it's all about Francis. Your arguments against saying anything about this Pope and his heterodox actions and statements is only a way to stop anyone from speaking against these things. I agree it's no longer 1950. And if we want the modern Church that Francis and all Neo Con "Catholics" demand then that means we are no longer going to say "Oh yes Father, you clearly know best Father" and that's because you clearly don't. The Church is a ruin. That's not despair or getting on the ledge, it's called TRUTH. Francis is a modernist disaster who does not understand Catholic theology and that is why he keeps making outrageously wrong statements about Catholic teaching. It is just that simple.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

MODERNIST DISASTER--That's the kind of vitriolic Protestant, heterodox crap that I mean and coming from so-called traditional Catholics who are completely uncharitable and thus in a state of mortal sin for such calumny. It is a gross overreaction to, yes, non infallible, personal opinions opined by the pope in an off-the-cuff interview where he calls people to read the Catechism and he stands by every word in it!

He is correct that he can't judge the salvation of anyone who is earnestly seeking the Lord and His truth and that we should obsess on pelvic issues as though these are political ideologies, but that we should tenaciously hold onto the Church's complete moral truths as handed on to us.

What am I missing? Nothing. This is the most orthodox pope ever in terms of his teachings, but compassionate as a pastor and shepherd, as a Bishop and a teacher!

Anonymous said...

"thus in a state of mortal sin"

But Father... shouldn't the proper phrase be "who am I to judge"?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The twisting of this statement, by heterodox, protestantized so-called traditional catholics who sin mortally against the laws of charity and publicly in comments on a blog as it concerns "who am I to judge" (a sinner who sincerely seeks the Lord) is based upon the Church's reluctance to "canonize" someone as being in hell or going to hell, not in judging immoral behavior that goes against natural law, Sacred Scripture and Tradition.
Tell me where the pope says we shouldn't judge behavior! He certainly does as does the Church, when we break the commandments of God and Church!

Henry said...

"Have you not read some of the most outrageously disrespectful remarks about our Holy Father, Pope Francis"

On the internet, you can read anything you want to, or don't. The question is whether you are gullible to take at face value everything you see.

I myself have been around long enough to know full well that the genuinely outrageous and disrespectful comments--most of them anonymous to one extent or another--are not from faithful traditionally believing Catholics who have stayed with parish, diocese, bishop and pope and Church through thick and thin. A spiritually mature Catholic is neither a sycophant nor a willful detractor.

No, the comments you refer to come from sedevacantists and SSPXers and the like, who really are outside the Church in one way or another. As such, they don't deserve to be lumped with faithful traditionalists, and you certainly are unfair to faithful traditional Catholics in doing so.

At the social after TLM tomorrow, I'm certain I'll hear no such remarks. Never do. Only people with no real personal experience think that this stuff is typical of traditional Catholics, who in my extensive personal experience are more loyal to Pope and Church than mainstream parish Catholics. Hands down.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Well Henry I won't argue with you about your experience, however on my blog, I fear that the more hateful comments hurled at our Holy Father in fact come from Protestants who have converted to Catholicism, but not completely and who like the EF Mass but not the Church, meaning the Pope, Bishops and laity in union with them. So I am saddened that our RCIA process or those processes elsewhere have only made Protestants with a veneer of Catholicism and not much else.

Henry said...

Father, you probably know who you're talking about, and I don't. However, there is quite a difference between some one who is outrageously disrespectful of the current pope, and a loyal Catholic who is genuinely fearful that his policies may be counter-productive or have unintended results.

For instance, it would not be out of bounds for one to think that of Pope Paul VI, and indeed to regret most that his actions resulted in decreased respect for the papacy. Indeed, the extent to which one is saddened by diminishment of the papacy may well be an index of his real love for it and his loyalty to Church and Faith.

At the other extreme, sycophantic praise is not loyalty, it is merely superficiality.

Rood Screen said...

Fr. McDonald,

First of all, as a convert from Congregational Protestantism, I admit to being a little stunned by your last comment, although I am basically sympathetic with your overall concerns about charity.

Secondly, our US episcopal conference does provide that a layman who can be installed into the stable ministries of lector or acolyte if he's at least 21 years old, but he must "posses the skills necessary for an effective proclamation of the Word or service at the altar, be a fully initiated member of the Catholic Church, be free of any canonical penalty, and live a life which befits the ministry to be undertaken". It seems to me it's just a matter of a pastor petitioning his bishop to take advantage of this opportunity. This would be especially helpful in Hispanic ministry, where it's difficult to get deacons trained.

Anonymous said...

Father just a word of advice. You lower yourself, the priesthood and the Church ( which you represent in a very special way) when you use praises like "crap". You are a priest for god sake. Have a little class. At your age you should have better self control. And didn't they teach you how to argue reasonably in the seminary? You did the opposite of what you said Pope Francis is doing. You agreed that Francis can't judge yet you accused someone who you do not know and who expressed an opinion, in a reasoned way, that they committed a mortal sin. So are you really of the opinion that anyone who has a problem with some of the statements of Pope Francis is in mortal sin? I have not seen anyone on this blog call the pope filthy names or use profanity or refer to his words as "crap" like you just did to someone's opinions. Yes they expressed surprise and even horror at what he is doing. And many times with reason. The media believes that Francis doesn't really believe in the truths of the Faith. So one has to ask the question, why do they believe this? They believe this because of what Francis has said and done. Do we not have a right as a member of the People of God to express our thoughts and opinions even about Peter?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Agreed Henry and Fr. JBS, but in disagreeing with something our Holy Father is doing, not doing, or saying, one must be respectful and calling him a disaster and using words that wish him ill and even death are not respectful. And he needs to be judged in effectiveness by history and it is way to early to judge his effectiveness which we certainly can do and I think ultimately those on the extreme progressive side who judge Pope Benedict's papacy a disaster will have to wait as I believe that he will eventually be canonized as a doctor of the Church and a martyr of humility.

John Nolan said...


One correction; someone with a predilection for the traditional Roman Rite in both the Mass and the sacraments cannot be a Protestant. The Protestant heresy is historically defined in terms of its rejection of the Catholic sacramental system.

However, a Protestant might well feel at home with the Novus Ordo as usually performed, since he would find nothing in it which would conflict with his doctrinal opinion. Bugnini's stated aim was to remove from the Roman liturgy anything that might be considered a stumbling-block for "our separated brethren".

So the Novus Ordo is a strange chameleon-like rite that can be interpreted according to the doctrinal position of the listener. Add to that the fact that two generations of Catholic laity have been so badly catechized that they no longer understand the Catholic definition of the Eucharist; they are Protestants without knowing it.

On your other point, since the diaconate can now be either transitional or permanent, the same should apply to the ministries of Lector and Acolyte established by Paul VI in 1972. However, since instituted Acolytes are de facto extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, with the added authorization to purify the sacred vessels, if there were more of them there would be no need for the vast army of mostly female EMHC. And despite what Rome might say, these are seen in most dioceses as an extension of lay participation in the liturgy. The same goes for Lectors. In a solemn OF Mass with three readings, the Epistle and Gospel are read by the (sub)deacon and deacon respectively. It looks better if the first reading is delivered by a man in choir dress who is already in the sanctuary, rather than someone coming up from the congregation in lay attire (and this can include mini-skirts!)

To be an acolyte does not take one or two years of training, pastoral formation and all the other post-V2 nonsense, which only serves to create a non-ordained but 'superior' order of faithful, and I understand that you would include women as well. When I don cassock and cotta and sing as part of a schola in the sanctuary, as I did last night, I am not there because I have been screened for my personal probity or pastoral understanding, but because I possess the requisite skill to fulfil that function. I have gone to some trouble over the years to acquire it, and am happy (and privileged) to put it at the service of the Liturgy.

By the way, Lectors should be able not just to say, but to sing the readings. The same goes for deacons. A deacon who cannot or will not sing the Gospel and his other parts should not be in a dalmatic.

BTW, if you are keen to restore the pre-V2 norms for the distribution of Communion, why are you so in favour of EMHC and reception in both kinds as standard?

Anonymous said...

Here's the latest news concerning Francis the orthodox. Watch the video of his right hand man Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga playing the boogie blues on an organ........and wait for his cathedral........and wait for Mass vestments.......and wait for it.........wearing his mitre. Tell me who your friends are. Classy these South American prelates be.