Monday, February 24, 2014


Last week Pope Francis said this about the 50th Anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium, Vatican II's Liturgy document:

To our gratitude to God for what it has been possible to achieve, the Pope stated that it is necessary to unite “a renewed willingness to go ahead on the path indicated by the Council Fathers, as there remains much to be done for a correct and complete assimilation of the Constitution of the Holy Liturgy on the part of the baptised and ecclesial communities. I refer, in particular, to the commitment to a solid and organic liturgical initiation and formation, both of lay faithful as well as clergy and consecrated persons”.

I think this statement has been overlooked by many. It was spoken to the supposed outgoing head of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Antonio CaƱizares Llovera. Thus Pope Francis was giving walking orders to this Congregation and whoever suceeds the current head to continue on the path that Pope Benedict had encouraged for the reform of the Mass as set forth by Sacrosanctum Concilium.

The thing that causes progressive liturgists to shutter the most is for us actually to go  back to the Liturgy Document of Vatican II rather than what the committee (Consilium) after Vatican II recommended in terms of the reform of the 1962 Missal. Archbishop Bugnini and his crew are not mentioned by Pope Francis at all. It is not their vision that needs to be examined and properly implemented, but the vision of Vatican II.

Pope Francis asks that "a renewed willingness to go ahead on the path indicated by the Council Fathers...for a correct and complete assimilation of [SC]." This is important and many have been calling for this only to have progressive liturgists keep the status quo of Archbishop Bugnini and Consilium! These liturgists don't want to go back to Sacrosanctum Concilium because they know if the Church did this, so much of the wrong implementation of the Bugnini reform, not what the Council requested, would be discarded.

Then Pope Francis states the obvious need which will help reform the defects of how the OF Mass is currently celebrated when he states there must be a renewed "commitment to a solid and organic liturgical inititation and formation, both for lay faithful as well as clergy and consecrated persons."

One obvious attempt to do this for  clergy, religious and laity at the Vatican is what has happened at the Vatican liturgies since Pope Francis. Prior to all the major Masses everyone is told in various languages not to applaud the Pope before or after the Mass and not to do so during his liturgies.

If you note the two last consistories of Pope Benedict and look at videos of his Masses there was racous appaluse for him before and after liturgies, in fact in continuity with his immediate predecessor, things get out of hand. Even when the cardinal's names are called in Benedict's consistories, there is applause and loud calls or screams and even when the new cardinals are invested with the symbols of office.

Not so at Pope Francis' first consistory!  That was stopped and thus the clergy, laity and religious were initiated and formed into proper liturgical formation!

So Pope Francis is calling the Congregation for the Divine Liturgy to correctly implement SC. This
is a bombshell. Will we actually do what SC asked and base it on the Liturgy that it was asking it to be modified, 1962 Roman Missal?  Just what is it that SC required that the subsequent Vatican Consilium fail or went beyond?

1. Gregorian Chant and its derivatives having a "pride of place" [principal place] in the Liturgy!

2. That Latin be maintained but the vernacular allowed for some parts as determined by Bishops' Conferences

3. That there be "actual" participation in the Mass in a full, conscious and active way (which was already taking place in many parts of the world with the pre-Vatican II Mass) which meant getting people to follow the Mass in personal missals and internally and externally saying and singing their parts and forgoing doing other devotions during Mass like praying the Holy Rosary or private devotions to Christ in the tabernacle while attending the Mass itself.

4. While the subsequent reformers did develop a lectionary making more lavish use of Sacred Scripture in it, it went way beyond what the Council asked by reforming the Order of the Mass which SC does not mention.  And in terms of "noble simplicity" and the elimination of "useless repitition" which was not described as to what this meant by SC, the subsequent reformers became iconoclastic and thus put forward an agenda to Pope Paul VI not to be found in the letter of SC.

5. In terms of the spirituality, reverence, piety and devotion of the pre-Vatican II Mass, there was absolutely no call by SC for this aspect of the Mass to be modified or re-imagined,  nor a call for different practices in the reception of Holy Communion other than  the option of Holy Communion under both kinds for "some" celebrations of the Mass, not all. Why subsequent reforms actually  tampered with these aspects of the Mass can only be described as the incorrect implementation of the reforms of Sacrosanctum Concilium.

6. There was absolutely no call to modify the legitimate private liturgical piety written in the pre-Vatican II Mass for clergy or laity in terms of quiet prayers.  Thus the elimination of most of these by Consilium is the incorrect implemention of Vatican II!

In other words it is judgement day and in the highest liturgical circles of the Vatican not on Vatican II's Sacrosanctum Concilium but on Bugnini's Consilium!

If you study the Pope Francis' Mass with the cardinals on Sunday, February 23rd, you see the proper implementation of first three above principles of Vatican II.

1. The Mass was primarily in Latin, but the readings and the Universal Prayers were in the vernaculars

2. Gregorian Chant was employed for the parts of the Mass and the laity joined in singing those parts as a liturgical booklet was given them to assist in their actual participation. The propers were chanted too in Gregorian chant.

3. There was actual participation by all and the laity read the lessons and Universal Prayer and presented the offerings for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Keep in mind what the Congregation for Divine Worship has also included in the Roman Missal of the Anglican Ordinariate which was approved by Pope Francis in the first months of his papacy:

1. Prayers at the Foot of the Altar are a restored option as well as the reordering of the "Introductory Rite" when this option is chosen

2. The EF's Offertory Prayers are an option

3. The Last Gospel is an option

4. Ad Orientem is a clear option

5. Kneeling for Holy Communion is a clear option

This development  which is applied to the Modern Roman Missal is the best kept secret on other liturgical blogs but completely in continuity with what Pope Francis says to the Congregation for Divine Liturgy:

To our gratitude to God for what it has been possible to achieve, the Pope stated that it is necessary to unite “a renewed willingness to go ahead on the path indicated by the Council Fathers, as there remains much to be done for a correct and complete assimilation of the Constitution of the Holy Liturgy on the part of the baptised and ecclesial communities. I refer, in particular, to the commitment to a solid and organic liturgical initiation and formation, both of lay faithful as well as clergy and consecrated persons”.


Gene said...

I'll believe it when I see it. His statement is pretty much vague, political talk. I have a strong feeling that whatever is implemented will be some kind of re-re-interpretation of SC that better fits "modern sensibilities." Can you tell that I do not trust this Pope?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

YES! I can tell you are still a Presbyterian when it comes to the papacy and Magisterium of the Catholic Church!

Anonymous said...

It would be beneficial for the souls of millions if Pope Francis could actually find a way to improve the state of the liturgy, worldwide. But the reality is that Catholics today, including many bishops, priests and nuns, have no idea what it really means to be Catholic. By that I mean it is important to know and understand why the Church believes and teaches as she does. To embrace the Faith, love it and stop trying to change, compromise and otherwise deform it. Unfortunately the damage done was so great and has been allowed to fester for so long not much can be done. What do you do with a body that is riddled with cancer? It may have been treatable when first discovered. But when it is permitted to grow there comes a point when nothing can be done.

To be honest I don't have much hope in Pope Francis. The recent off the cuff video to the Pentecostal group in which he refers to one man as his brother "bishop" is one more example of his tendency to put feeling over the truths of the Faith. Honestly that statement is heresy, not just a miss speak. Are we to just automatically presume validity the ordination of Pentecostals because it is somehow showing some kind of supposed kindness? How is a man like that going to do much in regards to building up the Faith. One can show kindness and mercy without saying and doing some of the reckless things this pope has done.

The next pope may be the one to really begin to make a real difference. It seems that Benedict and Francis might just be the buffers needed before real correction begins. Benedict had to endure the hate for the pedophile scandal. And Francis is showing the world that Catholics aren't evil and that the Church is indeed relevant. I have no clue these are just my thoughts. But I pray something good comes out of all this modern day way of the cross.

Anonymous 99

Gene said...

Now, Fr, you are calling me bad names! LOL! I trust Catholic Dogma and theology, but I can respect the Pope without completely trusting him. I have great respect for Vladimir Putin, for instance but, trust him, no. Ultimately, our trust is in Christ and the Magisterium to overcome and triumph over Papal ephemera. (Now, if I were still Presbyterian, I would have left out "Magisterium" above...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I agree that Pope Francis must stop off-the-cuff remarks that confuse rank and file Catholics and embolden heterodox Catholics. His off-the-cuff remarks cannot in anyway be considered a part of his Magisterium and can rightly be challenged and corrected and hopefully by his brother bishops and in particular by his cardinals.

We do not see the same level of irresponsibility in this regard in his written texts.

John Nolan said...


What did Pope Francis's remarks on SC mean? What, for that matter, did SC mean? If we are going to try and emulate papal liturgies this is not going to be achieved by singing Orbis Factor once a month at an inconveniently scheduled EF Mass. It is the default setting for Sundays in Ordinary Time.

When we get into Lent, the customary setting is Mass XVII. It is a simple enough setting (no Gloria, of course) and if it is sung every Sunday the congregation will soon pick it up, and if it was used in Advent they'd know it already. Are you going to use it in OF Masses during Lent? And if not, why not?

One of the greatest joys of the Easter season is the use of Mass I (Lux et Origo) which is only used in this season. It may be a fairly recent tradition to ascribe certain settings to different times, but it made sense in pointing the changes of the seasons in the same way that the changing colours of the vestments do.

You are lucky to have excellent musical resources in your parish, but are they being deployed to the best advantage? Does your no doubt excellent but non-Catholic music director have the liturgy in her bones? Are the two remaining mandatory Sequences (Victimae Paschali Laudes and Veni Sancte Spiritus) sung at Easter and Pentecost so that people recognize them as being unique to those feasts? Is the Exsultet sung by the deacon at the Easter Vigil in its ancient tone and original language?

These are all in the OF Mass and are always sung in St Peter's, Rome, but rarely in your average parish. It's not so much ROTR as raising standards.

Henry said...

My heart agrees, John, but my mind realizes that having just the plain old Missa de Angelis chanted well in every principal parish OF Mass everywhere the year around, would be an improvement beyond the realistic dreams of most Catholic pew sitters on the ground around the Catholic world, likely not to be accomplished in the lifetimes of many or most of us now living. Indeed, I'll bet just a plainly chanted Latin Ordinary every Sunday would make some of the readers right here feel they truly were participating in the heavenly liturgy.

Ted said...

I would like to comment on a couple of your points.

#1 I do not know why the phrase "pride of place" continues to be used when the Latin says "first place", "principum locum". The former is a watered down meaning of the latter (perhaps deliberately done).

#4. One of the deficiencies of the old lectionarty was, except for Lent, the dearth of readings for weekday Masses. Readings from the preceding Sunday were used producing a "useless repetition". I suspect this is what the Council Fathers had in mind in asking for more Scriptural readings, not some 3 year lectionary that confuses the faithful more than it enlightens through an "overkill".

But I would also not let SC so easily off the hook either. Even Ratzinger was not comfortable with the "tensions" he found in that document. Much needs to be officially clarified in that document before any reform is attempted. For instance, why out of nowhere do we read that the hour of Prime is to be suppressed (SC89d), effectively supressing the use of the Athanasian Creed in the Roman liturgy? Before the Council, Prime was the suggested office for lay people going off to work as it was instituted for the monastics with work in mind. Yet Compline, also suggested for the faithful at the end of a working day, was not suppressed. Was it just another case of archeologisms that seem to have pervaded the "spirit" of liturgical reform, as it does not fall into some "traditional sequence" (SC88)? Indeed, the new liturgy seems to be not an "aggiornamento" as Pope John had wanted, but generally a disaterous exercise in antiquarianism.

Henry said...

"why out of nowhere do we read that the hour of Prime is to be suppressed"

Perhaps to emphasize Lauds in the morning and Vespers in the evening as the two vital "hinge hours" of the day. With far more lay people praying these two hours than before Vatican II participated at all in the divine office, this is arguably one of the few SC recommendations that has actually been fruitful so far. Before Vatican II, few laymen were acquainted with the breviary other than strictly for priests and religious, whereas in recent years I've not seen a parish where multiple people are not praying at least morning and evening prayer--in my parish, both are chanted weekdays (if with only a few attending)--if not the whole liturgy of the hours.

It's not realistic to expect working people to pray more than one "hour" before heading out in the morning. But surely the beautiful hour of Prime could have been retained in the liturgy of the hours as a recommended option for monastic use.

Pater Ignotus said...

Ted - it is entirely possible, and probably likely, that "principum locum" means "pride of place." Translation is always about the communication of ideas and concepts, not just a mechanical rendering of one language into another. Translation can be thought of as a lens through which we can comprehend the ideas and concepts that are expressed in another language.

A SUPERB book on translation is Le Ton Beau de Marot - In Praise of the Music of Language - by Douglas Hofstadter.

Henry said...

"it is entirely possible, and probably likely, that "principum locum" means "pride of place."

I suspect, PI, that your relative lack of Latin fluency intervenes here. I've unaware of any such colloquial usage of "principum locum" in ordinary Latin. Nor is there any correspondence between "first place" and "pride of place" in ordinary English usage. So use of the latter seems justified by standard use in either the source language or the receptor language. Hence it looks in SC like a circumlocution rather than a "dynamic equivalence".

John Nolan said...

Regarding "pride of place", I'm with Pater Ignotus on this one. The term originates in falconry to describe the culmination of a hawk's flight, and has come to mean the distinction of holding the highest position. It's a somewhat poetical rendering of 'principum locum' but certainly an accurate one. A worse misunderstanding is the significance of 'ceteris paribus' in the same sentence; whereas it serves to strengthen the link between Gregorian Chant and the Roman Rite, it is misinterpreted in many quarters as weakening it, and the latest rendering 'all things being equal' is not only inaccurate but nonsensical.

Rood Screen said...


I often hear of this "dearth of readings for weekday Masses", and I do appreciate the greater variety provided for the O.F. weekday use. However, having celebrated the E.F. daily, I simply do not understand why people keep saying the Sunday readings are used each weekday in the E.F. Most days are saints days, and the readings assigned for the saint are used. It is only on rare occasions that the Sunday readings are used on weekdays.

Ted said...

Yes, I am also sure the supression of Prime had something to do with emphasizing Lauds. But this seems more of a rationalisation than of something that is "known" to the heart of a monastic. Prime evolved for a good reason, but it seems it was conveniently suppressed for its late arrival not for being known in the heart. My wonder is, was it really suppressed in all monastic offices, or only in the Roman breviary as some would claim? I suspect it was only for the latter which would make it a practical concern for priests, justified by an appeal to antiquity. These issues are not as clear as they seem, yet they were interpreted perhaps wrongly in certain ways later on. What makes Vatican II unique among councils is the ambiguity in its documents. An idle mind may be the devil's workshop, but ambiguity is a tool of the devil.

Henry said...

Of course, John, in English "pride of place" suggests "the distinction of holding the highest position". No fundamentally different meaning occurs to me. So, yes, "pride of place" may be an English-language "dynamic equivalent" to principum locum.

But are you not citing a familiar usage in English, rather than one in Latin? In any event, it does not seem clear to me that in context in SC it's an accurate translation (certainly not in the sense of Liturgiam Authenticam).

Though here is a good place to admit to Of course, John, "pride of place" suggests "the distinction of holding the highest position". No fundamentally different meaning in English occurs to me. But this remark is about an English-language usage of "pride of place", not about a usage of "principum locum" in Latin. What it implies to me is that "pride of place" may pass muster under the principle of "dynamic equivalence", rather than that it is really an accurate translation (in, for instance, the sense of Liturgiam Authenticam).

Though here is a good place to admit to my own "lack of Latin fluency". And to insert my apology to Pater Ignotus for alleging his own "lack of Latin fluency".

Henry said...

Isn't modern cut-paste computer technology wonderful? Produces results you just couldn't get without it. Or even imagine.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pride of place is an accurate translation of "principum locum" precisely because it conveys in English the CONCEPT that is conveyed by the Latin.

"First Place" sounds like a report on the outcome of a race, or "A" on an outline, or the name of an after-race bar in Daytona or at the Ascot.

Henry said...

More accurately, PI, "pride of place" is a paraphrase--rather an accurate translation--that conveys a largely equivalent concept.

It would be an accurate translation only if in its Latin formulation, SC had said pride of place. However, it did not, its Latin instead said first or principal place.

In this case, the difference is that one can accord to Gregorian chant the honorary distinction of the principal place without ever actually putting it in first place in liturgical practice. Which, setting semantics aside, finally gets at the real difference of opinion underlying this otherwise pointless discussion--whether to actually use Gregorian chance in the liturgy, or merely in principle or theory to accord it the distinction of first place.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

As everyone here knows, I love the vernacular Mass and now most especially since the revised English Mass came to be.
If we are to use more Latin, I think it should be a universal mandate, not just the idiosyncrasy of the pastor. Our parish knows for the most part the Jubilatio Deo Latin parts and we do use it during Lent and Advent. For the EF High Mass we us the Orbis Factor and I hear people chanting along with the schola. But if vernacular were allowed to the EF Mass, I'd have no problem with some of the modern English settings we use here at St. Joseph.

I'm interested in Latin but more interested in recovering some aspects of the 1962 Missal for the modern Missal in terms of what was discarded and in particular its reverence, piety, devotion and sense of awe which can be accomplished in English too. Even if no changes were made under than the allowance of ad orientem and kneeling for Holy Communion as the norm, that would be a huge, huge advance.

Pater Ignotus said...

Henry - The common reply in Spanish to "Gracias" is "De Nada."
Translated literally, de nada means "of nothing." (You will find those who say it translates "Don' mention it" or "Think nothing of it.")

But we don't translate as "of nothing" because the CONTEXT gives it the meaning "You're welcome."

The same process operates with the translation of principum locum. The context in which those words are used give them their meaning. "Pride of place" is not a paraphrase, but an accurate translation of principum locumgiven the context.

In a different context, principum locum might mean "first place" and in a different context "de nada" might mean "of nothing."

Father Kevin Estabrook said...

I missed this story while i was on a little pre-lenten vacation in warmer climates.

While on vacation i read Dom Alcuin Reid's "Organic Development of the Liturgy". Interesting to see the Holy Father use the word "organic" in connection with what is authentic and inauthentic about liturgical practice after Vatican II.