Saturday, March 8, 2014


My summary of this post or the "money quote":

Our bishop laments how poorly catechized our young Catholics are, especially those who he Confirms. But what is really at work in so many is not so much poor catechesis, be that as it may, but a truly abysmal lack of faith formation that leads to true reverence and piety, a solid Catholic spirituality. There is no fear of the Lord, there is no piety and there is no reverence!

There were many illiterate Catholics of yesteryear but they had a profound love for God and fear of offending Him. They would come to Holy Communion on bloody knees if they had to do so! The problem with younger generations since Vatican II is they think everything is a joke! That has to be addressed and it has to be addressed in a top down fashion starting with the Pope to every bishop in the world and then to every priest, deacon, religious and lay person!

This is a disaster for Catholic liturgical identity, reverence and piety in the post Vatican II era and this is not what Vatican II foresaw for liturgical renewal:

These are an Ordinary Form Masses the way it ought to be and can be done:

On a previous post I highlighted some of the things that Jesuit Father Paul Cioffi had said about the liturgy at a priestly continuing education conference I attended about 12 years ago. While he basically agreed that the actual reform of the liturgy (not so much concerning the books of the Mass, but how the Mass is celebrated) had become a train wreck, he did state positive things about the liturgical reforms that we have experienced:

He states that the unambiguous successes of the past forty years include the restoration of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the reform of the lectionary and Liturgy of the Word, the development of liturgical ministries, more frequent Holy Communion at Mass and allowing the Chalice to be given to the laity.

Now that I celebrate both forms of our one Latin Rite, I repeat what I've written before, I love both when both are celebrated properly, with reverence (in the traditional understanding Catholic reverence) piety and actual participation both interiorly (contemplatively) and externally (vocally). Let's call it the intersection of the Martha and Mary way of worshiping.

Now before anyone states that the revised three year Sunday lectionary and the two year daily Mass lectionary are not an improvement over the one year lectionary of the EF, let me stop you and say you are just plain wrong. There isn't anything intrinsically wrong with the one year or three year lectionaries since everything in these lectionaries are the Word of God! But the expansion of the use of more of the Word of God is wonderful for Catholics who prior to the Council didn't know much about the Bible since we so infrequently read it except for what we read in the one year lectionary.

The public liturgies for the RCIA are wonderful as well. 

The development of liturgical ministries are to be applauded too, especially that of lector and cantor. 

More frequent worthy reception of Holy Communion of the laity and allowing the chalice to be given to them should never be denigrated. Many younger Catholics don't realize that the reason for infrequent Holy Communion had little to do with being in a state of mortal sin and more to do with scrupulosity concerning the fast which up until 1958 was from midnight to Mass which changed to three hours before Mass and then in 1966 to one hour before Mass and eventually to one hour before Holy Communion. I remember not receiving Holy Communion because I swallowed by accident some toothpaste brushing my teeth!

What needs to be improved about the Mass without changing the books one bit?

1. The art of celebrating the Mass beginning with the priest. He must keep his personality out of it and stop improvising and overpowering the Mass with his personality and comments. There should be no banal or secular bantering during the Mass. I hold up as a role model, the art of celebrating the Mass of both Popes Benedict and Francis in this regard, especially Francis, who becomes a servant of the liturgy and hides his personality altogether during it.

2. The art of celebrating the Mass of the congregation. They should show common postures, enthusiasm in responding vocally both sung and spoken parts and show signs of reverence in how they carry their body. If you have ever watched televised Mass that show the congregation face on, you'd think you entered the night of the living dead zone, so glum and sourpussed do they look and casual in stance and dress! 

3. Train all the liturgical ministers properly and make sure they speak well, participate well, and are choreographed properly. The choreography and participation of the EF Mass for altar servers can easily be instituted in the OF Mass but it takes time, work and repeated rehearsals. Altar servers must be reverent, well groomed and attentive to the Mass. Otherwise they destroy that reverence and mystery.

4. Make sure good music is sung and begin with chants. I am not opposed to good hymn singing, but it should be seen as "filler" accompany the actual chants of the Mass. The Introit contained in the Roman Missal could easily be chanted at every Mass as a prelude to the processional hymn or as the chant that accompanies the priest approaching the altar to kiss and incense it as he goes to his chair. 

5. Eliminate instruments associated with folk music and so-called contemporary music. Electric guitars, snare drums, tambourines simply need to go and there must be the recovery of the organ, especially the pipe organ, as the normative instrument for Mass. This does not preclude other strings, brass and percussion, but these should be for more festive celebrations in terms of progressive solemnity.

6. While I am not in principle opposed to the Mass facing the congregation, I do think that ad orientem would recover the sense of mystery and reverence that is lacking today and help keep the priest's looks, personal piety and personality out of the Mass. 

7. I think kneeling for Holy Communion and receiving on the tongue would greatly enhance the proper reverence and piety we should have for our Eucharistic Lord. The casual way that our children receive Holy Communion will send a message to them that will last them for the rest of their lives that Holy Communion is no big deal. It is and we need to recover the big deal it is with all our Catholics and make sure awe and reverence return to this point of the Mass as well as to every point of the Mass. 

Our bishop laments how poorly catechized our young Catholics are, especially those who he Confirms. But what is really at work in so many is not so much poor catechesis, be that as it may, but a truly abysmal lack of faith formation that leads to true reverence and piety, a solid Catholic spirituality. There is no fear of the Lord, there is no piety and there is no reverence!

There were many illiterate Catholics of yesteryear but they had a profound love for God and fear of offending Him. They would come to Holy Communion on bloody knees if they had to do so! The problem with younger generations since Vatican II is they think everything is a joke! That has to be addressed and it has to be addressed in a top down fashion staring with the Pope to every bishop in the world!


Anonymous said...

And just who is going to "fix" this situation of the liturgy?

The priest who is pastor of my parish celebrates Mass in a yellowed, cheap alb wearing flip flops. You can see through it that he is wearing a tee shirt and shorts. Besides the fact that he is 300 lbs., I don't think it's to much to ask that he wear pants. And the Roman Collar, I have never seen him wear it.

Last night we were supposed to have exposition before Stations of the Cross. This consisted of Father walking out of the rectory in sweat pants and a hoodie, walking up to the tabernacle without so much as a nod of the head and just putting the MBS in the middle of the altar. In fairness he did put on his awful looking alb. No fuss no muss I guess. No bow, no genuflections, no sign of the cross, no nothing.

This is the caliber of today's priests. They burp in public, dress in wrinkled sloppy clothes. They go out of their way to show that reverence does not matter.

So I ask my question again. Who is going to restore the liturgy? And please don't say Pope Francis, please.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The way Pope Francis celebrates the Mass at the Vatican, on Ash Wednesday and at other times is a role model for priests. I've been to several of his Masses and popular devotions and there is not one thing wrong with these in terms of his manner of celebrating, not one thing and even last Holy Thursday which was in a prison Catholic chapel, there wasn't anything wrong and as Supreme Pontiff, he can well choose not the wash the feet of anyone, since it is purely an option that is not mandatory or he can change the rubric about whose feet will be washed, that is the prerogative of the pope and perhaps coloring book Catholics weren't taught that and in addition, His Holiness doesn't have to explain himself to person on earth--he's the Pope!

Nathanael said...

What I fail to understand about comments like the previous one (which describes a very sad parish situation) is just what do they want the Holy Father to do about it? Does the Holy Father behave in a manner like the previous mentioned priest? Every Mass I watched the Holy Father celebrate has been reverent.

Do they want Francis to ride around with army like Julius II and (instead of expanding and recapturing the Papal States from feuding Italian noblemen and whatever foreign power controls Italy) publicly chastise each parish priest who does something (or behaves) in a manner they find displeasing?

The Holy Father is engaging the world in a dialogue with Christ and his Holy Church. Yes, the Holy Father is taken out-of-context by the media and other Catholics (whatever label you wish to give them). But, then again, so is the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what happens when you proclaim the Truth of the Christ in the world.

Pray for the “sloppy” priest in question. At my parish we have (what I call it anyway) a drum problem. Those things were beat all through the Mass (a “recent” improvement). I prayed (and prayed hard) – and thanks be to God – their presence has been reduced! A small victory. :)

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thanks Nathanael, to suggest that the Pope has to police every parish in the world is nonsense--it is the local bishop who must do this.

Anonymous said...

1. Like you, I absolutely love both forms of the Roman rite. (My distaste for abuses in the OF is an index of my love for it.) And I have come to agree that the OF requires no textual changes. It only needs the ascendance of a generation of younger adequately formed priests who can and will celebrate it properly.

2. The 2-year OF lectionary for week days is a great improvement, the one the Council called for. The 3-year OF lectionary for Sundays is not, simply because it does not really expand the use of scripture. Indeed, given the brevity of the OF readings and their overall lack of the depth of the EF Sunday readings, as well as the scriptural drumbeat in the rest of the EF Mass, Sunday-only Catholics hear less scripture at OF Mass now than before. But no matter, this is not the real problem.

3. Generations and centuries of Catholics required little or no catechesis outside of Mass, no Catholic schools, no scripture reading outside Mass, and many if not most heard sermons no better than today. The Mass itself inculcated the faith sufficed to form Catholic identity, more through non-verbal than verbal communication. Though the OF texts are in some ways richer than the EF texts, the reformers removed the non-verbal symbols that were the medium of catechesis and instruction.

4. It's never been a function of the pope to model proper parish celebration of the Mass. Many in the past have certainly been poor celebrants. Even Pope Benedict probably accomplished little in this regard (however excellent his personal model). It's the obligation of each bishop to insure proper celebration by each of his priests. If they're not doing it, it means that their bishop is not doing it.

5. Although OF Mass certainly can and should be "done right", that last picture is from our solemn high EF Mass of Easter Sunday 2013 at Holy Ghost Church in Knoxville. More pictures here:

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Henry, Odd, that I would pick your church in Knoxville. Who is the seminarian from Knoxville in Rome you know? I met with him and he is very nice and was one of the MC's at the diaconate ordination at St. Peter's for the North American and he did a splendid job.

Apart from that, what is that extra candle to the far right slightly off the reredos? And does this parish use the altar railing for communicants to kneel at the normal OF Masses?

rcg said...

The first commenter captured my thought: it is a lack of respect that shows externally in these actions. It makes sense that the local bishop should police the parishes, so what stops him? I had a discussion yesterday with a supervisor who had complained to me two weeks ago about an employee who was not attentive or working to suit him. This week he complained about two more. That tipped me off that the problem is not the employees. I have one person to fix and it is not the workers on the floor. The manager is smart and capable. Maybe he needs to understand his authority and it's paired responsibility better.

Then there is 'Lex Orlando, lex credendi'. It seems that many RE teachers (that makes my skin crawl) spend as much time explaining exceptions to the catechism as the content. This is surely a source of confusion.

Are banjos a traditional instrument? They could accompany the Kyrie. Y'all.

Anonymous said...

Father, the seminarian you met in Rome--he told me how deeply impressed he was with you--was Michael Hendershott--who has attributed his vocation to the TLM; he was one of our first pair of servers when we started the TLM here in 2005. After started college as an engineering student, he entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary (Philadelphia) after his freshmen year. He is looking forward to diaconal ordination in October, and we are hoping he can come home to serve as deacon at our solemn high EF Mass of Christmas.

That 7th candle is lit when the bishop is present. Also, Cardinal Rigali, who is in residence in Knoxville when not in Rome, frequently comes to Holy Ghost to celebrate Mass. The altar rail was used exclusively for communion at Holy Ghost until about 2003--along with many other traditional practices--when the bishop decided to apply the GIRM norm more fully. However, many people continued to kneel at the communion rail, receiving communion after the standers had received. We still have communion in only one species--except on designated special occasions (e.g., Holy Thursday), thereby obviating any need for wide-scale use of EMHCs.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Henry, I would disagree with you concerning the lectionary, but would certainly favor a revision of it. I think that three readings are too much and should be reduced to two and more shortened readings.

Your third point though is extremely important. The reverence I have to this day concering the Holy Eucharist and the Mass comes from the Mass prior to the Council and how we were taught to receive Holy Communion at that time and the way we did it and the overall reverence of the congregation in very non verbal ways, by posture and dress and a sense of awe.

All this changed as the Mass changed and became a source of frustration for me as a young teenager to see so much good tossed out and how sloppy things became. However, I loved the vernacular and the priest facing the people, but I despised how dumbed down the altar came to look with free standing altars and absolutely was shocked and scandalized the first Sunday in my home parish (I had to be 15 or so) when the tabernacle was move to the side altar and the priest's presiding chair place in the dead center behind and higher up than the altar. That kind of non-verbal stuff damaged the faith of so many of that period.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

about the readings, I should have written "more shortened readings expanded."

rcg said...

Sorry to double post, but your suggestions for displays of reverence inspired another comment: you said you bow to the altar before turning to face the congregation. Do you you bow your head toward the tabernacle at the sound of the Holy Name? Do the servers an all attenendants genuflect when crossing the axis of the nave? That last, with the sign of the cross, is done by everyone in our parish when in the nave. I realize FSSP is a little over the top with reverence (sic) but it seems to urge us to maintain that reverence and seek it in other things.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

RCG I don't think I could take banjos at Mass, although didn't Mr. Greenjeans in Captain Kangaroo play one? I bow my head at the name of Jesus but do not look toward the tabernacle, (technically though, during Mass, we should look toward the Crucifix in doing so.) Technically the GIRM says we are to only genuflect (if able to do so) to the tabernacle if it is dead center behind the altar at the beginning and end of Mass, but not during--which is different from the EF Mass. I'm not sure what the rubric for the EF Mass would be if the tabernacle isn't present, such as at the papal altar of St. Peter's. I think possibly the genuflection is to the altar and crucifix, not the tabernacle, but I could be wrong.

I personally agree that there shouldn't be a devotion to the reserved sacrament in the tabernacle during Mass.

rcg said...

Henry, you third point is a good one. On major difference I see in OF and EF parishes is the unity of the Mass to the lesson, often tied together by the homily.

Anonymous said...

"he can change the rubric about whose feet will be washed, that is the prerogative of the pope."

This is not a historic view of the role and function of the pope. He can change the rubric through proper legislative action, but he has no more authority to violate an unchanged existing rubric than any other priest. Better to argue in this case that the rubrics were not handed down inscribed on stone tablets, and that a rare exception may sometimes be justified. Why not clarify by explaining that he felt that a violation was justified in this exceptional situation, rather than giving carte blanche for priests all over to violate rubrics at will. The Church has had too much of faulty teaching and examples, best for the pope to lead by teaching and example.

Like any other priest, the pope is the servant of the liturgy, not its master. Perhaps his supreme teaching office makes his faithful observance of the rubrics even more important.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I beg to differ, when it comes to the rubrics a pope can change it and this has happened frequently. Pope Francis delegates another priest to chant the Mystery of Faith and introduce the changed Pater Noster.

Pope John Paul delegated to then Cardinal Ratzinger that he would chant the preface of the Mass, though the pope was the main celebrant.

Pope Benedict instituted kneeling for those to whom he distributed Holy Communion when the norm is to stand--Pope Francis has sidestepped the issue by not giving Holy Communion to the laity and now not even the deacons kneel to receive.

Dan Z said...

My opinion is that we should keep the two forms of the Mass-- the EF should remain "pure" and untampered with. As for the OF, I think the Roman Missal is fine (even the 3 year cycle of readings)... the problem is with Bugnini's order of the Mass. Bugnini's order has defects and is far too assimilated into protestantism, ie, the idea of priest as a performing presider who faces the people to entertain them, the over-emphasis on the communial meal aspect of the mass, the ommission of the saints by name in the confiteor and the addition of the "protestant part" of the Our Father, and the fact most, if not all church buildings built after 1970 have a minimilistic and iconiclastic sancturary, using "noble simplicity" as the rationale. My suggestion would be to replace Bugnini's Order with the 1965 Order, even though many, like the New Liturgical Movement, are starting to openly and proactively reject the 65 Missal. I think the 65 Order is far superior to Bugnini's order, and replacing it in the OF Missal would be an upgrade.

Anonymous said...

"Does the Holy Father behave in a manner like the previous mentioned priest? Every Mass I watched the Holy Father celebrate has been reverent. "

Have you seen the pictures of a Francis saying Mass as archbishop on a card table, with puppets?

John Nolan said...


If the tabernacle is centrally placed on the altar, the Blessed Sacrament is always removed when a bishop celebrates, and this applies to both forms. In the EF Pontifical High Mass the bishop, when incensing, bows when reaching the centre of the altar, but the deacon and subdeacon on either side of him genuflect.

In a non-pontifical Solemn Mass the celebrant and ministers genuflect whether the tabernacle is on the altar or not. When the OF is celebrated ad orientem and the tabernacle is on the altar, or centrally placed behind it, genuflexion is commonly done, although the OF rubrics do not prescribe it. This is either out of respect for the reserved Sacrament, or out of a desire to conform with the older rubrics - who am I to judge?

In the Dominican Rite when crossing in front of the tabernacle the server(s) make a moderate bow, and in the Sarum Rite there were no genuflexions at all. For much of the Middle Ages going down on one knee was associated with the feudal act of homage from the vassal to the lord, and had secular rather than religious connotations.

disgruntled anonymous said...

To refer to the Blessed Sacrament as "the MBS" displays the same modern minimalism that the priest in the yellowed alb displays.

Anonymous said...

"I beg to differ, when it comes to the rubrics a pope can change it and this has happened frequently."

I don't think you're actually in disagreement with me. Because my point was that the pope did not change the rubric on foot-washing--either by violating it on that occasion or by legislation. That rubric remains unchanged and still binding, however the water may be muddied by lack of clarity. (This is the worrisome problem with clarity of communication nowadays.) While a pope can change a rubric through proper channels, he does not do so merely by violating it--in which case it remains in effect, for him and for everyone else. Which is precisely the case in regard to foot-washing. Doesn't this confusion make the point, how bad an example is violation of a rubric without explanation--although in this case a papal spokesman did attempt an explanation that evidently did not help much.

The other papal instances you mentioned are not really violations of the rubrics; many things not specified in the OF norms can be done validly because not explicitly prohibited. In any event, a change in the celebration of papal Masses--which historically have had separate and different rubrics from those in the Roman Missal typical edition--does not in itself justify or validate that change for parish Masses.

And the norm for communion is NOT standing. The universal norm for the Church--and still the norm in the Vatican, however frequently and perhaps appropriately violated, given the crowds of visitors there--is STILL kneeling for communion. Our U.S. norm is a legislatively granted local exception to the universal norm.

rcg said...

John, thanks for the clarification. Put another way, when in a previous parish the tabernacle was removed from its central position and moved to a side chapel, the altar moved forward and a ramp built behind the altar we wondered what we were genuflecting and saying the prayer of the cross toward. A priest said we could angle off toward the adoration chapel if we wanted. My wife was not convinced. We were then told that Christ was always present and we were focusing on the altar. I suppose my point, if I actually have one, is that we have made the exception the rule in our ritual and may be missing something important by doing so.

Anonymous said...

"To refer to the Blessed Sacrament as "the MBS" displays the same modern minimalism that the priest in the yellowed alb "

So I guess IHS is out of the question also? How about INRI, is that not permissible either? What about the letters on the St Benedict medal?

Anonymous said...

Don't you folks EVER get weary of talking about the same stuff over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and you get what I mean...or maybe not...

John Nolan said...

Abbreviations and acronyms have a venerable tradition; think of the Chi-Rho. To write 'In Assumptione BMV or 'In Nativitate DNJC' implies no disrespect. All the coins in my pocket have on the obverse 'ELIZABETH II.D.G.REG.F.D.' although few people could write it out in full these days, just as most people don't realize that the first letter of Xmas is Greek, not Roman. I've even met Catholics who won't use this particular abbreviation because they think it's 'secular'! In his manuscript of 'Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all', Father Faber writes above it 'Corpus Xi'

I didn't immediately twig what MBS was; a better acronym would be SSS (Sanctissimum Sacramentum). I shall resist the temptation to refer to the Novus Ordo as the Bugnini Sacramentary!

Anonymous said...

Personally, to me and others although we attend the ordinary form of the Mass, it is not by choice. Unfortunately what we have had to put up with for nigh on 40 years now I think it is already too late for the OF of the Mass. I would much prefer to go to an Anglican Ordinariate Mass if one was available.

No matter what you do with the OF of the Mass there is always going to be the intrusion of the parade of lay people with books, vessels, you name it they do it. The even advertise for "table setters" at the Cathedral parish here rather than altar servers.

I think the OF of the Mass is destined to die out as the generations fall away from Mass. I was shocked when I read the Ottaviani Intervention recently on the EWTN website. The theologians warned at the time that it was appeasing to protestants and that is what it has done, protestantised the church. I believe it is a valid Mass but that's as far as it goes.


rcg said...

Had to go to an NO parish this evening to fulfill my obligation. I have to work Sunday. I won't offer a description, but it was heart breaking. When we were driving away, my wife was quiet for a long time and asked, "Do you feel like you have been to Mass?" I actually laughed because I had been struggling with that same thought in my mind and heart. One very positive thing did jump out at me: they definitely participated Lots of response in our parts. So that was nice. Too bad the priest's phone rand and interrupted the First Reading.

Nathanael said...

I would say to Anonymous the Holy Father will continue along the same path he has taken since his election in relation to his liturgical style.

As for Francis being Gepetto, there are far more glaring examples in the history of the Papacy to cause alarm about God’s choice of who the successor of Peter is.

If one of the holiest men on Earth (our Pope Emeritus) can submit and obey – then so can I.

rcg said...

@john Nolan, "Bugnini Sacramentary". Oh my, that's good.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Anonymous said...

Don't you folks EVER get weary of talking about the same stuff over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and you get what I mean...or maybe not...

March 8, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Some things are worth repeating, the constant bashing, rehashing and regurgitating about the new and glorious English translation at another blog is truly the thing that goes on over, and over, and over and over and over and over and you get what I mean, or maybe not, ad nauseum.

John Nolan said...

This morning I heard, for the first time, a polyphonic setting of the Mass Ordinary composed by a canonized saint. It was the Misa de Cuaresma by St Francis Borgia (1510-1572). There was also music by Guerrero and Morales - the 16th century was a golden age for Spanish music.

St Francis was the great-grandson (on his father's side) of Pope Alexander VI and (on his mother's side) of King Ferdinand of Aragon. He inherited the Dukedom of Gandia, was married and fathered eight children. On the death of his wife he renounced his titles and joined the Society of Jesus, becoming its third Superior General, where his administrative and diplomatic skills were put to good use. He was instrumental in founding what later became the Gregorian University. When the present Holy Father took the name Francis, this saint, along with St Francis Xavier, would have been in his mind.

The Mass this morning was in the Ordinary Form.

George said...

There is a popular phone app (Laudate) that uses the Chi-Rho as its Icon symbol.

| \
| |
\ | /
\ | /
\ | /
/ | \
/ | \
/ | \

I can't recall MBS ever being used to refer to the Blessed Sacrament.

Speaking of Greek:
I know a someone who after he went off to attend college came back an told his mother he did not plan on joining any of the Greeks. This cause some confusion and consternation on her part (his mother was from Greece). He had to explain to her that he was talking about his intention not to join a college fraternity (known by their Greek letter designations).

George said...

Apologies. I was attempting to create the Chi-Rho symbol. It didn't turn out well I see.