Monday, March 3, 2014


I fear that in some places where the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is celebrated that there is an ideology being promoted in the most divisive way that it is the "true Mass" and the Ordinary Form is intrinsically corrupt and should not be the Ordinary Form. Along with this liturgical ideology is a very rigid, judgmental form of Catholicism that can be very elitist in its ideology, almost or maybe even fanatical. It can be a very separatist movement if those who celebrate this Mass aren't careful.

Because I am orthodox, I accept Pope Benedict's SP and do so recognizing that the Ordinary Form of the Mass is the normal, everyday Mass of the Church.  So did Pope Benedict. As pope he never celebrated a public Extraordinary Form Mass, although he did celebrate it as a cardinal under the previous dispensation.

As I have said before, now that I celebrate the EF Low Mass weekly on Tuesday and once a month on Sunday, it has improved the way I celebrate the OF Mass. I am much more intentional and careful about the manner in which I celebrate it now. But what I love about the OF Mass is that there is flexibility built into it when there is a need for that flexibility. And I know first hand that the OF Mass can have the same ethos, spirituality, piety and devotion of the EF Mass if only it was celebrated by the book with only some minor alterations to its General Instruction to allowed clearly the option for the Liturgy of the Eucharist ad orientem and kneeling for Holy Communion. Just these two options without any other changes other than more care in the type of music sung and the type of instrumentation along with making mandatory the propers of the Mass from approved chant modes, even in English, would solve the majority of problems we see today with reverence, Catholic spirituality, piety and devotion.

St. Joseph parishioners received a very nice compliment from the spiritual director of Mt. St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, Fr. John Dietrich. He is giving our Lenten Parish Mission this week and preached all our Masses.

He commented how nice our liturgies are and how well our parishioners particpate in the Mass and how well they sing and most if not all parishioners stay in the Church until the final verse of the closing hymn before they depart.

He said that the manner in which the Mass is celebrated in other places and he's been to many other parishes, is not like it is at St. Joseph and sometimes very poorly celebrated.

I said to him that I could not understand why bishops don't focus on the liturgy more in their dioceses and strive to bring uniformity of quality to their parishes and offer priests direct mandates on how to improve the Mass, not through creativity or anything unusual, but simply by following what the Missal tells us to do and taking care of  attention to detail especially style of music, choreography and liturgical formality in terms of beauty in liturgical garb and how the laity dress for Mass.

I have said it before and I'll say it again, the manner in which Pope Francis celebrates Mass at St. Peter's not only in terms of his style but also the care that is taken with the others who participate in a formal way and also the congregation is a model that can be followed by all parishes of the world even if the Mass is completely in the vernacular.

Make Pope Francis' St. Peter's Masses the model and copy it scrupulously and we'd have a much improved art of celebrating the Ordinary Form Mass around the world.


non-anonymous said...

The experts at the New Liturgical Movement seem think the ultimate goal should be to eliminate the OF completely, and to go back to the pre-Bugnini Traditional Missal pre-1950.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

That is really, really silly! It ain't gonna happen except for those who go to FSSP parishes or into schism with SSPX, which is imprudent.

Rood Screen said...

Fr. McDonald,

You are obviously right, although I don't see any serious reform coming without heavy influence from the E.F. The Holy Ghost is working.

We should be thankful to the FSSP and their immediate forebears for preserving the 1962 missal as a living instrument of faith. However, the future usefulness of the FSSP (and related institutes) is now limited.

Anonymous said...

Father McDonald: "I fear that in some places where the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is celebrated that there is an ideology being promoted in the most divisive way that it is the "true Mass" and the Ordinary Form is intrinsically corrupt and should not be the Ordinary Form. Along with this liturgical ideology is a very rigid, judgmental form of Catholicism that can be very elitist in its ideology, almost or maybe even fanatical. It can be a very separatist movement if those who celebrate this Mass aren't careful."

This fear has no factual basis. There are EF Masses celebrated in 5 parish locations within driving range of me. These EF Masses are celebrated by a half-dozen diocesan priests, all of whom are as much or more devoted to the OF Mass, as are most of those attending. In none of these EF communities is there any breath of the separatism you about which you continue to cry wolf.

Nor is there any in any FSSP or diocesan parish EF communities I know about. That leaves your bugaboo, the SSPX, and perhaps a negligible handful of sedevacantists scattered around.

So let's look at the facts. There are about 550 SSPX priests in the world, and about 420,000 Catholic priests overall. So the SSPX represents about 0.13 percent. About one-tenth of one percent! Taking clerical numbers as an index, the Church is about 99.9% free of the fear that so haunts you. My goodness, how much security do you crave?

Whereas the PT-type progressives represent an influence that pervades the entire Church at every level--in rectories and chanceries in virtually every parish and diocese in the world.

So where should your fears be focused like a laser beam? Freeing you of any need to lean over backwards to one side, when virtually the whole Church is leaning the other way?

Anonymous said...

non-anonymous: "The experts at the New Liturgical Movement seem think the ultimate goal should be to eliminate the OF completely, and to go back to the pre-Bugnini Traditional Missal pre-1950."

I do not think the NLM discussion can sensibly be summarized this way. None of the principals there is advocating eliminating the OF. Rather, the issue they are discussing (negatively) is whether the OF can organically and realistically be revised to incorporate significant textual and ritual aspects of the EF. In his own summary, Fr. Kocik, who originated this whole NLM discussion, says

"I did not argue for the abandonment of the reformed liturgy. I deliberately left aside the question of what to do with the modern Roman rite as the Church implements the Council’s liturgical desiderata more faithfully using the basis of the Extraordinary Form and in view of the liturgical gains and losses of the past half century."

So I myself would interpret the question as not one of whether to abandon the OF, but instead of how to salvage it.

Anonymous said...

JBS says the future usefulness of the (FSSP and related institutes) is now limited. What a load of rubbish. I wonder if JSB has looked around the pews lately and seen the enormous gaps - noticed the number of parishes closing down. Unfortunately the OF of the Mass does not appear to be sustaining the people. I will go in preference to an EF Mass because I hate the music at the OF Mass and I hate lay people tramping around with offertory processions, readings, extraordinary lay ministers of the Eucharist. Those who want to go to the OF fine but leave the EF Mass alone for those of us who prefer it.


rcg said...

I don't see why the FSSP and related institutes would be limited. What do you mean? Heck, if they only grew into one parish in each diocese they would grow much more than they already are.

John Nolan said...

The NLM commentators are taking a very long-term view, whereas a lot of ROTRers in Benedict's reign were expecting a new Missal that would merge the two 'forms' in 30 to 50 years' time, and some were even claiming that the 1965-1967 revision represented the Mass the Council Fathers intended, whereas it was intended as the first major step in the dismantling of the Roman Rite.

Anonymous said...

Father, I used to think that the OF of the Mass said reverently to the rubrics was all that I needed, but since I have been able to attend a weekly EF Mass I just do not get the same from the OF Mass that I once did. I can't explain what it is but I attend the OF and the EF Mass said by the same priest who is very reverent but to me now, although I can see the outline of the OF Mass in the EF, it is if the OF has had the heart ripped out of it. The only way the OF comes near the beauty of the EF Mass is if Eucharistic Prayer 1 is said but it very rarely is. When I first attended a EF Mass many years ago, I just didn't know if I liked the silence, now I love it. I know that the OF Mass is a valid Mass and is the norm in the Church but I think that in the end the EF of the Mass will become the norm. We have a simple ordinary low Mass, without even a homily or the readings in English and no hymns but there is something certainly extraordinary about the EF Mass. I can't explain what it is but it is definitely more enriching to me and others who attend it. We are not allowed a Sunday EF Mass in my diocese which saddens me. I came across a note from an older lady recently who said that she is praying for an evening EF Mass near her and said, "You don't realise what you had until it has gone".


Rood Screen said...


Thank you for sharing your concerns. Indeed, I have looked around at the pews and they are full. We are building new churches and parishes in my diocese, and closing none. We celebrate the Roman Mass according to both forms around my diocese, doing so without need of specialized parishes, and without need of religious communities dedicated exclusively to the E.F.. The majority of our diocesan seminarians are learning both forms of the Roman Mass. Etc.

Anonymous said...

rcg, I was a member of an FSSP parish in a previous diocese, and am still devoted to the Fraternity as a current and original member of its associated Confraternity. Certainly, the FSSP has made a huge contribution (in training EF celebrants, etc) to jump-starting growth of the EP since SP.

But in my current diocese we have Sunday TLMs offered in multiple parish locations, at least one accessible within reasonable driving range for almost everyone. This seems to me a healthier situation than the usual FSSP pattern of a single EF mission in a single central diocesan location, which may be inconvenient for many or most in the diocese. I infer that JBS was thinking of a future with the EF widely provided by ample numbers of diocesan priests, rather than just one or two FSSP priests per diocese (if that).

We have a half-dozen diocesan priests celebrating the EF now and several more in the pipeline for ordination in the next couple of years. Truth is that our supply of EF priests may be on the verge of outstripping our demand for EF Masses. But this plethora of EF-trained priests provides a wonderful (and perhaps even more important) bonus in the celebration of OF Masses--I regularly attend OF Masses celebrated by these fine priests, and at their OF Masses never see anything that's not strictly "do the red, say the black" (with never a stray word added).

rcg said...

Henry, I think I understand. Our (FSSP) priests say that they hope for a future where they are not not needed in the same way as they are now. That would seem to be the state of your diocese today. As it is now, however, there are still large tracts with only FSSP or only a few EF Masses scatered about. I do not think it is the priests, generally, that resist it but the laity who have a wrong idea about what it is and complain without understanding. At this point I think of our parish as having a similar function to some of the 'charismatic' parishes that sprung up in the Seventies. We are weeded out of the other parishes where we didn't fit in and are still celebrating a valid Liturgy.

Anonymous said...

JBS, that is excellent and I think that is the way it should be with each form of the Mass side by side in a parish otherwise I think a ghetto mentality can develop.

You get that if you have a pastorally minded bishop who considers his flock. That doesn't happen in my diocese. We are allowed an EF Mass once a week on a Wednesday at 6.00pm but no Sunday EF Mass. I have to say but for immigrants the diocese would likely have folded as we're losing 15% Catholics a year and judging by the gaps that is going up.

Every Mass has guitar music and often bongo drums, except for one 7.00am Mass. At some Masses the band dresses in jeans, sway and jig to the music and say that they are leading the liturgy (I don't know where that leaves the poor priest).

Some of the Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, young women, wear very short skits and low cut tops which leave very little to the imagination when they distribute communion.

The 6.00pm Mass at our cathedral which is one Mass that is usually always full is like a circus. A friend reported someone cutting their toe nails and finger nails in the cathedral. If you're unfortunate to arrive late, as I did, and have to sit in one of the back rows people walk in and out of the pews rendering concentration at Mass almost impossible. The children teat the vestibule and baptismal font as a play area and are allowed to run around at will by their parents shrieking and skidding on the marble floors.

I would say you are indeed fortunate and rare from what I have read of what is happening all over the world where Mass attendance is dropping like a stone.