Sunday, March 23, 2014


Jonathan Day who lives in London, England and writes comments on the Praywhine (I mean Praytell) blog writes the following about his experience of the Mass where he lives my comments follow:

"...I wonder how many “EF supporters” would welcome a Latin Mass of Paul VI.
The Mass that I described is not peculiar to our parish, by the way: you will find it on Sunday at several London churches, including Westminster Cathedral. 

These Masses have Latin, beautiful music (chant, but also baroque, classical and contemporary composers), bells and incense, and in general a very reverent style of celebration. However, in our parish:

- the priest faces the congregation throughout
- there are no birettas or maniples
- there is an exchange of the peace — it’s quiet and it ends quickly, but it’s there
- there are female altar servers
- there are extraordinary ministers of communion
- communion is received standing, in both kinds
- communicants can receive in the hand or on the tongue; about 1/3 of them choose the latter
- the canon of the Mass is said aloud (as the NO rubrics indicate)

I think this is typical for these solemn Latin Masses in London — Farm Street, St Mary’s Cadogan Street, the Cathedral, etc.. An exception is the London Oratory, where the style is much more “Tridentine”; most people who attend the Masses I described above tend to avoid the Oratory, for this reason.

There is an Association for Latin Liturgy in the UK (google it) promoting the Mass of Paul VI done entirely or partially in Latin. It maintains a directory of churches who provide this..."

MY COMMENTS: Jonathan Day likes Latin. So do I but in the Catholic Mass a little Latin goes a long way for me. I've always been an advocate for a controlled use of the vernacular in the EF Mass. I think a wonderful compromise would for all the changing parts of the EF Mass to be in the vernacular as an option, not a mandate, and everything else that doesn't change as is.

For me the problem with the Ordinary Form of the Mass is not so much the lack of Latin, although I would endorse a mandate of Latin only for the non-changing parts of the Mass, but a lack of reverence in so many parishes, and perhaps a majority of parishes in the USA.

The problem with my hypothesis of a lack of reverence in most Mass on any given Sunday in the USA is that the word reverence has been corrupted. Reverence is now seen as excitement, noise and entertainment as in the Los Angeles Religious Education Conference.

Let's look at the things that Jonathan seems to think is intrinsic to the Ordinary Form of the Mass and a part of this 44 year patrimony (as opposed to 1500 years prior to the 1970 Missal).

1. The priest facing the congregation--while in principle I don't think this is completely problematic, from the psychological and sociological point of view it is as it turns prayer to God the Father into prayer through the congregation as the congregation becomes the focus of the priest in proclaiming Christ's prayers to His Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. The facial expressions of the priest, being able to see what he looks like, what he is doing makes the Mass facing the people into a sort of clericalism that is missing in the ad orientem Mass. While facing the people isn't wrong, facing ad orientem need not have a phobic reaction as though this is something evil or bad or opposed to Vatican II. It isn't. Neither is the 1962 missal by the way!

2. No birettas or maniples, hatred of these two things is simply small minded, these are not required in the OF Mass and I've never worn a biretta in my life even at the EF Mass. But so what if these are used!

3. I have no problem with the exchange of peace that is noble in simplicity and sober; I have no problem without it. It is optional, but I always have it in my OF Masses and it is a part of the Solemn High EF Mass, but entirely clerical, although since we normally don't focus on the congregation and micro manage them during the EF Mass in terms of postures, who's to stop someone from exchanging the Kiss of Peace when the priest does with the deacon and subdeacon?

4. I have no problem in principle with altar girls. However, I think a good argument can be made of making way for a culture of recruiting young men from the ranks of altar boys and adult men servers. There was and is now a culture of this in the EF Mass once again. Priests are critical for the Church, not optional if we are to maintain our God-given sacramental system, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Whatever can promote more men to consider the priesthood, the better!

5. I have no problem with Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion when needed (meaning there are no priests or deacons available for the various stations needed) nor any problem with the common chalice except for hygiene concerns. I am in favor of intinction in this regard which lessens the needs for hoards of non clerical Communion Ministers.

6. What in the name of God and all that is holy is the problem with receiving Holy Communion kneeling which has the longest and most revered tradition in the Latin Rite, Western Rite, of the Catholic Church? I find opposition to receiving Holy Communion kneeling irrational. I continue to believe that if no other change in the OF Mass was mandated except for kneeling for Holy Communion, we would see a tremendous increase in traditional piety and reverence for this Sacrament, received and adored. We have more than a few communicants who choose to kneel for Holy Communion. Some of these who kneel receive in the hand--and not on the run when they do so! But what is so horrible about receiving exclusively on the tongue. What problems does it present? How many problems are reported with Communion in the Hand, from a disregard completely for the particles of Holy Communion that remain on the hands to people taking the Host back to pew, home or thrown on the floor or shared with children who beg for a part?

7. I have no problem with multiple Eucharistic Prayers prayed in a voice tone that is heard, although it should be in softer tones in my humble opinion. I can see how the silent canon in the EF Mass can be very effective if people understand the spirituality and reverence behind it, as entering the Holy of Holies in a sort of a iconstasis way through silence rather than screen and doors blocking the view of what is going on in the sanctuary.  For me chanting the Eucharistic Prayer acts as a way of elevating this portion of the Mass over a loud proclamation. This prayer, as with all prayers, should be prayed humbly, quiet or in an low audible voice enhanced by a sound system.

I am sure Jonathan Day attends very reverent and beautiful OF Masses in Latin in London and that these are reverent. But just as reverent would these be with the things he seems to abhor and for no real good reason except that's how it has been done for 44 years.


GenXBen said...

I went to an Episcopalian service with a friend. They could be considered a typical Episcopalian congregation: high Church but liberal politically. They knelt at Communion. Why liberal Catholics are opposed to it, but liberal Episcopalians are not is a mystery to me.

Anonymous said...

"I find opposition to receiving Holy Communion kneeling irrational."

I think, to the contrary, that this opposition is quite rational. The way communion while standing was introduced in the 1970s makes it plain that liturgists opposed communion while kneeling to lessen belief in the Real Presence. They themselves had no such belief, and wanted no else to. They knew that if others were prohibited from showing the respect that they themselves did not feel, then belief in the Real Presence would be lessened and diluted, as was their objective.

As a Methodist youth I knelt for communion, though with no concept of the Real Presence. But in Western Catholicism, kneeling has always correlated with that concept.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Henry I think there was an attempt to reinterpret transubstantiation and make our belief more ecumenically aligned with Protestantism moving us to full reunion, a utopian ideology! I think there has been a revival of our true belief in the Most Holy Eucharist since JPII and the phenomenon of perpetual adoration and moving the tabernacle back to a central axis in the Church. The only thing lacking in this renewal and recovery of the true meaning of transubstantiation is kneeling. It is returning in some places though as a kind of mustard seed!

Gene said...

Henry, Excellent! You clearly see that all of this, from Vat II to the increasingly dumbed down/humanized liturgy, is a problem of unbelief and nothing more. As subtle as Satan may be his ways are, at bottom, quite simple. I might add that, as a protestant minister for 20 years, I distributed Communion to people kneeling at an altar rail. The sense of reverence was profound.

Anonymous said...

Has the use of altar girls accomplished anything positive? It's possible that serving Mass could cause the girls to develop a deeper spiritual life and reject the trappings of pop culture. Has it done that? Do we have any empirical evidence that suggest that young altar girls grow up to be better Catholic women because they served at Mass? How many pursued religious life because they served Mass? In the reverse, how many grow up to be good feminists because they were taught that serving at Mass is a sign of political protest against the male enslavers? Regarding the "sign of peace", I believe it should be phrased only as A Sign of Christ's Peace. After all, it's Christ's peace that we wish to others, not the 1970s dope smokers' antiwar peace which is the peace that was being emphasized at the time it was introduced in the USA. A re-write of the sign of peace in the Mass could make it very effective if people were asked to bow their heads and pray that their loved ones, their fellow parishioners and all people be blessed with the grace of Christ's peace. In this way you get the involvement of the congregation which is so desirable amongst the “reformers” and the focus on the true peace that comes through Christ.

John Nolan said...

I happen to be a member of the Association for Latin Liturgy, which promotes the use of Latin in the Novus Ordo. It prefers ad orientem celebration, and in the Masses it organizes everything is in Latin, including the lessons, and the Graduale Propers are used. Novelties like EMHC and female servers are conspicuous by their absence.

I don't know what parish Jonathan Day patronizes, but he is probably right on most of his points, although I suspect that many such parishes have held out against EMHC and 'serviettes'. Ad orientem and kneeling Communion are fairly rare, I suspect.

However, I don't think people who like Mass in Latin would avoid the Oratory because they have kneeling Communion and birettas, celebrate ad apsidem and don't have females in the sanctuary.

George said...

GIRM 160

When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant BOWS HIS OT HER HEAD before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the Body of the Lord from the minister. The consecrated host may be received either on the tongue or in the hand, at the discretion of each communicant. When Holy Communion is received under both kinds, the SIGN OF REVERENCE is also made before receiving the Precious Blood.

I see more people bowing or showing some sign of reverence before receiving now but I can remember when that was for the most part not the case and this contributed to the diminishment of the sense of the Real Presence.

Another issue that begs a question:
Had altar rails not been removed, would we see the EMHC at all, or at least the proliferation of them? I know, now that we have the EMHC, we can make it work with altar rails if a church re-installs them.

George said...

You have to understand very well that Jesus descends on the altar when the priest says the Holy words, at that time, bend your heads and contemplate in the Lord hidden in the Host and Wine.

- Saint Raffia (1832-1914), Feast Day March 23

rob said...

My Bishop doesn't want us to kneel during the consecration. He wants us standing *after* the Orate Fraters until the presider is seated. When I asked him, he said that he wanted a unified posture, symbolism of community, etc., and that in one of the Eucharistic Prayers, it says that we will all stand before God.

To quote my students, "I don't get it."

Rood Screen said...

Fr. McDonald,

I agree with you that lack of reverence, not lack of Latin, is the Gospel worry of highest concern for the sacred liturgy today. We can employ language, architecture, vesture, posture, etc. to achieve reverent liturgy, but we must always see these elements as mere means to an end, rather than as ends in themselves.

Pater Ignotus said...

Henry - How do you know this: "The way communion while standing was introduced in the 1970s makes it plain that liturgists opposed communion while kneeling to lessen belief in the Real Presence. They themselves had no such belief, and wanted no else to."

Good Father, where do you get this thought: "I think there was an attempt to reinterpret transubstantiation and make our belief more ecumenically aligned with Protestantism moving us to full reunion, a utopian ideology!"

(I might add that full reunion is not a "utopian ideology" but the actual stated goal of our Church regarding ecumenism. CCC 820: "The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit."

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Transubstantiation and Eucharistic adoration were ridiculed in many seminaries in the 1970's except yours but standing was introduced by those who ridiculed the theology of kneeling and transubstantiation.

As far as ecumenism goes we have niceties but no real progress on grassroots levels and the Anglicans are further away from us more so than 60 years ago.

Rood Screen said...

Pater Ignotus is right in saying that ecumenism is no utopian ideology. Further, it is my understanding that the '70's intention was to reorient belief in the Real Presence to a more Jewish understand of liturgical presence, so that just as participants in a Passover ritual may believe themselves to be "present" with preceding generations of their ancestors, Christians are made "present" at the Last Supper during Mass. The emphasis, then, is upon the historic event rather than upon the True Presence of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine.

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - Your bishop emeritus tells the story of how he and his Protestant Irish playmates were afraid to enter each other's churches for fear they'd be struck dead. I'd say that the abolition of that gross mutual misunderstanding is grassroots progress.

In places where Christians of many denominations work together to feed the hungry, house the poor, clothe the naked - these are grassroots progress. (We were forbidden to engage in such cooperative efforts for centuries.)

Every time you stand with a minister from another Christian denomination, or she with you, as witnesses at the wedding of a Catholic and non-Catholic Christian, that, too, is grassroots progress. As is recognition of the validity of Baptisms in most other Christian denominations.

And it is regrettable that you refer to the theological progress made as mere "niceties." The men and women, including your former Bishop Raymond Lessard who worked on the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission for years, would, I suspect, take exception to such a dismissive attitude.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

+RWL was sadly dismissed by them, the only good thing that came from this is the Anglican Ordinariate--the only way to true unity!

Pater Ignotus said...

JBS - Actually, the Jewish understanding of the connection between the past and present, as expressed in the Haggadah, helps us understand our presence at the foot of Calvary and at the Last Supper.

Jews do not say "This was done for our ancestors" but "This was done for us." From "Ask the Rabbi:" "As a Jewish family sits around the festive table on Passover night and reads the Haggadah, all of its members are not only retelling that seminal experience of the Jewish nation but are reliving it as well."

Anonymous said...

PI: "Henry - How do you know this: The way communion while standing was introduced in the 1970s makes it plain . . ."

I was there, not as the boy you were at that time, but as a mature well-informed Catholic. And it's still true today. And ask those who today who oppose communion while kneeling to say precisely what they think of or mean by the real presence, and you get the message deja vu all over again..

Pater Ignotus said...

Henry - You were where? And while you were there, wherever that was, who were the people you accuse so easily of having no faith in the Eucharist? And how do you know what they believed?

I have never once met a person who favors standing to receive communion who does it as a sign of not believing in the Real Presence.

Pater Ignotus said...




It would be helpful to know if these are the "niceties" you so readily dismiss, or if I am misunderstanding you here...

George said...

In 2000, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (under Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI) found it necessary to re-emphasize the centrality of the one and only universal Catholic Church for true ecumenism in "Dominus Iesus." The ultimate goal is to bring other ecclesial communities into the fold of the True Church.
Ecumenical efforts, from the standpoint of the Catholic church, cannot mean a merging with any church or religion outside of her with tenets that contradict her teachings. Non-Catholic churches and religions, which by varying degrees have some elements of truth within them, have accommodated that truth to error. The Catholic church, which contains the fullness of the truth, cannot take on any error even for a noble reason.
The best that can be hoped for is a mutual co-operation on things that are held in common and benefit the community at large, not unlike a co-operation between different nations

John Nolan said...

Some confusion here. The tradition in the Anglican Church was to receive kneeling, and in most English parish churches the altar is railed off from the rest of the chancel. The relevant rubric in the 1662 BCP is:-

'Then shall the Minister first receive the Communion in both kinds himself, and then proceed to deliver the same to the Bishops, Priests and Deacons in like manner (if any be present) and after that to the people also in order, into their hands, all meekly kneeling'

Until the 19th century Oxford Movement the minister stood at the north end of the Communion table (Newman did this throughout his time as an Anglican priest) but the norm is now the 'Sarum' altar, with two candles and a plain cross, with an frontal in the seasonal colour, and with the priest reading the service ad orientem. Some churches have moved the altar forwards, leaving cross and candles on a gradine, and celebrate versus populum, but this is in imitation of modern RC practice and is not universal. Most cathedrals now have services in the nave, versus populum, but where HC is celebrated in the choir, it is usually ad orientem at the High Altar.

To equate the modern practice of reception in the Catholic Church with the Protestant tradition is therefore misleading. The Catholic Church has a Eucharistic theology refined by the Council of Trent and endorsed by Vatican II, although most Catholics these days don't seem to know what it is; many Anglicans have a Catholic understanding of transubstantiation and the Real Presence, although the majority do not, tending to hedge their bets in the Manner of Elizabeth I:-

'Christ was the Word and spake it,
He took the bread and brake it,
And what his words did make it,
I do believe and take it.'

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Most Episcopal, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches here have altar railings and Episcopalians generally kneel for Holy Communion and celebrate reverently although I find their liturgies more wordy than ours.

Rood Screen said...

"I find their liturgies more wordy than ours." Having rejected the True Presence, what else do they have but words?

Anonymous said...

John Nolan: "I don't know what parish Jonathan Day patronizes, but he is probably right on most of his points"

PrayTell somewhere bills Jonathan Day as "a member of the parish council of the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception (Farm Street) in central London."

I wonder whether this famous old church/parish is now somewhat liberal?

Anonymous said...

Hmm . . . At the Farm Street Church web site I notice the page

for the LGBT community and its various "subgroups".

I understand there are Anglican parishes that are "nose-bleed high" in liturgy but far out on social and doctrinal issues. A similar Catholic phenomenon is less familiar, most liturgically traditional communities being "rigid" in social and doctrinal matters.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Henry agreed. High Liturgy Anglicanism can still be quite liberal whereas not so for those Catholics desiring the EF Mass--normally a higher percentage of these Catholics believe everything the Catholic Church believes and teaches to be revealed by God!

John Nolan said...

The English Reformation went from schism under Henry VIII to outright heresy under Edward VI, accompanied by an iconoclasm which destroyed much of late medieval English art and wonderful Renaissance-style polyphonic music. Repudiation of the Mass was central to the agenda of the reformers - the Host was trampled underfoot and referred to as 'Round Robin' and 'Jack-in-the-Box'.

ARCIC (known to us traddies as arse-kick) was a worthy and indeed a wordy attempt to find common ground on the issues of papal primacy and Eucharistic doctrine, but it was blown out of the water in 1994 when the dear old CofE decided that priestesses were a good idea. Attempts to revive it are akin to performing ECM on a twenty-year-old corpse.

It was interesting that twenty years ago in the debates on female ordination attention was given to the dogma and practice of Christendom as a whole (although in the end this was not to prevail). In the recent debate on women bishops the rest of Christendom was ignored - the Anglican argument was almost entirely conducted in terms of very recent secular notions of 'gender' equality.

Mitchell said...

Father you say you have no problem with all these "things"..You sound as if you are trying to be so politically correct that this is what stagnates and limits the Church's progession..People who don't take firm stands.