Saturday, May 31, 2014


This liturgy of the Latin Rite:
Resembles better this liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Church:
While this liturgy of the Latin Rite:
resembles better these Protestant liturgies:
The Catholic Church sees as its ecumenical priority the healing of the Great Schism that led to the Churches of the East separating from the rule of the Bishop of Rome in 1054. Pope Benedict and now Pope Francis have ramped up that desired unity. A major breakthrough was announced yesterday.

This is from the Huffington Post:

Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Barthlomew I prayed together in Jerusalem at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in a beautiful act of unity.

Now, they're taking a further step to heal the centuries-old schism between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches by holding a gathering together to commemorate the Council of Nicaea, which took place in 325. Seventeen centuries later, Francis and Bartholomew will come together in 2025 to celebrate the historic meeting, reports Vatican Insider.

"We agreed to leave as a legacy to ourselves and our successors a gathering in Nicaea in 2025, to celebrate together, after 17 centuries, the first truly ecumenical synod, where the Creed was first promulgated," Bartholomew told Asia News.

My comments:

One of the criticisms of the Second Vatican Council is that it made the Catholic liturgy more Protestant looking (and this led to erroneous theologies about the Eucharist that are more Protestant, which have since been repudiated by interpreting the Council through the lens of continuity rather than rupture).

However, what most Catholics don't realize is that our liturgical reforms spurred Protestant denominations, especially Lutherans and Anglicans to make their liturgy more like the Liturgy that Pope Paul VI reformed. Thus we think that the Catholic Liturgy is more Protestant looking when in fact the Protestant liturgy became more Catholic looking in the post-Vatican II sense after Vatican II.

But for the most part ecumenism with Protestant denominations is dead in the water except for tea and crumpets ecumenism and our ability to work together at soup kitchens and centers that help the homeless. Most historic Protestant denominations continue to move into a post-Christian stance with their theologies and this has created even more division that will be difficult to overcome. Non-liturgical evangelical Protestants tend to be more "Catholic" in their moral teachings than most mainline Protestant denominations, but they are far from us liturgically.

However, we are much, much closer to the Eastern Orthodox Churches in terms of actual Faith and Morals. The Orthodox celebrate all seven sacraments validly. They have valid Holy Orders and their Bishops are validly ordained and successors to the apostles. Their moral and ethical teachings are the same as ours although presented in a different pastoral way.

However, since Vatican II, the Latin Rite Church has drifted away from the cultural style of the liturgy that both the east and the west adopted in the immediate centuries following the conversion of Constantine. While the trajectory of liturgical and spiritual theologies diverged in valid ways, the liturgies had the same sort of ethos although differing in style of music and ceremony. Both developed very early in the post-Constantine era a sort of universal language for the liturgy. In the east it was Greek in the west a combination of Greek and Latin.  Both developed chant as the music of the liturgy although with different styles. And both adopted ad orientem. The west developed kneeling for receiving Holy Communion and a more developed theology of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament which actually led to kneeling while the east insisted on standing for Holy Communion and Holy Communion under both kinds for both clergy and laity. They do not have adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as the Church of the west does, but their adoration developed toward the use of icons and in a much more dogmatic way than Catholic veneration of images.

Without loosing each others authentic spiritualities and theologies that have developed over the centuries, how could the Church of Rome resemble the Church of the East in better ways liturgically?

Well, Pope Benedict in his great wisdom did so by freeing the so-called Mass of Trent from the shackles of a museum piece in allowing it to be celebrated more widely. The missal of 1962 has more in common with the East than the Missal of Pope Paul VI in 1970.

So for now, we do have a liturgy in the 1962 missal and liturgical tradition that is more eastern in ethos. And of course we have the Eastern Rite Churches in union with the Pope whose liturgy and spirituality is identical to the Eastern Orthodox. Thus the 1962 missal heals the chasm created by the 1970's missal within those already united to the Pope.

The 1970 missal is more Protestant and allows orthodox mainline Protestants who desire to keep their Protestant style of liturgy, their own valid historical patrimony when they join the Catholic Church as a group. Currently we have the Anglican Ordinariate that has done this. But we could have a Lutheran Ordinariate and also a Presbyterian one. Who knows.

The real work lies in making the 1970 missal resemble the 1962 missal in style of celebration. This means the on-going recovery of the chant modes that are historically available to us in the Latin Rite, and a rich variety, as well as a recovery of ad orientem.

The other is the removal of the clericalization of the laity during the celebration of the liturgy and more use of deacons and sub deacons. Doing this will emphasize the proper and sublime role of the laity as laity during Mass and from their pews in the nave. In the Post-Vatican II era with the clericalizaiton of the laity with liturgical ministries, especially that of Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, the laity have come to believe that actual participation in the Mass means doing a formal ministry such as reader or distributing Holy Communion rather than doing their normal parts during the Mass that actually belong to the laity, thus promoting a egalitarian participation in the Mass with the laity rather than separating some laity form others liturgically.  

For example, there is a mentality that at children's Masses, especially our school Masses, we need hoards of children doing all kinds of things, from reading the petitions and scriptures to bringing up the gifts to get as many of them actually involved in the Mass when in fact, we shouldn't focus on these things at all but elevate what all the kids are doing and to do it properly from the pews during Mass--don't create an elite group of laity for the ministries of the Mass that rightly belong to the clergy!

Sub deacons could be designated as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion and trained and certified by the bishop for this ministry, not only liturgically but also to the sick and home-bound. We already have this with the official ministry of acolyte but few bishops invite lay men to this official ministry and still use it only as a stepping stone for ordination either to the diaconate or priesthood. What a pity!

Shouldn't, though, the two liturgies of the one Latin Rite resemble each other better and be like this?

The 1962 Missal Mass:
The 1970 Missal Mass:
I report; you decide!


Unknown said...

No, it should be more Roman in appearance :o).

*Fr. M, is there any chance a Divine Liturgy might be celebrated at St. Jo's?

John Nolan said...

The Protestants in the photographs have modelled their liturgies on RC post-V2 practice, not the other way round.

Steven Surrency said...

I had just this same thought a couple of weeks ago.

Great minds ;)

Catholic said...

John, are you, strictly speaking, correct in that assertion? Wasn't one of Cranmer's suggestions the idea of a "table" and versus populum?

(First, I respect whatever you say, of course. Second, I'm asking seriously because I haven't studied his suggestions.)

John Nolan said...

The rubrics for the BCP specified a table to be set up either in the body of the church or in the chancel, with a white cloth on it for the Communion service. The minister was directed to stand at the north side of the table. This could mean standing at the north end facing south, or at what Catholics refer to as the gospel side, facing east; if the table were placed lengthwise he might have stood in the middle facing the south side of the choir. At times the rubric enjoined him to turn towards the people, which doesn't suggest celebration versus populum.

In the 19th century there was general return to an eastward facing altar with a central cross and two candles (as in the medieval Sarum Use) although the Anglo-Catholic wing of the CofE favoured the Roman practice of six candles, a cross with a corpus, and even a tabernacle.

In the Catholic Church tables were set up from 1964 onwards so that Mass could be offered versus populum; most Catholic churches did not have free-standing altars and re-ordering sanctuaries on a permanent basis took time and money. In progressive circles in continental Europe the table was also seen to emphasize the 'community meal' aspect, so what was usually a temporary expedient in England and north America became a doctrinal statement.

Some Anglican churches have moved the altar forwards and celebrate versus populum, but it is by no means universal and reflects current RC practice and the influence of the Liturgical Movement. Lutherans have generally retained ad orientem celebration.

Rood Screen said...

Since the order of Mass is meant to lead the priest and congregation into the sacrifice of Christ, the proper evaluative tool should be active participation in the mystery.

I suppose a Mass celebrated without the presence of laymen could have its own rite (e.g. the Low Mass), since there is no need to promote the participation of a congregation.

To provide a specific answer to your question, the Orthodox celebrate the Sacrifice of Christ sacramentally, but the Lutherans do not. Therefore, the Roman Mass should have more in common with the Eastern Eucharistic rites.

John Nolan said...


I'm not sure I follow your argument. A Mass celebrated 'without the presence of laymen' need not be a Low Mass; in a monastic community it might well be a Solemn Mass. Only the Novus Ordo has adopted a variant rite for 'missa sine populo'. In the Roman Rite the Mass is the same whether or not there is a congregation, although the presence of a server is assumed except in very exceptional circumstances.

Since the efficacy of the Mass is ex opere operato, I can't see the need for any further 'evaluating tools'.

qwikness said...

What kind of training for sub-deacons? Catechesis, liturgical rubric? How long or serious the training? weeks or one weekend or longer?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Unfortunately Pope Paul VI suppressed the order of sub-deacons in the Latin Rite only. There is not a ministry for them in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. With the revival of the EF Mass, there is, but since there aren't anymore subdeacons, deacons normally assume that role or a priest could. I don't think a lay person can.

John Nolan said...


Paul VI indeed in Ministeria Quaedam abolished the subdiaconate and the minor orders but also instituted the lay ministries of Lector and Acolyte (reserved of course to men). It is generally assumed that an instituted acolyte may assume the role of subdeacon in a solemn Mass, and a layman may substitute for a subdeacon (the so-called 'straw subdeacon') although he normally doesn't wear the maniple, which used to be conferred along with the order of subdeacon.

Societies of pontifical right who use the old ordination rite (like the FSSP) ordain subdeacons but recognize that Holy Orders begin with the diaconate, a rather anomalous position. However, as far as the celebration of the liturgy is concerned it's still 'anything goes' on a practical level. The best one can do is to shun the dross and seek out the authentic. After half a century of doing so I have become quite practised at this!

Anonymous said...

The problems with the Novus Ordo Mass are set out in the Ottaviani Intervention and are much more than cosmetic. It stated:

"The new form of Mass was substantially rejected by the Episcopal Synod, was never submitted to the collegial judgment of the Episcopal Conferences and was never asked for by the people. It has every possibility of satisfying the most modernist of Protestants."

The full argument against the new Mass by theologians at the time can be read here:

I certainly think that time has shown the warning in the concluding paragraph [which was of course ignored] has come to pass:

"To abandon a liturgical tradition which for four centuries was both the sign and the pledge of unity of worship (and to replace it with another which cannot but be a sign of division by virtue of the countless liberties implicitly authorized, and which teems with insinuations or manifest errors against the integrity of the Catholic religion) is, we feel in conscience bound to proclaim, an incalculable error."

Personally, I believe that Benedict XVI's aim in freeing up the Tridentine Mass was to turn the Church around. I think that generations to come will see this as a turning point in the history of the Church. Many prefer to attend the Tridentine Mass and the Novus Ordo is definitely on the wane. The problem is that even when reverently said there is too much missing in the Novus Ordo Mass. It doesn't satisfy the faithful.