Saturday, August 30, 2014


 Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, the Prefect for Divine Worship said on Thursday that “Francis supported the work we were completing. He reiterated to us that more than being concerned with reforms, we needed to be based on the Pascal mystery that happens in the liturgy, to experience the mystery that happens in that moment. Watching the Pope celebrate Mass, we can understand how he experiences what happens during Mass”. 

MY COMMENTS: In Cardinal Llovera's succinct statement, His Eminence explains Pope Francis' liturgical agenda that goes beyond superficiality.  "More than being concerned with reforms, we need to be based on the Paschal Mystery that happens in the Liturgy and experience the mystery that happens in that moment!" And isn't this true reform?!

What have we focused on in the last 45 years since Sacrosanctum Concilium? Translating the Mass into vernaculars, stripping and renovating churches, iconoclastic architecture, focus on the roles of the laity in the Mass, tinkering with music and making new forms of music a god, throwing out the baby with the bath water. 

In this shift of focus what has been lost? The Paschal Mystery! For if the Paschal Mystery shined forth more clearly and strengthened the already strong faith of pre-Vatican II Catholics, a new springtime for the Church would have followed indeed. But with the shift in emphasis away from the Paschal Mystery what has followed is a parched dessert and a seemingly eternal fall, with laity falling away like the leaves of a tree in the fall.

We can, of course, lament that the Consilium committee of Pope Paul VI did not hear the same words from Pope Paul VI that Cardinal Llovera conveys concerning Pope Francis. What if Pope Paul VI had simply told the committee that was to implement the sober and limited scope of Sacrosanctum Concilium to be "More than being concerned with reforms, we need to be based on the Paschal Mystery that happens in the Liturgy and experience the mystery that happens in that moment!" What a different Church we would be today, truly focused in our Liturgy on the Paschal Mystery and thus maintaining a higher number of Catholics who actually come to the Mass for that which is essential, the Paschal Mystery, rather than for music, for lay lectors, for Communion Ministers and for a free-for-all in terms of casualness. 

What would the Post-Vatican so-called "reformed" Mass look like if the walking orders for its reform would have been based upon Pope Francis' liturgical vision of  "more than being concerned with reforms, we need to be based on the Paschal Mystery that happens in the Liturgy and experience the mystery that happens in that moment!"

First of all, more attention would have been given to what Vatican II and Sacrosanctum Concilium asked for the liturgy, which was to focus more intensely on the Paschal Mystery! Actual participation both internal/contemplative and external/action! Maintain the Latin, but allow for some vernacular! Maintain Gregorian Chant as the music of the Latin Rite! Revise the Lectionary to include a more lavish use of Scripture (couldn't we have kept the same format and keeping the original lectionary but adding two more cycles but based on the same format and accomplished the same thing?) Noble simplicity which I think refers to the double Communion Rites of the Mass, one for the priest and one for the laity which the revised missal got right but more importantly the "Solemn Sung"version of the Mass with deacon and subdeacon, especially in the Pontifical Form. 

What took the focus off the Paschal Mystery with useless reforms not envisioned by Vatican II's Sacrosanctum Concilium and effectively destroyed the faith of Catholics in the Paschal Mystery celebrated at Mass?

1. The focus on the horizontal that led to renovation of churches in an iconoclastic way, focus on lay ministries in the Mass and badgering people to actual participation in a dictatorial, denigrating way.

2. Making people stand for Holy Communion and extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion becoming the norm rather than the exception and not vesting Extraordinary Minister nor making it a formal ministry with a year long "seminiary-like" formation!

3. Reception of Holy Communion in the hand which contributes to a casual handling of the sacred and a diminished  sense of the Paschal Mystery and entering into it! The profanation of the Blessed Sacrament by an unscrupulousness concerning the falling of Holy Communion Fragments and Dropplets on the floor, in people's hands, wiped on their clothes and elsewhere.

However, we can't whine about that which wasn't and we have to deal with the normative Mass and the experiencing the Paschal Mystery there. All that is needed, without changing anything about the revised missal itself is the following:

1. Read the Black and Do the Red!
2. Encourage Reverence by being formal
3. Kneeling for Holy Communion and receiving on the tongue
4. Ad Orientem or the Benedictine Altar arrangement
5. Chanting the propers and sober liturgical chants that avoid the profane musical styles and instrumentation

As I have said time and time again, Pope Francis does model for us priests and our congregations the way to celebrate the normal Sunday Mass. He is sober, serious and hides his personality completely as soon as the procession begins and remains so until the recession is concluded. His personality or persona comes forward only in non-liturgical events such as greeting people and papal audiences. There is clearly a liturgical persona and a casual persona outside of the liturgy.

He also "says the black and does the red." The only variation of course is, by his own supreme authority as pontiff, to change the rubric concerning the mandatum of Holy Thursday to include women and non-Christians. Of course this "mandatum" does not have a long history in the Latin Rite and was reinstated only in the 1950's. But my point is that the Holy Father using his legitimate liturgical authority in a supreme way can change a rubric of this nature and interpret the meaning of the mandatum apart from the institution of the priesthood to showing forth the nature of the priesthood that is different than the Jewish priesthood that would not allow a priest to become "impure" by this sort of service.  

But apart from that change, the Holy Father "says the black and does the red" and makes adjustments for physical disabilities at the genuflections.   He models entering into and experiencing the Paschal Mystery!


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

quicumquevult said...

This, good Father, was a brilliant observation! Indeed, if the Consilium's task had not been "get people involved" but rather "concentrate on the Paschal Mystery", I think the reforms would have taken off very differently. Though admittedly I feel like the TLM focused on it just fine.

August 30, 2014 at 8:28 AM

Anonymous said...

Practically, what would "concentrating on the Paschal Mystery" look like?

Very practically, would ANY changes in the mass have been necessary to accomplish greater concentration on the Paschal Mystery?

Anonymous said...

"But my point is that the Holy Father using his legitimate liturgical authority in a supreme way can change a rubric of this nature and interpret the meaning of the mandatum"

Of course the pope can change a rubric, but he DIDN't Change it he VIOLATED it on purpose. He still hasn't changed it because as a liberal he likes to violate the rules of the Church. Get it straight he didn't change anything he committed a purposeful act of liturgical abuse.

And please when you are challenged by commentary don't bring up those situations when Pope Benedict was high jacked into enduring liturgical abuse, there is a difference and rationally thinking people know this to be true.

Anonymous said...

"The only variation of course is, by his own supreme authority as pontiff, to change the rubric concerning the mandatum of Holy Thursday to include women and non-Christians."

What on earth would make you think that he had changed this rubric? It remains unchanged, still in effect.

In this matter he did not even exercise his "supreme authority as pontiff", he merely made an arguably unobjectionable exception to this rubric, as any bishop has the authority to do under special circumstances, for the good of the faithful.

Perhaps the confusion results from the American view of laws as inviolable, with no exceptions--e.g. the snail darter is inviolable sacrosanct even when not in the interest of humans. Whereas the Roman view sees laws more as norms descriptive of appropriate normal behavior, but capable of exception under appropriate authority when circumstances indicate this. (Even a simple priest has this authority under canon law, when the good of the faithful requires an exception, such as saying an additional scheduled Mass when no other priest is available.)

Anonymous said...

But it is suspicious they are saying "don't bother with reforms" now, after the dammage has been done, and the current idea of reform is to restore the TLM.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

His Holiness changed the rubric for his particular Holy Thursday Mass and emphasized in doing so the nature of service that God's priestly people must do for the least.

He has the authority to do that even if he doesn't change the rubric for all. Show me where the Supreme Pontiff cannot do this?

Anonymous said...

So, Fr. McDonald, would you say that the President of the United States changes a federal law every time he chooses to ignores one? Or, ROFL, that he changed it just for one particular occasion? This view of law--as something that's merely got to be violated in order to change it, at least for the particular occasion--gets curiouser and curiouser, the more you try to swallow it whole.

Anonymous said...

"He has the authority to do that even if he doesn't change the rubric for all. Show me where the Supreme Pontiff cannot do this?"

Of course he has supreme authority, nobody says he doesn't. The liturgical life in Catholicism has collapsed. Priests and bishops worldwide ignore and defy existing liturgical norms because they want to and they know nothing will be done to them. What kind of example does it give to faithful Catholics if the Pope does the same thing. If he thought it was so important to set an example WHY DIDN'T HE USE HIS AUTHORITY AND CHANGE THE RUBRIC? Answer: because he doesn't care, he is imprudent and has a problem with clericalism himself. After all he defied the rubric as archbishop WHEN HE HAD NO AUTHORITY TO DO SO.

Rood Screen said...

Fr. McDonald,

I think it is quite clearly a fact that there was no change to the rubrics in this case. Perhaps one can argue that the Holy Father set a precedent to be followed in similarly extraordinary circumstances, but to say the the rubrics have changed is simply contrary to the facts.

rcg said...

What if we just agree that the foot-washing was a mistake and the Pope is human? I wonder if he didn't just get confused about the story of Mary Magdalene putting oil on the feet of Jesus. He wants the world to feel less threatened by the Church. I think he just went over board and, dare I say? was more than a little clerical in his action. Moses smacked the rock with his staff and paid the price.

The upside of Pope Francis is that he is more isolated socially and organizationally than was Benedict so can make changes with out angering as many friends. The downside of that is that he does not seem to have handlers or lieutenants, or did not early on, to help him think through how his actions will look in the spotlight.

I think the Protestants and every single Priest who is in the Spirit of Vatican II, believes they are participating in the mystery and doing the right thing. What would be equally helpful is to direct them to find out why they thought it was not there before or why they didn't see it.

John Nolan said...

Using the royal prerogative to 'suspend' the law, as James II did, was declared unconstitutional after the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688 and the Founding Fathers of the United States had this firmly in mind.

The overriding duty of the Sovereign is to 'defend our laws' as we Brits sing in the National Anthem. Exactly the same applies to the Pope.

Православный физик said...

I agree with the others regarding Maundaygate I and II, so I have nothing to add in this regard...especially with Anon at 2:11

The Paschal Mystery is communicated when the Liturgy is executed according to the Rubrics of the Church, and when the propers of the Liturgy are done. (The propers are integral to the Liturgy and should not be replaced)

While I am glad to see Pope Francis supporting the work, there is going to need to be punishment for those that abuse the Liturgy, it can't be tolerated, it's a crime against the Church in the highest form, for it is through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that the majority of the faithful encounter Christ.

I also think the Liturgy of the Hours should be celebrated publicly at the parish level, I think this is very important.

Rood Screen said...

Joe Potillor,

As for the Divine Office, how, specifically, would you go about introducing it?

Rood Screen said...

Perhaps each parish should have a "Paschal Mystery Committee" instead of a liturgy/worship committee. The fundamental concern of the committee would be to help congregants enter more deeply into the death and Resurrection of Christ in the sacred liturgy.

Православный физик said...

Fr JBS, well, I think if I was ever in charge of a parish, I'd start with a catechesis of the forms of Liturgy in the Church (the Highest being the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass)

After that, I would start by putting an evening vespers service on a Saturday at first I'd probably combine it with the anticipated Mass (there's a form for Mass combined with Vespers/Lauds)...and later make it a service by itself...and eventually I'd start Lauds with public celebration as well.

This has a two fold benefit: 1) exposing the faithful to the prayers of the Church 2) making sure the priest prays his breiviary...and if on certain days a priest or deacon isn't able to lead, a lay person, or seminarian can lead.

That's what I'd do anyway, I wonder if anyone thinks differently

Rood Screen said...

Joe Potillor,

Latin bishops and priests are certainly obliged to promote the Divine Office among the faithful, and to provide for its public use on Sundays and solemnities, but we still have a long way to go.

John Nolan said...

Regarding the LOTH the Anglicans did a better job of ensuring its public celebration in the form of Morning and Evening Prayer. Cathedrals and larger parish churches could manage choral Evensong. Catholic parishes in place of Vespers had 'Rosary, Sermon and Benediction'. To sing Vespers requires knowledge of, and practice in, Gregorian psalmody; it's not difficult, but it still has to be taught.

Of course, to recite the psalms in the vernacular is preferable to reciting the Rosary, but this was not an option in the 1950s (in most places at least). When the use of the vernacular became an option there were attempts by Joseph Gelineau and others to write settings that would be easier for congregations to sing, but by then Sunday afternoon services were no longer a feature of parish life.

The problem with Joe's suggestion of combining First Vespers with the Saturday evening Mass is that those who attend are the least likely to want to get there twenty minutes early.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it generally agreed that anticipated Sunday Masses on Saturday evening have diluted focus on observation of the Day of the Lord?

If so, why not consider--as I believe one English bishop has recommended to his pastors--replacing the anticipated Sunday Mass with sung Vespers followed by Benediction on Saturday evening? Wouldn't this be wonderful parish and individual spiritual preparation for engaged participation in the true Mass of Sunday?

Православный физик said...

Oh yes Fr JBS, there is a long way to go, this is certainly a process that will not happen will probably take multiple generations before we'll really begin to see this again.

John Nolan, I was thinking of combining vespers and Mass as a temporary start off, and eventually replacing the anticipated Mass with Sung Vespers, Adoration, and Confession. I do think the anticipated Mass has lead to a dilution of Sunday (at the same time, I do know there are those fields of work that need this option)