Thursday, September 11, 2014


This past Sunday we celebrated our monthly EF High Mass. Our men's schola under the direction of Nelda Chapman was excellent and all was celebrated prayerfully and beautifully.

I've already written that I have joyfully embraced the ethos of this form of the Mass, especially its silences, in particular the Roman Canon, and its focus away from lay involvement at the altar in the roles of lectors and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Only boys can be altar boys and I place this in the paradigm of the RCIA's Inquiry phase for boys considering the priesthood.

But here is my wish list for St. Joseph's monthly EF High Mass and even for our each Tuesday's 5 PM Low Mass. I want the congregation to join in the spoken and sung parts of the Mass and robustly. There is no reason for them not to do so.

For the most part our High Mass on Sunday was sung using a mix of the Jubilatio Deo Mass and the Orbis Factor. These are easily sung by the congregation too. I chanted all the parts I am suppose to chant in an EF Mass. I would like to hear the congregation respond in a chanted way with the response to the "Dominus vobiscum" as well as the Orate Fratres and Preface Dialogue.

If I celebrated the EF High Mass each Sunday, I would do more catechesis on the congregation's participation.

The same is true of the Low Mass. The congregation needs to join in the responses for the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and all other spoken parts that the altar boys lead.

I wrote above that the EF Mass does not have the ministries of lector or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. It does have the ministry of usher though and this can be carried forward by both men and women. It does have the ministry of cantor, schola and choir and women may join mixed voice choirs or an all women's choir.

But the main ministry that places all the laity on the same level is the actual participation from the congregation. This is the most important ministry of the laity at the EF Mass. We need to be very post-Vatican II in this regard and set an example that the congregation need not be hushed in using their voice and in an exuberant way during the EF Mass. Actual participation is both internal and external, not either/or but both/and!


Joseph Johnson said...

I've always made the Latin responses at EF Masses and enjoy the sung parts, especially the Gloria and Credo.

I often will make low voice Latin responses at English and Spanish OF Masses (because I'd really rather be at a Latin Mass!).

Rood Screen said...

Interestingly, teaching the faithful their parts of the Mass in Latin is preferred in the EF (1958 "Instruction on Sacred Music"), but mandatory in the OF (1963 SC, 1974 "Jubilate Deo"). So, of the two, the only one in which the faithful are required to learn Latin is the Ordinary Form. Therefore, if you don't want to learn Latin, then go to the EF Mass.

Marc said...

I would guess that, to the extent your "EF" attendees also go to exclusively TLM chapels, they are specifically instructed by traditional priests not to make responses. Given that you are not a traditional priest, they are probably more likely to listen to their traditional priest than you.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc my only boast is that I am a priest just with theology but no ideology. I hope the so-called traditional priests aren't pushing the ideology of cult of the traditionalist priest personality.

Marc said...

I'm not suggesting they are or that there is something wrong with you. I'm only saying that they, in my experience, explicitly tell the people not to make responses. Since they were formed on this Liturgy, it makes sense for one to defer to them than to your understanding (since you were not formed on this Liturgy).

Rood Screen said...

If there are priests instructing the faithful not to make the responses, then these priests do so contrary to liturgical norms.

I'm with you, Father MacDonald.

Anonymous said...

I'm uncertain whether "catechesis"--either for or against vocal participation in the EF Mass--is really appropriate. Perhaps how people worship best is perhaps left to them as individuals. Clerical micromanagement of how lay people participate is (or, I believe, should be) strictly a Novus Ordo thing.

Nor does "exuberance" at the foot of the Cross really seem the right tone. That said, at every EF high Mass I recall attending in recent years, the people have responded audibly and seriously in all the responses and dialogues you mention, as well as the triple "Domine non sum dignus", etc.

Incidentally, if someone really accused me of having a "ministry" as an usher, I'd quit it immediately. I'm at Mass to assist in the Holy Sacrifice, not to "carry forward" any ministry.

Anonymous said...

The preceding (inadvertent) "Anonymous" at 10:00 am was me, Henry Edwards. Perish the thought that I'd ever sneak around as Anonymous!

rcg said...

My parish is traditional. We participate out loud. It is not thunder, but I have noticed it growing. I have done it aloud since I found the parish so I hope it is my contribution!

Robert Kumpel said...

I've never understood all this controversy about "active participation" (I know, it should have been translated "actual") in the Traditional Mass. When I was a little boy, I made it a point to follow the Latin/English translation. When i re-discovered this Mass as an adult, I was blown away by the level of participation it demanded. If I attend the Novus Ordo, it is very easy to just cruise through it, but the Traditional Mass demands that I give it my full and deepest attention. I know some people think you are not participating unless you get to walk around in the sanctuary or clap your hands or hold hands or read from the podium, or what have you, but seriously, that is incredibly shallow. The deepest participation is the participation of PRAYING. If we don't do that, all we are doing is taking up space.

John Nolan said...

I attend the EF ad the OF (usually in Latin) in equal measure. I have never heard a priest instruct the faithful not to make the responses. In a sung Mass (which is normative) the congregation should sing the responses and if a chant setting is used for the Ordinary that is their preserve also. By the way, the Orate Fratres is not chanted in the EF and there is no congregational response.

The Low Mass is a different matter. Attempts to involve the congregation resulted in the 'Dialogue Mass' which was common in France and Belgium from the 1920s onwards but was late to catch on elsewhere. With a small congregation conversant with the Latin responses, in a small Church or a side chapel where everyone is close to the altar, it can work; otherwise it doesn't.

The PATFOTA (which in the Tridentine Rite are quite lengthy) were never intended as a dialogue between celebrant and congregation (look at the Solemn/Sung Mass if you don't believe me and it is that form of celebration which should be the norm).

This is why the Introductory Rites in the OF are a genuine dialogue (preferably sung) between celebrant and people. And it works, even in a large church.

Indeed, the Novus Ordo works best when it is sung to the prescribed Gregorian Chants whether in Latin, the vernacular or a mixture of both. It has a musical symmetry which is convincing. It is less successful if longer polyphonic settings are used (since they hold up the action) and the EF is preferable here.

Православный физик said...

I agree, one thing the OF does have that the EF does not is the flexibility of the chanting of the ritual.

I believe the laity should say the introit, gradual, alleluia (tract), offertory, communion, 2nd Confiteor (not the 1st) at low Mass

At a High Mass, the singing of the Introit would cover this point, so it'd logically be better for the congregation to the sing the parts that belong to them (in this case the introit)

So in one sense I am completely with you Father.

John Nolan said...

Regarding Joe's comment about Low Mass, in 1958 'De Musica Sacra' allowed the congregation to join with the priest in reciting the Pater Noster and the spoken Propers in addition to the Ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria etc.) and the server's responses.

It admitted that reciting the Propers would require training (and, I might add, a knowledge of Latin). The Tracts in particular can be quite lengthy. Nowadays many (if not most) priests cannot read Latin with any degree of fluency, and what was a non-starter in 1958 is even more so now.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I agree it would be difficult for the congregation to recite the Latin Introit and other antiphons not to mention to the Gradual and tract.

It would not be difficult for them to participate in the PATFOTA in a Low Mass. In a Sung Mass, of course this are recited by the priest and servers while the Introit is sung, which the congregation should be singing along with the schola if they are able.

A legitimate reform that Pope Benedict allows for the Low Mass and should be extended to the sung Mass, without deacon and subdeacon, is the reading or chanting of the Scripture readings in the vernacular. It would be easy in a spoken Mass to extend this to the other Scriptures, such as the Introit and other antiphons. Doing so would seem to fulfill what Vatican II actually envisioned in its liturgy document.

I think there would be much more interest in the EF Mass than there is now if more vernacular was allowed. I have always said that the option of having the vernacular in the EF Mass must be explored and allowed in keeping with Vatican II options in this area. The fixed parts of the Mass should remain in Latin--these are easy for all to be able to learn and understand even without a missal if one does these each and every Sunday. The changing parts, such as the introit, Scriptures, Collect, antiphons, Secret, Preface and Post Communion Prayers would make the Mass much more appealing to a broader number of people.

If this were possible, I would change our 12:10 PM Mass each Sunday into an EF Mass. I think this would cause less of a dropout at this Mass compared to an all Latin EF Mass or for that matter an all Latin OF Mass.

Anonymous said...

Here we go trying to blend the two rites as one again you cannot! There is the EF and the OF and they must not be blended. You are not a priest of a Traditional parish Father so please don't do this, before you know it here come the altar girls, female lay lectors ,female and male ministers of Holy Communion. HALT!!!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Allowing for the vernacular as I suggest and Pope Benedict gave permission for the Low Mass for the Scriptures, isn't a blending of rites. If I eliminated the PATFOTA in favor of the OF's Penitential Act or the OF's Offertory Prayers or the OF's Rite of Communion and Order of Dismissal and elimination of the Last Gospel. Then this would be a blending.

I believe in Pre-Vatican II times women religious took some parts of the altar boys at convent Masses.

John Nolan said...

Before Vatican II and in the absence of a server a woman could recite the responses kneeling at the altar rail but could not enter the sanctuary.

Православный физик said...

It'd be difficult, but the people could be taught through Liturgical catechesis :) (which Vatican II called for anyway)

John Nolan said...

Apart from anything else, speaking in unison is not a natural activity - I remember the dialogue Mass and it was a shambles. Singing is a different matter, and I am told that before the 18th century the audible parts of the Low Mass were chanted in a monotone.

In the Byzantine rite the Divine Liturgy is always sung, and with the exception of a (very) few quiet prayers reserved to the celebrant, the Novus Ordo can be sung in its entirety, and should be. Priests, deacons and lay 'readers' need to be able to chant their parts. The ICEL website gives instructions on the correct tones for all three readings.

Singing the Mass has many advantages.
1. It militates against subjectivity. Priests will have to stick to the text and even the most obdurate ad-libbers would be deterred if they had to ad-lib in Gregorian Chant.
2. It increases solemnity and the sense that when we attend Mass we are doing something out of the ordinary.
3. It restores a tradition which was never lost in the Eastern liturgies and therefore fosters ecumenism.
4. The psalms, above all, are meant to be sung. There are few things more dispiriting than listening to a lay reader plod through the Responsorial Psalm with the congregation mumbling a response (useless repetition, anyone?) which is clearly meant to be sung.
5. Above all, it is pleasing to God. Qui bene cantat, bis orat.