Thursday, November 13, 2014


 As I have said before and will say it again, the reason why the Extraordinary Form Mass has not taken off as it was anticipated on 7/7/07 can be attributed not to the form of the Mass, not to its marvelous solemnity, choreography, scrupulous rubrics and the like but to its Latin. Yes, I said it, the Latin is what is preventing the EF Mass to become more normative.

The laity and I dare say the majority of priests prefer celebrating Mass in their native tongue so that their native ear can understand it without a third party's translation.

But why do so many have an antipathy to men and women, boys and girls fulfilling liturgical roles at Mass even when done marvelously and with great dignity. Are they misogynists?  Do they think it detracts from the priestly role and ministry or are they simply negative, unhappy Catholics the antithesis of true Christianity?

I have been blessed to be in parishes for almost 35 years where great care was and is taken with the Ordinary Form Mass even though some of the things that the "reform of the reform" crowd would think are anathema to the proper celebration of the Mass. We had well trained male and female lectors and EMC's and well trained boys and girls who are altar servers, all taking their roles in the Mass seriously and doing so with great dignity and solemnity.

I've been in parishes which have and have had great liturgical music. My first two assignments had folk choirs that were excellent but trendy. The trendiness and novelty were not good, but the product was.

How do we promote the beautiful, dignified and solemn celebration of the Mass today, correcting what needs to be corrected but maintaining lay ministries during the Mass which the vast, vast majority of priests will continue to promote for the Ordinary Form of the Mass?

Let me play that broken record over again:

1. Chant the propers! Even in a Mass that has a contemporary choir or ensemble, someone or an ensemble of someones could chant the Introit even after a rousing contemporary opening hymn. the same for the Offertory and Communion chants.

2. Greater care in selecting the type of music for the other parts of the Mass, such as the Gloria (I would move away from refrain based Glorias as these are way to long and repetitive, the true definition of useless repetition!  In fact might even say the repetition of the refrain for the Responsorial Psalm is useless repetition. Does the congregation have to chant this, or could they simply listen to the straight-through chanting of the psalm or be taught how to chant it with the cantor or simply return to the short, succinct Gradual?

3. Attention to detail, the Benedictine Altar arrangement even if modified (I think it is perfectly fine to have the six large candlesticks behind the altar and higher up with a smaller crucifix and two smaller candlesticks on the altar itself with a crucifix central for the priest celebrant to see when facing the congregation. The use of beautiful, clean vestments for all involved.

4. The choir and cantor need to be out of sight either in a choir loft or a slightly elevated space at the rear of the Church. The two other parishes locally in Macon have choirs situated in the entertainment mode up front, one with huge microphones in the face of each singer and the area intrudes on the sancturary and the singers are a major distraction to the actions of the altar. There is simply no need for this and it is a hangover from the 1960's! In fact it gives me  a hangover!

Simple following these simple rules would greatly enhance the Ordinary Form of the Mass without making it more like the EF.


CFGtom said...


I highly recommend you read Work of Human Hands by Father Cekada. It may help you understand why many traditionalist don't just want an EF looking OF.

Anonymous said...

Since you asked for opinions Father I will give mine.

The old Latin Mass should simply have been said in the local language of the country.

During high Mass or when deemed fitting certain parts chanted in Latin.

The prefaces and the venerable Roman Canon should have been left untouched, said in a low voice in Latin at all Masses.

Mass should have been left with the priest facing liturgical East.

The readings should have been done at the ambo and not at the altar, as is done in the Mass of Paul VI. Lay people could have been permitted to proclaim ll but the Gospel, as is done today.

Communion rails should have been kept and communion on he tongue retained as the only means of receiving.

Laity who are members of religious congregations (remember that sisters are laity, nuns are not) could have been given permission to distribute communion during a real need.

Options in the Roman Missal should never have been introduced.

We should be proud to be Catholics and not try and become "acceptable" to people who will never accept the Faith in totality. All are welcome to enter the Church but the Church should not abandon the truth just to make people feel better.

Anonymous said...

Nuns are lay women. Anyone not ordained (clerics), is a lay person.

rcg said...

I will sound sort of snarky when I write that you actually use quite a bit of Latin, according to your posts, in you reverent version of the OF Mass. Why does a little more bother people so much? Perhaps people know more of the Latin than they let on. The majority of the Mass is composed of prayers we have heard many times in Latin and pose almost no obstacle to understanding. The variable parts might be a challenge because they are unique so you say them in English. Our parish does the same, except our variable parts for the Epistle and Gospels are proclaimed first in Latin and repeated during the homily in English. And I will repeat my broken record by advising that the body of the homily could be devoted to explaining the Mass of that moment and even the specific use of the Latin words for deeper understanding. Conjugation, etc are often quite nuanced and contribute mightily to understanding.
Now the specific order of Mass vis a vis the OF/EF carry similar shifts in emphasis as the translation of Latin and bear some study. There are two parts of the EF that are either under emphasized or missing from the OF: the preparation of the Priest to enter the presence of God and the final Gospel. The OF has the place for the preparation but this is where the OF goes of the rails and becomes a horizontal welcoming a group hug before dinner. It can be done respectfully, as reported by you blog, but I have not myself seen it. The Final Gospel is omitted and is, IMO as noticeable as the thunderclap after lightening.

Anonymous said...

EMHC - As currently in use, it seems odd to me that I receive on the tongue (reverence, particles, etc) yet receive from a lay EMHC. While i have a strong preference for receiving from a priest as I believe EMHCs de-emphasize the priestly ministry and the importance of his consecrated hands, I can think of a few improvements. I recently attended a Cistercian Mass at which each of the monks received at the altar via intinction, but then they dipped their fingers in a water bowl. This water bowl was also used by the monks after distributing Host only to the laity to wash any tiny particles from their fingers before touching anything else.

Also, I am aware of 2 occasions in the last year at the same parish where a whole chalice of the precious Blood was spilled on the carpet during Mass by an EMHC. Such a mistake is completely avoidable as reception of both Species is optional.

Regarding altar servers, as a child I remember the excitement I had being able to assist Father at Mass. It was also a singular help in my discernment of vocations. I also remember the year female altar servers were introduced. It did not really affect me until one Mass I was serving with a much taller girl who was scheduled to carry the cross - and I, as an older male server was to carry a candle next to her. It was confusing, emasculating, and made me want to wash my hands of the whole thing. So what if it looks more symmetrical for her to carry the cross? Is she ever going to be a priest? Without any words said by any of us, Father swapped us just before the entrance hymn. Still, boys do not seek opportunities to "perform" in the same way that girls do. It is not in their nature to want to be up in front of a crowd in the same way. In a way, it is a sacrifice for boys to choose to serve. But if girls are able and willing to do it for them, the boys will gladly let them. What used to be a source of vocations, boys are shying away from.

Anonymous said...

The last Anonymous (9:14 AM), not having time to add more to this discussion at the moment, I wholeheartedly agree with the comment about girl altar servers you made.

JusadBellum said...

Altar serving is not about performing a service - so the pro/con argument is not about ability or intelligence. It's entirely about vocational discernment for boys, period, end of statement.

Those who think the jobs are superfluous (spot lights vs. candle bearers, podiums vs. someone to hold the book etc.) are entirely right that easier ways can be found to 'get the job done' without grade schoolers entirely.

But that's not the point. The point WAS, IS, AND OUGHT to be to get boys involved.

If boys are involved and given enough to do, they will develop their spiritual sensitivity and grow into mature adult men.

Taking away 50% of available positions out of feminist ideological blinkers or out of ignorance of the whole point of altar servers being a vocational recruitment tool (to priesthood but also to mature male spirituality) is what we need to get away from.

It's not about "who CAN do X job", but about who OUGHT TO do X job.... and the main job is to pay attention.

We want boys paying attention. We expect the girls will being paying attention.

As most of society's problems are caused by men, so too most are solved by good men. So if you are serious about ending poverty, injustice, etc. but actively getting rid of or reducing the likelihood of boys growing in their faith you are simply not serious about solving problems.

John Nolan said...


I agree with almost everything you say, but you have a blind spot. You still subscribe to the 1970s notion that participatio actuosa on the part of the laity consists in giving them what you refer to as 'liturgical roles' which in your understanding means a visible and active role in the sanctuary. This is gravely mistaken on several counts.
1. The sanctuary is reserved for clerics or those standing in for them if necessity dictates. Those substituting for clerics do so 'ex temporanea deputatione'. I don't care what the official line is (it was from a very minor Curial body and against the express wishes of both Paul VI and JP II), only those of the male sex may substitute for clerics.
2. A Schola Cantorum or a larger choir is actually performing a role proper to the laity. It may, if male, sing from the presbyterium since it was monastic practice. Although Musicam Sacram (1967) and its predecessor De Musica Sacra (1958)allow mixed choirs, both documents make it clear that such ensembles may not sing from the sanctuary.
3. By giving lay people distinct 'ministries' you are elevating a section of the laity above the rest. By all means let people volunteer to give out hymn books, take the collection, arrange flowers and so on. But already EMHC have taken to regard themselves as 'special'. If it is desired to offer the Chalice and there is no deacon or instituted acolyte, then it is better to delegate this role to a random member of the congregation, simply to make it clear that no favouritism is involved. There is no reason whatsoever why lay people in street clothes, whether EMHC or no, should be in the sanctuary, let alone approach the altar.

Finally, if people can't tolerate Latin (which incidentally cuts them off from all the Church's traditional music), then give them a decently celebrated OF vernacular Mass. DO NOT hanker after an English EF which will reduce the Rite to a prissy Victorian Anglo-Catholic compromise. The Ordinariate may soon have its own Mass, but every single Ordinariate priest I have met prefers to celebrate the Classic Roman Rite in Latin.

rcg said...

I really appreciate John Nolan's last input because about 1983 in the USA parishes began using the EMHC and lay 'ministers' like gangbusters. I even recall several lengthy announcements explaining that it was due to the looming shortage of clergy and that we should prepare for "services" without priests. What happened is that laity took over and the priests allowed for extensive changes. In fact, the last parish I was in had a series of conferences to figure out what liturgy we would have. The congregation was invited and the priest just watched. I have seen that quite a bit and that is why I have trouble denying an organized overthrow of the Liturgy and disinformation campaign.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - It is a vast overstatement to say that not knowing Latin does not cut Catholics off from "all the Church's traditional music." Even this philistine knows that that is simply not the case.

Jus - The great majority of altar servers are not discerning whether or not they have a call to the priesthood.

And having girls serving on the altar does not, as Good Father McDonald has noted time and again, deter boys from serving nor from recognizing their calling to the priesthood. His experience, our diocesan experience, of the high number of priests from Holy Trinity parish in Augusta, where boys and girls have served together for years, is ample evidence that such a claim is not based in fact.

Joseph Johnson said...

Along with a small group of concerned parishioners, I met with my pastor last Monday night and politely pleaded for him to simply use the words contained in the current English translation of the Roman Missal rather than using his own paraphrase of some parts (eg. combining the offertory and saying "The Lord IS with you" at the final blessing and dismissal).

Today, I was told he was still saying "The Lord IS with you" at the end of Mass today. I'm starting to lose hope--should I resort to writing the bishop about this (or is that a waste of time too?)?

At that same meeting, I also asked for a quarterly EF Mass but he said "we must prioritize time and resources." I then asked how a quarterly EF would affect things much in the way of time and resources and then he said that he had talked with two previous pastors about this and they advised him that the EF "would not be a good idea and would be potentially divisive" in our parish.

Things just aren't looking very encouraging in the parish in the OF or for a potential occasional EF. Father McDonald, you know where I am---please pray for my parish . .

JusadBellum said...


Alleluia's community is robust enough that boys and girls serving is no barrier to discernment..... until the rest of the diocese imitates their holistic Catholic cultural ethos, merely adopting their praxis in this one area isn't going to help much.

What's the point of girls on the altar? Inclusivity? That's the best argument: to treat boys and girls as liturgical equals, yeah, kumbaya. But boys and girls are not theological equals as the diversity built into the warp and woof of creation itself does not admit to a generic humanity. People are either male or female. Each has their own glory and it's not interchangeable. Uncritically swallowing the secular world's attitude on this is not "progress".

What is the point of having anyone assist the male only priesthood on the altar?

When only boys were altar servers, the male only nature (and intergenerational nature of young boys, teens, and adult men) did (*and still does as per every national survey of ordinands) provoke a good number of men to first consider the priestly vocation.

So did being a Boy Scout. Or going to a Franciscan U of Steubenville conference. If 10% of all men ordained in 2012 first thought of the priesthood thanks to serving on the altar, why would we think it a great idea to arbitrarily reduce that by 50% for the sake of being 'inclusive'?

Don't we have a priest shortage? Yes. Don't we pray for vocations? Yes. So why wouldn't we immediately expand the available opportunities for young men by 50% unless we're not serious about providing every possible opportunity for vocational discernment?

To admit there's a looming priest shortage and a desperate need for seminarians and acknowledge (thanks to Pew and CARA reports) that among the common experiences that predisposed men to consider a priestly calling, altar service was one....but then insist on arbitrarily keeping 50% of possible boys off the altar "because, Inclusivity" is to be either intellectually perverse or frankly, stupid.

You can't simultaneously acknowledge the crisis and the data on vocations, but still be for keeping boys away with a straight face.

I suspect then that both Pater and FM believe inclusivity is somehow super-duper important because shut up, or out of fear of the Matriarchy and feminists raising hell should they attempt to revert to the status quo ante. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

John Nolan said...

Ignotus, we've been down this road before and I've no intention of treading it again. Assuming the double negative in your opening sentence to be a typographical error, I am not suggesting that a knowledge of Latin is required in order to appreciate Latin church music (whether listening to it or singing it). It is only necessary to know what one is listening to or singing, and the widespread use of the vernacular paradoxically makes this easier. My objection is to those who for ideological reasons will not tolerate any Latin whatsoever in the liturgy.

As for altar girls, you are doing what you castigate others for, arguing from the particular to the general. The Cardinal Archbishop of Paris, Andre Vingt-Trois remarked (when Archbishop of Tours) regarding the situation in France that when the girls arrived the boys disappeared - "you couldn't see them for dust". When the authorities gave (guarded) permission for female servers in 1994 they re-emphasized the link between service at the altar and priestly vocations. At least one American bishop does not allow female servers in is cathedral. And the English Oratorians have no intention of allowing the practice.

Anonymous said...

While it is true that the vast majority of people left in the Church these days are those who have gotten used to Mass in the vernacular and aren't likely to want to read a missal, they are the very same people that are leaving the Church holus bolus and their offspring do not attend Mass at all.

So it is obvious that in 10-20 years there will be very few left at the OF of the Mass and by then the majority will be attending the EF Mass. There is no getting around it.

Also, once the Mass was put into the vernacular all the problems began. And you will always get that problem because it is too easy for a priest to ad lib when the Mass is in his own language. He can't do that in the EF of the Mass.

You have mentioned, too, Father, that you get complaints from different groups that there is more of one language than another at Mass. You said that could be overcome by turning back to Latin. As St Pope John 23 said:

"Of its very nature Latin is most suitable for promoting every form of culture among peoples. It gives rise to no jealousies. It does not favor any one nation, but presents itself with equal impartiality to all and is equally acceptable to all."

There is no way that people who attend the EF Mass would want it to be said in the vernacular. That would then destroy the Traditional mass as it has the Ordinary Form of the Mass and we would have all the abuses and anything goes Masses that we have now. No thank you.


Anonymous said...

There are parishes now that are only taking boys as altar servers for the obvious reason that it does encourage boys to at least consider the priesthood. Also, it has been pointed out that it is giving girls the false idea that they may be able to be priests.

One traditional parish in the States has found a role for the girls as sacristans, and Children of Mary (which I belonged to as a girl). The girls are involved in the crowning of the statue of Our Lady in May. That seems to me a great idea - both boys and girls being encouraged to have some involvement.


Православный физик said...

There are elements of truth in all that has been said...

1. I would not say that the Latin language is the biggest obstacle to the growth of the TLM...retention of the status quo is however. Retention of things as they are, as to "not rock the boat" is a bigger obstacle to the TLM than the language will ever be. Latin can (and should) be taught....however it is also true that something can't grow unless the people are exposed to it. The TLM is something that takes time to adjust to, it's not something that necessarily clicks the first time one attends. It takes multiple exposures to really appreciate it. (At least in my own experience)

2. While PI and our gracious host are right in the sense that girl servers in of themselves aren't a discouragement to discernment of a the old saying goes, they don't help either. From my own experience, I can say when we started having girl servers, I quit. Justad is absolutely right, it's not about who can "perform" a function. (If that were the argument, it could well be argued women should serve at the altar, the execution of dance and gymnastics show that they can genuflect and bow quite well)...if we understand altar service as substituting for clerical roles, then it is not possible for girls to serve. (from within the sanctuary at for many conventual Masses, women did serve even in Pre-Vatican II times from outside the sanctuary...aka outside the altar rails)...

3. I agree with your suggestions, Especially on the Responsorial Psalm and the Refrain Gloria. I'm of the opinion that the antiphon should be repeated once, and the psalm sung straight through, even better if the gradual is used.

4. Sloppy Liturgy, and Liturgical Abuses are two of my biggest pet peeves. Women in clerical clothing just looks tacky, and it's an injustice (to women) to tease them, or make them feel something they can never be. Often we're our own biggest enemies in this.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - We've discussed the relative value of Latin before, but we have not discussed the assertion that not using Latin "cuts them (Catholics) off from ALL (emphasis mine) the Church's traditional music."

It does not cut them off from the Church's traditional music.

Jus - I agree that there are many aspects of the culture of the Alleluia community that encourage vocations. I would say the primary one is that members of the community are raised to understand that being part of a community (in general) helps one to understand that he/she bears a responsibility to that community. As many children are raised with no sense of community (home, neighborhood, school class, state, nation, etc) they will be unable to recognize any responsibility to a community.

Boys and girls are equal in many ways, including the call to live a life of service to others. For Christians, Baptism, not gender, is the basis of that call. It is not "inclusivity" that is being recognized, but the universal call to holiness through service.

Having girls serve does not keep boys from serving. If a boy excludes himself by thinking, "I'm got gonna be an altar server is some girl is serving too," I think that boy is not mature enough to assist at the altar. If he is unwilling to do something because a "girl" is doing it, he's going to have a very hard time being a Marine, a doctor, a Supreme Court Justice, a computer programmer, etc.

John Nolan said...

PI, if you refuse to sing a syllable of Latin, or refuse to listen to any piece of liturgical music in that language, then you are cutting yourself off from the musical patrimony of the Western Church. How can it be otherwise?

It's about time you came up with specific answers to specific questions.

JusadBellum said...

Pater, every parish has only so many serving slots. Typically only 3 per Mass. So if a parish has 3 masses on a weekend that's 9 slots. If half are girls then that parish has chosen to limit the number of boys. It's not a negligible number diocese wide much less nation wide.

Of 78 parishes and Missions in the diocese let's assume there's only 3 masses per church per weekend (for the sake of easy math). That's 702 available slots for service on the altar.

If you arbitrarily make half of them girls because "inclusivity" you are choosing to deny 351 boys an opportunity to be close to the priest and liturgy.

Now how many will discern a vocation? We don't know so shouldn't we err on the side of caution in our current situation of a dire lack of vocations and looming priest shortage due to the demographic bell curve?

Why are we even having this conversation? 351 boys not serving per weekend diocese wide is a HUGE number of potential priestly vocational discernment slots just being arbitrarily let go.

Boys like hanging out with's a community thing. That's why boy scouts and girl scouts and sports are gender segregated. At that age (and especially later) the genders actually prefer to hang with peers. So from a pedagogical perspective it doesn't make sense to pair a 10 year old boy with a 10 year old girl in identical uniforms on the altar.

The data is conclusive: we are, in the name of 'inclusivity' and a non-Catholic view of 'equality' decided to reduce the possible number of vocations by 50% from this proven source of vocations.

Anonymous said...

is there anybody here who considers him or herself a charismatic, born again Catholic?

John Nolan said...

There is no such thing as a 'charismatic born again Catholic'. All Catholics are born again by virtue of their baptism. The so-called charismatic movement is a protestant conceit which became fashionable in some Catholic circles in the 1970s as a reaction to the collapse of the Church following the Second Vatican Council.

It is understandable that in a spiritual wasteland some might seek direct inspiration from the Holy Ghost. But it is misguided, borders on heresy, and leads to subjectivism and fanaticism. It is profoundly unCatholic, but the leadership of the Church has brought it upon itself. South America, which risks being lost to the Church entirely, is a case in point.