Saturday, November 29, 2014


The Order and wording of  the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass began to change when I was about 12 years old. I'd like to the focus on the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar which became the Penitential Act.

As a 12 year old I loved the English. I loved the priest facing the people and I loved the fact that the Mass was being simplified and made shorter. I loved the being made shorter part the best!

The first thing that was shortened was the Prayers at the Foot of the altar, which we were encouraged to participate. It became the one that is normally used for Requiems and during Passion week. It was basically the same except Psalm 42 was eliminated. Less Scripture in the Mass, how cool was that if it made the Mass shorter!

Eventually the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar were eliminated altogether and became part, but now named the Penitential Rite, of the Introductory Rite. Introductory Rite sounded secular to me then and certainly now compared to PATFOTA. Blah sounding, no?

Then it moved from the Foot of the Altar to the priest's chair situated centrally in the church where the tabernacle once had a pride of place. But I digress.

The Order of the Introductory Rite, I mean, the PATFOTA was changed. It began now with the Sign of the Cross; the Greeting, the invitation to acknowledge one's sins, the Confiteor, absolution, Kyrie, Gloria and Collect.

Apart from the new order, the thing that I noticed the most was the lack of movement and choreography. There was no visual beauty to the reform of the Introductory Rite.  It became blah and in your face blah!

As we who celebrate the EF know, the PATFOTA begins at the foot of the altar. There is bowing and movement, then the priest gracefully ascend to the altar, kisses it and moves to the Epistle Side for the Introit and Kyrie and back to the center for the Gloria and then turns to greet the Assembly and returns to the Epistle Side of the altar for the collect. It is prayer with one's body with graceful movement, ascending choreography.

Not so with the revised "Introductory Rite" with its "penitential act." The priest reverences the altar and goes to his chair. There he remains like a plaster statue. From the Sign of the Cross to the Collect one has visual blah! There is no ascending movement or choreography whatsoever, simply blah. One might as well keep one's eyes closed and visualize the older visual beauty of the EF Mass.

Short of recovering the PATFOTA, which could be possible even for the Ordinary Form, what about a compromise?

Restore the Order of the Introductory Rite to that of the EF but maintain the OF's wording, so to speak.

At the sung Mass, the following could take place:

1. A processional hymn or instrumental processional which ends when the celebrant gets to the Foot of the Altar.

2. At the foot of the altar, ad orientem, the priest begins with the Sign of the Cross, but no greeting, and launches into the call to acknowledge one's sins. After some silence, all recite the Confiteor together. After the absolution, the celebrant ascends to the altar to reverence it and incense it as the Introit is chanted.

3. Then the celebrant goes to his chair for the chanting of the Kyrie and Gloria followed by the Greeting and Collect.

Wouldn't this restore the Order of the Mass to that of the EF, while maintaining the revised shorter Penitential Act, but always using the Confietor or second choice that follows it in the revised Missal? And wouldn't it give some visual, liturgical beauty to the Introductory Rite?


Rood Screen said...

Fr. A. J. M.,

Thank you for sharing your personal experience of this particular change. I rarely hear from anyone personal reactions to specific changes, with most accounts meant to praise the reforms in general, or to criticize abuses.

Personally, I think beginning Mass with the +Introit, Kyrie, (Gloria), and Collect is fine. The present Penitential Rite seems as unnecessary as the traditional altar-foot prayers.

What matters is the overall orientation of the Mass as our participation in Calvary. This can be achieved with very simply rites, but can be easily hindered by such things as the interjection of temporal personalities. What we need is the right balance of singing, silence and simplicity.

Anonymous said...

Spot-on observations, Father. This was probably the first thing I noticed when I went to my first Mass in the EF: that the OF did away with "beautiful movement". I'm sure that, in addition to all the commonly-blamed stuff like Mass facing the people, Holy Communion standing and in the hand, and other things, this is what has contributed to the "banality" of the current form.

Also, during the Canon, the people now have nothing beautiful to "watch", even when Mass is facing the people, because the rubrics have been so slimmed down. One sign of the cross over the offerings, the priest bowing "profoundly" (depending on the priest it's profound or nearly nothing), and then the priest making the sign of the cross over himself. But otherwise it's just him talking with hands extended. And in the new Eucharistic prayers, there's even less "movement" and rubrics than in the Canon. Curiously, too, most priests DON'T use the Canon, so it is, as you said....visual blah.

GenXBen said...

My Angelus 1962 missal describes the PATFOTA as a preparation and purification for the priest and servers. At the end of the prayer the missal says in the margin notes says that the priest can confidently approach the altar now that he is purified. I don't know if that sumbolism was obvious in 1962, with or without a missal to tell you about it, but it really opened my eyes to the point of the prayers at the start of Mass, and also the sacred nature of the altar. I don't mind the new Intoductory Rite but I wish that message was emphasized.

Pater Ignotus said...

The Penitential Rite, far from being unnecessary, sets the stage, if you will, for the reason we gather to celebrate the mass.

We are given the mass, the un-bloody re-presentation of Calvary, because we are sinners. Calling this to mind as we begin is intended to put us in the proper frame of mind. We are gathered at the altar to offer and to participate in the sacrifice that sets us free from sin.

The Penitential Rite is too often hurried, rushed through as something that has to be endured so that we can get to the "important" stuff - the Scriptures and the Sacrifice.

What might be helpful in this regard is changing the name of our churches to, for example, the Downtown Macon Catholic Sinners Club (St. Joseph) or the Southwest Macon Catholic Sinners Club (Holy Spirit) or the Fifth Avenue Catholic Cathedral Sinners Club (St. Patrick's, New York).

We would be reminded of the need for our membership in such organizations and the offer of salvation found with membership.

Gene said...

Typically, Ignotus' focus is on man (sinner) rather than the Saints, who represent the Holiness of God and the mercies of Christ. Obviously, he also prefers a "club" atmosphere, which is why he prefers the OF and the post-Vat II mentality. The leopard cannot change his spots...

Robert Kumpel said...

I'm a couple of years younger than you, Father, but I too had a bit of the, "All right, it's shorter!" reaction when the Novus Ordo came into my life. That didn't last very long, though. I wasn't articulate enough to voice just what it was that bothered me, but I felt like I was being "sold" something by folks who thought they knew best for us stupid masses. You HAVE managed to articulate one small part of what bothered me.

John Nolan said...

Sorry, y'all, Pater Ignotus is exactly right here. The Penitential Act in the Novus Ordo is explicit. It is important. In the older form it was less so; in fact it is overlaid by the singing of the Introit and Kyrie and in any case was restricted to the celebrant and the ministers.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The post-V2 reformers weren't all wrong. Pius XII wanted liturgical change. So did Pius X. There is a genuine debate to have here, but TLM versus Novus Ordo is being posited on false premisses.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I must admit that in the EF Mass, I find the prayers at the foot of the altar too long even today (to me). I would have had no problem with eliminating the double confiteors and absolutions and Psalm 42 and kept all the rest for the laity as the penitential act in the Ordinary Form.

I understand that the PATFOTA serves a different function in the EF and is clerical, to prepare the priest and altar ministers for the Mass, it is a prelude and thus not actually a part of the Mass, technically. The Mass actually begins with the Introit and Kyrie.

But I do think that this changed with the dialogue low Mass where the congregation was asked to participate in the PATFOTA also. This is still the case with the 1962 Missal. It is the sung Mass, where the Introit is sung during the "clerical" PATFOTA.

Ryan Ellis said...

A basic principle of the new mass is that the Introit be the first liturgical action, and that makes some sense in theory. Originally, the PATFOTA were totally dropped, and that includes the Confiteor. It would have just been Introit-Kyrie-(Gloria)-Collect. Putting the Confiteor where it is seems like a good compromise to me.

Rood Screen said...

I suggest that going to Confession is the ideal Penitential Rite in preparation for Mass. And, by at least hearing confessions before each Mass, the celebrant thus partially prepares himself, too, even if he has no opportunity to go to Confession himself.

A major problem today is that congregants think, or feel, they are absolved of even sins against the Decalogue when they merely recite the Confiteor at Mass.

Pater Ignotus said...

JBS - The Sacrament of Confession is not a substitute for the Penitential Rite of the mass.

It is not the ideal Penitential Rite because it is not the Penitential Rite.

John - Thanks for saying "y'all"!

John Nolan said...

The preparatory prayers (PATFOTA) are indeed long in the Tridentine Rite, as is the Confiteor. In the 13th century Dominican Rite they are as follows:
P. In nomine Patris etc. Confitemini Domino quoniam bonus.
S. Quoniam in saeculum misericordia ejus.
P. Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, et beatae Mariae semper Virgini et beato Dominico Patri nostro, et omnibus Sanctis, et vobis, fratres, quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, locutione, opere et omissione, mea culpa; precor vos orare pro me.
S. Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimittat tibi omnia peccata tua: liberet te ab omni malo, salvet et confirmet in omne opere bono, et perducat te ad vitam aeternam.
P. Amen
S. Confiteor ...
P. Misereatur ... Indulgentiam ... Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
S. Qui fecit caelum et terram.

The Offertory Rite is also much shorter since the chalice has already been prepared and the bread and wine are offered together. The Communion prayers are different.

However, the Canon and its rubrics are the same, except that the priest stretches out his arms at the 'Unde et memores' and there is no minor elevation at 'omnis honor et gloria'.

Rood Screen said...

I happily find myself in agreement with Pater Ignotus in his gratitude towards John Nolan for ya'lling us. I think we got this phrase from the Middle English "ye'all", so ya'll is the Ordinary Form in relation to the older Extraordinary Form of the plural "you".

Watching ITV police dramas--always with the subtitles on--I've learned that "you's" is the plural employed by some in Yorkshire, at least by witnesses on housing estates who smoke whilst being questioned by the police, the latter sadly having come to look more like a paramilitary force than they did up to the Eighties, though happily remaining unarmed and occasionally even helmeted on foot patrol. But I digress.

Anonymous said...

The prayers at the foot of the altar long? The Judica me is a most beautiful psalm and it takes but a few seconds for the priest to recite. In the OF of the Mass,except for kissing the altar the priest doesn't even get near the altar until after the sermon! Then it is usually one of the short Eucharistic prayers and we're at communion before you know it. I have to say I often wonder why people attend Mass and complain that prayers are overly long. Compare the length of the Mass to say a movie and it seems to me to want the Mass shorter is to begrudge that time to God. One thing I never hear those who love the EF Mass complain about the length of it ...


Православный физик said...

I know a priest who does exactly as you describe for the OF. He also always genuflects to the tabernacle in passing. It is extremely edifying. At the parish, the altar is against the wall, and the chair is to the epistle side of the altar.

John Nolan said...

Actually in Yorkshire dialect they still use the archaic second person singular, as in 'Where has tha been since I saw thee? On Ilkley moor bar t'at.'

'Yous' as the second person plural originated in Northern Ireland, whence it has migrated to Glasgow. Putting on subtitles for Glaswegian is of little use; it is just as impenetrable when written down.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - I hope you will appreciate this joke:

An Englishman is being shown around a Scottish hospital.

At the end of his visit, he is shown into a ward with a number of patients who show no obvious signs of injury. He goes to examine the first man he sees, and the man proclaims:

Fair fa' yer honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain e' the puddin' race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
painch tripe or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
as lang's my arm.

The Englishman, somewhat taken aback, goes to the next patient, and immediately the patient launches into:

Some hae meat, and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

This continues with the next patient:

Wee sleekit cow'rin tim'rous beastie,
O what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
wi' bickering brattle.
I wad be laith to run and chase thee,
wi' murdering prattle!"

"Well," the Englishman mutters to his Scottish colleague, "I see you saved the psychiatric ward for the last."

"Nay, nay," the Scottish doctor corrected him, "this is the Serious Burns unit."

Jdj said...

John Nolan is correct about the origin of "yous"; the colloquialism migrated to the states, of course, and is common in distinct areas of the northeast. In fact it is often redundantly paired with "guys" in the address "yous guys". After moving south, I decidedly adopted "y'all".

Gene said...

A New Jersey guy and his family were driving through Texas on vacation. A Texas State Trooper pulled the NJ man over for speeding. As the Trooper walked up to the car, the man told his wife, "Watch this. I am gonna' fool this guy and get out of this." The man rolled down his window and, faking a drawl, said to the cop, "Howdy, pard'ner. I guess I was driven' a little fast through my ole home state."
The Trooper replied, "So, you're a Texas boy, are you…spell "rat."
The NJ guy spelled, "r-a-t."
The trooper began writing the ticket, smiled, and said, "Naw, I mean like in rat now."

John Nolan said...

PI, I'd not heard this one before, and had to LOL!!