Wednesday, April 15, 2015


As you know I celebrate both forms of the one Roman Rite. It gives me unique insights into the spirituality of both.

Also, as you know, our 12:10 PM Ordinary Form sung Mass is celebrated "ad orientem" for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. As well, at this Mass only, the laity are invited to use the full length of our newly restored altar railing, with the option for those who desire, to kneel. On their own accord, 99.9% kneel; maybe more than 50% receive in the hand while kneeling. Even receiving in the hand looks more reverent and communicants do not get up and leave prior to placing the Sacred Host in their mouth and pausing briefly in prayer and a "Sign of the Cross."

As I have mentioned before, this method of distributing Holy Communion is more of  a workout for the priest and Holy Communion takes less time with two distributing at the railing compared to four stations which don't move. At the railing, it is  slower for the laity, most of whom must wait for the priest or deacon to approach them. It is less rushed for the laity in other words.

But I'd like to focus on the Liturgy of the Eucharist for the EF and OF Masses both of which are celebrated "ad orientem." What are the blessings that come from both and how does the OF's Liturgy of the Eucharist compared to what Vatican II desired in terms of simplicity and intelligibility for the laity?

Of course we know that the EF is in Latin and has a more complex offertory rite which is prayed quietly. The OF has a simplified offertory rite and may be prayed silently if the celebrant so desires and usually in a sung Mass it is silent.  From the laity's point of view when both are celebrated ad orientem, I don't think there is much to see that is different.

The Orate Fratres is only partially prayed aloud in the EF by the priest with the response completed by the laity/servers after the priest turns back to the altar. In the OF when I turn to the laity, the entire part of the priest is prayed out loud and then I wait for their response until I make  complete circle back to the altar.  The laity are speaking to the celebrant at this point and this makes sense to me to face them for the completion of their part.

Using the Roman Canon for the OF, the new and glorious vernacular is almost verbatim and in sync with the Latin version. In fact, it would be very easy to include the extra "signs of the cross" over the oblations, because the wording is identical now to the Latin. However, this is not kosher in the OF to do this and either way the laity do not see it, in the EF or OF when done ad orientem.

Of course the canon is prayed out loud in the OF but not in the EF. I normally chant the Epiclesis through the Mystery of Faith in the OF. I pray the canon in the OF in a subdued tone but quite audible for the congregation.

Of course the Pater Noster forward in the EF is a bit different but not dramatically so to the OF although the OF has eliminated many beautiful prayers.

I would like to focus, though, on the Communion Rite. I prefer the OF's order and simplicity and  the elimination of the double "Lord I am not worthy" once for the priest prior to his Holy Communion and then again for the laity, for their Holy Communion after the priest has received his in order to make the Mass completely valid by completing the Sacrifice by consuming the Holocaust.

I prefer the OF's joint chanting of the Lamb of God and the priest's quiet prayer of preparation for his Holy Communion. Then once the Lamb of God is completed, I turn to the congregation with the Chalice of Precious Blood just consecrated and the fractured Host just consecrated held over the chalice and say "Behold the Lamb of God..." with everyone, priest and laity saying the "Lord I am not worthy..." We can debate if it was wise to eliminate the three-fold saying of this which mirrors the Agnus Dei three fold trope, but it is what it is.

In the EF Mass, by the time the priest turns to the congregation and say "Ecce Agnus Dei" he has already consumed the Body and Blood of Christ consecrated and shown at the elevations. Rather than showing the Precious Blood in the chalice, he simply holds a small consecrated Host (often taken from the tabernacle) above a ciborium and invites the people to do their "Lord I am not worthy."

Then I turn back to the altar, receive what I have just shown to complete the Unbloody Sacrifice by consuming the Holocaust and then I distribute Holy Communion kneeling at the extension of the altar which is the altar railing, their table for the Eucharistic Banquet.

I find this part of the OF's Communion Rite truly in line with Vatican II and eliminating a useless repetition in terms of two distinct Communion Rites for priest and laity.


rcg said...

Don't forget the Penetential Act, as well. Do you think this addresses anything special about the priest and his role on the Mass contrasted with the Laity?

Anonymous said...

I get so disappointed when I come on here and read what your improvements on the OF would be, because I realize that even though I love the ideas you put out, they will probably never happen, at least wide scale on the local level. Sunday after Sunday, year after year, it's the same OF, the Mass is not said any more holy and the pews get older and older.
My fear father, is that by the time Rome realizes that the OF needs some major reforms, there won't be anyone left in the pews to reform for, this is especially true in Europe and becoming increasingly true in the U.S.

Do you think with Cardinal Sarah in the CDWDS we will finally see a crackdown on the liturgy? It would be great for a parish Mass to actually match the reverence of a Mass at St. Peter's

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The EF Mass truly emphasizes the role of the ordained priest as a priest who is offering the Sacrifice. In this regard it shows forth the continuity of the priests of the Old Testament offering sacrifice in the temple and the Catholic priest doing so, but in an unbloody way and the Sacrifice that ends all other sacrifices.

Some would say, though, that the baptismal priestly role of the laity is obscured in the EF. It may be but this is not as deleterious to the laity as the obscuring of the priesthood of the ordained priest in the OF Mass improperly celebrated.

The Sacrificial aspect of the Mass and of the ordained priest offering it is made clearer in the Ad Orientem style of celebrating the Mass.

I"m not sure RCG what you mean by the penitential Act--do you mean the PATFOTA?

John Nolan said...

I have to admit that I am not happy with the term 'useless repetition' when applied to the liturgy. Who decides what is useful and what is not? A Latin Rite Catholic attending Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine Rite is immediately struck by the repetitions of 'Lord have mercy' in the litanies which accompany this rite, and for which there is no equivalent in the West (although the Litany of the Saints is chanted at the Easter Vigil and at Ordination rites).

There is a case for not requiring the celebrant to read those parts of the Mass which are sung by the schola/congregation since this was the practice before the second millennium. But to suggest that the separate Communion of the priest and people constituted 'useless repetition' is a scandalous assertion which indicates a certain confusion. The priest's Communion (in both kinds) is essential to the validity of the Sacrifice; the Communion of the laity is not. The conflation of the two was an innovation by Bugnini in 1967, was without precedent and was not mandated by the Council. It marks (along with other innovations of that year) a significant break with the tradition of the Roman Rite, and one which was quite deliberate.

In the EF, the priest faces the people and says 'Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccata mundi'. The people then respond with the triple 'Domine non sum dignus'. I know it is common practice for the priest to lead them in this, but really he shouldn't.

The Novus Ordo also has its own peculiar repetitions which if not useless, are certainly tiresome. Amongst these is the repeated response to the psalm which makes sense if it is sung but not when it is said (as is usually the case), and the response to the intercessions which are absurdly called the Prayer of the Faithful despite the fact that they are usually written by some politically correct nincompoop on the parish liturgy committee. (Qualifications to serve on a liturgy committee - zero knowledge of liturgy and zero knowledge of liturgical music.)

Anonymous said...

"is what Vatican II requested . . . truly in line with Vatican II and eliminating a useless repetition in terms of two distinct Communion Rites for priest and laity."

A useless repetition? When the communion rites for priest and laity play entirely different liturgical roles. The communion by the priest is a vital part of the sacrifice--its consummation, without which there is no sacrifice. The communion by the laity permits them to partake of the fruit of the sacrifice, but is not a necessary part of it.

Mass can be celebrated without communion by the laity, but cannot be celebrated without communion by the celebrant who offers the sacrifice.

In any event, Vatican II did not recommend any consolidation of these two distinct and different rites.

So I'm at a loss as to what you might be referring to "what Vatican II requested."

Anonymous said...

Do you think we will ever be able to have some of the things that the Anglican Ordinariate has, included in the OF. What does your clairvoyance tell you Fr. AJM?

Православный физик said...

Something that I think about, as both a teacher, and as a is it that we learn things? Often times it is through repetition. Often times it can seem like vain repetition, but what if, it's re-enforcement through repetition?

As John Nolan rightly points out in the Byzantine Liturgy, we constantly beg for Our Lord's mercy in the repetition for His Mercy, for we can do nothing without His mercy. The various Litanies could be used in the Roman Liturgy for the Prayers of the Faithful (and I think it'd work rather well, there is something to consistency in doing things)

I tend to appreciate the repetition of the various prayers of either rite....And actually think that the various repetitions should be reinstated rather than abandoned.

Perhaps one of the reasons the state of things in the Church are as such is that some things have been taken for granted, and not repeated.

Repetition is good, and never useless, annoying maybe, but useless no. And while we're at it, yes, "Responsorial" psalm needs to go.

rcg said...

FrAJM, yes, I was speaking of the NO Penitential Act when the priest leads the congregation, including himself, in the Penitential Act, or prayer. John Nolan caught what I was leading to, which is the role of the priest in the sacrifice and, as you pointed out, that the laity are not required to enter communion. The priest not only leads by example, but precedes us in the preparation.

I confess to being uncomfortable, or at least cautious, in the role the Laity may, or can, assume due their Baptism. Last Sunday our priest reminded us of the ability to perform Baptism under extreme circumstances. We recently had such an incident in our parish where a baby was born prematurely and was Baptised by her father while the priest was en route. When we are encouraged to raise our hands over someone in blessing, I am conflicted becasue I would like to think that we are Christian group who wants to love and support each other in a prayerful way; but I am also concerned that we are 'playing' at priest and arrogantly assuming too much authority and right.

So I am much more comfortable with the segregation of the actions for the clergy and laity to ensure we are clear who, is who.

Anonymous said...

From the pews where I'm sitting, Father, what I see is usually quite different. Usually, Father is surrounded by a bevy of lay people in all sorts of clothing, shorts and all. In some Masses communion is already distributed to them before the priest receives, some of the lay people even elevate the host along with the priest, depending on which parish you go to. They certainly know how to promote the priesthood of the people.

I know you will say this is an abuse but that is routinely more or less what happens and we know what happened with former abuses, communion in the hand, etc, when they slowly become the norm.

We can dream of course, but to my mind it is far too late for the Ordinary Form of the Mass to undergo yet another change to the Mass to try and "improve" it.

Why you have even a Bishop Emeritus in my country who is lobbying for a return to the "old" ICEL translation of the Mass because the new translation is too stilted ... easier to just go to the Traditional Latin Mass which was formed over centuries and satisfies many and the numbers are slowly but surely growing. I have to say that but for the immigrants there are very few European Catholics now attending Mass in my country. The fall off is huge and how long before the immigrants go the same way?


Unknown said...

Indeed, Mr. Nolan, to say nothing of the Byzantine Office, where many of the hours include repeating kyrie eleison 40 times in a row.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, my clairvoyance indicates that what is in the new Anglican Ordinariate Roman Missal's Appendix in terms of TPATFOTA, EF's Offertory Prayers, Last Gospel will be extended to the Opgeneral OF Missal. After all these are proper to the General Latin Rite patrimony and only peripheral to the Anglican Liturgical heritage.

Rood Screen said...

It seems fine enough to oppose "useless repetition", as long as we preserve useful repetition. For example, as John Nolan mentions, it would not harm the Roman liturgical tradition for an EF celebrant not to recite the Gloria, Credo, etc., silently while the choir sings these. I'd call this repetition that is not useful.

But liturgical repetition can be very useful, especially given its universally recognized value in mediation and education. After all, "do this in memory of Me" is repetition by divine decree.

It's a good thing Bugnini couldn't eliminate repetition in secular traditions, such as the English song "Happy Birthday to You"! And, just imagine a protest rally without repeating "we shall overcome", "yes, we can!", "no justice, no peace", or "hands up, don't shoot"!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I don't think useless repetition was a good term to use, but SC did use it.

In the revisions, the Kyrie was truncated from three, threes to two threes.

The Lord I am not worthy, to just one phrase rather than three.

Apart from those, TPATFOTA repeated the confiteor twice, one for the priest and one for the servers--could have been combined easily as the Communion Rite was done.

The Roman Canon and the multiple Signs of the Cross over the offerings and then once Consecrated were eliminated to simply one Sign of the Cross and prior to the consecration.

The additional Confiteor for the laity prior to their Holy Communion was eliminated with the revised Penitential Act that now includes the laity and all present.

Rood Screen said...

As for the Kyrie, it's worth noting that, although "as a rule, each acclamation is sung or said twice" the GIRM does say "it may be repeated several times".

Rood Screen said...

Father McDonald,

I'm curious, what sort of comments, if any, do you get about your 12:10 Mass from (a.) other priests and (b.) your bishop?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I haven't had any comments from priests or my bishop. Silence is golden. Of course I'm doing the 12:10 PM OF Mass this way as we don't celebrate the EF every week, so I think I am granted more leeway in this because of this fact.

I had very few comments from the laity, but all were positive. Not a single negative comment about the ad orientem except from a visitor and that was a couple of years ago.

I think our celebration of the EF Mass has paved the way to an acceptance of the ad orientem without much fuss at all.

The 12:10 PM crowd loves the altar railing and using it.

John Nolan said...

There is no chance that the CDWDS, whether from Cardinal Arinze or from Cardinal Llovera or from Cardinal Sarah is going to make any impact on the way the liturgy is performed at parish level. Redemptionis Sacramentum was treated with contempt.

Anonymous said...

Are participants at the 12:10 mass given the option of not using the altar rail, either to stand or kneel at? Is there a "standing only" station offered at that mass as well as the rail?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The instruction given to the 12:10 PM Mass is that only at this Mass is Holy Communion offered at the full length of the altar railing. Communicants line up at the altar railing. They are told they may either remain standing to receive or to kneel. 99% have chosen to kneel. Less than 1% stand and it is usually those who would find kneeling difficult. I think the majority though, even kneeling, receive in the hand and not on the tongue.

Anonymous said...

So, when you say, "The 12:10 PM crowd loves the altar railing and using (sic) it." it is because you give them no other choice.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

When I say love the altar railing, I am saying they are kneeling at it to receive when in fact they have the choice not to kneel but to stand.

At all our Masses the minister of Communion stands behind the railing at a fixed station, meaning the minister does not move. Those who choose to receive standing do so in front of the railing and the minister behind it, but the railing is no barrier and when standing it is as though it isn't there. But those who wish to kneel may do so even at the fixed station.

Anonymous said...

So you have both a fixed station minister of communion AND the priest or deacon moving up and down the rail at the 12:10 mass?

Rood Screen said...


Perhaps English is not your first language, but Father McDonald has clearly stated that not everyone receives kneeling, and that some receive standing.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Explain to me why there should be a fixed station which slows things down? Are you serious? The option is knerling or standing with the minister being the one who moves, no fixed station at 12:10 and no moving stations at other Masses.

Anonymous said...

JBS - Perhaps English is not YOUR first language. Fr. McDonald stated, "At all our Masses the minister of Communion stands behind the railing at a fixed station, meaning the minister does not move."

See that word "all"? But, in fact, there is not a fixed position minister at ALL Masses, as he now states that at the 12:10 Mass none is present.

OK Father - So you require that people use the rail, either standing or kneeling. Got it. Thanks.

John Nolan said...

The nine-fold Kyrie has a long pedigree and has to be retained in certain settings (e.g. Mass IX)since the chant demands it. Why was it altered in the first place? Like all the reforms from 1964 onwards the PBL (poor bloody laity) were never asked what they wanted; they were presented with a fait accompli. Had they been consulted we would still have the Latin Mass.

The reason why I prefer the classic Roman Rite is that it doesn't hector you, badger you, or treat you as a pupil in a classroom being told what is good for you. It unfolds before your gaze, and you connect with it in your own way. The 20th century liturgical movement was essentially a clerical attempt to dragoon the laity.

However well the Novus Ordo is celebrated, it can't completely free itself from the shackles of an all-too-obvious didacticism. I have been a teacher all my life, and can appreciate and thoroughly enjoy an hour-long discourse from a lecturer who knows his subject. However, I don't go to Mass to be talked at (the homily excepted, provided that it is short and well-prepared).

The Novus Ordo is wordy and excessively linear. Who needs all those 'Eucharistic Prayers' and multitudinous Prefaces? Is there anything more absurd than having the priest stand at the altar doing nothing while the choir sings the Sanctus and Agnus Dei? (NB These chants were designed to accompany an action.)

I have a Latin-English OF missal which is textually interesting and the inclusion of some of the older Collects is undoubtedly an enrichment. But I have to say that the relatively easy availability of the classic Roman Rite pulls me in that direction and would do so even were I not committed to singing for it.

Rood Screen said...


If a communicant is standing at the rail, then he is not using it. The presence or absence of the rail is irrelevant in that case.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

JBS, some how I think this is the former PI being mischievous as he has a knack for doing, circular arguments to cause undo explanation. It seems like his style that has gotten him into so much trouble with those who know this type of snarkiness.

Anonymous said...

Father - "All" means "all." If you don't have ministers standing in place at your 12:10 Mass, then your statement, "At all our Masses the minister of Communion stands behind the railing at a fixed station, meaning the minister does not move." is simply incorrect.

There's nothing snarky about pointing out your dissembling.

JBS - The question wasn't about the communicant. It was about the minister of communion.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Possible former PI, you employ the gottcha on a technicality. All our Masses except the 12:10 PM Mass have stationary Communion Ministers, but that isn't quite true, either since as you may have to do, someone has to go to a person who can't come to the altar area.

Rood Screen said...

Dear Anonymous,

You said that Father McDonald gives the congregants no other choice but to use the altar rail. However, Father McDonald said there are congregants who stand for Holy Communion (which means they are NOT utilizing the altar rail).

Is there something offensive to you about a communicant standing in proximity to an altar rail? Are you trying to say that communicants should have an opportunity to Communicate without being near an altar rail? If so, please explain why you believe this.

Anonymous said...

Dear JBS - ALL communicants at Fr. McDonald's 12:10 Mass use the altar rail. It is required by him, there being no other options.

Standing or kneeling, one is required to use the rail.

It's not about "proximity" or "opportunity" or some other matter you want to use as a distraction.

Standing at the rail is using the rail. One may have a door opened for him by a courteous individual, but we don't say "He didn't use the door" because he didn't turn the knob or pull on the handle.

To paraphrase Colonel Jesup, "He wants them at that rail, he needs them at that rail" to justify himself.

Casuistry - some cannot approach the altar area, so no stationary minister is truly stationary - doesn't work.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Now that there is an altar railing, even if the ministers stood on the nave side of the railing, does this mean that the communicant is no longer approaching the railing? Talk about clumsy logic and silliness. Perhaps we should have the stations outside, so they don't come in any near proximity to the railing!

Rood Screen said...


One may receive Holy Communion kneeling or standing, on the tongue or in the hand, and under one kind or both (separately or by intinction). But you seem determined to note the lack of some sort of novel provision for the communicant to stand at a distance from the altar rail. Why? Further, if you discover a stranger standing near your parked car, would you say that he is driving it?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The Church is a field hospital and we need to treat even the phobias of our members in a loving accepting way, especially those with altarrailingaphobia!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Of course if I stand by your car I am driving it!

Rood Screen said...

Father McDonald,

Have any of your parishioners attending the 12:10 Mass asked to receive Holy Communion at a distance from the altar rail? Are there any substances in the materials used the constructing the rails or their gates to which someone might have an allergic reaction? Or, are there any symbols on, or other features in, the rails against which someone could have a phobia?

Rood Screen said...

Ha! I submitted my comment and then saw your reference to altarrailingaphobia!

John Nolan said...

This whole discourse is becoming absurd. If a church has altar rails, people kneel at them. If it is a Novus Ordo Mass they may receive in the hand and it is obvious to the priest/deacon/server that they intend to do this. If they want to stand then they may do so and even in the EF it is accepted that not everyone is capable of kneeling.

Fr McDonald, having made the controversial decision to reinstall railings, it makes no sense to restrict their use to a couple of Masses. The idea of 'communion stations' has no validity in either form. Indeed, until I started reading your blog, I had never come across the term.

Anonymous said...

JBS said: "It seems fine enough to oppose 'useless repetition', as long as we preserve useful repetition. For example, as John Nolan mentions, it would not harm the Roman liturgical tradition for an EF celebrant not to recite the Gloria, Credo, etc., silently while the choir sings these. I'd call this repetition that is not useful."

But that isn't repetition at all - it is the priest who is offering the Mass - not the choir - they are merely embellishing it. So it is indeed necessary for the priest to recite those parts of the Mass and it is the choir that is performing what you think is useless repetition rather than the priest. Would you suggest then removing the choir?

The Extraordinary Form of the Mass developed over centuries and is beautiful as it is. There is a reason for everything. For example, the priest saying the canon silently is because this is the part of the Mass considered to pertain only to the priest "mystic reasons were attributed to the silent prayers of the Canon, as purely sacerdotal, belonging only to the priest, with the silence increasing reverence at the most sacred moment of the Mass and removing the Consecration from ordinary vulgar use".

In the Ordinary Form of the Mass the canon still pertains only to the priest but he now says it aloud and that does detract from the solemnity and does detract from the sacerdotal nature of the canon.