Friday, July 17, 2015


I went to a very excellent continuing education program for priests on being a Confessor. It was held in Baltimore, Maryland.

The liturgies were held at  the Basilica of the Assumption in downtown Baltimore, the country's oldest cathedral. It is stunningly beautiful and well maintained having gone through a major renovation/restoration several years back. I liked everything about the renovation except for the colonial aspects of the cathedral which I find "Protestant." But overall the renovation is stunning.

The liturgies for the program were simple, Ordinary Form and chanted. However, I suspect what we experienced for daily Masses was far superior from what most Catholics are subjected to every Sunday.

The official Introit was chanted by cantor in English. As I forgot to bring my alb, I did not concelebrate but participated as a lay person would with the postures of the lay person during the liturgy. I was not offended in the least by the fact that I did not sing the words of the Introit, but it was printed in the program and I prayed it as it was sung, the same for the Communion Antiphon. Actual participation, no matter how you cut it.

Some Masses were in English entirely others in a hybrid of English and Latin. No problem with this either and the parts chosen for either the English or Latin were easily chanted by all an robustly.

The only hymn I recall that we sung during the Liturgy was actually outside the Mass and this was the recessional hymn. Only the parts of the Mass were sung, the Mass itself, as it should be.

I would not have been offended by an Extraordinary Form Mass having been chosen or the Ordinary Form entirely in Latin and ad orientem. Both accomplish the worship of the Church, the Sacrifice of Christ in an unbloodly way and the Sacrificial Banquet. Who could complain about this except ideologues?

It is time for us to understand that the worship of the Church in its two primary forms, the traditional Latin Mass also known as the Extraordinary Form or the Antique Use and the revised or reformed Mass now known as the New Order (non-traditional or non-Antique) or Ordinary Form Mass is our participation in the event that brings about our salvation and gives us the grace to put our Faith into good works (also known as love or charity). There must be a connection between liturgy and our earthly pilgrimage to heaven where worship and life are connected intimately, no matter the form of the Liturgy.

The Traditional Latin Mass has more ritual or ritualism. It has more sign language too, especially in the quiet Roman Canon. It has more choreography and can rightly be called a liturgical dance in this regard.

The non-Traditional Mass has what is called "noble" simplicity and has what is necessary for the validity of the Sacrifice. Unfortunately it is subjected to more abuse in terms the clericalism of priests who impose their personality on the non-Antique Use of the Mass.

It can be rather banal, cut and dry. However, in its sung form, its music can be anything but Latin Rite or Roman Rite. The variety of music and styles, the clericalism of the priest and the care or sloppiness of the liturgy makes the Ordinary Form Mass different from other Ordinary Form Masses from priest to priest, parish to parish, diocese to diocese.

Music in the Ordinary Form is the elephant in the room which needs to be ruthlessly reformed.

But when the Ordinary Form is celebrated well, by the books, and chanted in the Latin Rite's tradition of chanting, it can be just as inspirational as the Extraordinary Form. Add some EF elements, such as ad orientem and more choreography and yes, even the transfer of the Roman Missal from the Epistle Side of the altar to the Gospel Side of the altar as minor as this little "t" tradition is, will add to the sublime liturgical dance that the authentic liturgy of the Church is. Sacred Dance, the liturgy itself, not dance routines imposed on the liturgy.


Rood Screen said...

It sounds like you had an invigorating trip!

If the OF Mass had been celebrated in a more traditional manner ever since its inception, then there would be no interest in the EF today. In fact, if even just one Mass each Sunday in every parish had been offered with the Liturgy of the Eucharist (a.) in Latin, (b.) with Gregorian Chant, (c.) ad orientem and (d.) without any hymns, then the Roman liturgical tradition would be in peace today, instead of in pieces. But alas, the liturgy fascists seized control, and that was that.

John Nolan said...

After 50 years of confusion and novelty, and with Mass attendance still declining, it is hardly surprising that there is a renewed interest in older liturgical forms, of which the classic Roman Rite is one. This morning I was part of a four-man schola which sang at the funeral of an old lady who had requested the older form. It was a sung Mass. Everything, from the Introit Requiem Aeternam to the final words of the priest at the graveside (Anima ejus, et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace) was exactly as per the Liber Usualis (my copy is the edition of 1961). Not a chant or prayer was omitted, not a rubric ignored. The family and friends, most of whom would have been unfamiliar with the rite, were given a booklet which contained everything, with a parallel English translation. No options, no fiddling around with hymn books since there no hymns. Between the Mass and the Absolutions the priest gave a brief eulogy; before vesting for Mass he had said a few words of welcome.

I had never met the deceased, but this was of no matter. It was the prayer of the Church for her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed. It was the best send-off a Christian could wish for. How any liturgical 'expert' of the 1960s could have wanted to change anything is beyond me; and to replace it with what passes for the Catholic funeral rites nowadays (and I have experienced them, since most liturgical excrescences can be avoided, but not funerals) was unforgiveable.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Good Father - There you go again, suggesting that the NO is "non-traditional" and, very tellingly, "non-Traditional." This is highly problematic, since the NO is as Traditional as it gets.

Then there is your attempt to damn by faint praise the NO: It "has what is necessary for the validity of the Sacrifice." Well, excuuuuuuse me, what more is needed? The Sacrifice is what matters, not the extrinsic, time-conditioned accretions of the Ages!

And what, exactly, makes the Colonial style "Protestant"? Is it the painted white pews, the clear glass windows? How does a style of d├ęcor become "Protestant" anyway? The total package of the Basilica is about as Catholic as it gets - altars, confessionals, statues, bishops cathedra, angels, mural of the Assumption, tabernacle, votive candles,... What's more apparently Catholic than all that?

The Greek said...

Fr. Kavanaugh,

I thought the same thing when I read that about the Colonial design. Ironically, when St. Paul's was built in London, it was criticised for having a 'Popish' design, and it's not so different from the Basilica in question.

I wonder if St. Isaac's in St. Petersburg would be considered 'Protestant' in its design.

Anonymous said...

Strange---why we you read the Epistle and Gospel at the altar? You are basically reading it to the people, so the pulpit, lectern or ambo would be the place for that. Or in my humble opinion. We have the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the Eucharist---and the altar is mainly for the latter.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

There is symbolic reasons for reading the Scriptures from the altar. Jesus who is the Word of God made Flesh is made present at the one table of the Lord, in His Word and Sacrament. We receive the Wprd and Sacrament from the altar. This happens still in the non traditional Order of Mass when the Book of the Gospel is placed on the altar and then taken from it to the Ambo for the Gospel. This happens too in the Solemn Sung EF Traditional Mass when the deacon chants the Gospel standing away from the altar.

Rood Screen said...


The Epistle was recited back to God, not unlike a child reciting to his parents the alphabet. In this way, the Epistle became a sacrifice: the Eternal Word of God offered to our Eternal Father. As for the Gospel, it was proclaimed towards the unconverted heathen of the North (from the geographic perspective of ancient Rome), because the Gospel is meant to be proclaimed first and foremost to those who have yet to hear it.

The new way is better, but one need not demean old ways just to support new ways.

Michael (Quicumque Vult) said...

Dialogue, I'm asking this question respectfully: your comment, I think, begs the question, IS the new way better? If so, how? What was deficient in the old way that the new way really improves/addresses? And please bear in mind, I'm not saying the new way is necessarily problematic or the old way is necessarily better. But I do hope both sides would expound on their reasonings, rather than merely asserting that new is good, old is bad, or vice versa, which appears to happen somewhat often in discussions like these.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh,

What do you mean by traditional> Let me clarify. Whenever someone here says that the NO isn't traditional, you always claim that it _is_ traditional. But what, in your understanding, does that word add to "Mass"? In other words, what is it about the word "traditional" that prevents it from being redundant when used to modify "Mass"? Another way of approaching this: Could you give an example, for the sake of clarity, of a Mass that is not (or would not be) traditional?

Anonymous said...

Dialogue, you say, "If the OF Mass had been celebrated in a more traditional manner ever since its inception, then there would be no interest in the EF today."

That is wishful thinking on your part because the objections to the New Mass were in respect of the theological aspects as pointed out in the letter from Cardinal Ottaviani to Pope Paul VI:

"The Ottaviani Intervention"
Letter from Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci to His Holiness Pope Paul VI
September 25th, 1969
Most Holy Father, Having carefully examined, and presented for the scrutiny of others, the Novus Ordo Missae prepared by the experts of the Consilium ad exequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia, and after lengthy prayer and reflection, we feel it to be our bounden duty in the sight of God and towards Your Holiness, to put before you the following considerations:

1. The accompanying critical study of the Novus Ordo Missae, the work of a group of theologians, liturgists and pastors of souls, shows quite clearly in spite of its brevity that if we consider the innovations implied or taken for granted which may of course be evaluated in different ways, the Novus Ordo represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent. The "canons" of the rite definitively fixed at that time provided an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the integrity of the Mystery."

The full letter setting out the objections to the Mass can be found on EWTN:

You are probably not aware that a lay organisation the International Federation Una Voce (One Voice) was set up in 1964. One of its presidents was Michael Davies:

"In 1964, Dr Borghild Krane, an eminent psychologist in Norway, sent out an appeal to concerned Catholics to group together in defence of the Church's liturgical heritage. As a result of that appeal a number of national associations came into being in 1964-65. Delegates from six European associations met in Rome early in 1965 and the International Federation was formally erected in Zurich on 8th January 1967 when delegates from 20 associations approved the draft statutes and elected the first Council. ...

Over the years the Federation has made various successful interventions. It was instrumental in persuading Pope John Paul II in 1986 to convoke a special Commission of Cardinals which resulted in the issue of the decree Ecclesia Dei Adflicta in 1988 and also played a part in persuading Pope Benedict XVI to issue the motu proprio decree Summorum Pontificum in 2007.

The current President is Colonel James Bogle from Una Voce Australia and the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales."

So there have been lay people fighting for the traditional Mass since 1964 and so it goes much deeper than the cosmetic appearance of the Novus Ordo Mass and I suggest that you read the Ottaviani Intervention to see what it's really all about.


Anonymous said...

Much to the horror of some in the Church the words of a founding president of Una Voce seem to be coming true:

"A renaissance will come: asceticism and adoration as the mainspring of direct total dedication to Christ will return. Confraternities of priests, vowed to celibacy and to an intense life of prayer and meditation will be formed. Religious will regroup themselves into houses of 'strict observance'. A new form of 'Liturgical Movement' will come into being, led by young priests and attracting mainly young people, in protest against the flat, prosaic, philistine or delirious liturgies which will soon overgrow and finally smother even the recently revised rites..."

--- Dr Erich Vermehren de Saventhem, founding President of the International Una Voce Federation, New York 1970"


Rood Screen said...


The average layman did not read the good cardinal's intervention, nor did the average layman read the problematic General Instruction of 1969/70. However, had the new order of Mass been widely and routinely celebrated in a manner closest to the old order, then there would have been no noticeable breach in the liturgical development of the laity.

Anonymous said...

The point you keep missing, Dialogue, is that lay people have been involved with Una Voce movement since 1964. The average lay person may not have read Cardinal Ottaviani's letter but there was already a lot of information circulating among Catholics that the changes were problematic and initially, at least, Mass was the traditional Mass in the vernacular and people were not happy. You can find reports on the net of some congregations who left Mass in tears.

You must be relatively young not to realise the outcry there was at the time the new Mass was introduced.

The New Mass was never ever accepted by a section of Catholics, my family being among them, who attended because we had no choice. Some joined the SSPX but many left the Church altogether. My mother continued to read the prayers from the Latin Missal for many years until we got the indult Mass in the 1980s.

You cannot change history. The lay people did not ask for the New Mass and many resisted it, so it wouldn't have mattered if it was reverently said or not. In fact it was reverently said in one of our churches with Gregorian Chant and most of the Mass in Latin. It was so much better than we have today but still we all left and attended the indult Mass when that became available. So that shows Catholics knew the difference - that they were being sold a pup.


Anonymous said...

Dialogue, I suggest you read this article in the New Oxford Review which talks about the suffering the new Mass brought to the convert Evelyn Waugh "A Bitter Trial". There was a series of correspondence between Evelyn Waugh and Cardinal Heenan about the new Mass and one reply from Cardinal Heenan writes:

"Do not despair. The changes are not so great as they are made to appear…. I should be surprised if all of the bishops will want all Masses every day to be in the new rite”; “nothing will be changed except for the good of souls… the Council will bring all in the Church closer to Christ, and the world itself closer to the Church of Christ”; “I expect that before two years have passed we shall begin to reap results,” he wrote in 1966."

We have repeated the results all right, but not in the manner anticipated.


Anonymous said...

One last passage from the New Oxford Review, which I think is a real eye-opener and what Cardinal Heenan said then has literally come to pass:

"Cardinal Heenan himself admitted to his fellow bishops in Rome, “If we were to offer [in England] the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday in the Sistine Chapel (a demonstration of the Normative Mass) we would soon be left with a congregation of mostly women and children.”

In a 1967 pastoral letter he wrote, “Bishop after bishop in the Synod rose to complain that his people are thoroughly tired of the constant changes.” In the same letter, two years before Pope Paul’s promulgation of the Novus Ordo, he confessed, “I hope…that this will be the last change for a long time.”

Then, two years later, when announcing the forthcoming implementation of the newly promulgated Novus Ordo, he declared to his flock, remarkably, “Your Sunday Mass, however, will not be changed again in your lifetime.” How could he have foreseen the removal of tabernacles and altar rails, the elimination of Gregorian chant and ad orientem liturgies, and the introduction of altar girls, lay Eucharistic ministers, and Communion in the hand, which all still lay ahead! He had not our benefit of hindsight."


Rood Screen said...


I assure you I am very familiar with Waugh's letters (and, indeed, with much of his work). However, there is simply no evidence to suggest that the average Catholic offered any meaningful resistance to the reformed Roman Mass. On the contrary, one would be hard-pressed today to find a Catholic priest or layman from that era who is interested in the older form of Mass. Had there been any such resistance, Paul VI would have scrapped it promptly. There should have been resistance to much of the doctrinal and liturgical nonsense that emerged, but there was none of any significance.

rcg said...

Dialogue, I think there is overwhelming evidence that the average Catholic resisted the changes; they were simply less poetic than Waugh and have voted with their feet.

Anonymous said...

Dialogue, there were many priests who obtained an indult so that they didn't have to say the new Mass - one being St Jose Maria Escrivar. There were several in my country who obtained such an indult. One was Fr Denzil Mueli who up until his retirement a couple of years ago offered four Traditional Sunday Masses and on weekdays. This has resulted in vocations to the priesthood - all training through traditional seminaries and they will return to offer the Traditional Mass now becoming much more widely available thanks to Benedict XVI and the lay people appealing to Rome.

I do think you are out of touch or ignoring the evidence. For example, how could the international organisation Una Voce, who were instrumental in finally obtaining Summorum Pontificum, have existed all these years without the support of the lay people? Una Voce America has a large number of chapters:

The truth is that many Catholics did reject the new Mass and either left all together, formed themselves into associations with Una Voce or joined the SSPX. You only have to look at the Society of St Pius X which now has over 300 priests to know that. In my view, this left the Church very weakened the few of us who remained were not a strong enough group to resist the continuing liberalisation of the Church.


Anonymous said...

And Dialogue, perhaps Dom Mark Kirby sums up the attitude of many:

" After having devoted nearly forty years to a worthy “reform of the reform”; after having taught and defended the Novus Ordo Missae to the best of my ability; after having composed — to a certain acclaim, even from a dean of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Liturgy — an entire monastic antiphonal in modal plainchant for the French liturgical texts; after having composed hundreds of plainchant settings for the Proper of the Mass in the vernacular; after having fought mightily for the restoration of the Proper Chants of the Mass; after having argued to the point of exhaustion for an intelligent obedience to the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani; after having poured myself out in lectures and in preaching to priests, seminarians, and religious, I am obliged to conclude that I could have better spent my time and my energy humbly carrying out the traditional liturgy such as I discovered it — and such as I so loved it — in the joy of my youth. I say this not with bitterness but with the seasoned resignation of a weary veteran lately come home from an honourable defeat in the liturgical Thirty Years War.

I respect those priests and layfolk who continue to believe in “the reform of the reform”. I honour their devotion and perseverance but, from where I stand and at this point in my life, I think their energy misplaced. Life is short. I can no longer advise others to devote the most productive years of their life to patching up a building that was, manifestly, put up with haste during a boom in frenzied construction; it has shifting foundations, poor insulation, defective fixtures, and a leaky roof. Right next door, there is another old house, comely, solidly built, and in good repair. It may need a minor adjustment here or there, but it is a house in which one feels at home and in which it is good to live, and it is there that I choose to live out my days. If others choose to live in the “fix–up” next door, I can only wish them well, confident that we can live as good neighbours all the same, with frequent chats over the fence in the back garden, exchanging insights, and perhaps even learning something from one another.

One the things I have learned over the past forty years, and this amidst the taedium of much dura et aspera, is that monks (and nuns) who profess the contemplative life gained nothing from changing the forms, content, and language of the sacred liturgy. Liturgical change swept through monasteries like a hurricane, leaving the most pitiful destruction in its wake. Did the so–called liturgical renewal in monasteries give rise to an increase in vocations? Did it generate a more generous commitment to the touchstones of sound monastic observance? Did it foster a greater zeal for the Opus Dei? Few monasteries have recovered from the ensuing decades of liturgical unrest.
I shall never forget the anguish generated by trying to invent new psalm tones suited to the vernacular, all the while clinging desperately in my heart to the chants of the Antiphonale Monasticum that had taken root there. Memories of the traditional liturgy persisted, through the winter of my discontent, like the lovely blossoms of the crocus, in trying to pierce the frozen crust that had been laid over my hortus conclusus. The “bare ruin’d choirs” of so many abbeys today attest, sadly, to the inward wreckage wrought by liturgical innovation, even when carried out, as it usually was, with the best intentions, and out of a skewed notion of uncritical obedience to what was misrepresented as “the mind of the Church”."