Saturday, July 18, 2015


I think we have to keep in mind that a very significant number of the very high number of people attending Mass each Sunday prior to the Council simply wanted to fulfill their obligation and get the Mass over with. Most Catholics preferred the Low Mass.
It is this group, the largest in the Church, that the pre-Vatican II Church addressed and very well. They wanted to fulfill their obligation and get away with the minimum. But they went to Mass every Sunday, confession once a year and did their Easter Duty, receive Holy Communion once a year during the Easter Season.

They wanted short Masses. I would say of the 90% of Catholics attending Mass every Sunday prior to the Council about 70% were in this category. The Church catered to them and didn't make them feel guilty for liking short Masses and going to confession once a year and Holy Communion once a year. In fact doing these things made them good Catholics. Who can argue with this today given the fact that we've lost this 70% of Catholics who have dismissed the Church and have become "nones?"

The initial changes in the Church pleased them because they could understand the Low Mass in their own language and the Mass was actually being shortened in its Low Form until everyone started going to Holy Communion every week and all were asked to participate, sing hymns and come early (not just prior to the Offertory) and stay until the Mass was finished (not leaving as Holy Communion began).

Asking nominal, but every Sunday going Catholics to do more than just what was obligated was a turn off and forcing them to participate and sing really turned them off. Telling them that what they were doing prior to the Council, the minimal, was not enough offend them and turned them away!

The 12 to 20 % who went to High Mass and Solemn Sung Masses appreciated the Mass for its history and as an art form perfected over 1700 years. They loved choirs that could perform exotic settings of the Mass. They loved Gregorian Chant and Polyphony. They were sophisticated and knew their faith and were comfortable with what they had known all their lives and they loved being different than Protestants, better than them of course.

This group and their heirs today hated the changes and the banalities of the revised Mass, the loss of exotic settings of the Mass sung by fine choirs, the loss of Gregorian Chant and Polyphony and the choreography of the Mass. They hated the loss of being anonymous and the private vertical aspect of the traditional Mass.

What really set off about 80% of the 90% going to Mass though was the renovation of their beautiful Churches to make them look Protestant, almost like Quaker meeting places.

They hated their beautiful altars being torn out. They hated altar railings being removed. They hated lay lectors and Communion Ministers and the dumbing down of the clergy and religious, the loss of respect for these two groups. They hated standing for Holy Communion. They hated folk music. They hated folk groups being in the front. They hated song leaders waving in their face and trying to force them to sing! They hated the Mass becoming to resemble Protestant services. They hated ecumenism that made it appear that the Catholic Church was wrong all along and the Protestant were right.

They hated the confusion that reigned in the Church. They hated it and it turned them off. They didn't know what to hand on to their children and their children's children had no idea of what was lost and no appreciation for what was new. 

I would say that Pope Francis wants to get back the 88% of Catholics who do not go to Mass and simply do what we did prior to the Council. Make it easy for them. Give them short Masses. Allow them to go to Confession once a year and Holy Communion as their Easter Duty.  He wants to give them a devotional life too. He doesn't want them to be elite Catholics. He wants to get back the obligation only Catholics of yesteryear.


Anonymous said...

For a lot of people, the traditional mass was not what your photograph illustrates. They were not said in European style cathedrals, but in American style prefab buildings. They did not have the sound systems that exist today, so few could even hear that they were said in Latin. The music also was often not that grand Baroque music that pope Benedict refers to, it often was a choir that did not rehearse, sing choir music, or even chant; it was often a sing along accompanied by a very mighty Wurlitzer. Some people liked the idea of a mass in their language, and initially even liked contemporary music that the musicians could pull off. A carefully planned new mass was better than a poorly presented Latin High Mass. The problem though was that many would have liked to see a traditional Mass done correctly. Unfortunately those in charge were on a mission to destroy anything connected with the traditional liturgy. They wanted the old churches torn down along with the traditions that went along with them. I think that was the 1960's mentality.

It seems today though that the people that are pushing for the traditional Mass have the same enthusiasm as the liberals did in the 1960's. While I can't say that was enthused about the poorly presented traditional Mass in the 1960's and 1970's, I am enthusiastic about the renewed interest in the traditional Latin Mass. Today, to do that Mass correctly takes research and commitment, and that was something that was lacking at the start of Vatican 2. It would take the commitment to restore some of the older churches, and a commitment to employ musicians capable of performing traditional music, both choir and instrumental. To me that type of involvement sounds so much better than a dozen extraordinary ministers and parish councils trying to dream up something new.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, where is the evidence that Masses were said in American pre-fab buildings? And besides many people, including Evelyn Waugh, actually preferred the low Mass without any Gregorian chant at all.

The Traditional low Mass is beautiful, wherever it is offered, even on the back of a jeep, in bombed out cathedrals, as many of the old photos are showing and they depict the reverence and attention of the men at that Mass.

The people of Ngasaki would not agree with you - they attended Mass in the ruins of their cathedral - it was the Mass that mattered not the building, and it still is ...


Rood Screen said...


Anonymous is apparently speaking of the American experience. As an immigrant Church in a religiously competitive nation, 20th century Catholics in the USA often built schools first, with Mass in the gymnasium. As for those churches that were constructed, those designed before WWII were usually quite transcendent, but those built afterwards were often brief expressions of the architectural style of the day, appearing artistically obsolete a few years after construction. The rapid suburbanization of the post war period contributed greatly to the situation.

Anonymous is apparently also noting something that I often hear: the many sung and solemn EF Masses of my diocese today are not what elderly visitors remember from their childhoods, when they only heard English hymns sung over the Low Mass. So, what young priests offer and young families hear today is not what elderly priests once offered or elderly laymen once heard. The observation is really as simple as that.

Vox Cantoris said...

I agree with Church construction pre and post World War II, it seems that afterwards it was just a race here in Toronto to keep up with the burgeoning growth in children and suburbia. My faint recollection as a child is Low Mass with hymns. In Quebec, it was most often Solemn or at least Sung Mass. A priest recently said his parents would go to the Low Mass without a Sermon at 6AM and receive communion. They would go home for breakfast and come back for Solemn Mass and not receive Communion at 10AM. In Toronto, at least, it was like much of the Irish immigrant culture of Low Mass which stems a lot from their particular history of persecution. I recently viewed a 1922 directory for Toronto and found a large parish (St. Peter's) where the Sunday Mass schedule began at 6AM and continued to 11AM, every hour, on the hour. Was 11AM a Solemn Mass? Hard to say but I doubt it.

As someone who has chanted or organised hundreds of EF liturgies I can tell you that the oldest don't remember it as we do it. Processional and recessional hymn, sprinkling rite, sung propers, sung ordinaries and responses, it was all unheard before. They are shocked by standing at the Pater Noster and some think we are trying to do things as in the new when the new does things as in the Solemn or Pontifical.

I have long held that if the Church, particularly in North America, I cannot speak for Europe, properly implemented Tra le sollecitudini of St. Pius X, the Dialogue Mass of the 1920's and St. Pius XII, Mediator Dei and Da Musicam Sacram et Sacra Liturgia of Ven. Pius XII, we would not have had the radical reform and the Missal of Paul VI. The manipulators were there regardless, but if our liturgies then were as attentive as they are now, the faithful may have withstood and resisted the assault.

Anonymous said...

"I would say that Pope Francis wants to get back the 88% of Catholics who do not go to Mass and simply do what we did prior to the Council. Make it easy for them. Give them short Masses. Allow them to go to Confession once a year and Holy Communion as their Easter Duty. He wants to give them a devotional life too. He doesn't want them to be elite Catholics. He wants to get back the obligation only Catholics of yesteryear."

Um, how is Pope Francis doing this exactly? Does wearing black pants and shoes bring back lapsed Catholics? Does living on the entire 2nd floor of the Casa Instead of a few rooms in the Apostolic Palace bring back lapsed Catholics? Does making daily judgemental and condemnatory statements about Catholics bring back lapsed Catholics? Does giving the impression that doctrine and dogma doesn't matter bring back lapsed Catholics? Does accepting a blasphemous representation of Our Lord's death bring back lapsed Catholics? Does allowing debate and confusion reign for 2 years, without speaking clearly, about denying Our Lord's words on marriage bring back lapsed Catholics? Does committing liturgical abuse when he has the authority to change rubrics bring back lapsed Catholics? Does his deafening silence in the wake of entire nations turning from Christ and embracing sodomy bring back lapsed Catholics? And the list is endless.

It seems to me Father that Pope Francis is doing (and succeeding) everything he can to scandalize and anger the few remaining Catholics who try and live the Faith heroically in today's godless world. My god we just saw a Vatican official participate in a pagan ceremony of goddess worship.......even offering a prayer to a pagan goddess. Nothing is done about that but let a bishop drive an expensive car and he will be removed. What will you do good Father in October when by stealth Francis officially teaches that adulterers don't have to amend their lives and receive absolution before receiving Holy Communion? How do you rationalize that? When that happens why should anyone bother going to confession? If adulterers don't have to amend their lives why do I. All signs point to Francis doing just that. He might and I say might, be pope. But Catholics have never been obliged to follow any priest, bishop let alone a pope who dares teach anything contray to the revealed faith of the Church.

Rood Screen said...

Vox Cantoris,

I agree especially with your final paragraph.

Cletus Ordo said...

1) I have to agree with anonymous, it's hard to see pope Francis doing much of anything to bring back lapsed Catholics. He appears to say a lot of things that lapsed Catholics and haters of the Church take delight in, but I don't think the Churches are getting any more crowded and, frankly, I don't think these people are going to make the change of taking time for Mass just because their long-desired liberal pope was finally elected.

2) On one hand I should criticize you father for publishing a post that is almost entirely subjective and filled with only anecdotal evidence, except it is right on the money. I'm less inclined than you to speculate WHY Catholics turned away from the Church at the introduction of the New Mass, but there is no drying that it was appalling to many of us in the pews. As for people like my grandparents, they were not pleased, but they were more concerned about displeasing God, so they kept the commandments and continued to attend, gritting their false teeth. As for me, I am happy to still have all my teeth and I often find myself grinding them at Mass too.

rcg said...

Vox Cantoris, in the last paragraph, may be on to something. The OP moves from characerising the faithful in the first part of the post as seeking ways to meet the obligation with as little effort as possible. I have long felt that a significant number of the clergy, BEFORE Vatican II, were disenchanted with the Mas, with celibacy, and much of Catholic teaching. They held on for a Reformation of the Church from within, and when that door cracked open they took it. Now we argue among ourselves whether or not the changes we have experienced were either there, or intended to the extent they occurred. I think that is moot because they occurred in plain site and no one stopped them. SO now we have, even under the best of circumstances and rosiest possible view, that the Old Form is still valid, but second in place behind the NO with its Protestant Liturgy and Top Forty music.

Anonymous said...

Dialogue, at 7.14 am, well, you must be very lucky to have choirs who can sing Gregorian Chant everywhere because we rarely have a Missa Cantata, and have the low Mass, sometimes with hymns sometimes without because we do not have people who can sign Gregorian Chant and young priests are offering the low Mass that way, so it is the same as most people had pre-Vatican II and the young people are still loving it.

I believe that - as with the Novus Ordo Mass today - you have to go to a cathedral church to get a proper sung Mass or Missa Cantata.

You have ignored what I said that the Low Mass is beautiful on its own and that Evelyn Waugh preferred the low Mass as did the majority of the people because that is what they were used to. The only people I have heard make the comment about badly said traditional Masses are on the internet and usually they are people who are against the traditional Mass. Nobody I know from my youth ever complained about the Mass at all and none of my family either. In fact it was unheard of. The good thing about the Latin is that all the priests sounded alike which is not the case in the Novus Ordo where if Father has a funny, squeaky voice, it grates in the Mass and the emphasis is on the priest anyway.

As the pictures at Ngasaki show, people loved the Mass amid the ruins or wherever - there would not have been a lay movement established and sustained that has been running for over 50 years if that was not the case.

Contrary to what you say, apparently there was so much criticism about the new Mass that Pope Paul felt forced to make a statement where he said:

"The first category [of criticism of the reformed rites] are those responses which note a certain confusion, and thus a certain annoyance: firstly, these observers say, we used to be calm, anybody could pray as he wished, everything was known concerning the unfolding of the rite; now everything is novelty, surprise, change; to this end, the sound of the bell at the Sanctus was abolished; then, those prayers which nobody knew where to find were abolished, then communion received while standing came into effect; the Mass which finishes suddenly with the blessing is no more; now, everybody responds, many move around, with rites and readings which are recited aloud… in sum, there is no more peace and we understand less than before; and so on.

We will not criticize these observations, because we would have to show how these objections reveal a shallow penetration into the sense of religious rites, and which already allow for a true devotion and a true sense of the meaning and value of the Holy Mass, but also that these objections show a certain spiritual laziness, which does not want to expend some personal effort of intelligence and participation in order to better understand and to better accomplish this most sacred of religious acts, to which we are invited, or rather, obligated to join ourselves."

Dialogue, although you say you attend the Traditional Mass from all you write it seems that you do not love the Traditional Mass at all and so would be better to go back to the Novus Ordo.

The plaque to the Novus Ordo Mass in St Peters was defaced so many times that it had to be replaced in the end it had to be removed and placed above the statue of the Pieta. Not the right thing to do but, nevertheless, proving that there were many critics of the new Mass and you are hiding your head in the sand.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous at 9.23 and I can only see that Pope Francis may bring back into the Church those living in a sinful lifestyle who wish to remain in that state and be able to receive the sacraments.

I think that Pope Francis doesn't wear the papal regalia because it is tied in with what is reported by John Allen and could then have a bearing if the synod does not uphold Catholic teaching on the divorced and civilly remarried:

"In that connection, an essay on Tuesday by longtime Vatican watcher Vittorio Messori is intriguing.

Based on a recent study by Italian canon law expert Stefano Violi, who scoured Benedict’s Feb. 11, 2013, resignation announcement syllable by syllable for its precise meaning, Voli and Messori conclude that Benedict never actually abdicated the papacy. Instead, he renounced the exercise of the papal ministry — a crucial difference, in their eyes, which in effect means the Church really does now have two popes at the same time.

In truth, they believe, he didn’t even completely give up exercising the office.

The way Violi and Messori’s analysis goes, being pope has two basic components: agendo et loquendo — acting and teaching; and orando et patendo — praying and suffering. They believe Benedict laid down the former but never the latter, which explains his continuing residence in the Vatican and his continuing use of papal vestments. In effect, they believe he is continuing in some ways to function as pope, while leaving the work of governance to his successor.

As Violi puts it, Benedict “did not renounce the office, which is irrevocable, but only its concrete execution,” and even then only in part.

Messori argues that Francis may see things the same way, which perhaps helps explain why he prefers the title “Bishop of Rome,” of which he is unquestionably the only one at the moment, to “pope” or “pontiff,” of which there would now be two."

Certainly, I am sure that if such teachings were changed many more would find that unacceptable as Cardinal Burke has stated.


Rood Screen said...


The simple tones for the Ordinary are very easy for the congregation to sing without a choir or accompaniment. A cantor can easily sing the Propers. Therefore, there is no reasonable excuse for a Low Mass on Sundays or solemn feasts, unless it is an extra Mass. In this and other liturgical matters, it is not a question of what pleases the congregants, but of what pleases the Almighty.

As for your conclusion that I should "go back to the Novus Ordo" because I lack the affinities you desire, I admit to being stunned that anyone should say such a thing.

Finally, I think you would do well to balance your reading of a very small handful of prominent discontents, with conversations with average Catholics who remember the liturgical reforms of the Sixties. They simply do not share Waugh's assessments. One even wonders what he would have thought a few decades later. I do understand his assessments, and even share considerable sympathy for them, but that does not change the reality we are in a very tiny minority, and so must come to terms with reality without revising history into fiction.

George said...

I have different recollections of the post Vatican II period the first couple of years following the closing of the Council. I don't recall any dissension or uproar on the part of parishioners. I was young, so it was possible some of the adults were complaining to the pastor. I do recall is that in CCD class immediately following the Council( I had attended Catholic elementary schools in Tennessee but when my parents moved to Georgia I was enrolled in public school) the instruction was traditional catechetical instruction by the associate pastor. By the late 60's however this had given way to a lay person teaching material which consisted of what seemed to me at the time modest and sometimes vague references to Catholic teaching mixed with some psychology and sociology. In other words, definitively not the Baltimore catechism I was taught in prior to coming here. The teacher of the class was a good person but to me the material was so sterile that it was a chore reading it. The person who taught it, having been educated pre-Vatican II made the classes bearable.
As far as the Mass, the decline in attendance since that time while not the whole story, certainly tells us something.

Anonymous said...

Dialogue, maybe it has something to do with you (I assume) being American and those with English roots who had such a great tie to the Traditional Mass like Evelyn Waugh. Certainly, from what I have read, some say it was a push from Americans that helped to bring in the Novus Ordo Mass, so those you are listening to are probably coming at it from a different angle than those I knew and know, which is so very much the opposite to what you say. Certainly I think the US is now leading the way with restoring the Church but I know that some of the worst abuses here were imported from the States. In fact, the worst abuses in the Novus Ordo Mass do seem to have occurred in the US with clown Masses, batman etc.

The Missa Cantata was always reserved, as I say, to the Cathedral Churches and not to the smaller parishes. It is lovely to go to a Missa Cantata but I love the Low Mass as well. You are very confused because on the one hand you say that Catholics don't remember a Missa Cantata and so the Mass being said by young priests isn't representative of what it formerly was. But when I point out to you that young priests are saying the low Mass and young people love it equally you then chastise them. You can't have it both ways.

I say that you should go back to the Novus Ordo Mass because you appear to find a lot of fault with the Traditional Mass unlike anyone else I know who attends the Traditional Mass. Those who don't like the Traditional Mass don't attend and go back to the Novus Ordo Mass. The problem is where you have people, perhaps like yourself, who try to make the Traditional Mass into a Novus Ordo or hybrid Mass combining what they like best in both and that is not the right way to go about it - choose one or the other and make it your home. Better for them to go to a Latin Novus Ordo Mass where they can have a mix of the two.


Anonymous said...

George, from what you say, it appears to me then that the rejection of the Novus Ordo Mass didn't come from America but came from England and Europe because certainly the SSPX sprung up in Europe and elsewhere and, as I say, Una Voce got going in 1964. I have been a member of a Una Voce group since the early 1980s.

Also, when the Mass was first offered in English it was exactly the same as the Traditional Mass but all the changes were slowly introduced and so many Catholics - except for those who were academics - may have accepted and were largely unaware of what would happen in future.

Certainly the fact that Pope Paul had to respond to the critics points to the fact that there were a large body of people opposed to the new Mass. I have also read that some congregations in the States left in tears after the first Mass in the vernacular. But really what could they do? My own mother attended the Novus Ordo Mass, but no she didn't protest outside the church or anything like that. As Waugh says he had Catholics all over England writing to him asking for him to approach Rome on their behalf. The ordinary Catholic in the pew either had to join the SSPX or leave the Church and many did that.


George said...

From the book "Padre Pio: the True Story"::

The rampant materialism and immorality that Pio saw all about him drove him nearly to despair. He increasingly warned that television was destroying family life...He became increasingly negative about the movies saying that "the devil is in the cinema". Padre Pio seemed to see a vision of the future that filled him with horror...He was almost embittered by the protests and criticism leveled at the pope and the Church by radical priests, nuns and laity. He was distressed at the decline in vocations. Mind you, this from a person who passed away in 1968.

Anonymous said...

Fr. McD - There's one thing you forgot to mention in the litany of everything that 80 - 90% of the people hated about the changes brought on by Vatican II: They HATED the handshake of peace.

They adjusted to the altars being turned around, no communion rails, the folk music, standing for Communion, lay people on the altar, musicians in front, but they still hate the handshake of peace. To this day, they hate the handshake of peace.

Anonymous said...

George, remember, Padre Pio was Italian and a Protestant friend of mine when she lived in Italy was shocked at the promiscuous lifestyle of the Italians and she pointed out to me that it was a Catholic country. I think that life in Italy may not have been what we were used to - you only have to look at some of the Italian movies of the period Padre Pio is referring to which depict ordinary Italian life where living in sin seems to have been quite prevalent for the times compared to life in other countries. Italy is known as a Catholic country but it seems to me to be more of a cultural thing than a religious belief in many instances and the same with Brazil where I have visited and the vast majority of people I came across seemed to have no religion at all but still called themselves "Catholic".


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Italy's religious culture is Catholic unlike America's which is Puritanical. I am not sure that Italians are more promiscuous than Americans. But you are right many Italians are culturally and superficially Catholics.

John Nolan said...

The period of liturgical revolution coincided with my teens (1964 to 1970). Since there are no statistics available, any observations are necessarily anecdotal, and are narrow in that they are confined to one's own parish. The collapse of the liturgy in France where over 300 unauthorized 'Eucharistic Prayers' were in circulation by 1967 was unknown to me at the time.

Most English parishes in the 1950s managed a Missa Cantata for their principal Sunday Mass. Yes, there was an over-reliance on the Missa de Angelis and Credo III and the Propers had to be psalm-toned; but the congregation sang their parts with gusto. Most parishes had an MC who kept the servers in order - the pushing around and snapping of fingers in the Italian manner were deplored. And priests had proper liturgical formation and could chant their parts confidently.

The 1965 changes were palpable in that most audible parts were required to be in the vernacular and the priest faced the people. It was then that the Missa Cantata was replaced by the 'four hymn sandwich'. Many of the hymns were Anglican, which was not a problem for me since I sang them at school. Before that I rarely heard hymns sung at Low Mass; they normally accompanied extra-liturgical devotions.

By 1967 the last vestiges of Latin had gone and the novelty was wearing thin. The most frequent comment I heard from my parents' generation was 'they've thrown the baby out with the bathwater'. They still attended, however, out of obligation. There were those who welcomed the changes and were quick to criticize if anything were sung in Latin, even voicing off to the bishop when he insisted on a small amount being used at his station Masses in Lent 1974. Most were middle-aged ladies; not a few were converts.

The introduction of the Novus Ordo in 1970 made little practical difference. But shortly afterwards I realized that the Novus Ordo could be celebrated in Latin with the traditional music and so I actively sought it out. It is a mystery to me why the conservative hierarchy of the 1960s pushed the vernacular so hard. Cardinal Heenan had a reputation of being authoritarian yet liberal, and Waugh came to the conclusion that he was duplicitous. We still don't know what pressures were put upon them by Rome.

What we do know is that the Novus Ordo Mass in all its essentials was worked out by the movers and shakers in Paul VI's Consilium even before the Council met in 1962. It was the same month as the Cuban missile crisis, yet criticism of communism was deliberately left off the agenda. Instead the Council's priority was to radically change the Roman liturgy. One might have thought that such a radical change would need to take decades at least. But no, these men were in a hurry.

Sacrosanctum Concilium was the first document signed off by the new pope, Paul VI. I have read and re-read it many times, in both Latin and English. I have come to believe it is a thoroughly contradictory and indeed dishonest document, despite the pious platitudes which pervade it and which its authors were well practised in. It alone would damn Vatican II in my eyes - the other documents merely reinforce that opinion.

Anonymous said...

I strongly dislike Low Mass.

Rood Screen said...

Low Mass is fine on ferial days, and for the 2nd Mass the same priest offers on Sundays.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think anyone who doesn't like Low Mass has no appreciation for the Traditional Latin Mass and is merely there for cosmetic reasons. On the one hand, Dialogue maintains that prior to Vatican II very few Catholics ever got to attend a Missa Cantata of the kind offered by "young priests" these days, and yet, even so, people loved the Traditional Latin Mass. As far as I'm concerned, if you read your missal and engage in the Mass it doesn't matter whether you are at a Low Mass or a Missa Cantata. I think in cathedral parishes where there is a good choir it is lovely to hear Gregorian Chant. I think that is why the young priests are steering clear of a Missa Cantata unless there is a good choir because they don't want the Mass butchered by an inept congregation!


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Prior to Vatican II in the USA, most parishes had choirs that could sing the Mass and in various settings. Some were capable of more difficult settings of the Mass from the great composers. It was after Vatican II that traditional choirs that sang the Mass fell out of use, especially in the late 1960's because the ideology was the people in the pews should be the choir not a choir taking their parts!

My family when I was young normally went to an early (8 AM) Low Mass. I don't remember if hymns were sung, I don't think so (I do remember hymns being sung after Vatican II but the Mass spoken.)

But our humble parishes in Atlanta and Augusta had choirs capable of a Sung Mass at the principle Mass (usually around 10 am) every Sunday! They really shined for Christmas Midnight Mass.

I remember attending many sung or High Masses. However, I never experienced a solemn High Mass with deacon and subdeacon. I don't think the majority of Catholics ever experienced this, it wasn't the norm in most parishes. But the High Mass, a glorified or sung low mass with or without incense, was common.

Anonymous said...

It seems that Fr McDonald and John Nolan have settled the question and that Dialogue has not been given the true picture of what Catholics experienced at Mass prior to the Second Vatican Council. At my parish Mass I only remember hymns being sung before and after Mass, but we mainly attended the 11.00 am Mass at the local cathedral which was a sung High Mass.


Anonymous said...

Participation by the People in the Pews is not an ideology.

Anonymous said...

(I'm the anonymous at 2:21)

Well, I think anyone who doesn't like Low Mass has no appreciation for the Traditional Latin Mass and is merely there for cosmetic reasons.

So what? I'm obligated to go to Mass, and I'm not going to endure something befitting a Gilbert and Sullivan show like the NO Mass at the parish near me. Unfortunately I find the Low Mass dull, and I find the NO banal. I guess it's a problem with the Roman Rite.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The ideology is that some pastors thought choirs were no longer needed as they usurped the laity's role. This led to two consequences, an emphasis on hymn singing, usually four, by the congregation with the parts spoken because some pastors thought more laity would actively participate if the Mass parts were spoken; fewer would if sung.

Or dumbed down or equivalent parts of the Mass were employed to assure more participation.

Today most congregations sing their parts except for the Credo, which is a prescribed hymn of the Mass and the Pater Noster. Again the ideology in saying these rather than chanting is more laity will participate.

John Nolan said...

I concur with what Jan and Fr McDonald have to say but to describe the Missa Cantata as a sung Low Mass is plain wrong. It is a High Mass without deacon and subdeacon and which was allowed under indult in certain non-Catholic countries to have lights and incense. John XXIII extended this to the whole Church.

Throughout the first millennium there was only one Mass per day; this still applies in the Eastern Churches and to monastic communities in the West. The multiplication of Masses in the West is a second millennium phenomenon which gave rise to the Low Mass or missa privata which was normally chanted rather than read in the Middle Ages. The popularity of the Mass for the laity is well documented and they made provision in their wills for its frequent celebration, hence the large number of 'chantry priests'. These clerics did a lot more than chant private Masses; they could act as deacon and subdeacon at the principal parish Mass, they were responsible for the music and they had an educational or catechetical role.

We are now used to Masses being put on at various times of the day (and even the previous day when it comes to the Sunday). The public celebration of the Office is rare, although it is notable that the Anglicans still have Matins and Evensong. The 20th century liturgical reformers identified the problem, but by the time of the Second Vatican Council they were more concerned with making the liturgy accessible to the people (essentially by dumbing it down) than with connecting, or reconnecting, people to the liturgy.

Anonymous said...

My recollection of Sunday Mass observance in the UK before the Council is that the vast majority of people attended low Mass on a Sunday, though the last Mass of the morning, at least in the larger urban parishes, was usually a Missa Cantata. Large numbers of people went to great lengths to avoid sung Masses as they were longer. In remarks now widely quoted, the late Cardinal Heenan made reference to the fact that the Mass which ordinary Catholics knew and loved was low Mass and was horrified to discover, on attending a celebration of the new Missa Normativa at the Vatican, that music would be considered a standard component of the new rite.
I have no recollection of hymns being sung at low Mass - this, I think, was an innovation permitted in the mid to late 50s.
For what it's worth, my opinion is that many among the large congregations who used to attend Sunday Mass only did so out of a sense of duty or to reinforce their "Catholic" identity, which, in this part of the world, was more to do with Irishness than with any real religious or spiritual impulse. I suspect that what many people disliked about the new rite was that it made the substance of the Churchs's belief uncomfortably clear, and their falling away from the practice of the faith was simply the result of their never having been any real faith there in the first place.