Sunday, September 20, 2015


Often I create scenarios that cause me great anxiety. I do not like yanking people around, but I do it anyway.

Such is the case with the very common sense decision I made concerning our 12:10 PM Sunday Mass. About three years ago we "added" "ad orientem" to this Mass for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It began on the Solemnity of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, which that year fell on a Sunday. I did only a minor explanation for it a couple of times. I have had absolutely no push-back for it except for one visitor who was passing through Macon on Interstate 75. He lambasted me in a very angry way that I had turned my back on the congregation. Then he went off in a huff!

I have noticed that our 12:10 PM Mass has more and more young people attending.

Then less than six months ago, after we had restored our altar railing, I decided to distribute Holy Communion at the 12:10 PM Mass to communicants who kneel at the full length of the railing. In my instruction about how to do it, I emphasized that the communicant still had the right to stand at the railing or to kneel. I was surprised that the majority kneel. The majority still receive Holy Communion in the hand, but it is much less rushed for them as they remain in place after I pass and place the Host in their mouth, make the Sign of the Cross and then leave.

I was also pleasantly surprised that when distributing Holy Communion at the altar railing, all that is needed is the deacon and I. Normally when Holy Communion is given at fixed stations we need four stations, but with people kneeling we only need two stations and since the priest and deacon are the ones moving quickly and the laity are coming and leaving less rushed, it takes less time with two distributing at the altar railing than with four at fixed stations! I kid you not!

Communion at the altar railing is organized chaos for the communicants. But it works out very well and we don't have ushers going pew by pew to let the people know it is their pew's time to go. The flow has worked out very, very well as it always did prior to Vatican II. It is not as regimented as it is with the fixed Communion stations.

Now, the greatest worry I have is that next Sunday, the last Sunday of September we will have our first Extraordinary Form Mass at a regularly scheduled Sunday Mass time, at our 12:10 PM Mass.
Even though we have had it the first Sunday of the Month at 2:00 PM for about eight years now, we have had this Mass at other times for special occasions and Holy Days of Obligation.  So a much wider swath of our parishioners have experienced it. Most like it for its overall sense of reverence and will come for their "fix" for it on occasions all the while preferring our well celebrated and reverent Ordinary Form Masses.

I am warning and informing our parishioners this Sunday in the announcements that next Sunday's 12:10 PM Mass will be in the Extraordinary Form.

Then next Sunday, prior to the Mass, I will explain from the pulpit but very briefly the theology and spirituality of this Mass, the reason why it is all Latin and the reason for the quiet Roman Canon and that at this Mass Holy Communion is distributed on the tongue and not in the hand although I won't be scrupulous about it if someone receives in the hand. They will have their choice even after my explanation.

So there is great anticipation and anxiety brewing. More to come!


Rood Screen said...

Alternating between forms is new to me, but you've been at your parish long enough that the parishioners should trust your leadership. As long as everyone, including the priest, is patient, it should all go well.

Anonymous said...

All the people need is a simple explanation, it is not their fault that the TLM was ripped away from them. And it is no surprise that the majority of people are young! That is the case with all TLM's the young are starving for the truth, they want to be in HEAVEN for the Holy Mass and the TLM is just that heaven. Look, the Life Teen Mass thing can only go so far when your not 15 years old anymore, you want an adult Mass with reverance not drums, guitars and hand holding with girls running around the altar. You are doing the right thing Father I wish you all the best!!!! P.S. your church is stunning!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

It could be worse, Father. You could be reassigned as Pastor of the disfunctional St. Mark Parish, in Eastman. You'd have the anxiety attack of all anxiety attacks dealing with that buffoonary!

gob said...

What all godly pastors do....."yank people around"....

John Nolan said...

To go from any form of the Novus Ordo to the Tridentine Low Mass requires, for those who are not familiar with it, a considerable culture shift. To go from a sung Latin Novus Ordo (the one I attended this morning at the Oxford Oratory is their principal Sunday Mass, celebrated ad apsidem with deacon and subdeacon) to a sung Tridentine Mass is but a small step; the musical structure and ceremonial are largely the same.

However, I think it inadvisable to alternate the OF and the EF in the same time slot, especially if the latter is going to be on only one Sunday in four, and the former is predominantly in the vernacular. There is no continuity in the lectionary, and the wrench forward and back invites unwelcome comparison. The vast majority who attend a Latin Mass do so because it is in Latin, and is sung; if they are particularly devoted to the Vetus Ordo per se they will no doubt attend the earlier Low Mass (8 a.m. at Oxford, 9 a.m. at the London Oratory - the Birmingham Oratory's Sunday Solemn Mass has been EF for a few years now).

My advice (FWIW) and I have seen it successfully done, would be to keep the 12:10 Mass in the Novus Ordo but incrementally increase the amount of Latin, keeping the readings in English (preferably sung) but using the Graduale Propers which are in the Solesmes Gregorian Missal. Once the congregation are used to the sung OF they won't be fazed if presented with the sung EF, and should they join in the singing of the Pater noster, indulge them!

Regarding reception of Communion in EF Masses, usually the priest reminds visitors that Communion is on the tongue. There will be some bloody-minded individuals who try to defy this; instruct the server to hold the communion plate under the chin and they will soon get the message.

Seeker said...

Go for it Father! Do not be afraid!

KatlynK said...

Can't wait Father! :) Nothing to be worried about!

Jacob said...

Great News about the return of the mass to the parish. This year you will be able to celebrate the Feast of Christ the King because it is the last Sunday of October. What a blessing to your parish to be able to celebrate this great Feast day.

John Nolan said...

St Wilfrid's Church in York, a fine gothic revival building close to the Minster, was put in the care of the Oratory fathers two years ago. Their Sunday schedule is: 8.30 Quiet Mass, 10.30 Family Mass, 12 noon Sung EF Mass, 6.00 p.m. Vespers and Benediction. I have yet to visit, but would expect the highest attendance to be at the Family Mass, with the 12 o'clock attracting congregants from a wider radius. Note the sung Latin Vespers, an Oratory tradition, and the fact that those who prefer a spoken English Mass without hymns are catered for.

The church had a noteworthy set of altar rails installed in 1948. They were removed as late as February 2007, which shows that vandalism was not confined to the 1960s and 1970s. Let's hope that they can be located and re-installed. Kneeling Communion is another Oratory trademark.