Tuesday, September 15, 2015


It was September 14, 2007 when for the first time as a priest, I celebrated the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. It was the Solemnity of the Triumph of the Cross. This solemnity always reminds me of Good Friday and Easter Sunday combined but in the waning days of the summer.

It was great to celebrate this Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the first time as a priest and reminded me of another time that I celebrated this solemnity, only three days after 9/11 in 2001. As I recall, President Bush called for the 14th that year to be a national day of prayer for the country. Our church was quite full for this Mass although it was during the week, a Friday I believe.

Eight years ago, I felt I was celebrating Mass for the first time which I was as it was in the EF style. It was the same Sacrifice of course, but I was more nervous about it that I was about my first Mass. I think it was because the Mass was entirely in Latin and I wasn't quite sure of all the rubrics and these printed in red in Latin made me less secure too.

The positive aspects of this form of the Mass are the following:

1. There is a clear emphasis on the Mass as sacrifice and the priest as the priest as in the Old Testament's understanding of the Jewish priest in the temple. I felt as a priest in that Old Testament context. I felt I was doing something on behalf of the congregation behind me but also for the entire Church. And I felt as though I was truly representing Christ on our behalf before the majesty of God. It created the symbol of awe and wonder so often missing in the revised form of the Mass, what is called a reform.

2. The sense of wonder and awe permeates the entire Mass, especially how the faithful approach Holy Communion. Since restoring our altar railing, I have come to understand that in the EF Mass, Holy Communion distributed to those kneeling at the railing is a true Eucharistic Procession, as the priest processes to the communicant to distribute Holy Communion after the communicant has processed to the altar railing, which is an extension of the altar itself.

The negative aspects of this Mass for me hinged on it being entirely in Latin. I still pray that one day at least the changing parts of this Mass be prayed in the vernacular and that the readings be in the vernacular as is an option today in the Low Mass but for some odd reason not in the High Mass.

I have come to appreciate the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar at a Sung Mass as a prelude for the priest and ministers of the Mass to prepare to enter the holy of holies which is the Mass, which technically begins with the Kyrie after the priest approaches the altar.

I've come to appreciate this form of the Mass as a liturgical Sacred Dance, especially in its Solemn Sung Form. Watch the choreography of this Mass, especially the Solemn Sung form, and you will know what true liturgical dance is compared to the silliness of liturgical dance imposed on the OF Mass.

Celebrating the EF Mass has caused me to celebrate the OF Mass with more reverence and to be an advocate for the "reform of the reform within continuity" as it concerns the OF Mass. I continue to see the OF Mass as the Mass that most Catholics will celebrate and for decades to come, long after I am dead and gone. But it can be improved and the differences between the two forms can be closed as it concerns awe, wonder and reverence. Ad orientem, kneeling for Holy Communion and following scrupulously the words and rubrics of the Ordinary Form is the foundation for this recovery.


Rood Screen said...

Congratulations on eight years, and thank you for sharing your experiences. Thank you also for your liberal approach to the Roman liturgical tradition, a tradition full of variety and legitimate possibilities.

Jusadbellum said...

I think we can't fully appreciate the universality of Latin phrases and chants and how having a single, universal language was a brilliant way to find unity despite our natural ethnic and cultural diversity as Catholics.

Catholics could go anywhere on earth and know that the Mass was celebrated in "their" language. Knowing 'church latin' was enough to get by basic communication:

Who? Qui?
What? Quod?
Where? Quo? (as in "Quo Vadis Domine?")
Why? Quare?
How? Quomodo?

Of course, perhaps English is now the Langua Franca of the world so one might also try English. But still, a common language binds people together in ways we often fail to recognize (except oddly, when catering to Hispanics in which case we take for granted the need to speak their language).

Robert Kumpel said...

Father Mac:

Is is REALLY such a negative that the Mass is entirely in Latin?

In May, I took my four girls to Front Royal, Virginia for my eldest's graduation from Seton Home School. Every day there was a Mass for the graduates. The first day, the Mass was at Christendom College's chapel and I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the altar cards, knowing what would follow. My four girls were a bit confounded by the Mass, but THEY KNEW something extraordinary and holy was taking place. The trouble is, something extraordinary and holy takes place at EVERY Mass, but the Novus Ordo just doesn't convey it the same way, and its impact is lessened by the folksy, easy-breezy Novus Ordo culture that has grown up around that Mass. On the Sunday after graduation, we attended Mass at Human Life International's chapel and, again, it was the Extraordinary Form. My kids fidgeted, but they paid attention. But what really got me was when my daughter Phoebe--a legend in short attention span history-- said, "You know Dad, I think I like this kind of Mass better!" I was floored. My least-attentive daughter was actually drawn to the older form of the Mass in a language she doesn't understand!

I guess what I'm getting at is that the world's other major religions all have a sacred language: Hebrew, Sanskrit, Arabic, etc.. Even the Russian Orthodox and the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholics use Slavonic. Why then, do we put such a stigma on our own sacred language? Some Catholics almost MOCK Latin.

I just don't see the problem.

Lefebvrian said...

The readings being in the vernacular is NOT an option in the Low Mass.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I believe you are wrong Lev. Pope Benedict shortly after SP allowed it and I think Ecclesia Dei may have something on it.

Lefebvrian said...

Pope Benedict allowed the readings to be read in the vernacular AFTER they are read in Latin at the altar according to the rubrics. This is in continuity with the custom of the readings being read by the priest from the ambo in the vernacular prior to the sermon.

Jusadbellum said...

Fr. Mc. what sort of support groups does St. Joe's have for men beyond the usual KofC council?

What would a 20 something young Catholic man (married or single) plug into to grow in his faith and manhood while at St. Joe's?

I ask because in many tridentine rite churches the sense of community is lacking except in the schola, the altar servers, and a few prominent families who knew each other before hand. What else is there for men who aren't immediately involved in the rite and ritual?

Do you have accountability groups, adult faith formation for men, etc?

I've heard of a group out of St. Paul, MN called the "argument of the month club" that routinely draws crowds of 600 men. Granted, this is in the Twin Cities but scaled down to Macon that would be 100-150 men showing up to something edifying as men.

I could see you and Fr. K debating an issue or Gene and Fr. K...think of the fireworks that would draw a crowd! Better than MMA or NFL for sure.

Lefebvrian said...

Father, I apologize and retract my previous statement. You are correct that Ecclesia Dei has said that the readings may be read solely in the vernacular at the altar during the Low Mass.

Православный физик said...

I think eventually, the point will come where the EF will be allowed in the vernacular language. (Which they should have done in the first place).

Lefebvrian said...

Joe, if the Traditional Mass had been allowed to be offered in the vernacular, then we would currently be dealing with the same abuses as take place in the Novus Ordo. The fact that the Traditional Mass waned during the time when liturgical abuses waxed can be seen in hindsight as an incredible act of Divine Providence that served to keep it untainted by the liturgical revolutionaries who opted to create a new liturgy instead of modifying the Traditional Mass. For that, we need to thank God!

Anonymous said...

Latin was proscribed by the powers be because it does not allow for manipulation. Gestures and Latin vocabulary invoke another worldly feeling. It is a well documented (anecdotal) fact that small children notice that something out of the ordinary is going on at a TLM, especially when there is a choir to add musical dimension to the Mass.

Remember, the Spirit of the council included the deliberate intent to destabilize worship so that the way you pray would fit the way you feel and believe and vice versa. I am convinced, the western theologians and liturgists responsible for the radical changes in liturgy knew exactly what and why they were doing. Their loss of the true faith made them want to drag along just as many as they could. In the beginning the naive and obedient Catholic population consented to what came down from above. (There were some who objected but they were quickly and firmly labeled cranks and schismatics to silence their cry.)

Today, we have the fruits of the Council writ large in every country, most especially in Germany and France from where the radical anti Catholic notions originated. Not surprisingly, we look forward to the synod in O October with some trepidation fearing worse to come. The recent change in Canon law regarding annulments, even with expert help and best of intentions on the Bishops' part will be difficult to apply so that justice is done and the sacrament of the bond is properly defended. We hear this from many canonists already. The recent conference on the family in Steubenville implied as much also.

Think! The reception of the Eucharist without confessing ones' sins is already widespread, add to this weakening of the sacrament of marriage with annulments of questionable nature. (You have Catholic divorce as some are cynically already calling it such.) Two of the seven sacraments are dangerously weakened.

Let us hope for Divine intervention.


Mark Thomas said...

Dear Father McDonald, thank you for your service to Holy Mother Church. You are a holy man of peace who reflects Jesus Christ.


Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

"...the Spirit of the council included the deliberate intent to destabilize worship..."

Can you support this with evidence?

Lefebvrian said...

I am fascinated by this Internet argumentation tactic -- the appeal for evidence.

Whatever evidence is provided in response to the appeal for evidence will never satisfy the person seeking the evidence. It will undoubtedly be of a kind that the person seeking evidence does not consider to be actual evidence or from a source that the evidence seeker does not trust.

In this case, anon-1 could provide statistics, but Anon at 12:42 will not consider statistics to be evidence of the proposition. Anon-1 could point to the plethora of options in the GIRM, but that too won't be good enough for Anon at 12:42. Anon-1 could also cite to post-Conciliar documents and the writings of the liturgical committee who wrote the Novus Ordo, but Anon at 12:42 would not consider those accounts authoritative and, if they were, whatever was offered would lack proper contextualization for Anon at 12:42.

I can't wait to see what happens next...

Anonymous said...


You must be kidding, in a blog post? However, the seeds of destabilization of the Faith, faith expression: the Mass, are well documented. In brief, it is relativism.

The "Spirit of the Council" is a short hand expression for a relativistic worldview which guided especially and most clearly the implementation phase of Vatican Council II. As you know the new liturgy, Novus Ordo, was put together after the council. The evidence for deliberate intent to destabilize is inherent in the text and rubrics of the NO that are not God but Man centered. These texts and rubrics were deliberately and consciously created by its fabricators.

If you are truly interested in evidence you must read the history of the Novus Ordo and how Archbishop Bugnini et al manipulated events to accomplish the destruction of the 2000 year old Roman Catholic Mass.


Earl said...

Replying to Jusadbellum : you brought up a great point. The problem you point out seems to exist in novus ordo parishes that also have a latin mass. At traditional parishes there are a huge amount of groups and programs for men to be involved in. A parish of the Institute, Good Shepherd, FSSP, etc will have, Knights of Columbus, Legion of Mary, Holy Name Society, Nocturnal Adoration Society, etc etc etc. We get together and cookout and meet with our priests monthly and listen to talks for men, play poker and do all sorts of things. Its really great. All activities involve priests and seminarians and we are fed the Faith constantly. Iron sharpens steel. If you get to visit a traditional parish please ask anyone and come to one of the gettogethers and meet fellow solid Catholic men.

Anonymous said...

anon-1 No, I wasn't kidding. And no, saying "In brief, it is relativism" isn't citing a source.

The Novus Ordo was not "put together after the Council." The Bugnini hypothesis has been debunked.

Bugnini is widely accused of saying: "We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren, that is for the Protestants."

Here's the debunking:

"We have seen the aforementioned attributed words cited throughout the years by many well-respected authors, particularly those who use the preceding words as proof that the New Order of Mass was designed to suit ecumenical goals with the Protestants. Moreover, it has been used to articulate how the liturgical reformers of the 1960's sought to "Protestantize" the way in which Catholics pray.

However, it must be said, for the record that these are not the exact words of Annibale Bugnini in the March 19, 1965 edition of L'Osservatore Romano. What follows are the actual words (in which the reader will certainly still see the clear ecumenical goals aimed for in the liturgical reform of the liturgical prayers on Good Friday) from the article written by Bugnini titled Le "Variationes" ad Alcuni Testi della Settimana Santa (The "Variations" of Some Texts of Holy Week):

The passage "quoted" that is incorrect actually says:

"And yet it is the love of souls and the desire to help in any way the road to union of the separated brethren, by removing every stone that could even remotely constitute an obstacle or difficulty, that has driven the Church to make even these painful sacrifices."

Andy said...

As a music major (and Protestant) in college, I remember going through music history and being blown away studying chant and the development of polyphony as well as all of the masters' devotion to composing a Mass. Even Bach, the epitome of a Lutheran Musician, composed the famous Mass in B minor. So when I first joined RCIA in college and started attending mass, I kept wondering where all the great music was...and why it didn't seem like the mass I was attending could even support such amazing music. I now realize why...the OF is not meant to promote great music, but rather a Protestant form of worship with, coincidentally, really poorly written hymns (at least where I was attending church). And the Mass of Creation....which is kind of ok...but it's not Palestrina...or Mozart. Or Chant. Not even close. The EF is a blessing. I'll always support the most reverence and beauty for the most Holy Eucharist. If the OF moves closer in atmosphere and reverence toward what I perceive the TLM is, then I am in full support of that. Which is why I applaud Fr. McDonald in what he is doing with the 12:30 mass at Saint Joseph.


John Nolan said...

Anonymous @ 5:51

'The Novus Ordo was not "put together after the Council"' Only in the limited sense that the Consilium began its work in 1964 before the Council ended. The so-called Missa Normativa was first trialled in the Sistine Chapel in 1967 before the assembled synod of bishops to a decidedly mixed reception.

The previous year Fr Louis Bouyer (1913-2004) had been appointed by Paul VI to that sub-commission of the Consilium concerned with the Missal and encountered a work in progress that appalled him. His memoirs, only published last year and now available in English describe Bugnini as a 'mealy-mouthed scoundrel ... a man as bereft of culture as he was of basic honesty'.

He goes on to say 'there was no hope of producing anything of greater value than what would actually come out of it, what with this claim of recasting from top to bottom and in a few months an entire liturgy it had taken twenty centuries to develop.' Not to mention the new calendar, 'the handiwork of a trio of maniacs who suppressed, with no good reason, Septuagesima and the Octave of Pentecost and who scattered three quarters of the saints higgledy-piggledy, all based on notions of their own devising!'

The fact that Michael Davies quoted, or rather misquoted, Bugnini out of context (I pointed this out a year ago, I think on this blog) does not let the latter off the hook, although he is not solely to blame for what Bouyer calls 'l'avorton que nous produisîmes'.

Interestingly, both Bouyer and the younger Ratzinger (whose clarity of thought Bouyer admired) were both prominent in the liturgical movement, although the Frenchman saw earlier than did the German that its original aims had been perverted. In the decade before the Council he says: 'It was already quite clear that the majority of the priests who took an interest in the new movement came not at all to give back to the traditional liturgy all of its hidden meaning and all of its life-giving reality. They intended gradually to substitute for it another liturgy or, as the expression went, a "paraliturgy". This was to be more in conformity with the tastes and mental habits of what these nice folks called "modern man" ...'

As it turned out, the substitution was more precipitous than gradual.

Anonymous said...

Joe, Lefebvrian is right. Many may not know but many of the first Masses offered in the vernacular were the Traditional Mass, but as we know it didn't stop there. Changes kept being made until we have reached the sorry state we are in now where, as Robert Kumpel said, the extraordinary thing that occurs at every Mass is overshadowed in the Novus Ordo Mass by the innovations that have taken place. The beautiful and extraordinary has been dragged down to the plain and mundane, and so people just don't get it - they don't understand what is really happening. That is what is the root cause of the loss of the Faith by many Catholics, because in reality it is the Mass which is the only thing Catholic that touches most people's lives once a week. When it is celebrated in a casual manner people slowly lose respect for the Mass. They lose interest and choose other pasttimes that to them are more beneficial and more interesting. Sad but true.


John Nolan said...

Re vernacular readings in the Tridentine Mass:

After Summorum Pontificum it was made clear that priests who wished to celebrate in the EF did not have to be Latinists. It was enough that they could pronounce the words correctly and understand what they were saying. It was assumed that many if not most would not be familiar with the Vulgate and so the concession to recite the epistle and gospel in the vernacular was more to benefit the clergy than the laity, who would have bi-lingual hand missals and on Sundays would hear them read out in their native tongue from the pulpit. This concession is rarely used in practice. For a start there are no vernacular texts in the 1962 Missal, so where would the celebrant read them from? Secondly, there is no approved translation. JB (UK) or NAB (US) would not be acceptable. Douay-Rheims would, but what of Ronald Knox which has more than a hint of dynamic equivalence? Thirdly, it would be seen by many as the thin end of the wedge - if you accept that the epistle and gospel be in the vernacular, why not extend its use to all the changeable parts? One of the main reasons for the Tridentine Mass, its universality, goes out of the window.

Early 20th-century Anglo-Catholics sometimes used the Tridentine Rite translated into Prayer Book English. But the Church of England is for English speakers; the Catholic Church is not. It takes me about four hours to drive, via the Channel tunnel, into Belgium. There I can find (thanks largely to the SSPX) a liturgy with which I am completely familiar. A similar rite in Flemish would not be so, to the extent that even if the Domine non sum dignus were written out for me I would still be unable to recite it.

The loss of Latin has wider repercussions. In the forthcoming Synod the bishops will have to split into language groups before they can discuss anything. A future Council (and one will sooner or later have to be called, if only to nullify the decrees of the last one) would run into problems, not the least of which is that there are now twice as many bishops as there were in 1962. UN-style simultaneous translation? The translators would need to be theologians to understand, let alone translate the concepts involved. Use English, the new lingua franca? In 200 years time it may not be and in any case will probably have changed out of all recognition. At one time French, not English, was the lingua franca of diplomacy.

The recovery of Latin is necessary for the long-term recovery of Catholic orthodoxy and sound liturgical practice. In the English-speaking world we are familiar with the travesty of the original ICEL translation. In December 1974 Henri de Lubac and all the French-speaking members of the International Theological Commission set up by Paul VI, which included Yves Congar and Louis Bouyer, signed a letter to the Pope protesting against the deliberate mistranslations and distortions of doctrine which occurred in the liturgical books which had recently been authorized for use in France. Those who praise the vernacular liturgy and claim that Latin is of no benefit blithely ignore all this. If they could maintain that the result was increased Mass attendance and greater reverence for, and understanding of, the Eucharist, one might have some sympathy with their point of view. But they can't, since all the evidence points the other way.

KatlynK said...

BEAUTIFUL Latin mass yesterday Father :) Was so happy to see around 30 people and several young children! Can't wait for the 12:10 Latin mass! We are so lucky to have such holy priests!

Katlyn Keisler

rcg said...

Our parish devotes the beginning of the homily to the readings in the vernacular. That seems like an easy compromise. We also provide the readings in printed form and ask that they be returned to the table after Mass for use next year.

It seems to me that the use of the vernacular confused things rather than cleared them up. To a significant degree this seems traceable to the poor and sometimes misleading translations.

Unknown said...

The bible say let the wheat and the tare come up together and he will do the separating.Just contin
,ue to preach the word because God is love.""show