Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Pope Francis said the following at this morning's Wednesday audience about humility:

The humility of Our Divine Lord in the manger, and its stark contrast with our own often grandiose self-appraisal was a particular motif of the catechetical reflection the Holy Father offered to the pilgrims and visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the event.

“This is a great mystery,” said Pope Francis, departing from his prepared text in Italian, “God is humble.” He went on to say, “We, who are proud, full of vanity, and who think ourselves great stuff – we are nothing. He is the great one: He is humble, and He makes Himself a child.”

My thoughts:

The Traditional Order of the Mass, in my most humble opinion, produces in those who participate in it, be they clergy or laity, a humility and self-abasement that forms Catholics to be humble and self-deferential to the Holy, the Sacred, to the Lord.

Think of the postures the laity take during High Mass in the Traditional Order of the Mass:

1. They Kneel for the Introit and PATFOTA and Kyrie and only stand for the Gloria and Collect.

2. They genuflect at the Incarnatus Est of the Credo and kneel from the Sanctus to the Pater Noster.

3. They kneel for the Agnus Dei and hear the priest recite the "Domine Non Sum Dignos" three time and then they recite it three times also after the "Ecce Agnus Dei," striking their breast for it as well as for the Agnus Dei. 

4. They humbly approach the altar railing and knee to receive Holy Communion and return to their place and kneel with head buried in their hands to contemplate so great a Mystery that God deigned they should receive. 

5. They stand for the Prayer After Holy Communion, Kneel for the Final Blessing and depart in silence after making a prayer of thanksgiving. 

Compare the above to the postures of the laity during any Mass in the New Order of the Mass:

1. The congregation stands and remains standing from the Processional hymn through the Kyrie, Gloria and Collect.

2. The congregation stands and should bow (most don't) at the "Incarnatus Est" of the Creed.

3. The Congregation stands from the "Orate Fratres" through the Sanctus. They kneel for the Eucharistic Prayer.

4. They stand from the Pater Noster through the Agnus Dei and do not strike their breast at the Agnus Dei tropes. 

5. They recite with the priest the "Lord I am not worthy" but one time without a strike of the breast.

6. They cue up for Holy Communion, receive standing and moving on the hand as they pop the Host in their mouth and try to sing and return to their pew for more singing either standing, sitting or kneeling depending on local custom. 

7. They stand for the Prayer after Holy Communion as well as the final blessing. 

The law of prayer is the law of belief.

In my humble opinion, the Traditional Order of the Mass produces more humble Catholics whereas the New Order of the Mass seems to produce haughty Catholics. Just my opinion and certainly not across the board for all Catholics are their malformed haughty Catholics. 


Mark Thomas said...

"They cue up for Holy Communion, receive standing and moving on the hand as they pop the Host in their mouth and try to sing and return to their pew for more singing either standing, sitting or kneeling depending on local custom."

Father McDonald, at each parish (Novus Ordo) near me, at least whenever I've assisted at Masses they have offered, I estimate that about 25 percent of the congregation do not return to the pews following reception of Holy Communion.

Rather, they receive Holy Communion, turn around, then head to their cars. A few weeks ago, I heard one pastor address that issue with his flock. During his sermon, he exhorted his flock to remain until the end of Mass. About 25 percent of his flock rejected his exhortation in question.

The following week I heard him say..."well, don't worry...I won't urge you again to remain until the end of Mass. I won't bother with that again."

What is up with substantial amounts of Catholics bolting early from Mass? That nonsense seemed to begin several years ago...about the time that the people who remain throughout Mass had begun to applaud the choir at the end of Mass.


Mark Thomas

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Humility gets, in my humble opinion, a bad rap. Many think of it as merely "self-abasement" in the presence of someone of greater status (God, Kings, Generals, etc). The humble person is a "door mat" and unworthy of, well, most anything. A humble person grovels.

Thinking of humility as proper self-knowledge - knowing what my gifts are and what they are not, knowing who I am and who I am not - offers a better understanding of what humility means. In the presence of God, I know my place - I am a sinner "standing in the need of God." At the same time, I am a child of God, a member of the Body of Christ, graced, blessed, and called to continue the great work of the Church. "See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God... Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."

[The etymology gives us a clue: F., fr. L. humilis, on the ground, low, fr. humus, the earth, ground.]

The "humus" (ground) is not worthless or unworthy. It is the basis (!) for our lives and must be treated with the respect it deserves. When used well - a house built on solid ground stands in the storm - it is a worthy thing indeed.

A person who is humble, who evidences humility, is well and properly grounded in reality.

" 'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,..."

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

FMJK certainly your description of humility is correct. The question, though, is our New Order of the Mass producing such or does the Traditional Order of the Mass produce it better. I believe, especially from my experience with Catholics in attendance at the EF Mass, that liturgical piety and humility leads to a more humble Catholic in the world and much more humble toward the sacred.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The "Traditional Order of the Mass" is celebrated here, too.

I don't know that the EF produces a more grounded person in the world or "much more humble" people in terms of the sacred. If one is humble (well-grounded), that person does treat as sacred the gifts we have received. Sacredness is not limited to churchy things - bowing the head at "inacarnatus est" which most here do - but should extend into "the world."

TJM said...

Well one thing is certain: in the Novus Ordo many priests have become a talk show host, an entertainer, without an ounce of humility. A hallmark of this lack of humility is taking liberty with the rubrics and changing the words of the Mass, all expressly forbidden by Sacrosanctum Concilium. The rubrics of the EF assist the priest in maintaining a semblance of humility.

John Nolan said...

Actually, the postures for the laity prescribed for the Novus Ordo are closer to those applicable (but not prescribed) in the older Rite. Most seem to kneel most of the time, a Low Mass habit appropriate to private devotion but out of place at a sung Mass. Customs vary, but best practice would seem to be as follows, in a sung Mass.

1. Stand for the entrance and remain standing for the Asperges, sung Introit, Kyrie and Gloria. These are congregational parts even if delegated to the schola or choir. If the Gloria is in chant, remain standing and sing alternatim with the schola. If polyphonic, sit when the priest sits.

2. Stand (or remain standing) at the Dominus vobiscum which precedes the Collect. Sit for the Epistle and the interlectionary chants. These are primarily meditative.
Stand for the Gospel.

3. Stand for the Credo and if it is sung by schola and congregation, do not sit when the priest sits, and genuflect only when you sing Incarnatus, not when the priest says it.

4. Sit for the Offertory but stand for the Preface dialogue and remain standing until the conclusion of the Sanctus. If it's in chant, sing it with the schola - it's your part, don't forget!

5. Stand after the elevation of the Chalice and remain standing until the conclusion of the Agnus Dei. Standing just before the Pater Noster is a Novus Ordo rubric. Kneeling throughout is a Low Mass custom.

6. Sit after the priest closes the tabernacle if you wish, but stand for the Dominus vobiscum and after that kneel only for the Blessing.

It should be clear from the above that at a Solemn Mass or Missa Cantata the congregation does not spend a lot of time on its knees - it is participating according to its function. Strictly speaking Low Mass postures shouldn't be much different although kneeling for the preparatory prayers would seem appropriate. However, when the priest ascends to the altar to read the Introit the people should stand and remain standing until the Epistle. In my opinion they should make the responses they would make at a sung Mass (which does not include the PATFOTA or the Suscipiat) but it does mean reciting the Gloria etc. along with the priest since these are what they would be singing at a sung Mass.

Also, a simple chanted Ordinary would be far preferable to the lamentable option of vernacular hymns. It would seem that by the early 1950s the reformers were already envisioning widespread changes to the Roman Rite and didn't see a place for the Low Mass in its current form.

Dan said...

What troubles me about the Novus Ordo is that the priest seems to be the center of attention, and some times psychologically he wants to be the center of attention.

JustMe said...

I am not sure if "haughty" is the right word, but I certainly agree with you that kneeling has a powerful psychological impact. I have terrible arthritis so can't kneel on the provided kneelers, but I bought another pad I can take to Mass with me that makes it possible--because it's something I want and need to do.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

FRMJK: Congratulations on the Traditional Order of the Mass in your parish! Wow!

How did you implement it and explain the differences in the Traditional Order compared to the New Order of the Mass? How well was it accepted and do you find people more reverent especially at Communion Time? And the differences in the Traditional Order of the Mass compared to the New Order, did you offer a good catehesis? For example:

-The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar;
-The Greeting delayed to prior to the Collect
-The priest's postures not only ad orientem but Epistle and Gospel Sides for various prayers and Scriptures.
-The genuflection at the Incarnatus Est.
-The omission of the Universal Prayers and Sign of Peace
-The different Offertory Prayers
-The exclusively use of the Roman Canon with more elaborate rubrics
-The silent Roman Canon
-The lack of an embolism and doxology following the Pater Noster
-The priest's Holy Communion
-The laity's Holy Communion and kneeling
-Striking one's breast three times during the Agnus Dei and again at the triple Domine Non Sum Dignos
-The additional private prayers of the priest
-The different other of Dismissal and Blessing
-The Last Gospel

The Latin, Greek and Hebrew languages and no vernacular

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

John in the USA even prior to Vatican II postures were prescribed for the Low Mass and the High Mass in our missals.

In the USA for the Ordinary Form we remain kneeling throughout the Eucharistic Prayer and only stand after the Great Amen is sung. We stand for the Our Father. We kneel again following the Agnus Dei

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Good Father, as you know, the liturgy we celebrate here is the Traditional Order of the Mass, not the traditional order.

"Traditional" has a particular theological meaning. (See CCC 83)

The mass is Traditional when celebrated in the OF or EF, in Latin or Swahili, facing east or facing west, with or without music, etc.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Good FRMJK, false. A vernacular Traditional Order Mass facing whatever direction is a Traditional Order Mass. The Novus Ordo as it is official called by Holy Mother Church is not the traditional order of the Mass, but it has to potential to be with some minor reforms.

Gene said...

Christ did, indeed, humble himself. But, we should never forget that He is to come again in Glory to judge with righteousness. We should never equate our humility with His...our's should come from a different source...the awareness of the sovereignty and majesty of the Almighty God before whom we stand (coram Deo) and to whom we are accountable. Our humility can become a form of pride unless we understand it in relation to the sovereignty of God.

It seems that every time the Pope speaks, he remains on the horizontal...within the humanistic framework. No surprise here...

Dick Verbo said...

I am an old person who remembers life before Vatican II. There were no required postures back then, but basically you did what everyone else in the parish did. Most parishes were the same, with only slight variations here and there.

The article attached below is very interesting, making the point that postures for high and low Mass should be the same. At the end is a chart showing that different authors of Missals had different recommendations in former times. If different parishes in the US did things differently, then understandably John Nolan's experiences would be slightly different in the UK. I attended Mass in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s in many European countries, Canada, and the US and don't remember that there was a lot of variation. I remember that happily all the Masses were in Latin so I could understand it - except for the sermon!

My old 1962 St Joseph's Daily Missal says to kneel BEFORE the Sanctus, which feels wrong. As John Nolan indicates, it is better to stand whenever you are supposed to be singing. My childhood 1906/1955 Fr. Lasance Missal doesn't recommend any postures at all (except for genuflection at Et Homo Factus Est).

At my current EF parish, we do follow the postures in the attached article, except do not stand at the Suscipiat. My "muscle memory" wants to stand at that point, but I follow the others at daily Mass. For Sunday Mass we are standing anyway at that point to be incensed, so all is well. A blessed 6th Day of Christmas to you all!

TJM said...

The Novus Ordo is the Edsel of Liturgy

Unknown said...

Perhaps the advent of pews led to an artificial standardisation of laity posture? When I think of how the laity are essential free-form in Byzantine churches, I simultaneously realise how odd it would look in a Latin parish. And the pews influence this odd feeling, I think.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

There is the Order of the Mass, or the Order of Mass (Ordo Missae), but I can't seem to find where the Holy Mother calls anything the "Traditional Order Mass"....

When the word "Traditional" is misused, all sorts of non-traditional meanings creep in. Better to be safe than sorry!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Frmjk. Novos ordo is the official name for the new order of the Mass. It by its name is not the traditional ordo.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

The name "Novus Ordo" cannot, in any sense, be understood to mean non-traditional.

You brought up Holy Mother Church's nomenclature,so perhaps you could do some homework and discover where the Church uses the name "Traditional Order Mass" and share that source.

By its NATURE, the Novus Ordo is Traditional, every bit as Traditional as any other Mass.

John Nolan said...

Flavius is surely right. In the great medieval cathedrals services would have been in the choir, from which the laity were excluded, with processions into the nave; the people stood, men on one side, women on the other, and the elderly or infirm could sit by 'going to the wall' which had ledges for that purpose. People in the later Middle Ages wanted to see the Elevations and rood screens in parish churches were provided with 'squints' - some still survive.

From what I observe at Low Mass now (and what I remember from the old days) the congregation sits from the beginning of the Offertory until the Sanctus and then kneels for the rest of the Mass until the Last Gospel. I remember as a child being told it was permissible to sit after the priest had closed the tabernacle. A lot of people do this even at Sung Mass; the remainder usually follow Novus Ordo practice and stand for the Pater Noster. Regarding the Novus Ordo, this business of the Great Amen is not in the GIRM and since the doxology is often the only thing sung by the priest (apart from the 'Mystery of Faith' which in itself is problematic) it gives far too much prominence to the closing part of the Canon, with the former 'minor elevation' which doesn't even exist in earlier rites, such as the Dominican, becoming a major and protracted event.

The 1962 Missal departs from tradition in some important respects (not least the Ordo for Holy Week) but is sufficiently traditional for most traditionalists, particularly when compared with what happened from 1964 onwards. The Novus Ordo represents in too many respects a rupture with liturgical tradition, and even traditional Eucharistic theology, although it can be celebrated in an authentically Catholic manner. Those who would argue otherwise need to make a convincing argument. A good starting point would be to look at the short critique of the New Mass submitted to Paul VI in September 1969 (the so-called Ottaviani Intervention)and refute it point by point. If anyone has done so, I would like to read it. We're talking about continuity, not validity, and vague references to 'Apostolic Tradition' don't constitute a defence. The least convincing argument is that the NO was signed off by a pope who has since been beatified. Pius X was canonized but his liturgical meddling is still controversial and he did not, like his successor, preside over what amounted to the destruction of the Roman Rite.

I don't think it's ever been officially called the 'Novus' Ordo, but Paul VI in November 1969 made it clear that it was a new and distinct rite and you have to call it something.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John Nolan - Re: Seeing the Elevations. I was a bit surprised to see in some of the grand cathedrals I visited in Spain, Toledo and Sevilla come to mind, two years ago that the choir had been built directly in front of the sanctuary, effectively blocking the view of all but a few of the people in the congregation. I was used to seeing choirs on the sides of the chancel, allowing folks to "squint" with great success at the altar.

I don't know if these choirs were part of the original plans or later additions.

John Nolan said...

Fr Michael J Kavanaugh

I'm no expert in church architecture, but any seats put in front of and facing the altar are for the benefit of the congregation and are not choir stalls. The choirs of cathedrals such as Seville are larger than most churches. In addition there are 80 side chapels and at the end of the 16th century we are told that 500 masses were offered daily.

In English cathedrals (Anglican, not RC although they originally were) Evensong is usually celebrated in the choir but the Sunday Eucharist normally takes place in the nave, with a versus populum altar in front of the screen.

An outstanding example of 20th century Catholic art can be found in the ceramics of Polish artist Adam Kossowski, a survivor of the Gulag whose works adorn the rebuilt Carmelite priory in Aylesford, Kent. There is a tendency among traditionalists to eschew anything 'modern' but as much as I admire AWN Pugin, I don't see the Gothic style as the only authentic one, and can appreciate modern architecture. The problem with much of it is that the symbolism can be too self-conscious and overstated. We no longer live in an age where religion is taken for granted.