Monday, February 29, 2016


Okay, once again in my "bi-ritual" schizophrenia, I celebrated the High EF Mass at our normal 12:10 PM Mass for the Third Sunday of Lent to an almost full church with many young people I did not recognize and young families with many children, visitors that I did not recognize, very devout and serious Catholics I might add.

The readings for the EF Mass, from the Propers to the Epistle and Gospel, I don't think I have ever heard on a Sunday in the Ordinary Form, especially the Epistle which is so needed for so many Catholics who have given into a licentious spirit. It gives so much good advice to our contemporary Catholic culture influenced more by the spirit of the devil than by the Holy Spirit:

Ephesians 5: 1 - 9

Brethren, Be ye followers of God, as most dear children: and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us and hath delivered Himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odor of sweetness. But fornication, and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints: or obscenity, or foolish talking, or scurrility, which is to no purpose: but rather giving of thanks. For know you this, and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean, or covetous person, which is a serving of idols, hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief. Be ye not therefore partakers with them. For you were heretofore darkness: but now light in the Lord. Walk then as children of the light: for the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice, and truth.

But between the two Masses I celebrated on Sunday, one a completely sung OF Mass at 5 PM and the other the sung EF Mass at 12:10, I see the stark difference between the spirituality of both which while doctrinally the same in terms of what the Holy Sacrifice effects, "the renewal of the one Sacrifice of Christ at the altar in an unbloody way" the spirituality of both is quite different, one Catholic in a pure way and the other protestantized or cyncretized with protestant sensibilities.

Primarily, the EF Mass is more in tune with the mystical spirituality of the Church of the East, which in fact we have far more in common with both those in the Eastern Church who are in complete union with the Magisterium of the Church and those who are in schism. 

Whereas, the OF Mass is more in tune with the "wordiness, teaching, learning and understanding" spirituality of the Protestant Denominations in their worship. It's spirituality is more Protestant in this regard than eastern or Catholic. 

What I have come to rediscover from my childhood experience of the Ancient Form of the Mass and what most Catholics prior to Vatican II would have understood is that the most important aspect of the liturgical spirituality of the Mass is entering into the Divine Presence of God, being enveloped into Mystery, timelessness and the heavenly experience of the Most Holy Trinity surrounded by the choirs of Angels swinging their censors and chanting Holy, Holy, Holy, Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, and the Church Triumphant in that abode swept up into the eternal beauty of God.

It is here that the intellectual, the illiterate, the child and the adult, the gifted and the intellectually challenged are on an equal worshiping level and become completely one for there is nothing to understand except the overwhelming love of God for us that is the experience of heaven and our overwhelming love for God and neighbor when we are fully integrated into heave after our death and judgment. 

Understanding isn't as important as simply being swept up into the mystery of being in heaven which then gives us Catholics a desire to go to heaven and experience it not in a veiled, sacramental way, but in its overwhelming mystical reality.

Thus, one need not follow a worship aid or hand missal verbatim as the priest, ministers and schola chant and pray their parts. All that is necessary is an understanding of the structure of the Mass and its purpose, a working knowledge of the changing parts of the Mass by looking at these propers and prayers in the vernacular ahead of time and a knowledge of the readings. I would pray that along with the Low EF Mass, the option of having the Epistle and Gospel chanted in the vernacular would be extended officially to the High EF Mass. It is silly to have to repeat these readings prior to the homily as was the case prior to Vatican II at least in the USA. I remember hearing the Gospel again in English, although I don't recall hearing the Epistle in English.

So, the EF's participation in the very active sense, whether it be verbal or not, is deeply rooted in our catholicity of both in the east and the west and both resonate with each other and show our unique spiritual unity even in its diversity.

Whereas the OF's encouragement  of active participation and its spirituality falls more in line with the spirituality of Protestantism based upon the Word of God expounded upon, taught and understood, a far more pedantic or polemical way to approach spirituality, which is in breach with the classical catholicity of the east and west in terms of spirituality, participation and the experience of the mystical especially in  the west in its classical form of the Latin Rite Mass.

Thus, Protestant convert to Catholicism after Vatican II and under the Protestantized form of participation and spirituality of the new Catholic Mass, find the EF Mass and its mystical form of participation and spirituality as alien, odd and befuddling.

Fortunately the genius behind Pope Benedict XVI and his liturgical hermaneutic and liberal allowance of the EF Mass is exposing more Catholics today to the our liturigical, spiritual and mystical heritage which we have in common with the Church of the East, especially its schismatic part and where we both have valid sacraments rooted in a common, united history prior to the Great Schism.

It also shows us how much more we have in common with the irregular situation of our Latin Rite brothers and sisters in the SSPX movement in the Church, far more in common with them than we have with the various forms of the Anglican Communion, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists and other Protestant sects.

My prayer is that we recover the best of our liturgical tradition we share in common with the East and move away from the more banal, pedantic spirituality of wordiness and comprehension as though in a classroom of the OF's ethos in form and practice, based more on Protestant sentiments in this regard than on Catholic sentiments. It is possible to move forward with this and a new revised OF Mass that is more like the EF Mass in language, order and mysticism.


Anonymous said...

Father so right on the visiting young families with children at the mass yesterday. A homeschool group from the Atlanta Diocese had a field trip to the Latin mass.

Anonymous said...

You say, "Understanding isn't as important as simply being swept up into the mystery of being in heaven which then gives us Catholics a desire to go to heaven and experience it not in a veiled, sacramental way, but in its overwhelming mystical reality."

The Church says:

SC 17 In seminaries and houses of religious, clerics shall be given a liturgical formation in their spiritual life. For this they will need proper direction, so that they may be able to UNDERSTAND the sacred rites and take part in them wholeheartedly

SC 21 In this restoration, both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify; the Christian people, so far as possible, should be enabled to UNDERSTAND them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively, and as befits a community.

SC 48 The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ's faithful, when present at this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators; on the contrary, through a good UNDERSTANDING of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration.

SC 59 It is therefore of the highest importance that the faithful should easily UNDERSTAND the sacramental signs, and should frequent with great eagerness those sacraments which were instituted to nourish the Christian life.

GIRM 218 The parts spoken by all the concelebrants together and especially the words of consecration, which all are bound to say, are to be said in such a way that the concelebrants speak them in a very low voice and that the principal celebrant’s voice be clearly heard. In this way the words can be better UNDERSTOOD by the people.

GIRM 359 359. In addition, the Lectionary has a special selection of texts from Sacred Scripture for Ritual Masses into which certain Sacraments or Sacramentals are incorporated, or for Masses that are celebrated for certain needs.
Selections of readings of this kind have been established in this way, so that through a more apt hearing of the word of God the faithful may be led to a fuller UNDERSTANDING of the mystery in which they are participating and may be brought to a more ardent love of the word of God.

John Nolan said...

Anonymous, are you suggesting that words can have a meaning outside the context in which they are written? Surely Derrida, whose deconstruction of language you seem to admire and approve claimed 'il n'y a pas de hors-texte'?

Anonymous said...

Father, I am working through a book that makes your very point - not to denigrate understanding, but to raise it above the level of reading comprehension to more of a supernatural sense of awe and gratitude.


Unknown said...

Yes. 'Understaning' is a synonym for 'stupid translations more fit for second graders than educated adults.'

Good thing I don't give a damn what the Vatican says about the Christian religion. Otherwise, I'd be having a serious crisis right now.

Anonymous said...

John Nolan - Certainly not! "Ass" must have a context for its true meaning to be conveyed and, hopefully, understood.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:14, when I attend the EF of the Mass I read the missal, which is in English, and I fully understand what is going on and so does everybody else attending the Mass and we fully participate in Mass along with the priest.

I recently attended an OF Mass in Korean. I didn't understand a word of it but I knew exactly what was going on in the Mass. I couldn't speak a word but I participated as fully in the Mass as everybody else. And on the plus side the people were reverent, attentive and sung pleasant hymns.

The reality is that what you quote is now obsolete because we have such a mixture of races now that it is impossible for everybody attending the OF of the Mass to understand what is being said or to respond, and so it would be much better if the OF was at least in Latin and people had their own version of the missal in their own language to follow along.

Interestingly, a friend of mine who attends the OF when she can't get to the EF told me she has taken to saying her rosary during Mass. Funnily enough I have started doing the same thing to cover over the parades and the long pauses where we have to sit and wait for Extraordinary Ministers to assemble or for offertory processions and such like. Normally that expanse is filled by mind numbing, soul destroying music and so it is difficult to pray but I can recommend a couple of earplugs and the rosary are heaven sent in those circumstances ...