Sunday, May 22, 2016


Do you want to know what was the most destructive mentality that elitist liturgical theologians foisted upon the original English translation of the revised Latin Mass after Vatican II ( a destructive mentality which by the way was not in the original Latin text of the revised Mass): Here it is in summation from John Allen's article I copy below. I heard a newly ordained priest in 1978 here in my parish of Saint Joseph  in Macon, when I was but a lowly 25 year old seminarian on summer assignment here, say the exact same thing  every Sunday Mass he celebrated while the pastor was away on vacation:

Father Edward Beck, a contributor to both Crux and CNN, offered a less sanguine take.

“The prayers seem to address a distant, majestic God to the exclusion of a personal relationship,” Beck told me. “It almost sounds like a British royal wordsmith. It could use a bit more Brooklyn – in a grammatically correct way, of course.”

Beck also said there seems to be a strong “emphasis on sin, and bowing and scraping. I’m not sure the prayers are indicative enough of a God who calls us to loving service and freedom.”

How did we get from this reverence in a most inhospitable place for the Liturgy

To this horrible caricature of the Mass in a most hospitable place?

There have been many unintended results of Vatican II primarily due to the poor interpretation of the Council that in turn led to the even poorer implementation of the Council itself which for many people seem like a new religion being imposed upon Catholics.

But once Pandora's Box was open, meaning that what most Catholics of whatever perspective believed could not be changed, began to change, this led to the grotesque polarization in the Church not known since the Reformation.

It led to a number of wars, the ecumenical wars, the interfaith wars, the habit wars, and the liturgy wars. Did Vatican II really want to foment wars in the Church. No! But that is what happened.

Of all the things in the Church that should bring peace, tranquility and a sense of purpose and direction, the Liturgy, be it the Mass, the Divine Office or devotions that flow from these, the liturgy itself became a bloody war field and still is today to a certain extent but with greater maturity.

Thus John Allen of Crux writes (My comments in red):

‘Liturgy wars’ have gone quiet, but they’ve hardly gone away

This week, a press release washed up in my in-box from the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), about a recent visit to their offices by a Vatican official. ICEL is a mixed commission of bishops’ conferences in countries where English is used in the liturgy, and its job is to translate texts for worship.

My finger was poised on the delete button, when it suddenly struck me just how remarkable it is that ICEL is no longer a hot potato. Not so long ago, at the peak of what came to be known as the “liturgy wars,” that definitely wasn’t the case.

The term “liturgy wars” refers to a series of battles over the sound, look and feel of Catholic worship in English, which crested in the 1990s and 2000s.

The battle lines broke between progressives in favor of a reformed, “Vatican II” style, reflecting modern sensibilities and new theological insights, and conservatives who felt the post-Vatican II overhaul of the liturgy gave too much away to secular modernity, often employing pretty-sounding ecumenical formulae dubious in terms of fidelity to both tradition and the actual Latin text.

Adding fuel to the fire were two other factors:

In part, liturgical controversies pivot on aesthetics – judgments about what’s poetic vs. pedantic, what’s artful vs. awful, what sounds or looks good. Since all that’s basically subjective, there’s just no way to make everyone happy. (This is true--Vatican II's poor implementation placed the focus of liturgical renewal on individual tastes rather than common liturgical laws as it concerns the celebration of the Mass, music and architecture, not to mention new lay ministries where aesthetics  of liturgical clothing were left to the lay people, meaning they could dress any old way to serve the Mass because their lay clothes spoke of their status in the Church. Prior to Vatican II, even with diverse architecture there were laws concerning how the sanctuary was to be designed, where the altar was, how high up and what was over the altar and how one dressed for Mass, clergy or lay--even to the point that women covered their head with something. Today anything goes almost.)

Unlike other topics, where most people don’t consider themselves experts, everybody’s been to Mass, and so everybody has an opinion about how it ought to be done.

Incalculable hours were spent over two decades debating issues such as inclusive language, meaning if it’s okay to say “man” for “people,” or whether the Latin phrase pro multis in the Eucharistic prayer should be “for all” or “for many.” Countless conferences were held, essays written, blogs posted, and it seemed for a while the debate would never end. (Who fomented all these distractions?--certainly not the laity, it was elitist professional theologians in general and liturgical theologians in particular, especially those who held workshops throughout the country where another elitist group of clergy and religious and a handful of laity attended and then with unilateral authoritarianism implemented what they heard at these workshops back in parishes and got the laity all riled up.)

ICEL was one of the battlegrounds, as control over its agenda and vision became part of the broader tensions.

All this culminated in the late 2000s with a new English translation of the Roman Missal, the collection of prayers and other texts used in the Mass. It featured a few signature transitions towards “sacred” language – “And with your spirit” in favor of “And also with you,” for instance, and “consubstantial with the Father” rather than “one in being.”

The new missal was implemented on the first Sunday of Advent in 2011, meaning this fall will mark the five-year anniversary.

Where do we stand today? Although the liturgical front is less noisy, mostly because decisions were finally made, my own completely unscientific survey suggests opinions are basically as divided as before.

Here, for instance, is Jesuit Father James Martin, America’s most popular Catholic spiritual writer, on the new translation:

“I’m very sorry to say that, in my experience, many Catholics, priests included, find the language at various points clunky, unwieldy, inelegant, stilted, and even confusing,” Martin told me. “As a priest, I find it much harder to pray the Mass, and sometimes … I even have a hard time understanding what exactly I’m praying for.” (Overall Fr. Martin, the new translation is glorious especially the fixed parts to include the hard words you elitists don't think the laity will ever understand like consubstantial and the like. There are clunky parts to be sure but these could be easily  remedied in future editions of the missal and simply placing commas or semi-colons could help in dealing with run on sentences. Syntax could be adjusted and no one would even know in the pews. I have not had one single complaint from a parishioner about the wording of any prayers in the Missal even those that are truly poor and confusing. Again, Fr. Martin is the elitist class imposing his confusion and arrogance on the general populace!)

“And,” Martin added, “I’m speaking as someone who works with words for a living … It’s a source of great sadness for me.” (a typical elitist remark!)

On the other hand, here’s Monsignor James Moroney, rector of St. John’s Seminary in Boston, a former chief of staff for the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Liturgy and an adviser to the Vatican’s Vox Clara commission:

“Despite the efforts of some to create widespread dissatisfaction with the new translation, its implementation has been far smoother than even its strongest proponents could have predicted,” he said in reply to my query. (I wonder who the Monsignor is speaking, pray tell, who could that be? Yes, Praytell whose moderator had an axe to grind and used his blog to do it and foment even more liturgical wars. What a disservice Praytell did during the time leading up to the implementation and afterward. Fortunately, blogs like that and even mine are read by less than .00000001% of Catholics throughout the world, but elitists think their blogs and opinions affect everyone.)

“For the first time since the great experiment in vernacularization of the liturgy, we are actually praying the same thing as the Latin prayers. Considering the antiquity and universal usage of these prayers, these new translations are an effective sign and instrument of unity of a Church that prays what it believes across time and space,” Moroney said. (Amen Monsignor Moroney, the Liturgical and linguistic spirituality of the Mass has been given back to English speaking Catholics stolen from them by those with a corrupt agenda who first translated the Mass from Latin to English. What most of us did not know was that the Latin version of the revised Mass contained a great continuity with the previous Roman Missal but the vernacular translations did not!)

Monsignor Richard Hilgartner, also a veteran of the bishops’ conference and now president of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, said the transition in some ways has enriched the liturgical experience. (Amen! Amen! Amen! to that!)

“Many parishes offered great catechesis, not only about the changes in texts but on the broader topic of the liturgy, and that has borne fruit as people learned more about what we do and why we do it when we celebrate the Mass,” he said.

Father Edward Beck, a contributor to both Crux and CNN, offered a less sanguine take.

“The prayers seem to address a distant, majestic God to the exclusion of a personal relationship,” Beck told me. “It almost sounds like a British royal wordsmith. It could use a bit more Brooklyn – in a grammatically correct way, of course.” (Father Beck is the problem not the solution to the liturgical crisis in the Church and one can see his elitist concerns, one that wants God not to be majestic and a false dichotomy that a glorious vernacular translation of the Mass or even Latin itself would exclude a personal relationship with God, What bull---t!)

Beck also said there seems to be a strong “emphasis on sin, and bowing and scraping. I’m not sure the prayers are indicative enough of a God who calls us to loving service and freedom.” (Father Beck's mentality is what was behind the loss of reverence in the Mass following Vatican II--what he says is the problem that has led to the liturgy wars! Thank you John Allen--this simple sentence sums it all up and the insidious smoke of Satan that entered into the fabric of the revised vernacular liturgy not designed by the Magisterium in the original Latin revision but by elitist theologians like Beck who promoted this insidious mentality about sin, bowing and scraping being bad for the liturgy in the revised English!!!!)

If I asked 100 other people, I’d likely get 100 other opinions.

What’s the moral of the story? Maybe, it’s this: The “liturgy wars” may have gone quiet, but they’ve hardly gone away.

As long as Catholics take liturgy seriously – as long as we care about how we worship, because it shapes what we believe and who we are – we’ll never be done arguing over it. That may breed heartburn once in a while, but it’s the reflux of a deep passion.


Rood Screen said...

Some of the Proper prayers truly are a little awkward at times. But, as you suggest, the controversy is really about belief, rather than translation. We have, in effect, two different religions operating within the Church today, one Apostolic and the other Modernists.

Anonymous said...

It's so cute that you would mention commas, semi-colons, run on sentences, and syntax. These are the very things that you, by your writing, show practically no understanding of whatsoever.

Vox Cantoris said...

Sorry, the fundamental problem is the Novus Ordo itself. The options for the Confiteor, the Talmudist table blessing instead of an Offertory. the numerous eucharistic prayers beyond the Roman Canon, the gutting of a 1600 year old or more lectionary and the complete rewriting of the Collects, etc.

Even in Latin, it is a problem.

As for the translation, we had a correct one in 1965 and in all our old Missals.

The Novus Ordo "is" the problem.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

VC, the Ordinariate's Divine Worship the Missal, a collaboration with them, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and of Worship rectifies your concerns albeit at present the newer options are still in place.

Both things are a problem but all one needs with the new missal are the options the former Anglicans have to include the PATFOTA, ancient offertory prayers, triple Lord I am not worthy and you have what Sacrosanctum Concilium actually sought except more Latin should indeed be mandated and the vernacular more limited.

Anonymous said...

For the most part the ordinary of the Mass is beautifully translated. But the Collects need work. They follow the Latin word order too closely which makes them clumsy and too wordy. Some of them I have to reread 2 or 3 times before I can figure out the meaning. Taken as a whole the newly translated Roman Missal is 1000% better than the previous translation.

Who cares what Fr. Beck says. He is one screaming...........I'm trying to be charitable so I'll say liberal person. Just watching him on TV you don't need a degree in psychology to see there is a lot going on there. I'm going to leave it at that. He would really be much happier in the Episopal Church. Most of these people, "liturgists", would be happier in the Episcopal Church but they won't leave. They stay in a Church who's teachings they despise. Not exactly a healthy situation.

Mark Thomas said...

Dear Farther, Mc:doNald, you're run on sentences are the biggest problem in the Church why do u use run on sentences can't u do better with you syntax while u are at it also start to use semi colons and for that matter even semi trucks better and use dashes too when your connecting words;

Father, u, never, even, use, commas the rite way,?

And Father, I wont even get it to you're use of ixclimation points?

Oh and I even also, also wont even git in to you're spilling or is it spelling, I think it' spelling;

Yes the biggest problem in the Church today is Farther McDonald and how he rites.

farther mcdoneld, You are the biggest problem in the Church{ know doubt about it,


Mike Thomas

Anonymous said...

No, the lectionary was not gutted. "To gut" is to remove the important or essential parts of something. The lectionary was expanded - a vast improvement over the previous version.

Numerous Eucharistic prayers have always existed and been used. None of the Eastern Rites use the "Roman" common and neve. Proof to the Roman canon, the Church in various regions used locally produced prayers.

Rood Screen said...

Mark Thomas,

Funny! But, our dear Father McDonald's use of run-on sentences, and his uncertainty with commas, is part of the charm and adventure here on his blog.

Rood Screen said...


The Roman Mass only ever had one canon until 1970. I'm personally fine with the new options, but I'm honest enough to admit that multiple canons is a novelty in the Roman liturgical tradition.

We are the Church of the West, and not an Eastern Church, so your comparison is irrelevant.

Mark Thomas said...

Anonymous said..."It's so cute that you would mention commas, semi-colons, run on sentences..."

Should the phrase "run on sentences" have been rendered "run-on sentences"? That is, "run-on" with the hyphen?


Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas said...

Father McDonald, I am certain that I have made myself misunderstood.

Anonymous at 7:56 A.M. said..."It's so cute that you would mention commas, semi-colons, run on sentences..."

Father, I had read Anonymous' comment as a dig at you. I apologize to Anonymous if I am mistaken about that.

Anyway, my little attempt at humor — "Dear Farther, Mc:doNald, you're run on sentences are the biggest problem in the Church..." — was not directed at you. My comment was directed at people who attack you in petty ways.

Father, you possess fine writing skills. Conversely, I am terrible in that regard.


Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

The Easter Rites are as much a part of the Church has the Latin Rite; the comparison is appropriate. The Catholic Church - all parts included - has had multiple canons from ages.

"Run on" is correct. (v) run on - continue uninterrupted "The disease will run on unchecked."

Paul said...

I am sorry but my comments here are not directly about the above but about some thoughts I've had after reading comments on this blog for some time.

Whether it is with liturgy or Church teaching on a variety of matters I have often wondered whether it is more accurate and honest to admit that from, say, 1950s, to the decades after Vat II it was often more a case of rupture than continuity. Not always but often?

This might be a silly way to imagine something impossible. But imagine if a dozen average Catholic priests/theologians were transported in time from 1955 to a Catholic seminary library say in 1985 or 1995. And say after a month or so of a dozen such men reading various books regarded as suitable to be in a Catholic seminary library in 1985 or 1995 etc how many could they find that they'd regard as heresy, modernist or at least seriously theologically problematic, of doubtful orthodoxy etc? Would a lot of what they read seem to them more rupture than continuity?

Paul said...

".....many of the clergy of the Catholic Church found themselves sleep-walking through the Conciliar and post-Conciliar years, loyal to an authority which called them to embrace attitudes which the same authority had once denounced as heresy..."

Eamon Duffy,
Cambridge Church historian,

sarto2012 said...

No, wrong example. When "run on" is used attributively, as an adjective, the "run-on" is correct.
Example: "The church was recently built in 2010" and "The recently-built church was completed in 2010".

Anonymous said...

In referring to your photographs, how did we go from reverence to caricature. That shift was intentional and orchestrated from within the Church by members of church leadership. That has been obvious since the 1970's The question you should have asked is how do we return to reverence and put aside the nonsense without offending a devout but misguided parishioners.

Rood Screen said...


What is your evidence for claiming that the Roman liturgical tradition once before had optional canons? The standard English-language texts certainly make no such claim.

Victor said...

The method of the rupturists is to spread blatantly false, misleading, incomplete, or dubuious information as God's truth.
Fr. MacDonald: I do no like to use the term "elitist" in a negative way. I prefer to call them "ivory tower recluses". The problem with these is that they wield excessive power in matters that affect ordinary people's lives, reporting to no one but themselves.

Anonymous said...

Just a note.

The second picture is not a photo of a Catholic Mass. It's a photo of an Episcopalian service conducted at Trinity Episcopalian Church in New York City.


Jess said...

I have to agree with Vox Cantoris. I thought and taught that your viewpoint for the past decade, Father. And then I read Monisgnor Klaus Gamber's book on the reform of the liturgy this past winter. It really is eye-opening . . . The liturgy can never be designed by committee, and yet that is exactly what the Novus Ordo is.

John L said...

On this question the essential work is that of Prof. Lauren Pristas, who has done a careful analysis of the theological principles guiding the liturgical reformers, using the word of the reformers themselves, See here:

Anonymous said...

The history of canon/s used in the Mass is not "God's truth."

From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

"Since the seventh century our Canon has remained unchanged. It is to St. Gregory I (590-604) the great organiser of all the Roman Liturgy, that tradition ascribes its final revision and arrangement."

Hence, we know that before the 7th century, there were other forms.

"But our Canon represents rather the last stage of a development that had been going on gradually ever since the first days when the Roman Christians met together to obey Christ's command and celebrate the Eucharist in memory of Him."


"It [First Epistle of St. Clement] says further: "The high-priest [i.e. bishop] has his duties, a special place is appointed to the priests, and the Levites have their ministry" (xi). From this it is evident that at Rome the liturgy was celebrated according to fixed rules and definite order."

Since this pre-dates the Roman canon, there was some other canon or form of canon employed.

From Wikipedia:

"The Anaphora of the Apostolic Tradition, also known as the Anaphora of Hippolytus, is an ancient Christian Anaphora (also known in the contemporary Latin Rite as a Eucharistic Prayer) which is found in chapter four of the Apostolic Tradition."

"...the anaphora probably attained its final form around the mid of the 4th century AD."

Rood Screen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rood Screen said...

John L.,

Does she discuss the intentions of Paul VI, especially in contrast/comparison to the Consilium?

Anonymous said...

All I can say is that when I attend a Sunday OF Mass I can't wait to get out. Except for the consecration I find the Mass mind-numbingly boring because it isn't as the Mass should be.

No amount of changes to the language will ever be enough. First of all, many priests start off the Mass with a long introduction which may even include reference to the weather and thanking people for being there (on Sunday!). Then we have lay people trooping up to do the readings; we have lay people trooping up with gifts. The Ordinary Form has just got to be stripped of this parade of lay people and the entertainment aspects, which includes the sign of peace with people leaving their seats crossing the aisles, waving out to others, some priests walking round the church to shake people's hands.

Also, it is mind numbingly boring to wait for dozens of lay people to stroll up to the altar, have communion distributed to them, one after the other, and then the chalice handed to them, one after the other. Because of this the Mass appears more like a school prize giving ceremony. I try to concentrate on the reason I am there at Mass but it becomes increasingly harder with all the noise and action going on.

Before the OF Mass was introduced Cardinal Heenan and others were given a preview. Cardinal Heenan said afterwards:

"At home, it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday we would soon be left with a congregation of women and children."

He has largely been proven right. Look around in the pews on Sunday and we see mainly women and children - very few men.

So, far from just the translation, the whole structure of the OF of the Mass has to be looked at if there is to be any sort of improvement.

Anonymous said...

So you realized the story on Fr, Reynolds was 3 years old and removed the post.

TJM said...


If you saw an OF, in Latin, ad orientem, using the traditional style of the entrance Rite, like I have seen at St. John Cantius in Chicago, you would feel quite differently. As a general proposition, I agree with you, that the standard OF with Father Talk-Show-Host and the mindnumblingly banal music,is trite, banal,and a penance to endure. We should tape it and force the priest celebrant at gun point to watch it, hour after hour.

Jusadbellum said...

Perhaps someone can explain to me the translations of basic prayers that don't make any theological sense.

Take the Glory Be. "As it was in the begin, is now and ever shall be" ends with "in secula seculoroum" or "for the centuries of the centuries" or 'forever and ever' (which is sort of redundant to 'ever shall be'.

But then we get the weird "world without end, amen". World without end? World WITHOUT end? Doesn't both theology AND physics accept that this world does have an expiration date? That this world IS passing away? What has this world's permanence have to do with the glory given to God?

The other question is more general. Much of Vatican II, being "pastoral" is about how to better 'market' or sell Catholicism to the world, not how to waterdown and undermine the very faith of the Church - and yet one might be forgiven for thinking that he point of the council's "aggiornamento" was precisely that of watering down the faith so as to become less "odd" or threatening to the spirit of the age.

So we went from a Triumphalist Catholicism that survived the great purge of WW2 and the onslaught of global a defeatist, Stockholm syndrome like timid church eager to do whatever it was the New York Times or modernists thought would make us "relevant" (because of course, non-Catholics have only our best interest in heart).

I must admit I'm baffled by the thought processes of my elders. What were they thinking? Did they all go insane in the mid-1960s with the nuclear scare, Communism advancing as aggressively and successfully as the LGBTQ movement is today - seemingly everywhere and marching on as the "inevitable wave of the future against which resistance is futile"? Did our churchmen by and large have a drug and alcohol problem coupled with the hidden homosexual agenda?

What in the world would make a bishop of 1967 think what was needed in a time of social, moral, and political upheaval to add MORE upheaval and chaos into the mix?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Allow me to make these points:

First, in the Crux article, as our genial host points out, one of the complaints about the new translation is too much emphasis on sin, and our unworthiness, and God's "distance." Here's the "problem": this is what the underlying prayers, in Latin, actually say. No one disputes this. The liberals' desire is to go back to a flawed translation that changed or obscured the actual content of the prayers. When the real content of the prayers is made clear, they think that's terrible! Think about that. They want to "protect" the faithful from the actual prayers of the Mass. How ironic is this? Wasn't the whole point of the use of the vernacular to give the faithful full access to the content and meaning of the Mass? If not, then what is the rationale for the use of the vernacular?

Now, lest there be any misunderstanding, I am not complaining about the content of the prayers. I don't presume to know just what they ought to say. If it were up to me, no doubt certain themes dear to me would get prominence, and others would drop out. The same for any other priest. So what the complaining priest actually reveals, in his protest, is his own hobby horses. That's fine, we all have them. He says there's too much about sin? Well, sin IS kind of prominent in our Faith. Jesus died to fill it in.

Second, please be crystal clear on this: the prayers these liberals hate are not from the dark ages (I.e., before 1962). The Latin prayers of the Mass in the Novus Ordo were revised and approved as a result of Vatican II. so when people like the priest named in the Crux article complain about the content of thes prayers, they are complaining about the fruits of the Vatican II reform! How ironic is that?

Third, it's true that the new translation is imperfect. I would love to offer some changes to smooth out some things. In the Pentecost sequence, there was one clunky bit where the use of "thine" would have maintained the poetry of the work, but no, it used "your" instead. And there are other examples. But these issues are relatively limited. I agree with those who say it's a big improvement. And the record needs to reflect that the much vaunted "disaster" and rebellion and falling away, and all the other hysterical predictions of what the implementation of the new translation would bring, did not happen.

Fourth, if Father James Martin genuinely can't figure out what the prayers are saying, or how to recite them, I invite him to contact me. I'm not so smart as Father Martin, but this hick priest from the Midwest has figured it out.

Finally, there is a great deal of (melo) drama going on here, lots of lamenting, tearing of clothes and so forth, and it's very unbecoming. Man up! Parish priests deal with lots of real problems; all this bewailing of the translation suggests to that these folks need to get out more.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"Perhaps someone can explain to me the translations of basic prayers that don't make any theological sense.

Take the Glory Be. "As it was in the begin, is now and ever shall be" ends with "in secula seculoroum" or "for the centuries of the centuries" or 'forever and ever' (which is sort of redundant to 'ever shall be'.

But then we get the weird "world without end, amen". World without end? World WITHOUT end? Doesn't both theology AND physics accept that this world does have an expiration date? That this world IS passing away? What has this world's permanence have to do with the glory given to God?"

Translation is not "either-or." "World without end" is descriptive and is not meant to be a scientific description of some unusual phenomenon, so the physics of the matter aren't germane. This phrase is, I think, meant to be a sort of poetic coda, bringing the prayer to completion. So its theological meaning is not the paramount concern. I think the idea this phrase wants to convey is "a really, really, really, REALLY long time."

Jusadbellum said...

Thanks Fr. K.

The problem is, most people are not theologians and lex orandi, lex credendi. How we pray informs what we believe.

So we get this poetic coda as you say that is both scientifically AND theologically flawed in that the Bible is pretty clear that these heavens and earth WILL pass away and be replaced by a 'new heavens and new earth'.

Why confuse the children with this 'steady state' 'eternal universe' model?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Re: "world without end"...

Why does the person asking this assume the world that doesn't end is THIS one? We profess or hope for a new heavens and a new earth, and do we not hope that will be a world without end? I certainly hope so. After dying, the particular judgment, purgatory (I hope), some time in heaven, and then the resurrection and the general judgment, I would be chagrined to find out that we don't, finally, get to enjoy ourselves!

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Jus - It's not scientifically flawed because it is not intended by anyone to be scientific, any more than the Creation Accounts of genesis are meant to be understood scientifically.

By your reasoning we should also not read Matt 5:30, "And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away...", because someone who is not a theologian/scripture scholar might take it literally and self-mutilate.

It is not theologically flawed because it is not a statement of doctrine. It is precisely because it is a poetic/literary device that we do not seek the deep, theological meaning here.

Marc said...

Consider the translation used in the East, which sheds some light on the meaning:

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit both now and ever and unto the ages of ages.

We aren't talking about actual worlds here. The prayer is just conveying an eternity, which is what "saecula saeculorum" means "ages of ages." A "world without end" is akin to "ages of ages."

I wouldn't concede that "world without end" is scientifically or theologically incorrect. The heavens and the earth in their current state pass away, but after the general resurrection comes a glorified world where God reigns supreme in a move overt way. In one sense, that is a new world, but in another sense, it is a perfecting of our fallen world.

Victor said...

Annonymous @ 4:29:

When did Rome use more than one Eucharistic Prayer (to choose from) at the same time except after Vartican II? It seems the Roman Canon was one process of evolution.

You mention Hyppolytus. Did he compose a Eucharistic prayer? If you are thinking of EP II in the Novuus Ordo, that was a composition by Fr Bouyer one afternoon while at a Roman bistro, in which he used fragments of what was at that time thought to be by Hyppolytus. It has come to light since then that if therse are fragments of an Anaphora composed by Hyppolytus it was likely done during his schismatic period with Rome.

Were you there centuries ago to witness what historians claim? What historians claim with so little uinformation is more in the realm of opinion than fact, and ever so often the opinions change. That is very convenient for the rupturists who will claim all sorts of things based on historical opinion. The Novus Ordo is one fabricated grand realisation of historical opinion from the ivory towers.

Fr Kavanaugh:
The usual translation of "per omnia saecula saeculorum" is very weird in English. The literal translation is "for all ages of ages", which many Eastern Churches use in an English liturgy. This makes a lot more sense since the ages in the divine realm are undefined.

I cannot agree with you more. The mentality of the ones in charge of the Church after WW2 caused this mess. To get an inkling of this mentality, Dr Pristas in her first linked article above suggests a few, based on some typical Novus Ordo orations:
"... a number of shifts are clearly discernible: toward literalism, toward rationalism, toward an historical approach to liturgy that puts the modern person at the center, and away from such things as miraculous events and symbolic or non-literal expression. These tendencies, clearly evident in such a small sampling of texts, reflect Enlightenment preoccupations and presuppositions. They raise the question of whether Enlightenment presuppositions have shaped our new liturgical books and rites, and, if so, in what ways, to what extent, and with what effect—all issues that merit exploration by scholars with the requisite philosophical and theological competencies." Pp 196-7

Jusadbellum said...

Good point Fr. Martin, but you are the first person I've ever heard (or read) making that interpretation so what do most pew-sitters conclude when they say the Glory be?

And not to quibble but if we all get annihilated we won't be around to be chagrined! ;-)

rcg said...

Many of the comments in the original post seem Protestant, almost pagan. Translating a prayer to suit oneself is plan old incorrect. It is never 'what it means to me' rather than what it actually means. The turgid nature of the translation as well as problematic accuracy might lead the priest simply to stick with the original Latin and devote a homily to it. It isnt really difficult, despite what that priest who works with words thinks and can actually very intertaining and educational, making the Mass beneficial on many levels. Deepening ones faith and arming the laity with apologetics seems a worthy goal.

Catholic Mission said...

When Pope Benedict 'breaks his silence' it usually is to please the Masons?

When Pope Benedict 'breaks his silence' it seems as if he has to say something to please the Masons, liberals and disssenters.He does not 'break his silence' to affirm traditional teachings of the Church. He did not 'break his silence' to say that Amoris Laetitia contradicts Veritatis Splendor of Pope John Paul II which he approved as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
He has said that the Message of Fatima was complete (May21,2016) even though the magisterium officially recognises that Our Lady said that 'the dogma of the faith will be lost' ( in future) 'except in Portugal'.This indicates that there will be an apostasy in the Church and the apostasy will extend to even the pope.
Then a few months back he said that the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus (EENS) is no more like it was in the 16th century. In other words it has been changed.He means that when he assumes hypothetical cases mentioned in Vatican Council II,are objectively known in 2016 , the dogma EENS can be changed.The dogma EENS would have 'practical exceptions'. He calls this change 'a development'.
When he breaks his silence he is politically correct with the Left, who represent Satan.In both cases here, extra ecclesiam nulla salus and Fatima, there seems something wrong or there is a false hood.
Our Lady said the dogma of the faith will be lost. We know the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus has been lost. Pope Benedict in the Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to extra ecclesiam nulla salus as an aphorism (846) even though it is a dogma defined by three Church Councils.Now Pope Benedict officially and in public 'breaks his silence' to tell us that the dogma has been lost as it was known over the centuries.It has also been lost by assuming what is invisible is visible and mixing up what is implicit as being explicit.This is the irrational reasoning used to get rid of the dogma and this is a dogma which is at the centre of the Church's de fide teachings on other religions, ecumenism, religious liberty, liturgy etc.

Catholic Mission said...


Then the first part of the Fatima message indicates that since the dogma of the faith will be lost there will a world wide apostasy which will be approved by the pope.How could the dogma of the faith, or an aspect of the faith be lost, if the pope does not allow it ? It is because the pope will permit the dogma of the faith ,or some aspect of the faith to be lost, that it will be lost in the Church.This deduction has to be made since the message seems missing in the Fatima message made public.It was incomplete.
So the message of Fatima which we have been given by a pope who says Jews do not need to convert in the present times,contradiciting Jesus, is incomplete.This is obvious through simple deduction.
This incompleteness of the Fatima message approved by the Vatican is made clear by Our Lady in her messages ( locutions) to Fr. Stefano Gobbi of the Marian Movement of Priests. She speaks to Fr. Gobbi extensively and in great detail about the Fatima message and the condition of the Church in general.At Fatima she was terse as compared to the messages to Fr. Gobbi in which she was elaborate.
She also tells Fr.Gobbi that the Masons and all the enemies of the church will unite and the Church will be attacked from within with error and there will be an apostasy.In the end her Immaculate Heart will Triumph.
So when Pope Benedict 'breaks his silence', it usually is to make a statement which will please the enemies of the Church and create confusion.

Instead he could have announced that the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus has not developed since there are no known exceptions in Vatican Council II to the dogma. He did not say this. If he did there would be an uproar from the Jewish Left.

He did not say that apostasy and heresy has entered the Church and so the dogma of the faith, extra ecclesiam nulla salus, has been officialy rejected by the magisterium.

He did not say that the Fatima message made public was incomplete since it does not mention what specific dogma would be lost and in what way was the faith lost or will be lost.This has to be deduced from what is already approved by the Vatican.

He did not say that the magisterium is interpreting Vatican Council II, with an irrationality; with the new theology approved by Ratzinger-Rahner, which makes Vatican Council II a break with the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus. So the Council becomes non traditional and heretical.The fault is there not with the Council but with the irrational premise and conclusion used to interpret the Council officially.So in this sense the German priest Fr. Ingo Dollinger is correct when he suggests that Vatican Council II indicates a loss of faith.This is something obvious for those who are aware of the irrational premise and conclusion used by the contemporary magisterium.

With the irrational premise and conclusion the ecclesiology of the Church has been changed and so there is a new ecclesiology which is non traditional and heretical. This is the new ecclesiology of the Novus Ordo Mass. It is also the new ecclesiology with which the Tradtiional Latin Mass is offered today with the approval of the present magisterium. The fault is not there with the Mass but with the ecclesiology. So in this sense too Fr.Ingo Dollinger was correct.

Pope Benedict refuses to break his silence and say that without the irrational premise and conclusion, without the new ecclesiology, Vatican Council II and the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus are not a break with Tradition.He wants to maintain the lie.He refuses to break his silence and say that the old and new Mass can be offered with the old ecclesiology.He maintains the deception. If we do not use the Rahner-Ratzinger new theology, which is based upon an irrational observation, then the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus is still the same as it was in the 16th century.He is not going to announce this.-Lionel Andrades

Marc said...

Jus, when are the pew-sitters saying the Glory be?

Rood Screen said...

Father Kavanaugh,

"...In saecula saeculoroum", if my basic Latin skills serve me, literally means, "in the world of the worlds", that is, in the final world that does not end.

Anonymous said...

Like them or not the faux Eucharistic prayers are the fruit of disobedience. They were composed and included to appease those who were innovating their own prayers by the hundreds. Pope Paul VI originally rejected adding any new prayers but caved in after pressure from the committee.
Saint Michael the Archangel defend us in battle...

rcg said...

Many of the comments in the original post seem Protestant, almost pagan. Translating a prayer to suit oneself is plan old incorrect. It is never 'what it means to me' rather than what it actually means. The turgid nature of the translation as well as problematic accuracy might lead the priest simply to stick with the original Latin and devote a homily to explain it. It isnt really difficult, despite what that priest who works with words thinks and can actually be very entertaining and educational, making the Mass beneficial on many levels. Deepening ones faith and arming the laity with apologetics seems a worthy goal.

rcg said...

Marc, during the Rosary.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

rcg - A Spanish speaking person might say, "Vivo in la casa azul."

We English speakers do not translate it as, "I live in the house blue," but, "I live in the blue house." This is "what it means to me," since I am an English speaker.

The importance is not in the word order or the syntax or the grammar of the original language, but in the meaning - the idea(s) conveyed by the words in the original Spanish - and how this meaning is best understood by an English speaker.

LA's desire to maintain the syntax of the Latin texts has resulted in much of the awkwardness of many of the prayers we are called to proclaim. Also, "...various forms of parallelism, is to be maintained as completely as possible in a manner appropriate to the vernacular language" is another cause for awkwardness in English, since English doesn't work that way.

John Nolan said...

The translation of the Gloria Patri which English-speaking Catholics traditionally use (for example in the Rosary) is in fact Cranmer's. Liturgically, it is chiefly used as a doxology for the psalms, and would not have required translation.

BTW, whoever wrote the Wikipedia article on the so-called 'Anaphora of Hippolytus' needs to keep up with more recent liturgical scholarship, which questions its authorship, does not believe it was ever used in Rome, and doubts it was even an anaphora in the first place. Moreover, many of the pseudo-Hippolytan elements are incorporated into its Preface from which it is usually detached.

EP II should be relegated to weekdays or, better still, dropped altogether.

rcg said...

Fr Kavanaugh, certainly, and it would not be accurate to speak of the blue man in that house. That is my point. There are good translations in English, but they can be clunky, so people complain. It is not a bad thing to attempt a translation. There are times it can be done fairly well and retain not only the meaning but meter and length. I am thinking of O Filii et Filiae and Tantum Ergo. But the last oremus of The Angelus demonstrates your point with the odd pronoun couplet 'ut qui' and the long run on after it that 'brings' us to the end. I love that prayer but a direct and literal translation sounds rather Yoderish (as in Pennsylvania Dutch, or Star Wars). The beauty and meaning can be preserved in reasonably equal space, but deserves some explanation.

What we had with the translation just prior to the current ICEL was the use of dynamic equvalence in a deceitful way to take advantage of the average American's ignorance and hijack the Liturgy as a vehicle for doctrinal change. It actualy worked and now we have a gray legion who do not know the facts of their faith, much less its beauty.

John Nolan said...

Fr Kavanaugh

'... haec dona, haec munera, haec sancta sacrificia illibata ...'
'... hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam ...'

This is a rhetorical device known as the 'rule of three' which is also used in English, and indeed is encouraged by English teachers. Compare Abraham Lincoln's 'we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground'.

Were I to translate the Gettysburg Address into (say) French, I would be doing Lincoln a disservice if I did not translate this literally: 'on ne peut pas dédier, on ne peut pas consacrer, on ne peut pas sanctifier ...' Without the repetition the sense would be plain enough, but the effect would be weakened. The same applies to the Roman Canon. 'In conspectu divinae maiestatis tuae' means 'in the sight of your divine majesty'. Just because I might not like addressing God in this way does not give me an excuse for refusing to translate it.

Returning to the Roman Canon

John Nolan said...


In the prayer to which you refer, English cannot literally translate the ablative absolute 'Angelo nuntiante' but the relative clause beginning 'to whom' should present no difficulty. I would not split the passive subjunctive 'may be brought' and when I learnt the prayer as a child it was 'may be brought by His Passion and Cross to the glory of His Resurrection.'

Anonymous said...

TJM, no, it wouldn't make any difference because we would still have the other Eucharistic prayers and there would still be the parade of lay people. I have attended many reverent well said Novus Ordo Masses in Latin and English but, honestly, they just don't compare to the EF Mass. Cosmetically they may look the same but to read the missal then you realize any similarity ends there. I have mentioned several times that Eucharistic Prayer 1 is the only Eucharistic Prayer that raises the OF Mass up but it is very rarely said. Conservative priests have that option but very rarely say it - why? Because they appear to be happy with a well said, pared down Mass and they like the involvement of the laity.

However, the vast majority of the laity who attend the EF Mass know the difference between the two Masses, because they follow the Mass with their missals. TJM if you read the missal of the EF Mass and compare it to the missal of the OF Mass you will understand what I mean. It is far from cosmetic changes that are needed.

The OF of the Mass changed the entire concept of the Mass and I am afraid it has changed it forever - it never will be and can never be the EF Mass because the EF Mass developed organically over centuries. The OF was constructed in the matter of months and in some cases, as far as some of the Eucharistic prayers go, just days and Eucharistic prayer II over night! It is like taking a genuine antique and seeking to replace it with a modern day replica - it will always be that - a modern day replica ...

Anonymous said...

If anyone would like to see the differences between the two Masses - and they are vast - take a look at the Latin Mass website and see just how pared down the Ordinary Form of the Mass is. Frankly, all that can be said is that the Mass was gutted.

rcg said...

John, yes, thank you. My mental aide for this sort of thing, and in this specific case, is to think of that last bit as groups of modifiers, linguistic polynomials if you will, that hold the critical characteristics of the subject. It is also instructive when meditating on the meaning of a prayer.

Anonymous said...

Also Joseph Shaw from the Latin Mass Society has a discussion on this very same topic:

What sort of Mass did 'Vatican II' want?

" Liturgical conservatives and progressives argue endlessly about this. Their argument will never be resolved, both because Sacrosanctum Concilium was and the subsequent magisterium has been self-contradictory, but also because neither side in the debate is willing to be honest about the historical facts. I am sorry to be harsh, but having read the output of both sides of the debate over a number of years, it is time it was said.


We need to face the fact: the magisterium's own interpretation of Sacrosanctum Concilium is a moving target. It was quite different in the 1970s than it was by the mid 1990s. Who knows where it will be in ten years?"

I think he's bang on ...

Anonymous said...

John Nolan: "EP II should be relegated to weekdays or, better still, dropped altogether."

GIRM 365 b. Eucharistic Prayer II, on account of its particular features, is more appropriately used on weekdays or in special circumstances.

In post Vatican II lingo, this is a clear statement that EP II should not be used on Sundays or feast days.

Similarly, 365a and 365c combine to say that only EP I and EP III should normally be used on Sundays and feasts, but 365d admits the usage of EP IV on the Sundays of ordinary time.

One may well wonder why so many priests seem ignorant of both the GIRM and post Vatican II lingo.

The best practice may be that of a priest who systematically uses EP I on all solemnities and greater feasts, EP III on feasts and memorials, EP II and IV once each year (unless he forgets EP II during a given year, and hence suffers the penance of using it twice the next year).

TJM said...


I grew up with the EF, was an altarboy and a member of the Schola Cantorum, still use my Liber Usualis, so perhaps you should be a bit more careful when responding. I certainly know the differences between the two forms of the same rite. My point was, when at a church like St.John Cantius, the feel and appearance shows far more continuity between the two forms as would be the case in a typical Novos Ordo setting. I grew up at the height of the liturgical movement and the difference in praxis between parishes was startling. The normative Mass at my parish was the Missa Cantata and I could chant 5 ordinaries by heart by age 10. In contrast my grandmother's parish was the "deaf, dumb, and blind" variation where the parishioners sang or said nothing. There was nothing worshipful or inspiring about that. So before presuming to teach me, you should not necessarily assume that I do not know of what I speak.

John Nolan said...


On further reflection, any awkwardness concerning that particular and well-known Collect arises from a less than literal translation from the Latin. The 'ut' clause requires the subjunctive in both languages and in Latin the main verb 'perducamur' (present subjunctive passive, first person plural) is of course at the end. The relative clause beginning 'qui' has the verb 'cognovimus' (perfect indicative active, first person plural) whereas the English translator (Cranmer again?) opts for the passive voice in both clauses.

A more literal version would be: 'Pour forth, we beseech thee O Lord, thy grace into our hearts, that we who learned of the incarnation of Christ thy Son through the message of an Angel may be brought by his Passion and Cross to the glory of his Resurrection.'

So sometimes sticking closer to the Latin results in more felicitous English.

Marc said...

The biggest liturgy war raging at my parish is the fact that the people who attend the 9 a.m. low Mass stay to socialize for so long that there isn't any parking for those of us who attend the 11:30 high Mass. And there are children all over the place, so it's a little dicey driving around the parish grounds.

rcg said...

John, Thanks for fhis. Question from the hillbilly: to stick with the subjunctive would it rather be, "...that we to whom the Angel made known..."?

In Appalachia we speak English as a secund language.

Православный физик said...

Somethings are best left untranslated, if people don't like the present translation for the OF, they can always use Latin.

Yes, Catholicity is not just limited to western liturgical praxis and expression, but the OF already has enough Eastern influences, there's no need to be constantly be looking East, the West has their own traditions to look at and use.

Anonymous said...

"In Appalachia we speak English as a secund language."

Also a fecund one.

John Nolan said...


'... that we to whom the Angel made known the incarnation of Christ thy Son' is one way of dealing with the ablative absolute and like the Latin is indicative (not subjunctive) but unlike the Latin is passive rather than active. Since in the OF this is the Collect for Advent 4 it is instructive to look at the obsolete ICEL version.

'Lord, fill our hearts with your love, and as you revealed to us by an angel the coming of your Son as man, so lead us through his suffering and death to the glory of his resurrection.'

This actually replaces the subjunctive with the imperative 'lead us', but its main fault is that it fails to make the connection between God's grace and our being led to the glory of Our Lord's resurrection. In fact (and true to form) it doesn't mention grace at all, preferring 'love'.

And most of the Collect 'translations' were even worse. What was the point of restoring ancient prayers only to have them mangled out of all recognition in the name of 'dynamic equivalence'? Whatever one thinks of Paul VI's Missal, the vast majority of English-speaking Catholics were ignorant of it until five years ago. Unless you attended the OF in Latin, and were sufficiently proficient in that language to translate these prayers for yourself, you would have had no idea what they actually said.

Rood Screen said...


Thank you for your kind response to my question. However, what you post does not seem to give evidence for optional canons in use in the Roman Church. That the Roman canon developed slowly over time, in cooperation with the Holy Ghost, has always been known, but there is simply no evidence to suggest that optional canons were ever part of the Roman liturgical tradition until 1970, approved then by a reluctant Paul VI (according to Benedictine Father Cassian Folsom of Norcia).

rcg said...

John, again, thanks.

TJM said...


The behinds the scene story was that the evil, corrupt, Bugnini wanted the Roman Canon abolished altogether, which would have been a travesty of the utmost magnitude. I would like to have had Bugnini in my hands for 5-10 minutes in a locked room. That little coward would have been screaming for mercy in Latin!

rcg said...

This has been a great thread.

John Nolan said...

Of the new Eucharistic Prayers, EP IV is the one best suited to weekdays when the Creed is not said. A weekday Mass using EP II would be over in about ten minutes were it not padded out with tiresome commentaries and homilies.

EP IV is supposed to be the Anaphora of St Basil. I don't read Greek but I have seen a translation of it and EP IV is anodyne and pedestrian in comparison.

That said, the traditional Roman Rite is preferable to any form of the Novus Ordo especially on weekdays in Lent and Passiontide.

Anonymous said...

TJM - Your violent fantasy reveals precisely the effect the Roman canon has had on traditionalist Catholics of your ilk.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

John my daily Mass when i use Eucharistic Prayer II ( and preach a three minute homily) lasts about 25 minutes.

The Ordinariate's new Divine Worship, the Missal has only two Eucharistic prayers, the Roman Canon and Prayer II which with Elizabethan English sounds marvelous, both of them.

Marc said...

The length of the Mass is an interesting thing: I was thinking about it just this morning after daily low Mass. The priest at this parish (Institute of Christ the King) speaks very slowly, so the daily low Mass lasts about 45 minutes without a homily (and only about 5 communicants). Conversely, at another parish in town (FSSP), one of the priests, who actually taught liturgics at OLG Seminary, speaks very quickly and could say a low Mass in probably 15-20 minutes.

Both are saying the exact same thing, but the speed with which they speak has a tremendous impact. So I don't think that anything can be gleaned from the length of the Mass.

Anonymous said...

"A weekday Mass using EP II would be over in about ten minutes were it not padded out with tiresome commentaries and homilies."

A recent weekday Mass celebrated by a priest who is careful and reverent, but always uses EP II and is not known for short sermons (even at daily Masses), started at 8:00 and its celebrant was reported as seen in the parking lot at 8:18 am.

Though tales of shortie low Masses in the old days abound in certain circles, the only liturgies ending in 20 min or so I've ever experienced personally were OF Masses. A daily EF low Mass today typically lasts 30 +/- 5 minutes (even with no sermon), and the Sunday low Masses (with sermon) I attended pre Vatican II were 40-45 minutes in length.

TJM said...

Anonymous, then I am in good company! Our Lord Jesus drove the moneychangers from the Temple with violence as I am sure He would have driven the evil Bugnini from His sanctuaries. THanks for the compliment.

Anonymous said...

TJM, I am sorry but when you said "If you saw an OF, in Latin, ad orientem, using the traditional style of the entrance Rite, like I have seen at St. John Cantius in Chicago, you would feel quite differently", I presumed from that that you didn't know the TLM at all. And anyway, how am I expected to know that you attended the TLM?

As I said, I have experienced well said OF Masses, in Latin, and ad orientam, but there is only a cosmetic similarity. That is the big difference for those who love the TLM Mass.

I love equally the low Mass where I just read from my missal as I do the Missa Cantanta where I join in the Latin Chant, because it is what is in the missal that I read that raises my mind and heart to God - the beautiful prayers that just aren't there at the OF Mass even in the best form possible.

Maybe as an altar server you missed something as you responded to the Mass entirely in Latin and may not have understood the beautiful language of the prayers - just a thought.

I notice at St John Cantius they have both forms of the Mass. That can only be because some people are not satisfied with the OF Mass well said and all as it is.

Anonymous said...

TJM, when you say, "my grandmother's parish was the "deaf, dumb, and blind" variation where the parishioners sang or said nothing. There was nothing worshipful or inspiring about that". I think that indeed proves you have a lot more to learn ...

TJM said...


I think your latest comment shows you have no grasp of reality and have no appreciation nor understanding of the Liturgical Movement which began with St. Pius X, a Pope determined to reverse an inimical late development in terms of participatio actuoso in the Liturgy. Contrary to your understanding, the "deaf, dumb and blind" approach to the Liturgy was an abberation, a very late development in the long and venerable history of the Liturgy. A 14th century peasant was able to pray, aloud in Latin, and chant in Latin, the parts of the Mass reserved to the laity. The mute approach is in stark contrast to the Missa Normativa of the vast majority of the centuries which was a Missa Cantata. A 14th century peasant would find what we call today a Low Mass, bizarre. Your mindset is really not much different than that of today's "progressive" whose understanding of the Liturgy is hopelessly stuck in the 1970s.

TJM said...

Jan, the OF in Latin at St. John Cantius is better attended.

George said...

John and rcg:

This is how I was taught the last part of the Angelus and still recite it:

"Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord."

A translator, to the extent he is good at what he does. not only needs to to have a very good knowledge and understanding of the language he is translating, but also his own, as well as having good writing skills. It is also crucial to have knowledge of the other culture and any idioms and colloquialisms.

A poor translation can be the undoing of what a writer intended.

Many have been misled, by that mistook or misread.

rcg said...

Our priest is a polyglot and very rapid speaker (Chicago boy). The weekday Mass comes in at ~45 minutes, sometimes slightly less. Where he saves time is in precision movement and preparation, especially with the servers who follow a very strick process and movement schedule. So he does very little waiting and i can can count on one hand the times i have seen him need to give verbal instruction to a hesitant server. I can recall the first Mass i ever saw and it reminded me of a drill. No slouching, crisp movement, all balanced steps and turns. This allows the prayers to be sung clearly so that even 'youse guys' can understand.

Anonymous said...

"I notice at St John Cantius they have both forms of the Mass. That can only be because some people are not satisfied with the OF Mass well said and all as it is."

Might not the contemporary ideal be that every sizable parish offer Holy Mass in both forms, both of them in a reverent and glorious manner? With many or most parishioners going back and forth between them, no one with any hangups about either form.

Admittedly, today is far from this ideal, except in a handful of rare places in the world (like St. John Cantius in Chicago). But on the exceedingly rare occasion--less than the fingers of one hand are needed to count--when I'd had a choice between equally glorious celebrations in both forms at the same place, I (though an EF devotee) have chosen the OF, because such a gloriously celebrated OF Mass is such an pearl of great price as simply not to be missed--whereas a gloriously celebrated EF Mass is the norm rather than the exception.

TJM said...

Henry, Amen!

rcg said...

I think a large parish should have both forms offered. There is a certain utility to each, the Low Mass for those who must attend to daily tasks but are zobeying their obligation and desire for Mass, the High or sung Mass for those who are prepared to lose themselves in prayer, and the OF for Protestants interested in conversion but not ready to jump in with both feet.

rcg said...

George, John N. tutored me on an intersting point; the passive or active voice and the mood of the prayer. One generally thinks in a passive voice for prayer, but this may not be the goal of the verse. I do not think it is chance nor unimportant to know the difference. There is a lot to learn meditating on prayer composition.

Rood Screen said...


I would fear that there could be some risk that some of his sort would not be entirely opposed to the prospect of being manhandled. Gene could say this better.

TJM said...


HA! That's a good one

John Nolan said...

I wonder what the reaction would be if the audible parts of the Low Mass were chanted in a monotone, as was the practice in the Middle Ages? Or if a Low Mass were to be accompanied by (say) Haydn's 'Nelson' Mass as was the practice in late 18th/early 19th century Austria?

rcg said...

I will admit the monotone might not be attractive to me personally. Out priests have distinctly different voices, one a rapid and some what soft voice, ala Marlon Brando in Godfather. The other more projecting and easier to catch. My hearing, especially in the left ear, is shot due to jet noise and gun fire. So i use the cues of the priests actions to keep up with no problem for Low Mass if i miss a word or two. I am not so far gone that I can't hear the schola for High Mass and follow the pronunciation of our chior master. i have not heard the Nelson Mass in a while and never for Mass so don't know if it would be the same aide as a regular schola. I am afraid it might interfere.

Anonymous said...

Well, TJM, I am afraid you depart from all of the traditionalists I know who attend the EF Mass. It seems that you are in reality not traditional but a conservative who likes Latin. I doubt that you attend the EF of the Mass.

Anonymous said...

I also take it TJM that you would never attend the low form of Mass because you would not consider you were participating, as if people reading from their missal are not participating. If you speak to any traditional priest they will soon disavow you of your error.

Anonymous said...

Henry, you said, "I (though an EF devotee) have chosen the OF, because such a gloriously celebrated OF Mass is such an pearl of great price as simply not to be missed--whereas a gloriously celebrated EF Mass is the norm rather than the exception." As I have pointed out on this blog before, the cosmetics belie the fact that the OF contains watered down prayers - even the consecration of the chalice is not the same - for example, Mysterium Fidei - the mystery of faith - has been removed and consigned to the laity rather than the priest as in the EF. Plus you probably got one of the new Eucharistic prayers and no offertory prayers, no prayer to the Blessed Trinity and in addition I bet there were Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, lay readers and an offertory procession.

I am astounded that so many ignore the fundamental differences between the two masses. The OF Mass said in Latin, ad orientum, with Gregorian Chant is the same Mass as is offered in the vernacular. The weaknesses still remain and, for that reason, for many the Ordinary Form Mass is the second choice and why the traditional orders prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

TJM said...


I suspect you are not old enough to have been around prior to reform of the EF as was Henry and myself. Your mind is closed like a trap and you cannot grasp that there may have been
problems with the EF. Although I am not a fan of the OF, there were certain aspects of the EF that needed re-examination. Par example,the Last Gospel. To give the Final Blessing and the Dismissal,but then read the Last Gospel, is illogical and makes the Final Blessing and Dismissal, anti-clamactic to the sacred action. THe Last Gospel was an accretion which began as an act of piety by the celebrant as he returned to the sacristy and then at some point, it was added to the Ordo. If you cannot even accede that the dispensing of the Last Gospel might have been beneficial to the structure of the Liturgy,then I know I am dealing with a hardened ideologue instead of a thinking Catholic. Like I said, you are as rigid as a progressive who views the Liturgy as celebrated in the 1970s as de riguer

John Nolan said...

Nowadays the 'Viennese' Masses with soloists, chorus and orchestra are more usually heard in the concert hall (which was forbidden in early 19th century Austria). When used liturgically they would now be part of a sung or solemn Mass which would also include the Gregorian Propers. This evening I shall be attending the Solemn Mass for the feast of St Philip Neri at the London Oratory, celebrated by Cardinal Pell, with Haydn's 'Theresienmesse'. Haydn's late Masses are the crowning glory of his career but when performed in the Esterhazy chapel they would have accompanied a Low rather than a High Mass, so the Mass itself would have been an inaudible background to the music.

Beethoven's Mass in C and the splendid masses by Hummel fall into the same category. However, Beethoven's D Major Missa Solemnis was written for a Solemn Mass and there is a 'praeludium' between the Sanctus and Benedictus to accompany the Elevations. It was not ready for the occasion for which it was written (the elevation of the Archduke Rudolph to the Cardinalate) but I for one would love to hear it in a liturgical context.

The point is that too many believe that everyone pre-Vatican II shared the same liturgical experience.

John Nolan said...


Traditionally Mass concluded with Ite Missa Est. The Blessing and Last Gospel were relatively late additions, which is why they are said, not sung, in the EF.

The main difference between a sung Latin Novus Ordo Mass and one according to the traditional Roman Rite is that the former is simply utilizing one of the many options with regard to the Rite while the latter is strictly guided by the rubrics. That said, although I can easily attend a Low Mass in the Old Rite every Sunday, sometimes (when not singing) I opt for a Solemn Latin Novus Ordo, because the sung Mass is the norm and I appreciate the music traditionally associated with the Roman liturgy. The NO has many faults, but it did leave intact the musical structure of the older Mass for those who care to use it.

TJM said...

John,understood and that is why the Last Gospel was eliminated during the very first few changes.

rcg said...

While preparing the outside of the church for the procession I noticed a large rabbit near the garden. Several people looked on with concern and the priest wondered aloud if the rabbit lived in the garden already. I told him that, unfortunately, the rabbit have it in nobis. I am pretty sure it is a sin to punch me for that.

Anonymous said...

TJM I am sure I am at least as old as you - however the innovations that you mention were not, by and large, introduced in my country. You appear to be one of the "functionalists" referred to by Joseph Shaw of the Latin Mass Society:

"The Mass of 1965: back to the future?
Why it is not an option:


The Psalm Iudica and the Last Gospel are now back in the liturgy of the Anglican Ordinariate. The consensus of the 1950s and early 1960s that these were useless accretions to the operative Eucharistic liturgy has collapsed, even in the Congregation for Divine Worship.

On each of these issues the old consensus was based on a functionalist approach to the liturgy. You identify what the liturgy does, and clear out the bits which don't do it. The same era gave us functionalism in other areas of life too: functionalist buildings which eschewed decoration or even elegance, because these things aren't necessary for a building's function of keeping you warm and dry. It wouldn't be such a stupid idea if the theorists didn't have such a narrow view of functions. (Is that really all that buildings do?) But it's old hat now, in any case: it belongs in the history books. Are we really going to live by the discarded theories of the 1960s? Can't we benefit from all the scholarship which has been done since then?"

Pope Benedict gave approval only for the use of the 1962 missal and, therefore, you are stuck with it, last Gospel and all. It is probably best for functionalists, like yourself, to stick to the OF in Latin.

Marc said...

Jan, that is a very good description: "functionalists." It is interesting to me that there are certain people who necessarily conclude that what they label as "accretions" to the liturgy must be bad. Yet, I've not seen anyone demonstrate why they are bad. It seems that you may have answered that question for me with this description of "functionalists."

TJM said...


I'd like to know which Country you are from because my understanding is that the elimination of the Last Gospel was a change which applied to the Church universal, one of the few changes which made structural sense. Also, it sounds like you came from a place with simpleton praxis which ignored the teachings of St. Pius X and Pius XII on the laity's participation in the sacred liturgy,. Alas, you sound like a Cafeteria Catholic who picks and chooses the praxis which suits your particular ideology rather than the praxis of the Church universal. So you continue to ignore the long-standing practice of Holy Church in which throughout most of Her history the congregation sang or said the responses. You really need to get a grip on reality and follow what the CHurch teaches on the Liturgy,i.e. including those of St. Pius X and Pius XII. I read Rorate Caeli but often find it intellectually dishonest and hysterical. They border on schism at times, so now I know where you are coming from.

John Nolan said...

I find it strange that people talk of adding to the Novus Ordo the very long Tridentine preparatory prayers and the second or 'last' Gospel, which wasn't always the St John prologue - it was often the displaced Gospel of the Sunday and this would have been obvious to those who attended Mass on Trinity Sunday before 1960. These elements are relatively unimportant, as a perusal of the other Uses of the Roman Rite will make clear.

There is a strong case for using a version of the Suscipe Sancta Trinitas at the Offertory; the Trinitarian aspect is largely missing from the new Rite. Another loss is the ancient lectionary; the 1970 version is highly unsatisfactory but some actually think the classic Roman Rite would benefit from it!

I disagree with TJM about the congregation 'saying' the responses; the said Mass is a second millennium innovation - the missa privata - and the responses would have been made by the clerk. That the congregation should do so may well be laudable, but the practice dates only from the 20th century. A sung Mass is a different matter. I remember congregations in the 1950s singing the responses and familiar settings of the Ordinary. Children in Catholic schools were taught to do so.

Anonymous said...

I understand that (along with the Last Gospel) the prayers at the foot of the altar and the Tridentine preparatory prayers were late additions to the Order of Mass and originally were private devotional prayers of the priest, the former probably said in the sacristry before entering the sanctuary. In one of his books, Card. Ratzinger explains why these "accretions" are unnecessary and add nothing to the sacramental action of the Mass. (Though I myself am fond of the offertory prayers and the Suscipe Sancta Trinitas, and have them printed on an insert in the OF Latin-English daily Missal that I use when I attend a Novus Ordo Mass.)

TJM said...

John Nolan,

I think we agree that the congregation in the long history of the Catholic Mass was not mute, whether they said or sung the responses. I recall reading that in English parishes where multiple Masses were being said on a Sunday, that the congregation prior to the Protestant Revolt were taught to say the Gloria, Credo, and Pater for such Masses. I wish I could remember the source.

rcg said...

The FSSP parishes i have attended dont seem overly reluctant to speak their parts when they know them. It isn't Mass, but the participation in the Rosary before and the Leonine Prayers after Low Mass is pretty loud in our parish. The easy reaponses (sed libra nos a malo, e.g.) seem to be pretty loud, too. I would go so far as to say that if there is any reluctance to sing out a response it is primarily due to lack of familiarity with a new musical setting and appreciation of our schola.

Anonymous said...

TJM, the fact is you are just plainly among the first of the modernists who were the start of where we are now with the Novus Ordo Mass.

The Latin Mass Magazine has a very good article by Michael Davies about the 1962 missal which shows how the changes you embraced so readily were the forerunner to the radical changes that took place and is in fact the self same way that Cranmer went about reforming the Mass.

"Confining ourselves to the Ordinary of the Mass, we must ask whether, in fact, there are parts which with the passage of time came to be duplicated, or were added with little advantage. I would insist that no such parts exist. The survival of the virtually unchanged 1570 Missal until 1965 was, even from a cultural standpoint, something of a miracle. It would not be an exaggeration to describe this Missal as the most sublime product of Western civilization, more perfect in its balance, rich in its imagery, inspiring, consoling, and instructive than even the most beautiful cathedral in Europe. It should not be a matter of surprise that when St. Pius V finally codified the Roman rite of Mass he enshrined the jewel of our Faith in a setting of more than human perfection, a mystic veil worthy of the Divine Mystery that it enveloped. In his book This Is the Mass, which was highly praised by Pope Pius XII, the great French academician and historian of the Church Henri Daniel-Rops writes:

The Mass in its present rigidly regulated form, as we now know it in the West, was fixed on the morrow of the Council of Trent by St. Pius V. By his Bull Quo Primum of 1570, he expressed a wish to recall the Mass to its antique norms; he attempted at once to disencumber it of certain incidental elements and to impose its observance in uniform fashion throughout Latin Christendom. The Mass was thus given definitive form by being closely associated with the Primacy of the Apostolic See and the authority of St. Peter’s successor, while the Mass Book endorsed by the Tridentine Fathers was none other than that used in the Eternal City, the Roman Missal.

Therefore was it declared in the Catechism of the Council of Trent that no part of that Missal ought to be considered vain or superfluous; that not even the least of its phrases is to be thought wanting or insignificant."

Anonymous said...

Fr Cerota also has an excellent article against the dialogue Mass:

"As a priest who has been offering the Holy Latin Mass for 7 years now, I am absolutely against the “Dialogue Latin Mass” for the Low Latin Mass.

Again, because of the false understanding of the idea of “Active Participation” of the laity, we do not need to be answering out loud to be praying. Active Participation is an interior participation of placing our hearts, minds and bodies at the disposition of adoring God. This does not need to be vocal.

In the Missa Cantata or High Mass, the choir sings the introit, the graduale, the antiphons, and some of the responses. This is different, because it is sung in harmony with the loftiness of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If people want to sing along with the choir and are not making a show of themselves, then this is fine.

Ask any priest who really loves God and does not want to be a show off, which Holy Mass is better, dialogue or silent Mass. I would assume that the silent Latin Mass, with only the Altar Boy answering, would be the answer.

For me, having done both the Dialogue Mass and the Silent Low Mass, it is by far more contemplative having the silent low mass. The Dialogue Mass is jarring with all the people shouting our the Latin responses.

I spent years going on retreats at the Camaldolese Hermitage in Big Sur California. There is where I learned the value of silent contemplative prayer.

I beg all of you to study what is true prayer. The highest form of prayer is silent interior contemplative prayer. Exterior and active prayer is good, but it is for Catholics who are just beginning on their spiritual journey.

Yes, everyone who comes from the Novus Ordo Active show mass, love being able to respond and be heard by everyone. Humans love to be the center of the show, including the Holy Mass."

Good on Fr Cerota. I can state that I have been to many Extraordinary Form Masses and never there ever been a dialogue Mass except on the very rare occasion when a server wasn't able to be present.

People like TJM who prefer a Dialogue Mass and no last gospel should really be attending the Novus Ordo Mass in Latin rather than trying to reform what people like Michael Davies have fought so long and hard to restore.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Marc, and Michael Davies has a great article which demonstrates the changes in 1965 were the beginning of the intended reform:

"No layman could help noticing the changes made to the Ordinary of the Mass in the 1965 Missal, and there can be little doubt that its purpose was to prepare the faithful for the revolutionary changes that were to be introduced in 1969. By design or by coincidence the preparation for this revolution followed precisely the strategy of Thomas Cranmer, the apostate Archbishop of Canterbury, prior to the imposition of his English Communion Service of 1549.15 One of the principal features of the Catholic liturgy had been stability. Developments in the manner in which Mass was celebrated did occur, but they crept in almost imperceptibly over the centuries, and the Missals in use in England and throughout Europe in the sixteenth century had remained unchanged for at least several hundred years. The faithful took it for granted that whatever else might change, the Mass could not."

We have a lot to be grateful for to men like Michael Davies for their astute vision where the Mass concerned. There is no doubt that the Catholic Church was rocked by the changes to the Mass which was such a rock in their lives. The Church has never recovered from this disastrous attempt to "update" the liturgy.

TJM said...

Jan, so you continue in your pride to ignore the teachings on participation in the Mass by a Saint, Saint Pius X,and a reputed Saint, Pius XII. But a mere priest, Father Cerota, you slobber all over because he supports your misguided ideology. You seem to glory in your ignorance and contumaciousness. You need to go to Confession, pronto, to confess your defiance of St. Piux X and Pius XII teachings, otherwise, YOU would be better served going to an Anglican Church where you can pick and choose what you believe and still remain Anglican

John Nolan said...

Given that the sung Mass is the norm, it is not unreasonable for the congregation to recite, at Low Mass, what they would normally sing. This would not include the PATFOTA, the Deo gratias after the epistle, the Laus tibi Christe after the gospel, and the response to the Orate Fratres. It would however include the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, plus those responses which are sung.

I would not suggest that this be done at every Low Mass, but where it were to occur it would not cause the heavens to fall or usher in the Bugnini Ordo by the back door.

Anonymous said...

TJM, if you check your facts you will find that Pius XII was referring to the Missa Cantata not to the low Mass. You referred to the low Mass in derogatory terms in your grandmother's parish. Might I add that the majority of parishes did not have a Missa Cantata because they didn't have a choir so had the low form of Mass which you don't like. The dialogue Mass was the first of the innovations introduced that led to all the other innovations.

It seems to me that maybe, due to being an altar server, you became used to responding to the Mass and obviously don't like being in a congregation where you have to silently read from the missal at the low Mass. Perhaps, like Fr Cerota mentions, you do like the sound of your own voice. You like everyone to know that you can read Latin - as many of us can but we don't feel the need to show off.

In your comments also about the last Gospel being superfluous you show that you are indeed an innovator. You have the Latin Mass as you want it in the Ordinary form at St John Cantius, no prayers at the foot of the altar and no last gospel, so why are you going about trying to modernize the 1962 missal for? People like Michael Davies speak authoritatively from years of studying the Mass when they say that the missal of 1965 was a failure.

The Extraordinary Form of the Mass developed over centuries until 1965 when people like you, by accepting and looking for novelties, really caused the demise of the Mass. Despite being an altar server all those years ago, no doubt, you are only a recent attender of the EF of the Mass and bring with you the novelties of the Novus Ordo.

My advice to you is to stick to the Ordinary Form of the Mass in Latin as you are out of step with the vast majority of people who love the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. I suggest to you that, if you take a look at the position papers of the International Federation Una Voce, who have worked assiduously for the restoration of the Mass since 1967, and who form a very large body of people who work in many country for the preservation of the EF Mass, you will find that the removal of the Last Gospel and prayers at the foot of the altar is not what they advocate nor do they advocate a dialogue Mass.

Anonymous said...

For those younger people now attending the Extraordinary Form of the Mass I suggest that in the interests of preserving the Mass they join one of the bodies affiliated to Una Voce International:

"A Role of Service to the Church

“The International Una Voce Federation has played an important role in supporting the use of the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal in obedience to the directives of the Holy See. For this valuable service I express my gratitude to the members of the Federation and extend my blessing.”

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, speaking to the Una Voce Federation, 25 July 1996

Una Voce (from the Preface of the Most Holy Trinity – with one voice) is an international federation of associations, founded in 1966 in Rome, that now includes national associations in 17 nations on every continent. It is dedicated to ensuring that the Roman Mass codified by St. Pius V is maintained as one of the forms of eucharistic worship which are honored in universal liturgical life, and to restoring the use of Latin, Gregorian Chant, and sacred polyphony in Catholic liturgy. The Una Voce International website provides information about officers and national associations:"

There is a list of member organisations in different countries throughout the world.

For the US - Una Voce America:

For the UK - the Latin Mass Society:

The rest of the world organizations listed here:

Unknown said...


You really enjoy wagging your finger, don't you?

Anonymous said...

Flavius, Yes, I think it comes from being educated by the nuns. They did a lot of finger waving (usually prefaced by "There's no will you/won't you about it") and obviously some of it rubbed off!

TJM said...


You really are a one trick pony, and apperently revel in your ignorance. The normative Mass in the Roman Rite is the sung Mass, the low Mass should be offered only when it is not possible to sing the Mass. I doubt you've read Mediator Dei, and if you have, you clearly don't understand it. Please go to confession and confess your sinful attitude towards St. Pius X and Pius XII

John Nolan said...

I suspect that Jan and TJM are singing from the same hymn sheet. I think that where Jan goes wrong is that he/she assumes that because SP specifies the 1962 Missal then this must be somehow definitive. While it is true that a Catholic from any century of the second millennium would find 1962 reassuringly familiar (and by the same token would find Mass as celebrated in most places by 1970 completely alien) the liturgy had even by then undergone considerable changes, most of them in the 20th century due to the interference of Pius X and Pius XII.

The Sarum Use does not have a Last Gospel said at the altar; the Dominican Use originally did not have it, but reluctantly agreed to adopt it after pressure from Rome. Pius V's Missal of 1570 is not the be-all-and-end-all either, since he explicitly allowed that rites of 200 years or older could continue. His main aim was to ensure that the heretical 'liturgies' of the Protestant reformers should not be recognized as valid.

I suspect that the original Ordo of Holy Week will be restored in the EF before too long. The Bugnini-influenced 1955 Ordo is highly unsatisfactory, yet Pius XII was prepared to sign it off. We know that Cardinal Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII) didn't like it. Mind you, I very much doubt that had he lived he would have agreed to Sacrosanctum Concilium, still less have used it as a pretext for dismantling the Roman Rite and replacing it with something completely different.

TJM said...

John Nolan,

Having read extensively about St.John XXIII,I agree he would have quashed Sacrosanctum Concilium. Simpleton liberals appear to not know that John XXIII penned Veterum Sapientia, which reinforced the use of Latin in the Church on the very eve of the Council. He said that Latin was the language which joined the Church of today. Liberals following his death, conveniently co-opted John XXIII to give cover to their evil actions. There is a special place in Hell for them!

Anonymous said...

John Nolan, no, I am definitely not singing from the same hymn sheet as TJM. His views on the Traditional Mass do not fit in with the mainstream views, in my experience, of people attending the Latin Mass. And I see he has not answered as to whether he is newly come to the traditional Mass. I suspect he is. Those of us who never embraced the OF of the Mass, although not joining the SSPX, have remained true to the Mass of Ages without the suggested changes that TJM would like.

I have nothing against a sung Mass - in fact I love it. What I object to is TJM's view expressed above about the fact of the Low Mass, "my grandmother's parish was the "deaf, dumb, and blind" variation where the parishioners sang or said nothing". The silent Low Mass is equally as beautiful as the sung Mass but I suspect there are some who have lost the art of contemplation and these days people don't know what to do with silence. TJM, for all his age, appears to fit into that category.

While the sung Mass may be the norm it is very rare to have it in a parish church unless there is a choir. I don't remember ever having attended a sung Mass in my youth except at the local cathedral, and that would be the normal situation in most parishes. I can say that, unless there is a choir, the sung Mass can sound an absolute disaster and should not be attempted for the sake of this false idea of "we must be participating" which has been debunked by many writing in support of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass - another reason for TJM to attend the OF Mass.

John I don't know how long you have been involved in seeking the restoration of the traditional Mass, but I can say that I and others who have been involved for many years were delighted when the Motu Proprio was finally given. However, I am dismayed at the few, like TJM, now seeking to reform the Mass. TJM would like to do away with the Last Gospel and prayers at the foot of the altar. I can assure you that TJM does not represent the mainstream of people who love and attend the traditional Mass. As you are in England I am sure you will be aware of that. There is no dialogue Mass at the Brompton Oratory and I saw a comment that if you make a response "they snottily glare at you". I have read that many of the FSSP parishes have done away with the dialogue Mass in the US. I have never attended one dialogue Mass and would avoid it like the plague.

Anonymous said...

Here is another view about the dialogue Mass from Remnant columnist Brian McColl:

"Interested in avoiding unpleasant confrontations at Mass, a growing number of tradition-minded Catholics are actually seeking out non-Dialogue Masses. Several Fraternity of St. Peter priests have, out of pastoral concern, reportedly suspended Dialogue Masses in various locations of late. But as Brian McCall rightly points out, this is not de fide and both sides of the aisle have a right to try to make their case. Still, at the very least the following article should help the pro-Dialogue folks realize that those who remain silent on Sunday morning do so out of carefully considered choice and not an ignorance of the Latin responses. This should decrease the decibel level of the tutorial din rising from the pews, thus bringing distractions to a minimum. At least that is our hope as we go press with this excellent study of the Dialogue Mass MJM.


As the comments of Hans Kung noted above indicate, those originally advocating the Dialogue Mass despised this ancient understanding of the different roles of the laity and the priest. They saw a deficiency in the over 1000-year custom of the Church. The laity were missing out on something. There was too much emphasis on the priest (the office that all the Protestant varieties would abolish in reality if not in name). This thinking even creeps in to the Instruction. There is something incomplete, they argued, in a mute congregation. It obscures the nature of the Mass as an act of the community. The people are not involved.

The error in this line of reasoning is that the Mass is not a community event like a cookout or town meeting. The perfect sacrifice of Christ to His Father needs no “participation” of the laity to become perfect. It is perfect in and of itself and even in the absence of any congregation (a Mass with a lone priest). The laity are present for their own edification and spiritual nourishment, not to effect the action at the altar. They come not to add to or perfect the sacred action but to receive its benefits. This is the reason for the necessary interior disposition – it disposes the soul to receive graces.

A Dialogue Mass can easily be seen as a community event. Priest speaks, people respond. Once accepted, the liturgical liberals more easily argue for turning the priest himself around. Should he not face the people he is talking with? I am not stating that versus populum Masses are the inevitable result of a Dialogue Mass. Yet, the two ideas spring from a common vision of the nature of the Mass as a communal experience.

I will attempt to draw a few conclusions from this discussion. First, as sated at the outset the Dialogue Mass is an option (or more precisely a list of various options) since 1958 officially permitted by the Church. The issue is thus not one of condemning communities who are making use of or abstaining from use of the options. The question is rather, should this experiment (for given its novelty in the liturgical history of the Church that is what it is) be continued in the revival of the Roman Rite or left to one side like many other customs and experiments over the years as not desirable as a permanent part of the Rite. I have argued that certainly for a Low Mass, the practice distorts and obscures important delineations between clerical and lay offices. It discourages the quiet interior disposition of the laity as they join their mind and soul to the sacrifice of Christ. It makes it difficult for individuals to make use of other means of contemplation as they are interrupted by the congregational responses. Someone wishing to focus his spiritual faculties on the words of the Mass is free to do so by internally speaking the words of response in his heart. By doing so, this leaves the person sitting next to him free to use other methods of interior preparation and contemplation."

John Nolan said...


Most English parishes in the 1950s could manage a Missa Cantata on a Sunday, choir or no choir. I remember being taken by my father from the age of about four. I really only encountered the Low Mass when I started serving in 1959, aged eight.

Four men psalm-toned the Propers and the congregation sang the Ordinary, supported by the organ (hand-pumped until around 1957!). My favourite piece was Samuel Webbe's 'Vidi Aquam' (the plainchant version was obviously too difficult). I still recall it vividly, although I haven't heard it for fifty-six years.

What killed off the sung Mass was the 1965 Ordo with its extensive use of the vernacular, lay readers and no requirement for the celebrant to sing anything. The four-hymn sandwich arrived about this time.

I agree that the dialogue Mass never worked. Now at Low Mass I sometimes recite the server's responses sotto voce, and those parts which I would be singing at a sung Mass, including the Propers. At other times I am content to listen. I love the expression 'to hear Mass'.

Anonymous said...

John, thanks for your comments. It seems it was different in every country. "Building the Modern Church" states that as late as 1968 six dioceses in Britain still prohibited the dialogue Mass.

I myself, as I said, love the Missa Cantata but I have a friend in her 80s who is from British Guiana who went to boarding school in the UK for a number of years. Her experience is of the silent Low Mass and accordingly she is not fond of the Missa Cantata or any form of dialogue Mass seeing it as the beginning of the modernisation of the Mass.

An interesting commentary from Fr E Black - I think he is of the SSPX:

"It is necessary to be clear in one's mind that the Dialogue Mass is a novelty in the history of the Church. Even those who approve of it and feel that it is an improvement on what went before must, in all honesty, admit this for it does nothing for their case to pretend otherwise. It was quite unknown before the 20th century. St Pius X did not envisage Dialogue Mass but rather congregational singing when he advocated ”active participation” ... it was enthusiastically adopted in latter years by bishops and clergy who were very progressive at the time, especially in France and Germany ... The result is that in these places the “silent” Mass on public occasions has passed out of living memory and consequently the average Traditional Catholic there who understandably has little knowledge of liturgical history believes that it has been practiced in every era since the early Church. Paradoxically, or PROVIDENTIALLY, it was not adopted in English-speaking lands as their bishops in the 1940’s and 50’s were generally very conservative
and therefore not particularly interested in the Liturgical Movement and its ideas.

... Even if it is readily conceded that Dialogue Mass is neither Modernist nor heretical this is not to say that it is desirable. Many practices of the Church in previous centuries were abandoned for good reasons and it is most unwise to revive them now. Even if there was a liturgy in the early Church which approximated to the Dialogue Mass it is well known that there was also Mass in the vernacular, Communion under two kinds and in the hand, Mass sometimes celebrated facing the people and a married priesthood (even the first Pope was
married!). None of these practices are in themselves against the Faith and were quite legitimate but recent history has proved what dire consequences have ensued when many of them were revived after the Second Vatican Council. "

He concludes: "Let us, therefore, treasure the traditional form of “silent” Low Mass as one of our greatest treasures. This is the form of Mass developed at a high point of Catholic culture and devotion in an era which we love to call “The Age of Faith”. This is the form of Mass
which nurtured the spiritual life of the saints who were the greatest of the
true reformers of the Church, Saints Francis, Dominic, Bernard, Ignatius, Catherine of Sienna, Teresa of Avila, etc. None of them were dissatisfied with the “silent “Mass, as known by them and us, but rather they loved it and there is no evidence that they felt that they suffered any deprivation from their lack of ”active participation “in the worship of Christ’s Mystical Body. Let us also love and be thankful for this grace and “be zealous for the better gifts” (I Cor.XII.31)"

At Christmas a priest in one diocese offering the EF Mass requested it be a dialogue Mass. He also informed people that they could receive communion in the hand standing if they wished and actually offered the EF Mass facing the people due to - he said - a small crib (which could have been easily removed) preventing him from offering ad orientem.

I do feel that in those places where they have a dialogue Mass further changes will very soon take place and people will end up with a hybrid Mass and not the EF at all.

John Nolan said...

Jan, by 1968 Inter Oecumenici and Tres Abhinc Annos had taken effect and Mass (by now exclusively in the vernacular in most places) resembled the Novus Ordo more than it did the Tridentine Rite. So whether dioceses had previously sanctioned the dialogue Mass or not was irrelevant. The vernacular Mass never reserved the responses to the server.

Singing in unison is a natural activity; speaking in unison is not. The dialogue Mass requires a large congregation, some of whom are so far distant from the altar as to be unable to hear either celebrant or server, to co-ordinate their responses. The Latin Novus Ordo, with its short introductory rites and use of amplification is easier in this respect, but even here it is noticeable that after the Orate Fratres the congregational Suscipiat tends to fall apart.

You mention Brompton Oratory. Low Mass in a side chapel where everything said aloud is audible, is fine. Low Mass at the High Altar, where even half-way down the church nothing would be audible, is also fine. But if the celebrant's words are amplified so that they can be clearly heard even at the back of the church, whereas the server's responses are inaudible (since he is not mic'd), the effect is disconcerting. I noticed this some years ago when they moved the traditional Sunday Low Mass from the Little Oratory to the main church.

A dialogue implies that the participants face each other and can easily hear one another. So you are absolutely right in assuming that it would logically lead (as indeed it did) to forward altars and celebration versus populum. A 'Missa Recitata' where the people recite with the celebrant those parts of the Ordinary which pertain to them (i.e. those which they would sing at a High Mass) is less of a problem, but even this is not always practical.

TJM said...

Jan, the one trick pony. Ignore the Popes' teaching but follow the Magisterium of the Remnant. You and Hans Kung have a lot in common. Thanks for the laugh.

Anonymous said...

TJM, it has been explained by a number of writers that Pius X11 was referring to the sung Mass and not the dialogue Mass. The absolute laugh is when people like yourself, who claim knowledge that they absolutely do not have, put words into the Pope's mouth that he did not speak. A little bit of research will show you where you have gone wrong.

Anyway, as I said, I don't know what you're quibbling about because you've got it all in the Latin Ordinary Form of the Mass and so you should be quite happy. You can shout the Latin responses out to your heart's content and impress your neighbors. Also, you don't have to worry about prayers at the foot of the altar or the Last Gospel which concern you for some reason - perhaps you find they lengthen the Mass too much for your taste. But anyway, without them at the Latin OF you can be sure there is nothing to hold you back and you can be one of the first out of the church for your Sunday socialising ...

Anonymous said...

Actually, John, sorry I made a mistake in my post as it was 1958 rather than 1968, so what you say there is of course correct.

I agree with you that singing in unison is natural but speaking in unison is not. I know that even at the Ordinary Form Mass I attend the priest has actually asked people to try to answer together and for some not to lag behind. I myself find it difficult at some weekday Ordinary Form Masses where the young people charge through the responses at a rate of knots and it is very difficult to keep up. When that occurs I often don't respond. Young people these days seem to naturally speak a lot faster than previously.

At the EF Mass I attend where there is a server if someone new comes along and offers the odd response the priest has actually turned round and looked at them. He has indicated, though, that if there is no server he would be happy for the congregation to respond. He is a young priest and fairly new to the EF Mass so I can imagine that it is easier for him with just a server responding rather than, as you say, people chipping in here and there, lagging behind, etc.

TJM said...

Jan, keep gloriying in your ignorance. The Sung Mass is the normative Mass of the Roman Rite, the Low Mass enjoys an inferior status. Tolerated but not preferred. You and the young priest are at odds with Church teaching on lay participation in the Mass and it is a sin. Go to confession. Also, grow up

Anonymous said...

TJM, if anyone needs to go to confession it is yourself for bearing false witness against your neighbor. From your comments, it is easily seen that it is you who needs to grow up but, at your age, it is already far too late, but then perhaps you are already into your second dotage ...

Your comments show you to be a typical liberal. When a liberal has no leg to stand on he inevitably falls back on insulting people. Therefore, I correct what I said before. I don't think you should grace the OF Latin Mass at all. Your type is far better off at something like the Toronto Blessing where I believe they yell and bleat and oink ... much more your style.

TJM said...

Annuntio vobis gaudiam magnum; habemus papam: JAN I

you're like a cartoon character, one dimensional.

John Nolan said...

If there was no server and no men in the congregation, it was permissible for a woman to make the responses, kneeling at the altar rail.

I confess I haven't heard of the Toronto Blessing with its farmyard noises; it puts me in mind of the Donkey Mass in medieval Beauvais with the following rubric - In fine Missae sacerdos, versus ad populum, vice 'Ite Missa est' ter hinhannabit: populous vero, vice 'Deo Gratias' ter respondebit 'hinham, hinham, hinham'.

Anonymous said...

TJM keep oinking ...

John, the Toronto Blessing - you don't want to know - I guess you would call it the ultimate in participation ...

TJM said...

Pope Jan I,

Keep oinking!!!