Thursday, March 9, 2017


First Things has an article on the formlessness of the liturgy and how to reform the reform. Yawn!

Don't get me wrong, if more parishes were exposed to the EF Mass and every Catholic priest had a comfort level in celebrating it, I believe we would see this influencing the Ordinary Form, what is called erroneously "mutual enrichment."

It is said that young people when exposed to the EF prefer it, not in a nostalgic way, but because of its mystery and reverence. I have not seen statistics on this. However, in my previous parish we had a monthly EF Mass at one of our normal Sunday Masses and I didn't see the young flocking to it or saying let's do this every Sunday.

At the Cathedral here in Savannah which as a weekly EF High Mass, there is about 200 or less people attend. Given the number of Catholics in Savannah and the tourist population, it should be packed given what traditionalists say about the EF Mass and its appeal!

Prior to Vatican II there were two to three forms of the EF Mass, Low, High and Solemn High. Most parishes did not celebrate the Solemn High regularly. In a multiple Mass parish, only one would be the High Mass, the rest Low Masses. Most Catholics prior to Vatican preferred the Low Mass early in the morning because sit was simple and more importantly short!

I suspect with the OF Mass, if we had only one Sung Mass on Sunday and no singing of the Mass at the other Mass times, this would go over very well compared to offering the EF Mass every Sunday at all Masses low or high!

I wholeheartedly endorse what the recent letter on music in the Mass suggests. But this has to come from our pope and bishops and be a program of restoration and renewal.

But today, we not only have multiple Masses with multiple styles of music, good, bad and horrible, but we have different language Masses which presents an entire new set of problems for pastors trying to determine what is good music in Spanish, Vietnamese or Portuguese or whatever language! It is simply impossible today for most priest to present a coherent renewal of music in their parishes!

Yes, the EF Mass is important for the reform of the Ordinary Form, but much more is needed and most of it focuses on reverence in the OF Mass, its music and how to move forward in that realm, not only on the grassroots level, but more importantly on the level of bishops and their program of renewal they expect priests to implement!


Gene said...

"...depends on who you ask..." Sort of like "What is Catholic Doctrine today?"

Anonymous said...

"I wholeheartedly endorse what the recent letter on music in the Mass suggests. But this has to come from our pope and bishops and be a program of restoration and renewal."

Does this perhaps betray the clerical mindset that infests of the post Vatican II Church?

To the contrary, might it be more realistic to suggest that reform of current liturgical practice--with its multiplicity of options—is more likely to come from the bottom up? As, I understand, organic development down through the centuries has largely taken place. Through the ars celebranda of orthodox young priests--of which we're already seeing more and more--spreading upwards, particularly as they become pastors and bishops.

A large portion--of that minority of today's young people who remain actove in church—may well find attractive the mystery and reverence of the EF, but (as you have mentioned) are repelled by its Latin.

I therefore wonder what would happen if the presumably forthcoming OF option of a Lutheran-like communion service were balanced with the addition of an Ordinariate-like OF option including prayers at the foot of the altar, the restored offertory rite, the Roman canon in hieratic English, the Last Gospel, restoration of many EF gestures, communion on the tongue kneeling at the altar rail, celebrated ad orientem largely in the vernacular with chanted English propers, but perhaps the ordinary (Gloria, etc) in Latin Gregorian chant.

This would essentially be a vernacular Tridentine Mass, but calling it and OF option could meet the objection to an English translation of the EF among trads who are traumatized by the fact that translation has become an ideological weapon in the Church.

Vernon Knight said...

The EF and OF do go hand in hand! And it has actually help me in my love for the reverence of the OF Mass because the two forms compliment each other that the faithful could find beauty and reverence in either them.

TJM said...

By and large, on life support. People over the last few decades have voted with their feet. Epic fail. If the Pope and Bishops were in a business corporation they would have all been fired for incompetence and malfeasance. There are a few who post here who are still nursing their delusions about the "glories of Vatican II and the Novus Ordo."

Jacob said...

In France there is an interesting statistic. 25% of all Catholics that go to mass on Sunday go to the traditional Latin mass. The amount of people actually who go to the novus ordo is dropping fast and the traditional parishes are growing. Mass attendance is like 4% in France. Over a third of ordinations are already in the traditional Rite. Again this is because so few men are entering the priesthood in the novus ordo and traditional vocations are increasing. In the future the few Catholics who are left will be the traditional Catholics. The traditional mass will save the Church, it is inevitable.

Victor said...

Fr McDonald:
You are right in that the world is not homogeneous, and it depends where you are in seeing youth interest in the EF.
But Mosebach is right on several important issues, one in particular is that it takes a lifetime to get to learn the riches of the EF Mass. Prior to V2, the defensive stand of the Church was mainly in terms of people learning the faith through the catechism against the enemies of the Church. Even though the liturgy is the source and summit of faith, very little attention was paid to teaching its spiritual riches. Think of what Thomas Aquinas had to say just on the signs of the cross during the Canon, now non-existent in the new Mass.
Mosebach is also right on how immoral it was to ram the new Mass down people's throats at the expense of the riches of the EF, despite what the EF meant to the all important collective memory of the people as sociologists of religion today have pointed out. The OF Mass fits well with the new egotistical society of the late 1960s and the egotistical calibre of the liturgical experts involved, since its incarnation was all about the people, their participation in an event whether or not that participation increased their communion with God. Today, when the priest turns around ad orientem, OF people go crazy, as the Mass is no longer about pleasing their ego, the I, the we, but forces them to look beyond the priest to the Cross of heavenly salvation.
In other words, the original Liturgical Movement was right, that the people needed to be informed about the spiritual wealth of the Mass of St Gregory so as to be able more fully participate in its spiritually and share in its spiritual gifts. It just did not happen, but, rather, the spiritual riches were dumped in the New Mass to get more external, un-in-depth, and simplistic participation that glorifies the ego. The more people learn about the riches of the EF, the more they are converted to it, but this conversion requires them to leave their egos at the entrance door of the church.

Anonymous said...

The NO has weaned the faithful from authentic Catholic worship. People now prefer casual and secular in church and in public life in general.

Lex orandi, lex credendi......the faith of Catholic worshipers is by and large not the Catholic faith of pre-V2. I try going to EF Masses but for me it is possible only about half the time. So, then I go to NO. The people at the NO Masses, in general, show less respect for the Mass/God by the way they dress, worship, and behave as if they were not in the house of God but in some kind of secular venue. And it is not just the people. The Priest, even the rite itself encourages this type of behavior: casual, secular. This is the faith of modern Catholics. The rite is not conducive to contemplation as a community. Many in their private prayers may be quite devout, I do not doubt. The net result of casual and secular is the loss of the younger generation since the message is that what we do at Mass is nothing special.

The priest may give a perfectly orthodox homily but then he casually walks past the tabernacle without recognizing the Real Presence with genuflecting or even a bow. The new translation is an improvement on past renditions of the Latin original, but words fly away and most Mass goers would not be able to tell 2 minutes after they hear the Collect what the payer was about. Actions impress more especially men who are visually more susceptible to learn what is going on.

Those youngsters who by the grace of God have a better understanding of what the Mass is about are the ones we hear that they prefer the EF. There are FSSP and SSPX parishes where the young get a better education about Catholic worship. They are the future of the Church. The Novus Ordo will produce what protestant Churches including the Anglicans are able to do but no more. And we know what that is. D.H. Lawrence said once "every breakdown is a break through", our breakthrough in Catholic worship will come after a few more decades of casual and secular. Who knows what Pope Francis is up to with the new effort on the Mass translation. I am not expecting anything good.

TJM said...


Those are startling statistics but they don't surprise me.

rcg said...

Music: that is easier than you think as long as you don't get distracted by pop music. Some of the smart folks who read this blog can give details, but in summary use Gregorian Chant as the basis and apply very simple music theory and you can compose decent tunes that will appeal to the sensibilities of any culture and remain reverent.

Liturgy: we are living in a time of paradox where the Liturgies of Lutherans and Anglicans seems more orthodox and correct although invalid along side the valid but unorthodox and sometimes dodgy Catholic NO.

If the powers that be insist on changing the Liturgy (NO) they should not have departed so abruptly from the original because it was not only weaker, it implied a departure from teaching and doctrine.

The Mass form you, FrAJM, have recommended rebaselines the NO as a small tangent from the VO. Notwithstanding the arguments that we didn't need a change in the first place we could re-start the development of the NO based (e.g.) on your suggestion with almost no training to the current cadre of priests.

The same goes for music forms. A modal or pentatonic center for music composition and performance is accessible and even traditional to every human culture. It also arcs off the Gregorian music form so adaptations could be managed for cultural sensibilities, reverence, and content.

There. I am a target for the rest of the commentariat on this board. 😎

Anonymous said...

Fr. M: “But this has to come from our pope and bishops and be a program of restoration and renewal."

The thrust of Mosebach’s and penetrating and riveting article—in my immediate reaction, the most incisive and informative of the hundreds of reform pieces that have appeared thus far—is quite different. It deserves complete reading by every liturgy wonk, but perhaps a lengthier extract (with added emphasis) from Mosebach is justified, than is ordinarily appropriate in a blog comment:

The now decades-old movement for the restoration of the Roman Rite has been to a considerable extent a lay movement. The position of priests who support the Roman Rite was and will be strengthened by Summorum Pontificum . . . Yet this does not change the fact that it will be the laity who will be decisive in bringing about the success of efforts to reform the reform.

Pope Benedict believed . . . that the reinstitution of the old rite, like all significant movements in the history of the Church, must come from below, not as a result of a papal decree from above. In the meantime, the post-conciliar work of destruction has wounded multitudes of the faithful. Unless a change of mind and a desire for a return to the sacred begin to sprout in countless individual hearts, administrative actions by Rome, however well-intentioned and sound, can affect little.”

Recapturing the fullness of the Church’s liturgy is now a matter for the young. . . . Reform is a return to form. The movement that seeks to restore the form of the Latin Rite is still an avant-garde, attracting young people who find modern society suffocating.”

Incidentally, Father Z has just posted his red-pen commentary--exceptionally brilliant, even for him—on this inspiring article. His own reaction:

“I’ll tell you something. That left me pretty revved up.”

Me too. (As a lay worker in this vineyard.)

TJM said...

These are not my words, but the words of someone else, but I totally and completely agree with what this person stated regarding the OF:

"Taking the long view, my opinion is that the Novus Ordo will end up being seen as a blip in the history of the Church. Things lasting even 100 years, in terms of Church history, are almost like details. They can be awfully important to the people who happen to live through them, and they can have pretty awful consequences, this is beyond question. But I believe the NO will end up being a “parenthesis”, as our host likes to describe papacies. And I think the reason is that the NO Mass, while it is certainly valid and can be celebrated with reverence and beauty, is marred by a kind of liturgical and theological original sin. This Mass was put together with deceit and subterfuge, with contempt for Catholic Tradition and doctrine: it is the result of a raw exercise of power that has been defended for decades with even more deceit (like the idea that the Old Mass had been “abolished”, or that the new rite was exactly what the liturgical documents of Vatican II were talking about). I find it hard to believe that this edifice will stand for much longer, since the fruit of the whole project are before everyone’s eyes… As Mosebach says, and as our host says, it is up to us now."

George said...

I concur with those who are of the mind that change will come from the bottom up,at least for now. With a more amenable person on the throne of Peter, one could envision a convergence of liturgical like -mindedness with those who want a more uniform,consistent and reverent celebration of the liturgy, and so it can happen that some action could come the top which would be helpful. Still, however one might disagree with some of the progressive views of Pope Francis, it is hard to find much fault in how he celebrates the Mass. Given the state of things today, the opposition that the imposition of any kind of significant liturgical reform from Rome would unleash would not be good for the Church. Face it, that is just the way things are today. Many of the members of the Church, the Body of Christ on Earth, are not as they should be, and so absent some biblical-like intervention from God,what is necessary to bring things to a better place will just take time.

TJM said...

Let's be intellectually honest. Although valid, the OF is ersatz. Pope Benedict recognized that "inconvenient fact."

Charles G said...

Our bishop has told the Tridentine Mass Community where I chant in the schola that they are not allowed to advertise outside of the church where our masses are held. I think more people might grow to appreciate the traditional form if they knew more about it. Frankly, with this Pope's evacuation of the content of the faith, I have grown more and more suspicious of the whole lax Novus Ordo mentality and have gained more appreciation for the tradition, although I still sing at both forms of a Sunday. Have spent time coram Deo and am trying to focus more on Christ and not on the miserable human beings currently running and ruining the Church.

blogPL said...

Good luck with the reform of the OF! Since 45 years some are trying just to celebrate it the way it should but except a few monasteries here and there, 'tis still the same old mess everywhere . . . . No surprise always more people stick to the Old Mass which is always the same, ubique et semper!!!

Anonymous said...

Cardinal Heenan has been proved right about what he stated after attending a Novus Ordo Mass:

"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."

Bearing in mind that the NO Mass Cardinal Heenan witnessed was far better liturgy than what we now have. The fact is in most places it is only women - wannabe priestesses in fact - who are regulars at Mass and it seems it won't be long before they have their way.


Anonymous said...

Fr McDonald mentioned in an earlier post that those wanting the EF Mass are holding back the refinement of the OF of the Mass. I am wondering if Father has forgotten that when compared to what happens now with the noises etc and sloppy manner of offering Mass, the OF was at one time refined but that didn't stop people leaving the Church in droves.

Of course the OF has seen further and further changes - particularly with the imposition of prayer and worship music, bidding prayers, dance and so much more, and people have continued to leave the Church. It is only in recent years that Pope Benedict's Summorum Pontificum has made the EF Mass more readily available. Over the 50 years the OF has before became less and less refined, despite the presence of people who now choose to attend the EF Mass. What Pope Benedict did in granting Summorum Pontificum was to ensure that more people would stay connected with the Church and not go to the SSPX.

The OF will continue to be refined in some places and made worse in others, regardless of who attends the EF of the Mass.