Thursday, July 13, 2017


This is from the Tablet, which some call The Bitter Pill as it is Great Britain's version of the National Chismatic Reporter (NCR). But the article on Cardinal Sarah isn't bad and of course, I completely endorse Cardinal Sarah common sense plan for the renewal and reconciliation of the Ordinary Form of the Mass with the Extraordinary Form:
 Cardinal Sarah wants 'liturgical reconciliation' between old and new forms of Mass

Cardinal Sarah wants 'liturgical reconciliation' between old and new forms of Mass

13 July 2017 | by Christopher Lamb

Sarah says phrase 'reform of the reform' should no longer be used but wants ordinary version of Mass to be more like the extraordinary form

The Cardinal leading the Vatican’s divine worship office has called for a truce in the Church’s liturgy wars and has set out steps for a “reconciliation" between the old and new forms of the Mass.  
Cardinal Robert Sarah wants an end to battles between supporters of the extraordinary form of the liturgy, and those in favour of the ordinary celebration of the Mass which grew out of the Second Vatican Council. 

A lifting of restrictions on celebrating the pre-conciliar liturgy were made a decade ago by Benedict XVI’s ruling Summorum Pontificum, which allowed for greater use of the old rite. This version of the Mass is conducted by a priest saying prayers in Latin which are mostly inaudible and with his back to the people in order to face east, known as ad orientem. Devotees of this form of the Mass praise it for its otherworldly mystery and as a pathway to contemplation.

But critics said Benedict XVI’s decision was a divisive move which called into question the reforms of the 1962-65 council: this allowed for the Mass to celebrated in vernacular languages and with a stress on the “active participation” of people. The reformed “ordinary form” of the liturgy is the one celebrated in the vast majority of parishes across the globe.  

Cardinal Sarah, writing in French magazine La Nef to mark ten years since Summorum Pontificum, now wants to reconcile the rites with a new, shared calendar for when feast days are celebrated along with ensuring both forms of the Mass use the same scripture readings at the same time. Under Benedict XVI a committee worked for many years in this area but to no avail. 

The Guinean prelate’s move is on the one hand a conciliatory move given the cardinal has been largely promoting the wishes of traditionalists during his period in office. 

 In his article, the cardinal calls for an end to the phrase the “reform of the reform” an idea pushed by those who want the ordinary form of the Mass to be more like the old rite. 

“Reform of the reform’ has become synonymous with dominance of one clan over the other,” the cardinal writes in French. “This expression may then become inappropriate, so I prefer to speak of liturgical reconciliation. In the Church, the Christian has no opponent!”

Last year, during a speech in London, the cardinal said “we can’t dismiss the possibility or the desirability of an official reform of the liturgical reform,” and made an appeal for priests to start saying Mass while facing east. But soon afterwards he met with the Pope who, according to a Vatican statement, told the cardinal that no directives in this area were to be given while the Holy See spokesman said the phrase “reform of the reform” should be avoided.

But while the cardinal is calling for reconciliation, he also wants the ordinary version of the Mass to take on elements from the extraordinary such as more use of Latin and encouraging priests to say certain prayers in silence. In April of this year, Cardinal Sarah denounced the “disaster, the devastation and the schism that the modern promoters of a living liturgy” and said that the Church after Vatican II had abandoned its “Christian roots”.

In his Le Nef article, the cardinal also proposes the newer form of the liturgy adopt the following: communion to be received kneeling and on the tongue, the inclusion of “Prayers at the Foot of the Altar” which take place in the old rite and for the priest to ensure that after consecrating the host that the fingers which touched it remain united.

The cardinal states that those who use the old rite of the Mass to call Vatican II into question are “gravely wrong” but also states that council’s reforms did not “contradict” what had gone before.  
“It would thus be wrong to consider the two different forms of liturgy as showing two opposing theologies,” he explains. 

“It is a priority that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can examine through prayer and study, how to return to a common reformed rite always with this goal of a reconciliation inside the Church,” the cardinal writes. “For now, there is still violence, contempt and hurtful opposition that destroys the Church and pushes us farther away from this unity that Jesus prayed for and died on the cross for.” 

To supporters of the old rite, he stresses that the liturgy is not a “museum object” but instead can be “fruitful for the Christians of today.” Cardinal Sarah also argues it is essential that those attending the extraordinary form have a form of “active participation” in the liturgy, and that the scripture readings - which are often read in Latin - are understood by people in the pews. 

When it comes to the newer liturgy, he wants the priest to take a less prominent role and wants a large cross on the altar which can be seen everyone and so this becomes “a point of reference for all.”


Victor said...

Since the time Benedict XVI used it, the phrase "Reform of the Reform" has beccome seen as a divisive clarion call that with even some traditionalists (eg FSPPX) challenges the authority of the Council. It has become a concern for many in the Vatican that the phrase is no longer construed as a via media between traditionalists and "progressives". The trouble one can get into by using that phrase on a "progessive" liturgical blog is sufficient to see the point. Indeed, the idea of two different liturgical theologies between the two forms of Rite is immediately brought into play, and an irreconcilable impasse occurs. There are no two liturgical theologies.

Be this as it may, the Cardinal also mentioned, in the La Nef article, an appendix for the next edition of the Roman Missal that would include the prayers at the foot of the altar perhaps even in a simplified form, as well as the former offertory prayers to complete the Roman Canon (the Roman Canon never had a so-called epiclisis the reason why the liturgy reformers originally wanted to get rid of it). That would bring it closer to the wonderful Missal of the Ordinariate.

In addition, the Cardinal would like to see big crosses on the altar visible to all as the focus of attention and away from the performer priest, Communion kneeling and on the tongue/lips for the faithful, the priest's index and forefingers held together after the concescration, a geneflection before the elevation, and others that he had already mentioned such as more Latin, more space for silence, and of course ad orientem worship.

Generally he thinks that the liturgical reform did not follow Sacrosanctum Conscilium well, and "J’exhorte les jeunes prêtres à abandonner avec hardiesse les idéologies des fabricants de liturgies horizontales et à revenir aux directives de Sacrosanctum Concilium". In other words, the Cardinal would like to see the OF Mass return to the primacy of God.

Fr Martin Fox said...

...he also wants the ordinary version of the Mass to take on elements from the extraordinary such as more use of Latin and encouraging priests to say certain prayers in silence.


This comment shows the original author's (not Father McD's) ignorance, which is widespread, and I fear invincible. The Ordinary Form can be celebrated 100% in Latin, and with plenty of silence; these are not intrusions from the Extraordinary Form.

That the writer can cast such a sentence speaks volumes, however, about the presuppositions and experiences of the Paul VI Mass: that somehow, silence and Latin don't belong. As it is routinely offered, the Ordinary Form of the Mass is simply too "talky." It's very hard for people to enter into silent prayer.

Anonymous said...

Before all else Catholic theology must be practiced and believed; this has been the issue between the SSPX and Rome from the get go. Any reform without adhering to Catholic theology at all levels in the Church will just lead to further argumentation and then splintering. Vatican 2 reforms cannot be reformed they will have to be entirely dropped. Then reform the TLM.


ByzRus said...

I agree with what H.E. is suggesting but, 50+ years on, how much more talking about the need to implement what the council actually called for can one do?

If, as Victor mentions, the next addition of the Roman Missal simply adds an appendix noting the option to use the prayers at the foot of the altar etc., won't this simply give the priest or, a "not in my Diocese" bishop more options of things to ignore in addition to that which is already being ignored in the current version (the Confiteor, the Canon etc.)?

Victor said...

Fr Fox:
The big problem for the Consilium was how can people "actively participate" in a liturgy when the liturgy is in a language they do not understand? This question of Latin in the liturgy has still not been resolved to the satisfaction of most NO priests, and it will cause problems for Cardinal Sarah unless it is. So far the answser has been that the people cannot fully participate in a liturgy whose language they cannot understand, so Latin NO Masses are almost non-existent, which is what the author has assumed.

Fr Martin Fox said...


There is a profound misunderstanding of what it means to "participate" in the sacred liturgy. I will illustrate with a question: does an infant "participate" in the liturgy? The answer must be "yes." I repeat, it must be: because we believe that the liturgy is not only a human action -- by the ministers and the people -- but also a divine action. It is the action of Christ, and the action, really, of the Trinity, into which we are drawn.

So of course one can participate actually (a better rendering of actuosa, often translated "active"), regardless of language, posture, physical limitations, and all other earthly limitations. No doubt, ones participation can be enhanced if one can see, or hear, or understand the language, but the lack of any, or even all, these things does not prevent participation -- unless one erroneously views it as a human act, apart from grace. And that is Pelagianism, isn't it?

Victor said...

Fr Fox:
I agree with your general remarks. The only problem, and I think this may come to haunt Cardinal Sarah and create more division in the Church, is that Sacrosanctum Concilium specifically elaborates a "fully conscious and actual/real participation". Fully conscious brings us back to language as does "actually", and this has been taken not only to imply the use of the vernacular throughout the liturgy but that the vernacular must also be simple for all to understand. Such a view is firmly entrenched in the Church today. Yes, grace is so important, and there is more to fully conscious real participation in liturgy than the language used. I think Cardinal Sarah has already tried to convey to us about how God speaks to us without words in Silence, something the mystics have always told us. Human languages are not as important for God's grace as very many today think. Ironically, will he be understood by today's (even Catholic) world that is so noisy and is so reason/understanding/word centred?

Anonymous said...

Why not choose enhanced participation through seeing, hearing, understanding, and speaking the language?

Why would one choose diminished or impeded participation?

As for the proper relationship between Divine grace and human acts, Grace Builds On Nature.

Victor said...

Anonymous: "Why would one choose diminished or impeded participation?"

You are assuming a certain meaning of "participation", and that is preceisely the problem. Are you referring to a participation of the mind/intellect, of the heart, or of both? The danger since the Council has been the stress on the intellect, that of understanding, but the heart, which has its own non-verbal language, has been neglected. Using a sacred language in the liturgy that the intellect does not understand does not not necessarily lead to a diminished participation, since it can speak very well to the heart.

Anonymous said...

I'm just continuing what Fr Martin said: "No doubt, ones participation can be enhanced if one can see, or hear, or understand the language..."

Participation is enhanced if one can see, or hear, or understand the language.

Participation is diminished if one cannot.

Why choose diminished participation when enhanced is available?

Victor said...

Let me change my answer then, without writing a doctoral thesis to defend it:

Using a sacred language in the liturgy that the intellect does not understand does not necessarily lead to a diminished participation, but rather, since it can speak better to the heart, it can even lead to a more enhanced participation of the entire human being in the liturgy.

As with the case of the vernacular, participation in the Mass is almost meaningless if the faithful are not prepared to participate. This is one of the defects of SC, a document mostly prepared by Msgr Bugnini, by the way, with a lot of problems that Ratzinger has labeled "tensions". I dare say, the document comes very close to an idolatry, that of "participation" itself, since in the envisioned liturgucal reform, "this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else" (SC 14). One would assume that participation is only a means to attain something, yet the document is fairly vague as to what that may be: "...for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit" (SC14). Of course all this is no accident, since SC is THE document that finally gave the priciples of The Liturgical Movement an official status, but it was nonetheless a movement that was already flirting with heresy by the time of the Council.

Fr Martin Fox said...


Life is full of trade-offs.

And, by the way, the Second Vatican Council clearly did not think Latin was an impediment, because it called for the continued use of Latin, and specifically directed pastors to teach the faithful to be able to sing or say the ordinary parts of the Mass in Latin. The Council called for Gregorian chant to have "pride of place" -- Gregorian chant is in Latin.

The option for the vernacular was just that -- an option. It was never mandated.

Further, I think it is the height of hubris to say that once the prayers of the Mass are in the vernacular, you "understand" them. Really? Then please explain what it means to say God is "Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts." I'm not saying no one can explain that; but I'm betting quite a lot of folks cannot.

I have no objection to the vernacular, or, for that matter, the canon spoken aloud. But there are trade-offs. Going from a Low Mass with abundant (too much for some) silence, to a Mass that is full of talk, has brought some gains, some losses. Those who celebrate the gains tend not to appreciate the real losses (and vice versa).

Anonymous said...

Holy Holy Holy is a quotation of the angels in Rev 4:8. It is also a function of ancient Hebrew which did not employ the comparative and superlative forms. Hence, "Holy, Holy, Holy" means "holiest."

I'm sure that different people bring different levels of understanding to different parts of the Mass, words or actions. I'm also sure that, as time passes, people at Mass discover new understandings. A Baptism for first-time parents will have one sort of meaning, while for grandparents there may be another.

But that there are different levels of understanding does not, it seems to me, militate against using the vernacular.

The Egyptian said...

sadly "active" participation has come to mean-everyone at the altar, you must either read or chant lead or distribute communion or take up offertory or something anything but you MUST participate!!!

One previous pastor went on a rant and insisted EVERYBODY must be signed up for something and he named names even belittled people, threatened to form a liturgical dance ministry and appoint any shirkers to it.

Active participation in reference to the pre vat 2 era to now means put away the rosary and stop all the personal devotions and pay attention, do the responses and really nothing more. Pay attention and follow the mass to the best of your ability. However I really wonder if the people back then doing their own thing during mass weren't better Catholics than us. After all they did attend mass as required of them and they prayed, a lot and often, I sometimes believe that the constant prayers of my long deceased German Grandma are the only reason I survived my teen years

Victor said...

"But that there are different levels of understanding does not, it seems to me, militate against using the vernacular."
The point is that the oparticipation in the liturgy called for is not just about "understanding", despite the emphasis on "understanding" following the Council. Understranding, that is, knowledge, is not the only way to God: that is Gnosticism.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps an attempt to explain "Holiest" and then an hour of silent meditation on that explanation and how inadequate it is would help Anon 11:48 to get what is actually being discussed by Fr Fox.
St Michael the Arch Angel defend us in battle.............

George said...

We look at flowers and other plants and note their active participation in existence by their response to the sun and rain. The ground they are planted in likewise participates in a much more subdued but necessary way. The less active participation of the soil of the earth is joined together with the more active participation of the flowers and other plants and so together they both reveal, and in their own way, testify to the Glory of God.
With human beings we can note how a child participates in the economy in a certain sense, when he consumes food and wears clothes, which his parents and not he had purchased.
If you are a member of the Body of Christ, unless you have rejected God in some way, you participate in some way to some degree or another. Does a member of the Body cease participating when he or she is asleep at night? Does a member who is sedated or comatose in a hospital bed cease being a participant in the Body? When a mother prays to God, does not even her infant child, though not understanding the words, also participate in some way and benefit from this? Did the child not also participate in his baptism, though it was not his intent the he be christened, but that of his parents? Are we to take the position that a person who cannot speak and who attends religious services, does not therefor participate?
Participation in the Body of Christ is of course a co-operative response to God's freely given grace. We should participate in Mass with the proper spiritual disposition, a desire to pray well and to connect to God' s love for us, so that in this way what is intended will be what is effected. After all, Christ, with His intention to participate in our human nature, did so and by doing so, through His Suffering and Death enabled our participation in His Divine life.

Anonymous said...

"Holy Holy Holy is a quotation of the angels in Rev 4:8. It is also a function of ancient Hebrew which did not employ the comparative and superlative forms. Hence, "Holy, Holy, Holy" means "holiest."" Is an accurate explanation.

God is the "holiest."

John Nolan said...

'Holy, Holy, Holy' actually means what it says - 'thrice holy'. Hebrew may not have a comparative and superlative, but Greek and Latin do. That the author of Revelations should have copied Hebrew syntax into Greek strikes me as improbable; if so it would actually be a mistranslation.

Three-fold repetitions in the liturgy sometimes allude obliquely to the Trinity (that these allusions developed over time is immaterial). Or they are part of the rhetorical 'rule of three'. Examples: 'haec dona, haec munera, haec sancta sacrificia illibata' and 'hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam'.

This rhetorical device is also common in English, and the present translation of the Roman Canon happily restores it.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

And "thrice holy" means holiest, the superlative form.

This linguistic tidbit gives us insight into the infamous and frequently misunderstood "Mark of the Beast" - 666.

7 was considered a perfect number.

6, one less than 7, was considered imperfect.

Therefore, 66 is "more" imperfect.

And 666 is most imperfect. Or, awkwardly, the "imperfectest."

Anonymous said...

Some how i think there must be more depth to God's perfect holiness than the word shared so far by my fellow commenters. I would suggest that an hour meditating on the "Holy,Holy,Holy" might give you something you cant put into words so easily.
Saint Michael the Arch Angel defend us in battle.....

George said...

I believe that Scripture being the Divinely inspired word of God it is, the angelic beings do utter "Holy, Holy Holy" to the Divine Trinity in words of some supernal tongue unknown to us. Which conveys God's sanctity and His incomprehensible Holiness the more : that He is Holiest, or to address and praise Him as being Holy, Holy, Holy? The angels are addressing the Persons of the Trinity of course, but it there is an allusion to a depth of Holiness far beyond that which can be even remotely explained or comprehended by mere rational understanding.
There is a comparative aspect to characterizing someone as being holiest. St Francis ,for example, could be said to be the holiest person as compared to others of his time (although he would probably deny that), Yet who is there that has ever lived, what other being even in Heaven can be compared to God in holiness? We can only join the angels in uniting our voices to theirs as they utter "Holy,Holy,Holy" to our incomprehensible God.

Anonymous said...

I worked at learning the responses to the ordinary parts of the NO Mass in Latin. It only took a couple of months. I practiced, quietly making them during daily Mass, sitting where no one could hear me. I also practice will driving to work.

With a little teaching in workshops and some good handouts and maybe some recordings on the USCCB Website, most assemblies would be able to make the responses to the ordinary parts of the Mass withing six months.

Anonymous said...

Martin stated, "Then please explain what it means to say God is "Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts."

It means God is holiest, or, most holy. There as none as holy or holier.

Now, if you want to ask what it means that God is Most Holy....