Tuesday, November 14, 2017


John Nolan indicates if the Ordinary Form Mass is celebrated in Latin with the proper chants and ad orientem, most Catholics today would be hard pressed to tell the difference between it and the EF Mass, especially if Holy Communion is received kneeling.

Why o why, didn't Pope Benedict issue a papal decree stating the following about the Ordinary Form of the Mass especially once the EF Mass had been firmly entrenched in the modern Church following Summorum Pontificum?

Papal decree stating the following would lead to authentic liturgical renewal and not in any way call into question Vatican II's actual desire for the Mass but also allowing for organic development since the 1970 Roman Missal was issued:

The OF Mass will now have three categories, Low, High and Solemn High.

When this Mass is celebrated in the vernacular or Latin, the proper chants for the Introit, Offertory and Communion antiphons must be used.

The Mass normally should be celebrated ad orientem. As the Introit is chanted, the priest kisses the altar, incenses it, it used and then faces the altar at its center and begins with the sign of the cross. Then he kisses the altar, turns to the congregation and greets them with "The Lord be with you" and then invites them to prepare for the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries. He turns to the altar, bows and leads the congregation in the Confiteor, absolution and then the chanting of the Kyrie and Gloria, then he goes to the Epistle side of the altar where the Roman Missal is and chants/says the Collect.

All sit for the Liturgy of the Word as is commonly celebrated in the Ordinary Form.

After the Homily, the priest faces the altar for the Credo and Universal Prayer.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist follows. Each time the priest turns to the congregation, he should kiss the altar.

After Holy Communion, the priest returns to the Epistle side of the altar and prays the Prayer after Holy Communion. Then he returns to the center, kisses it and tuns to the congregation for the greeting, blessing and dismissal of the Mass.

He goes to the foot of the altar, bows or genuflect and departs with the other ministers. A recessional hymn may be sung.


Anonymous said...

I know why Pope Benedict didn’t do it. It’s the same reason Pope John Paul II gave. During a private audience someone begged, BEGGED, the pope to remove a scandalous bishop. And Pope John Paul pointed to the door and said “thats’s where my power ends”. But apparently Pope Francis has much more power than all the pope’s going back to Peter. He apparentley can override Trent and Scripture.

johnnyc said...

Are we standing or kneeling? I have been attending the TLM exclusively for over a year now and to me it is more proper kneeling through the Confiteor.

rcg said...

He needn’t have done anything so direct himself. He could have hired me for his chief of staff and things would be very different. Heck, this blog might have been in Latin.

TJM said...

Probably because there are a lot of lazy or non-believing priests who would not want to be bothered.

John Nolan said...

The reason why Pope Benedict XVI did not issue 'decrees' regarding the liturgy is that by the 1990s he had come to realize that excessive papal meddling with the liturgy was the prime cause of all the mischief. In his 'Spirit of the Liturgy' he comes close to accusing Paul VI of acting ultra vires.

The template I gave for a Solemn Novus Ordo Mass has been that used by the London Oratory for nearly 50 years.

The kissing of the altar before turning to the people is not important. It is not done in the Dominican Rite.

Since all the options I have listed are legitimate, it is up to the parish priest to implement them. He does not need a mandate from the CDWDS to do so. More recent innovations (altar girls, EMHC) are so hedged about with conditions that they are clearly tolerated rather than recommended.

I suspect that sound priests like Fr McDonald are too afraid of vociferous and over-mighty laity in their parishes to make any real improvements. A so-called 'music director' whose competence doesn't extend beyond choosing hymns from an official hymnal and is totally ignorant of liturgical music cannot be fired as she would leave, taking her family and hangers-on with her. The bossy mother who is told that little Penelope cannot serve at the altar will depart in high dudgeon.

But if liturgical standards are to be improved, it must start at parish level.

Henry said...

"The bossy mother who is told that little Penelope cannot serve at the altar will depart in high dudgeon."

Prior to our first TLM way back when before SP, a woman approached me--I was the altar boy trainer--and volunteered the services of her daughter. Another woman, who was an EMHC in the parish, volunteered her services as such. In each case I replied, thanking them for offering, that they would not be needed. In order to do the right thing, it only requires someone to say No to the wrong thing.

Henry said...

Benedict XVI said somewhere that the pope simply does not have the authority to alter the liturgy. In effect, that while Paul VI had had the raw power to impose the Novus Ordo, he had done so without proper authority.

The last thing we need now is further papal meddling in the liturgy. As Fr. Hunwicke mentions in his blog post today, the future of the liturgy is written on the faces of young priests of the restoration, not popes and bishops stuck in the aftermath of Vatican II.

Rood Screen said...

John Nolan,

It's true that the laity would rebel, principally by withholding donations. But it's also important to note that a great many bishops would not tolerate these proposed recoveries. Bishops issue decrees requiring the use of female altar servers and the second canon, while forbidding the use of Latin and the ad orientem posture, etc. A papal mandate would accomplish one single thing: the liberation of open-minded priests to celebrate the OF Mass in a manner consistent with the Roman liturgical tradition. Everyone else would explain it away or just ignore it.

TJM said...


In a truly just world, a bishop that would issue decrees such as you mentioned, would be degraded from their office and forced to become a cashier or greeter at Walmart.

Henry said...

"Bishops issue decrees requiring the use of female altar servers and the second canon, while forbidding the use of Latin and the ad orientem posture, etc."

In connection with the dust-up between Mother Angelica--who insisted that the Mass be celebrated ad orientem at her Shrine (as it has been ever since)--and her bishop, Rome ruled that a bishop does not have the authority to formally proscribe ad orientem in his diocese, since the OF rubrics permit it.

Of course, a bishop has the power to do a lot of things informally. One benign bishop is rumored to have advised his pastors not to schedule two consecutive ad orientem Sunday Masses, so people would have a choice how to worship. Which typically would imply only one ad orientem OF Mass per Sunday.

Rood Screen said...


Or have to work for a living in some other capacity, such as a becoming a parish priest!

John Nolan said...

A bishop may not impose female servers on any parish, indeed on any priest celebrating Mass. This is made quite clear in the regulation which authorized the practice, and which may be rescinded at any time. He is at liberty to prohibit female servers in his diocese, but that is a different matter.

Nor may a bishop forbid the use of Latin. In the unlikely event of a parish priest refusing to say Mass in the vernacular, he would be within his rights in insisting on his doing so, for pastoral reasons. Again, this is not the same thing. When the NO came out in 1970 the E&W bishops recommended that at least one Sunday Mass and one weekday Mass be in Latin. Unfortunately, for the previous six years they had been pushing the vernacular for all that it was worth, so it is hardly surprising that this was largely a dead letter.

The bishop is certainly responsible for the liturgy in his diocese, to the extent of ensuring that it is free of abuses and conforms to the norms set out by the Holy See. But that's as far as it goes.

Marc said...

Henry, the bishop who did that to Mother Angelica is perplexing to me. I'm not sure if he still does this or not, but he regularly said the Traditional High Mass for the Latin Mass community in Birmingham when we were living nearby. His doing so seems incongruous with how he handed the Mother Angelica situation. I think he also received a sedevacantist monastery in north Alabama back into the diocese. And, if I'm not mistaken, he even erected a personal parish for the Latin Mass community in Huntsville that is staffed by diocesan clergy (presumably to combat the sedevacantist chapel up there). His methods are incongruous to me.

Rood Screen said...

John Nolan,

In practice, the law means only whatever the local bishop says it means. He, rather than Rome, is judge, jury and executioner.

Joseph Johnson said...

I would be interested in knowing if the laity would be able to access any and all of their respective bishop's decrees regarding liturgical matters such as decrees mandating female altar servers and the use of the second Canon, etc. If I could see that my bishop or his predecessors have mandated such things then maybe I might be a bit less critical of the current generation of pastors. If we can access these decrees, where would they be found in the diocesan offices and who would be the "gatekeeper" (custodian of the records)?

Is this something that is only between a bishop and his priests or do the laity have the right to access and review such decrees? In other words, do we have liturgical transparency in the post-Vatican II church?

Rood Screen said...

Joseph Johnson,

That's a good question. In some cases, these things are communicated to "offending" priests via a chancery official, but on behalf of the bishop. Other times, the bishop issues such decrees (or "expectations") himself at meetings with priests. Or, especially in smaller dioceses, the bishop will even call a a priest on the telephone and tell him what to stop doing. The closest I've see to documentation is in meeting minutes. The ideal situation for these bishops is when parishioners reduce their donations in response to a priest's introduction of traditional liturgical practices, which then allows the bishop to admonish the offending priest for poor leadership, rather than going on record opposing liturgical traditions.

I am personally aware of a particular bishop telling his priest not to do the following: wear a cassock outside the sanctuary, wear Roman vestments, use Latin except for the Sanctus and Agnus Dei during Advent and Lent, adopt the ad orientem posture during Mass, use the Roman Canon except on solemnities, limit altar serving to males, use cassock and surplice for altar servers (this is legitimately within a bishop's authority), administer Holy Communion only under one kind or by intinction, use a chalice veil, offer the EF Mass without his permission (he later backed down on this), use more than two candles on the altar, give instituted readers precedence over other readers at Mass, and various decrees of a puzzling nature concerning music. For only two of these is there a formal, written decree.

Rood Screen said...

Joseph Johnson,

As for liturgical transparency, no. At least, not since the 1960's. Before then, everything was clear in the Church. So, for example, when Sacrosanctum Concilium says, "steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them", or that "there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them", we are told that these sentences do not mean what they appear to mean, because their meaning is so opaque that faithful priests and laymen cannot even begin to comprehend them. Only the local bishop can tell us what Vatican sentences really mean, but prudence requires him to do so with minimum publicity.

With that said, Pope Francis seems to have no difficulty publicly denouncing the efforts of faithful clerics, even his own appointees, so perhaps a new age of transparency is dawning.

Anonymous said...

The diocesan chancellor is "custodian of the records."

Laity do not have a right to access records at will. These are the property of the diocese not of the individual Catholics in the diocese nor the clergy of the diocese.

Most dioceses are legally incorporated as a "corporation sole." This means that the bishop in office is the owner of - everything.

Diocesan governance is not the same as civic governance in which a citizen does have the right to access most records. (Some personnel matters are, rightly, private.)

John Nolan said...

Dialogue, perhaps you will 'name and shame' this particular bishop. He must be aware that his high-handed actions, whether delivered formally or informally, will only provoke resentment and disobedience. And the disobedience would be justified since his prescriptions are illegal.

I would, as a layman, forswear any duty of obedience to a bishop who acted in this way. Were I a priest, I would be even more inclined to call him out. Does no-one have any guts anymore?

Joseph Johnson said...

Anonymous at 9:01,
No question that certain personnel matters are, and should be, private--even as to a Catholic diocese as it is with a civil government.

I am not questioning that things are as you have stated that they are (no right to access records by laity or clergy). I am also not questioning the bishop's ownership (in his capacity as bishop) of diocesan property, which would include records. As a civil real estate attorney, I have personally dealt with episcopal ownership of real estate (but in the bishop in his official capacity and not any corporation in the diocese where I live and work).

I am not trained in canon law (though I think it would be an interesting subject to study!) but it is my understanding that individual Catholics do have certain rights as to what they are entitled to in the way of how the liturgy is celebrated, etc. If we cannot access a bishop's written decrees or official correspondence regarding such matters, how can we know if he has (possibly) acted ultra vires (outside the law) as John Nolan has suggested? Papal decrees, like motu proprii are published for all to see--so we can at least know what a Pope has imposed.

While being respectful of and subject to his lawful authority, shouldn't there, ideally, be some provision for review (accountability and transparency) of such decrees and official correspondence so we know his policies and what is expected by our own bishops? At least then we might now if things are being done the way they are because that's the way the bishop wants it or if it is being done on the local priest's prerogative (which may also be legitimate, in certain instances, regardless of whether we might agree with the choices being made).

Henry said...

"Does no-one have any guts anymore?"

You're asking this seriously? Of course not. But if I thought you were, I'd suggest getting out of the Oratory occasionally to see how folks in the real-world Church live.

John Nolan said...

Henry, there is the real-world Church and there is the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I have nothing but contempt for the former and cleave to the latter as the only hope of attaining salvation.

Rood Screen said...

"Does no-one have any guts anymore?" A priest is bound by obedience to his bishop, and bishops are canonically designated as the local interpreters of canon law. So, since the law itself gives the bishop, rather than the priest, interpretive authority, a priest cannot argue that the bishop is in violation of the law.

Anonymous said...

"While being respectful of and subject to his lawful authority, shouldn't there, ideally, be some provision for review (accountability and transparency) of such decrees and official correspondence so we know his policies and what is expected by our own bishops?"

Not really. The diocesan bishop is not accountable to you, or me, or anyone save the Holy Father. And if he has made known his expectations to his priests, then it is not for you, necessarily, to be privy to that communication.

If you have substantial reason to think that a bishop has acted improperly, and you are not on a fishing trip to see if you can uncover something "juicy," then the first step is write a letter to the bishop asking for clarification.

Be very, very careful about accusing a bishop of acting outside the law. Not everyone agrees on what is outside and what is inside.

Joseph Johnson said...

Anonymous at 6:55,
Thanks for the answer--'pretty much what I expected to hear.

The judge who presides over the court in which I prosecute once told me that his mother told him his first word was, "Now!" My mother says that my first word was, "Why?" I guess it's just part of who I am--I don't particularly like being told "that's how it is" without being told why. Even if there is nothing I can do to change something I don't like, it is easier to accept it when I have full knowledge of how it came to be or how it works.

In this particular case, I have always been curious to know if my bishop has mandated female altar servers (which, at least at one time, I know that individual pastors could, legally, proscribe), the regular use of EP II on Sundays (or if that is the priest's individual choice), if the bishop has proscribed ad orientem celebration of the OF, or if he has expressly limited the times and places the EF can be celebrated in this diocese. In others words, WHY is it always (or usually) THIS way---is it because of the priest or the bishop (or a combination of the two)? I ask these questions with knowledge that the larger church allows for other lawful options.

John Nolan said...

Dialogue, you are so wrong. A bishop may not mandate anything that is in contradiction with the Holy See. He cannot interpret Canon Law in a way that suits his opinions but contradicts the law itself.

He may not impose female servers on any parish (or indeed on any individual priest) since the regulation allowing female servers clearly says otherwise.

Were he silly enough to insist on a particular style of vestment (and I have not encountered any bishop who has done this) he would be merely be attempting to impose his own taste on everyone else. In the 2000 year old history of the Church, can you supply any evidence of a bishop who has done this? Or mandated a particular style of church architecture?

Ulra vires does not mean acting outside the law. It means exceeding one's legitimate authority, and this is an objective standard which can be applied to anyone in authority, bishop or pope alike.

As a layman I have rights. One of these is the right (since time immemorial) as a baptized Christian to the sacraments of the Church. Until the 1960s everyone understood what the Mass was about. Nowadays few people do, and their paucity of understanding is reinforced by the sort of service that they attend (the few who still do).

I have said this before, and I shall say it again. I attend Mass on Sundays, but I do not feel myself in the least obliged to attend what passes for the liturgy in most parishes. I find it repellent. The argument that 'it's technically valid, so despite what a dog's breakfast we make of it, you've got to attend' cuts no ice with me.

Obligation works both ways.

Anonymous said...

"In this particular case, I have always been curious to know if my bishop has mandated female altar servers (which, at least at one time, I know that individual pastors could, legally, proscribe), the regular use of EP II on Sundays (or if that is the priest's individual choice), if the bishop has proscribed ad orientem celebration of the OF, or if he has expressly limited the times and places the EF can be celebrated in this diocese."

Then you should write to him and ask.