Monday, August 13, 2018


Yesterday, (Sunday, the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, orthe 19th Sunday of the Year) I took my turn celebrating our Cathedral's weekly 1 pm EF Mass.

Just as an aside, I was the associate pastor, as it was once called, at our Cathedral from 1985 to 1991. I returned to the Savannah area in 2016. When I enter our cathedral, it's as though the time between 1991 and 2016 didn't happen and I expect to see everyone there who was there in 1991. But alas, many aren't there, they are dead, but then again if in heaven or purgatory, they are at Mass!  So, yes there is some nostalgia and as though time has stood still, but of course it hasn't.

But let's speak of the timeless EF Mass. For the most part, the EF Mass I celebrated on Sunday was exactly like the 12th Sunday after Pentecost Mass of my youth prior to Vatican II. Exactly. There was no freelancing. There was no ad lilbing. There was no creativity. I suspect the only thing different was the fact that the Cathedral's scola is perhaps one of the best young scolas in the country. I really can't remember how good the choirs or scolas were when I was a child in the pre-Vatican II Church.

But how could we offer a minor reform of the EF Mass to make it more palatable for earnest Catholics who are orthodox but find themselves mystified by the EF Mass when they attend for the first time but choose not to return because they don't know how to participate in this Mass given how they participate in their Ordinary Form Mass.

What is the main difference in the spirituality and devotional qualities of the EF Mass compared to the OF Mass?  It is contemplative and more like attending Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Thus it is quiet for the layman for the most part. This is not true of the Ordinary Form whatsoever and any silences for supposed contemplation are usually contrived, not truly integral to the ritual.

This has to be made clear to Catholics, faithful Catholics, who are formed by the Ordinary Form's spirituality with is far from contemplative.

Once we make that clear and Ordinary Form Faithful Catholics understand it, then we have to teach them that they need to have a personal missal to know what the changing parts of the Mass are in the vernacular. For the unchanging parts of the Mass, they don't need to follow the Latin words of the priest verbatim as he prays it, but simply know the structure of those prayers in the vernacular.

The silent Roman Canon is always used. If one knows the structure of the Roman Canon in English, one doesn't need his personal missal. Watch the sign language or bodily postures of the priest and listen to the bells and you can hear him. This is the most contemplative part of the EF Mass completely lacking contemplation for the laity in the OF Mass no matter the English canon or Eucharistic prayer.

Then I think ultra traditional EF Catholics need to allow for some vernacular in the EF Mass.

For the sake of preserving Gregorian Chant, I would now be opposed to chanting the propers in the vernacular. If one has their personal missal, they can look at their English missal for the translation of the Latin. They don't need to sing along either--this is the contemplative aspect of the EF Mass that served the laity so well prior to Vatican II.

I would simply suggest that the first allowed vernacular be the chanting of the Collect by the priest.

The next for be for the allowance of the Epistle and Gospel to be chanted in the vernacular but not the Graudal and/or tract.

Now, I know some would say that this suggestion is too radical, but the Secret should be chanted aloud with the option of the vernacular since it changes.

Then the only other allowed vernacular would be the Post Communion Prayer.

No other changes (unless it is allowed to have lay readers for the Epistle. I would not oppose that and for the epistle to be read from the ambo.

If you want the EF Mass to gain more Catholics attending, my suggestions are common sense.


Victor said...

"If you want the EF Mass to gain more Catholics attending, my suggestions are common sense."

There is no need to use the vulgar tongues in the EF Holy Mass. Part of the sacredness of the EF is precisely the exclusive use of the 3 sacred languages as founded on the top of Holy Cross of Jesus. The sermon is the time to broadcast the readings in the vulgar tongues if needed, and then have the priest comment on them.

The EF Mass was almost perfect the way it was before 1947. It needs to be restored to then. Also to be restored are the readings for daily Masses lost during Trent because those readings were then not universally distributed so were simply dropped as were Sequences. Updated feasts and additional prefaces are always nice to have.

If OF Catholics have trouble with the EF Mass, the problem is with the OF. OF Catholics would feel quite at home attending Episcopalian, Lutheran, and other Protestant communion services. They would hardly notice the difference. Is the OF Roman Catholic to begin with?

TJM said...

Father as you pointed out you can look at the vernacular translation for the Latin propers in the OF, so let's just stick with that philosophy for the EF.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Yesterday the Gospel at the EF Mass was that of the Good Samaritan. The priest saying Mass began his homily by saying that he was sure when we heard the Gospel we all thought, Oh, I know this one. He said this Gospel has been used by many to preach many kinds of things, some of them not quite good theology. He then told us what the early Church Fathers taught about the parable.

The man who fell in with robbers is us. The scribe and Levite who passed by are the Law and the Prophets. The Good Samaritan is Christ.

In the Epistle for the day from 2 Corinthians, St. Paul speaks of how, if the glory that accompanied the giving of the Law was such that Moses' face was transformed so much the people couldn't look at him, how much more is the glory of the ministration of the Holy Spirit. That is how the two readings tie together.

In all my sixty something years as a Catholic, I have NEVER EVER heard the Church Father's teaching on this parable.

As if the change in the Mass isn't bad enough, I wonder why the wisdom of the Church, and the teaching of our Faith, being kept from us?

Why indeed.

God bless.

John Nolan said...

Fr McDonald

I cannot for the life of me understand your hankering after the bastardized 1965 form of the Mass which was only intended as an interim rite (it lasted barely two years as it turned out).

For those who need the vernacular, in whole or in part, the Novus Ordo, with its flexibility in this regard fits the bill. There is no reason why it cannot be celebrated in an authentically Catholic way. Use the Roman Canon, celebrate ad apsidem, administer Communion at the rail, don't have women in the sanctuary, it's hardly rocket science.

Those who say 'I'd love to attend the EF Mass but the Latin is off-putting' (not that I've ever met anyone who says this) clearly know little about liturgy and should not be pandered to. The increased numbers who might attend (and there is no evidence that they would) are likely be more than counter-balanced by those who would leave.

As a priest you are in a unique position to make a real change in the way the Novus Ordo is celebrated, although I suspect that like most priests you daren't act for fear of offending vested interests. However, neither over-mighty laity, nor interfering bishops, nor the preference of individual priests have any effect on the EF - which is exactly how it should be.

For years, when the older rite was a rara avis, I and many others went to considerable lengths to attend Novus Ordo Masses which used as much Latin as possible. Latin was the issue, not the precise form of the rite.

ByzRus said...

Then, once you start tinkering with the EF, everyone will want their agenda items addressed and, where does it stop? The endless options are bad enough in the OF and, with that in mind, it seems that shielding the EF from this should be the order of the day. With the internet to provide tutorials (printed copy could be provided to those who lack such access), availability of missals via Amazon etc. (missals could be gifted to/sponsored for those who lack the means to buy their own) it begs the question, why must the EF bend to the people as opposed to the people bending, even if just a bit, to it?

Agnes said...

Please just leave us alone.

Православный физик said...

Liturgy is a gift, prior to the local council for the church of Rome that should have never been called part II, the changers to the Liturgy did not overhaul the entire praxis and ethos of the Liturgy. I would argue along with ByzRC that the EF should be left alone, as is. At my parish we use Church Slavonic mostly. I do not have a problem per se with the vernacular in the Liturgy (which is all that should have been done in the first place)...The connection to the OT of having a scared language is good. Changing the entire l liturgical praxis and doing things that are the antithesis to who one is, seems to have gotten the church of Rome into such a situation, it's not going to be able to dig itself out of.