Thursday, November 15, 2018


This week's Requiem for bishops' conferences and synodality:

I have been privileged to celebrate the EF Requiem Mass a few times now, the latest for All Souls here at St. Anne's parish.

Sobriety and noble simplicity mark the EF Mass in whatever form, except maybe the Pontifical Solemn Sung Mass.

Things are simplified for the Requiem Mass. The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar omit Psalm 42 and there is no Gloria Patri said at any point in the Mass.

Of course there is only one set of readings for the Mass, noble simplicity to say the least.

The Chanted Propers of the Mass tie the entire Mass into a unity and indicate prayer for the soul of the faithful departed, not the soul's glorification as though already in heaven.

Personal judgement at the hour of death is not minimized especially during the chanting of the Dies Irae.

Black symbolized the reality of grief and gives liturgical expression to this grief which is never denied. Even if a mourner is happy about the death of someone close to them, this itself is an ocasion for a dirge or for grief because of the sin against charity.

The Agnus Dei asks for mercy on the soul of the faithful departed.

Incense is only used at the Offertory forward.

There are no Alleluias!

How in the name of God and all that is holy did we move from the EF Requiem to the pseudo celebration of life which we have turned most funeral Masses into?

So much corruption on so many levels in the Church and so little time to reform. 


TJM said...

Sentimentality and feelings replaced tradition and rational thought. Libs love that stuff

TJM said...

Father McDonald,

This is not appropriate for this article, but I wanted you to see this. That PF and assorted groups of Catholics could give the UN ANY credibility should end with this:

The UN has begun focusing on death as a human right. The UNHRC wants to include abortion and assisted suicide in its covenant, demanding that all signatories guarantee access to both (See Hot Air Blog for particulars).

I think it's long past time that PF gets off his derriere and condemns this corrupt, evil organization.I despise clerics who treat political organizations as moral arbiters

John Nolan said...

It is not true to say there is 'only one set of readings'. There are different Epistles and Gospels depending on whether Mass is celebrated on the day of death or burial; on the anniversary of the same; if it is a daily Mass for the dead; and if it is for all the faithful departed (All Souls).

And there is a wide variety of Collects, Secrets and Postcommunions, depending on who the deceased is or are.

As for the modern 'funeral Mass', no doubt Fr Kavanaugh will tell us that it reflects a change in theology. Apart from the fact that theology is not the same as doctrine, it begs the question: Who changed it, when was it changed, and why was it changed?

And why do we have in effect two rites with markedly different emphases?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John, as you are well aware, theological doctrines and emphases, and the liturgical expressions of them, have evolved over the centuries.

Since you are an historian, I will leave it to you to sort out the Who, What, When, Where, and How the Mass of Christian Burial came to be.

The reformed rite emphasizes hope - white vesture, Alleluias, bleached candles.

"In him the hope of blessed resurrection has dawned, that those saddened by the certainty of dying might be consoled by the promise of immortality to come. Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven. (Preface I For the Dead)"

This is nothing new. It is not a break with Tradition, nor is it a rupture of any hermeneutic, but it is a new emphasis.

John Nolan said...

Fr Kavanaugh

I know where you're coming from, but a new emphasis which in a mere six years produced a rite markedly different from the one which had preceded it for over a millennium needs to be explained. No-one told me in the 1960s that the emphasis had been changed - these things were worked out by a Vatican committee and simply imposed from above.

White vestments were traditionally worn at funerals of baptized infants who had not yet attained the age of reason. They were presumed to be in heaven, and a votive Mass of the Angels, complete with Alleluia, was celebrated.

The same presumption cannot be made for the rest of us. I was uneasy when the 'Mass of the Resurrection' became popular in the 1970s, and my unease has not diminished over the years. The most gruesome Novus Ordo liturgies I have attended have been at funerals, since you can't avoid them. I once had to sit through the funeral Mass of a lady where the priest in white vestments sat impassive while a friend of hers told us that she was now an angel. What nonsense.

Did someone tell you in your formation that there was no rupture or break with tradition, or have you worked it out for yourself based on a deep knowledge and understanding of the Roman liturgical tradition? I think we know the answer to that.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - You are uncomfortable with the speed of change in the modern era. I get that. I, on the other hand, have little or no difficulty with the rapidity. However, I am adamantly opposed to grocery stores moving the products I buy regularly from one spot on a shelf to another or, heaven forbid, from one aisle to another.

I remind myself that the world does not revolve around my preferences in terms of how and when and how fast things change.

We've all suffered through liturgical unpleasantness of varying degrees and in various locations. But I will return to the idea that it is not the OF the causes those things. As many have noted, the OF can be celebrated reverently and prayerfully, which is how I, I hope, manage to do it.

The Church told me there is no rupture - and I trust the Church's judgment.

John Nolan said...

The speed of change in the modern era encompasses a number of things. Technological advances are often beneficial although there are downsides (and some nightmarish future scenarios) and the overturning of Judaeo-Christian morality in the last 25 years should be of concern. It's rather more serious than supermarket movement of products.

Just who is 'the Church' who told you there is no rupture? The Pope? The bishops? Your seminary professors in the 1970s? Liturgists? Ecclesiastical historians? There is a lot of evidence that there was indeed a rupture - you cannot simply ignore it, although you may approve of it.

The so-called OF is not a cause, but a symptom. Of course it can be celebrated worthily and reverently, although this is by no means the norm. I myself attend it at least once a month at the Oxford Oratory, where it is sung in Latin. At other times I am singing for the EF.

I don't believe my preferences, well-founded as they may be, should be imposed on everyone else. But this also applies vice-versa.

Victor said...

Fr K:
It is nice to be ecumenical by having a liturgy take up the Reformed Protestant German theologian Jürgen Moltmann's "Theology of Hope" which had a huge influence in the mid 1960's and thereafter in Christian theology.

The problem is that the old rite does not emphasise hope because it presupposes it, nay, it is founded on it. The old rite is light years ahead of the Novus Ordo funeral by actually doing something about hope which is to pray for the deceased that this hope may be fulfilled for him through the mercy of God.

Moreover, your quote from the preface and other references there show that the hope is more for the people at the funeral than for the deceased: "that those saddened by the certainty of dying might be consoled by the promise of immortality to come." But, then, the entire Novus Ordo fabrication is about the people in the pews. I have to admit that God does fit in somewhere in the Novus Ordo, but it is always the people and their feelings first.

John Nolan said...

The Preface which Fr Kavanaugh quotes was introduced in 1919 and is of neo-Gallican origin; prior to this the Common Preface was used in Requiem Masses.

The idea of hope is most poignantly expressed in the Dies Irae, a relatively late addition to the Requiem Mass which was disliked by liturgical reformers (and jettisoned in 1965) because of its Franciscan piety and use of the first person.

Qui Mariam absolvisti
Et latronem exaudisti
Mihi quoque spem dedisti.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - You know as well as I who is authorized to make changes to the Church's liturgies.

I don't believe my preferences should be imposed on anyone else, either. That's why I accept what The Church - and you know very well who that is - gives me as its liturgies.

Victor - the reformed funeral liturgies also "pray for the deceased that this hope (Resurrection) may be fulfilled for him through the mercy of God."

One example: "God of holiness and power, accept our prayers on behalf of your servant N.; do not count his/her deeds against him/her, for in his/her heart he/she desired to do your will. As his/her faith united him/her to your people on earth, so may your mercy join him/her to the angels in heaven. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen"

As to the preface, "Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven" is as much for the deceased (unless you think that a dead person is not among the faithful any longer) as it is for the living.

Henry said...

I'm not aware of any magisterial document promulgating any official change in the Church's perennial doctrines regarding the four last things. And so even if most Novus Ordo funerals are exemplars of liturgical, pastoral, and theological abuse, it is still possible for an OF funeral Mass to be celebrated consistent with perennial Church practice.

Indeed, two of the last three Novus Ordo funeral Masses I've attended were celebrated ad orientem in black vestments, mostly Latin with the Dies Irae included as a postcommunion chant, Roman Canon, communion on the tongue kneeling at the altar rail, etc. The other one, in the most progressive parish within driving range, was vernacular and versus populum, but still quite respectable in tone, with a schola chanting the ordinary and antiphons in English but with a Latin motet or two, no heterodox hymns or outrageous eulogy.

So I wonder whether the problem is that our uniquely American white-vestment instant canonizations, however ubiquitous, are nevertheless departures from the authentic mind of the Church.

John Nolan said...

'It is still possible for an OF funeral Mass to be celebrated consistent with perennial Church practice' Indeed it is; with the OF all things are possible. Therein lies the problem.

Henry said...

"Indeed it is; with the OF all things are possible. Therein lies the problem."

In The Heresy of Formlessness Martin Mosebach said something like the following:

--The statement that, with sufficient effort the Novus Ordo Mass can be celebrated with dignity, betrays its fatal flaw. The statement that, with sufficient effort the classical Roman Mass can be celebrated injudiciously, manifests its saving strength.--

John Nolan said...

'I don't believe that my preferences should be imposed on anyone else, either. That's why I accept what The Church ... gives me as its liturgies' (Fr MJ Kavanaugh).

And since one of these liturgies is the Liturgia Defunctorum as celebrated c.1962, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that one of Fr K's parishioners may legitimately request it. It is good to know that in this eventuality the good father would not try to impose his preferences but instead go in search of black vestments and unbleached candles, dust off his Latin, and familiarize himself with the rubrics of a liturgy which the Church has undoubtedly given him (and us).

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - No, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility. Neither is it beyond the bounds of possibility that a plague leading to thousands of deaths will be spread through the use of the common communion cup.


John Nolan said...

However ... In my neck of the woods it is not an unusual request, and there are are published guidelines to facilitate it.

I cannot believe that there is not a person in your bailiwick who might prefer, or opt for, the older Rite; a rite that was extant in both our lifetimes.

TJM said...

John Nolan,

Kavanaugh won't do it, ever. It's too much effort and he really doesn't care about what the Faithful wants. It's what is convenient for him, it's all about him. If I were dying, he would be the last kind of priest I would seek out for Extreme Unction, or whatever they call it now.

Anonymous said...

TJM - A wise man once said, "It's not what you want, it's what you need."

Another wise man also said,

"You don't always get what you want...
You don't always get what you want...
You don't always get what you want...
You get what you need."

Still another wise man said, "Wantin' ain't getting'."

John Nolan said...

'Want' and 'need' are practically coterminous in English. 'The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.'

John Nolan said...

In fact Anonymous's comment reminds me of a linguistic paradox made a couple of years back by Fr Kavanaugh. Referring to the classic Roman Rite he opined 'it may be wanted, but it is not needed'.

Someone who is in want is ipso facto in need. When it comes to the Novus Ordo I do not want it in the sense that I do not wish for it, nor do I want it in the sense that I feel its lack. In consequence, I do not need it.