Wednesday, August 4, 2021



I received this letter from an exasperated Catholic on vacation in Florida. This is all too common. But who gets crucified by the Holy Father? Traditionalists who are scrupulous about celebrating the older form of the Mass well, with reverence and faith.

Finding a Mass When You Travel


I thought you would appreciate the irony given the current (crackdown on traditionalist by the Pope in) Rome. To set the stage, we are currently in South Florida visiting family. 

In viewing the Masses online, all are the post-Vatican II Mass.  We can go to a Mass where at the elevation the priest adds in his own little homily. Our other option is to go to what appears to be a reverent liturgy with the aural backdrop of contemporary Christian music - guitars and drums. Our last option is a pretty straight forward celebrated liturgy with an old person belting a contemporary Christian song during communion. 

To add to the irony, we are not rad trads at all. We haven't taught our kids that this or that is right or wrong. We are not liturgical snobs or referees. We have, however, taught our children to reverence Christ and worship Him in the Mass. And, at each parish, it would be them - our children - pointing out to us the aberrations. These are kids who don't have access to the internet to get "radicalized." They just notice when the Mass has turned into performance theatre about someone other than God. 

Are the scenes I describe, the variability between parishes of the post Vatican II Mass a point of unity and the older form of the Mass a point of division? 

If anything, I think the new MP from the Pope will only drive MORE people to go to the ancient form of the Mass. If division is the rubric, all I see is division in the normative post-Vatican II Mass. Ancient Latin Mass maybe here we come (all 9 of us). 

God bless


TJM said...

Father McDonald,

Here is the money quote of the day:

"Change the entire rite of Mass and suddenly impose it? It hasn’t really worked, has it. Look around.

Seek to repress the rite of Mass in use, mainly, since before the time of Gregory the Great? Suppress the rite that did work in favor of the one that didn’t?"

The New York Daily News, hardly a conservative newspaper, published an editorial yesterday "Let Loyal Catholics Pray in Latin." The fact this happened shows that PF bombed big time. Maybe the secular press will persuade some bishops that TC is not a hill to die on.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The NY Post, a Rupert Murdoch ("the man whose name is synonymous with unethical newspapers") enterprise, has a very weak understanding of what it means to be Catholic if they think praying in Latin makes one a "loyal" Catholic.

The Church, not a NY tabloid, makes this kind of determination.

TJM said...

Father Kavanaugh,

Nice try but no sale. The New York Times and Washington Post are run by dishonest lefties and are constantly having to issue “corrections”. Murdoch is not perfect but he is a saint compared to the miscreants that run those “newspapers.” So good to see you are lining up with the intolerant and unmerciful folks in the Church. That hardly makes one Catholic

John said...

There controversies over and about the Mass is puzzling. The real story is the whole-sale destruction going on in moral theology, no? The old Mass stands for formality or discipline, faith in tradition and Eucharistic coherence. The NO? Exactly.

Thomas Garrett said...


In all fairness, just because Father Kavanaugh disagrees that the NY Post isn't an authority on prayer doesn't mean that he somehow supports various owners of left-wing media. Really--that's quite a leap. Both Fr. K and the NY Post give us something to remember: The Traditional Mass isn't just about language. An astounding number of Catholics (and most Protestants) think that the ONLY difference between the Novus Ordo and the Vetus Ordo is that one is in Latin and the other is not. This should challenge us all to learn more about the history of the Mass, take a closer study of the Mass and be ready to explain the differences when we meet people who don't know or understand. And, if nothing else, we should be grateful that so many secular newspapers, with their limited understanding and limited willingness to learn about our faith are at least sending the message that we are not doing anything wrong by embracing the Mass of all time.

Let's face every instance of ignorance as an opportunity to educate.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Thomas - The NO mass I celebrate is the Mass of All Time.

While some of the peripheral - I used the wird advisedly - aspects differ, the mass from 200 is the mass from 1400 is the mass from 2021.

What makes any mass the Mass of all time is the re-presentation in an unbloody manner the sacrifice of Christ. Language doesn't make it so. Music doesn't make it so. Not maniples not birettas nor 51% beeswax candles.

My home when completely renovated - new carpet, HVAC, paint colors, the addition of crown molding and a half bath under the stairs, etc. - is as much my home before as after the renovation.

Thomas Garrett said...

Father Kavanaugh,

I have no desire to take you on, because you're better educated than I am and can run verbal circles around me. But I've seen you insist that the Novus Ordo IS the Traditional Rite for some time now, so I'll just agree to disagree.

I would say that when I refer to the "Mass of All Time" I should probably be more specific and label it the TLM or Vetus Ordo or something more specific. But it IS a different rite and that cannot be denied. If you lived in a house with mid-century modern decor, you can't insist that it is also colonial, any more than someone offering the Melkite Rite can claim that it is the same as the Malabar Rite.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Father Kavanaugh:

If the differences between the Traditional Latin Mass and the Missal of 1970 are so "peripheral," then why the urgency to extirpate it?

TJM said...

The novus ordo Mass was invented 50 some years ago. Such history, such tradition. No one believes that except leftists. Go back to what I stated at 8:30 am. Deal with that. It certainly has chased millions of Catholics away.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Thomas - I am not insisting, nor would I insist, that my "mid-century modern" house is a "colonial" house. I am insisting that, whatever the changes in decor, it remains my home. Changes in the style of decoration can't change that.

Also, whether celebrated according to the Malabar Rite or the Melkite/Byzantine Rite, the mass is the mass.

Fr. MARTIN Fox - The Holy Father has stated the reasons for his motu proprio. It might be that when, for some people, the peripherals are thought to be the essentials, a change is needed.

John Nolan said...

I dislike the terms 'Mass of Ages' and 'Mass of All Time' as applied to the Roman Rite since they seem to ignore organic development over two millennia and the existence of many local variants or Uses (we're not talking here about non-Latin rites). It's also easy to argue, as Fr Kavanaugh does, that the Eucharist celebrated by persecuted Christians circa AD 200, before there were fixed liturgical prayers, is in its essentials the Eucharist celebrated today.

Fr K's analogies are not always apt (!) but the one referring to the house is interesting, as Joseph Ratzinger used a similar one regarding the 'reformed' liturgy. It was akin, he argued, to demolishing a house down to its foundations, and then erecting a new house using the same foundations as the old one.

JRR Tolkien, a life-long Catholic who disliked the new English Mass, likened the liturgy to a tree, which over the centuries develops deeper roots and more luxuriant foliage. In its early stages it would have been a sapling, and there may be some who prefer the sapling to the tree; but cutting down the tree will not recover the sapling.

A brilliantly apt analogy.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

John, your comment is very apropos. As an aside, I knew JRR Tolkien’s daughter, Priscilla. She had friends who once lived in Oxford who moved to Augusta. She would visit them there and because they were my parishioners at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, they would invite me over to their house for dinner and conversation. It was great. She also attended our Sunday Mass and was please with the “flair” in which we celebrated it. This was the late 90’s or early 2000’s. She was also the organist at her Oxford parish.

In terms of the new house on an old foundation, or the sapling verses the tree, I know you don’t particularly care for the 1965 transitional Missal. I think the 1962 Missal could have been retained in its entirety to placate some of your concerns about the 1965 Missal. However, its somewhat revised “Order of Mass” with the simplified PATFOTA and slight rubrical adjustments, I think that would have fulfilled Sacrosanctum Conciliium’s desire for “noble simplicity.” Allowing the changing parts of the Mass to be in the vernacular would have also fulfilled SC’s desire.

It would have been best to maintain the Low and High classifications for the Mass and to insist that in a chanted Mass the propers be chanted in Latin to preserve Gregorian Chant in Latin although allowing the propers to be in the vernacular for the Low Mass and never allowing these to be replaced by hymnody or absent altogether which is the case in the vast majority of Ordinary Form Masses chanted or not at least in the USA.

The other reform of the 1965 Missal was to do away with the two-track way the chanted Mass is celebrated, with the priest basically doing his own thing and the schola/choir doing theirs and disconnected. Unifying that was a very good reform. Maintaining the Roman Canon exclusively was the good about the 1965 revision. Allowing it to be spoken out loud along with the Secret were good reforms too.

I think the Roman Calendar should have remained as is with minor adjustments. The lectionary could have been expanded by maintaining the older lectionary as year A and then including more Scripture for B and C and perhaps having year C to have the Old Testament reading in place of the Epistle. I prefer the Epistle/ Gradual/Tract Gospel to the added Old Testament Reading and Responsorial Psalm where the repeating of a refrain is what I would call useless repetition. I think the added reading is tedious and to wordy for the Mass.

John Nolan said...

Fr Allan,

I know where you're coming from and agree with most of your points. Some of the reforms (even some in the 1962 Missal) seemed to make sense. Why should the celebrant read the Epistle and Gospel when they were being sung by the subdeacon and deacon? It would not have been the case even some way into the second millennium.

However, in a Solemn Mass the singing of the Introit overlays the PATFOTA and continues into the Kyrie. Yes, the celebrant reads the Introit and Kyrie before intoning the Gloria, but in the OF he does not need to do so. So if the choir chooses to sing a hymn at this point one of the descriptors of the Mass is missing. The EF sung Mass is layered; most of the Canon is said against a background of singing.

To deliver the Gregorian Propers takes a competent and trained schola. There are alternatives, but so far they have not caught on and some of them (the Graduale Parvum) are still a work in progress. What we are trying to do is to make sense, after nearly half a century, of a root-and-branch reform which was imposed within a timespan of a mere four years.

But it's not our call, whether we are bishops, priests or intelligent laity. And if the Bishop of Rome is antipathetical it doesn't help, although I would argue that it is not that important.