Tuesday, July 26, 2022



The rubrics of any Mass isn’t micromanagement. Telling a pastor he can’t print his Mass schedule in the bulletin is.

Telling a priest he must celebrate the Mass by saying the black and doing the red isn’t micromanagement but telling him that he can’t celebrate the 1962 Roman Missal in his spare bedroom chapel by himself, or a hybrid Ordinariate Missal in his bedroom chapel is.

Following the directions on how to bake a cake isn’t micromanagement but telling me I can’t bake a cake is.

I happen to agree with John Nolan in his commentary:

'Heels together, feet thirty degrees apart; fingers in the palms of the hands but not clenched; thumbs straight and aligned with the seam of the trousers; head erect, eyes level; stomach in, chest out.' The 'rubrics' for standing at attention, which those who have had military experience do without thinking about it. I imagine that priests who celebrated the older rite on a daily basis didn't have to think about the rubrics. When the 'Tridentine' missal was published in 1570 it did not replace or supersede older rites and uses, and the continuation of practices with a provenance of 200 years was not a concession to those attached to older forms; it was a clear statement of principle. Nor did the Rituale Romanum of 1614 replace existing ritual books, but with the expansion of the Church into the mission territories of the New World it made sense to have a 'definitive' Roman exemplar. Those like Pope Francis who maintain that Paul VI's new Mass is the 'only expression' of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite are being 'absurdly unhistorical' to the point of outright mendacity. Likewise his lackey Arthur Roche, who in an interview opined that 'the Church' (whatever he means by that) has always strictly regulated the liturgy in the interests of unity. Does he really believe this, or is he a dissembler in the mould of his master? Either way, he emerges with little credit.


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Well, we disagree.

In JROTC I learned to stand at attention, carry a rifle (M-14), make proper turns in platoon formation, and salute smartly. All well and good - for a military milieu and a military purpose. I still enjoy watching performances by highly trained military units such as the Silent Drill Platoon of the Marine Barracks, Washington, DC. The Trooping of the Colors for HRM's 75th Jubilee at the Horse Guards Parade at Whitehall was pretty impressive. (The semi-professional drum and bugle corps made up of high school students that compete each year are mighty impressive.)

Parades are "showing off" events, intended to be displays of discipline and training. The "rubrics" are, intentionally, on display. One missed catch of a thrown rifle by a Marine or one wrong turn by a member of the Queen's Life Guard spoils the display.

The purpose of the liturgy is vastly different. It is not meant to be a display of training or dexterity, adherence to rules or perfectionism in gestures. Placing the right thumb over the left when the priest's hands are folded does not serve the purpose of the liturgy. Unless one is a dedicated sinistrophobe, I don't know what purpose it serves. The purpose of the liturgy is not achieved because the tips of the celebrant's little fingers rested properly on the altar.

I'm not in favor of "By The Seat Of Your Pants" liturgy. Neither am I in favor of prescriptive rubrics for the sake of being prescriptive. It amazes me, when I read those archaic rubrics, that the number of times a priest could belink was not included.

TJM said...

Yet the Novus Ordo, although valid, has been an abject failure: clearing the pews and not instilling belief in the Real Presence in a majority of folks who bother to go. This authoritarian crew in Rome will be gone in the next several years and charity will return. A regime that allows serious abuses like those which occur at St. Sabina’s in Chicago and off the shores of Italy while putting restraints on the TLM is spiritually and intellectually bankrupt. Their clerical apologists are unfit to serve ministry.

ByzRus said...

Agree with Fr. MJK. Divine worship is the Lord's work, per the Eastern perspective, it is not a military field drill.

Using the example of the ring and small fingers being locked onto the edge of the mensa, how is salvation either being facilitated, or, achieved by so doing? How is the sacrament and/or salvation made illegitimate should one's fingers not be
locked in at the prescribed time? Position of fingers has nothing to do with supplication to the divine. It is a superfluous man-made display. Conjoined digits after the consecration, at least to me, does seem to serve a purpose until the ablution, or a dry purificationon the corporal.

ByzRus said...

Something unique to the TLM that I've always found to be puzzling:

Why would a priest forgo the dignity of the major orders reverting to the diaconate, or, sub-diaconate while vesting as such (let's ignore stole and manipulate for the moment). Is there a spiritual reason for this, or is it done simply to fill those roles and facilitate symmetry at the altar? Isn't someone who does this effectively play acting? Is this choreography for the sake of choreography? What about gloves with stars, buskins and buckles on shoes? I'm not trying to be snarky, BTW. Those things are charming to look at, but, what do they have to do with divine worship other that "more" crept in over the years and that "more" was compounded with "more" accompanied by a crushing amount of detailed choreography governing usage? If the "precious blood" is so "precious", why would the pope of Rome require a gold straw to act as a partial barrier to consumption?

Perhaps this is what VII was trying to do, purify divine worship of that which was superfluous??

rcg said...

Detailed instructions support and remind teaching after many miles and years. Remember that there was no video or even audio recording in those days. Find books about sign language used between cultures and you see similar details. Details are important so that not only is meaning retained but that the subsequent repetitions not diverge into, say, liturgical dance, and mislead everyone. I have seen similar details for finger placement on the handle of a sword, so these are not unheard of and have a purpose. Admittedly, the placement of finger tips may not impact the consecration, but the total focus of the mind might.

This reminds me of Fr McDonald’s complaint of ‘needless’ repetition of various parts of the Liturgy. Are they really redundant? The people that came before us were not simpletons or fools. I think they put more thought into those repetitions than was put into Eucharistic Prayer II.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Byz - Some would say that Scholasticism, a western innovation, is to blame. Everything must be in proper order, everything must be legal, everything must be rational, everything must be logical. Orderliness is the by-word. Although not excluded, mystery seems to have been significantly sidelined.

My copy of "The Costumes of the Roman Prelates" by Rev, John A. Nainfa, SS, states on page 89, "The lining of the biretta, though apparently a trifling matter, is, however, regulated by etiquette. A cardinal's biretta is lined with scarlet red; that of a bishop with green. Crimson red lining is reserved from prelates di mantelletta. Custom allows prelates de mantellone to use a biretta lined with purple; but the biretta of priests and ecclesiastics of lower rank should have no other lining than black."

Very clear and orderly, that.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Only someone with a personality disorder would prefer disorder to order and damnation’s chaos to salvation’s orderliness! And the older ordered Missal has more mystery and awesomeness in its little pinky compared to the entirety of the modern disordered missal…..but I digress.

John Nolan said...


Perhaps I can alleviate your puzzlement?

In the first place, the subdiaconate and diaconate are major orders. Because they were transitional, they would rarely be encountered outside the seminary.

Secondly, the Solemn Mass, with deacon and subdeacon and the full ceremonial (including lights and incense) was the normative form of the Roman Rite, and to confine it to seminaries (or monastic institutions) would be hard to justify; so priests customarily assumed these roles and vested accordingly.

Thirdly, ordination to the presbyterate does not cancel previous ordinations, and there is nothing improper about a priest acting as a deacon or subdeacon (or for that matter serving Mass for another priest, in which case he would be acting as an acolyte). At a cathedral Capitular Mass the canons would take it in turns to be celebrant, deacon and subdeacon.

Fourthly, the practice is not unique to the EF, as those who frequent the Solemn Latin OF Masses at the London and Oxford Oratories will testify.

As a footnote, in non-Catholic countries, particularly England and north America, it was permissible to celebrate under indult a Missa Cantata with lights and incense although no deacon and subdeacon were present. This was extended to the whole Church by John XXIII in 1960.

ByzRus said...


I'm sorry, but I cannot agree. No one is espousing disorder. We are simply questioning gestures and things that had crept into the '62 Missal and related ceremonial that had nothing to do with the worship of the divine. If I were a bishop then, I would habe been mortified to have to be seen in fur, slippers, a mile of lace and gloves with stars on them. What do any of those things have to do with the sacrifice at Calvary or the New Jerusalem? If we're being perfectly well honest, little to nothing. Our Lord didn't, according to the 4 evangelists, lock his fingers onto the edge of the table top in the upper room. These things crept in over time. What does it/them even mean?

Putting all that aside, in basic form, that Missal is beautiful and it's journey certainly reminds participants of the mystery. Perhaps the '62 Missal emphasizing the vernacular, less fussy/busy appurtenences, ad orientem and, my poor knees, kneeling at the rail for communion would have been the better direction to pursue.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Byz - What we see as, "...things that had crept into the '62 Missal ..." the traditionalists will see as "organic development."

I doubt that the origins of much of this "development" are known or even can be known. As you may have heard before, "That's the way we've always done it" are known as The Seven last Words of Liturgy.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The 1962 missal tends, in my view, to obscure the Mystery with the mysterious.

TJM said...

Fr K,

The Novus Ordo obscures the Real Presence


Where can I go to critique the Eastern Rites?

ByzRus said...

I was typing this on my cell phone earlier and, apparently, doing a terrible job of it!

John Nolan, I misspoke. True, the diaconate is part of the major orders and for the Romans, so too is the sub-diaconate. I had forgotten about this distinction. In the East, the sub-diaconate is not part of the major orders. In fact, this is the final order where the ordained can marry. Should the sub-deacon wish to become a deacon, then priest and be married, he must receive that sacrament prior to his ordination to the diaconate.

I hear what you are saying regarding ordination to major orders not cancelling the minor orders however, a cleric assuming a role other than the one to which he is currently ordained is foreign to my experience. I don't deny it for the Roman Church, however. The Missa Cantata actually makes more sense to me than having a "straw" deacon/sub-deacon. Nonetheless, I appreciate your points.


The NO doesn't obscure the real presence otherwise, it would not be a valid expression of mass as has been confirmed by none other than Benedict XVI. It's execution by some perhaps creates distraction, but it does not obscure anything. As my own self-criticism, personally, I wish we Byzantines more regularly followed the approach of the Russians by delivering the homily after the blessing but before the "Glory to Christ our God etc". Once liturgy starts and people get into their rhythm with the prayers, I prefer continuing seamlessly rather than having a break in the middle. Preference, that's all.

As for where you can go to critique the Eastern Rites, that's up to you. Alternatively, you can simply stay here and state your argument. I'll be happy to listen.

Please understand that I'm as traditional as they come. That embrace ends where that which does not correlate with the matter at hand creeps in. I respect the TLM however, I have no emotional attachment to it. It simply was not my experience. You might rightly say that the Byzantine and Orthodox Churches feature highly stylized liturgies, however, none of the movements and gestures found within are random. At the same time, there isn't anything present that does not need to be there. It all has a purpose and meaning and is fundamentally intact since being handed down by the apostles, then being organized and authored by the saints. The scholasticism described within Fr. MJK's book is not culturally part of the Christian East. We do, however, have awards that are given to priests particularly in Russia so, there are adornments that, effectively, serve no purpose relative to divine worship. The distinction between the East and West, however, is that in the East, there is no liturgical ceremony associated with those adornments other than the presentation of the award itself. The one benefit, when fully vested, a priest's rank and seniority can be determined simply by looking.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Byz, shall I tell TJM where he can go...?

ByzRus said...

Fr. MJK,

Trying my best to avoid the near occasion of sin....

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Byz - Mea culpa. Sorry to have been a bad influence....

TJM said...


You realize I was parroting back to Father K what he had to say. Should you tell Father K where he can go?