Friday, 15 June 2012

International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) Dublin, and the Sacred Liturgy

The IEC and Liturgical Norms

I have to be honest and say I have found the IEC in Dublin somewhat disappointing to view because, and despite the sincere fervour, dedication and the obvious prayerfulness of the people and all the hard work going on, it seems as though the attempts by Pope John Paul II to bring an end to irregularities in the liturgy (cf.Dominicae Cenae, 1980; Redemptionis sacramentum, 2003) and Pope Benedict’s call for continuity with Tradition in liturgy (Curial Address, December 2005) have never happened. While some excellent points have been made in addresses and homilies, we seem to have had little Gregorian Chant, despite the directive of Vatican II (Sacrosanctum concilium 116) that Gregorian Chant be given pride of place (even sacred polyphony was not given the prominence of chant, it being lumped together with ‘other kinds of music’ which are given the status of simply “not necessarily excluded”), yet we have had girls dancing through the congregation with bowls of incense and a Cardinal finding he has to use the Altar of Sacrifice as a lectern from which to preach during a Penitential Service.  These seem like regressions to the 1970’s when we thought the liturgy and sanctuary were at our personal disposal and the Order of Mass a framework: “have a penitential Rite, some readings, the Eucharist, and within all that, be imaginative; creative”.

Language in the Mass

Granted that the IEC is an international gathering, am I the only one to have noticed that the vernacular becomes very exclusive at such events? Let us say that there are six languages present: as soon as a particular language is used for an intercession during the Payers of the Faithful or at the proclamation of the Gospel,  five sixths of the congregation are left in the dark, and there is a feeling of, “Oh, here’s our bit” when one’s own language makes its appearance. As the Holy Father stated in Sacramentum caritatis (2007):

the proposal made by the Synod of Bishops, in harmony with the directives of the Second Vatican Council, [is] that, with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, it is fitting that such liturgies be celebrated in Latin. Similarly, the better-known prayers of the Church's tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian chant should be sung." (No. 62)

Despite the directives of Vatican II, the proposal made by the Synod of Bishops and the mind of the Pope (as well as the mind of Paul VI who issued Jubilate Deo in 1974 to retain a minimum of Latin chant), we rarely hear Latin used by those laity, priests or Bishops who profess loyalty to the said Council. If Latin were once again taught in Catholic schools there would be no ‘exclusion’ by use of it at Mass.

Exhortations to Eucharistic Adoration

On a related note, as relayed to us by Father Henry, there was a decision to exclude exhortations to Eucharistic Adoration from Congress talks. This too takes me back to my time in seminary (the late eighties, early nineties) when it was common to hear that “the Eucharist was given so we could eat and drink It, not worship It”; and that “the Old Mass was too priest-centred”. But in all honesty, what have we got today? The Real Presence -to which the worship of latria is to be given- is placed in the corner like a naughty boy or shunted off to another room while the priest takes Its place at the apex of the ‘stage’ to face his audience/congregation. Surely, to remove the Lord from the apex and replace Him with the priest (who no longer faces the Lord rising in the East so as to lead His people toward Him but faces the people so as to engage them -often by humour and affectatious intonation in gesture and prayer) is to become more priest-centred than ever before?

The Novus Ordo and continuity with Tradition

In all honesty I prefer the Extraordinary Form. The Novus Ordo appears to have an in-built spirit of evolution which carries with it a kind of instability that for me does not sit well with the stability of the Depositum Fidei.  And while I do not reject the Novus Ordo as invalid or illicit, I do think it needs to be celebrated in a manner more clearly in tune with our liturgical tradition, which is possible if we

·         use the Roman Canon
·         hold to the norm of receiving Our Lord on the tongue while kneeling
·         hold to the rubric of the priest facing the altar from the Offertory onwards
·         sing the Ordinary in Latin chant as per the directive of Vatican II.

A significant number of young people are drawing closer to the Traditional Liturgy as the annual Chartres pilgrimage shows, 

and I venture to say this is because in the Traditional liturgy God is clearly front and centre; His priest is facing Him and is leading His people toward Him. In contrast, the Novus Ordo frequently appears to be a setting in which we celebrate our giftedness and engage with one another across a table.

I suspect that many are not actually supporting the Novus Ordo itself but the innovations which followed its promulgation: Communion in the hand while standing; celebrants facing the people and pop-style ditties rather than sacred chant.  I further suspect that if we ask those who disparage the Traditional Form of Mass in favour of the Missanormativa if they would be happy to have the latter celebrated as it is given (with a sung Latin Ordinary, an altar-facing priest and Communion on the tongue safeguarded by the Communion plate) that few would say ‘yes’, because (subconsciously?) it is not the Novus Ordo they support but the innovations attached to it.

Why is following the norms, rubrics and a hermeneutic of continuity so important to me? Because by following directives about which way to face, which music to sing and how to receive Holy Communion in the most reverent posture, the liturgy allows me (and all of us) to give God at least one area of my life where Christ increases and I decrease; an area of life that can be relatively free from gross orientation towards self in adhering to one’s personal predilections. Don’t we all want to have such an area to give to God..?


  1. I was disappointed that the opportunity was missed to have the Gloria and Credo in latin at such an international gathering.
    Nowhere did i read or hear of discouragement to worship of the the Most Blessed Eucharist. Indeed the public procession of the Blessed Sacrament through the surrounding streets brought thousands to their knees on the footpaths as the Procession passed. Of course the many thousands walking in the procession were also honouring and adoring our Blessed Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament.

  2. I thought, from the little I could bear to watch, that the congress had been infiltrated by choirs from the Baptist Church of Alabama. It was all most unCatholic and redolent of the early eighties.

    1. Fomer Seminarian20 June 2012 at 14:01

      I think Baptism Choirs in Alabama are great in the context of their own form of praise -but not for Catholic worship in which the Paschal Sacrifice of the Lord in all His glory is made present. I have never understood why we were notld not to be tiumphalistic!

    2. The concluding hymn was HORRIBLE! It was a civil war song, a secular hymn, and a political patriotic American piece. It was out of place, and I as an American found it insulting to Our Blessed Lord. A traditional Eucharistic hymn would have been much more tasteful, and more appropriate.

  3. i love to receive jesus kneeing but can only do it in one church in our cityof 7 churchs

    1. You can do it every time you go up to receive communion. Just kneel down and stick out you tongue when it comes your turn. Sometimes, you have to set an example to show your reverence.
      Take the lead in your church and start receiving Holy Communion the right way.

  4. I was disappointed that Benedict finds everything such a 'mystery' when there is nothing mysterious about it.

    The only thing I took hope in was the young student teacher quoting Catherine of Sienna, "Become the person you are meant to be and set the world on fire."
    Reminds of Iraneus, "The glory of God is a human being fully alive."

    I went to a Latin Mass a few months ago and hated it. I remember the first time too. I was so busy trying to hear what the priest, actually a bishop, was saying that my heart was lost to it.

    Whatever rocks your boat. If the Latin and bells help you offer your self, as a living sacrifice, through, with and in Christ Crucified - well and good.

    I prefer as is.

    I am partial to a bit of Gregorian too though. I knew a Trappist novice years ago could sing like an angels. Compline was heaven.


    1. I am sad to hear you say you "hated" the Latin Mass how can anyone hate something so Sacred, whichever form is used. I hate the fact that Christ suffered and died for me on the cross, but thank goodness He did or I would be lost. For merv

  5. Fr. Dickson
    What you say reflects my thinking exactly. Redemptionis Sacramentum was proclaimed and ignored. Indeed in the Mass in Ireland today, the celebrant gives Holy Communion to the EMHCs before receiving it himself. Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is not recognized (by the actions and demeanour of those who receive him).

  6. I agree father I watched it on other personal thing.....I have been a Eurcharistic Minister for well over 20 years and can see the lack of reverence by the people and truly long for the time of priestly vocations where I can sit in. Pew or seat and let rhe clergy give me Jesus again as years ago....thank God I can still get to a Mass where one truly kneels to HIM?

    Albany new York

  7. @Mary, the point of mass is really not to listen to what the priest is saying, but unite yourself to the mystery and place yourself at the foot of the cross. Thats why the consecration at latin mass is done in silence, Christ was born in silence and rose in silence.

    1. It was for Merv, not Mary. Oops,lol

    2. How can you possibly criticize the Congress?
      I was there and it was the most Holy Spirit filled event I have ever witnessed!

      I witnessed prayer sessions that had everyone from Cardinals to Archbishops to Bishops to Monsignors to Priests to Laity to little children in tears.....we were reduced to the realisation that we were not even worthy of our next breath.....we were not worthy of our next heartbeat.

      We discovered total humility and gratitude before our Eucharistic Lord.

      Your pride and ego-centric criticism of this Heavenly festival comes only from one source.

      Please be aware that it doesnt eminate from the Mother or from Her Son.

      You work it out.

      May God Bless You and your families.

    3. Father does note the obvious fervour, prayerfulness and sincerity of those attending, but one cannot ignore the fact that liturgical norms were not followed and that the music was not what the Fathers of Vatican II called for. When we ignore the norms liturgy becomes man-focused rather than God-centred because it means we take ownership of the 'actio Christi'.

  8. This is why I left and go to a Byzantine Catholic Church. No innovations or crazy problems there. The Liturgies are beautiful, and the priest always faces East. We sing the whole Liturgy as well in 3 or 4 voices. And there is piety too. You are missing a lot.

    1. Yes, the liturgy is beautiful. But if the priest has been indoctrinated into the concilliar church it is just theater because the Holy Spirit will not be present. Only a Catholic priest can offer the Liturgy acceptable to God.

    2. The Sacraments of the ‘Conciliar Church’ remain valid; the Holy Spirit is operative in them despite the personal worthiness or orthodoxy of the celebrating priest since Our Lord promised His Church will not be overcome by Hell. If the Church did fail at Vatican II then Our Lord is either lacking in the power to protect His Church or is untrustworthy in His promises. None of these can sit well with a Catholic. The commentator who joined the Byzantine Church has made an understandable move considering the anarchy present in much of todays Roman liturgy, but I still feel unity with Rome is too important not to be saddened by such a move.

    3. The Sacraments of the ‘Conciliar Church’ remain valid; the Holy Spirit is operative in them despite the personal worthiness or orthodoxy of the celebrating priest since Our Lord promised His Church will not be overcome by Hell. If the Church did fail at Vatican II then Our Lord is either lacking in the power to protect His Church or is untrustworthy in His promises. None of these can sit well with a Catholic. The commentator who joined the Byzantine Church has made an understandable move considering the anarchy present in much of todays Roman liturgy, but I still feel unity with Rome is too important not to be saddened by such a move.

  9. I can't believe no one mentioned self intinction. I thought that was abominable. AndyP/Doria2 Yonkers, NY

  10. Mary Louise Fisher22 June 2012 at 01:10

    Wow clearly your aggression can only be coming from one source along with the fact that you write annonymously. I must say I don't know this Fr Gary but from what I have read I take it you must as I can find nothing but good in his words. Keep up the good work Fr and God Bless you.

  11. Isn't the Apparition of Our Lady of Know all about the Holy Mass and the family? Our Lady stands next to the Altar as at the Cross, Jesus, The Lamb of God is on the Altar, St. John is there as at the Cross, St. Joseph is there as the Head of The Holy Family. Also, Our Lady appeared as soon as the parish priest was finished saying 30 days of Masses for the HOly Souls in Purgatory. This apparition seem so significant to the Holy Mass and the renewal of the family. God bless all


      The Church in Knock, Co. Mayo Ireland is now known as "Knock Shrine" or Our Lady of Knock, but it's original name was St. John the Baptist...on the back wall of the original Church, and still today, are inscribed the words "MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER TO ALL NATIONS, ONLY THE JUST SHALL ENTER HER GATES" now in our time...The same Vigin Mary appears again in Co. Mayo....and asks for a HOUSE OF PRAYER "where I will be present with my many angels interceding for my children", Yes, down the road a bit in the same County , on Achill Island, is OUR LADY QUEEN OF PEACE HOUSE OF PRAYER and for what ever reason is IGNORED, i for one cannot see why people particualrily in Ireland missed this.

      [NB. Thank you for your comment, but we must point out that these 'apparitons' have not yet been authenticated by the Church, and much controversy appears to surround them.]

  12. Fiddlin Deacons and Em's.....we don't need the em's runnin all over the church fiddlin. The priest is the man chosen for the job. You'd think we were at St Peters square every sunday. I love the em's that go to the back of the church, then can't get back to the altar before the priest...the position should never have been implemented. They are a distraction setting things up and putting things parish in the albany diocese has mastered fiddlin...may as well let the priest stay in the rectory. Bishops still running amok with not getting us back on track(too distracted by "New Order")...most helped implement the 70-90"s changes the music(Shutte, farrel and and Owen Alstott's responsorials did not help)...throw out the missal and song books. Add continuing revelations of bankrupt parishs.... the body is suffering big time.

  13. Merv,
    Let me are over 60? And be honest, you would like to see the Church change on divorce, contraception, priestly celibacy, etc. The future of the Church rightly belongs to its past, amen. Also, the spelling is 'emanate', not 'eminate'.

  14. I wathced from EWTN in the U.S and found the Eucharistic congress wanting.Since the Eucharist is central in our faith,reverance is vital. Either Christ is adored in the Eucharist or he is not.I agree with you Fr.Dickson. Thank you for the article.

  15. The music was atrocious! and ridiculous!!: the choir mimicking a Protestant Black choir was SO EMOTIONALLY SELF-CENTERED WORLDY-SOUNDING ENTERTAINMENT, along with most of the singers, as to require a chanel switch until one could wait for a good talk --like the head of the Knights of Columbus Anderson's fine words.

  16. Congratulations to this beautiful new blog, and the fresh idea.

    I personally allow myself to suggest the photo of Mr Andrew to be substituted for one in which he actually... wears a tie. ;)


  17. Good article! I also watched some of the conference on EWTN in the US. I tuned in on the Ecumenical day, not knowing that there was a theme for each day. I was horrified with what I saw and called EWTN and they gave me a number in Ireland to call. Which I did and was told that Union in Communion was the theme for that day. UGH! A EUCHARIST CONGRESS should be about the EUCHARIST, the SOURCE AND SUMMIT of our Catholic faith, AND prime of place for Latin and ADORATION and PROCESSION. Sunday I am off to The Cathedral Of The Madeline in Salt Lake City for the Sacred Music Colloquium XXII a week of Chant, Sacred Polyphony, Mass in the Extraordinary form in a Romanesque/Gothic setting with like minded Catholics! It is my retreat from the insipid music and liturgies I have been enduring for too long.

  18. All this talk about the Congress has reminded me why I don't like the Tabernacle placed off to the side. Before when it was centered under the Crucifix and the priest facing it,a complete yet silent truth and lesson was taught us. The eye first looked at the Crucified Jesus then traveled down to His Eucharistic Presence in the Tabernacle.The reality of our salvation was always before us. Because Jesus died and made atonement for us on the Cross , we have Him always with us as Emmanuel(God with us)in the Tabernacle. As the priest consecrated the Host, we understand that Jesus entered the new bread in order to come to us.We should always adore Him as He reposes in the Tabernacle and receive Him in Communion.

  19. Catholic Mission23 June 2012 at 19:32

    The 50th International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) underway in Dublin, Ireland is based on dissent and heresy by the established Roman Catholic Church.


  20. I was present for our Eucharistic Congress.

    Everyone who criticises it was not.

    People who were not there say they were disappointed with the music.

    People who were there thought the music was inspirational.

    I am still brought to tears by our Congress hymn..."Though we are Many"

    Souls who were inspired by the Holy Spirit came from all over the world.

    Souls who were inspired by the Holy Spirit but who could not travel joined us in prayer and in spirit.

    Souls who were not present and were not inspired by the Holy Spirit went on the internet and wrote letters complaining about our Congress.

    Two types of souls.

    Which type are you?

    Humble and joyful...?
    Proud and full of anger and criticism..?

  21. I have no doubt that the people there loved the music: we all love that which focuses upon ourselves and most of today’s music is focused on us: “We are one Body..” and is a dressed to us from one another: “be still for the presence of the Lord..” . The congregation thus enters into dialogue with itself and not with God. The measure of our enjoyment is not the measure of good worship, which is always God-focused.

    It remains true to say -with sadness rather than anger or pride- that Vatican II’s decree that Gregorian chant have pride of place in music was not followed, and that many liturgical norms were broken.

    The reason why our measure of enjoyment is not the measure of authentic worship is that authentic worship requires a faithfulness to norms of the Church. When these are ignored we place ourselves as masters over the liturgy, making it the property of those gathered at that particular celebration, yet the liturgy belongs to the whole Church, not to any particular country or even to an international gathering. That is why there are norms in the first place.

    You might like to think again, because you have assumed that everyone absent from the Congress was not inspired by the Holy Spirit. I’m afraid this rubbishes the vast majority of bishops, priests and people of God who simply could not be present, and indicates you are not speaking from an impassionate mind-set.

  22. Hello Father Dickson,
    I love you as a priest in my Church.
    I love you as a man who has the power to bring my Eucharistic Lord into my life.
    I love you!

    I am sorry if I annoyed anyone.

    I am not worthy of my next breath.
    I am not worthy of my next heartbeat.

    Forgive me .

    1. I am always grateful for affirmation, but I think we all desire to ‘walk the walk’ as well as we ‘talk the talk’. Though some extraordinary souls exhibit heroic sanctity, yet there is no perfection this end of the grave. We are all sinners seeking forgiveness; all wounded soldiers seeking healing. Thanks be to God for the Most Holy Eucharist and the Sacrifice it contains, which wins for us the grace of reconciliation; thanks be to God for the Sacrament of Confession which applies that Reconciliation to our souls making us fit to unite ourselves to Christ in the wedding banquet of the Lamb at Holy Communion.


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