For the last seven years I have celebrated the Ordinary Form ad orientem, and at our Vigil Mass made use of simple Latin Mass parts for the Ordinary (we have had the Usus Antiquior on Sundays since 2007). Some parishioners, though a small minority, seem to have continued difficulty with the Latin and ad orientem celebration because “they make us the odd ones out; no one else is doing them”. No matter how often the Council documents or rubrics of the Missal are shown and explained in homilies, Bulletins or Hand-outs, the old myths about Vatican II having “gotten rid of Latin” and “turned the priest round to face the people” still retain a hold. What can be done to establish the hermeneutic of continuity in liturgy? As a priest friend said recently, “Change has to come from the top; Bishops, Vicar Generals and Deans should use Latin and the ad orientem posture, otherwise the people will see their parish clergy as an oddity or worse, as “a problem priest”.
Though I do not suggest that Bishops, VGs, Cathedral Administrators or Deans habitually use the norms of Latin and ad orientem worship, much less that they impose them on parishes during visitations, I would like them to demonstrate these norms for Christmas, Easter, Solemnities and Ordinations. Surely six or seven occasions a year is not too much to hope for in order that we may give the Council, the Missal of Paul VI and the hermeneutic of continuity full backing and liturgical expression? It would certainly give those priests who employ the norms formal support and mitigate against complaints; it will also give those who are afraid of ‘singularising’ themselves -including priests who consider themselves ‘Traditional’- the courage to employ them. There is of course a natural fear of offending the people (and losing revenue or numbers -we often judge ourselves or get judged by the amount of people we retain at Sunday Mass) but if the norms were occasionally employed by senior clergy and confirmed to those who protest their use, parishioners would be far less likely to leave their parish to worship elsewhere or to complain about their priest (some of which can be spurious, ‘displaced’ complaints arising from the complainants subconscious antagonism).
In my opinion, non-use of Latin and the ad orientem posture by senior clergy has several negative effects: it perpetuates a certain loathing for these norms among the people; it places junior clergy who do employ them in an unjust isolation, and encourages dissonance between parish clergy and those people who take any opportunity to complain about their ‘difficult’ priest to Deans, VG’s and Bishops. Seeking to avoid offending the people is understandable, but by failing to confirm that Latin and ad orientem are in fact the norms, people are being affirmed in their error and resentment while junior clergy are unjustly pressurised to ‘fit in’ with the majority who habitually utilise options rather than norms.
I utilise the norms as a matter of conscience, really. After prayerful study I sincerely believe that we need to do all we can to hold onto our Catholic identity; an identity which has been badly eroded over the years (“we are all the same now Father”) an identity which is closely associated with Latin and ad-orientem worship.
Latin is not only a required element in the liturgy (as decreed by Vatican II), but it has been all-but sacralised by its use over the centuries. It also gives a sense of transcendence (otherworldliness) to the liturgy; demonstrates unity in that everywhere one goes the Ordinary (Confiteor, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Pater Noster and Agnus Dei) are recited una voce, and it facilitates a universal participation which is excluded by the vernacular when at Mass in foreign lands. Meanwhile, ad orientem clearly expresses the nature of the Church as a pilgrim people journeying towards God whilst awaiting His return in glory; having the priest face the people images a community closed in on itself. Certainly having the altar between priest and people can be presented as imaging the people gathered around the throne of God, but it is not perceived that way –moreover, this is a flawed image since we are indeed a pilgrim people who have not yet reached the throne of God. On the other hand, ad orientem is always perceived as being less about the community and its affirmation (which is why it is disliked?) than it is about God and worship.
We do, I think, need a renewed catechesis of people and clergy to secure the expression of liturgical continuity, with a clear rebuke of derogatory language such as “the priest having his back to the people” –a statement which betrays a secular, rather earth-bound understanding of the liturgy.
I know it its the "coward" thing to say, and it is not the style of the Pope to act by decree, but it would be much easy if instead of just advised, this things where made the norm.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your comment. The Decrees are the rubrics. I encourage myself somewhat by remembering that at least the Holy Father has celebrated ad orientem in the Sistine Chapel on occasion, and frequently used Latin for the ordinary of the Mass.Delete
When, through indifference, you throw 'something' of value in the trash, the garbage men come to take it to the dump. When you finally realize that the 'something' you discarded was a precious family heirloom, you become somewhat diminished and sorrowful and seek to get it back. So, you make that trip to many dumps in order to find its location in order to recover your beloved object. Once you find it (if you ever find it again), the item must be cleaned and restored to its former beauty--but this is not a material object, it is the Sacred Liturgy. What happend at VII was tantamount to tossing pearls into the pig-pen. I think that the Church of Rome will always have such problems until it restores Orthodoxy to both her doctrine and Tradition--just my opinion.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your comment. Many think the baby was thrown out with the bath water; hopefully we are on the way to rescuing it...Delete
It is certainly distressing to see the Mass disordered by dancing and dramas etc, since these inevitably draw applause -and show we have moved from the worship of God to the affirmation of the people in liturgy. The ad orientem posture is particularly helpful in eradicating such an attitude while the use of Latin chant, because it is not akin to any secular music style, gives clear a indication that we are moving out from earth to heaven.
The democratic picture given in the Novus Ordo when people and priests both read; when people and priests both distribute Holy Communion and when people and priests both give 'talks' from the lectern etc., can distort doctrine by giving the impression that the Church is democratic -hence the problem we have today of 'receptionism' in which how well something is received by the people becomes all-but a judgement on papal teaching. This is incompatible with Traditional Catholic Doctrine and contrary to Vatican II.
Father bless. Mine was the 'trash-dump' post above. I was born and raised in the Catholic Church--I was raised during the great changes--baptized in the first year following the close of the counsel. I knew something was wrong growing up but could never quite put a finger on it--the tree is known by its fruit. Later, I was influenced by a wonderous Ruthenian Catholic Priest in Seattle Washington. It was his Orthodoxy that moved me slowly over many years to the Orthodox Church. I was Chrismated into the Orthodox Church for various reasons but in the end it wasn't so much doctrinal disagreements, papal claims, or the Trojan Horse of heresies and disobedience She has suffered. Rather, for me, it watching an Orthodox Icon of Christ on the Cross miraculously start streaming Myhrr before my own eyes on the Feast of St. Gregory Palamos--a Saint not regognizes as such by the Roman Calendar of Saints. It was clear to me where Our Blessed Lord wants me--that's all I have to say about that. As for the Catholic Church, all I can say is that it needs Orhtodoxy--a return to Sacred Tradition in her liturgy among other things--'Union' is reserved for God. 'Unity' belongs to the Church. That's what matters most. For the most part, the Orthodox Liturgies have been preserved with little change in the last 1200 years because we consider Sacred Liturgy the 'Gift' of the Holy Spirit. That has not been the experience of the Western Church and it's fragmentation reflects this. Alexis of Holy CrossDelete
Thank you again. Indeed union exists in God; unity within the Church. I think there are issues in both East and West that hold this unity back, but if it is indeed the will of God, it will happen.Delete
I do love the Orthodox liturgy and its symbolism; I regret that in the Ordinary Form ritual and symbol has been so diminished that many people seem to think they have to add the dances and dramas in order to liven it up and 'make it relevant'.
How sad it is in this day and age that we cannot support our priests that are struggling daily to lead us towards Heaven by following the rubrics sent by Rome. The parable of the lady who looses a drachma and searches the whole house until she finds it brings to mind how much of our liturgy we need to recover. The sacredness of the Holy Liturgy can be restored to its former glory if we listen to the few priests who dare to try to follow Rome. Please dear Bishops and Priests find the courage to do what you know to be right and you will be surprised at how many lay people, especially the youth will follow and support you. May God give you strength and I will pray each day that he gives you the courage.ReplyDelete
Thanks for commenting. Yes, it would be good to see more support from among the people for celebrations according to the norms, but it is not lacking and is welcomed by some who are publicly silent for fear of being labelled 'Traditional'. I just think the welcome would be greater if we educated the people on the reasons for the norms and encouraged Bishops, VG's etc, to use them on occasion, rather than utilise the options exclusively.Delete
I go to a parish in Detroit that never stopped using Latin. After Vatican II, it did switch to the Novus Ordo mass, but kept holding mass in Latin, and ad orientem. Even the English mass is usually said ad orientem, and if we wheel out the portable altar for English mass, everybody knows it's to accommodate either an elderly priest who is stuck on post-Vatican II practice or a younger one who doesn't know how to say mass ad orientem. Nobody in the parish seems to resent mass being said either way, although I think most would resent it if priests completely stopped saying mass ad orientem.ReplyDelete
The way I always explain the ad orientem posture to visitors is that, "The priest isn't turning his back to us; we're all facing the same way." This seems to satisfy them.
Now what to do about elderly visiting priests who throw tantrums when asked to say Benediction after mass. "WHAT IS THIS?! THE 1920s?!" "You see, Father, it's what the young people want these days."
Thanks for the comment. Indeed, the young people see the value in what we have all but thrown away. How I wish that we could facilitate more young people getting to see the treasures of the Church's liturgical heritage...Delete
This must be St Joseph Church in Detroit. I've never been there but always thought that liturgically speaking this is what the Council Fathers had in mind regarding the Novus Ordo as it has been offered at St Joseph Church.Delete
Thank you for your comment. It is interesting to see how many young people from so many places hold to Tradition in the liturgy; the Chartres pilgrimage gives evidence of this.Delete
Wonderful post, Father. I could not agree more. God bless you.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your comment and your blessings!Delete
I attend daily Mass in which the Pastor uses Latin for several parts of the Mass, including Sanctus, Pater Noster and Agnus Dei. While it may seem to be more holy, most of us do not know but a few words of Latin. If we read the prayer in Latin, I do not know what I am saying. Therefore, I do not feel like I am praying. I have to pray in English to really be praying with meaning. Sometimes the Pastor says the Latin so fast we cannot keep up. This is less holy than praying in English with meaning.ReplyDelete
Thank you for your comment. I do hope you will grow in your ability to pray with Latin at Mass, especially since it is, as you say, at the Sanctus, Pater Noster and Agnus Dei that the Latin is used, where you may not know the word-for word translation but you do know what you are saying. I am wondering why you read prayers in Latin when the priest is pronouncing them in English? Our congregation do not use texts at all, and happily sing the parts you refer to. Maybe leaving the texts aside to listen to the prayers might help you? Just a suggestion.Delete
You address a very important issue with this. I am however curious to know why you say this:
"Though I do not suggest that Bishops, VG's, Cathedral Administrator's or Deans habitually use the norms of Latin and ad orientem worship, much less that they impose them on parishes during visitations, I would like them to demonstrate these norms for Christmas, Easter, Solemnities and Ordinations.'
Why shouldn't bishops, VG's, Cathedral Administrators or Deans habitually use Ad Orientem with Latin in their Masses? I don't understand why not.
Thank you for commenting. There are few reasons why I do not suggest that Bishops, VG's, Cathedral Administrator's or Deans habitually use the norms of Latin and ad orientem. First, because I think they have a right to use the options, I just do not think they have a right to make those options a norm in practice; second, because if the norms are used for the more solemn public occasions they demonstrate them to be the more solemn manner of offering Mass; third, because in practical terms these are the occasions when the clergy and people are gathered with them in greater numbers.Delete
Those who truly see the Mass as a solemn offering are more likely to look for Latin and ad orientem as this reality grows on them.
I assumed the rubrics of the Missal of Paul VI assume the Versus Deum/Ad Orientem orientation. I don't understand why this isn't the norm considering the rubrics. How can there ever be a healing of the rupture between the Vetus Ordo and Novus Ordo if the Novus Ordo is not celebrated in continuity with the Vetus Ordo? Bishop Schneider was right when he speaks about the "Five Wounds" in the Catholic liturgy:Delete
1. Mass versus populum.
2. Communion in the hand.
3. The Novus Ordo Offertory prayers.
4. Disappearance of Latin in the Ordinary Form.
5. Liturgical services of lector and acolyte by women and ministers in lay clothing.
BISHOP ATHANASIUS SCHNEIDER:
"The five wounds of the Church’s liturgical body I have mentioned are crying out for healing. They represent a rupture that one may compare to the exile in Avignon. The situation of so sharp a break in an expression of the Church’s life is far from unimportant—back then the absence of the popes from Rome, today the visible break between the liturgy before and after the Council. This situation indeed cries out for healing.
For this reason we need new saints today, one or several Saint Catherines of Sienna. We need the “vox populi fidelis” demanding the suppression of this liturgical rupture. The tragedy in all of this is that, today as back in the time of the Avignon exile, a great majority of the clergy, especially in its higher ranks, is content with this rupture."
I am on the same lines as yourself and Bishop Schneider.Delete
The reasons why the norms (rubrics) are not followed are probably manifold. I suspect one reason is that facing the Lord with the people is (facing the altar) is seen as clericalism; as "turning from God's people", when in fact it a clear journeying with them in a common direction towards a common goal.
God Bless Father keep up the fight, that's what it is, a fight. For myself I am lucky to have no less than 7 parishes within driving distance of my home, that offer the Extraordinary Form, I have not seen a parish in my area that offers the Novus Ordo ad orientum. Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi . Lex VivendiReplyDelete
Thank you for commenting and for the blessing. You are very lucky to have so many opportunities to attend a mass that offer a mass where you are fed spiritually and can link in to the ancient practice of the Church in her worship.Delete
I'm so tired of this looking back to the Council of Trent for guidance. Only a tiny number of people have studied Latin today; what is the purpose of saying a few words in Latin at a Mass in the 21st century in America? It archaic. I don't think it adds anything other than confusion. English and Spanish are perfectly good languages to use in this country. English in particular is a much richer language from a linguistic point of view than is Latin. As regards turning your back on the congregation, again, I ask what the purpose is? It looks eccentric to me as someone who came of age post-Vatican II.ReplyDelete
Thank you for commenting, and I do understand your difficult; it can indeed seem like a harping back to the past. However, the instruction to retain Latin is from Vatican II, not Trent, while the ad orientem posture is the rubric of the Missal of Paul VI promulgated to gibe final concrete from to the liturgical reform asked for by Vatican II.Delete
The purpose of facing the same direction as the people (i.e., towards the altar) is highly symbolic of facing heaven while waiting for the Lord's return, as well as demonstrating that the priest is leading the people towards heaven as a shepherd who is on the same journey.
English may be richer but it is ever-changing and concepts change when the language changes; the use of Latin preserves doctrinal integrity as Pope John XXIII, who called Vatican II, proclaimed in Veterum sapientia.
Children who know no French happily sing Frere Jacques; I was at a Children's Christmas Concert two years ago where they sang a Carol of six verses in several languages: English, Italian, Spanish, German and French. They received thunderous applause but I doubt they knew what they were singing word-for word -they were 8-10 year olds. Understanding goes beyond word recognition, which can even set us off in a wrong direction. Perhaps i will do a post on this point in the near future.
Honestly, I don't mind what holy way the Mass is offered. However, I think we are burrowing our heads in the sand with this issue. As a young person 17-20 I was quite fanatic about the Latin Mass and other traditions. Then I started working in the read world in my twenties, and let me tell you we have much bigger fish to fry.Delete
Yes, we should absolutely encourage a holy Mass. But why are we devoting so much effort to fixing something that we already have the knowledge about? Should we not follow the Beatitudes? I see a massive spiritual desert in America. I think as Catholic's we separate ourselves when we raise families, which is good for keeping children safe. However, are you aware of the massive crisis of broken families and people in this world? I volunteer in an area where I encounter thousands of people, and I don't see the Church much outside of the Church. The amount of domestic abuse, child abuse, drug abuse, etc, and the absence of faith is overwhelming.
Is the language in which we offer Mass (or the direction the priest is facing) more important than turning hearts towards Christ, and His True Presence in the Eucharist?
I personally got burnt out from my fascination with the language and other intricacies at a younger age, because for me personally it pushed aside what first drew me to Christ -love.
I couldn’t agree more about the spiritual desert of the Western World, for it spreads much further than America. But I do not see how being there for those in need is excluded by Tradition. In fact, the Church throughout history has devoted herself to the care of the poor while her Tradition grew: surely it is Christ’s self-sacrifice for us in the Mass which inspires us to self-sacrifice for the good of others? In my time I have worked with many broken families, drug addicted youngsters etc, and do not find any disjunction between this and my preference for things Traditional. The language and the orientation are important in regard to the symbolism they provide (ad-orientem =journeying to God and Latin = one Lord, one Church, one language.Delete
God bless you, Father. I live in a rural, liberal diocese where my bishop instructs traditionally minded Catholics to attend the EF in neighboring sees as it will not be offered here. We have to travel 1.5 hours one way to have a Mass where even one word of Latin is spoken. I will pray for you because you are a good priest and we need more like you. It is an uphill battle for you, I know, but Our Lord rewards obedience. It is priests like you that give the faithful hope. -RachelReplyDelete
Thanks for the comment and the blessing. I do not think the Bishop or his clergy have grasped that the EF does not require a Bishops approval; it is the parish pastor who decides if and when it is viable to offer Mass is the EF.Delete
By the way, I am not a 'good' priest; God alone is good. I am trying to be loyal in my liturgy and teaching but I remain someone who sincerely asks "pray for me to the Lord our God" during the Confiteor!
Thank you for the correction, Father. I needed that. (I'm not being sarcastic, but sincere.) God bless. -RachelDelete
Thank you very much for your comment. Please God, however, I do hope that it came over more as information-giving than correction...Delete
I don't see how this whole debate accords with Christ's attitude as expressed to the Samaritan woman in John 4:21-23: "ReplyDelete
Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews.i
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;* and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him."
We seem to ignore Christ's committment against trivia in worship...by denying that trivia is trivia...thus we get around Him.
Thanks for your comment. The incident with the Samaritan woman indicates an hour is coming when true worship will be offered; that worship arrived in Christ and the Eucharist, the celebration of which is not, to my mind, to be taken lightly since Christ Himself is Present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist (“He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood lives in Me and I in Him...He who eats Me will draw life from Me” John 6v56-7). Liturgy is at the centre of our identity precisely because the Eucharist is Christ; it is at the centre of our care of the marginalised because that care continues the ministry of Christ. There should never be any opposition between sound liturgy and sound pastoral practice; we should be aiming at the best in both. How we worship reflects what we believe, which directs how we live.Delete
I picked up on your point of being put in a difficult position when Bishops, VG's etc, do not use Latin or face the altar at least on occasion. I'm sure they don't intend it, but they do make priests like you who use them look like oddities, which hinders acceptance by the people. I support your point that Bishops etc use these things, not only so as to show their faithfulness to the Missal and to Rome, but to show priests like you are not in the wrong.ReplyDelete
Thanks for this comment. I am sure you are right; that no Bishop, VG or Dean has the intention of making priests who celebrate ad orientem or use Latin look bad. But I do think there is some mileage in saying that if the senior clergy do not use Latin, ad oreintem etc, they do little to give the hermeneutic of continuity liturgical expression or to show that those priests who do use Latin etc. are not out of step. I have only suggested a few occasions a year, which I do not think is asking too much when they are in fact the norms.Delete
Thank you for this wonderful clear explanation, you have summarized everything I have always thought of the difficulty, with worshiping God during Mass and it took me a long time to see the contradictions in the implementation's after Vatican 11.ReplyDelete
These corrections are the key to full affirmation of the authentic work of the Council.
Thanks for commenting. I too think use of Latin and ad orientem are key to a correct implementation of vatican II. It will bring the hermeneutic of continuity into the experience of the average Catholic who, if they see liturgy recovering, might more easily take to a recovery of doctrine...Delete
It is good to read about your commitment to the use of Latin and the importance of the priest facing the tabernacle. What saddens me most of all since Vatican II is the loss of the practice of receiving Holy Communion on our knees, fed direct by the priest. Do you encourage the traditional way of receiving Communion at your Mass?
Thanks for commenting. Yes indeed, we encourage reception on the tongue while kneeling at all Masses, even the Novus Ordo where about 10% of the congregation do so. Some of our youngsters have received this way ever since their first Communion but some have stopped, and I cannot help but wonder under whose influence:family, school or other priests?Delete
That's great to hear father, I wish more parishes were like yours. I am more and more convinced that the abandonment of traditional practices and the Lutheranization of the Mass, which is what the Novus Ordo is, was a great betrayal at the heart of Catholicism. Nothing good has come from it. Over here in England we have a situation where the so called Extraordinary Ministers, ie laity perform the post Communion ablutions. I can't stand it. Soon I will have to go to SSPX to attend a Mass the I can be assured the Angels in Heaven rejoice to attend in adoration.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your comment. The Missal does not mention EMHC's doing the ablutions, while Redemptionis Sacramentum only mentions clergy. Indults were given by Rome to permit this practice but only for a period of time, but it is my understanding that they have now either run their course or about to complete their course. Since Rome did not renew the Indult for the USA I assume it will not be renewed for the UK either.Delete
Shop around for a good liturgy before moving to the SSPX as they seem to be getting further from reconciliation with Peter. I admire their commitment but there are LMS Masses you can attend, and a faithful celebration of the Novus Ordo, while being distasteful to many, does contain the same Saviour, Sacrifice and Sacrament. I think a post on Redemptionis Sacramentum may be in order soon...
Thank you for your comment. We do hope to be informative.
Thank you for that informative reply Father. I have looked up Redemptionis Sacramentum on the Holy See's website. I found this passage regarding EMHC's:ReplyDelete
[151.] Only out of true necessity is there to be recourse to the assistance of extraordinary ministers in the celebration of the Liturgy. Such recourse is not intended for the sake of a fuller participation of the laity but rather, by its very nature, is supplementary and provisional. Furthermore, when recourse is had out of necessity to the functions of extraordinary ministers, special urgent prayers of intercession should be multiplied that the Lord may soon send a Priest for the service of the community and raise up an abundance of vocations to sacred Orders.
Surely it is because of the widespread practice of Communion under both kinds, nearly all Masses in this Diocese of Clifton have these lay persons up on the altar in the role of EMHC. Even at a weekday Mass with a handful of folks in the congregation they are apparently deemed necessary. But quite why there is this trend for these people to perform the ablutions, which means drinking the Blood of Christ that has remained.It just is something that bothers me. I have never found the Novus Ordo satisfactory as I think it has traduced the Mass drastically of it's quiet eloquence of the fact that Christ deigns to be with us in Person at every True Mass. Having said this I have to tell you that the 2 priests of my parish are both admirable dedicated great priests. They hear Confessions Daily Monday - Saturday, we have daily adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. (that only reveals the lack of consistency in expression of faith while worshipers genuflect on both knees at the sight of the Host in the Monstrance, (even Father does not hold this with his bare hands)so why the gross familiarity of the laity with the Body and Blood of Our Lord at Holy Mass?
Sorry for the length of this post.
Thanks for your comment Burt, and the length is fine! Yes, EMHC's are over-used, probably because they came in everywhere almost at once , particularly with the introduction of Holy Communion from the Chalice at so many Masses. As a result of this practice, most priests are simply unaware that EMHC's are for exceptional circumstances only, even good, solid priests such as those with whom your parish is blest. I'm sure I don't need to tell you to affirm, support and pray for them and for many more like them.Delete
Thank you, Fr. Dickson. Well done. I, unfortunately, do not have time to read all posts, so if this is a repeat, please forgive me. My two older children were blessed to attend The Lyceum School for their 10th, 11th and 12th grades. This liberal arts college preparatory school, teaches via the Socratic method using The Great Books. They teach the children Latin (yearly) and Greek (a number of years). The children acquire a profound love and admiration of the Lord through the Latin High Mass (Tridentine?) and a reverence of the Most Holy Sacrament with each Mass. My son, a graduate of The Lyceum, is currently Sacristan at his Catholic College. Educate our children and they will be rooted in the Faith, and we who have lost so very much will be drawn to reverencing and worshiping the Lord as we ought.ReplyDelete
Mariann, many thanks for your comment. How blest your children have been with your example and the education they have received. I will offer a prayer for you and for them.Delete
To The Archbishop who commented on this Blog today:
I received your affirmative comment with much gratitude but have chosen to respect your position and privacy by not posting it on the blog.
With prayers for you, yours, and your ministry.