ASK FATHER: Why on earth did they start offering Mass “facing the people”?

Turn Ad Orientem AgainFrom a reader…


When I first started attending the TLM, I really struggled with Mass celebrated ad Orientem. However, the more I attended the TLM and Mass according to the Missal of Divine Worship (aka, Anglican Use), which in its early days even had the odd OF Mass celebrated ad Orientem, the more I got used to it.

Now I can’t stand Mass celebrated facing the people. It makes me feel very uncomfortable watching the priest, especially during those intimate moments such as the consecration (which our former FSSP priest told us is a type of consummation for the priest who is most especially acting in persona Christi at that moment, hence why the prayers are said in the first person narration, and that in the seminary, they are taught to “embrace the altar” when they lean forward. For that same reason), and when they receive communion.

I don’t want to see these things. These are very personal moments between the priest acting in persona Christi and God. They should be kept private and, dare I say, veiled from public eye. (There was a reason why nuns used to cover their faces with their face veil after receiving communion.) Now I spend most of my time at Masses celebrated versus populum with my eyes closed or staring at the floor so I don’t have to watch the priest.

I see no real value in Mass celebrated versus populum. Why on earth did they feel it necessary or even salutary to start offering Mass facing the people? I don’t like it. I wish it to go away sooner rather than later.

I think there are several factors for why the altars got turned around.

Before launching in, the great liturgical expert Klaus Gamber thought that turning altars around did more damage to Catholic identity than anything else after the Council.  Also, I am leaving aside the blah blah that everyone has to add: “we have to admit that either way of saying Mass is okeydokey”.  No.  Both ways are legal and rubrical in both the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Form, but they are not “equal”.  I’m not going to make any arguments for Mass versus populum here.

Reams of paper could be offered for each of these following points, so I’ll be telegraphic.  Also, I’ll give you just a few.

First, there was a false “archaeologizing” going on at the end of the Liturgical Movement, the fruits of which were mixed.  Some thought that if was done a certain way in ancient times, it was therefore “pristine” and, therefore, “better”.  The problem with that is that Church matured and learned and changed according to her deeper insights.  Also, the liturgical “experts” adhering like archaeologists to the pristine often got it wrong.  They were wrong that in the ancient Church Mass was versus populum.  Also, when it was shown that they were wrong, some abjured their false notions (such as the great Josef Jungmann), others, dishonestly, didn’t.  Moreover, because the liberal iconclasts controlled the publishing back then, they didn’t allow the dissemination of arguments and opinions that clashed with their own progressivist agenda.

Second, there was a over-optimistic anthropocentrism sweeping the Church in the early days after the Council, just as it swept into the Council itself.  Gaudium et spes is an example of this naive optimism.  That document was criticized early on by the young Joseph Ratzinger who, in his commentaries on the Council documents, pointed out that a few paragraphs (which had been worked on by Karol Woytyla, brought to the constitution some saving Christocentrism to counterbalance its overly-optimistic anthropocentric leanings.  In the sphere of worship, many liturgists made worship less about God and transcendence and more about immanence and about how wonderful we are.  Worship became celebrations of ourselves.  So, why shouldn’t we look at each other?

Also, the notions of Karl Rahner were much in vogue: sacraments celebrate prexisting realities.  So, the enclosed circle, as Ratzinger called in in The Spirit of the Liturgy (UK HERE), is a good posture.  Why open outward when what we want is already here.  This was devastating also for architecture, as my friend Fr. Michael Lang of the London Oratory has explained.

There are other factors as well, but I’ll cut to the final, hardest one.

If everything is made immediate and “understandable”, and if all the hard elements are reduced to the lowest (easy) common denominator, and it everyone is turned in on themselves, distractions multiply and people don’t have to deal with their fear of death.  Making Mass constantly easier by exposing every little thing and making everything audible wars against our stillness.  Immediacy is an obstacle to the apophatic experience we need.  Constant facial expression, loud voices, etc, reduces the opportunity for an encounter with Mystery to zero.  I think that some people who imposed the changes (which the Council Fathers did NOT mandate) truly understood this and… they imposed them anyway… on purpose.  The time of the changes was also the time of the sexual revolution.   Holy Church was the only thing that could stand in the way of the descent into general immorality.  And the most power means of Social Communication that the Church possesses is sacred liturgical worship, especially the Mass.  The Mass had to be brought down in order to facilitate “liberation”.

Those are a few fast thoughts on a really complicated subject.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, HONORED GUESTS, Turn Towards The Lord | Tagged | 10 Comments

US Ambassador to the UN: “For those who don’t have our backs, we’re taking names”

The new US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, brought a rather different tone to her first press conference after a meeting of the Security Council.

This is refreshing.

Haley told reporters, “Our goal with the administration is to show value at the UN, and the way to show value is to show our strength, show our full voice. Have the backs of our allies and make sure our allies have our backs as well.”

She added, “For those who don’t have our backs, we’re taking names, and we will make points to respond to that accordingly.”


Posted in ¡Hagan lío!, Just Too Cool, The future and our choices | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Ad orientem in Cologne’s great Cathedral

Turn Ad Orientem Again


One of our frequent and long-time commentators here, Henry Edwards, sent some screenshots of the Holy Mass celebrated by Rainer Card. Woelki at the spectacular Cathedral of Cologne’s high altar (i.e., the real altar, the grown-up altar, the main altar) for Candlemas

Of course, he celebrated ad orientem.  The Mass was chanted mostly in German. One of the finest choirs in Europe sang the Ordinary in a Latin setting (Primi toni octo vocum  of Stefano Bernardi).  This goes to show how the Ordinary Form can indeed be celebrated in greater continuity with our tradition than it usually is in most places.  You can see the whole Mass HERE.

Cologne 2017-02-02 1 Cologne 2017-02-02 2 Cologne 2017-02-02 3 Cologne 2017-02-02 4 Cologne 2017-02-02 5 Cologne 2017-02-02 6 Cologne 2017-02-02 7 Cologne 2017-02-02 8

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Prayer Request

I’m down with the crud.  Prayers, please.  It’s kind’a horrible.

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | 13 Comments

Brick By Brick: A church gets a make over

Some parish churches are victims of awful post-Conciliar, faithless wreckovation. Some are awful because of budget problems when they were being constructed. Some are just plain awful.

There’s hope.

A priest friend of mine has given a make over to his church, St. Mary’s in Independence, MO. I was in that church a couple years ago. It needed work.

17_02_21_makeover_01And now…


It can be done!

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Brick by Brick, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests, The future and our choices | Tagged , | 15 Comments

1 Year Later: Fr. Paul Scalia’s funeral sermon

One year ago today I watched Fr. Paul Scalia celebrate Holy Mass for the repose of his father’s soul: the funeral of late Justice Antonin Scalia.  The sermon was noteworthy and I bring it back to your attention one year down the line.

His sermon was masterful.  It was a model of decorum, admirably shaped for that congregation and for broadcast to a wide and diverse audience.   It was replete with excellent teaching about the reason for the Mass (prayer for the deceased).  He called on all of us to consider our own death.  He continually brought the focus back to Christ and our need for His saving merits.

The video of the sermon.

The video of the funeral is HERE.  For the sermon go to about 1:05:00

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Your Good News

Do you have some good news to share with the readership?

Let us know.  I’m sure that we all could use some.


Posted in SESSIUNCULA | 29 Comments

News from earthquake shaken Norcia and the Benedictine Monks

News has come from the monks of Norcia.  They have a huge challenge ahead as the rebuild.  Please support them.  They are a rock solid, worthy cause.   Some times it is hard to know if your monetary support is going to be put to good use when you send to some churchy entity. These guys are great.

And they make great beer!

I’ll just copy and paste.  There may be some format problems, but… hey.

Dear Friends,

Although aftershocks continue, we are doing our best to return to our normal monastic life. As we try, we are still responding to the ever-new and evolving challenges of life in a heavily earthquake-damaged region. The difficulty of this task was epitomized this past week as we returned to one of our community’s “wilder” customs.

Every week, we take a three-hour hike in the mountains near the monastery. Four times a year, though, we extend that to an all-day or even overnight excursion. Last week we retraced an old favorite route of the path from Norcia to the monastery of Sant’Eutizio in Preci. St. Eutizio was a hermit and, along with St. Fiorenzio and St. Spes, educated the child St. Benedict. The walk we took was the walk our patron would have taken 15 centuries ago to build up his foundations in virtue and learning.

Except for the sighting of a family of 12 wild boars — which we chased for 200 yards before we lost them in the thick woods — this normally gentle and welcoming path looks nothing like it did six months ago. Much of the attention after the earthquakes has understandably been paid to the bigger disasters of the towns of Amatrice and Norcia, but what isn’t so often reported are the saddening blocks of tiny ruined country villages. We saw church after church lowered to the ground and house after house destroyed beyond repair in hill towns that news cameras didn’t reach. As we hiked, they seemed to all blend together into one long tragic chain. Even though lives were spared by the grace of God, the men and women of these places have no home to return to and many have no jobs to sustain them. They also must confront the question of whether to stay and wait for the rebuilding of a brand new town, or settle with friends and family in better conditions.
Uniting our prayers to those suffering, we began earlier this month a new tradition of a community rosary procession with a statue of Our Lady, which we pulled from the rubble of our monastery in town. Painstakingly repaired by one of the novices with glue and plaster, we wandered with her through the hillside and up and down the mountain paths asking her to intercede so that new life will spring up in these millennia-old towns and villages. Quia non est impossibile apud Deum. 
With the assurance of our prayers and gratitude for your support,

Fr. Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B.

P.S. We’ve been responding to some of you who have kindly given gifts as part of our rebuilding efforts. Some of you have wondered why these letters have been postmarked from within the U.S. To save money on postage, which from Italy can be very expensive, we’ve managed to find willing souls to take them in bulk from our monastery and mail them for us from within the United States. Thank you again for your prayers and support!
Note: If you want to help the rebuilding process, you can give to the monks by clicking here.
Posted in Brick by Brick | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Brick By Brick – Altar By Altar: Turning again to the liturgical East again

In my email today I had more than one note about pastors shifting their sanctuaries to ad orientem worship.

One note said:

Starting this week, our Table altar is going into storage and all Masses at our parish will be ad orientem (OF).

I really want to publish the names and places, but I am worried that these priests will be persecuted if their decisions are widely known.

Support your good priests in their sound decisions, especially if they are contemplating shifting to ad orientem worship.

Card. Sarah was surely right in his talk in London last year.   Priests should teach and teach and teach some more, and then – where possible – move to ad orientem worship.  And where it isn’t possible, because the layout of the sanctuary, there’s nothing wrong with consulting an architect to see what might be done.


Just I have have received notes about parishes going ad orientem, I’ve also noticed more discussions of our “post-fact” or “post-truth” world.

Can ad orientem worship help to combat the “post-fact”, “post-truth” craze in the Church and, therefore, wider society?   Yes, I think so.  This is why libs hate ad orientem  so much, and why the fear it and the Extraordinary Form.

The other day I saw at one of my favorite blogs, A Clerk of Oxforda great post citing “Chaucer’s brilliant, dizzying, disturbing poem The House of Fame, and its vision of what we have recently started calling a ‘post-truth’ world – in which stories spread and circulate regardless of whether they are true or not.”  Under that post, the writer mentions Piers Plowman:

In the opening scenes of Piers Plowman, when the dreamer falls asleep on the Malvern Hills, the very first thing he sees in his dream is a tower on a hill, standing in the east against the sun. It soars high above the ‘fair field of folk’ which is this world, where all classes of people are busily engaged in ‘working and wandering’. That tower, [in the East] the dreamer later learns, is the dwelling-place of Truth. The figure of Holy Church explains to him that Truth is nothing less than God: father, creator, provider of all good things in the world. The more human beings are like Truth, upright and honest in all their dealings, the more they are like God and his most trustworthy of treasures:

‘Whan alle tresors arn tried,’ quod she, ‘Treuthe is the beste.
I do it on Deus caritas to deme the sothe;
It is as dereworthe a drury as deere God hymselven.
Who is trewe of his tonge and telleth noon oother,
And dooth the werkes therwith and wilneth no man ille,
He is a god by the Gospel, agrounde and olofte,
And ylik to Oure Lord, by Seint Lukes wordes.’

‘When all treasures are tried,’ said she, ‘Truth is the best.
I appeal to [the text] ‘God is Love’ to prove the truth;
It is as precious a love-gift as dear God himself.
Whoever is true of his tongue and says nothing else,
And acts accordingly and wishes no man ill,
He is god-like, says the Gospel, on earth and in heaven,
And the image of Our Lord, by St Luke’s words.’

Christians have long believe that when Christ comes, He will come from the East.   We need a clear liturgical East in our places of worship as we raise our prayers and petitions to the Lord.

Here are a couple of good resources.





Posted in Brick by Brick, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Turn Towards The Lord | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Card. Arinze Defends Catholic Doctrine… Again

Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze.With the help of LifeSite we hear from the great Francis Card. Arinze, Cardinal Bishop of the Suburbicarian Diocese of Velletri-Segni, former Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Archbishop Emeritus of Onitsha, Nigeria.  His Eminence was consecrated at 32 years of age in 1965 and he attended the final session of the Second Vatican Council.

Card. Arinze is well-known for his pithy statements of truth with clarity and charity.


Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria strongly defended the Catholic faith against the proposal put forward by one influential Synod Father who said last week that it is “unrealistic” for the divorced-and-remarried to refrain from sexual activity – what the Church following Christ calls ‘adultery,’ that such activity should be judged according to “lived context,” and that such person should be able to receive Holy Communion.

“The Ten Commandments are given to us by God. Have we any authority to say it is ‘unrealistic’ to expect people to keep any of the Ten Commandments, not only number six and number nine, also number five – abortion, killing of innocent people, number seven – stealing, whether small sums of money or big,” said Arinze, who is the prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews on Saturday in Rome.

We cannot go on the reasoning that it is ‘unrealistic,’ he added. “You can say it is not easy. I accept that. Christ never promised us that it is easy to follow him. He said those who want to be his disciples must ‘take up their cross daily and follow me.’”

On the note of “carrying our cross”, you might want to take a look at this:

Commandments are NOT mere “ideals” from which some people are excused because they’re hard! Wherein Fr. Z rants.

Posted in Hard-Identity Catholicism, One Man & One Woman | Tagged , | 17 Comments

“Well! This is different!”, quoth I. The First Lady’s Rally Prayer POLL.

Yesterday I watched the TV coverage of Pres. Trump’s massive rally in Florida. Apparently, lines were a mile long to attend.

My jaw nearly dropped when First Lady Melania Trump began with the Lord’s Prayer.

As this developed, “I thought I could hear the sound of liberal heads first imploding, and then exploding, and then imploding back to a tiny state of instability.

The cynical might say that this was a good political move in a region where along lots of roads of lots of towns you see store-front churches, mega-churches where “Pastor Buddy” holds forth and where prayer and football are almost interchangeable.

On the other hand, Pres. Trump seemed genuinely surprised by his wife’s choice. It seems that we also have a “Let Melania be Melania” term of office as well. Spontaneity seems to be the order of the day. For example, the President invited a guy from the audience up to the mic and let him speak. Surprise!

¡Hagan lío!

Let’s have a POLL.

Choose your best answer and leave a comment.

You don’t have to be registered to vote in the POLL.  You do have to be registered and approved to comment.

The First Lady's Prayer at the 18 Feb 2017 Florida Trump Rally

View Results

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Your Sunday Sermon Notes

Was there a good point made in the sermon you heard during your Mass of Sunday Obligation?

Let us know.

Posted in SESSIUNCULA | 10 Comments

WDTPRS Sexagesima Sunday: “that we may be fortified against every adverse thing”

SexagesimaIn the traditional Roman calendar, last week was the first of the pre-Lenten Sundays, Septuagesima or “Seventieth” before Easter. This Sunday is called Sexagesima, “Sixtieth”.  This number is more symbolic than arithmetical. For a fuller explanation, HERE.

The Fore-Lent or Pre-Lent Sundays prepare us for the discipline of Lent, which once was far stricter. Purple is worn rather than the green of the season after Epiphany and there is a Tract instead of an Alleluia.

The prayers and readings for the pre-Lent Sundays were compiled by St. Gregory the Great (+604).

In the Novus Ordo of Paul VI there is no more pre-Lent, which was a real loss.  Yet another reason to be grateful for Summorum Pontificum.

This prayer was in the 8th c. Liber sacramentorum Engolismensis.  The Roman Station is at St. Paul’s outside-the-walls.


Deus, qui conspicis, quia ex nulla nostra actione confidimus: concede propitius; ut, contra adversa omnia, Doctoris gentium protectione muniamur.

I don’t think this prayer in any form survived to live in the Novus Ordo.  The jam-packed Lewis & Short Dictionary informs us that conspicio means “to look at attentively”.  In the passive, it is “to attract attention, to be conspicuous”.  Conspicio is a compound of “cvm…with” and *specio. The asterisk indicates a theoretical form which has to do with perception. The useful French dictionary of liturgical Latin we call Blaise/Dumas says that conspicio refers to God’s “regard”, presumably because God “sees” all things “together”.

The last word here is from munio, which is “to build a wall around, to fortify, …protect, secure, put in a state of defense; to guard, secure, strengthen, support”.


O God, You who perceive that we trust in no action of our own: propitiously grant; that we may be fortified against every adverse thing by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles.

This ancient prayer makes explicit reference to St. Paul, the Doctor of the Gentiles.

The Roman Station today is the Major Basilica of St. Paul “outside the walls”.  Few prayers of the Roman Missal display such an intimate connection with the place where the Mass was celebrated in Rome and with the readings.

In 2 Cor 11 and 12 St. Paul presents a portrait of how we must live, the battle we face as Christians, and the suffering we may be called to endure.  It is an apt reading before Lent, to inspire us to consider the discipline of our Christian life.  The Gospel is the Lord’s parable about the sower of seeds.  Some seeds make it but many do not.  Some people hear the Word of God and it bears fruit. Many hear it and fail.  It is our own disposition that makes the difference, not the seed that the Sower sows in us.

Consider the context of the prayer: Holy Mass. The Eucharist, the Host we dare to receive, is the seed Christ the High Priest sows in us.  St. Paul teaches us a stern lesson about the reception of the Eucharist by the worthy and by the unworthy.  We are in control of our disposition to receive what God offers.  Our Lenten discipline, which these pre-Lent Sundays remind us of ahead of time, provides terrain for God’s grace.  We must till and tend the terrain, take better control of that over which we can exercise control so that God can do the rest.


Oblatum tibi, Domine, sacrificium vivificet nos semper et muniat.

An oblatum is a thing that is “offered”.  This is from offero, “to bring before; to present, offer” and in Church Latin, “to offer to God, to consecrate, dedicate; sacrifice”.  An “oblation” is something sacrificed to the divinity.  An “oblate” is someone consecrated to God.  The sacrificium oblatum here is what has been placed on the altar for the Sacrifice: bread and wine.


May the sacrifice which is offered up to You, O Lord, quicken us always and secure us.

This prayer, concise as it is, has layers of meaning.  First, we have the concept of “vivify… give life” which is also “restore”.  This is coupled with “defend… strengthen… protect”.  There is the positive, but also the dire.  If we need protection, that means there is something out there which is dangerous.  There is also something within us that is dangerous as well which needs to be “restored… brought to life”.  The oblatum sacrificium on the altar must not only be the bread and wine, but also our own aspirations and our weaknesses.

Again, consider the context: the priest just prepared the chalice moments before.  A tiny amount of water, symbolizing our humanity is joined to the wine, representing Christ’s divinity.  The water is taken in and transformed in to what the wine is.


Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus, ut, quos tuis reficis sacramentis, tibi etiam placitis moribus dignanter deservire concedas.

This prayer survived and made it into the Novus Ordo as the Post communionem of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time.  It is also, if I am not mistaken, used for the 2nd Sunday of Lent in the older Missal.  Here is a question for you Latin students. Quaeritur – There are four instances of the ending is: How are they different/similar?


Humbly we beseech You, Almighty God, that You may grant that those whom You refresh with Your sacramental mysteries, may also serve You worthily in pleasing moral conduct of life.

Here we pick up on what is implied in the invocation of St. Paul at the beginning of Mass. Without a proper Christian conduct of life, there is no proper disposition for reception of the Blessed Sacrament, or admission to the Beatific Vision.  Good works, which are good through the merits of Christ, along with the graces we are given in the sacraments make us worthy of eternal life.

This time of Pre-Lent, Fore-Lent, reminds us that our season of penance is coming.

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WDTPRS – 7th Ordinary Sunday: Spiritual, rational things pleasing to God

Let us look at the Collect for the upcoming 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Novus Ordo.

Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus,
ut, semper rationabilia meditantes,
quae tibi sunt placita, et dictis exsequamur et factis

Note the spiffy separation of et dictis…et factis by the verb.  Rationabilis is an adjective meaning “reasonable, rational”.

A Biblical source for part of the oration could be John 8:28-29:

So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me.  And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him (quae placita sunt ei, facio semper).


Grant, we beg, Almighty God,
that we, meditating always on rational things,
may fulfill those things which are pleasing to You
by both words and deeds.

I chose “rational” partly because of an association I made with a prayer attributed to St Thomas Aquinas which we students, trying to be serious and rational beings (cf. Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics 1,13 ), recited before philosophy classes:

Concede mihi, miséricors Deus, quae tibi sunt plácita, ardenter concupíscere, prudenter investigáre, veráciter agnóscere, et perfecte adimplére ad laudem et gloriam Nominis tui.  Amen. … Grant me, O merciful God, to desire eagerly, to investigate prudently, to acknowledge sincerely, and perfectly to fulfill those things which are pleasing to Thee, to the praise and glory of Thy Name.  Amen.

When we submit to God’s will and pursue what is good and true and beautiful, we are as God wants us to be.


keep before us the wisdom and love
you have revealed in your Son.
Help us to be like him
in word and deed.

Dreadful.  Good riddance.


Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, always pondering spiritual things,
we may carry out in both word and deed
that which is pleasing to you.

I chose “rational things” for rationabilia.  The newer, corrected ICEL has “spiritual things”, which is certainly defensible.  The French language dictionary of liturgical Latin by Albert Blaise revised by Antoine Dumas, for rationabilis, gives us “spirituel”. Blaise/Dumas also cites the ancient version of the very Collect we are looking at today, identifying it for the 6th Sunday after Epiphany in the 8th century Gregorian Sacramentary.

We are creatures made in the image and likeness of God.  We are made to act like God acts, using the gifts and powers of intellect and will He gave us.  These faculties are wounded because of Original Sin, but they still separate us from irrational animals.  Thus, we can distinguish between “acts of humans” (such as breathing and digesting) that are not much different than what brute animals do except that a human does them, and human acts (like painting, repairing a car, conversing, choosing to love) which involve the use of the higher faculties.  We must be interiorly engaged and focused with mind and will on the action we, as agents in God’s image, are carrying out.

This is important for understanding “active participation” in the liturgy.

Many people think “active participation” means carrying things around, clapping, singing, etc.  We can do all those things and actually be thinking about the grocery list or wondering what the score of the game is.  We all have the experience of catching ourselves whistling without have realized we were doing it, reading and not remembering what we just read.  We are doing something, but we are not acting as “humanly” as we ought.

That is not the kind of participation we need at Mass.

We must be actively receptive to what is taking place in the sacred action of the liturgy.  Watching carefully and quietly, actively receptive listening to the spoken Word or to sacred music, can be far more active than carrying things around, and so forth.  Active receptivity requires concentration and desire, mind and will.  It looks passive, but it isn’t.  We actively submit to Christ, the true actor in the Mass, and we actively receive from Christ.  He gives us what we need, not as if to passive animals, but as to His actively receptive and engaged images.

Inner participation leads to outward expression. The outward can also spark the inward.  The former, however, has logical priority over the latter.

Participation at Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form can help us recover a deeper, fuller, more conscious and proper active participation in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.  This is also why our priests must always be faithful to the official texts and rubrics.

Oh… one more thing.

The most perfect form of active participation is the reception of Holy Communion in the state of grace.

IN THE STATE OF GRACE… and not just when people give themselves permission because of their “conscience”, which can be deceived in self-deception.  Let us be pleasing to GOD and not only to ourselves.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, WDTPRS | 2 Comments

Answers to “Dubia” from the Vatican! About the Traditional Mass and overly restrictive bishops.

012_SolemnMass_2Epiphany_2017_SMPB (1)If you are a priest who has been hassled by your bishop about saying the traditional Mass with the 1962 Missale Romanum, pay attention.  Help has arrived.

Recently a priest of my acquaintance sent two questions to my old haunts the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”.  Here are the priest’s questions with the answers from the PCED following the answers.  The original response follows, below.

1. Do the provisions of Summorum Pontificum permit an ordinary to require that all priests first obtain his permission to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, or do the provision of the motu proprio itself grant such permission?

Ad primum: as to the first part: negative ; as to the second part: affirmative.  It should however be clear that it pertains to the Local Ordinary to ensure that the priest is idoneus as required by Art5§4 of the Motu Proprio.

2. Do the provisions of Summorum Pontificum require a pastor (parochus) to obtain the permission of his ordinary to have the Extraordinary Form of the Mass said in his parish, or is the pastor obligated only to consult his ordinary?

Ad secundum: in a case such as those referred to under Art. 5§1 of the Motu Proprio, the Pastor should inform the Local Ordinary, insofar as the latter, as Moderator of the liturgical life in the Diocese (Can. 835 §1), is competent to verify the existence of the coetus fidelium and the availability of a qualified priest ; in the case of occasional celebrations, Art. 5 §3 of the Motu Proprio is to be applied.

To review:

1 a) Under Summorum Pontificum a priest does NOT need the permission of a local ordinary (read in effect: the diocesan bishop – there are more than one type of “ordinary”) to use the 1962MR.

1 b) The Local Ordinary, however, can determine of the priest is “idoneus“.

2) Pastors do not need permission of the bishop to have regularly scheduled Masses with the 1962MR at the parish.  The Bishop can still make determinations about whether or not there is a coetus and if there is a qualified (idoneus, I suppose) priest available.  Otherwise, for occasional Masses the pastor is pretty much in charge.

We have to look at two issues here.  What is “idoneus” (“fit for, suitable, apt, capable”) and what is a “coetus” (“an assemblage, group, meeting together”).  In years past I have been over this ground thoroughly.  Here are some pointers.

First and foremost, idoneus means a minimum capability.  It does not mean “expertise”.  Remember that the Church’s law must be interpreted in the most favorable way when it comes to people’s rights (favorabilia ampliantur).  Summorum Pontificum establishes that, if priest has faculties to say Mass at all, he therefore automatically has the faculty also to use the 1962 Missale Romanum.  If he has faculties he must be assumed to be idoneus and also not impeded.  He is capable of celebration Mass with the Roman Rite in either use. That is the juridical point of view.  But we know that the practical view is a little different.  It is reasonable that a priest should know the language he is going to use for Mass.  His Eminence Edward Card. Egan of New York, who was a well-known canonist, said for his Archdiocese when Summorum Pontificum came out in his policy statement:

II. Priests who choose to celebrate Mass in the “extraordinary” form must have a sufficient knowledge of the Latin language to pronounce the words correctly.

Card. Egan was correct.  The priest does not have to be an expert Latinist.  That is what idoneus is all about: it is minimum qualification (faculties, etc.), not expertise in the Latin language. Idoneus cannot be interpreted so widely as to restrict a priest’s rights unreasonably.  To impose a Latin test for the older form of Mass would be a supreme injustice without also imposing a test of every priest of the diocese for the newer form.  It would be a hypocritical, punitive double-standard not also to test every priest who says Mass in, say, Spanish, not to mention what the GIRM and rubrics of the Novus Ordo really say and then confirm that the priest sticks to them.

Do we want priests to be able to do more than say the words properly?  Sure.  Remember that the 1983 Canon Law states that seminarians should be very well trained in Latin (can 249).  Thus, if the bishop doesn’t insist that his seminarians get some Latin, he is being negligent, and when someone stands up to say publically that the seminarians are properly formed, they aren’t exactly telling the truth.  The same can be said for the emphasis on the work of St. Thomas Aquinas stressed in canon law, as well as knowedge of the whole of the Roman Rite, which includes the TLM.  But I digress.

As far as a “stable group”, a coetus, is concerned, Summorum Pontificum indicates:

Art. 5, § 1. In parishes, where there is stably present a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition, let the pastor willingly receive their petitions that Mass be celebrated according to the Rite of the Missale Romanum issued in 1962. …

The usual liberal common-sense defying questions arose about how big the group had to be and whether or not they had to be registered in the parish in question, blah blah blah.  Those questions were clearly answered.  The Instruction about Summorum Pontificum called Universae Ecclesiae:

15. A coetus fidelium (“group of the faithful”) can be said to be stabiliter existens (“existing in a stable manner”), according to the sense of art. 5 § 1 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, when it is constituted by some people of an individual parish who, even after the publication of the Motu Proprio, come together by reason of their veneration for the Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, and who ask that it might be celebrated in the parish church or in an oratory or chapel; such a coetus (“group”) can also be composed of persons coming from different parishes or dioceses, who gather together in a specific parish church or in an oratory or chapel for this purpose.

The law on this says “some people”.  There is no minimum number identified by the Holy See.   Some have mentioned that a coetus in other contexts can be as few a three.  And the priest himself can be a part of the coetus!  It is, therefore, wrong to try to impose a minimum number.  For example, Bp. Fatty McButterpants of the Diocese of Libville writes to Fr. Joe Wlotrzewiszczykowycki, who tried to get something good going at his parish, St. Christine the Astonishing, for the many refugees from Fr. Bruce Hugalot’s Sing A New Faith Community Into Being Faith Community: “There must be at least 100 people!  They must live in the parish boundaries!  And you have to be able to write an essay in the Latin style of Tacitus about why you want to do this!”  No.  Fatty is acting ultra vires.  Also, the people in the group do NOT have to be from the same parish, either as registrants or territorial residents. They don’t even have to be from the same diocese.  They just have be coming around regularly for the purpose of attending Mass.  As it turns out, however, Bp. McButterpants will wind up crucifying Fr. Wlotrzewiszczykowycki in a thousand other ways, which prompts him to flee to Bp. Noble in the nearby Diocese of Black Duck with the help of Msgr. Zuhlsdorf at St. Ipsidipsy in Tall Tree Circle.

The Response:


I hope this helps.

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