Hooks

I am getting questions about the questions I answered. They are serious questions too. I want to answer another one publicly because people ought to know what is going on.

(edited and emphasis mine) I’ve been following the thread "Priests who want ‘tradition’ but retain ‘versus populum,’" and there are a few things which have come up that I don’t understand. … XXX indicated (s)he does not believe the NO is a true Mass and that the flock has been denied access to the true sacraments. … It’s starting to scandalize me. … I have only been Catholic for XXX years, and I don’t understand how one can be Catholic and say the things that XXX and others are saying. One of the things I came to understand as I discovered the Church was the promise that God will never forsake His Church. He will guide it in truth and protect its teachings and ministry. It was this which helped me to trust in and accept the teachings of the magisterium, even when I did not yet understand certain doctrines. … What is becoming less clear, however, is how it could have happened, why it was allowed, and how such things as XXX has suggested do not detract from the validity or efficacy of the "new" sacraments. … What are the reasons that we can be sure the Pauline rite is just as much a "true Mass" as is the Pian? Please help me to understand and, thus, to be more confident in my trust that obedience to the Church will not lead me astray. … And that is a very frightening concept to me, who has so recently found security and trustworthiness in the one, true Church.

Here was my e-mail response (edited):

Let me be super telegraphic and offer a few hooks to hang ideas on. This isn’t exhaustive.

First, Fathers such as St. Augustine said that they would not even believe in the Holy Scriptures if the Church did not back them. So, when we see the Holy Father and the bishops promulgating and using these things, we understand their validity. The Church is indefectible. The Church can never become corrupt in either faith or in morals. The Church can never lose the Apostolic hierarchy, or the sacraments through which Christ communicates grace to men. So, ordination with the new rite and the Mass must be valid.

Second, people who have experienced a great deal of pain can entrench themselves in hard positions which give them security. They can be RIGHT but their reasons for their positions go beyond being right… they are also a matter of security, which changes the shape of the dialogue. These people deeply love their Church and their Mass. It hurts them to see stupid and wicked things, without relief, for decades… literally. Yet, to their credit, they persevere, clinging to piece of wood in the flood. They deserve compassion and their reward will be great, provided they persist in charity and not merely their own desires. I am reminded of the way Screwtape suggests to Wormwood how to stimulate the "patient’s" mother to desire only small things but small things that are "just so", so that the focus is always on one’s disappointment.

Third, they all have a really good point. There is a matter of justice in the discussion. All these things we are lacking are really ours, our heritage, we are being cheated out of. So, a measure of moral indignation is called for. However, they will often abdicate reason and shrewdness in their just indignation. Thus, they will scuttle their chances of success when making suggestions and petitions for things (which they ought to be able to have anyway). They forget that the priests and others they are dealing with are people and they begin either to a) speak in a language others don’t understand or b) start bullying. If you want something from someone, speak to him in a language he understands. Don’t petition something from an Italian in Chinese. The traditionalists will often talk beyond, over, or through people, but not TO them. Moreover, just like the tourist who doesn’t know how to explain himself in the language of the country he is in, he will sometimes start shouting and gesticulating aggressively when he gets frustrated.

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.

108 Responses to Hooks

  1. tim says:

    Father, well said. On all points. As a traditionalist, I will endeavor to talk to, and not through.

  2. Séamas says:

    Does this mean I have to learn Italian?

  3. Paul Murnane says:

    Father, you are a voice of reason and clarity in this debate; yet another reason why I come here 1st everyday. Thank you. Please keep fighting the good fight and if things get you down, remember that you have lots of folks praying for you.

  4. tired says:

    Excellent post Fr.

    Tired.

  5. Tired: I’m tired too.

    Fr. Z <— tired

  6. I’m afraid, Father Z, that this may still be a bit difficult for some good folks to understand. Let me play dumb for a moment.

    The Church is indefectible.

    Of course, we all believe this, whatever it means. We believe whatever the Church says it means.

    So, ordination with the new rite and the Mass must be valid.

    Certainly, none of us (present parties here) has any doubts on this score. We would not to to Mass daily if we did. The problem is not with the tree, but with its bad fruit.

    But you sandwich these truisms around the statement that

    The Church can never become corrupt in either faith or in morals.

    What then is the answer to the person who looks straightforwardly at the Church as they find it in their own diocese? If they perceive it (perhaps correctly, perhaps incorrectly) to be, in any ordinary everyday meaning of the words, shot through with evident corruption in both faith and morals – in what they hear from the pulpit, in the liturgies they witness, in what their children are taught in religious education, in the behavior of many of their priests. They conclude that the concept of “indefectibility of the Church” either is patent nonsense or is so esoteric as to be irrelevant. (Since my name appears below, let me say that I’ve never lived in such a diocese myself, but know sensible and generally perceptive people who see theirs this way.)

    This is a serious question. I have acquaintances for whom I could use a good answer right now. They think they see a contradiction between the Church’s claim of indefectibility and the fact that in recent decades its policies and practices have lead so many people astray in matters of faith and morals. How to explain, in plain and simple words, that they’re wrong, that there’s no real contraction here?

  7. Henry: The Lord promised that HELL would not prevail against the Church, glorious, resplendent. He did not promise it would not prevail against the Church here and now.

    Look at the glorious Church of, say, Hippo and Carthage… of Ephesus.

    Gone.

    Or are they?

  8. Florestan says:

    A reference to the claim about St. Augustine, Scripture & the Church, Father?

  9. Ginny says:

    This is an awesome site Fr. I will be back for a visit again soon

  10. [The Lord] did not promise it [HELL] would not prevail against the Church here and now.

    Surely that’s not the best answer, to simply agree that Hell appears to be prevailing here and now. I don’t really believe it is, just that it frequently looks too much that way. But I’m still groping for the best way to explain effectively – to people who really want to know – this difference between reality and appearance.

    Actually, I think the tide of history has finally turned, and is now beginning to run out on the Devil and his minions among us. But it would help to be have good indices of his decrease and our increase available for ready citation.

  11. Paul Murnane says:

    Henry,
    “How to explain, in plain and simple words, that they’re wrong, that there’s no real contraction here?”

    I wish I had a good answer for this. Over the last year I have met literally dozens of people who are no longer practicing Catholics because they cannot get past the manifest problems in our archdiocese, particularly the unending sex abuse revelations. What’s interesting is that they still self-identify as “Catholic.” They believe they cannot, in good conscience, support the actions of the diocese (by attending Mass), but they cannot, in good conscience, go anywhere else. They have the opposite reaction to the situation than what Fr. Z addresses in his post; they just give up.

    It is tragic.

  12. dcs says:

    OK, I don’t mind this anti-spam word business, but typing out “Gregorian Sacramentary” is a bit much. ;-)

    No, the gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church, but it does not follow that the Church cannot be reduced to a tiny remnant of what it is today. In some ways it already has.

  13. Jeffrey Stuart says:

    OK, I don’t mind this anti-spam word business, but typing out “Gregorian Sacramentary” is a bit much. ;-)

    I would think the word “amen” could get into the rotation as well (if it isn’t). Just seems fitting.

  14. Nathan says:

    +JMJ
    Fr. Zuhlsdorf: You highlight one of the central questions for all those who love the Traditional Mass and traditional Catholic culture–obedience. What is one supposed to do when your priest, pastor or bishop fails to “feed us bread and feed us stones instead?” What is a layman or a priest supposed to do when going to Holy Mass or reading the latest edict from the liturgical establishment poses a real threat to one’s faith? Yes, the Church is indefectible; yes, it is well above the competence of a layman to speculate on validity of sacraments; the practical question is what do we need to practice in order to prepare our souls for heaven? While it is not our proper place (and a real temptation to sin against humility) to judge the personal motives and orthodoxy of priests and bishops, it seems like one must make a real moral choice in most locations at least here in the US and in Europe.

    So many of my friends who have strong attachments to the SSPX or sedevacantist goups have responded in a very human way–they believe that the bishops (and popes, in the extreme case) have robbed them of their patrimony. It is compounded by the perception of a double standard for those who remain in full communion with their local bishop–when the latest liturgical abuse gets official sanction, it’s implemented in a -of days (take altar girls, “serviettes” was the amusting term that I believe the late Michael Davies coined) while any crumbs of tradition we’re given take years to implement, are given to the church in the worst neighborhood during the worst times of the day. The temptation to become neo-Dontatist is very strong.

    What I think is truly painful, though, is the dry martyrdom of those priests who (as I’m sure you know, Father) are vocal in support of tradition. Perhaps the question that might benefit us laymen in regard to this is: how do you, as a priest who is outspoken in support of a proper translation of the Mass and the restoration of the traditional Mass and who is probably persona non grata in some ecclesiastical quarters in your home diocese, maintain a proper practice of obedience?

    My sedevacantist friends pray and try to live a fully Catholic life just like the other readers of this blog do. What do all of us need to keep in mind while this long battle is being fought in the Church?

  15. tired says:

    Henry,

    There is frankly no answer to the question you pose, the way you pose it. When you write, as is commonly done, “The Church can never become corrupt in either faith or in morals” it can be either true or false, since the terms Church, corrupt, faith, and morals are equivocal not univocal as they are either commonly used or even used in ecclesiastical texts. This is typically the source of the problem. Most are not actually opposed to the teaching of the Church but simply to what they think is the teaching of the Church on these matters. If by the term ecclesia one means hierarchy, one may speak of corruption and it can not nor should not be denied. If by ecclesia one means a collection of buildings then clearly these too often corrupt.(notice corrupt has changed here). If by church you mean the mystical body then corruption becomes problematic to say the least. etc.

    The question you raise is perfectly natural and any thinking man should ask it. I always find it fruitful to simply ask them questions (gently) about what they mean by these terms. This is frequently also a good act of humility because we (good and pious Catholics) use these terms often rather loosely. For example, in virtually the same breath one will say both that the Church is indefectible and I went to church on Sunday. For precisely this reason, any standard theology manual from the 16th century – 20th will have a list of the common usages for the term ecclesia in the tradition.

    Lastly, one must find out what is meant by “contradiction” which is often used for hypocrisy or error.

  16. John says:

    A pet peeve of mine (ok, it’s one of the many from my own personal zoo) is understanding what the Church is. Or more importantly, our position in the Church.
    The Church is the Mystical Bride of Christ. It is an unblemished bride. It will stand until He comes again at the end of all time.
    But the Church is *not* the individual members. Yes, we are all members of the Church, but we are *not* the Church!
    This seems to be a pretty difficult concept for many people. (Since it’s a mystery, I guess it’s supposed to be!) But we need to really understand the implications here.
    When we see a member of the Church sinning, we can’t confuse that person with the Church as a whole. Even when we are bombarded with sin we need to remember that the sin is with the member and *not* with the Church.
    John

  17. Prior to Vatican II none of this clerical chicanery existed amongst the priesthood, bishops, or laity. The Church was secure in its faith, morals, and worship while the traditional mass was secure and in vogue; it was a veritable golden age of Catholocism in Europe, America, and the entire West. Once the unhinged the highest form of prayer in human existence, the most holy sacrifice of the Mass, from tradition; then the devil and his minions had a heyday. The wreckage is everywhere. Yet there is nothing more beautiful than the Roman Catholic Mass, properly observed and prayed as a \’propitiatory\’ and \’impetratory\’ sacrifice, overflowing with efficacious graces from Almighty God. We must have hope in the restoration now underway with Pope Benedict XVI. Too many today ignore Our Dear Lord\’s teachings on proper deportment in prayer and when at mass, be it intellectually or spiritually, as He explains in one of his most poignant parables. See much more!

    j hughes dunphy

  18. GCC Catholic says:

    Prior to Vatican II none of this clerical chicanery existed amongst the priesthood, bishops, or laity. The Church was secure in its faith, morals, and worship while the traditional mass was secure and in vogue; it was a veritable golden age of Catholocism in Europe, America, and the entire West.

    As one who didn’t experience the era personally (I’m a college student) I can’t help but ask: Was this really how it was? The last group of priests and bishops prior to Vatican II became the group of priests and bishops to implement it. The chaos we see was birthed by those who knew nothing but the traditional Mass.

    Restoration is direly needed, but no matter how much one might want it to, the Council still happened. I don’t see how imagining that everything was perfect before and the Council is somehow at fault for today’s problems is particularly helpful.

  19. AC says:

    GCC, you have to realize what the council did. It taught heresy. It taught false ecumentalism, collegiality
    and religious freedom — all things condemned by past popes and councils. But the mass was not entirely changed
    at the council which most don’t understand. It was changed single-handedly by the freemason Hannibal Bugini and
    put into effect by Paul VI. But, luckily, even the pope said the council wasn’t dogmatic, only pastoral. He also
    said the smoke of satan had entered the council but we’re not supposed to remember that. Yes, those priests said
    the traditional Mass, but they were anything but traditional. It was only a handful of bishops that ruled the
    council at the time. For an accurate portrayal of what actually happened from a modernist priest’s perspective
    read “The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber.” It’s from a priest who ran the press operation for the vatican during the
    council. You’ll see how even a council can be hijacked by a few.

  20. Father Z:

    I, too, was scandalized by what I read in the prior thread. When a so-called Catholic layman (I assume?) invites a Catholic priest to break communion with the successor of Peter is a scandal. That invitation was tendered by “AC” to me.

    I don’t blame you, Father Z; but I must say, it is very off-putting. It very much turns me off from the so-called “traditional” crowd, that shouts for the Mass only according to the Missal of 1962.

    I consider being in union with the Successor of Peter and his bishops, for all their flaws, to be Tradition, ne plus ultra.

    I am not against the Missal of 1962. I do not consider it the “only Mass.” I am for going with the Church, where she is going, for Christ promised her sure guidance — not I. To love the Church is to love the Church you have, not the Church of your imagining and desires. And I am getting very tired of the online hectorers who are giving tradition and the Missal of 1962 and its adherents a bad name.

  21. David says:

    He also said the smoke of satan had entered the council…
    Erm…no he didn’t! He said that smoke of Satan had entered the temple of God through some fissure or other. Not the same.

  22. Jacob says:

    My pat answer for Henry goes something like this:

    Back in the heyday of the Arian heresy, the majority of bishops were in fact Arians.

    Yet the true Faith survived and flourished.

    Many feel that once again, a majority of bishops are engaging in heresy. Yet, empirical, historical evidence shows that the true Faith prevailed and we must have faith that it will again.

    (The historical facts in this comment may be wrong. Feel free to correct.)

  23. tired says:

    Perhaps you were not responding to my post. Let me be clear. I was not saying that the mystical body of Christ is sinful. All I was pointing out is that frenquently the term “Church” is used in ecclesiastical useage to refer not just to the whole but also to its various parts or dimensions. There is nothing odd about this but one must realize that the term “Church” does not have just one meaning. One must simply know how the term is being used by a particular author or person. So if by the term Church one means a building then it may be said to corrupt. If by Church one means a congregatio then one may say that this corrupts as well.

  24. Paul Haley says:

    I was taught that indefectability does not mean that individual clerics or even groups in the Church will be free from error. The widespread belief in the Arian heresy is a case in point. What it does mean, again according to what I was taught in the pre-vatican II environment, is that Almighty God being All-Good, All-Perfect and All-Just will never allow His Church to speak or teach UNIVERSALLY in error. Now, today’s environment shows clearly, in my view, that error is widespread in the Church but not everywhere and amongst everyone who bears the name Catholic. There are those trying to remain faithful to Tradition and free from error, albeit, it appears, an increasingly small fraction of the church at-large. We have confidence that in the end we shall be vindicated if we but hold to the Truth.

  25. Brian Mershon says:

    Fr. Martin Fox, I fail to grasp the concept that because one person on this board, who in good conscience, even if mistaken, asked you to break communion with your bishop, why this leads to the blanket, broad brush condemnation you seem to have formed against all, or the majority of, or many, traditionalists?

    It doesn’t follow. Should I form my opinion of those Catholics who frequent the Novus Ordo, or of priests who offer only the Novus Ordo, by the vast majority of wrong-headed decisions and abuses they perform on a weekly, and sometimes, daily basis? This makes no sense whatsoever.

    If someone is jeopardizing your Faith, then certainly do not associate with him or her. But don’t broadbrush all tradtiionalists with this same black coat of paint.

  26. Brian: “If someone is jeopardizing your Faith,…”

    Whoa… Unless you are using the “universal you” here, given this is addressed a priest of Holy Church, I think this is less than proper.

  27. Brian Mershon says:

    Fr. Z: Huh? What in the world???

    Can we please get back to reading all posts in continuity rather than picking at phrases here and there and misattributing their meaning?

    Please… As yet, I still have not had any good, cogent replies to why a Priest couldn’t simply follow his well0fromed conscience and decide one day, after some appropriate catechesis, to start offering Holy Mass ad orientem? Why not?

    Also, why are “extra”ordinary ministers used ORDINARILY at nearly every single parish in the U.S. (I know there are exceptions and there are still some select FEW churches that have altar rails)in disobedience to the Holy See and its 1997 document? Why?

  28. AC says:

    Brian, you better back off or you’ll be labled an “online hectorer” like me. See, if we talk straight, answer
    questions in black and white and don’t leave any gray area now we’re traditional nuts. Which, by the way, would
    make all of the post conciliar pope who stuck to traditional and against modernism nuts. People call these forums
    free speaking but as soon as you speak in absolutes the thread is shut down. And yes, it is an option to break
    communion with your bishop, especially if your bishop is leading you to sin or destruction of yours or your flock’s
    faith. You ultimately follow Christ not man. I’m not saying it’s extreme, but if all the saints blindly followed
    their bishops, who knows where we’d be today.

  29. AC says:

    I meant to say breaking communion with a bishop “is” extreme in the last post. forgot to put the word “not” in there.

  30. Hammerbrecher says:

    Dang things have heated up. People need to calm down and focus on being Catholic. Also show Priests some respect in your addresses..

  31. AC says:

    here’s a perfect example of a bishop leading his flock astray:

    Polka Mass

    Bishop J. Peter Sartain will officiate at a Polka Mass at 10 a.m. Jan. 28 at Sunny Hill Nursing Home of Will County, 421 Doris Ave. in Joliet. The service will be in the main dining hall. Seating will begin at 9:30 a.m.
    For additional information, contact Sunny Hill activity director Larry Lindholm at (815) 727-8711.

    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/heraldnews/lifestyles/204855,4_5_JO11_RNOTES_S1.article

  32. Brian Mershon says:

    AC: You might think you and I are “on the same side,” but we are not. I’m not some 20-something-year-old, going to be easily-influenced newcomer who is going to take some anonymous poster’s words as Gospel and then suddenly advise all priests to go SSPX. In fact, we have two priests in our diocese who did just that over the years and guess who now doesn’t havfe enough priests to offer our once-was WEEKLY Traditional Latin Mass?

    Please stop with the “teaming” and “attaboy” goofiness.

    Fathers, can anyone address the serious questions I asked in my previous posts about “ad orientem” and the habitual use of “extra”ordinary ministers that was condemned nearly 10 years ago now?

  33. Martha says:

    “And yes, it is an option to break
    communion with your bishop, especially if your bishop is leading you to sin or destruction of yours or your flock’s
    faith. You ultimately follow Christ not man. I’m not saying it’s extreme, but if all the saints blindly followed
    their bishops, who knows where we’d be today.”

    That holy, zealous and courageous priest who endured a dry
    martyrdom, Fr. John O’Connor, OP. reminded me that all but one of the hierarchy – St. John – followed the pope in their desertion of Christ. I have thought of this SOOO MANY TIMES. I am not a sedevacantist, Put I do think often of the mystery here and its application to our times.

  34. AC says:

    I don’t care about being on sides, as long as i’m on the side of the Lord. And I don’t advise all priests to go SSPX. I have an SSPX site close and an indult site close and I choose the indult site even thought the SSPX site is more traditional and to my personal liking. That’s because I do think it’s important to do all possibile to stay in communion with my bishop. However, when all that is left is a NO mass, and a NO mass where which way you face is somehow an issue i think it’s a real option to go SSPX.

  35. Martha says:

    oops, please note, the word PUT should be BUT.

    What I was trying to say, was that it is a dangerous thing to be blindly obedient. Sometimes, it is just so much easier to cave in due to fear, while telling oneself that he/she was just being obedient.

  36. Brian: I offer you an explanation together with an admonition.

    First, this is my blog, not your blog. Just like the Church, it is not a democracy.

    Second, you wrote to Fr. Fox: \\\”If someone is jeopardizing your Faith, then certainly do not associate with him or her. But don’t broadbrush all tradtiionalists with this same black coat of paint.\\\” Here is how I took what you wrote: I took it to be a condescending instruction to a priest, on a blog, suggesting he had a less than sturdy faith. If you did not mean that, and I misunderstood you, I am sorry. On the other hand, you are elsewhere a good writer. You do not lack skill to make yourself understood. Similarly, I am a pretty good reader, if you get my drift.

    Third: You seem to be demanding responses. You are apparently waiting, for example, for a \\\”cogent\\\” reply about why a priest couldn\\\’t simply do x, y, or z. I believe the reply to this has been pretty clear and cogent. A priest can do that. He just has to be willing to pay the price. I can imagine a situation in which a priest doing that, and then getting punitively reassigned, would thereby be depriving a large number of people of a really good, caring confessor. He would be running the risk that his successor wouldn\\\’t give a damn about hearing confessions (as if often the case). The people he serves might be important to him. Perhaps he is in a process of successfully rebuilding many dimensions of the parish\\\’s life after decades of modernist devastation. There are many things to put in the scales. A priest has to chose his battles, just like everyone else. The bull in the china shop approach isn\\\’t always successful. It might be gratifying or entertaining to watch in the short run, but you might be losing the war because of a skirmish. You (or anyone else) might not like that cogent reply, but oh well

    Fourth: As to the question why extraordinary ministers are excessively employed, and we all acknowledge that this is abusive in many ways and manifestly a violation of documents from the Holy See, do you seriously expect anyone here to have a satisfying answer? We can readily lay our hands on an answer, of course: Pastors of souls who promote such an abuse just don\\\’t understand the concept of ministry, or the distinctions between clergy and laity. They don\\\’t get it. There it is. That\\\’s the reason. Ditto on the question of altar rails. We agree it was wrong to rip them out, tragic in some situations. We know that their removal signals theological positions we don\\\’t like or agree with. We would much rather have it be otherwise. The fact is, however, that there is no way to compel the reconstruction of Communion rails. Too bad. If that cannot be endured, you can always pay the price by finding find a church which still has them and go there, even if you have to drive a hundred miles. In charity, you should even buy a bus and pay for the diesel and bring along everyone else who thinks along the same line. After all… that would be the right thing to do, right? It might require getting another mortage… but… if you are really dedicated….

    Finally, and this is something everyone can take note of, people really should start being a little more careful what they write here. I can always turn off the comments, or make them all go into a queue for moderation. These topics arouse strong passions in people and unless we take great care, discussion gets nasty. I don\\\’t want that on my blog. There have been a few people I have, alas, had to ban by IP address because they just wouldn\\\’t lay off the aggressive negativity. I hate doing that. I like good discussion, even strong discussion. But, staying on the theme of last few days, I don\\\’t need the additional headache.

  37. tim says:

    Brian, at the risk of this being an attaboy comment, I must say: attaboy.

    With all respect to priests, who have a singular calling from God, it is a worthwhile question to ask why it is that there aren’t some significant number of priests who simply choose to celebrate ad orientem w/o the the emhc nonsense.

    Of course it is easy to urge others on to a sort of martyrdom. I pray that I have the grace and strength to endure my own. For we lay families who strive to remain loyal to the magisterium and the Faith suffer our own type of martyrdom as well.

    Holy priests! We are here and will follow and support you if you will lead us to Christ.

  38. tim says:

    Father, I wrote the above before your post addressed some of these things. And I don’t retreat from the essentials of the post, but I never intend to condescend in discussion with any priest. That is above my pay grade, so to speak. And I realize they have considerations I cannot imagine.

    My larger point is that there just seems to be an electricity in the air these days. I am reminded of “Lord of the World”, by Robert Hugh Benson. In it, the Holy Father erects a new religious order, and suppresses nearly all the others. I forget the exact name of the order, but the purpose of it was simple. Those who joined did so to be martyrs for Christ Crucified, for the salvations of souls and the victory of the Church. Is it time we became ready to suffer?

  39. AC: “People call these forums free speaking but as soon as you speak in absolutes the thread is shut down.”

    You are laboring under a false assumption.

    This is not a forum.

    This is my blog. You don’t have any right to say anything you want here. In your own blog, sure, but not in my blog.

  40. Martha says:

    “Polka Mass

    Bishop J. Peter Sartain will officiate at a Polka Mass at 10..”

    S I I I G G H H H hhhh…

    That’s our bishop. And he is one of the better ones—in communion with Rome, too. Heaven help us.

  41. tim: I second your “attaboy” and raise you a “well said”.

  42. David says:

    [tangent]Re: RH Benson’s Lord of the World. I read that very recently and was astonished it was written 100 years ago. It’s horribly prescient. Father Elijah: An Apocalypse by Michael D O’Brien, although much more recent, is also quite chilling for similar reasons.[/tangent]

    Let’s all just take a step back here, folks, realise that any change will take at the very least decades, and look to our own consciences to see that we are living out our vocation of Christian charity. On this particular subject I certainly am beginning to realise that I personally am in very great need of the grace of humility and the virtue of charity.

  43. RBrown says:

    With all respect to priests, who have a singular calling from God, it is a worthwhile question to ask why it is that there aren’t some significant number of priests who simply choose to celebrate ad orientem w/o the the emhc nonsense.

    It is a worthwhile question, but don’t assume you–or Brian–have the answer.

    When a priest is ordained, by oath he obligates himself to obedience to the bishop. If he does not intend this obedience, he should simply turn down ordination.

    But what about a priest who some time after ordination decides that he wants to say mass ad orientem? He should take his thoughts to the bishop. If the bishop says no, the priest should simply look to transfer to a diocese or religious order where ad orientem is possible.

  44. RBrown says:

    Brian, you better back off or you’ll be labled an “online hectorer” like me. See, if we talk straight, answer questions in black and white and don’t leave any gray area now we’re traditional nuts. Which, by the way, would make all of the post conciliar pope who stuck to traditional and against modernism nuts. People call these forums free speaking but as soon as you speak in absolutes the thread is shut down. And yes, it is an option to break communion with your bishop, especially if your bishop is leading you to sin or destruction of yours or your flock’s faith. You ultimately follow Christ not man. I’m not saying it’s extreme, but if all the saints blindly followed their bishops, who knows where we’d be today.

    The problem is not that you’re speaking in absolutes but rather that you’re speaking in ignorance.

  45. Barb says:

    Father,

    The subject under discussion here and the posts I have read show me that we must ***all*** prostrate ourselves in front of the Blessed Sacrament either in person or in spirit each time we observe a wound being made in the Body of Christ. I plead for mercy so often in regard to the Mass, the events going on in the Church, etc. We must never forget that we are witnessing the viscious attack by Satan on our souls and those of the Pope and all the Church. If God has given us the ability to see the truth and think with the mind of the Church, He is asking for reparation, and for us to do what He calls us to do as best we can. We are very fortunate to be permitted to suffer because of our ability to apprehend the gravity of the harm to the Church, and we also must remember that, to the extent we do not pray, do penance, and sacrifice (Our Lady of Fatima), we weaken ourselves and become an assistant to Satan in the process. It terrifies me that I might in any way help him to strike blows against our Church. This is not to say that we must be silent in view of the evil besetting our Sacred Liturgy and our tradition, but that we speak to the proper persons in charity. Above all, a healthy dose of mea culpas for our own mistakes cannot fail to move God, even if we ourselves don’t see the results we believe we have coming to us.

  46. Tom says:

    Father Z.

    Thank you for your above comment “this isn’t your blog, it’s my blog..” It was a point that needed to be made. (Plus it reminded me of Ronald Reagan’s “I am paying for this microphone Mister, and I’LL decide who gets to use it”, but I digress)

    Please don’t kill the comments section on your blog. I am learning so much in so many ways from your blog and all of the (very bright) commenters. I don’t know a great deal about the details and history of the evolution of our liturgy, but I remember living through the transition to the NO, and I know that I miss a lot about the old rite.
    You and your blog are helping me in my faith and understanding immeasurably.

    Thanks.

  47. The question of extraordinary ministers seems to me to be simpler, and in a way more instructive, than the problems of restoring altar rails and turning altars around (which pose obvious practical difficulties in many churches).

    As to the question why extraordinary ministers are excessively employed, ….. Pastors of souls who promote such an abuse just don\’t understand the concept of ministry, or the distinctions between clergy and laity. They don\’t get it. There it is. That\’s the reason.

    Or is it? Most of the priests whom I know well enough to discuss such a matter frankly – admittedly, not a random sample – dislike abusive use of EMHC’s about the same as I do. But they think it’s not simple priests who “don’t get it”, rather, those who somehow wield power over simple priests.

  48. Brian Mershon says:

    Father Z: I at least used to think we were on the same side… Fr. Martin said: “I, too, was scandalized by what I read in the prior thread. When a so-called Catholic layman (I assume?) invites a Catholic priest to break communion with the successor of Peter is a scandal.”

    When I made the comment, in the midst of a much greater point, that perhaps it was “jeopardizing your Faith” (without the bold or emphasis), I didn’t mean as it was taken by you–that he was losing his Faith.

    But when someone says something causes him “scandal,” I take him at his word. Sometimes being “scandalized” too much leads some to doubt or question their faith–not the entirety of it–but perhaps puts doubts in their mind.

    Again, I don’t understand why this sudden attention I’m getting. Perhaps I wrote something somewhere else you were not enamored with… Can’t quite figure it out.

    As for the rest of your post, I understand perfectly well what you are talking about with the other considerations, but it seems to me that once when begins compromising on principles and essentials (how best to offer sacrifice and worshp to God”, then the other things become less of a priority. If a bishop WRONGLY or UNJUSTLY moves a priest because he offers Mass ad orientem, then perhaps it is time to seek incardination elsewhere or join the FSSP.

    I do know that disobedience to the Holy See and to God is not rewarded by God–even if the disobedience is “slight” in comparison to the possible recourse and ramifications.

    There are things that go on at work that I do not participate in because they are not right nor in keeping withthe Faith. I might be encouraged by “higher ups” to do them with “a wink and a nod” but I do not. Perhaps it keeps me from geting promoted or a better position or some other worldly perk. It seems analagous to me.

    Again, if you are looking for a parish home, there is one available with a “reform of the reform” priest who offers the TLM right here in Taylors, SC.

  49. Just to turn the italics off:

    As to the question why extraordinary ministers are excessively employed, ….. Pastors of souls who promote such an abuse just don’t understand the concept of ministry, or the distinctions between clergy and laity. They don’t get it. There it is. That’s the reason.

    Or is it? Most of the priests whom I know well enough to discuss such a matter frankly – admittedly, not a random sample – dislike abusive use of EMHC’s about the same as I do. But they think it’s not simple priests who “don’t get it”, rather, those who somehow wield power over simple priests.

  50. Ruth says:

    I have just finished reading “St. Athanasius” by F.A Forbes. What an example for our days!! For myself, I believe we need to be in the State of Grace, go to confession regularly, weekly if possible, read the Saints, the encyclicals prior to Vatican II by Popes who have been tremendous leaders, for example Pope St. Pius V, Pope St. Pius X, Pope Leo XIII, etc. We need to know our Faith “inside and out” and pray, pray, pray. I would go to daily Mass if there was a Tridentine one available, for to hear homilies that if are not dangerous to one’s faith, may be just so much hot air. In the end,
    Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will triumph!

  51. Brian:

    I have not formed an opinion about all “traditionalists” (I use quotes because this is term needing much more precision than it gets in the prevalent use in these discussions), at all, let alone on the basis of one poster.

    But I drawn conclusions about the behavior and tone of many posters who persist, despite repeated encouragement in many discussions, to rethink their approach. I.e., I have had this discussion at length on a number of sites online; and yes, I do draw conclusions about those people, and about what I believe their agenda to be.

    What I actually said was this “turns me off” and it gives tradition “a bad name.” And I stand by those statements.

    After all, the invitation to enter into schism (a shocking thing to suggest and contemplate) was made on another thread — but I alone expressed shock at it. I saw no other self-described traditionalist share my shock. That was disappointing.

    I have seen a great deal of other commentary — which I label “hectoring” — that I would hope would draw more criticism from others considering themselves “traditionalist.”

    Yes, that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    May I point out that, as a parish priest, I am giving this subject vastly more attention and consideration than 90% of my fellow priests. I am very sympathetic; and I am, in my own way, according to my sense of what is right and good, pursuing a “reform of the reform” in my parishes. I have not written off Tradition.

    In re: your question about a priest simply making a dramatic change in how he does things in his parish — my short answer is, easy to say, not easy at all to do.

    I have written about this before on this site, and on my own site, so I am not going to restate all I’ve said, here.

    All I can say in summary is that a good pastor, in my judgment, is considerate of all concerned, and so takes time to make changes that will be stunning to the people; and he needs collaboration from the people, if for no other reason than they pay the bills — and shock treatment might be enjoyable to online posters, but it surely won’t be to parishioners.

    In my judgment, it represents a very counter-productive way to do what you want.

    And a pastor has many, many concerns beyond liturgical ones, as important as they are; so even if it were “all up to him,” even then he has only so much time and energy he can devote to it.

    And unless the priest is going to be his own server, his own deacon, his own lector, his own cantor, his own schola and music director, then all those folks also need preparation, both to come around, and be on board, and also to be prepared to do what needs to be done.

    Energy, energy, time, time.

  52. Ignatius, OSB says:

    I think many people here have a false idea of what a religious or priestly vocation is all about. It is first and foremost a call from God. God calls us where He will, and we don’t always know why He chose to place us with such and such a bishop in this or that diocese, or with this partiucal superior in this particular community.

    As St. Ignatius of Antioch said in his letter the Smyrnaeans:
    “Shun divisions, as the beginning of evils. Do ye all follow your bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the Father, and the presbytery as the Apostles; and to the deacons pay respect, as to God’s commandment. Let no man do aught of things pertaining to the Church apart from the bishop. Let that be held a valid eucharist which is under the bishop or one to whom he shall have committed it. Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be; even as where Jesus may be, there is the universal Church. It is not lawful apart from the bishop either to baptize or to hold a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve, this is well-pleasing also to God; that everything which ye do may be sure and valid.”

    There is more to holiness than simply being right all the times. As our Lord said to St. Gertrude, “In all things and above all else, have goodwill; only this disposition will give your soul the light and special merit of all the virtues.”

    God works in mysterious ways, but it is our responsibility as His children to follow where He leads us.

  53. Brian:

    I will grant that “scandal” was the wrong word to use for the point I made. I do not mean to say my faith in Christ or his Church was seriously weakened or impeded.

    But I do mean to say that it is shocking and offensive, and I do mean to say that it is scandalous — i.e., I think one should deem it something damaging to the faith of others. Hence “shock” and “offense” seem too weak to express my reaction, and so I chose “scandal.”

    And I do mean to say that this caused me to have serious questions about the state of faith of someone who could recommend schism; of course, I cannot know anyone’s actual state of grace, but I see what I see, and I do form provisional conclusions.

    And the number of folks who consider themselves “traditional” who agree with that path is considerable. It saddens me profoundly to see this, and I do believe there are more fundamental problems than simply liturical differences. I.e. — if you really, really, really want to get being Catholic right, getting liturgy right is not enough; you have to get it all right, including ecclesiology.

    And I see a considerable number of a sort of traditionalists who seem to me to dismiss ecclesiology. And that causes me great concern for them and for the Church. My concern is all the greater given what seems too little concern on their part, and on others of like mind who don’t themselves stumble on this point.

    So “scandal” may not have been an apt term. I am not sure what would be.

  54. Fr. Fox: I’ve read enough of your posts to know that you’re a conscientious and well-intentioned priest doing your best (and surely better than most) with and for the liturgy in a typical pastoral situation.

    But I wonder whether there are enough of these “1962 Mass only” types to spend much time worrying about them. I’ve moved around quite a lot, with significant involvement in multiple parishes in multiple dioceses, and never seen one where these particular types were a problem. (Most of the closed liturgical minds I see are of a quite different type.)

    So I wonder whether they’re really a problem for you as a pastor. If so, your parish must be rather unusual. Because in my experience, most indult Mass adherents are pretty much like me: They may well prefer the beauty of the traditional Latin Mass and the reverence of personal and congregational worship it typically inspires, but they readily and frequently attend both old and new Masses with devotion and sincerity.

    Even so, I agree with what I suspect you really mean. That anyone who’s against any valid Mass has a problem that the rest of us would prefer not to contend with. And it goes both ways.

  55. Brian,

    Perhaps I’ve not been following all these threads closely enough, but you haven’t yet succeeded in scandalizing me! Seriously, I’ve read a lot of your writing with much interest and appreciation, and would like suggest a question that might be germane here.

    What is it about the Greenville, SC soil that seems so hospitable to the “reform of the reform”? I can’t offhand think of two so prominently successful reform-of-the-reform parishes (both of which I’ve visited) in such close proximity as St. Mary’s and Prince of Peace churches there.

  56. Brian Mershon says:

    Fathers and others,

    Peace. I require no explanations for people’s posts. I will leave with this only personal observation:

    I do not personally have time to wait for parish priests to follow the rubrics of the Mass as outlined by the Holy ‘
    See for the Novus Ordo Missae. I have personally experienced this “incremental” approach at my own parish, and after two or three years, I still really don’t see why priests cannot simply obey the rubrics and do what the Church and traditiona autorizes a priest to do.

    There is no document ANYWHERE that authorizes a priest to face the people, as far as I know. If anyone has it, then please show it to me. 30 years of deliberate disobedience does not make an “immemorial custom.”

    So, personally, my family and I will seek out the Traditional Latin Mass, be it indult or FSSP or ICR–PERIOD. The Roman rite, as Msgr. Gamber and Fr. Mole have both said, has been destroyed.

    I predict that more and more families like my own in their ’30s and ’40s with young children will not wait around tfor this incremental reform. They will move specifically and deliberately to an FSSP or ICR location and uproot their family and change jobs so they can experience peace at their parish. I already know a few families who have done so. There will undoubtedly be many more–perhaps my own among them.

    Sorry, but our obligation is to our wives and children–not to assist a priest in his “incremental plan.”

    I’m sorry to say this, but my personal opinion is that the “reform of the reform” is pretty much doomed from the get-go.Those who will be left at the average parish will NOT be for a return to Latin, nor ad orientem, nor anything traditional. We are all going to be with the FSSP, ICR or SSPX, if needs dictate.

  57. Henry:

    I appreciate your kind words.

    If I gave the impression that “1962-Missal-only traditionalists” are a problem for me in my parishes, I am sorry for that, and happy to correct it.

    No, I meant to emphasize rather that my interactions with them — both online and personally, but not in the context of my own parishes — have been negative. And my point was to give counsel, to those who are traditionalists attached to the 1962 Missal (exclusively or not), that this sort of thing is hurting their cause, and the cause of restoring tradition in general.

    I am coming to the conclusion — from many observations, which online interactions tend to confirm — that when it comes to the task I’ve set myself, in my two parishes, to achieve a right expression of Catholic liturgy and devotion, there are a number of non-exclusive 1962-Missal traditionalists whose help I’d welcome, but they won’t give it.

    I’m saying that merely matter-of-fact. I will do what I will do, at whatever speed, depending on whatever wind is behind me, and against me. I’m observing: more wind behind me helps.

    I’ve shared these thoughts online, in hopes I will have some good influence on such folks to decide to be helpful to their parish priest, even if it is to make modest progress, rather than running off somewhere else. I can appreciate why people do that, and I am sorry for the bad experiences many have had; but the fact remains, the changes that need to happen are helped by having an active constituency in the parish where they are happening.

    Example: when a pastor (i.e., me) asks his parish about having a periodic daily Mass (current rite) in Latin, the more replies he actually receives, helps make it happen; when he hears crickets, well — he may do it, but he may decide other worthwhile and good projects will come first.

    A lot of these online discussions are about past hurts, and hoped-for future outcomes; I’m calling attention to unglamorous, but useful, incremental changes available now.

    I’m trying to be practical, and encourage others to do likewise.

  58. Brian Mershon says:

    Dear Henry Edwards,

    In Greenville, SC, there have been a lot of transplants from Yankeeland, coupled with persecution from Bob Jones Univeristy fundamentalists, coupled with decades of persecution from our own parish priests (modernists in prior years, not now, except in one or two locations) and former bishop.

    Put that together with Yankee transplants with higher expectations for education, and you have a small, but active core basis of homeschooling parents (not because we ever wanted to) who have learned their faith, prayed and fasted for many years. We have also gone head-to-had publicly (much to many priests and our bishops’ chargin) with the BJU folks at their own churches such as during their anti-Catholic conferences. We have had a handful of young, energetic, vibrant converts study for the priesthood and come back to Greenville, along with two early 40-year-old parish priests (Fr. Newman, now on sabattical) and Fr. Brovey, who simultaneously began their own systematic “reform of the reform” as well as on again and off again Traditional Latin Masses.

    There is great Faith and cooperation and comaraderie among many–even those with whom we don’t agree 100 percent liturgically because we know how many that need to be converted to the one true faith of Jesus Christ, outside of which neither holiness nor salvation can be found (anyone who has a problem with that last phrase, please take it up with Pope Pius XII).

    That is it in a nutshell. Things weren’t always like this here. And things could be much, much worse if one or obth of thee pastors gets moved. But our 6 soon-to-ordained priests this year are SOLID as a rock. Not all have leanings toward the TLM, but they are ALL SOLID. No more overt modernists anymore.

    Do drop me a line if you ever visit the buckle of the Bible Belt again.

  59. Brian: “I at least used to think we were on the same side”.

    Ohhh…. I see… you play hard ball and I play hard ball back and you suggest we are not on the same side? o{];¬)

    Sometimes when working in this difficult medium of written language only, we have to try to figure out what people really mean by their words. This can be hard sometimes.

    May I offer a point of consideration? Years ago when I was working for the P.C. “Ecclesia Dei” I saw time and time again how very earnest, very zealous laymen would so badger, harass or criticize priests and bishops who would otherwise have been open to what they wanted had they been approached properly, that eventually the clerics just started shunning their correspondence. There is a historical case, well known. Galileo began with great sympathy, but he was of a very irascible character. He wound up being such a jerk to those who wished him well that eventually they withdrew their favor. My experience is that, when it comes to obtaining “traditional” things from clerics (leave aside the fact that they are our right), smoothness and charm work better than sniping and carping.

  60. Brian Mershon says:

    Clarification:

    When I listed the SSPX in the list, this is assuming the decrees of excommunication are soon lifted, and/or a Cathoilc attends their solely out of devotion to the 1962 missal and not specifically to separate himself from his diocesan Ordinary or the See of Peter, just as Msgr. Perl’s letters have stated.

    I was merely giving an assessment based upon the interactions I have had with friends, other Catholics and thos with whom I am in contact.

  61. AC says:

    Brian: atta boy! :)

    Fr. Fox: sorry if you took anything i said about leaving the diocese as scandolous. Didn’t mean it to be. But
    I can’t apologize for understanding that it is an option. As Brian pointed out, as spiritual leaders of a household
    as all married men are, it’s my duty to protect my wife and children. I can’t take them to a mass or a sacrament
    that i am not convinced, in every case, are valid. that’s not to say i don’t believe all sacraments are not valid
    simply because they’re not in the old rite. but because of all the liturgical abuse, i cannot be certain from
    parish to parish so i choose to avoid it altogether. And, if we seem frustrated with priests like you, it’s not
    personal. You seem more informed and well intentioned than the overwhelming number of NO priests I’ve spoken with.
    but you’re also punished by some of us more for being better, because the horribly liberal ones we just give up
    on! so we see you, who seems to know right from wrong in his heart, and we fell we have a chance if we push hard
    enough. I too need to learn to pull back at times. But when it’s your soul at stake, that isn’t always easy.

  62. Brian: “Sorry, but our obligation is to our wives and children—not to assist a priest in his “incremental plan.””

    I understand entirely what you mean and what your concern is. Your vocation as a husband and father are sacred. It is good to see Catholic men who are so intent on their well-being.

  63. There is no document ANYWHERE that authorizes a priest to face the people, as far as I know. If anyone has it, then please show it to me. 30 years of deliberate disobedience does not make an “immemorial custom.”

    Could this be true? That there’s no authorization anywhere for versus populum celebration.

    If so, would it follow that the immemorial custom of ad orientem celebration would make that the only licit manner? In which case, we’d have to add one more to the steadily growing of abuses that indefectibility does not protect us from suffering in Mass (so to speak).

  64. Henry: The GIRM actually talks about the position of the altar such that it is possible for priests to say Mass from either side.

  65. tim says:

    Fr. Fox and Henry,

    A brief background coming from a 1962 Mass-only “type”. I have (currently) five children, and was born after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. I endured the novus ordo for 37 years. And though I was well catechized compared to some (God bless my parents and the nun at my grade school who kept the Baltimore Catechism until it was ultimately suppressed), I was not given the fulness of the glorious Faith of our Church. I found a good woman who I tricked into marrying me, and we grew in faith by steps. There is a divorce, and a serious one, between the doctrines of faith as propositions to which one gives intellectual assent and the actual practice of the novus ordo Mass as the overwhelming majority of Catholics experience it. People internalize and express their faith in the Mass and other sacraments, and the new Mass does nearly nothing to make the Catholic faith obvious.

    As believers, we believed the truth, and thus could impose it upon the rite of Mass. But it is a truism that the majority of nominal Catholics do not believe the key points of Faith and there is nothing in the new Mass which forces them to come to grips with what we all know are incompatible positions.

    I knew of the traditional Mass but did not go until, ironically enough, John Paul II caused me to go. Huh? you say? Well, his funeral Mass was a very beautiful affair, with Latin, gregorian chant, polyphonic music, and reverence galore. I remember watching this live on tv and turning to my wife and saying, epiphany-like, “They’ve robbed us of our patrimony!”

    I resolved to attend the ICKSP daily Mass each day that week to see if the traditional Mass was what those adherents I knew said it was. It wasn’t. It was far, far better. Sublime. So much so that it completely changed my life.

    So, I am a “type” who wants only the traditional Mass and sacramental forms because they express and teach that faith that miraculously is still contained in our catechism. I have a family to raise and to try to pass on the Catholic Faith. And I neither have the time to wait for those who will glacially change to follow the rubrics of Mass and teach the truth.

    I as sorry if that makes me sound bitter. I’m not. In fact, my life, and that of my family is bursting with joy. In “The Man Who Was Thursday” the hero is walking along at the end of the book and states he was so joyful that it was like he was in possession of some wonderful great secret, that he was sure would cause him to explode with joy. That is what being in a real Catholic parish with the traditional Mass, the sacraments, fellow believing Catholics, and wonderful and holy priests is like.

    I pray all Catholics will know this feeling. God bless.

  66. B. says:

    Fr. Fox:
    No, I meant to emphasize rather that my interactions with them—both online and personally, but not in the context of my own parishes—have been negative. And my point was to give counsel, to those who are traditionalists attached to the 1962 Missal (exclusively or not), that this sort of thing is hurting their cause, and the cause of restoring tradition in general.

    I would agree that many tridentine-onlyists are being overy agressive or otherwise hurting their cause by their behaviour.
    But I have to say (and I’m not saying that is what you wrote, I’m more saying this as a general comment) I find it rather unfair that oftentimes people get automatically labeled extremists at best and schismatics at worst for being tridentine-only, be it priests or laymen. It is unfair, because it is absolutely no problem to be Novus-Ordo-only. If it was OK to go for the total abolition of the TLM in 1969 and it is still OK to actively pursue this as a bishop today, why is it not OK for people to hope that the NO will one day go away? I don’t see the difference. Why is it, that no priest would ever get into trouble for refusing to say the old mass (OK this is more hypothetical), yet Fr. Bisig gets removed from the head of the FSSP for refusing to say the New? Why is it, that Fr. Laguerie is now in trouble in Bordeaux because he doesn’t want the New Mass said in St. Eloi, yet no priest would ever get in trouble for not allowing the Old Mass in his parish?
    Is it not so that the outlawing of anything traditional, and the unfair treatments of Traditionalists especially in comparison to the liturgical amok-runners that has made many Traditionalists so bitter and agressive in the first place?

  67. Catholic Lady says:

    “Put on then, as God’s chosen, holy and beloved people, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience. Forgive one another; and if one has a complaint against another, as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also forgive. And above all these things put on charity, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And always be thankful – – – And whatever you do in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3: 12-15,17).

  68. Brian Mershon says:

    “Could this be true? That there’s no authorization anywhere for versus populum celebration.”

    There is no document issued by the Second Vatican Council nor any Roman congregation that specifically and explicitly said Mass should change from the immemorial custom of facing God to facing the people. Archbishop Ranjinth enforced this very point in his introduction to Fr. Michael Uwe Lang’s book in Rome, Turning Toward our Lord.

    Father Z. is right that the NEW AND IMPROVED GIRM (it certainly is)presumes and allows for Mass being said in any direction. However, prior to the past 30 years, the Church did not legislate publicly with hundreds and hundreds of documents thatn nobody reads. Immemorial custom still maintains that Mass should be said facing God. And along with the GIRM allowing for Mass facing God and immemorial custom, and Archbishop Ranjith’s comments, why aren’t all priests now facing God instead of being disobedient to the immemorial custom of the Church?

  69. Brian: Not only that! The actual rubrics of the N.O., when read carefully, really presume that Mass is being said ad orientem versus. There are specific directions for the priest to turn away from the altar and then turn back to it.

  70. anon says:

    “There is no document issued by the Second Vatican Council nor any Roman congregation that specifically and explicitly said Mass should change from the immemorial custom of facing God to facing the people.”
    No, but Inter Oecumenici #91 and 95 certainly makes versus populum a legitimate option.

  71. RBrown says:

    “There is no document issued by the Second Vatican Council nor any Roman congregation that specifically and explicitly said Mass should change from the immemorial custom of facing God to facing the people.”

    No, but Inter Oecumenici #91 and 95 certainly makes versus populum a legitimate option.

    How did an option become an obligation?

  72. In The Spirit of the Liturgy and elsewhere, Cardinal Ratzinger made it clear that he thinks versus populum celebration unwise, pastorally as well as theologically. And he has said, “I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy.”

    Would anyone deny that this “disintegration of the liturgy” started with and centers around versus populum celebration? In that it led to and leads to most of the familiar practices that dilute faith and worship? Or that the single step that would most quickly re-enchant the liturgy would be a general return to ad orientem celebration?

    Of course, our Holy Father knows all this at least as well as any of us here; he himself wrote most of these things that the rest of us only read. So can anyone suggest why he would not, in his coming post-synodal exortation, recommend ad orientem so strongly as to effectively mandate it where immediately feasible, and elsewhere as soon as reasonably possible?

  73. AC says:

    Everyone, i’m affraid, is missing the point. most priests, most, i’m saying, who say they’d like to do this or
    that like pray the mass toward the Lord (if the Lord is actually present in an altar and not hidden in a side
    room somewhere) will alwats say they need something new, in writing, before they’ll do it. this is their way of
    not actually being called on the carpet for not doing it. We all know there’s nothing banning it. We all know
    the Holy Father has said he prefers it. So no more excuses. If a priest isn’t doing it, in most cases, it’s because
    of a natural fear he feels because he knows what the reaction from the non-catholics at his parish will be. It’s
    not a great reality but it’s a reality. If we don’t like it, find an indult. Seek out the traditional Mass and
    don’t worry about piecemeal things like this.

  74. AC: He also wrote, years ago, when saying that the ad orientem Mass is in many ways superior, he also said that it would be wrong suddenly to change everything back. The sudden change inflicted decades ago, cannot be corrected by another sudden change.

    So, which part of the Holy Father’s thought should be ignored this time?

  75. Ben D. says:

    How did an option become an obligation?

    I thought the question, as posed by Brian Mershon, was whether offering Mass versus populum constitutes a liturgical abuse, in the juridical sense. If it’s a legitimate option, it can’t be a liturgical abuse, strictly speaking. I think that was the only point of anon’s comment.

    The Holy Father also wrote, in Spirit of the Liturgy, that a reasonable compromise on this point might be to place a crucifix on the altar, opposite the priest and facing him, when mass is offered versus populum.

    that’s not to say i don’t believe all sacraments are not valid
    simply because they’re not in the old rite. but because of all the liturgical abuse, i cannot be certain from parish to parish so i choose to avoid it altogether.

    AC, from this comment and from things you’ve said in other comments on other threads, I’m wondering how you understand sacramental validity, specifically with regard to the confection of the Blessed Sacrament. I would love to have a cool-headed, substantive discussion of this topic, on this thread or a new one — I continually get the impression that some people think that a lot more is required for validity than actually is required. Matter, form, and intention are the only things required. St. Thomas Aquinas is very clear in his treatise on the sacraments that the proper intention is expressed when the minister of the sacrament uses the words given by the Church (which also covers form). And he explicitly denies the claim that the minister of the sacrament must have a certain amount — or any amount — of faith, even in the sacrament itself.

    As food for thought, here’s one relevant quaestio from the Summa (Q. 64 of the Third Part). In English:

    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4064.htm

    And in Latin:

    http://www.corpusthomisticum.org/sth4060.html#49739

  76. AC: You wrote: “Everyone, i’m affraid, is missing the point. … If a priest isn’t doing it, in most cases, it’s because of a natural fear he feels because he knows what the reaction from the non-catholics at his parish will be.”

    Over the line. “Everyone” missing the point? And you, I suppose, are our master teacher. Friend, some people here have probably already forgotten more about these issues than you will ever know.

    “Non-Catholics at his parish”? How condescending. You paint with the brush of non-Catholic those with whom you don’t agree.

  77. So, which part of the Holy Father’s thought should be ignored this time?

    One might suggest because that since Cardinal Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI, what was a subject for speculation then may be a matter of serious obligation. To the extent that a reasoned theological and pastoral argument cannot now so readily be dismissed with a snap judgment expressed in a cliché like “sudden damage cannot be remedied by sudden correction”. Maybe not, but give us a similarly reasoned argument, and then we might take the arguments equally seriously.

    On a slightly different level, I recall a story of a now famous pastor who arrived in his new parish one morning in July. By noon the tabernacle had been retrieved from its closet and was again centered behind the altar, and by 3 pm the trashy paperback songbooks had all been collected from the pew racks and thrown in the dumpster out back.

    Asked why he’d moved so fast, he said “What you don’t get done in the first week gets a lot harder later on”.

    I’m afraid Pope Benedict has made his job a lot harder by not getting it done already. I hope and pray he nevertheless has the fortitude to get it done. Surely, better late than never.

  78. RBrown says:

    How did an option become an obligation?

    I thought the question, as posed by Brian Mershon, was whether offering Mass versus populum constitutes a liturgical abuse, in the juridical sense. If it’s a legitimate option, it can’t be a liturgical abuse, strictly speaking. I think that was the only point of anon’s comment.

    It’s not a question of liturgical abuse in so far as it doesn’t violate anything. It’s more a question of being more a symbol of a meal than a sacrifice.


    The Holy Father also wrote, in Spirit of the Liturgy, that a reasonable compromise on this point might be to place a crucifix on the altar, opposite the priest and facing him, when mass is offered versus populum.

    I didn’t read it that way. To me he was referring to those churches with free standing altars. I don’t think he meant it to be a way to say mass with a picnic table placed in the middle of the sanctuary.

  79. Ben D: I may be one of those who sometimes wonder whether more is required for validity than actually is.

    Matter, form, and intention are the only things required. …. And he explicitly denies the claim that the minister of the sacrament must have a certain amount—or any amount—of faith, even in the sacrament itself.

    And I’m still wondering how these two statements fit together. I’ve always assumed that “intent” meant that the priest intends to do what the Church intends be done.

    So suppose a priest knows that the Church intends transubstantiation, but he himself does not believe in the Real Presence, he thinks it’s just a symbol. Further, let’s suppose he believes all this Church stuff about sacrifice and transubstantiation is simply empty superstition, and explicitly intends none of it. So when he says the words of consecration, it would seem (in the ordinary meaning of the word) that his intent is not that of the Church, and therefore is defective. Am I wrong?

  80. Ben D. says:

    Further, let’s suppose he believes all this Church stuff about sacrifice and transubstantiation is simply empty superstition, and explicitly intends none of it. So when he says the words of consecration, it would seem (in the ordinary meaning of the word) that his intent is not that of the Church, and therefore is defective. Am I wrong?

    Yes, if I read St. Thomas correctly. Here’s what he says. You can follow either of the links I posted above and look at article 9 of question 64 (of the Third Part of the Summa Theologiae, for new listeners):

    “I answer that, As stated above, since the minister works instrumentally in the sacraments, he acts not by his own but by Christ’s power. Now just as charity belongs to a man’s own power so also does faith. Wherefore, just as the validity of a sacrament does not require that the minister should have charity, and even sinners can confer sacraments, as stated above; so neither is it necessary that he should have faith, and even an unbeliever can confer a true sacrament, provided that the other essentials be there.”

    That’s the general answer. For something more specific, look at the reply to the first objection (my emphasis):

    “But if his faith be defective in regard to the very sacrament that he confers, although he believe that no inward effect is caused by the thing done outwardly, yet he does know that the Catholic Church intends to confer a sacrament by that which is outwardly done. Wherefore, his unbelief notwithstanding, he can intend to do what the Church does, albeit he esteem it to be nothing. And such an intention suffices for a sacrament: because as stated above (8, ad 2) the minister of a sacrament acts in the person of the Church by whose faith any defect in the minister’s faith is made good.”

  81. dcs says:

    So when he says the words of consecration, it would seem (in the ordinary meaning of the word) that his intent is not that of the Church, and therefore is defective.

    That would be my guess, but I’m only a layman and no theologian. Conversely, a priest who doesn’t believe in transubstantiation but who believes the Church doesn’t intend it, either, would validly confect the Sacrament. But I sure wouldn’t be comfortable assisting at the Mass of a priest who does not believe what the Church teaches about the Mass, much less receiving Holy Communion from him.

  82. Ben D. says:

    dcs, how do you understand the excerpts from St. Thomas that I quoted above? I can’t see how, in light of what he says, the theological opinions of the minister could have any bearing on the validity of the sacrament, as long as he pronounces the sacramental formula accurately.

  83. RBrown says:

    And I’m still wondering how these two statements fit together. I’ve always assumed that “intent” meant that the priest intends to do what the Church intends be done.

    So suppose a priest knows that the Church intends transubstantiation, but he himself does not believe in the Real Presence, he thinks it’s just a symbol. Further, let’s suppose he believes all this Church stuff about sacrifice and transubstantiation is simply empty superstition, and explicitly intends none of it. So when he says the words of consecration, it would seem (in the ordinary meaning of the word) that his intent is not that of the Church, and therefore is defective. Am I wrong?

    We’ve covered this before. Minimal intention is to intend to do what the Church does. Minimal Intention is a general intention, not an intention that is specific for every sacrament.

    Thus for all the Sacraments the minimal intention is the same: To intend to do what the Church does. This is a general principle. There are NO specific principles of minimal intention. And so MI does not vary with the various Sacrament, e.g., Transsubstantiation for the Eucharist, forgiveness of sin for Confession, etc.

    Thus if the minister of any sacrament only intends to do what the Church does and has no specific intention of Transsubstantiation, etc., the intention is valid.

  84. Andrew says:

    I’ve read through most of these comments – and it seems to me that a question related to the original post remains unanswered: namely, how is it that we believe that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church, and yet, it often seems to contradict our everyday experience?

    Actually, the answer is rather simple. Fidelity to the Church is a matter of inner, spiritual assent. It cannot be observed in any way. We don’t see other people’s consciences. Christ knows His sheep and they are out there. When Elias was almost ready to give up he was told not to despair: “With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant: they have destroyed thy altars, they have slain thy prophets with the sword, and I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away.” And the answer was: “I will leave me seven thousand men in Israel, whose knees have not been bowed before Baal, and every mouth that hath not worshipped him kissing the hands.” And Jesus’ words are also important: “The kingdom of heaven is like a net cast into the sea, and gathering together all kind of fishes. Which, when it was filled, they drew out, and sitting by the shore, they chose out the good into vessels, but the bad they cast forth. So shall it be at the end of the world.” Most amazing is the attitude of Moses: when God tells him: “Let me alone, that my wrath may be kindled against them, and that I may destroy them, and I will make of thee a great nation.” Moses prays for the people whom he cannot excuse, saying: “Why, O Lord, is thy indignation enkindled against thy people, whom thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt, with great power, and with a mighty hand? Let not the Egyptians say, I beseech thee: He craftily brought them out, that he might kill them in the mountains, and destroy them from the earth: let thy anger cease, and be appeased upon the wickedness of thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou sworest by thy own self, saying: I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven: and this whole land that I have spoken of, I will give to your seed, and you shall possess it for ever. And the Lord was appeased …” Actually, mercy is hard to understand. Justice seems easier, as long as it is not aimed at me.

  85. dcs says:

    dcs, how do you understand the excerpts from St. Thomas that I quoted above? I can’t see how, in light of what he says, the theological opinions of the minister could have any bearing on the validity of the sacrament, as long as he pronounces the sacramental formula accurately.

    I understand them to mean that a man who intends “what the Church does,” even if he believes the Church does “nothing,” validly confects a Sacrament, not that a man who knows what the Church intends but intends something else entirely necessarily validly confects a Sacrament. So one could be mistaken in one’s theological opinions if one still intends what the Church does, but if one intends something other than what the Church does then one does not validly confect the Sacrament. How one could actually have such a defective intention is not at all clear to me, however.

  86. RBrown says:

    dcs, how do you understand the excerpts from St. Thomas that I quoted abbove? I can’t see how, in light of what he says, the theological opinions of the minister could have any bearing on the validity of the sacrament, as long as he pronounces the sacramental formula accurately.

    It depends. If his theological opinions deny Transsubstantiation, but his intention at mass is to do what the Church does, that intention is valid.

  87. Joshua says:

    “If his theological opinions deny Transsubstantiation, but his intention at mass is to do what the Church does, that intention is valid.”

    Chances are though that if he is a heretic (for it is heresy to have such an opinion) on this point, and knows what the Church intends is transubstantiation, then he could not without violation of the law of noncontradiction have minimal intention. That is, he would probably intend something other than what the Church intends and knowingly too. Granted, however, that even formal denial of transubstantiation could allows him to have the minimal intention, in and of itself, yet one who is formally heretical on this point would at least be likely not to align his will with a minimal intention with the Church. At least my opinion

  88. RBrown says:

    Chances are though that if he is a heretic (for it is heresy to have such an opinion) on this point, and knows what the Church intends is transubstantiation, then he could not without violation of the law of noncontradiction have minimal intention. That is, he would probably intend something other than what the Church intends and knowingly too. Granted, however, that even formal denial of transubstantiation could allows him to have the minimal intention, in and of itself, yet one who is formally heretical on this point would at least be likely not to align his will with a minimal intention with the Church. At least my opinion

    It’s possible that someone would be formally heretical–that’s why Sacramental Form is necessary. If the sacramental form is changed to contradict the essence, then invalidity is in play.

    NB: Priests can confect the Eucharist because they have received Sacramental Power by ordination. It is this Sacramental power, combined with Sacramental Form and Matter, that permits minimal intention. The Eucharist is not a rite of witchcraft in which the power is in the magical words, potions, or intention.

  89. Dan Hunter says:

    Ben,
    I have been to mass where at the consecration the priest says,”This MEANS my body.This MEANS my blood.
    Is this still a valid mass?
    God bless you.

  90. Ben D. says:

    Is this still a valid mass?

    Can’t see how it could be. Seems to me this is precisely the situation where the intention of the Church is not expressed and so the Sacrament is not confected.

    I have to say that’s the most extreme thing I’ve ever heard of. I was shocked when I first read your other post where you mentioned that. I wonder how many people have seen similar things?

    The Eucharist is not a rite of witchcraft in which the power is in the magical words, potions, or intention.

    True, but there is power in the words all the same, at least according to St. Thomas. Not magical power, but power given by Christ, whose human words raised the dead and healed the sick. From article 4 of question 78 (Third Part):

    there is in the words of the form of this sacrament a created power which causes the change to be wrought in it . . . . For since these words are uttered in the person of Christ, it is from His command that they receive their instrumental power from Him, just as His other deeds and sayings derive their salutary power instrumentally, as was observed above

    dcs, you said How one could actually have such a defective intention is not at all clear to me, however.

    Sad to say, Dan Hunter has witnessed an example. I don’t think it would be enough for the priest simply to “think” against the intention of the Church; St. Thomas says that the intention is expressed in the words. Think of a man who signs a contract while crossing his fingers or imagining to himself that he doesn’t really mean it. Doesn’t really matter, does it? He’s still expressed his intention to abide by the terms of the contract.

    So, it seems to me, a validly-ordained priest who pronounces the words of consecration over valid matter without expressing anything that contradicts those words, has expressed the intention of the Church.

    yet one who is formally heretical on this point would at least be likely not to align his will with a minimal intention with the Church

    Joshua, if you follow this thought to its conclusion, it seems to me that you would end up saying that if a priest is distracted while he consecrates, then the Eucharist is not validly confected. Or does that not do justice to what you said?

  91. David says:

    Is it not so that the outlawing of anything traditional, and the unfair treatments of Traditionalists especially in comparison to the liturgical amok-runners that has made many Traditionalists so bitter and agressive in the first place?
    And, yet, despite all the awfulness of the last 40 years we shall still be ultimately judged according to our charity. And so in the midst of the toe-curling, banal masses that we are forced to attend because there is nothing that is celebrated in line with the GIRM we must forgive from the bottom of hearts and try to free ourselves from bitterness. Christ’s Church will not be served by my monomania about the liturgy.

    What makes this all the more hard is that an attitude of bitterness about the state of the Church is, from a human perspective, entirely understandable. It seems that everything is permitted except anything that smacks, even if ever so slightly, of a “pre-Vatican II mentality” (which is often in reality completely in line with Vatican II – just not with the infamous “Spirit of Vatican II). There are polka masses, clown masses, “Celtic spirituality” masses – all these are seen as wonderful and innovative – but woe betide anyone who even expresses an interest, let alone a preference, for the Traditional Latin Mass!

    I personally find myself in a difficult position as I have made the decision to persist with the Novuus Ordo in order to be at the periphery of the Church. However, my heart still breaks for the beauty, the reverence, and the clear Eucharistic theology of the Traditional Roman Rite. And, on those occasions when I attend the Traditional Latin Mass my heart breaks because I feel I that I have separated myself from the body of the Church.

  92. David says:

    I wanted to say: Christ’s Church will not be served by my monomania about the liturgy as entirely understandable as that may be.

  93. David says:

    I obviously didn’t have enough coffee this morning:

    I personally find myself in a difficult position as I have made the decision to persist with the Novus Ordo in order not to be at the periphery of the Church.

  94. Tom S. says:

    David’s comment above says so eloquently and pointedly what I have been feeling for so long. Thank You David.

    It gets so difficult to deal with when, for years and years the further removed any liturgical act can get from tradition, the more it is applauded. I admit that it has on occasion gotten to the point were I literally can not bring my self to go to mass. That is sad, but true. The behavior of the congregation and even sometimes the clergy is literally sickening. Last week, for example, during the “sign of peace” the family in front of me saw fit to get on and climb down the length of the pew to high-five and rub elbows, which allowed me to notice that the punk-looking teenager of the group had his clothing adorned with pentagrams… PENTAGRAMS!!!

    And yet, I am made to feel like a misfit because all I want is a modicum of respect for the eucharist – no matter which rite is celebrated. Other than the occasional pleasant suggestion or question, I have never gotten in anybodys face over the liturgy, but I can honestly relate to those who have. And I think that think whole NO versus TLM debate (aside from those who say outright that the NO is pupely heretical) is all based on the feelings that David, and now I, have expressed.

    Yes, I have a preference, but I am flexible. The thing that I am NOT flexible about is the rampant offensiveness of the behavior of so many people. Though it should not be a surprise, considering the path that we (as a church) have been following for the past 40 years. When disrespect of tradition is condoned (even encouraged) don’t be surprised when disrespect of everything else follows in it’s wake.

    So, I hate that some of the “trad” people are being jerks to their priests. I haven’t and never will because A) it’s wrong B) it’s counterproductive and C) I’m just not good at being a jerk. Yet, I cannot help but relate to those who just get fed up. I know I am.

  95. David says:

    I’ve been thinking about this quite recently. There has been a war against tradition these last 40 or so years now that has it’s roots much further back than the 1960’s. Anything in the liturgy, the architecture, the language of the Church, and even the the vestments that are suggestive of the Church’s own tradition are treated as at best an embarrasing relic and at worst indecent and not in line with the “post-conciliar Church”.

    I was received into the Church last Easter and have joined a Gregorian chant choir that sings at Novus Ordo Masses. I was surprised to find out that the reason we wouldn’t be able to use the lace cottas that we were able to dig up was that lace meant “Tradition” and that obviously meant we thought we were “more Catholic than the Pope”. So we had to shell out and by some plain, “politically acceptable” cottas instead!

    Seminarians in certain colleges are actively discouraged from wearing the soutane for similar reasons.

    And then, again in my own case, the warning I had that I might jeopardise a teaching position in a Catholic school if it was known that I sometimes attended a Traditional Latin Mass and an indult one that.

    Something is very wrong. It’s as if we (the Church I mean) have to fight against anything that bespeaks of the liturgical, moral, spiritual, theological traditions of the Roman Catholic Church as otherwise that would be somehow a “betrayal of Vatican II”.

    I often hear that one of the best fruits of Vatican II was to remove the separation between people and priest – to put an end to “clericalism”. But, in reality, what we have seen has been clericalism at its very worst with bishops, priests, and self-appointed laypeople and “experts” imposing their own idea of the new Church onto the people in the pews. This type of clericalism is all the more pernicious as it fights under the banner of anti-clericalism. How little there is that is done “in the name of the people” that in the end really is for the people? :-(

  96. RBrown says:

    Is this still a valid mass?

    Can’t see how it could be. Seems to me this is precisely the situation where the intention of the Church is not expressed and so the Sacrament is not confected.

    I have to say that’s the most extreme thing I’ve ever heard of. I was shocked when I first read your other post where you mentioned that. I wonder how many people have seen similar things?

    Why would you refer to intention? The problem in that example would obviously be with Sacramental form.

    The invalidity would be a consequence of invalid form–the form having been essentially changed.

    The Eucharist is not a rite of witchcraft in which the power is in the magical words, potions, or intention.

    True, but there is power in the words all the same, at least according to St. Thomas. Not magical power, but power given by Christ, whose human words raised the dead and healed the sick. From article 4 of question 78 (Third Part):

    there is in the words of the form of this sacrament a created power which causes the change to be wrought in it . . . . For since these words are uttered in the person of Christ, it is from His command that they receive their instrumental power from Him, just as His other deeds and sayings derive their salutary power instrumentally, as was observed above

    Of course, the words have power because they designate the matter (Hoc est enim corpus meum). But such designation is only effective because the designator, the priest, has Sacramental power.

    And so when a layman says the words over proper matter, there is no transsubstantiation.

  97. RBrown says:

    Let’s do this again:

    Is this still a valid mass?

    Can’t see how it could be. Seems to me this is precisely the situation where the intention of the Church is not expressed and so the Sacrament is not confected.

    I have to say that’s the most extreme thing I’ve ever heard of. I was shocked when I first read your other post where you mentioned that. I wonder how many people have seen similar things?

    Why would you refer to intention? The problem in that example would obviously be with Sacramental form.

    The invalidity would be a consequence of invalid form—the form having been essentially changed.

    Is it possible to edit comments?

  98. David says:

    Something is very wrong. It’s as if we (the Church I mean) have to fight against anything that bespeaks of the liturgical, moral, spiritual, theological traditions of the Roman Catholic Church as otherwise that would be somehow a “betrayal of Vatican II”.

    Just to expand on this. I think that in the same way a person can be in a state of repression – trying to pretend to himself he is happy, and getting more manic as times goes on and more aggressive towards suggestions that he might not be as happy as he wants to think he is – so can the institutional Church. It’s not heresy to look facts in the face.

    Ok, the New Springtime did not come. Can we please now get over that fact and now work to rebuild what has been left us of the Church? Remaining in a manically-grinning, eye-twitching state of denial will not help anything.

    But we all need to do something to rebuild the Church, but to do something with the love of Chris in our hearts so that we don’t try rebuild out of a spirit of bitterness and self-righteousness.

    Father Z. – and all the priests who visit this blog – help us know how we can help you in this endeavour.

  99. EVERYONE: Housecleaning notes 

    First, the first word(s) of your comment ought to be the NAME of the person you are addressing or responding to. Make this a hard and fast rule here.

    Second, quote only the necessary minimum of a text, so that you can identify what you are going to address.

    Let\’s use the via negativa now.

    Don\’t just plunge in without providing a clue to the one you are talking to.

    Don\’t bog everyone down in too much text. Get to the point.  Don\’t bog the blog.

  100. David says:

    do something with the love of Chris in our hearts

    In case anyone called Chris who read that above is feeling confused but flattered, I feel I have to point that there was a slight typo there!

  101. Tom S. says:

    David asks the question that really needs an answer.

    Fathers, what can we do ??? Or rather, what SHOULD we do to maximize our effectiveness?

  102. dcs says:

    Ben D. writes:
    Sad to say, Dan Hunter has witnessed an example. I don’t think it would be enough for the priest simply to “think” against the intention of the Church; St. Thomas says that the intention is expressed in the words. Think of a man who signs a contract while crossing his fingers or imagining to himself that he doesn’t really mean it. Doesn’t really matter, does it? He’s still expressed his intention to abide by the terms of the contract.

    It doesn’t really matter legally (one is bound to a contract one signs — as long as one is not coerced* — regardless of one’s internal disposition) but somehow I think the Eucharist might be different. I don’t think it is Donatism to speculate that a priest might have a defective intention even though the form he is using is a valid one. If the intention is expressed in the words of the form, then why bother to say that form, matter, and intention are required? Why not just say that form and matter are required?

    *What if a priest is coerced into celebrating Mass? Is it still valid?

  103. dcs says:

    RBrown writes:
    Is it possible to edit comments?

    Not really. How would the blog software know that this person or that is really RBrown? Remember that this isn’t a forum, so commenting is relatively crude by that standard.

  104. Ben D. says:

    dcs,

    If the intention is expressed in the words of the form, then why bother to say that form, matter, and intention are required? Why not just say that form and matter are required?

    This puzzles me too. I’m going here primarily on Question 64 of the Tertia Pars of the Summa Theologiae, which I’ve linked to above both in English and Latin. Everything I’ve read there suggests to me that form and intention are, for most practical purposes, inseparable. One example I recall, from an undergraduate theology class, of a situation where the form would be correct but the intention would be lacking would be this: someone is filming a documentary about the liturgy, and it’s time to film a “consecration”, but mass isn’t actually underway. And so the priest announces, before pronouncing the words of consecration and before the cameras start running, that this is not really a mass, or this is not really a consecration, or something to that effect. Maybe a similar situation could arise in a seminary during some sort of “liturgical training”, I don’t know.

    Both of these cases would fall under what St. Thomas describes in the reply to the 2nd objection, Question 64, article 8 (Third Part) (my emphasis):

    “Consequently, others with better reason hold that the minister of a sacrament acts in the person of the whole Church, whose minister he is; while in the words uttered by him, the intention of the Church is expressed; and that this suffices for the validity of the sacrament, except the contrary be expressed

    It seems to me that in most “real-life” situations, though, the form and the intention are going to be more or less indistinguishable.

    Rbrown, you seem to want to distinguish form and intention more sharply than this. Can you explain a little more? If I’m misunderstanding St. Thomas, can you show me where and how?

  105. RBrown says:

    It doesn’t really matter legally (one is bound to a contract one signs—as long as one is not coerced*—regardless of one’s internal disposition) but somehow I think the Eucharist might be different. I don’t think it is Donatism to speculate that a priest might have a defective intention even though the form he is using is a valid one. If the intention is expressed in the words of the form, then why bother to say that form, matter, and intention are required? Why not just say that form and matter are required?

    First, I follow St Thomas–his theology of the Sacraments is Christological (Christ is the principal priest in every celebration of every Sacrament). I have little use for the contractual approach, which was sponsored by the Jesuits.

    Second, as I noted above, the intention of the Church is expressed in the Sacramental Form–and so minimal intention is that the priest intend to do what the Church does.

    These exchanges confirm what I already knew: Conservatives tend to be formalistic, and Liberals tend to overemphasize intention.

  106. RBrown says:

    Everything I’ve read there suggests to me that form and intention are, for most practical purposes, inseparable.

    They’re distinct, but the form reflects the intention of the Church, which is why minimal intention is sufficient for validity.

    One example I recall, from an undergraduate theology class, of a situation where the form would be correct but the intention would be lacking would be this: someone is filming a documentary about the liturgy, and it’s time to film a “consecration”, but mass isn’t actually underway. And so the priest announces, before pronouncing the words of consecration and before the cameras start running, that this is not really a mass, or this is not really a consecration, or something to that effect. Maybe a similar situation could arise in a seminary during some sort of “liturgical training”, I don’t know.

    That’s an obvious example of the priest not having minimal intention, both the form and matter being valid.

    But there is an easy way to circumvent the problem: Have a deacon act out the part of the celebrant in the filming.

  107. David, Tom:

    Thanks for your question — it is a question I’ve been trying to answer (without being asked!) for some time in a lot of these blog-conversations, here and elsewhere.

    This is a shameless plug, but I have talked about this on my blog, and I will again and again.

    But for now, I say this:

    > See how you can work with your pastor. It should be obvious that a positive approach, not “in your face,” works better. I realize you probably don’t have a pastor just itching to pursue a “reform of the reform” — but you might (I am). That said, you may find he is interested in some things.

    > Others will disagree, but I think you have to be prepared for a piece-by-piece approach. It just takes time to get all the pieces in place: servers well trained, readers well trained, the sanctuary and nave well appointed, and cleansed of the wrong stuff, the music director on board, the choir well trained, etc.

    > So even if you can’t get all you want, you may get parts; that has value in itself, both as a building-block for the future, and as a preservative from things getting worse.

    > Be willing to DO SOMETHING. Suggestions are fine; joining the choir, or being a reader, or a server-trainer, is far better.

    > If there’s a problem that needs to be addressed, there are ways to communicate that to your pastor; it works better not to threaten or bluster, not to button-hole him as he’s shaking hands after Mass or in the sacristy, but to have a quieter conversation another time; make an appointment if need be.

    > It helps if you already know your pastor, and he knows you, as someone who is involved and helping do things. Such people instantly have more credibility with me than someone I’ve never seen before, with whom my first contact is a problem, a complaint, or something more for me to do.

    > The fact that a lot of priests don’t want to cause lots of upset can work for you. That’s a reason to let your feelings be known, in a nice but clear way.

    > You can always write notes from time to time, commending certain things, suggesting certain things (without demands or threats); and as long as you aren’t too obvious about it, have others do the same on their own.

    Of course, some pastors are dead-set on what they are doing, and none of this may seem to do any good. (It might, still, keep things from getting worse.) I understand there comes a time when you move on, or invest time in other things. That said, it never works to lose your temper or go for bluster — that simply makes his resistance justified (“See, I told you he was a nut-job”).

    There is surely more to say, these are my quick thoughts.

  108. Tom S. says:

    Fr Fox

    Thanks for the advice. I have already do a little bit of that (thanking the Priest for a change for the better). But, now I will just do what you suggest and keep on trying. Nice of you to answer.