California Catholic on the Motu Proprio

The California Catholic has an interesting piece by a layman about his experience of attending the older form of Mass.  Biretta tip to Fr. AL for this.   o{]:¬)   

He thinks some problems need correction before the older use can be as effective in the Church as many hope it will be. 

My emphases and comments.

Published: July 22, 2007
Do the Old Rite Right

The return of the Tridentine Mass is the reemergence of the stern, old Patriarch just when we were beginning to have fun

Notes from a Cultural Madhouse

By Christopher Zehnder

Since Pope Benedict XVI freed up the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass in his Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, I’ve heard oft-repeated the comforting assurance, “The Tridentine Mass only appeals to a very small percentage of Catholics. Most Catholics are happy with the rite of the Mass celebrated in the vernacular.”  [This is The Party's line.]

I call this an “assurance” and “comforting” because one of the greatest fears of “progressive” Catholics is the return of the Bad Old Days before Vatican II — the days when the “Spirit” did not dash about the Church as freely as It does today. The “Tridentine” Mass, of course, is for many the symbol of that oppressive past, just as wisecracking celebrants, “Glory and Praise,” altar girls, and liturgical dance routines are of the age of liberation.  [An exaggeration to make a point?  I think in most places Mass was simply not very interesting, especially on account of the lousy translations.] The return of the Tridentine Mass is the reemergence of the stern, old Patriarch just when we were beginning to have fun.

I don’t mean to spoil anyone’s party, but it is, perhaps, premature to say that most Catholics are happy with their typical parish Masses, especially when they’ve never experienced anything else. Anyone who has been condemned for a time to eat institutional food knows that, after a while, one’s initial disgust with it wears off. One may even begin to enjoy the slop. What of those who have never known better food?  [The food analogy has been used on WDTPRS many times.] What would happen if, instead of greasy chicken-fried steak, they were suddenly presented with a well-cooked cut of beef? Some, of course, may want to stick with what they’ve been used to, but others – many others – may find they like good food and come to regard the old fare with a species of disgust.  [My home parish was St. Agnes in St. Paul (MN - USA).  I can assure you that the way the Novus Ordo was celebrated there makes most (not all!) of the celebrations of the older Mass I have seem less than splendid.]

This has, indeed, been the case for many Catholics whose only experience of the Mass has been through the “liturgical renewal” that began in the late ‘60s. It’s not just Old Folks who attend the Tridentine Masses. The number of young people who come to prefer the Old Rite might increase when and if it becomes more widely available – especially since most younger people who remain in the Church tend to be devoted to “old-fashioned” orthodoxy.  [I sure hope this is the case.  I wonder if this is so?]

The number of younger people attending the Tridentine Mass might continue to grow, if devotees of the rite and the priests that serve them carefully cultivate its beauties and draw from it the richness that is found in Catholic Tradition.  [Could that not also be said of the Novus Ordo?  Isn't that really an important point of the M.P.?   All Masses should be celebrated that way.]

I myself am not what one would call a doctrinaire devotee of the Tridentine Mass. I prefer, in fact, the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, which I attend on Sundays. I have even [?] assisted at celebrations of the Novus Ordo – said in Latin, with incense and Gregorian Chant – that I would choose over many a Tridentine Mass I’ve attended. [My point, above.]  And I have been to many Tridentine Masses — Solemn High Masses, High Masses, Missae Cantatae, and low Masses. I have witnessed profoundly beautiful celebrations of the Old Rite – more beautiful, I admit, than anything comparable in the New Rite – so I know just how exquisite the Tridentine Mass can be. I have even [?] attended low Masses in the rite that have been quietly moving.

If such celebrations became common, I fear the worries of progressives about the liberalization of the Old Latin Mass might prove quite well-founded.  [It seems to me that this makes the point in a backward way, but he is right.] But my experience of most of the celebrations of the Old Rite leads me to fear that richly beautiful celebrations of it may prove to be few and far between, at least in California and other states.

For the most part, the Tridentine Masses I’ve been to have been low Masses, hurriedly said and sloppily executed. The priests seem to make it a point to get through the ritual as quickly as they can and the people – despite the Pope John XXIII’s permission of the dialogue Mass – do not make the responses which belong to them. [Okay... here is where the real marrow of the piece is found.  This writer has a serious concern and I share it.  In some places I have been, the "dialogue Mass" is the style while in other places, if people in the pews make responses (as Holy Popes and pre-Conciliar legislation prompted, they are glared down by the hardened vets of the "and choir servers only" school.  That has to stop.  I consider that to be a serious mistake and one which could prove to be harmful for the spread of the use of the older form.  My reasons for this ought to be obvious.]  At one church with the indult, the Gloria is often not sung, only the Kyrie – presumably because it would make the Mass last too long. And by the time the Kyrie is finished, the priest is well into the Epistle.  [Well... that is just the way it goes with the older form sometimes.] Thus, the people are able corporately to express their longing for God but not their praise for Him in that glorious hymn.  [Does the writer errs, like most liberals do, in thinking that you cannot participate actively by listening?] At another parish that had the indult back East, the priest admitted to me he did not speak the words of the canon, but read them silently to himself. When I expressed my surprise, he quipped, “but that’s the way it was done before the Council!” Presumably he knew, for he had said the Mass before the council.  [Yah... presumably he knew!  That's right!  Priests interested in these things actually do find out how things were done, rightly or wrongly.]

Poor celebratons of the Tridentine Mass, it seems, characterize illicit celebrations of the rite as well as those under the indult. [If you are wondering what this means, and you had to read it a few times, I think the point is that the SSPXer don't do any better.]  Some years ago, I attended a Requiem Mass for a relative said by a priest who had refused to say the Mass of Paul VI when it came out and had, ever since, been celebrating the Tridentine Rite at various locations in Southern California. I expected that a priest who had rebelled over the Mass would understand its beauty and celebrate it accordingly. I was wrong. His Mass was like an magical incantation done slapdash. A Druid priest, I think, would have blushed to pronounce his spells the way that priest read the Dies Irae.  [The writer makes a good point.  People in the congregation, and the sacred ministers, must be able to see the priest's love of the sacred action in his words and gestures.  However, that doesn't not mean that the priest must try to wring every possible drop of meaning out of every word and motion.  How intolerably precious that would be?  I have seen priests and deacons and lectors and cantors, etc. do that in the newer Mass for years.  It is like drowning in maple syrup, like being squeezed to death by an overly perfumed aunt.There is a balance between just reading the words and letting the words be effective and, ton the other hand,he priest enhancing them for the sake of greater comprehension. If the priest is well-formed and he is imbued with the Baptist's sense of "He must increase, I must decrease" his enhancements will be judicious.  This is what the last Synod's reflections and the Pope's post-Synodal Exhoration focused on: ars celebrandi.  As St. Augustine described about preachers in De doctrina christiana, there are preachers who have brilliant talent , for whom speaking and teaching comes naturally, others who are not naturals whose holiness comes through.  When you have those with both talents and holiness, people have a great gift.  Training can improve both the gifted and the less gifted.  But Augustine prefers those who are holy and less eloquent to those with great talents and no holiness.] 

Those who love the Tridentine Mass often call it “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.” Though a Byzantine or a Coptic Catholic might dispute this, his refutation would not come by the way I’ve seen the Tridentine Mass so often said. The Tridentine Mass is indeed beautiful, but like anything done, its beauty is only revealed by a careful attention to the way it’s done. The Tridentine Mass has beauty, but it is a delicate beauty that requires the cultivation of devotion.  [Repetitious, but accurate.]

Those who love the Tridentine Mass, I think, have to lay aside any preferences arising from memory or personal predilection [Excellent!]  and seek out what the Church has required of the liturgy since the days of Pope St. Pius X. Some Catholics, for instance, seem to treat the Mass as an avenue for private devotion and so object to congregational responses or singing. But the congregation of the faithful at Mass is not a chance gathering of individuals but the worship of the Church, the Body of Christ, through its Head. The fullest expression of this as a sign comes through corporate responses to prayers and the singing, at least, of the ordinary chants – the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and the Agnus Dei. [I am on board with making the responses.  I am also on board at times having congregational singing when it can be done... and it can be!  At St, Agnes in St. Paul there developed over time a Saturday morning Mass sung in Latin, in Gregorian chant, wherein the congregation sang the Ordinary with the schola.  People have their Kyriales and it works.]  Private devotion, of course, is necessary, but it’s best when it is expressed through personal engagement in the prayers and ritual of the Mass. Though Pope Pius XII reminded us that exceptions can be allowed, [how gracious]  the normal means for devotion is the missal, not the rosary.

Corporate, external worship is what, of course, Vatican II’s Sacrosanctum Concilium called for; and, it is important to remember that the Council fathers had the Tridentine Mass, not the Mass of Paul VI, in mind when they approved that Constitution. [Exactly!]  If we want the Tridentine Mass to be something more than a haven for the disaffected, as its opponents claim it is; if we want it to spread its leaven throughout the entire Church; if, in a word, we want it to be missionary – we must learn to see it through the real liturgical reform that, beginning with Pius X, includes Sacrosanctum Concilium.  [Well put!]

The Council called for “full and active participation of all the people” in the liturgy. This, of course, does not mean primarily external gestures, but internal devotion.   But being, as we are, creatures of body as well as soul, external actions – praying and singing aloud, crossing oneself, kneeling, standing where appropriate – are not only the natural expressions of interior devotion; they inspire it. [I hope he got all this from WDTPRS!  o{];¬)]  More importantly, external participation in the liturgy serves as a sign of the Church, which has Christ as her head and the people as her members. We are, after all, a “royal priesthood, a kingdom of priests and a holy people."  [Joseph Ratzinger's constant point in his liturgical writings.]

Priests who say the Mass have to themselves, as the Council says, “become fully imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy.” But so do we laymen. We, together with the clergy, have to open ourselves to accept the liturgy’s full potential as a sacrament of Christ’s love for mankind. And if we do, I’m convinced that the Tridentine Mass could become a powerful, if not the most powerful, means by which the Holy Spirit works to reform and renew the Latin Church. And, who knows, a renewed Tridentine Mass, celebrated according to the fullness of tradition, cleansed of the novelties of the 1960s (and the 1950s), might even end up drawing in those who most fear and hate it. The liturgy, after all, is a very powerful grace.  [Is there any other kind?]

A very good offering from a sincere layman.  There are sincere reflections here, based on his personal experience, which all lay people who attend the older Mass – and the priests who attend to them – would do well to ponder.

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34 Responses to California Catholic on the Motu Proprio

  1. AM says:

    Is it always permitted to say the responses aloud, if one wishes to, when assisting at the extraordinary rite? Or is it only appropriate when stated to be a “dialogue” Mass?

  2. John Hudson says:

    With regard to the laity singing the ordinaries, at the FSSP parish in Vancouver these are sung antiphonally with the choir. The male voices in the choir sing one bar, then everyone sings the next bar. It works very well. The people in the congregation who don’t have strong voices and lungs have time to get a good full breath between the parts that they sing, and the choir keeps everyone in tune.

    I’ve also been to parishes where everyone sings all of the ordinaries, usually where there is either no choir or only a very small schola. Usually this is less good, because many people in the congregation can’t sing through incises or don’t know how to breath during chant, so they end up inserting too many pauses in the chant and the rhythm gets lost.

    I was really surprised the first time I attended a traditional sung Mass in which it was quite obvious that the congregation was *not* encouraged to sing the ordinaries. There was a very good schola, which was a joy to listen to, but I felt the lack of the kind of ‘actual participation’ to which I had grown accustomed in Vancouver.

  3. Dusty old priest says:

    Retired from an active apostolate due to age and health, I offer the Old Rites in private with an indult. Once in a great while I’m dusted off and plopped into an indult group for the celebration of the Mass for them.

    Among the many things I hope the MP will help to address are, the number of people who come into the sacristy while I am trying to vest, (and say the vesting prayers) and otherwise ready myself spiritually, to ask who ordained me, when, where and if I am aware of this or that “Seer” who warned against priests ordained by this or that bishop, or this or that rite. I know it won’t stop, but I hope it does reduce in frequency.

    The FSSP has a good course on how to reverently and rubrically offer the Mass fron the 1960 MR. As a Latin English Brevarium Romanum (Vulgate Psalter) is soon to be published, I hope for the sake of priests who have either never been exposed to it, or have forgotten that they also offer a course in the Breviary.

    Patience and education, I can remember the early days of the NOM, song leaders and lectors prepping the congregation (usually those who arrived early where there to pray the rosary and not to sing) leaving the brunt of the congregation unprepaired for the Liturgy or the melodies.

    While the MP is not all I hoped it would be, it does advance the cause, and I hope is a step to re-introducing one of the Traditional Latin Rites back to popular use, I hope the Dominican, Ambrosian, Carmelite and other uses return along with it, in order to demonstrate the wide variety of spirituality in the Church, Eastern and Western. (When too ill to offer Mass in private, but not too sick to stay in bed, I assist at a local Eastern Rite parish.)

  4. Dusty old priest: Among the many things I hope the MP will help to address are, the number of people who come into the sacristy while I am trying to vest, (and say the vesting prayers) and otherwise ready myself spiritually, to ask who ordained me, when, where and if I am aware of this or that “Seer” who warned against priests ordained by this or that bishop, or this or that rite. I know it won’t stop, but I hope it does reduce in frequency.

    My favorite is, “Father, can you hear my confession?” just as you are putting on your chasuble and everyone is standing around.

  5. Michael says:

    When Pius X revived chant, did he mean to bring an end to the great polyphonic and orchestral Masses of the past thousand years?

    At St. Agnes in NY, during the year, they use polyphonic Masses, which are absolutely beautiful and elevate the mind to God, but I get the feeling that most reform of the reformers realy don’t like these kinds of Masses because they impede active participation. Correct me if I’m wrong. No place I’ve ever been to has sung the Credo without the congregation, and the result is that the most beautiful part of these polyphonic and orchestral Masses gets cut out for the sake of active participation, when most people’s minds would be even more elevated if they were allowed to stand and take in the beauty. The same is true of Gregorian chant.

    Compare what Fontgombault does with chant to what you hear your congregation doing on Sundays. There’s a right and a wrong way to sing it. Just like any piece of music, it’s supposed to be sung in a certain way that one can only master with years of training. I don’t think we can expect parishoners to master this technique. It takes time and musical literacy. I for one would rather hear Gregorian chant sung by a good all-male choir which can give it the dignity it deserves than hacked to pieces by an enthusiastic congregation belting it at the top of their lungs. When it comes to chant, I have no problem stepping aside and letting someone else sing it for me since they can give it the beauty that I know it deserves but can’t give it myself.

    If listening and contemplating the actions of the liturgy is just as much active participation as singing, then why does the Kyriale have to be sung by the congregation when this would deprive it of so much of its beauty and solemnity? I get what they’re going for, but is it really worth the sacrifice?

    This was a good article though, and addresses an important problem with how the 1962 Missal is celebrated today. Low Mass is the norm. I have a feeling this is because the veterans at most indult Masses want what they had before the council. Although it was a million times better than what we have now, the 1960s Low Mass is not the liturgy that is going to rebuild Christendom. I have a very orthodox friend who really wants to give the Tridentine Rite a chance, but can’t get past the fact that all the objections he was brought up with keep circling through his mind during the Mass. It’s frustrating to take the 45 min, subway ride and then get what is essentially a private Mass with 300 people assisting. I really want to take him to a Solemn High Mass, but I’d probably have to drive at least 2 hours to find one.

    I’m not saying a Low Mass doesn’t have it’s place in a parish Church, since there’s really no other way to do daily Masses, but that High Mass really ought to be the norm on Holy Days. Low Mass is a simplification of a Solemn High Mass, which makes the Solemn High Mass the truest expression of the 1962 Missal. So why then is it so rare? Since the Low Mass started as a private Mass for the priest, all the ritual is obviously exists for him, not the congregation. And in a society that been brought up on all of these cliches about the exclusivity of the old Rite and the incomprehensibilty of it’s prayers and ritual, we’re not going to win anyone over with a Mass where the people kneel throughout most of it and the priest reads the epistle facing East. People need to have access to the Classical Use in it’s truest form, otherwise their suspiscions will be confirmed and they’ll reject it before they even know what it is they’re rejecting.

  6. Carl H. Horst says:

    I have to take issue with Mr. Zehnder and Fr. Z on this one. Regarding the Novus Ordo in Southern California, Zehndner has it right. Is he exaggerating? Not from my experience. It is as bad as he says and worse. Fr. Z cites St. Agnes in St. Paul. To paraphrase Fr. Z this is an analogy that has been used many times and is irrelevant outside St. Agnes.

    Zehndner maintains many young people who remain in the Church are attracted to the Traditional Latin Mass. From what I have seen over 30+ years, he is correct. I have lived in the San Diego area for over 30 years. I helped Msgr. Andreatta, Fr. Neely and the current chaplains with the Traditional Mass in San Diego. For 25+ year our congregation has consisted of 300+ men and women who attended the TLM every Sunday – - the only day on which the TLM is allowed. The demographics of our congregation have changed significantly over the past 20 years. Presently, nearly half of this congregation is made up of young men and women – - under 50 years of age – - many with infants and small children.

    So far Zehndner’s comments about poor Masses and the Dialogue Mass, all I can say is that it did not happen in San Diego. In San Diego, two TLMs are offered every Sunday – - at least one of them is a Low Mass, devoutly offered. Since the time of Fr. Neely (1991-2004) the Dialogue Mass has been fully implemented in San Diego – - at both the Low Mass and the High Mass. Requiem Burial Masses have been offered when needed for 20+ years. Not one of them fits the description Mr. Zehnder provides.

    Mr. Zehnder may well have observed what he reports, but as I said before, it did not occur in San Diego.

  7. William A. Torchia, Esquire says:

    Dear Father Z:

    Your site is so superb that it is difficult to write this comment. May I in all humility suggest that your Comments in red be saved for the end of an article for several reasons, which are only my opinion and impression.

    They are very distracting; many are so long that I cannot remember how the original sentence you are commenting upon started, and have to go back and reread it; many seem unnecessary, as the meaning of the words is obvious; they make reading the article more laborious, as they are distracting; no other traditional site that I have seen interrupts the text of an article and stops the flow of the reader’s concentration and thinking process; and, emotional words, symbols, and phrases do not add to the calibre of the site.

    Thank you for giving your kind attention to this matter. There is no intention to offend you, but to offer constructive criticism which would, in my opinion, improve how you present the articles.

    Respectfuly submitted,

    William A. Torchia, Esquire
    Attorney at Law
    1528 Walnut Street, Suite 1220
    Philadelphia, PA 19102
    215-546-1950
    wtorchia@msn.com

  8. Guy Power says:

    The TLM indult held in Santa Clara, California, was properly celebrated by the FSSP until the indult was withdrawn (on the eve of a Latin Mass Parish being erected). Additionally, the NO mass was sung in Latin — while it was still here. The aged father who used to sing the NO mass in Latin retired and one of the local fathers took over the Mass.

    Father told me he quit offering the Latin NO a few months later because “the people did not respond.” I think they did not respond because father would just speak the Mass… it truly felt empty. So sad. These priests belong to an Order which has a strong Latin foundation, so I have been told; therefore, it seemed strange that they did not want to sing the Mass. A member of the schola told me earlier he requested our pastor sing the Mass, but the pastor declined stating he would not sing, only recite (not to be confused with the earlier father I mention). The schola member told me that the Mass is required to be sung (dunno if that is true or not).

    Currently the “Extraordinary Form” is celebrated (quite properly, respectfully, and elegantly) by the ICKSP at the Oratory of Our Mother of Perpetual Help …. not only on First Saturdays, but every Tuesday, Friday, and four times each Sunday.
    http://www.perpetual-help.org/
    I will be interested to see if this remains the lone “Latin Mass Reservation” in San Jose, or if other parishes will eventually offer the Extraordinary Form.

  9. Richard says:

    In regards to his point that those young people who have remained in the Church are of the “good, old-fashioned type”, and your comment that you hope this is so, Father, I would offer this observation:

    I am a 29-year-old Catholic who underwent a pretty profound reversion right around my 21st birthday. At my college Newman Center, it would suffice to say that there were the solid, orthodox types like that which I had become (I figured that if I was going to devote my life to something, why go half-ass?) and many of the less-orthodox. Since then, I can tell you that many of the orthodox types are still practicing Catholics for the most part while those who weren’t just sort of faded out of the picture, once having to face real moral decisions like whether to live with a boy- girlfriend, etc. The philosophies which were most important to them which they tried to fit incomplete precepts of Cathlicism into just didn’t stand to the test.

    What I began to notice then and am noticing more and more now that there doesn’t seem to be an equal number of orthodox and heterodox young Catholics attending Mass nowadays because the heterodox young Catholics just don’t stick around or rarely find something which grabs them about going to Mass every Sunday to listen to a homily whose instruction is tantamount to that one would get from and after-school special. And they either haven’t been taught or find it too demanding to believe in the Eucharist, so what’s the point to them? So you find mostly orthodox young Catholics today as the ones attending Mass, etc., because if some young people were at one point Catholic but not too orthodox, they just don’t go to Mass anymore.

    I think the same can be said about young men discerning the priesthood nowadays. If they are not orthodox, they just aren’t sticking around anymore the Church anymore altogether.

  10. Guy: “Latin Mass Reservation”

    Hmmm…

    “Latin Mass Ghetto”?

    “Latin Mass Bastion”?

    “Latin Mass Harbor”?

    “Latin Mass Oasis”?

     

  11. PMcGrath says:

    Father:

    You may want to have a Red & Black Fisk of this offering from the Catholic Virginian

    Hat tip on this to Rich Leonardi, who asks, “How many buckets of cold water can one diocese throw at the recent papal ‘edict?’”

  12. fr.franklyn mcafee says:

    With all respect to those who disagree,I find your remarks intertwined amidst the words enjoyable and most entertaining.They would lose much of their delightfulimmediacy if placed after.

  13. Augustine says:

    Does anyone know of a video of St. Agnes’ Novus Ordo Mass?

  14. Richard says:

    Hello Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    1. First – a very good essay. I hope it is read widely in the Church – and reflected on. There are dangers we must all be aware of as Summorum Pontificum is implemented over the coming years. This article points many of them out.

    2. I am not sure corporate repsonses are always necessary or even fitting, especially if a well trained schola is available and chanting the fixed prayers, as Michael rightly points out. But neither should it be resisted as some kind of creeping modernism, either. There’s room for both approaches.

    3. I for one don’t midn the “fisking” style commentary. I have come to associate it with the general delightfulness of this WDTPRS blog. But I can see how it might bother others.

    Keep up the good work, as always,

    best regards
    Another Richard

  15. Xavier says:

    I, too, like Father Z.’s “talk radio” style. Those not accustomed to it may simply read the article through first while skipping over his commentary. This is easy to do as it is in red.

  16. Henry Edwards says:

    Complaints about silent low Masses puzzle me. Occasionally I yearn for a nice quiet low Mass, but would have to drive at least a couple of hundred miles to find one.

    Today was standard Sunday fare for our local indult Mass. With the people singing the ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) and all the usual responses–fairly well with strong organ and choir support–and the choir alone singing the propers (introit, gradual, communion verse, etc) as well as quite beautiful renditions of Franck’s Panis Angelicus, Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, and Adoro te devote during Holy Communion. And with the usual comments afterwards, about how reverent and inspiring it all was, from the usual young first-timers.

    My impression from several indult communities is that this is the more typical norm, and that the old-style low Masses (whatever their merits for those of us who love them) are the exceptions. At any rate, it’s been quite a while since we here enjoyed our last Sunday low Mass (while our choir was still getting off the ground), and even it was a full-fledged dialogue Mass with organ, hardly the deadly quiet affair of rumor.

  17. athanasius says:

    In some places I have been, the “dialogue Mass” is the style while in other places, if people in the pews make responses (as Holy Popes and pre-Conciliar legislation prompted, they are glared down by the hardened vets of the “and choir servers only” school. That has to stop. I consider that to be a serious mistake and one which could prove to be harmful for the spread of the use of the older form. My reasons for this ought to be obvious

    I used to think that way, until I began hearing Low Mass without the dialogue rubrics, and I found it to be profoundly more reverent and beautiful to meditate on the liturgy, rather than worrying about making responses. I found it much more spiritual and solemn to not say them, as did generations of Catholic saints. It is the high Mass where dialogue should be made, in sacred chant, imho. If we are going to insist on the rights of those who prefer to make the responses, what about the rights of those who don’t? Would it not be possible to have Low Masses with and without dialogue? Personally, I prefer High Mass anyway, and I think Mr. Zehnder (who is an acquaintance of mine, we used to go to the NO in Latin together before the Bishop forbade the laity to go) makes a fine point that many Masses will not reach into the glory of the Tradition, which surpasses the best the Novus Ordo has to offer, and it is sad. Yet I would hate to see the same principle which for 40 years denied the Mass of the saints to average Catholics applied to deny Low Mass as the Saints experienced. If we are going to be pro-choice as regards to liturgy, let us be so. Let us not forget that the dialogue Mass was not mandated in the rubrics, but an option unless I am quite mistaken.

  18. Xavier says:

    We seem to already be fumbling the essence of the Traditional Rite; the desire to worship the Lord with His own heavenly worship. It isn’t a matter of whether we “prefer” the dialogue Mass or the schola Mass. It’s a matter of which best reflects the worship we will give the Lord in Heaven. There must exist an ideal Mass. Perhaps the general Catholic congregation will not tolerate it and it will be isolated in monasteries, but it should be acknowledged just the same, and we should be aware when we deviate from it.

    How come we can agree almost unanimously on what is the best way to play baseball; that there exists an ideal form of the game that we will legislate to the Nth degree, but not on something as important as the Mass?

  19. Michael J. Houser says:

    Adveniat Regnum Tuum!

    Fr. Z:

    I presume you were being facetious in your remarks about the priest who was on the epistle before the Kyrie was finished. That is not just the way it goes with the 1962 Missal; presuming we’re dealing with a high Mass, the priest should be intoning the Gloria after the choir’s Kyrie, even if he has to wait a few minutes. Simply going ahead into the epistle would be quite an abuse; after all, at a High Mass the epistle should be sung, too.

    The only way I could think of where this MIGHT be legitimate is at a “low Mass with choir.” I have been at some of these where the choir sings certain Mass parts like the Kyrie, not as an integral part of the liturgy as in High Mass, but as a sort of “background music”, as one also sometimes sees a “low Mass with organ,” in which there is instrumental music during much of the action. In such a setting, I suppose one might in fact be reading the Epistle while the Kyrie is sung, although even at a low Mass it seems to me the people should preferably be able to hear the Lessons.

  20. Michael J. Houser says:

    Adveniat Regnum Tuum!

    Fr. Z:

    I presume you were being facetious in your remarks about the priest who was on the epistle before the Kyrie was finished. That is not just the way it goes with the 1962 Missal; presuming we’re dealing with a high Mass, the priest should be intoning the Gloria after the choir’s Kyrie, even if he has to wait a few minutes. Simply going ahead into the epistle would be quite an abuse; after all, at a High Mass the epistle should be sung, too.

    The only way I could think of where this MIGHT be legitimate is at a “low Mass with choir.” I have been at some of these where the choir sings certain Mass parts like the Kyrie, not as an integral part of the liturgy as in High Mass, but as a sort of “background music”, as one also sometimes sees a “low Mass with organ,” in which there is instrumental music during much of the action. In such a setting, I suppose one might in fact be reading the Epistle while the Kyrie is sung, although even at a low Mass it seems to me the people should preferably be able to hear the Lessons.

  21. Michael J. Houser says:

    Sorry for the double post.

  22. Maureen says:

    Obviously the Mass is the Mass.

    Equally obviously, it’d be nice if all Latin Rite parishes offered an ordered variety of styles of Mass of both forms — as the seasons and feasts of the Church year provide occasion to do. That way, everybody’d keep familiar with everything, and everybody’d get a little of what they like best. Spinach and chocolate are both tasty, but in totally different ways.

  23. Jonathan Bennett says:

    I’m not entirely convinced about the Dialogue Mass. I know it is common for some of the congregants at the TLM I attend and serve at to make the responses, but many do not and this seems to be the preffered way- for the servers alone to make the Latin responses. I do not really see much value in a Dialogue Mass.

  24. Gregg the obscure says:

    FWIW, Mr. Zehnder was raised in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. He and I attended an LCMS college together for a year. He, being wise and receptive to the movings of the Holy Ghost, entered into full communion with the Catholic Church in 1983. (Memory of our discussions helped impel me to the same conclusion in 2001.) He is a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College.

    There’s quite a pipeline from St. Louis to Rome.

  25. Dana Cole says:

    I’m reading a wonderful book on the Mass called “The Bridge over the World,” first published in 1932 and now re-published by Roman Catholic Books. It was written for the layperson, but is not pablum–it’s insights are as inspirational and profound as any you find in spiritual classics. Anyway, at the beginning of the book the author states that the priest represents Christ and the servers represent the people. So I have no problem with the servers alone saying the responses. If I’m trying to say the Latin responses, my mind is engaged in a technical exercise–if I am reading the English responses silently, I can truly lift my mind and heart to God.

  26. Father Anon. says:

    With respect, I must agree with those who have been saying positive things about the non-dialogue Mass. I have been saying the Tridentine Mass for quite a few years in my parish. The Mass here has never been a dialogue Mass, based on my own experience with the dialogue Mass and how confused the responses tend to be when people try to join in. Again, with respect to those who different views on this issue, I think the non-dialogue Mass is much more reverent.

  27. Richard Papcun says:

    A few comments on the Dialogue Mass: It is true that sometimes newcomers are stared down when their responses disturb the silence. That is because the Dialogue Mass is an option and within the authority of the celebrating priest. No layman has the “right” to the Dialogue Mass.

    Fr. Gerald Ellard and others tell how the Dialogue Mass started illegally in the early teens of the twentieth century. It gained acceptance by Rome as an experiment by PPXI, was embraced by the liturgists who loved novelty, and then codified into a permanent “option” in 1958.

    Essentially it is a bastardization of Pope St. Pius X’s desire for lay participation in singing the High Mass parts. At least in the U.S., the thesis was that the singing the High Mass was too difficult, and that the Dialogue Mass would be a good transitional step. Instead, it took on a life of its own, and, in my opinion, led straight to the Novus Ordo.

  28. athanasius says:

    Simply going ahead into the epistle would be quite an abuse; after all, at a High Mass the epistle should be sung, too.

    This all depends.

    At a Missa Cantata, there is only the chanting of the epistle, because there is the priest alone. At a solemn High Mass, while the subdeacon chants the epistle, the priest reads in a whisper the epistle, with the deacon attending. Of course you are right that it would be an abuse, I’m merely noting that it is entirely possible for him to have jumped that far if he was in that much of a hurry. Don’t ask me why, when the epistle is sung it will provide more than enough time for him to read.

  29. M Kr says:

    If there is a sung or High Mass on Sundays and Holy days, there is not so much need for a dialogue mass. Having been born in the eighties, I can’t say first hand, but from what I hear, low mass was too often the norm in the U.S. If High Mass had been the norm for Sundays, I don’t think there would have been as much hankering after the dialogue mass.

    Thoughts?

  30. Christopher Zehnder says:

    Father Zuhlsdorff et al,

    This is my first time on this web site — I had not known of it until a Callifornia Catholic Daily reader alerted our readers to the commentary on my piece. A brief point. In my essay I was thinking more of Sunday Mass, which I think should be gloriously sensual, with smells and bells and all that, as much as possible. In regards to how a priest says the Mass, I wasn’t recommending histrionics but simply apparent reverence and care. And, yes, listening is a form of participation. However, a congregation singing or otherwise making the responses seems to me a fuller sign of the character of the Church of God at worship. I would prefer to leave silent low Masses to weekdays unless there are multiple Traditional Masses on Sundays (of course, I don’t make these decisions.) But, then, I’m a converted, hymn-singing Lutheran and, as Dorothy Day said, the bottle never ceases to smell of its liquor. And I love the Byzantine Rite. Greetings to Gregg the Obscure and Athanasius.

  31. “I think the same can be said about young men discerning the priesthood nowadays. If they are not orthodox, they just aren’t sticking around anymore the Church anymore altogether.”

    That too is my impression. Just remember that orthodoxy is not limited to supporters of the Mass of John XXIII. I come from a very Charismatic parish, where the NO is said strictly in accordance with Missal. We have one young man in seminary and several teens seriously discerning the priesthood. All are solidly orthodox. It can best be summed up by our seminarian, “Why would a man give up his life for a watered down Christianity?”

  32. Sorry for the followup comment.

    “Father:

    You may want to have a Red & Black Fisk of this offering from the Catholic Virginian

    Hat tip on this to Rich Leonardi, who asks, “How many buckets of cold water can one diocese throw at the recent papal ‘edict?’”
    Comment by PMcGrath — 22 July 2007 @ 4:29 pm”

    I am, unfortunately, in that diocese. We’ll see if they publish my scathing comments on the editorial. I’ll link it later if they do, or send it to Father Z (so He can post it if he wishes) if they don’t.

  33. “…in other places, if people in the pews make responses (as Holy Popes and pre-Conciliar legislation prompted, they are glared down by the hardened vets of the “and choir servers only” school. That has to stop. I consider that to be a serious mistake and one which could prove to be harmful for the spread of the use of the older form. My reasons for this ought to be obvious.”

    Thank you for highlighting this, Father. I was afraid I was the only one to notice.

    If my experience in Washington DC is any indication, it is not. I remember as a child when people responded “Domine non sum dignus…” I’ve seen the documentation from the Congregation of Rites allowing for this as of 1958, without the distinction of being a dialogue Mass. Try telling that to someone correcting you in the pews, who wasn’t even BORN in 1962, but who attributes the behavior to — and I’m not making this up — “creeping Novus-Ordo-ism.” There’s been a lot of talk about what sort of liberties would be taken with the 1962 Missal, whether readings in the vernacular, or (God forbid!) people joining in the Lord’s Prayer, or whatever else was allowed by 1965. But it seems to me we should all be on the same page before we go further. And for my money, that notion should come from Rome, and based squarely on the missal as it stood in 1962. This, as opposed to the tyranny of an angry (if pious looking) mob.

  34. Benedict (anon this time) says:

    “Among the many things I hope the MP will help to address are, the number of people who come into the sacristy while I am trying to vest, (and say the vesting prayers) and otherwise ready myself spiritually…”

    Or priests! Not aimed as criticism of your comment, Father, but we all (self included) have to remember not to be chatty in the sacristy. The servers should be preparing themselves too.

    (Anon this time to avoid offending any of the priests with whom I serve.)