Someone alerted me to this note in a parish bulletin in (alas in truly inconvenient pdf format which it makes it a pain in the patience to rework – folks, don’t ever think of sending me pdfs or gifs or jpegs. Just transcribe. God will reward you and I will be grateful).
In any event, the accompanying note said:
This "survey" from St. Gualberts in Cheektowaga regarding Summorum Pontificum is absolutely shameless, brutal and disingenuous. Belief it or not this priest does say the Traditional Latin Mass on occasion at a chapel. Is this the ultimate in going throught the motions?
So, what to make of this very odd 5 August bulletin entry from St. John Gualbert Church in Cheektowaga, NY, where Fr. David Bialkowski is pastor?
My emphases and comments.
I WANT TO KNOW YOUR OPINION!
As you know from the secular press, [Maybe he thinks his people don’t read Catholic publications?] His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, will allow the Tridentine Mass to be celebrated throughout the Universal Church without restrictions, which means no longer does a priest need permission from his bishop to celebrate the traditional Mass, effective September 14, 2007, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. The Roman Rite will now have two forms: the ordinary and extraordinary. The ordinary form will be the Mass as we know it. The extraordinary form will be the Mass as celebrated before the changes implemented following Vatican Council II. This extraordinary form can take place daily and once on Sunday. In our diocese we have the Latin Mass celebrated twice on Sundays: Our Lady Help of Christians on Genesee and Union at 1:30 p.m. and at St. Anthony’s behind City Hall at 9 a.m. In both these instances, the attendance is made up of many who commute from various parts of the Diocese of Buffalo to attend this Mass because they have a spiritual attachment to it. Now that all parishes will be able to celebrate this form of the liturgy, we can begin to consider whether or not it is feasible or desirable to do so in our church. I am under the impression that most parishioners do not feel this is necessary since they are very comfortable with the liturgy as is, but I could be wrong. However, I would like to know how many registered members of St. John Gualbert Parish would actually like to see the Latin Mass celebrated here in our parish. Since I know how to celebrate the Latin Mass, [well done] I would be willing to consider having a Sunday Latin Mass once a month at 9 a.m. or 12 noon, If a significant number of registered households really would like to have it here. There are some concerns I have: it seems to me many people are no longer used to it and are happy with the way things are; the training of servers is very involved, and then there is always the question if a Latin Mass will polarize a parish which would defeat the purpose of the Latin Mass since Pope Benedict said he is allowing it for unity in the Church. To make an informed opinion on this matter, I ask you to consider the following:
• Your participation will be entirely different at a Latin Mass. Some feel they are nothing more than mere spectators and not participants at a Latin Mass, while others claim [Does this foreshadow McBrien? Probably not.] participation in this Mass is on an interior level in the mystery being celebrated before our eyes. The reverence can be either aweinspiring or leave one feeling distant and completely uninvolved, as responses to prayers are not made by the congregation, but rather by “altar boys” who represent you. Some people have told me that they feel they weren’t at Mass. [I have heard a lot of people say they haven’t been to Mass by attending the Novus Ordo the way it is celebrated in some places.]
• There will be no lay lectors proclaiming the readings or Special Ministers of Holy Communion. Even a deacon is not allowed to distribute Holy Communion. No Communion from the cup and no Communion in the hand. Remember, only his fingers of the priest are consecrated to touch something so sacred as the body of the Son of God! An altar boy will be holding a paten under your chin lest a single particle fall to the ground and someone – even unintentionally – would trample underfoot on the body of Christ. [But…but… this is sounding pretty good!]
• No females will be allowed in the sanctuary for serving. [Better and better!] Only boys and adult males will be allowed to serve. Also, only the boys trained to serve this Mass will be able to serve, excluding most of our altar boys. Teaching boys the Latin responses may take several months. [Nah… not that long. I would be interested to know how long it took some of you to learn them. Months?]
• The missalette you use for participating at Mass will be useless because of different prayers and readings. If you still have your old missal in a dresser drawer, now will be the time to dig it out and bring it to church like you used to. [Sounds fine!]
• You will receive Holy Communion kneeling IF your physical condition allows you, otherwise you may stand. Receiving Holy Communion in the former manner will be a challenge in our church since unfortunately most of our beautiful marble communion rail has been removed. I’m not sure how we can even do this without people falling. [You know… this isn’t so hard to solve.]
• Protestant hymns such as Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, Just a Closer Walk with Thee, will not be sung. Also contemporary hymns such as On Eagles Wings, Be Not Afraid, You Are Mine, won’t be sung either because they are not in keeping with the “Catholicness” of this Mass. [What’s up here? Is he putting so on? Is he trying to set up straw men that can be easily blown down? It is true that some people, not many, are attached to those songs. But most people… well… I think they won’t be missed very much. So, what is his game here?]
• There will be no procession with gifts, no Prayer of the Faithful and no Sign of Peace. [Where do I sign up?] The intention of the Mass will be announced before the priest delivers his “sermon”.
• The length of the Mass would be the same, although communion might take longer since only the priest distributes. A lot more people go to communion today than years ago. [And probably shouldn’t without going to confession at least… well… sometime in the last who knows how many years.]
• There will be much silence and reflective moments [ahhhhhh] during this Mass; so much so, you might be tempted to think the priest forgot his place in the missal.
• The readings can be proclaimed in English as permitted by Pope Benedict in paragraph 6 of his motu proprio, however, they are not the readings of the current Mass. The Tridentine Mass has completely different Scripture readings with only one Epistle.
• The priest will not be facing the congregation [AHHHHH] when he celebrates this form of Mass. His position is ad orientem, which means he stands in the same direction with you, since he is representing all before the throne of God. When he turns around for the greetings “Dominus vobiscum” with eyes downcast, he represents Christ to the congregation. The ad orientem position is also called facing east, which was the liturgical direction for Mass since time immemorial. Facing east is in the direction of the rising sun, which represents our attentive waiting for the Second Coming of Christ who will return from the east. This liturgical position of the priest means that for the most part, his personality is suppressed, and because of the strict rubricism of this form of the Mass, he will appear almost robot-like at the altar.
Okay… I get the sense that he is really trying to get his people to think of this in a positive way. He tosses some oddities at us here and there. Still… it is very odd.
You can chime in.
What’s his game? Is he positive or negative?