A priest writes about his love of the Novus Ordo

Here is a counterpoint to the position many of the readers will have.

You should also check out his blog.  You will find that he is a fellow traveler.  This fellow is no liberal.

The Happy Priest: Why I Love to Celebrate the Mass of Vatican II

By Fr. James Farfaglia
10/12/2010

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) – Since the close of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the Catholic Mass of the Latin Rite has been the focal point of intense debate and, in some cases, conflict within the Roman Catholic Church

As a Catholic priest I have been very happy celebrating the reformed liturgy of the Second Vatican Council.  Although I do not have any problem with anyone who has an affinity to the Tridentine Latin Mass (now also referred to as the “extraordinary form”), I personally do not share in that same affinity. Based upon long experience, I firmly believe, that properly understood and correctly implemented, the Mass of the Second Vatican Council is a better liturgy and that there was a real need for the Church to reform the Tridentine Latin Mass. [We shall see if he addresses the fact that what the Council mandated for a reform is not actually the reform we got.]

Unfortunately, many Catholics have been deprived of the beauty of what the Second Vatican Council actually intended.  As a priest, I have made it my mission in life to do what I can to promote a correct understanding and implementation of the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council.  I personally disagree with those who claim that we need a reform of the reform.  I believe that we simply need to implement the reform correctly.

Unfortunately, shortly after the close of Vatican II, the liturgical reforms that the Council set in motion were upset by ignorance, misinterpretation and even infidelity.

I really love celebrating the reformed liturgy of the Second Vatican Council, now called the ordinary form.  I understand what was changed and why. I find these changes to be very beautiful, [There's that "beautiful" again.  I hope there will be examples of what he means.] meaningful and exciting.  The Liturgy, especially the Sunday Liturgy, fills me with intense joy and draws me into the mystery of God.

Why do I prefer the ordinary form of the Catholic Mass?

The use of the vernacular in the liturgy came from the Vatican II document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium.  However, it must be understood that the principles elaborated in this Vatican II document were already being widely developed in what was called the Liturgical Movement which began during the Pontificate of St. Pope Pius X and which became a very intense movement from the Pontificate of Pius XII right up to the opening of the Second Vatican Council (1962 – 1965).  There were even isolated places where the Holy See allowed the use of the vernacular in the Latin Rite before Vatican II.  We should also remember that the Eastern Catholic Church has always used the vernacular in their liturgy.  So, let us keep in mind that the vernacular is not a new idea.  [Is this an example of what is "beautiful"?  The lame-duck ICEL translation?  And if the Eastern Churches used "vernacular", they were not using just common sounding language.]

Personally, I think that the widespread use of the vernacular is good reform from the Second Vatican Council. [Even if we grant that the use of vernacular can be at times of advantage, the Council actually said that Latin was to be retained and that the vernacular could be used at times and in limited ways.   So, if we are dedicated to implementing what the Council actually said, we should be using a great deal more Latin, no?] This is particularly true with the Liturgy of the Word.  However, it was not the mind of the Council, nor is it the intention of the Church today, that the Latin language should be considered something of the past, never to be used again in the Catholic Church.  The liturgical life of a parish must be in the vernacular, ["must" be?  Really?  Why?] but it is also very important that Latin, both in the prayers of the Mass and the liturgical music, should be present frequently throughout the liturgical year.

Nationally, there is an interesting phenomena occurring: while some older priests and laity are repelled by any use of Latin, conversely more and more young priests and laity are finding the use of Latin to be exciting, fulfilling and very spiritual.  Parish choirs directed and filled with young people are singing Gregorian Chant and polyphony.  [And yet parish liturgies "must" be in the vernacular.]

One of the most noticeable reforms of the Missal of Pius V has taken place with the Liturgy of the Word.  In my opinion, this was one of the best reforms because it allows the Word of God to be proclaimed in the language of the people and it provides a greater variety of biblical texts for the enrichment of our spiritual life.  [We could grant this point, though perhaps the three readings on Sunday was not such a good idea.]

The Liturgy of the Word on Sundays and Solemnities is comprised of three selections from the Bible.  Outside of the Christmas and Easter Seasons, the First Reading is always taken from the Old Testament.  During the entire liturgical year, the Second Reading is always taken from the New Testament.  The Gospel passage is taken from any of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  The Liturgy of the Word follows a three year ABC cycle which provides a rich variety of readings from the Sacred Scriptures.

Between the First Reading and the Second Reading, one of the 150 Psalms is sung or said.  The Responsorial Psalm provides a prayerful meditation between the two passages from the Bible[Frankly, I think this is one of the least successful changes in the post-Conciliar reform.] Between the Second Reading and the Gospel, the Alleluia verse is sung or said. [It was ever so.]
The other reform that I really enjoy is the variety of Eucharistic Prayers during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. [I cannot agree.]

For many centuries, the Mass had only one Eucharistic Prayer, which we now call Eucharistic Prayer I. Immediately after the Second Vatican Council, the Church added three more Eucharistic Prayers to the collection. Eucharistic Prayer V, Eucharistic Prayers I and II for Reconciliation, and Eucharistic Prayers of Children have followed since.

Eucharistic Prayer II is an adaptation of the Eucharistic Prayer found in the third century. Scholars believe that Saint Hipolitus composed this prayer.  [Ummm... no, they don't.  That was all pretty much wrong.] Eucharistic Prayer III is a new composition that while similar in some respects to the First Eucharistic Prayer, does incorporate some elements from other sources.  Eucharistic Prayer IV is related to an ancient prayer used in Egypt and later adapted into what came to be known as the Anaphora of St. Basil. [And no one uses it.]

Finally, Sacrosanctum Concilium gave us the words active participation[No, these words and the concept behind them were around for quite some time before the Council.  the Council adopted them and made them a centerpiece of the Constitution on Liturgy.] At the time of the Council of Trent, the Catholic Church was going through a very difficult time.  The sacrificial nature of the Mass, the ministerial priesthood and transubstantiation were all under intense attack from the Protestant reformers.  Therefore, the Church decided that the liturgy should emphasize these essential aspects of our faith.  [Problem: All those things are under intense attack now.  And not just from Protestants, but from within the Church herself.]

The concept of active participation within the Catholic Mass, as understood by Sacrosanctum Concilium and the Liturgical Movement leading up to the Second Vatican Council, restores the proper participation of the laity due to their membership within the priesthood of the faithful. [I am not so sure that we are talking about a "restoration" of active participation, particularly in view of the fact that "active participation" has been so very misunderstood.] Thus, the reformed liturgy of the Second Vatican Council brought about a beautiful [there it is again] relationship between the ministerial priesthood and the common priesthood of the faithful.  [In what way did the older form of Mass not do that?]

On the First Sunday of Advent 2011, we will be using a new translation of the English Mass.  I can’t wait!  What a gift! [FULL AGREEMENT.] In preparation for this great moment in the life of the Catholic Church I will be offering a series of articles regarding the meaning and significance of this important development.

I agree with much of what this priest is saying.  I have seen what can be accomplished by using the Novus Ordo properly, in continuity with our tradition, in fidelity to the books.   However, the parishes where that was actually done, where the liturgy of the Second Vatican Council was actually implemented in that spirit were as rare as hen’s teeth.

While the writer seems to be trying to avoid openly negative references to the older form of Mass, his overarching effect was to … how to say this… run it down as inferior?

He is surely entitled to his preferences.  He gives some reasons for what he thinks, though they are not always crystal clear to me how they fit with the actual mandates in Sacrosanctum Concilium.

At the end I am left with a few questions.

Pope Benedict determined that the older form of Mass was to be more widely available and experienced.  He did this for a reason.  Why?   He sees that our worship has experienced discontinuity and rupture.  Pope Benedict, before his election (and after) has been a proponent of a reform of the reform.  Is the writer out of step with Pope Benedict’s thought?  Perhaps we could frame this in terms of a “new liturgical movement”, rather than a “reform of the reform”.  Either way, if we actually did what the Council asked, we would see in our parishes a Mass that resembled much more the older form.  And if that is the case, if the older form remains the model for the Roman Rite (and I think that is in part what Pope Benedict was signaling), then we are pushed to ask another question: Why not just use the older form?

Realists can answer that, of course.

Another point.

The older form of Mass has a pretty good track record, all in all.  Take a look at a list of saints and try to determine which Mass they attended.  Was it the older or new?   The great centuries of missionary work of the Church were accomplished with which liturgy?  Older?  Newer?  You can go on from there.  The point is that the older form has a pretty good track record.  We don’t yet know what sort of track record the newer form has.   I suppose we could look at the numbers of confessions heard these days, but … I don’t want to pile on.  To be fair, the Novus Ordo has been a short blip so far.  And we haven’t seen it implemented properly.

That said, I can understand quite well what the priest is driving at and I even share some of his views about the newer form of Mass.

I am all for a proper implementation of the Novus Ordo.  Let’s actually give it a shot!  After all, it really hasn’t been tried.

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55 Responses to A priest writes about his love of the Novus Ordo

  1. Jayna says:

    “I personally disagree with those who claim that we need a reform of the reform. I believe that we simply need to implement the reform correctly.”

    This is what I’ve always seen to be the aims of the reform of the reform. It isn’t an attempt to change the dictates of the Council, but to bring the subsequent reforms back into line with the original intent. And it’s catchy. Or am I wrong here?

  2. Oh, Fr. Z, why do you open the can of monkeys and attractor of trolls?

    “Take a look at a list of saints and try to determine which Mass they attended. Was it the older or new? The great centuries of missionary work of the Church were accomplished with which liturgy? Older? Newer? You can go on from there.”

    Yes, and they will. The hostile Orthodox will claim that the schismatic evol Mass of Trent is far outdone by X, Y, and Z masses, five of which I’ll never have heard of. The Celtic Orthodox will bring out the Gallican Mass. The Anglicans will bring out Sarum. Milanese will bring out Ambrose and Augustine, and Portuguese will bring out Braga, and the Spaniards will go about Mozarabic on us. Things will turn very very nasty, and soon we will be hearing that Latin Rite saints either don’t count, or were actually sucking off the last remnants of grace in a heretical filioquial Mass. Meanwhile, every Protestant evangelical group under the sun will emerge to sing the praises of their brand new service, inspired by the Holy Spirit and not the traditions of man….

    Or maybe I’m the only one who’s run into this sort of thing.

    See also “Huge gaping Thermopylean flame-invitations in ‘the Mass of the Ages’ rhetoric.”

  3. Jayna — Yes, you’re right. But the degree of violent change you see in the word “reform” depends a lot on your political position. Me, I’m conservative. I think reform is “throw da bums out”, clean up procedures, and then go home and put your feet up. Liberals, I think, often see it as fire, lightning, storm, and scorched earth, and “you’ll be the first bums against the wall, come the revolution”. This sort of definition difference is a real problem.

  4. Nathan says:

    Thanks, Father, for posting Fr. Farfaglia’s article. I’ve long looked for a thoughtful apologia for the Novus Ordo, mostly because I haven’t found a lot of accuracy in my “trad critique” questions that I’ve posed to pastors and priests for many years.

    To be open, I love the TLM and find it far more in consonance with the mind of the Church than the Novus Ordo. I do, however, go to a reverent and mostly rubrical Novus Ordo for daily Mass. I deny neither the goodwill or orthodoxy of Fr Farfaglia, but I do have a couple of counter-observations.

    –first, at least from the pews, the plethora of options legitimately available in the Novus Ordo is jarring. It seems as if the choice of Eucharistic Prayers, penitential rites, etc. are often “code words” for the priest’s theological and ecclesiological leanings. (How many self-styled progressive priests use the Confiteor, for example?) Does this really have a place at Holy Mass?

    –second, the substance of the Offertory prayers are problematic, even in Latin. This has been discussed ad nauseam elsewhere.

    –third, the removal of explicit references to the Blessed Trinity compared to the TLM seems, IMO, to be unfortunate, especially given the current state of the relationship between the Church and the world.

    –fourth, are the Faithful really getting the fullness of Holy Scriptures in the Novus Ordo, especially since many of the readings have been edited to remove references to sin? Does the removal of so many of the psalm and scriptural references in the prayers (especially in the Offertory) really support the claim that the Novus Ordo is richer in scripture? Is the replacement of the Introit, Gradual, Offertory/Communion antiphons with the GIA and OCP playlist consistent with the claim of the richness of Holy Scripture in the new form?

    I think, from the perspective of the laity, that perhaps the proper implementation of the Novus Ordo may be, especially compared to the current translation and ars celebrendi, spiritually fruitful. However, is the Novus Ordo, even implemented properly, going to (from the perspective of making one receptive to receiving the graces associated with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, not that one form is less of the objective nature of Holy Mass than the other) nourish priests and bishops sufficiently to go into their daily battles?

    In Christ,

  5. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    Father, you hammer him for saying that a Parish’s liturgical life must be in the vernacular. And while he is not entirely clear I think that his previous quote, “This is particularly true with the Liturgy of the Word” says a lot of what he means. And I would agree. If anything were to be changed into vernacular, I think the Liturgy of the Word is the most important part. Sure we can have a missal with the translation, but not everyone can learn best this way. I myself am a far more aural learning. If I hear it, I have a much better chance of retaining it.

    He then goes on to say that Latin should be retained for songs and prayers of the mass, indicating that by saying liturgical life must be in vernacular, he is not excluding Latin. He seems to draw some distinction (which is undeveloped) by using “liturgical life” rather than “liturgy”, as he uses elsewhere, including in that same paragraph. Perhaps liturgical life is to be taken in a broad sense almost akin to parish life, whereby vernacular must be used because, vernacular is of the people, people who generally will not know Latin enough to learn from Latin. They may be able to say prayers in it, but a homily given in Latin will edify very few.

    I agree with you that the addition of the psalm has been poorly done, but I agree with the author that it was a good addition. Where it becomes unsuccessful is that it is often forgot about, done because it has to be, and the mass moves on. I have always secretly longed for a priest to homilize in part or in total, on the psalm. It really and truly is a “fourth reading”. They generally have some connection to what has preceded and what will succeed it. The singing of psalms has a long and venerable history, and since the majority of people will never experience it in LotH, its inclusion in the Mass is, in my opinion, a wonderful thing.

  6. Random Friar says:

    I must be one of the few that ever uses EP IV. I love EP I most, but I like IV. It’s a lovely little synopsis of salvation history. I tend to use III in daily Mass. I’ve used II only a few times (when celebrating at medical facilities where the residents seem particularly tired or feeling ill).

  7. Jacob says:

    As a priest, I have made it my mission in life to do what I can to promote a correct understanding and implementation of the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council. I personally disagree with those who claim that we need a reform of the reform. I believe that we simply need to implement the reform correctly.

    I am the liturgical reform!

    Describing over and over again the NO Mass as the ‘reform of the Second Vatican Council’ is being either ignorant of reality or simply disingenuous.

  8. chcrix says:

    “A fool there was and he made his prayer, (Even as you and I), To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair, (We called her the woman who did not care), But the fool he called her his lady fair. ” Rudyard Kipling.

    O.K. Just kidding. You don’t have to be a fool to like it, and I do not desire to supress the NO, but I also don’t wish to attend it. Even after all these years, that quote still captures my gut reaction to the NO.

    Rare as hen’s teeth? I can safely say I have never witnessed a NO that touched me. I’m sure that there have been some good executions, but I just never ran into one. I actually tried to like one recently. When daily Mass was cancelled at our little EF parish, I went to the nearby EF parish. Dreadful. And it didn’t need to be.

    As an aside, I for one really don’t like the revised readings. To my way of thinking this revision was part of the ‘protestantization’ offensive. I guess I have a streak of Marcionite in me, but it seems that most of the really loopy things that the more ‘interesting’ protestant sects believe are based on misuse of the old testament. Always excepting of course the Book of Revelation.

    There was a youtube clip highlighted on Damian Thompson a couple of days back, and actually seems to have originated with the American Papist:

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100057984/catholic-and-protestant-do-battle-over-the-end-times-and-the-antichrist/

    But be forewarned: really bad language.

  9. Dr. Eric says:

    Our priest uses EP IV as much as he can and practically never uses The Roman Canon, possibly on Christmas and Easter.

    I’ve written this before. Just like the Catholics and Orthodox who in their Byzantine Rites use the DL of St. Basil the Great for solemn seasons, why could we not use the OF with the Roman Canon on Sundays and the EF for big solemnities and their vigil masses – Solemn High Mass for the Feast and Vespers and Low Mass for the Vigil (now that we have vigil Masses that count for HDoO)? This assumes that there is no special Vigil Mass for Solemnities, there very well may be such Vigil Masses on the books- I’m still new to the EF.

  10. Thomas S says:

    I’m surprised Father made no reference to the elephant in the column. How can you address this topic without discussing ad orientum vs. versus populum?

    And yes, I just said “vs. versus.”

  11. Jason Keener says:

    When it comes to the wide variety of texts used for the readings in the Novus Ordo, I am not so sure it was a good idea. Many of the texts used in the Ordinary Form are not easily understood by the laity and are better suited to Lectio Divina. I think a simpler and less extensive selection of readings, as used in the Extraordinary Form, is actually more of a help to the people in the pews.

    Also, I think no other element was as destructive to the proper sense of Sacred Liturgy in the post-Vatican II era as was the near total abandonment of the ad orientem posture on the part of the priest. When the priest began facing the people, it changed the entire dynamic of the Mass and totally zapped the sacred tension from the liturgical proceedings. Also, the abandonment of the ad orientem posture made it easy for anyone to justify, consciously or un-consciously, all kinds of whacky liturgical thinking and practice.

    I argue that the main way to restore proper Liturgy in the Ordinary Form is to re-introduce ad orientem worship. Everything else (music, proper vestments, Eucharistic piety, good translations, etc.) will fall into place when we finally understand and express through the major unmistakable sign of ad orientem worship that our orientation in the Sacred Liturgy is towards God and not each other.

  12. Sliwka says:

    One point I took issue with is that the Eastern Churches did NOT offer the Divine Liturgy in the vernacular for centuries. Maybe the Greek Church did for those in Greece, but the Ukrainian and many other Slavic Churches have the Divine Liturgy recited in (Old Church) Slavonic. Some have shifted to vernaculars (esp. in North America).

    A Ukrainian Catholic (in Canada) I know distinctly remembers relearning all of his prayers in the 1960′s when there was the shift towards vernacular languages.

  13. danphunter1 says:

    I wonder if Fr. has ever read “Work of Human Hands, a Theological Critique of the Mass of Pope Paul VI”?
    http://www.amazon.com/Work-Human-Hands-Theological-Critique/dp/0982686706

    He might think a little differently after reading the account of why Bishop Bugnini et al decided to massacre the Liturgy.

  14. dmwallace says:

    Father Z or Anyone, Can you point me in the direction of recent scholarship on Hippolytus’s anaphora?

  15. Andrew says:

    It is sad to note that some intelligent and well intentioned clerics (I mean no sarcasm) do not know much about the significance of the Latin language, the “Treasury of incomparable excellence” (Pius XII); “wisdom’s golden vestment” (John XXIII); “this regal language in need of being cultivated and promoted” ( John Paul II). It is hard to be on the same page with someone who does not realize that ignorance of Latin is a serious deficiency. Perhaps a small booklet with relevant citations from Popes and from Canon Law regarding the significance of Latin might be very useful.

  16. kelleyb says:

    “Let’s actually give it a shot! After all, it really hasn’t been tried.” Amen
    When I attempt to post , Father Z, I get this message: You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.

  17. Alice says:

    Sliwka,
    As I recall, in Greece the liturgy is still celebrated in an older form of Greek that is either not understood or hardly understood by those who only speak Modern Greek. On an Orthodox forum I used to frequent, someone once mentioned that an English tourist in Athens can find a Divine Liturgy in his native language but a native Greek cannot.

  18. Fr Matthew says:

    Fr James Farfaglia is an ex-Legionary of Christ. In fact, he was one of the first Legionary priests I met before I joined the Legion myself. I am now following his lead also in leaving… but let it be said that the Legion is a good place to experience the Novus Ordo. I won’t go into too many specifics here, but Latin and Gregorian chant are used quite frequently in the Legion’s community prayer and liturgical life, especially in the houses of formation (and in private Masses, which are often celebrated ad orientem). Different options for the penitential rite, Eucharistic prayer, etc., are used, but always in a predictable way following certain Legionary liturgical norms. The rubrics are usually strictly adhered to, and great emphasis is placed on dignity, order, and due solemnity, etc., etc. It may not be perfect, but my liturgical experience there was strongly positive, and in fact had a lot to do with sparking my current interest in the Extraordinary Form.

    I suspect that the fact that Fr Farfaglia was trained in this liturgical environment has something to do with his perspective even now, many years after leaving the Legion. This kind of experience of the Novus Ordo makes it much easier to understand and sympathize with his position as described in this article. If, on the contrary, the N.O. you’re used to is “Sunday the Improv”, what he says is harder to swallow.

  19. Dad of Six says:

    My wife and I prefer the EF, and we drive an hour every Sunday to go to one. But for daily Mass our local parish priest in Imlay City celebrates a wonderful, holy, Novus Ordo, complete with high protein homilies and kneeling for the Eucharist. No warm jello there.

    I too am looking forward to the new translations!

  20. mhazell says:

    I long for the day when I can go on a regular basis to Mass in the ordinary form that is celebrated reverently, with proper respect for the rubrics, and said in Latin.

    Many of the criticisms people have of the ordinary form are really criticisms of the hermeneutic of rupture–e.g. versus populum, the replacement of the text of the propers/ordinary with OCP/GIA paraphrases, the diabolically awful music, the neglect of Latin, the it’s-all-about-the-community vibe, etc. The more research I do in my spare time, the more I appreciate many elements of the reformed liturgy. For instance, the elimination of doublets (e.g. the double Confiteor), and the simplification/elimination of certain prayers from the extraordinary form (e.g. Aufer a nobis, Lavabo inter innocentes) are in line with what the Council mandated (c.f. S.C. 34). Granted, the complete loss of some prayers such as the Suscipe sancta Trinitas is sad, but on the whole the ordinary form as it stands in the Latin is, in my opinion, A Good Thing for the Church.

    That’s not to say I have my doubts about other aspects. Personally, I have my doubts about the effectiveness of the reformed lectionary. Obviously there is more scripture in it, which I would say is a good thing, but it has the downside of being more complicated than the old lectionary. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of these killjoys who thinks people are too stupid to understand complex things–the corrected English translation can’t come soon enough!–but I would hazard a guess that not many laypeople in my parish know that the second reading is not linked to either the first reading or the Gospel (which are linked).

    The thematic sweep over the liturgical year is also difficult to see clearly, both because of the number of readings on Sundays and because people by nature find it difficult to recall last week’s readings. It doesn’t help that you have two sets of readings either–on weekdays we have one group of readings with its own theme, and on Sundays a totally different set of readings with a totally different theme…! That’s always struck me as a bit odd, and overly complex; effectively, it’s a six-year cycle. (!) Would it have been that hard to create a one, perhaps two-year cycle that was consistent for weekdays and Sundays?

    I also have my doubts about all the options permitted in the reformed liturgy. Four Eucharistic prayers, with more and more variations and options as the years roll on… really? It can only be a matter of time before we figure out that this is not a profitable development. Example: do we really need Eucharistic prayers for children? I mean, they coped perfectly well when there was just the Roman Canon!

    To be clear, I don’t think I mind the existence of more than one Eucharistic prayer. What I mind is priests totally ignoring the suggestions of the GIRM as to when those prayers should be used (GIRM 365; though I suppose the argument here is that ‘they’re only suggestions’… ). The use of Eucharistic prayer II on Sundays is far too prevalent where I live, and just goes to show that often priests and those accursed liturgists really haven’t read the things they’re supposed to. Perhaps we need a return of sorts to the detailed rubrics of the extraordinary form… maybe Fr Z (and other like-minded priests) could author something along the lines of Fortescue’s “Ceremonies” for the ordinary form? :-)

    Anyway, this post is too long as it is. Sorry about that. Bottom line is, I like the extraordinary form and I attend it when I can (which in my diocese in the UK is not that often, sadly), but I would overwhelmingly prefer the ordinary form if it were celebrated everywhere with reverence, in Latin.

  21. Sliwka says:

    Alice,

    I suspected as such, but couldn’t confirm.

    I know for a fact through the the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, which formed here as a break from the UGCC and now linked with the worldwide Orthodox Church, used vernacular in their Divine Liturgies in the 1920s.

  22. “The older form of Mass has a pretty good track record, all in all.”

    I think it’s time to ask the $64,000 question. Before that, I want to say that my opinions on the Novus Ordo as practiced today are well-documented. Further, I have found myself seeking refuge in the extraordinary form more often of late as my patience has grown thin with the Novus Ordo as practiced today. Still, the question has to be asked. If no change in the Mass was required or even advisable, why did so many of those who were brought up with the Tridentine Mass into the mid-1960′s fall flat on their faces spiritually and liturgically? Why were they totally unprepared for the challenges of the last fifty years? Today’s aging hippies who brought us the silliness that passes for liturgy today and the utter lack of morality that passes for acceptable today were reared on the Tridentine Mass! I have come to the conclusion that it cannot be absolved of all responsibility. I agree with Fr. Z that liturgy is important. For many people, it is the only contact they have with the Church each week. If we believe that, however, we can’t avoid the obvious conclusion that the only Mass that was available in the Roman rite until about 1965 had something– perhaps lots– to do with the formation of Roman-rite Catholics until then. In a perverse way, the Novus Ordo as practiced today is the fruit of the Tridentine Mass. That in itself tells me that something was lacking in the Tridentine Mass. I am firmly convinced that reform was absolutely necessary in 1965 and, of course, still is desperately needed today.

    Maybe the Tridentine Mass did have a good track record, but it didn’t seem to produce in the 50′s and early ’60s. John Kennedy, for example, was sowing the seeds of the “personally opposed to abortion” ideology well before Vatican II. What Mass did he attend? What about Bugnini and his allies? Were they not reared on the Tridentine Mass too? As I often say, you can’t stand pat with a losing hand. It hurts to have to say that in reference to the Tridentine Mass, but its fruit cannot be lightly ignored.

  23. Jason Keener says:

    Hi, Andrew.

    I agree with you that Catholics like Bugnini and JFK, though raised with the Traditional Latin Mass, did not turn out to be exemplary Catholics. I don’t know if we can blame the Traditional Latin Mass for their shortcomings, however. Perhaps Bugnini and JFK had a poor Catholic formation that prevented them from truly understanding and benefitting from the riches of the Ancient Mass. Perhaps the hippies, no matter how solid their foundation, just could not withstand the radical social and cultural changes that were taking place in the 60′s.

    By the way, my patience with the Novus Ordo is also growing very thin. It is sad to say, but after one attends the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Church and the Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgies for awhile, going back to the Novus Ordo as celebrated in a typical parish can be a true penance. It saddens me greatly to say that about a legitimate form of the Holy Mass, but how can I not but feel that way when I see such a radical disconnect between the awesome nature of the Mass and the way the Eucharistic Mystery is celebrated and presented in a typical American parish?

  24. What can I say? Father James’ church, St. Helena’s is full of kneeling Catholics!! I will not take sides against him! I’ve even laid off of ‘life teen’ since its president, Randy Raus wrote me…..

    “I believe the Holy Father by asking the faithful to kneel at Papal Masses to receive Holy Communion is further emphasizing the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. If the GIRM or the local Bishops make this the Liturgical norm at parishes, Life Teen will be joyfully obedient.[[there's a little cop-out !! Randy, if he asks the faithful, that already includes you!!..k.c.]] Life Teen is committed to helping young people understand the “real presence” of Christ in the Eucharist.”

    If banging a tamborine in someone’s ear will make people kneel for Our Lord, then I’m all for it! :-)
    or as Father Groeschel once said, ‘if you’re a friend of increasing reverence toward the Blessed Sacrament, then you’re a friend of mine’.

  25. Geoffrey says:

    I think “reform of the reform” and “need to implement the reform correctly” really mean the same thing. I have heard more than once that the Ordinary Form wasn’t “tried and failed” but it was never really properly tried at all.

    “Take a look at a list of saints and try to determine which Mass they attended…”

    This isn’t a really fair take as the Ordinary Form is still very “young”. Even those saints “in the works” (Ven. Pope John Paul the Great, Blessed Mother Theresa, etc.) were all nourished in their early years by the Extraordinary Form. It will take a few generations or so to determine otherwise. However, I recall the recent beatification of an Italian youth. I wonder what her liturgical experiences were?

    In the end, neither the Ordinary Form (as it is usually celebrated) or the Extraordinary Form (1962 Missale Romanum) are what the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council wanted.

  26. Former Altar Boy says:

    I have seen very few priests say the plain ol’ Ordinary Form reverently. Most ad lib, violate numerous norms of the GIRM, and introduce their own nonsense and novelties.

    That said, if “the Church” was so intent on adding the vernacular, why didn’t they just translate the Latin into the national languages of each country? Why? Because some were intent on Protestantizing the Mass. Quick examples include adding the Responsorial Psalm (which I had seen in Presbyterian churches), adding the Protestant ending to the Our Father, altars facing the peple, removing statues and other sacramentals from the churches, and no longer kneeling to receive Holy Communion, to name a few.

    One of the most unifying aspects of the “universal” Catholic Church before Vat2 was the ability to attend Mass anywhere in the world and know exactly what would happen and when even if you couldn’t understand the sermon in the particular country.

  27. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Fr. Farfaglia is a brave soul for writing what he writes. Too many who love the ancient liturgy feel that they have trash the Ordinary Form of the Mass. If you don’t trash it, then in many traditional circles, your sincerity or love for true liturgy is called into doubt. Father is a man of unimpeachable orthodoxy and loyalty to the Church, and yet he proudly professes his love for the present Missal.

    He has been skewered by traditional opinions elsewhere, and so it is nice to see the restraint in this blog’s comments. My take is that most priests who consider themselves as loyal and orthodox feel the same way as Fr. Farfaglia–actually, the exact same way. They respect the Extraordinary Form and do not attack it, but they have no desire learn it or offer it.

  28. andris_amolins says:

    It says much that Fr. Farfaglia starts with the question of language. That far he is indeed a fellow traveler of even Abp. Lefebvre who was not totally opposed to the vernacular in Mass. Sometimes I think it is pity that St. Pius X did not order the vernacular translation of the liturgical books as they are (before “inclusive language” and “dynamic equivalence” came). Then Fr. Farfaglia turns to the lectionary the reform of which may have been pastorally justified although it was too radical. The main fault of the Novus Ordo, however, are the prayers, many of them, both in the ordinary and the propers, removed or changed. Through these changes the reformers tried to suppress the parts of catholic teaching they did not like. They themselves addmitted as much.

  29. chcrix says:

    “If no change in the Mass was required or even advisable, why did so many of those who were brought up with the Tridentine Mass into the mid-1960?s fall flat on their faces spiritually and liturgically?”

    That is a fair question. The answer (in my opinion) is that V2 offered the chance for these folks, who might have drifted away from the church, to seize the levers of power and impose their visions on us. In the absence of a V2 there would have been much less scope for their activities. Of course, even these people had their enablers who were much older still. Take a look at Richard McBrien’s list of favorite bishops and you can find some of their names – people who were born in 1900 or earlier.

    Furthermore, in the absence of V2 at least some number of ‘orthodox’ catholics would still be ‘inside the tent’ instead of outside.

    I still think Pius XII had it right – it was a mistake to call the Council, and that is why he refused to call one.

    Still, even if he had been spared for another 10 years we might have been hit by some of the undesirable aspects of the hermenutic of rupture – after all P12 seemed to have an unwarranted esteem for Bugninni.

    I think the last 50 years would have been challenging no matter what. I just think the challenges would have been less daunting with a more consistent internal structure in the Church.

  30. Legisperitus says:

    This attitude is typical of a lot of good and holy priests who remember life before Vatican II. Many good priests, and good Catholics in general, out of a desire to be obedient, had to do a certain violence to their own intellects to force themselves to believe that these radical changes in the liturgy were a Good Thing. Their mode of thinking about the Old Mass doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny, but it has helped them sleep at night for many years while continuing to do much good for souls. A younger priest would not have this continual need to justify the 1969 reform in his own mind.

  31. Andrew says:

    Andrew Saucci:
    Today’s aging hippies who brought us the silliness that passes for liturgy today and the utter lack of morality that passes for acceptable today were reared on the Tridentine Mass! I have come to the conclusion that it cannot be absolved of all responsibility.
    This is a highly oversimplified attempt to understand the historical background of one particular generation. It presumes that other than the passage of time everything else remained constant. But there was a War that killed millions upon millions of individuals, including the best and the holiest and the most learned of a generation that preceded us . It also leaves out the massive migration of peoples around the globe. And the violent subversion of existing order in many parts of the world. Essentially, we are a vulgar generation of spiritual orphans living among the ruins (not talking about buildings here) left over from a civilization that preceded us.

  32. “Between the Second Reading and the Gospel, the Alleluia verse is sung or said.”
    Actually if the alleluia is not sung it should be omitted altogether. It is NEVER to be spoken in either form of the Sacred Liturgy.

  33. o.h. says:

    I cannot understand how a priest in Corpus Christi has nothing but praise for the vernacular. Is his parish not split in two, like every medium-to-large parish church I’ve attended in the Southwest, into two mini-parishes–one English-speaking, one Spanish-speaking–the twain never meeting? But at our parish’s TLM you find English- and Spanish-speakers both attending, neither as “outsiders.”

    Even some who appreciate the TLM speak wistfully of just one reform–putting it into the vernacular. By “vernacular,” they always mean “English.” But as the Southwest Catholic Church becomes increasingly Hispanic, by what right would we translate the TLM into English and not Spanish? Which group gets “kicked out”?

  34. teomatteo says:

    Fr. Farfaglia’s essay is very important to read and meditate on. I think so many times i fall into one thing against another when both can be equally beautiful (sorry Father i’m using that word too). But his post brings up a point that i have silently thought about: are many priests at a disadvantage in seeing the big picture of the trajectory of the Liturgy because they are isolated each weekend in their own parish? In other words are they unable to get a clear perspective of where the OF is heading if they only ‘see’ the one they are immersed in? I think that if a priest was able to attend masses (without his clerical clothing) and participate ‘in the pews’ as it were, for say twenty or so weekends a year around the diocese or country then maybe he would see the full effect of the Vat. II mass…. just wondering

  35. Henry Edwards says:

    For those who have not yet checked Rorate Caeli today, let me mention that links to the full texts of the addresses of Antonio Cardinal Canizares Llovera, Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, Martin Mosebach, and others during Ab. Ranjith’s Liturgy Convention in Colombo, Sri Lanka this past September have been posted at

    http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2010/10/colombo-proceedings-and-resolutions.html

    In particular, the address

    Martin Mosebach
    The Old Roman Missal: Loss and Recovery

    by the author of The Heresy of Formlessness may offer one of the best explanations yet to appear of what happened to the liturgy in those fateful years after the Council, and how and why it happened.

  36. o.h. says:

    That said … Father Farfaglia, next time I’m in Corpus for the weekend, I’ll know to come check out your parish!

  37. Athanasius says:

    In my opinion, this was one of the best reforms because it allows the Word of God to be proclaimed in the language of the people and it provides a greater variety of biblical texts for the enrichment of our spiritual life.

    Frankly the opinion is nonsense. It might be true in a sense quantitatively but that is not tantamount to spiritual enrichment. If you look at the Ordinary of the Novus Ordo, and the ordinary of the Traditional Latin Mass the latter has 3 times the amount of scripture than the former, which the faithful must encounter every day, and consequently will learn better than hearing a reading from an obscure book of the bible every 3 years which could be better learned by prayerfully reading at home. There is not the constant repetition which is so powerful in the extraordinary form.

    I’m glad he’s happy, but he’s way over the top with his assessments.

  38. Geoffrey says:

    “…some were intent on Protestantizing the Mass. Quick examples include adding the Responsorial Psalm (which I had seen in Presbyterian churches)…”

    This is not without precedent in the Catholic Church. It just might have its roots in the Invitatory Psalm of the Divine Office, where the antiphon is repeated in between each psalm verse (both forms of the Roman Rite).

    “…adding the Protestant ending to the Our Father…”

    In either case, what is wrong with taking something and making it Catholic? I have to admit “Quia tuum est regnum, et potestas, et gloria in saecula” sounds quite beautiful when chanted in Latin. No Protestant does that! :-)

  39. wolfeken says:

    I continue to find it interesting that members (including former members like this priest) of the Legionaries of Christ and Opus Dei have such affinities for the novus ordo. The first line of defense by LC/OD types is that liturgy is not a big issue for them, but it is not a coincidence that they greatly distance themselves from the traditional Latin Mass, even on the set of the Passion of the Christ. Here we read about how wonderful the novus ordo is while insinuating the traditional Latin Mass is somehow antithetical to the Catholic Church in 2010 .

    This is why I will never go near any Legionaries or Opus Dei events. They are eerily cultish in their lock-step animosity toward traditional liturgy. This priest was clearly formed in true Legionaries style.

  40. ASD says:

    I agree with Jason Keener, who wrote:

    When it comes to the wide variety of texts used for the readings in the Novus Ordo, I am not so sure it was a good idea. Many of the texts used in the Ordinary Form are not easily understood by the laity and are better suited to Lectio Divina. I think a simpler and less extensive selection of readings, as used in the Extraordinary Form, is actually more of a help to the people in the pews.

    We often hear that the new lectionary is better because it includes more scripture. But, what’s the practical payoff? I mean, does anybody believe that Catholics these days understand the Bible, or their faith, better than previous generations?

    It seems like there was some wisdom in the approach taken by the old lectionary: The Top 50, What Every Catholic Needs to Know

  41. mhazell says:

    ASD: We often hear that the new lectionary is better because it includes more scripture. But, what’s the practical payoff? I mean, does anybody believe that Catholics these days understand the Bible, or their faith, better than previous generations?

    Which means that the lectionary is not really the problem here; rather, it is the atrocious state of catechesis in the Church at the moment.

    To get the most out of the reformed lectionary, you need (a) a priest who can preach well, who can make people aware of the scriptural themes within the lectionary; (b) a laity who want to know more about their faith–basically, you need a priest who is immersed in the word of God and who can spur his people to immerse themselves in it as well.

    Sadly, too many priests are poor at writing and giving homilies, too many parishes have exceptionally poor catechesis, and too many parents don’t take seriously their responsibility to educate their own children in the faith.

    As I mentioned above, the reformed lectionary has its problems, but (in my opinion) the real problem here is not the lectionary, it is catechesis.

  42. Ben Trovato says:

    I prefer the old lectionary: there is something about an annual cycle of readings that fosters familiarity: ‘oh, of course, it’s the first sunday of advent: I recognise the readings…’

    But for me the biggest loss is perhaps the offertory: replacing the wonderful prayers there with (as I understand it) an adapted Jewish grace, seems tragic…

  43. Henry Edwards says:

    Ken: They are eerily cultish in their lock-step animosity toward traditional liturgy.

    Is it possible that, rather than an active and conscious animosity to the TLM, their own experience–the Novus Ordo being celebrated in their orders with unfailing care and reverence, often in Latin, without the abuses others are plagued by–just doesn’t make them feel any need to change? With that feeling (or lack thereof), might they simply get tired of hearing constantly of a need for change that they don’t feel themselves? Together with their culture that excludes personal innovation (like individually trying out a different form).

    Like you, I suspect there may be more to it than this, but don’t really know. For instance, I keep hearing that the Opus Dei founder continued to celebrate the TLM until his death.

  44. BLB Oregon says:

    In spite of the suffering involved, I have often wondered if, in the long run, the effect of instituting the NO hasn’t been to put the Mass in protective custody from the times in the “person” of the preserved TLM. I cannot imagine that the TLM would have been safe from the innovators, had it been the dominant or only form in use. Just since Vatican II, how many “reforms” never approved by Rome before their institution have come about because it turned out to be easier to get forgiveness than permission? Yes, I am saying that I think the “improvers” of the 1970s would have been ripping through the liturgy no matter Rome did, with or without the excuse of Vatican II, with or without the introduction of the NO. That was the kind of times that they were. Had the TLM not been suppressed, it would have been in the crosshairs.

    Whatever the case, since we are now in a position where the value of preservation is appreciated, TLM can be brought back out in its preserved form. This renewed appreciation of the TLM, in turn, might bring the NO to a mature form that does have its own beauty, the older sister teaching the younger what beauty really is.

    When the age you are in gives you lemons…

  45. Geoffrey says:

    “This is why I will never go near any Legionaries or Opus Dei events. They are eerily cultish in their lock-step animosity toward traditional liturgy.”

    That couldn’t be further from the truth. Opus Dei is know for its obedience to the Church and their seriousness and fidelity when it comes to liturgy. I spoke with a member recently who said that many Opus Dei oratories had to properly prepare before celebrating the Extraordinary Form properly (vestments, etc.) for special occasions. Many members of Opus Dei attend the EF liturgy, where available, but they don’t make a big deal of it. Obedience is very key with them.

  46. dominic1955 says:

    As an apologia for the NO, I think this piece falls flat on its face. No offense to the good Father, but it sounds like an assertion of a personal preference with some vague references to history and whatnot to make it sound legit, like all support pieces of the NO tend to sound like.

    Read the writings of the architects of the liturgical “reform” and you can see what was implemented is right along the lines of what they wanted. Its been tried and found wanting by anyone who can actually appreciates liturgy. The NO was never intended to be celebrated in such a way that it looks like a Solemn High TLM. One can say that it was because the Church would intend such a celebration, blah, blah, blah, but you will not see this born out in the actual documents or writings. Also, actions speak louder than words, what have we been seeing coming out of Rome? Pope Benedict has his own “style” which tends towards adding in some mildly traditional trappings. Pope John Paul II’s public Masses were often spectacles (and not in a good triumphalist way). Has Rome been celebrating the NO like the Brompton Oratory for the last almost 50 years? Nope.

    Vernacularism has been a disaster and unfortunately it is one of those cheap and sleazy things that has vulgar appeal. We’d be pretty hard pressed trying to get that toothpaste back into the tube in which it belongs because of the uproar from the unwashed masses. Even if we really thought it necessary to use more vernacular, why would this sort of thing necessitate making the Offertory into some Jewish berakah type prayer, getting rid of the prayers at the foot of the altar, taking the Mysterium Fidei out of the words of consecration etc. etc. etc.

    The new (and that is exactly what they are, make no mistake about that!) “Eucharistic prayers” are a travesty. When have we EVER had a different canon than the Roman Canon? There was absolutely no reason for this to have been foisted upon us. One of the greatest things that could be done would be to suppress all of the other “anaphoras” and maintain the full Roman Canon (as originally constructed in the TLM) as the sole “Eucharistic prayer” of the Latin Church. The responsorial psalm is drawn out and another excuse to have “more Scripture”. Its painful, especially in the way its usually sung or replaced by some ditty.

    The new lectionary is the cockamamy invention of litniks to give us street cred with the Protestants. “Look everybody, look how much of the bible we are reading these days!” The repetition of the old cycle of readings is what is important. You really start to connect readings with days when you assist at the TLM for awhile. You will never get that with the NO since you only have the same reading once every three years. If they really thought we “needed” (which is nonsense regardless of who thought it) then the 1967 Ferial lectionary is about the only responsible way to do this since it only replaces repeated Sunday readings on ferial days and such.

    Active participation ala NO is a joke. Actually its worse than that. The few times I do go to a NO these days, I always wish everyone could just shut up and make it all that much quicker and less painful for all of us.

    Finally, like anyone who tries to write an apologia for the NO, give me some substantial reasons why the TLM itself (meaning the rite, the books, all that kind of thing) was deficient and actually “needed” reform. He does not do this, he just trots out the usual nonsense about “richer fare of Scripture”, “vernacular” and “active participation”. Following the rubrics (?!) of the NO more closely or adding pretty pre-Conciliar smells and bells is not going to solve the problem. The problem is the NO itself, no amount of tacking on of external trappings is going to change that. No “reform of the reform” is going to change that. The only real solution is to scrap the whole experiment and explicitly admit that the Council and the post-Conciliar reform committees were wrong about this whole adventure into liturgical “reform”. It does absolutely no good to pontificate about the real intent of the Council (Did the Fathers even know? Doesn’t seem like it to me…) or harp against the “Spirit of Vatican II” or dissent or anything else. Rome shot itself in the foot with this whole thing and then to add insult to injury laid down Her authority in dealing with problems.

    To be deep in liturgical history is to cease to be a Novusordinarian.

  47. Athanasius says:

    Is it possible that, rather than an active and conscious animosity to the TLM, their own experience–the Novus Ordo being celebrated in their orders with unfailing care and reverence, often in Latin, without the abuses others are plagued by–just doesn’t make them feel any need to change? With that feeling (or lack thereof), might they simply get tired of hearing constantly of a need for change that they don’t feel themselves? Together with their culture that excludes personal innovation (like individually trying out a different form).

    I went to the Novus Ordo in Latin 3 times a week several years ago, and I hated it. I only went because it was better than a clown mass and there was simply no Traditional Mass or Byzantine rite around. The latin is often ugly neo-latin, especially anything from the Novo_vulgata, you can see the parts where someone translated from french into Latin or German into Latin rather than doing any real scholarly work. The new offertory prayers in Latin are atrocious and jarring, and the propers prayed and passed down by saints if they are present at all are chopped up and hard to recognize, with an off sounding syntax in some places. On top of that one of the priests knew Latin and would add lib at the beginning of the Mass and the offertory just for fun.

    I would go to the EF in English (a reverent English that is) before the OF in Latin.

  48. dominic1955 says:

    Exactly, Athanasius. When you go to a NO in Latin you just jarringly see how gawdawful it really is.

  49. Athanasius says:

    Finally, like anyone who tries to write an apologia for the NO, give me some substantial reasons why the TLM itself (meaning the rite, the books, all that kind of thing) was deficient and actually “needed” reform.

    The one thing which I do not believe I have ever seen anyone mention in a publication since the Council, though it was talked about prior, is reforming some of the more recent collects. When music went away from chant and toward polyphony, it was customary to actually sing while the priest read the collect. As such for some time the collect was not sung (except in monasteries) and the collects from approximately 1500-1900 were not written with the concept of singing them in mind. A perfect example is the collect for the feast of the Holy Rosary in the old Rite, which is the same as the prayer we say at the end of the rosary. The Latin is beautiful, but it is not easily singable, contrasted with the collects for Lent or Sundays after Pentecost which are short, suitable, beautiful and singable. One could argue that such a reform of details like those, or adding propers for important saints or saints who had become important but had the common propers might be useful. Yet again, none of these reforms affect the rite itself.

    The key in talking about “reforming the Tridentine Mass” is understanding that we are so far from the Church’s traditional liturgical praxis that a reform could not be carried out correctly. We need to let the old rite be said as it was for at least a generation or two, then when we have recovered an orthopraxis with respect to liturgy we might look again at things to be corrected in the Traditional Mass. For now however, it should simply be passed on without the bias of the last 40 years infecting it.

  50. mike cliffson says:

    For Suburbanbanshee.

    I disagree slightly. I’m usually wholly in agreement with you: you have the (for me tiresome) habit of knowing more about what I want to say and putting it better! I take your point that one of the, rather post vat2, problems with liturgy is that WE want to be the Masters, so that if we promote diversity, we can then have fun cherrypicking, and any OLD rite will relieve us of accusations of modernism. If an argument like saint-production suits our book, go for it.
    “It’s ordinary Sunday 29, we had Ef last week, let’s have Gallican. And we can say oh yes this is Saint Ofhoom Litliss Nown’s upbringing mass, great.”
    Nonetheless, time honoured rites ARE timehonoured, through Divine providence, some have survived into our day, some not, and they ARE part of the church’s immense heritage. In Spain Mozarabic-rite christians by the end of the last century had dwindled, mainly through intermarriage, to two parishes, but the rite never died nor was abolished/abandoned until NO. It’s ace in plainchant when the monks at Silos(Burgos province, Spain) sing it. ( mind you, they can plainchant OF in Spanish, it’s being at a monastery mass where the outward signs of devotion and the idea that the liturgy is worth taking time and trouble over indicate inward reverence. At least last I heard its still that way.). In my Prevat2 English yuf I remember mutterings, RC English, not Irish, not Anglican, (mutterings, mind, not today’s bile and dissent) regarding the generations-previous! introduction of “Italianate ways” (especially regards vestments: eg.eyes looked darkly at maniples before private thoughts were put away as mass began) and yearnings for old and authentically catholic english rites. In , of course, latin.Sarum was mentioned.
    The cathedral in Seville has a centuries-old papal bull allowing it to maintain liturgical dance.
    (I confess a personal penchant for liturgical dance – I have to admit the historic precedent, from Spain, that the magisterium thought it a flowering plant that had turned into an overspreading weed, needing severe pruning for pastoral reasons.)
    I dunno the answers. But I hope and pray our Present Peter be spared eternal bliss long enough to bumpstart the old vehicle.

  51. jflare says:

    I’ll plead guilty as sin to being thoroughly bewildered by the ruckus represented here.

    For starters, I almost groaned over Fr’s comment about seeing more and more young priests and parishes using Chant and polyphony in the Novus Ordo. As it happens, my parish here in Omaha, NE, does so, but it’s the ONLY parish in the area that I know about, though Cathedral may have begun doing so also. Even so, that’s only two churches in an archdiocese of how many? That’s hardly making inroads.
    Then again, knowing that our pastor might be coming due for reassignment, I’d contemplated the option of switching to the FSSP parish a mile south. I don’t like their music program–or lack of same, rather–for the EF, but going to a Mass with the usual OCP et al? That’s..slightly painful these days. By the way, what’s up with the paraphrasing that the usual song does? If we’re going to do something from the Bible, why not simply do it?! Why beat around the bushes?

    Others have made some thought-provoking points regarding the lectionary. I’m not yet convinced that three readings on Sunday and/or a 3-year cycle is a bad idea, but I’ll readily admit that it DOES create some difficulties that haven’t been resolved, not the least of which is making sense of which Chant works with a Sunday. Most of the Chants were designed for a one-year cycle, so three years tends to throw our Chant off message a fair bit. That’s not good.

    On the whole, I’ve begun to think that the Council Fathers of Vatican II may have challenged us with a good bit more freedom than we truly could handle at the time. Certainly, we aren’t handling the responsibility well now, either.
    I was surprised back in 2004–I forget which encyclical had come out, but it dealt with the liturgy–to learn the number of authorized prayers for the Eucharistic Prayer. I’m no expert, but why do we need THIRTEEN?! It’s hard enough to keep up with the 4 that’re usually in the missalette! ( ‘Course, I don’t have to worry about that too much anymore, I’m usually too busy keeping my music in order and/or kneeling to fool with my missal….)

    Ultimately, seems to me that much of the battle over ad orientem or versus populum..can be a matter of taste and a priest’s voice. I’ve seen our pastor offer Mass both ways in the Novus Ordo. Usually it’s versus populum, but for Christmas, he used the old, High Altar. Didn’t seem that different to me, really, he chants in Latin for some parts regardless, and he can PROJECT!

    So what’ll we be doing in 20 years? I don’t know, but personally, I’d prefer to see the two forms re-merged into one, preferably using the 3 year cycle. Someone with greater knowledge than mine can surely figure out appropriate Chants for it. They simply need to WANT to do it and get it done.
    Whatever happens, I’ll be looking for priests who bother to follow the actual preferred rubrics.

    I’m sick of the ones that make it up.

  52. PaterAugustinus says:

    I’d just like to add my voice, to those others who have pointed out the old canard of the Orthodox “always using the vernacular.”

    The true use of the vernacular in the Orthodox Church is not even a century old, and reallly only occurs in the Americas and Romania. It isn’t employed in any of the Churches with a long-established liturgical tongue (save Romania, whose relationship with Slavonic is complicated). The Orthodox model seems always to look towards a slightly non-colloquial use of a nation’s mother tongue at the time of Evangelisation (or shortly thereafter), usually with an eye towards that culture’s “high” period of language (if it has one), and their normative and most influential Biblical translation. When Ss. Cyril and Methodius did their work in Slavonic, they actually didn’t just prepare a Mass in the standard, vulgar idiom of the people… they constructed a new style of using the Slavonic language, hence it is often called “Old Church Slavonic,” as distinct from “Ancient Slavonic.” So, from the beginning of the Slavic Churches, the “vernacular” was not exactly the vernacular… and the gap has only grown in the centuries since then. Furthermore, when one looks at Greek hymnography composed for the Liturgy, one doesn’t find the local dialect of that particular Greek Church. He finds a usually classicizing style, or, at least, a leaning towards the model of the Koine of the Bible. Even in modern times, the ancient models of language are used when composing services and hymns for new Saints.

    It should also be pointed out that Koine was a broad simplification of Ancient Greek for use by a variety of Meditteranean peoples. It was not the “vernacular,” exactly, of the actual Hellenic Churches, since actual Hellenes had many local dialects and variants of Greek, and the Liturgy has never striven for conformity with these local and truly vernacular usages. This separation between the spoken dialect and the Liturgical usage has grown over the centuries, culminating in a substantial difference between Church Greek and Demotic Greek (the spoken, modern dialect). Just how far apart the Demotic and the Liturgical Greek are, was revealed to me when a Greek psalti (who chants Classicizing, Liturgical Greek at least one day each week) could not understand my simple Attic sentence (in response to her question, of whether I spoke Greek): “Lego tin Hellinikin tin Palaian, all’ oute lego oute katalambano tin Demotikin” (i..e, “I speak the Greek of yore, but neither speak nor understand Modern Greek). And in this particular sentence, almost all of the vocab should have been easily understood even by a Modern Greek speaker, even if the syntax would seem odd.

    So, even the Liturigcal Greek was not an attempt to make Liturgy available to Greeks in their vulgar usage of the tongue (since actual Hellenes would not have spoken Koine, per se), but was precisely an attempt to use a more or less universal tongue for the Liturgy.

    Similar things happen in the Latin Patriarchate, where the predominant idiom of the Italic Bible came to be enshrined in the Divine Office and many Biblically-derived chants. Also, in the composition of Liturgical hymns the Classical poetic vocabulary (if not the Classical meter) was often used, and so one can find it even in Anglo-Saxon and other hymnographers, such as Ss. Bede and Notker. A studied Latin, learned from the philosophical writings composed (or preserved) in that tongue, also came to inform the writings of many Latin Fathers and Saints.

    In short, the modern-day Italian is in not much different a position from the Russian or Greek Orthodox Christian, in terms of liturgical language. All of them speak a vulgar tongue descended from a more or less colloquial form of their ancestors’ tongues… and even their ancestors never quite heard Liturgy celebrated in a noticeably colloquial or common form of that language, in the first place.

    Those of us who speak a Germanic language are in a position similar to the Romanian Orthodox: our ancestors’ tongue was not closely related to their Liturgical language, but the influence of the Liturgical language (used also for all the important books – Bible, Saints’ Writings, Lives, etc.) introduced many new features into even the spoken tongue.

    So, unsurprisingly, the situation of Christians in the West, is really not much different from the situation of Christians in the East. The Liturgy was never in a thoroughly and indigenously colloquial form of any of our ancestors’ languages; many today speak a descendant of the ancient tongue once used (non-colloquially) for Liturgy, and the modern form is not always close enough to the original to make it easily intelligible; many others speak a modern language whose primary ancestor was never used liturgically in any form, but which has been influenced by the liturgical tongue (though still not enough to make it immediately intelligible).

    What’s the common factor? Nobody, whether in East or West, ever heard Liturgy in his “native” tongue (especially not if we understand “native” to mean “common, colloquial form”), until this past century. And, even if some of our ancestors would have understood the non-colloquial idiom of the liturgy at some point in the past, many centuries have intervened where the liturgical tongue ceased to resemble the spoken language. The Liturgical Tongue has always been a bit aloof from the popular dialect, and the Orthodox Churches – even while *sometimes* making a swift translation of the service books into some form of the local tongue – have never adopted the axiom that Liturgy should be in the language of the people as a matter of course. Just ask any modern Greek, Russian or Palestinian.

  53. jflare says:

    PaterAugustinus:
    You highlight a very interesting point: WHAT do we consider vernacular to BE?

    I was a teenager between the late 80′s and early 90′s; I attended a Catholic high school, so I heard quite a little about what people thought Vatican II taught–or not–and what the Church’s current practice ought to be. I remember there WAS a particular focus on language, even before the monstrousity of gender-neutrality came along. I remember hearing that we were a new generation, we weren’t bound by the old rules, we were free to make the Mass relevant to our generation.
    Sounded great at the time.

    I recall being thoroughly perplexed ultimately, because..I thought that if we were growing toward adulthood, we’d be wanting to imitate what the adults did as much as possible. Right? Well, without going into detail, we did something entirely different. Had I not been attending Mass with my family on Sunday, I might well have quit the Church from sheer disgust.

    As I grew older, I struggled to understand why going to a teen Mass seemed fairly similar to a sacred version of a local pop station. To be fair, we did use some music from local parishes. Problem was, I’d heard much music in 4 part harmony; we did EVERYTHING in melody. Exclusively. I hate having to say it, but I avoided most Church-sponsored teen activities, primarily because they were so darn BORING! Especially Mass!
    I simply didn’t think much of Mass or the Bible being provided in something darn close to teen slang. I didn’t like teen slang that much in the first place, why the dickens would I want a Bible written that way?!

    I’d begun thinking that I must surely have simply been goofy as a teen, then a few months ago, I read an article in which Bishop Trautman commented about how great it was to adapt language to the times and how this new Mass translation would be horrid. In other words, he seemed to say that I was right in the first place..and we did it on purpose!
    OW!!

    So..I guess I’m thinking that, unless the Church plans to teach everyone to understand Latin, we need to have some parts, especially the readings, in the vernacular. Please! Oh please, though! Let’s make it the “high vernacular”.

    I don’t like being patronized with something near enough to slang.

  54. PAT says:

    jflare: . . . unless the Church plans to teach everyone to understand Latin . . .

    That is exactly, precisely what the Church should do: expect the people to participate fully and actively by learning to understand the Liturgy of the Church in the sacred language of the Liturgy. A universal Church needs a universal language for the Liturgy. Otherwise, we have a balkanized Tower of Babel.

    jflare: . . . we need to have some parts, especially the readings, in the vernacular. . . .

    Which vernacular? English? Spanish? Polish? Portuguese? Chinese? Vietnamese? German? Italian? What?

    I have a nice Latin-English Missal. If I can go to a Latin Mass, anywhere in the world I can follow along and the only thing I am not likely to understand is the Homily. However, I could go to a Polish or Chinese Mass right here in the USA and be unable to understand ANY of it simply by the fact of it being in “the vernacular.” Yes, I suppose I could just go to an English Mass and not to a Polish or Chinese one. Or maybe I could just get some more missals — English-Spanish, English-French, English-Polish, English-Chinese, etc. But that defeats the very purpose of universality. The idea is that a Catholic should be able to go to Mass anywhere in the world (not to mention anywhere in town) and understand it, participate in it. That happens when the Church has a common language, which is currently Latin.

    If we just don’t really like the Latin, I could entertain the motion to change the universal language of the Church to English. My Polish friends might object.

  55. jflare says:

    Pat,
    I don’t precisely disagree with using Latin in the Mass; for what it’s worth, I prefer a Mass in which we use Latin for many “commons”, but the vernacular for “propers”, such as the readings and the homily.

    I see a real problem with your concept of every Catholic going to Mass and understanding it in Latin though. For one thing, I don’t entirely buy the idea you (and others) propose for understanding better in one universal language. For example, while living overseas, I attended Mass in German and French. When attending Mass locally, I’ve been to Mass in Spanish, Vietnamese, and English. In each case, knowing the structure of the Mass fairly well allows me to know what’s going on and participate, such as I’m able. I can always review the readings before and after.

    A universal language is great..until it becomes the language that everyone doesn’t understand.
    I have yet to hear anyone propose a universally effective means of bringing Latin back.

    Keep in mind, we don’t have the benefit of a previous era: When Dad was in high school in the 50′s, he learned Latin as part of the curriculum. I’ve generally understood that many high schools, public and private, also taught the language of the classics, science, and law.
    Regrettably, times have changed. Most high school grads may be forced to learn a foreign language, but no one REQUIRES learning Latin. Therefore, most of us don’t speak a word of it past what we can glean from requent recitation of Mass parts. Even then, I doubt I could accurately translate the Gloria or Pater Noster into English, unless I simply spoke both in the English versions I’ve memorized.

    I once suggested that the Church could teach Latin, so we’d all understand it and not have such a struggle over which language we used. My director commented that he figured we’d get little or no response.

    So, what do we do now?
    We don’t speak the language, the Church won’t teach it, and no high school or college requires it. Will we now insist that you MUST spend time and money learning a language you may never use outside the Church’s doors? How many cash-strapped families will we alienate by that move?
    You can say, “Well, if they value their faith, they’ll find a way.” Well yes, many will. But many won’t too.

    So what’s the answer?
    I don’t see this problem being resolved until the Church, from the Vatican on down, make aiding in Latin learning a priority. Until that happens, we’ll need some use of the vernacular, so we can have a clue of what our local clerics are saying.