Propose rather than impose

Brick by brickAn alert reader informed me about a post on the blog of Msgr. Charles Pope in Washington D.C.  I had the pleasure of meeting him last year at the time of the great Pontifical Mass in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (learn how to get the great DVD of that Mass here.)

Among the things Msgr. Pope said was this, with my comment:

1. To Re-propose tradition rather than to impose – Several of the questions surrounded the issue of how far to go with diversity in the liturgy and what can be done to root the Church more deeply in traditional forms of the liturgy. In this matter  I have found that Pope Benedict has taken an approach wherein he has chosen to re-propose traditional elements, and the extraordinary form of the Mass rather than to impose them.

There are some in more traditional circles that would like him to use a heavier hand and simply abolish what they consider less desirable things such as modern instruments, Mass facing the people, communion in the hand, and so forth. There are others who fear that some of the freedoms they now enjoy in the ordinary form of the Mass will be simply taken away by the Pope.

But in all this Pope Benedict has a pastor’s heart. He has written clearly of his concerns over certain trends in modern liturgical practice. However, it would seem that his approach has been to re-propose more traditional practices and allow them greater room in the Church. In so doing he signals bishops and priests that they should be freer make use of such options. With the faithful more widely exposed to traditional elements, their beauty and value can be appreciated anew by the wider Church, and they will also excerpt increasing influence. But this will be done in an organic way that does not shock some of the faithful or provoke hostile reaction.

Brick by brickI must say that I have come to appreciate the value of this approach. As a diocesan priest I minister to a wide variety of the faithful, many of whom would not easily understand or accept a sudden imposition of the things preferred by Catholics of a more traditional bent. Mass said, ad orientem is appealing to me for a wide variety of reasons. But many are not ready for a shift back. The Pope has modeled the option in the Sistine Chapel for the new Mass. I have made occasional use of this option at my own parish by using side altars for smaller Masses. The wider use of the extraordinary form in my own parish and throughout the world will also reacquaint the faithful with this posture. Little by little (“brick by brick,” shall we say) [Why yes!  I do believe we shall!] there will be a greater comfort with this eastward orientation. The same can be said for the use of Latin, Gregorian Chant having pride of place, communion on the tongue, kneeling for communion and the like. If the Pope were merely to impose such things we might find that pastoral harm was caused and open dissent might also be a problem.

Pope Benedict is trying to help us rebuild our Catholic identity brick by brick.

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52 Responses to Propose rather than impose

  1. Joe in Canada says:

    I like this interpretation. My only concern is that ‘propose’ might not be strong enough. There might be another word that falls short of ‘order’. The Didache did not ‘order’, but neither did it ‘propose’. Rather it described what faithful Christians, that generation of saints, did.

  2. traditionalorganist says:

    A great deal of the responsibility for re-implementing the more traditional elements in the Mass, especially Gregorian Chant, falls upon the lay faithful. If we have the skill, and even if we don’t, we need to encourage it and help implement it as much as possible. As far as kneeling at communion and communion on the tongue, those, I think, should be mandated by the Pastor/bishop in a pastoral way. We need to be re-taught how to be reverent. Culturally, reverence has been lost.

  3. Hidden One says:

    Msgr. Pope’s post is excellent – as is His Holiness’ approach to the liturgy.

  4. PghCath says:

    It’s remarkable that a Pope with so little pastoral experience has so much pastoral sensitivity. Part of me would love some tradition-oriented legislation from the Vatican. But the other (more rational) part of me knows that would be a disaster. This Pope knows what he is doing. [Just because His Holiness was not in a parish for most of his priesthood, that doesn’t mean that what he did wasn’t pastoral. Teaching is pastoral. Working in a chancery or the Roman Curia is also pastoral. They are pastoral in a different way than parish work.]

  5. servusmariaen says:

    I respect the Holy Father for what he is doing. While I would applaud and welcome tradition oriented legislation from Rome my biggest concern is regarding the distribution/ reception of Holy Communion in the hand and the oft times sacrilege involved. I don’t understand how communion in the hand can be justified knowing that sacrilege or at the very least a profound disrespect for the Blessed Sacrament is involved. It would seem to me that the practice would be banned. Added to the fact that more often than not in most parishes there is a profusion of EXTRAORDINARY ministers of the Eucharist in NOT SO EXTRAORDINARY situations……….

  6. Brooklyn says:

    I understand that those who wish to “root the Church more deeply in traditional forms of the liturgy” as Msgr. Pope [if he ever become pope, he would be Pope Pope!] says, wish to go slow, and certainly our Holy Father, who has often expressed his dismay with the state of Catholic liturgy, is gently pushing the Church towards more reverence. But the academics who changed the Mass back in 1969 had no qualms whatsoever about just abruptly and with little warning changing everything, making the Mass almost unrecognizable. They didn’t worry about how it would affect the people then. Yet we have to be so concerned now as we watch abuse after abuse. Sigh.

    I wonder if it would be possible for our Holy Father to mandate that there be an Extraordinary Form of the Mass offered in every parish, or at least make that a goal, so that everyone would have a chance to be exposed to it. I truly believe that if you offer it, they will come.

  7. West of the Potomac says:

    I agree that the re-building of tradition needs to be carried out carefully. But there is a middle ground between proposing and mandating. It is a wonderful blessing that the Holy Father has celebrated Mass ad orientem and provides a witness for the reverent reception of communion kneeling and on the tongue, but, unless you live in a diocese with a bishop of a like mind, forget seeing very many bricks any time soon.

    (In my diocese the bishop would have the pastor’s head if he made accomodations for the faithful to receive kneeling–such as by placing a kneeler at the head of the line so people could choose to kneel or stand. )

    But what if there was another way? Perhaps the next step in the Marshall plan could be something along the lines of SP that goes around bishops (and the dreaded bishops’ conferences) and frees (and protects) priests to meet the pastoral needs of their flock, USCCB guidelines notwithstanding.

    For instance, the SP-like motu proprio could encourage the celebration of Mass ad orientem or of the solemn Masses when a stable group requests it, making reception of communion kneeling a legitimate and convenient option, etc.

  8. Will D. says:

    I can’t agree enough with Msgr. Pope’s way of thinking. I think there is still more that needs to be done to encourage a more traditional and reverent approach to the liturgy, I think it needs to be done with a gentle hand and light reins. Much as we might fantasize about Bp. Frankly X. Traditional coming in smashing guitars with his crosier and driving the EMHCs out of town on communion rail, I think that approach would backfire in practice.

  9. Torkay says:

    I agree with Brooklyn (even though I’m from the Bronx…). “Imposition” was the New World Order of the Day back in the 60s, from what I understand, though I was not in the Church then. But I think there is a problem with this statement:

    If the Pope were merely to impose such things we might find that pastoral harm was caused and open dissent might also be a problem.

    Pastoral harm and open dissent are the hallmarks of the Novus Ordo era, the open-windowed Church where everybody gets to do his own thing – most if not all of those “things” being quite un-Catholic. Another hallmark is the lack of anything being imposed from Rome – i.e. the complete disappearance of internal discipline. The failure to re-impose tradition is in my mind just another sign that the Church has become ungovernable…so perhaps, in such a milieu, the Holy Father is right: discipline and tradition must re-appear as a desire, not as a fiat.

    BTW, Pope Benedict has already expressed his desire that the TLM be offered in every parish in the UK – and of course, he has been completely ignored by the bishops.

  10. benedetta says:

    Excellent article! Totally agree with Msgr. Pope’s perspective. The Holy Father is a shepherd who leads by his example and proposes in and out of season.

    Where can we order one of those very cool WDTPRS Brick by Brick mugs? I believe my 10 year old son would enjoy having his hot chocolate with this image of our Holy Father as faithful mason. [Glad you asked! Just click the image or find links in the Z-Stuff area.]

  11. ies0716 says:

    I agree with this approach wholeheartedly. Many traditionalists of a particular (SSPX) stripe have a fantasy that things would work out splendidly if only the Pope would abrogate the NO tomorrow and mandate a full return to the way things were done before Vatican II. Our Holy Father realizes that any great change is disruptive, and the best way to bring back tradition while preserving the unity of the Church is to bring things back organically (brick by brick) and give the faithful time to digest changes before they become mandatory.

    That being said, I agree with the comments about bishops impeding the Holy Father’s vision. Many bishops (even conservative-leaning ones) have done nothing to teach the EF in their seminaries or promote EF liturgies in their dioceses. Some liberal bishops have even gone so far as to actively thwart the implementation of SP. If an organic rebuilding is to work, then bishops must be actively and explicitly forbidden from even the appearance of discouraging traditional reforms, and bishops that fail to comply must be made an example of.

  12. Frank H says:

    We must pray that God grants Pope Benedict many more years during which to “propose” the reform of the reform.

  13. wolfeken says:

    Doesn’t Pope Benedict XVI impose, rather than propose, receiving communion on the tongue while kneeling before the Holy Father?

    There is something to be said for imposing, with charity yet fortitude. When given the option (Friday penance, holy days, chapel veils, fasts, Latin, ad orientem, etc.) it seems nearly everyone will choose the easier selection. It is human nature to be lazy and populist.

    Impose ought not to be a bad word. The State does not propose we not rob our brother — it imposes such a law.

  14. Jim of Bowie says:

    I agree with Msgr. Pope on Benedict’s approach. However, after five years it is not working. I would be surprised if a dozen bishops in the US have adopted any of the Pope’s suggested reforms even in their cathedrals.

  15. Nordic Breed says:

    I like Msgr. Pope’s approach. To impose invites visible rebellion as I have seen first hand when a pastor tried to get rid of the “Eagles Wings” music in his parish. The Harpies flew screeching out of the rafters and the pastor was transferred solely because he sought to implement Sacrosanctum Concilium and teach Catholic truth.

    I’ve also seen first hand when a priest who is against the EF was tapped by the bishop to start offering it. He refused to prepare for the Mass, gave homilies of the OF for that Sunday, wouldn’t work with the altar boys, and insulted us from the pulpit. The whole plan was to make the introduction of the EF a failure. Fortunately, it didn’t work and that priest was relieved of his responsibility for offering the EF by the new bishop. However, the new bishop said to a priest who wanted to offer the EF in his area of the diocese that there wasn’t any demand there and he didn’t want any created. The EF is still suppressed by these means.

    Issuing an order that every parish offer the EF along with the OF will seriously mess up the EF if priests who are hostile to it are forced to offer it. Above all, if the priest is in a resentful mood celebrating Mass I think it is likely an occasion of sin for many. The last thing we need is liturgical abuse in the EF because of conditions like these. Better stick with the Pope’s approach.

  16. ejcmartin says:

    My life as a Catholic has basically mirrored Benedict’s papacy. I think when he was elected there was hope on one side and fear on another that he would impose. I personally agree with his organic approach. I have noticed changes however small. Three years ago or so after we started to attend the EF Mass regularly we began to receive only on the tongue at NO Masses too. At the time it was very rare to see anyone else do so. I have noticed more recently however that 5 and sometimes up to 10% of the people are now receiving on the tongue. These are not people who attend the EF. Nothing has never been mandated, only a slow (but not in Church years) organic change.

  17. Brooklyn says:

    Nordic Breed – I see your point and reluctantly concede it. I think the reason that the reason there was no real rebellion in 1969 when the Mass was changed is because people just didn’t do that sort of thing back then. Holy Mother Church was respected and revered, and very seldom did the average person question anything. How different things are now. Some of that is good, but there seem to be many adverse consequences because of that attitude, also. We have so many priests in open rebellion against the reform that is coming this year. I can only imagine what would happen if a much more traditional liturgy was imposed. So yes, you’re right. We need to go slow. Again, sigh.

  18. Bornacatholic says:

    With all due respect, I disagree. I have always thought that our Holy Father was a Liturgical Pluralist more than he was a Liturgical Traditionalist.

    In, “The Ratzinger Report,” Vittorio Messori reports (p. 124) “Far from regarding this “Indult” on the lines of a “restoration,” he saw it rather in the context of that “legitimate pluralism” which has been so stressed by Vatican II and its interpreters.”

    Mr. Messori then goes on to quote the then Cardinal; “I would personally support a return to the ancient situation (referring to ante-Trent era) i.e., to a certain liturgical pluralism. Provided, of course, that the legitimate character of the reformed rite was emphatically affirmed, and that there was a clear delineation of the extent and nature of such an exception permitting the celebration of the pre-conciliar liturgy.

    I think many of the soi disant Traditionalists have convinced themselves that this Pope is not who he is – a Pope who treasures Vatican Two and the Pauline Rite,. a Pope who still pursues an accommodation with modernity, a Pope who has no intention of trying to restore the Gregorian Rite to its more-than-a-millenium status as the normative Rite.

    Soi disant Traditionalists who do not think that Vatican Two was the Cat’s Pajamas will have to wait a long time – they will not see it in their lifetimes -before the restoration they desire will even begin.

    I mean no disrespect to the Holy Father who is an infinitely better-educated, surpassingly more knowledgeable, and galactically holier man than am I, but it does nobody any good to pretend he is other than who he is.

  19. Needless to say, the approach labeled “pastoral” is often anything but… Case in point? When the Holy See (upon which authority to “regulate the sacred liturgy solely depends unless conceded” – cf SC 22) allows the sacred signs chosen by Christ and Holy Mother Church to be destroyed, altered or replaced in such way that the Lord’s will for His Redeeming love to be experienced in Holy Mass by the whole of man – whom He created with body, mind, intellect will and senses – to be thwarted.

    So… my take is that the Holy Father’s approach may very well be argued as “prudent” on some level, but the label “pastoral” doesn’t seem to fit.

  20. Bornacatholic says:

    To impose invites visible rebellion as I have seen first hand when a pastor tried to get rid of the “Eagles Wings” music in his parish

    We don’t do authority anymore. We don’t do discipline anymore. This new way of being Church was announced at during the Opening Speech to The Council by Pope John 23rd;

    We see, in fact, as one age succeeds another, that the opinions of men follow one another and exclude each other. And often errors vanish as quickly as they arise, like fog before the sun. The Church has always opposed these errors. Frequently she has condemned them with the greatest severity. Nowadays however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity. She consider that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnations. Not, certainly, that there is a lack of fallacious teaching, opinions, and dangerous concepts to be guarded against an dissipated. But these are so obviously in contrast with the right norm of honesty, and have produced such lethal fruits that by now it would seem that men of themselves are inclined to condemn them, particularly those ways of life which despise God and His law or place excessive confidence in technical progress and a well-being based exclusively on the comforts of life. They are ever more deeply convinced of the paramount dignity of the human person and of his perfection as well as of the duties which that implies. Even more important, experience has taught men that violence inflicted on others, the might of arms, and political domination, are of no help at all in finding a happy solution to the grave problems which afflict them.

    One would be hard-pressed to find a worse example of misreading the signs of the times or to find a worse time to ditch condemnations.

    But, there ya go.

    That is the Path we are on; a Pilgrim Church praising the very world that restlessly and relentlessly presses upon us to try and destroy us.

    The Eagles Eggs were laid and hatched and they were taught to sing off-key by Holy Mother Church herself and there is no sense in trying to pretend otherwise.

    The Catholic Church rotted from the Head down and there is simply no good reason to think its restoration will begin until her Hierarchy retraces its false steps back down this new Path and restores a healthy sense of triumphalism and begins to Teach, Rule, and Sanctify; to condemn and anethamatise.

    For Lord’s sake, there were 88, eighty-eight, Bishops who voted not to accept Nostra Aetate(thanks be to God) and they were not forced to accept it or face being excommunicated and they left the Council fully in union with The Church and so why is it being insisted that it (and other documents) represents a continuation of Tradition rather than what it appears to be, an innovation?

  21. Tradster says:

    Battles could not be won if generals merely proposed; nor could companies survive if their CEOs merely proposed. I readily concede that the heavy-handed imposition which we all desire would backfire in our faces simply because, unlike conservatives, liberals have no qualms about disobedience. But the real concern is because Pope Benedict will not have the long papacy of his predecessor to allow Tradition to gain its own momentum. Unless its growth is firmly established by the time the next pope is named, he could lean more left and happily undo what little has been accomplished.

  22. JKnott says:

    The proposal theme sounds ever so sweet and nice…. really broad minded and pastoral.
    But I think the real core of the problem is that various quarters within the Church for so long have modeled and allowed an interior spirit of pride and disobedience to the point that most, even good Catholics, find the idea of genuine joy in submission and discipline, offensive to this contemporary spirit of independent thinking and self-centeredness. Think of the past when the no meat on Friday and even the veil regulations were in place. When Catholics failed or balked, at least they knew they were wrong and often eventually came back, sheepishly. The people who hated not eating meat on Friday did it and gained merit for going against their own will.
    It is the heart and soul that needs to re-learn to bend to the other especially when the other is our Holy Mother the Church who only regulates for the purpose of giving us a focus to becoming saints.
    It’s all in the virtue of obedience. Adam and Eve were not asked their opinions about the apple. . The Church needs to teach virtue before the mob will stop threatening retaliation.
    St. Therese of the “Little Way” said everyday she would try to humiliate her pride and oppose her own self-will. She is a modern saint for us now.
    “That all may be one.”

  23. Denis says:

    I was very pleased to listen to this interview on the Catholic Answers podcast the other day. I had been worried that Catholic Answers might be unfriendly to the EF, given recent comments made by one of their apologists about the Novus Ordo and the vernacular.

  24. Will D. says:

    For the sake of argument, suppose the Pope abrogated the Second Vatican Council and all its fruits and returned everything to the status quo ante starting next Advent. What would happen? Chaos and schism, I suspect. Surely the evidence of the SSPX and other traditionalist groups shows what would happen if the church lurched the other way. Only in greater and more disastrous numbers.

  25. An interesting comment that I heard the other day is that we’re going to a more pluralistic Liturgical sense similar to pre-Trent.

    To me it seems interesting of what few Liturgical things that have been imposed by Rome for the US (the end of Extraordinary Ministers purifying the vessels for example) have been in general ignored.

    Proposing is the way to go. It’s gaining steam and once it gains enough, this movement will not be stopped.

  26. Kent says:

    If the bottom line be the salvation of souls does proposing or imposing bring a quicker resolution to the problems in the Church today and get us back on the right track? For my money imposing is the way to go. Let’s get on with it and quick messing around. I have dealt with enough pastors to know that proposing is the same as saying “go about business as usual” as they turn a blind eye to anything new or out of their comfort zone.

  27. Bornacatholic says:

    For the sake of argument, suppose the Pope abrogated the Second Vatican Council and all its fruits and returned everything to the status quo ante starting next Advent.

    I think Vatican Three will absorb all of that which is of Tradition in Vatican Two and ignore the rest – even though I favor a humble and courageous admission of error.

    What would happen? Chaos and schism, I suspect.

    The formal, identifiable, and recognisable schism of HUGE numbers in America, I’d guess. Yep, and chaos too. But, that would be no different that the chaos that resulted when those who opposed Jesus went into schism after Jesus took clear, concise, and authoritative action; and because The Catholic Church teaches with the authority of Jesus, one would expect the same reaction – especially today after more than a half-century of ecclesial laxity, especially- if the Church returned to a healthy embrace of Triumphalism.

    Surely the evidence of the SSPX and other traditionalist groups shows what would happen if the church lurched the other way.

    The other option is to continually warn of problems if this, that, or the other decision is taken and all that really amounts to is is a way to preserve the revolution and push-back the day of inevitable reckoning.

    Look, it is ineluctable that this new way of being, this skipping down this new path, is going to end at some point. The sooner that happens the better.

    And why be so concerned about the wolves in the Church when that concern results in laxity and inaction against them?

    Feed my Lambs. Feed my Lambs. Feed my Sheep. (John 21)

    As for the SSPX, were it not for them, no Gregorian Rite/Trad Mass/Latin Mass/Immemorial Mass/EF Mass. The SSPX has suffered enmity and obloquy for a long, long, long, time when the plain and simple truth is they have been punished precisely because of the good they have done.

    That is not to say that they are impeccable but I will go to their Masses/Parishes in a heartbeat less than a nanosecond after they are regularised. If anyone can identify a heresy they hold or teach, I don’t know what it is.

    Anyone who has watched Bishop Fellay on You Tube has to admit he is a Holy, serious, studious, knowledgeable, and exemplary Prelate whose primary concern is the Tradition he (and me) grew-up with and had been taught to him by the very Catholic Church he loves and tries to serve.

  28. Andrew says:

    Homo proponit, Deus disponit.

  29. kgurries says:

    I think Pope Benedict’s has a realistic approach to liturgical reform (or rather reform of the reform) that is based on the concept of organic development of the liturgy. In think this presupposes a certain degree of preparation and organic development prior to mandating by way of decrees. The seeds have to be planted and watered allowing natural (organic) growth. Organic development will be followed by legislation — when the time is ripe. The legislation does not establish or create the “norms” (as in a mechanically imposed process) as much as it seeks to preserve the authentic norms in existence (organically). Just a thought.

  30. Father Z,

    I know I am repeating myself, but I think the Holy Father is reaching his hand out—over top of all clergy— to the laity. It as if he is saying ‘I am surrounded by traitors, therefore our Lord and I appeal to you to carry out my reform of the reform’. Why else would he issue his Motu Propio which relies essentially upon lay inititiative? Why no fiats from on high – which most bishops would ignore-? His Holiness is trying to sandwich his rebellious clergy between himself and the Faithful.

    The Faithful who stand by and wait for fiats before they ask for the EF or before they demand reverence for the OF are buying into the clericalism which implemented the ‘spirit of Vatican II’.

  31. Sam Schmitt says:

    I agree with Msgr. Pope on Benedict’s approach. However, after five years it is not working. I would be surprised if a dozen bishops in the US have adopted any of the Pope’s suggested reforms even in their cathedrals.

    I had to chuckle – 5 years and it’s “not working”? It’s taken more than 40 to get us where we are now, with roots going back farther than that, so yes, it will take more than 5 years for this to turn around. If by “working” you mean every bishop and priest celebrating the mass like the pope, this simply is not possible in five years.

    So what approach would you recommend? A heavy-handed legalistic approach would result in acrimony, rebellion, misunderstanding, and possibly even schism. What good would this do?

    I think you’d agree that people’s hearts have to change, not just their exterior behavior. They go together, of course, but a change of heart cannot be mandated by papal fiat. How to change people’s hearts? The only way is through people freely understanding and choosing the good. Hence the pope pends most of his time preaching, teaching, admonishing, convincing, explaining – and less time on punishing, mandating, and condemning (not that this doesn’t have to be done sometimes, too).

    Laws can be pretty effective in keeping people away from bad things (don’t do this or you you will be punished), but they are a blunt instrument in moving people toward the good.

  32. wolfeken says:

    When there are no laws (which is pretty much the case with the novus ordo) then there is anarchy.

    We can’t function as a law-less liturgical society and expect everyone to magically choose the good, even with the pope favoring this or that. It needs to be imposed. Otherwise people will assume it is for thee and not for me.

    Example: Most people (saints and sinners) abstained from eating meat on Fridays when it had the force of law. Now it doesn’t. Know anyone outside your little circles who abstains from meat on Fridays? But it’s encouraged.

  33. Bornacatholic says:

    Example: Most people (saints and sinners) abstained from eating meat on Fridays when it had the force of law. Now it doesn’t. Know anyone outside your little circles who abstains from meat on Fridays? But it’s encouraged.

    And, that “encouragement” has directly led to a decrease in Catholics abstention from meat on Fridays which has directly led to an increase in effeminacy in the Church which is exactly what Dom Gueranger, in “The Liturgical Year,” quoting a Pope (I forget which one for the moment) predicted what would happen were this Discipline to be abandoned.

  34. Bornacatholic says:

    OK, I found the section of “The Liturgical Year,” I was referring to. It is from, LENT:

    It was with this intention that Pope Benedict XIV., alarmed at the excessive facility wherewith
    dispensations were then obtained, renewed, by a solemn dated June 10, 1745, the prohibition of eating fish and meat, at the same meal, on fasting days.

    The same Pope, whose spirit of moderation has never been called in question, had no sooner ascended the papal throne, than he addressed an encyclical letter to the bishops of the Catholic
    world, expressing his heartfelt grief at seeing the great relaxation that was introduced among the faithful by indiscreet and unnecessary dispensations. The letter is dated May 30, 1741.
    We extract from it the following passage: ‘The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the cross of Christ. By it we avert
    the scourges of divine justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a
    detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe.'[21]

    More than a hundred years have elapsed since this solemn warning of the Vicar of (Christ was given to the world; and during that time, the relaxation he inveighed against has gone on gradually increasing. How few Christians do we meet who are strict observers of Lent, even in its present mild form![22]

    And must there not result from this ever-growing spirit of immortification, a general effeminacy of character, which will lead, at last, to frightful social disorders? The sad predictions of Pope Benedict XIV. are but too truly verified. Those nations, among whose people the spirit and practice of penance are extinct, are heaping against themselves the wrath of God, and provoking His justice to destroy them by one or other of these scourges-civil discord, or conquest. In our own country there is an inconsistency, which must strike every thinking mind: the observance of the Lord’s day, on the one side; the national inobservance of days of penance and fasting, on the other. The first is admirable, and, if we except puritanical extravagances,
    bespeaks a deep-rooted sense of religion; but the second is one of the worst presages for the future. The word of God is unmistakable: unless we do penance, we shall perish.[23] But if
    our ease-loving and sensual generation were to return, like the Ninivites, to the long-neglected way of penance and expiation, who knows but that the arm of God, which is already raised to strike us, may give us blessing and not chastisement?

  35. Most Catholics in the US have no idea that fish on Friday outside Lent was ever a custom, or that the law is that we either skip fleshmeat or do something penitential. NO. IDEA. They were taught that there was now nothing on Friday, both by the media and by their clergy. Many were actively discouraged from fish and grilled cheese on Friday. They are doing the best they know when they eat meat on Friday. (If it weren’t for EWTN and the blogosphere, I’d still have no clue.) Expect a lot of anger and disbelief followed by gradual adherence, as people find out through the years.

  36. joan ellen says:

    Fr Z, Two words I’m learning – patience and gratitude. Finally. TBTG. Learned that our Bishop in Kalamazoo rises early, such as at 4:30 a.m., to pray. He prays a(n) Holy Hour before he visits a parish, and asks the priest to have a(n) Holy Hour before he arrives. One of his priests asked (did not impose) his catechism teachers to teach the prayers of the Rosary to the children. He’s also given permission for little plastic rosaries to be donated to the children. In that same NO parish a guild of the Daughters of Mary stayed after Mass today to pray the Rosary. Usually they do this in a home. This same pastor has a(n) Holy Hour on 1st Friday. I recently heard him mention 40 Hours Devotion. As you say Fr., prayer gets easier as we pray. And it is easier when others pray with us. Point: With enough prayer…especially Rosaries and Holy Hours…we’ll see all kinds of ‘bricks’ building the wall in the Church. Hopefully sooner than we know. p.s. Am going to get the above mug for the Bishop, and perhaps one for this pastor.

  37. Tuotilo says:

    When did our Church become so wimpy?

  38. pop says:

    I am appalled that there are so many people who simply do not have a clue.
    first : PLEASE READ THE DIDACHE (The Teaching)

    This first or second century book of teaching instructs one on how to receive communion. I do not recall the exact words but it says something to the effect that one should hold out their left hand while supporting it with the right as though holding a crown.
    Vatican II did NOT invent this process. (sacrilege) … HARDLY! not knowing your faith! possibly. ranting about something of which you are not informed! GET REAL PEOPLE!

    Did the Holy Spirit speak at Pentecost? Does the Holy Spirit continue to speak to the church!
    YOU BET!!!
    This blatant disrespect for the WORK of the HOLY SPIRIT IS OUTRIGHT HERESY!!!

    THE HOLY FATHER TOGETHER WITH THE BISHOPS OF THE CHURCHES GATHERED AT VATICAN II. THE HOLY SPIRT SPOKE AND GUIDED THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    IF YOU DO NOT ACCEPT THAT I’M AFRAID YOU JUST ARE NOT CATHOLIC!!! [I don’t like your tone and I don’t like it that you are SHOUTING at my readers. You don’t get to post freely anymore.]

    That being said, the catholic church is a welcoming church. She has room enough to accept many varieties of spirituality…… even yours!
    She makes exceptions out of pastoral concern for all. She has allowed the “extraordinary” form of mass to continue. She does so because it is part of our tradition (not Tradition), and she realizes there are some who long for it! She reaches out to accommodate/ be grateful!

    Not being satisfied with that exception for you, no you think everyone should go back in time. Go to a language very, very few understand!
    A demand that all should kneel….. all should receive on the tongue!
    You better ask yourself if it is pride or a false sense of piety that is driving you!

    LONG, LONG before Trent and Latin there was a church celebrating in song and joy. What makes anyone think the mass of Trent is the only authentic method of celebrating Eucharist!

    Do yourself a big favor:

    Read the Didache and learn how these Christians who risked their lives celebrated Eucharist!
    Then pray that WE amy imitate them.

  39. Tuotilo says:

    Read the Didache yourself, you’re imagining things.

  40. Tuotilo says:

    “Canon 9. If anyone says that the rite of the Roman Church, according to which a part of the canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low tone, is to be condemned; or that the mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular tongue only;[28] or that water ought not to be mixed with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice because it is contrary to the institution of Christ,[29] let him be anathema.” – Council of Trent.

  41. iowapapist says:

    Reply to Pop: By your logic, all the piety, wisdom and tradition of the Church which have been added since the first or second century have weakened the faith. This “originalist” philosophy tends to justify the banal liturgical practices of the present by comparing them to a much earlier era of history. Does this mean that all of the saints who lived and were inspired during the 1,500 year period of the classical rite were misguided? Also, aren’t you assuming that the piety embraced by those who are currently attached to the ancient rite is false? Isn’t it quite possible that many of those who are attached to the traditional liturgy experience the same spiritual inspiration that was provided to the saints?

  42. I have made occasional use of this option at my own parish by using side altars for smaller Masses.

    This is a “brick” that I think could be used more often and very effectively in older churches that have not been extensively renovated. Even newer churches tend to have some sort of area that could be fitted with a side altar. If anyone asks why Mass is being offered ad orientem, all the priest has to say is, “Well, we had this beautiful side altar and I thought that just using it as a flower stand didn’t quite cut it.” Many daily Masses could be offered at a side altar very easily. It could also make a good excuse for moving a tabernacle off that side altar and back to the center of the sanctuary.

    As for proposing rather than imposing– it works to a point. But some of the excesses, like weeds, have to be, um, “extirpated.” (I will never shake the image of the dalek taking aim at the cute stole– I can also imagine the Nomad probe from the Star Trek episode “The Changeling” being reprogrammed and used to impose some sort of order on the liturgy.)

  43. Orphanboy says:

    C’mon folks, look around. How much effect has the Pope’s “re-positioning” on the liturgy really had? Relistically, not much. How much has the re-introduction of the Extraordinary Form really had on making the Ordinary Form more reverent and beautiful? Realistically, not much. Liberals tore down the house of the liturgy in about eight years. At the rate things are going now, it will take 100 times that to re-build that house, if then. The fact is, re-positioning is not working.

  44. Orphanboy: Perhaps you lack the proper perspective to make that judgment. We all do. He hasn’t been Pope for very long, after all.

    I see slow progress. I think progress will be much faster as the younger men replace the aging in positions of authority.

  45. P.McGrath says:

    Father Z:

    I’m split halfway on this question. Sometimes I want to be the gentle St. Francis de Sales (“you get more flies with honey than with vinegar”), and sometimes I want to be the butt-kicking Prophet Jeremiah.

    On the other hand, remember your recent post on the dissident Irish priests? They didn’t propose, they imposed their determination to be mediocre on their parishes, with a vengeance. And they are absolutely determined to see that their work is not undone.

    Frankly, this lot needs a generous helping of imposing — a little whoop-ass, as our WWE friends would say. Our Lord was willing to kick a little Temple merchant butt when needed — but notice: He used “a scourge of cords” — hardly a first class weapon — then drove out animals, spilled coins, and overturned tables. In other words, He attacked things, not people.

    That’s why I prefer to use the term intrinsically unworthy music products when I fight against the Bad Music that has infected our Catholic liturgy since 1965. Attack products, not people. At the same time, these things need to be attacked, not merely proposed against.

  46. abiologistforlife says:

    For the sake of argument, suppose the Pope abrogated the Second Vatican Council and all its fruits and returned everything to the status quo ante starting next Advent. What would happen? Chaos and schism, I suspect.

    I’ll say! But which side would be in schism? Vatican II is an Ecumenical Council; I don’t think you can just undo that even by Papal Infallibility, any more than a Pope could use his infallibility to reverse the infallible declaration of – say – the Assumption. I’m not at all sure that a

    Yes, VII was a ‘non-dogmatic’ council, but that means it did not establish new de fide doctrines. It does not mean it can be erased from the history of the Church or that it is not an Ecumenical Council.

    If the indefectibility of the Church means anything at all, there is no error or heresy in Vatican II. (Questions of prudence don’t fall under indefectibility though, I don’t think, so one could still argue that certain truths were emphasized more than they should be and others less than they should be. I don’t think the problems in the current era stem from anything in VII though — they’re a symptom of Western / Anglosphere / Northwest Europe culture in decline/decadence.)

  47. abiologistforlife says:

    Oops. Should say that ‘I’m not at all sure that an *abrogation* per se would not be an act of schism (or of *something*) itself. Now, there are councils whose status as Ecumenical Councils was debated and eventually decided against — but that’s not the same thing as *abrogating* them, they never *were* Ecumenical.

  48. Pop:

    (1) The Didache says nothing about receiving communion in the hand, but I believe your paraphrase comes instead from a 3rd or 4th century Father of the Church; (2) these early communities knew their members well, whereas today, many Mass goers are anonymous, often grossly undercatechized and even, sometimes, Satanists, all of which put Our Lord in grave danger of sacrilege if He is placed in such hands; (3) for reasons like this, as well as to show appropriate reverence for Our Lord, the Church began distributing communion on the tongue very early in it’s history; (4) the practice of communion in the hand resumed, not surprisingly, through dissent and disobedience in the years following Vatican II, and was in no way mandated or even suggested by the oouncil, but rather the Church gave permission for this practice after the disobedience became widespread.

    When you find Lord’s broken and soiled body under a pew one of the days, as some of us have, you might change your mind on this issue.

  49. chironomo says:

    I don’t think that all types of ‘reforms” or changes can be grouped together. Some reforms can, and SHOULD be imposed by legislation. The issue of communion in the hand…it is a matter of legislation, allowed by an indult which can be revoked. Simply “suggesting” communion on the tongue while the indult remains in force and says otherwise is both non-productive and confusing.

    But things like “greater reverence”… what would one legislate for that? Those are matters of attitude and practice. And particularly when it gets to things like Sacred Music…. there indeed needs to be more direct and specific legislation in place to clarify what is “allowed” and what isn’t, but to actually mandate that every parish will use the chants from the Graduale (as much as I would be thrilled by that!) would probably not have the desired effect.

    I don’t buy the idea that most Pastors would continue to distribute communion in the hand if there were actual legislation in place specifically banning the practice. There might be a few, but not in general.

  50. Breck says:

    I was interested in Andrew S.’s suggestion that a side altar might be used for an ad orientem Mass. Many long years ago (1975) our assistant priest tried that. When the pastor found out, he had both side altars cut down so that they are now too shallow for saying Mass. That was a case of removing “brick by brick.”

  51. Sam Schmitt says:

    When there are no laws (which is pretty much the case with the novus ordo) then there is anarchy.I/i>

    Who’s proposing “no laws”? I’m certainly not. The novus ordo has no laws attached to it? News to me. Last I checked there was a large tome called the “General Instruction” which has the force of law in the Church. You are not allowed to have non-Scriptural reading at mass, for example.

    So no one’s saying “let’s have no laws” (that’s called a strawman argument), but what role should laws play in the Church. If you think they’re the primary means of leading people to virtue and holiness, think again.

    Think about what you’re saying – the good needs to be imposed or else no one would choose it. Is the good really that unattractive, that undesirable that we have to force people to choose it? Is this the kind of people we want in the Church – people who do not see the good for what it is but still “choose” it because they fear the alternative. I’m still trying to understand what this has to do with love, which if it means anything, is a free choice.

    I really like to know your take on this – without the strawman.