QUAERITUR: Can a priest ad lib the intro to the Lord’s Prayer?

Here is a serious insider-canon-ball post about something which nevertheless affects a great many people, since it deals with our liturgical worship, namely, the words by which the priest introduces the Lord’s Prayer.

In the new, corrected translation we see:

23. Then the Priest, with hands joined, says aloud:
At the Savior’s command
and formed by divine teaching,
we dare to say:

No leeway.  The priest is to say those words and not something else.  No freedom to ad lib.  We have to say the black and do the red.

Here is something (edited) I received from a priest:

Father,
I have pasted the response of the head of the Diocesan
Liturgical Commission in regards to a question I sent the commission.
I need some perspective please. Blessings and peace to you.

__________________

Here is my actual response regarding the invitation to the Lord’s
Prayer
:

It appears that the Vatican now has a preference for us to use the
intro that appears there. It’s the same one that has always been there
in Latin. HOWEVER:

The vernacular translations added others partly because of a letter
from the Congregation for Divine Worship in 1973
that said in part
this (and I highlighted the pertinent part):

“Among the possibilities for further accommodating any individual
celebration, it is important to consider the admonitions, the homily
and the general intercessions. First of all are the admonitions. These
enable the people to be drawn into a fuller understanding of the
sacred action, or any of its parts, and lead them into a true spirit
of participation. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal entrusts
the more important admonitions to the priest for preparation and use.
He may introduce the Mass to the people before the celebration begins,
during the liturgy of the word prior to the actual readings, and in
the Eucharistic prayer before the preface; he may also conclude the
entire sacred action before the dismissal. The Order of Mass provides
others as well, which are important to certain portions of the rite,
such as during the penitential rite, or before the Lord’s Prayer. By
their very nature these brief admonitions do not require that everyone
use them in the form in which they appear in the Missal. Provision can
be made in certain cases that they be adapted to some degree to the
varying circumstances of the community…”

In the view of a representative of ICEL and Vox Clara, who worked on
the translation both in Rome and here with the USCCB, and whom I
consulted about this question, the 1973 letter is still in force.

Ooookayyyy…. that doesn’t sound plausible to me.

I checked with a good canonist on this. Here is the response I received:

This letter from the CDW is most likely a general executory decree (c. 30ff), or possibly an instruction (c. 34). General Executory Decrees “do not derogate from the law” (c. 33) and “cease to have force by explicit or implicit revocation by the competent authority, and by the cessation of law for whose execution they were issued” (c. 34) Similarly, Instructions “cease to have force not only by explicit or implicit revocation by the competent authority who published them or by that authority’s superior, but also by the cessation of the law which they were designed to set out and execute.” (c. 34, 4).

I would argue that this letter from the CDW referred to the rubrics of the 1970 Missal. Where the current Missal repeats the provisions of the 1970 Missal, this letter would still have force. Since the rubrics of the current Missal do not use the phrasing “with these or similar words” for the introduction to the Lord’s prayer, I do not believe that the provisions of the ’73 letter from the CDW apply, since the item they refer to has been integrally reordered (cf. c. 20).

Whew.

Bottom line. The “liturgist” says that the rubrics in the most recent Roman Missal don’t have to be obeyed because of a letter from 1973. Wrong. The new rubrics have to be followed.

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58 Responses to QUAERITUR: Can a priest ad lib the intro to the Lord’s Prayer?

  1. TNCath says:

    Thank you so much for this posting! Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation still being circulated to the priests, and, just as unfortunately, there are a lot of priests out there who ” just don’t give a rip,” and are continuing to ad lib these admonitions and even adding things to the Eucharistic Prayers. Perhaps there needs to be a “clarification document” from Rome or the USCCB clarifying these issues once and for all?

  2. Rich says:

    HAHAHAHA. The CDW has written a lot of things, like that only men’s feet should be washed on Holy Thursday. Would this liturgist be so inclined to follow the CDW with this directive?

  3. Andy Milam says:

    This seems to me, again….(sadly) of the problem we are faced with, as Catholics, because the rule of law has been reduced to a set of norms open to interpretation.

    If liturgical law is to be followed, then it is to be followed. This makes assistance at the TLM very easy. It has the rule of law behind it and there are very precise and very clear instructions on how to follow the law, to the letter, so that the spirit might be found.

    Since the musings of Bugnini have become forceful, the liturgical law has been abolished. It has been replaced with a set of instructions which are normative, but have nothing to support them lawfully. The rule of law has been removed, in favor of a guideline model.

    Was this by design? I kinda think so. I think that this was one of the goals of Bugnini, et. al. I think that it was their intention to remove liturgical law from the equation, because it was too Catholic and interfered with the free form understanding of the institution narrative, which has come to replace the sacrificial action (in practice). The sacrifice is a very precise thing, where as the insitituion narrative is not.

    This accomplishes 2 things IMHO; first, it makes it much easier for a Protestant to relate to the Mass without being offended, because it is not so legal and it is more “spiritual.” Second, it undermines the whole idea of the Mass being a consistent action.

    If there is nothing holding a priest legally to the action, then what is holding the liturgist from doing what he or she wants in planning the priests moves according to his or her whims? Nothing.

    Sure there is “the law.” But it gets back to what force does “the law” really have? A prime example…I wrote my bishop about abuses going on in my home parish. He responded that he was supportive of my position and that I contact the pastor. I contacted the pastor. I have heard nothing and the liturgy is just as nutty as the day I wrote the letter (maybe even moreso). It is clear that the pastor is “breaking the law,” but there is no recourse to it, is there?

    So, while the faithful priest follows the rubrics of the Novus Ordo and tries to be faithful to what is written, there is nothing preventing him from not following the red…and simply making up his own black, save two phrases….because there is no ramification for his actions.

    What am I getting at? So the liturgist invokes 1973. She or he is wrong. We all know that. We’ve consulted a canon lawyer. Now what? Father Pastor is going to continue to follow the liturgist, who is going to continue to live in 1973′s version and nothing changes.

    This is why I slam so hard, every single time I get the chance that the new translation is all good and well, but it does no good unless there is a change in the application of liturgical law and the understanding of the importance of it. How does that come about? I think in two ways: first, it must be taught in the seminary that there is only one way to celebrate Holy Mass…do the red, say the black. End of Story. Second, the Ordinary must police his priests. It sounds harsh and probably a little petty, but I can guarantee you that if Father Pastor looks back to the Narthex and sees a flash of amaranth as he is facilitating liturgical dance, things will probably change. We don’t live in times where the Ordinary can simply trust the right thing is going on with regard to the liturgy. He must be proactive in doing something.

    If he doesn’t…1973 will continue to be invoked and the both/and….either/or mentality of the instructions will continue.

    All of this begs the question….if the TLM has been faithfully celebrated (by and large) from 2007, why hasn’t the Novus Ordo been? And what is the real answer to that question….not the politically correct one?

    I’m just sayin’….

  4. Supertradmum says:

    Andy Milam,

    Good comment. “The rule of law has been removed, in favor of a guideline model.” How can one be disciplined or even, if a serious case, excommunicated because of a guideline?

  5. Pledger says:

    If the ’73 letter remains in force, then, under the same logic, I suspect that the liturgical documents pertaining to the 1962 missal remains in force…of course it doesn’t and, for the most part, they don’t.

  6. Be patient. Be very patient. A lot of this will only change with priestly formation.

    A lot of this is a function of mind-set. A lot of priests are convinced–they have been told for decades–that there is nothing wrong with a little ad-libbing, particularly at points such as this. It’s how they’ve offered Mass for decades.

    In fairness to them, there is some validity to their belief. I mean specifically that the newer form of the Mass does provide rather vague guidance, and does call for lots of adaptation. As a result, a lot of priests are on the spot; when they hold the line, they can have a difficult time showing that it’s not just them being cranky, but trying to be faithful to the (true) spirit of the rubrics.
    As that is somewhat subtle, and tiresome, a lot of priests don’t fight all the battles; and as a result, a mindset that you can tinker a fair amount continues.

    I realize not everyone agrees, but it is changing. I’m sorry it’s taking so long.

  7. Andy Milam says:

    Fr. Fox,

    I completely understand what you’re saying and it makes sense….the problem is that we, the faithful, have a right to the Holy Mass celebrated properly. If there is nothing firm except for the words of consecration, then how can we know that the Mass is celebrated properly?

    The Church has always been based in logic. It has embraced objectivity. Since the Bugnini reforms of 1969-70, that has all gone out the window and the faithful have been subjected to liturgical anarchy.

    I agree 100% that this is all built in “leeway.” But is that leeway what the Council Fathers intended or is it what the Consiliar priests intended? We say that the renewal of the Holy Mass came from Vatican Council II. I’m not so sure anymore. I’m becoming more and more convinced that it was from a small group of liturgical theologians with an agenda, who were supported by John XXIII and Paul VI.

    Also, let me ask an honest question, one that I might not like the answer to, but that’s ok…if there is “…some validity to their belief. I mean specifically that the newer form of the Mass does provide rather vague guidance, and does call for lots of adaptation…” then how do we apply liturgical law? Does it exist any longer?

    One final set of questions, you state, “As that is somewhat subtle, and tiresome, a lot of priests don’t fight all the battles; and as a result, a mindset that you can tinker a fair amount continues.” How can that mindset exist? Don’t all priests know that the celebration of the Mass is the single most important thing they can do, daily…first, a priest is ordained to offer the sacrifice? If it is, where is the disconnect? If not, why are they priests? Has the priesthood lost the meaning of the sacrificial action, by and large?

    I’m sorry if that offends, but honestly…if we lose sight of the sacrifice in favor of a narrative guided by simple instruction…what is the future of the Holy Mass?

  8. Blaise says:

    One might reasonably expect someone claiming to be a liturgist to be familiar with the GIRM. Section 31 reads:

    31. It is also up to the priest, in the exercise of his office of presiding over the gathered assembly, to offer certain explanations that are foreseen in the rite itself. Where it is indicated in the rubrics, the celebrant is permitted to adapt them somewhat in order that they respond to the understanding of those participating. However, he should always take care to keep to the sense of the text given in the Missal and to express it succinctly. The presiding priest is also to direct the word of God and to impart the final blessing. In addition, he may give the faithful a very brief introduction to the Mass of the day (after the initial Greeting and before the Penitential Act), to the Liturgy of the Word (before the readings), and to the Eucharistic Prayer (before the Preface), though never during the Eucharistic Prayer itself; he may also make concluding comments to the entire sacred action before the Dismissal.

    Since this clearly states that the priest can only adapt “them” (presumably the words of the text or the rubrics) when the rubrics allow, and the old rubrics (1973/4) did allow but the new rubrics (2002/2011) don’t, I would imagine that this ought to have been a source of immediate reference for any “liturgist” in sympathy with the liturgy as the Church has given it to us.

    I fear that Fr Martin is right that we will have to wait; fear, because we will have to wait until priests with a true sense of the liturgy as a gift of and to the Church in the spirit of the reform of the reform have been in positions of authority in seminary long enough to have an influence for the good.

    Bishops who are struggling to find priests to serve all the parishes in their dioceses are going to be reluctant to come down hard on priests who ad lib where they shouldn’t. They are hardly going to start deciding they are not in good standing and then find they have half their diocesan priests having to cover for the other half who cannot be relied upon to read what is in front of them.

  9. Andy:

    I’m not offended, no worries.

    In answer to your question, how do you apply liturgical law, I would say this. As it stands now, liturgical law itself allows for much more leeway than it used to.

    For one, liturgical norms presuppose any number of rituals can and in some cases will be included in Mass: such as baptisms, confirmations, receptions into the Church; blessings, commissionings; and rituals associated with catechumens entering the Church.

    Second, rubrics are–as our genial host has pointed out before–less specific than they used to be. So a lot of variety is possible without doing violence to the norms.

    Example: the liturgical norms allow for announcements after the post communion prayer. The norms also call for this to be time when any extraordinary ministers of holy communion, who are being sent with the Eucharist to the sick, to be called forward and dismissed. There are two options currently in place; and doing them together is a little distracting for this priest.

    But more on the announcements; they are supposed to be “brief.” What does that mean? One minute or less? Can it be a “witness talk”? This is frequently what happens. When the diocese assigns a missionary speaker to visit the parish–and that speaker is not ordained, when is that missionary supposed to speak? It is at this point that s/he will usually speak. A dutiful pastor will emphasize “brief”; but is this really an announcement? This is so widely practiced that it contributes to the very mindset I mentioned.

    Set aside the speaker; what about a list of five announcements. Is that “brief”? I suppose in the old days, it would be done before the homily. That may satisfy the rubrics, but is it really better? I would argue it is still disruptive, because it puts something between the Scriptures and the homily. But perhaps less so.

    I might add that the rubrics for the music of Mass are loose enough that hymns are almost universal; yet the clear preference of the norms is not to use hymns. FWIW, if you know someone who likes to rant about being too “pre Vatican II,” this is a genuine pre-Vatican II carry-over. While the intention of the norms is clear enough, the letter of the law allows “other chants”–and that is how hymns stay, year after year.

    So what to do? Well, I suppose the rubrics can and should be made more precise. But eventually, one runs up against the ethos of the newer form of the Mass, which as I said, presupposed a lot of adaptation throughout the year. Eventually, that would have to change. And perhaps it should. But it’s more than just obeying the rubrics, or tweaking them. It is a different mind-set.

  10. Johnno says:

    As many point out. The new translation is a nice start to reforming the Church. But we’ve only placed the first pebble on the long road we have to brick up. The entire Church is plagued with disregard for Authority, Law, Tradition, Morality, Obedience, Relativism etc. It started somewhere at the top and has filtered down to the bottom and we see the results… Unfortunately reversing it will take way too long at the rate things are going and I fear the worst. Many souls are going to be lost and the remaining few will face persecution and distress. We were warned far in advance to expect these days numerous times.

    As said here. We need to return to the rigidity of law and obdience for our own good. Many read the Bible and wonder why God was so strict in everything He commanded Israel to do, and why such grave repercussions for breaking the law. We know fully well. Humanity is a fallen sinful creature who will in time abuse any freedom he is given. We’ve witnessed this throughout history and we even see this in our own personal sinful actions. I myself am guilty of it and it’s what ticks me off the most about myself. So it’s no wonder the faithful are sick and tired of the current state the Church has fallen into following Vatican II. We need a return to discipline and rule and strict guidance, all applied sensibly and logically and consistently. The same applies to disciplining unruly children and youth. it will HAVE TO START with the Church authorities disciplining themselves and getting back in line; from Rome, to the worldwide bishops, then it’s priests, then its laity, then parents, then children. It’s a top>down trickle effect. But reform is also possible starting from the bottom and reaching back to the top. One can even say the wishes of the relativistic masses affected their leaders. And that an immoral people elect immoral leaders. So therein lies the dilemma. So the actions to begin true reform need for both to occur simultaneously, from the top and well as the bottom.

    In summary. Parishioners should complain, and petition. And Church authorities need to respond and lay down the law and do so decisively and effectively. Sensible priests will see where they’ve erred and set themselves right and do their best. The non-sensible ones will find they have nowhere to turn to, neither to the laity who won’t tolerate disregard for the Mass, nor to find sanctuary in vague Church guidelines or getting off scott free by their superiors, and so will have to adapt or stubbornly find themselves alone to their own devices and I pray they convert and God enlightens them.

  11. Andy Milam says:

    @ Blaise…

    Two things:

    1. How can there be a reform of the reform without a wholesale change in theology? If you read just your quoted portion of the GIRM, a huge red flag pops out. If the priest is the presider…who is the celebrant? For doesn’t a presider simply function as the president of an assembly? If he is functioning in that way, then how do we reconcile the sacrifice, unless there is a celebrant? It would seem that if he is presiding over the assembly, then the the assembly is celebrating. If the assembly is celebrating, then who is the ordinary minister? And it all unfurls from there….

    In order for a “reform of the reform” to be effective, the following needs to happen:

    a) Ecclesiology needs to be restored
    b) Theology needs to be restored
    c) Rubrics need to be followed
    d) Liturgical law needs to be enforced
    e) The intentions of the Conciliar (not consiliar) Fathers need to be interpreted and applied in an authentic manner, most likely resulting in a major reform of the Mass, most likely in the form of a restoration, or “flipping” of the TLM to become the OF and the NO to become the EF.

    2. There needs to be a major, wholesale, and complete restructure of liturgical theology in the seminary! The above principles must be taught and applied. However, with this taking time, several things can expedite the situation:

    a) Bishops can “lace” their dioceses with orthodox and faithful men as installed acolytes, much like Bishop Vasa has done in Baker, OR. If there are proper extraordinary ministers who are well versed in matters liturgical and sacramental, then the support the bishops, the priests and the deacons will have until such time as the priesthood has been replenished.
    b) Control the number of permanent deacons and focus vocations on the priesthood. Deacons can be fine administrators, but they are limited in their sacramental scope. The permanent deaconate should not be an alternative to the priesthood, but ONLY a support.
    c) Re-focus the faithful on their PROPER roles within the Church, namely that they are to worship, not minister. Sure some will…altar boys and MCs, ushers, and council members, but by and large, the faithful need to understand and embrace their role as worshipper.

    Blaise…there is a major flaw in the liturgical life of the Church today….it has been undermined theologically and from an ecclesiastical point of view. The role of the priest has been eviscerated and all but removed. We need to get this back. This can only happen with the application of #1, IMHO.

  12. Andy Milam says:

    @ Fr. Fox,

    Thanks for taking the time to actually talk about this…most priests don’t (our dutiful host excluded of course…I know exactly where he stands…too many Saturday mornings eating “properly toasted toast” after Holy Mass).

    I think you’re right. But I think that what you’re saying is the fatal flaw in the Novus Ordo. The “leeway” continues to allow for abuse to creep in. Eventually, that abuse will erode the Mass so far that there will be nothing left, but the words of institution. Then what? We have the Mozarabic all over again? Pope St. Pius V had a vision…and codification isn’t a bad thing…unless one is Bugninian.

    So, because PP. Benedict is as open as he is, he opened the door for the TLM to be liberalized again. With that…more and more Catholics are going to start assisting there and stop doing what is not proper for them, ie. celebrating the Mass. They will hit the basements and the chapels and that oratories and they will assist through worship.

    It is sad….because I think that the pastoral aspect of Vatican Council II was doomed from the start! The hijacking took place so smoothly that there was nothing any bishop could do…it fell on John XXIII and Paul VI, but they were so enamored with the idea of aggiornamento that they missed the forest for the trees.

    You’re also right, Father in that it is going to take some time…thankfully, I have the option to not be an active part in the Novus Ordo, as bad as that sounds, because of SP and UE. I accept them as valid and I will assist there when necessary, but in my interior struggle for the truth, I don’t have to witness it day to day, much….that being said, I will never quit being an advocate for the true, authentic reform of the reform.

  13. Mom2301 says:

    Fr. Fox
    You give the example of the missionary speaking at the end of mass during the time for “announcements”. That has never happened in our parish. The visiting person (nun or missionary) speaks during the Homily. Is that even allowed? I wish it wasn’t, I always feel like I get cheated out of the fullness of mass when there is no homily only a “talk” by some visitor.

    Thanks

  14. Mom:

    It’s not allowed. Only an ordained cleric–bishop, priest or deacon–may deliver a homily. A talk by a non-ordained may not replace the homily.

    If a non-ordained is to speak at Mass, it either precedes or follows it; or else is an “announcement” if that is even a legitimate application of the rubrics.

  15. I think you can argue it’s a flaw, but I’m not sure you’ve made the case that it’s an intrinsic flaw, of the reformed rite.

    You are free to opt for the Extraordinary form, of course; but I have to tell it’s discouraging. Of course I am not faulting you; but those of us who are laboring to get things going the right way need help.

  16. Andy Milam says:

    @ Fr. Fox,

    I have been in this fight since 1994. I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Hitchcock and his wife while at St. Thomas. It was after reading his book, “Recovery of the Sacred” that I decided to get involved. For these 18 years, I’ve been fighting the fight, but honestly, I’m discouraged.

    Logic doesn’t apply
    Law doesn’t apply
    Reason doesn’t apply
    (Often times) Faith doesn’t apply

    I’ve written to my Ordinary. He says he’s supportive. I’ve written my pastor, he’s not. He refuses to engage the discussion. So, yes, it is discouraging. The hardest part is being one of the labourers who has sweat blood and that blood has fallen on rocky ground. Discouraging is a good word.

    A slight bit of background….I am a graduate of The University of St. Thomas with a double degree in Theology and Catholic Studies. I have been trained by my mentor Mons. Richard Schuler (RIP) and our illustrious host to be an effective Master of Ceremonies. I have been summarily dismissed as being a nuisance from my pastor in Northern Iowa. I can guarantee you I have forgotten more about the structure, spirituality, and action of the Mass than the current “liturgist” and DRE at my home parish combined, yet I cannot help. Discouraging, yes. BTW, my knowledge of the liturgical action regarding the OF and EF are equal. I can move between both seamlessly. Moreso than 99% of priests…it’s just that I’m not ordained (that isn’t my vocation).

    So, how can I help you? I want to. I want to be in the fight. But, since I can’t…I travel for Mass. I travel an hour and a half so I don’t have to be subjected to presence lights, and children’s liturgies on Sunday’s and music reminiscent of the musical RENT (check out Curtis Stephan’s new settings).

    Unlike my writing style, which is very straightforward (thank you Mr. LaBounty, my composition teacher in high school), my personal demeanor is very soft spoken, but firm.

    The reality is this…those of us who want to help are shut out. So now what? We resort to blogging and getting our message out that way so that others can pick up the slack where we can’t. So what do we do, because discouraging is the right word….moreso than a priest of your ilk, because you can change it all in the short time….we must simply endure homilies about Protestant ministers and Hindi clerics and Ghandi…..blech. We must simply endure pastel pinks and greens…blech. And we must simply endure being shut out, because we know too much.

    Sorry about the rant…it has nothing to do with you, but why shouldn’t I shake the dust from my sandals and head for the TLM exclusively? I’d rather be a nameless face who can gain the greatest grace by assisting at a TLM from the back pew, as opposed to having Fr. Pastor strip graces away layer by layer, through abuse. Harsh….yes. I think it needs to be said.

  17. Mom2301 says:

    Andy
    I completely understand your rant because it is the same for me. I also live in Northern Iowa, one and a half hours from the nearest EF mass. Our parish priest laughed at me for teaching my children the rosary because “Vatican II said to put your rosary in a drawer and forget about it.” I try to go to the church two to three times a week to make a holy hour (or holy half hour) and the priest questions why I am there so frequently “Are you trying to be holier than everyone else?” Let’s just say mass at my parish is a great test of my patience and charity. I have driven all over my deanery looking for a mass that doesn’t make me cry (seriously). Unfortunately, our bishop is about as vocal as Marcel Marceau regarding ANYTHING and those I know who have written to him with various questions and concerns regarding liturgical matters have not received any answer.

    This is why this blog means so much to me. I am in a place where I am literally the only one who even cares how mass is celebrated and that my children understand their faith. I am so glad to have the knowledge that there are priests out there like Fr. Z and those who frequent this blog who also care and work hard to teach us more about our faith. Seeing the posts of folks who have access to the EF and who treasure their faith makes me feel a lot less alone and hopeful for the church.

    I’m with you Andy and Fr. Fox, and I too will do whatever I can to help the Church become what she is meant to be.
    Sorry for a post so far afield of the original topic Fr. Z.

  18. Andy:

    No problem, I’m truly sorry for the trouble you’ve had. I wish I had you around here.

    Hmmm…

    Have you ever considered relocating?

  19. NoTambourines says:

    Andy–

    We almost adopted Stephan’s new Mass setting where I am. It was actually one of the “better” ones, at least in that it felt less like a stage production than many of the rest. Modern church music is a little bit Renaissance fest, a little bit Star Wars (the effect of Mixolydian mode use – that major VII chord), a little bit Danny Elfman (what the Lydian-mode stuff reminds me of), and a little bit James Taylor… though there’s even a calypso setting of the Gloria in the new translation.

    The common thread in the verbal, musical, and architectural trends in where we are today is the drive to make the Mass about “us, ” “the people” (but who in the world did they ask?). Ironically, the very blunt way my 70-ish dad has put it was that the Latin Mass was “torn away from the people” and the new one was allowed to be “the plaything of busybody laity.”

    If it’s about “us,” we’re entitled to fiddle and tinker and extemporize. That’s how we’ve wound up with Mister Potato-Liturgy: just stick on what you like, take off what you don’t, and mix ‘n’ match to create your own. Only, it’s not about us.

  20. For what it’s worth, I have noticed that almost every priest (again, for me, probably about 30 different priests) in the last 39 days has used the wording exactly as it is printed in the Missal, whereas in the past there was much freer deviation; now I know why. I think yesterday, the priest just skipped it and went straight into the Our Father, but other than that, very straight and encouraging. The one that may need the most work is the dismissal; many priests are still saying, “The Mass is ended; go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”

  21. Andy Milam says:

    Fr. Fox,

    I must apologize to you. You took a pretty good hit from me in that rant and it wasn’t fair. I know you’re a good priest and didn’t deserve to be tee’d off on. So please accept my humblest apology.

    It is very hard to live in the Church today, as a layman who understands the reality of what the Mass should be. It is also very hard to have lip service paid to us telling us that our views are important, but really it is only important insofar as it serves TPTB’s agenda…and THAT is sad!

    Oh well…that is the truth behind aggiornamento. The real truth.

    You mention that you don’t think that it’s an intrinsic flaw. I would be interested in knowing why you think that? I’m not questioning the validity. I certainly believe that it’s a valid Mass, but I do believe that the fatal flaw is that there it’s foundation is on sand. Jesus’ parable and all that….I don’t believe that the Novus Ordo can stand, because ultimately it wasn’t designed to. Ultimately, it was designed to cater to the Protestant. At least according to it’s primary architect and one of the consiglieri (MG Siegvalt).

    I am however very interested in your view, because I would like to believe I’m wrong….I just don’t know how I am, based upon the evidence.

  22. As longtime readers and commenters should know, Fr. Fox is the kind of priest who says the black and does the red, and who is trying to bring more and more tradition and beauty into his parish’s liturgy and life. He’s been trying to explain (with the greatest possible leeway for charitable interpretation) the mindset and POV of other people, not his own mindset. Beyond a certain point, though, he’s not going to be able to make sense for you of what all these other priests do at their parishes, because he’s not them.

    But yes, there has been an incredible amount of bull-manure taught to priests over the years, and some of them still don’t know any better. This is sad; but there’s no point actually getting mad at the innocently ignorant for not saying the black and doing the red — because they think that’s what they’re doing. All they need is better teaching. But the ones who know exactly what they’re doing, and that it’s wrong, and who don’t want to change because they worship themselves — those are the ones to get upset with.

  23. Andy:

    Apology accepted, but I wasn’t offended in any way; I didn’t take your rant as aimed at me.

    Now, as to the question you raise about whether there is an intrinsic flaw in the reformed Mass, here’s my take.

    The reformed Mass, because it is, at heart, still the Mass, has that at its core. That said, I believe the reform called for by the Second Vatican Council misfired. Whether by accident, by design, or by a combination of both, it misfired. While saying nothing against the older form of the Mass, I am not against the reform. The problem is, how do we get a do-over? How do we redirect the reform of the liturgy?

    Of course, this is the problem our holy father wrestles with. And some really good things are percolating, but it will take awhile to see it come about. Priestly formation is key; the regularization of the older form of the Mass was brilliant and has made a significant change. The new translation is going to bear wonderful fruit for many years to come. The trends in sacred music are very good, but again, slow; and not felt everywhere the same. Speaking from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, I can tell you things are changing. And, not least, the laity are going to bring change as well.

    I really think a new ethos is needed and is coming. I think ad orientem will, as it slowly returns (which I believe it will), go a long way to bring that ethos. I have no inside information on this, but I have this suspicion–or wishful thinking perhaps!–of a revised General Instruction down the road.

    Anyway, my point is I think these are the ways to address the flaws; I don’t see the reformed Mass as irredeemable.

  24. Suburbanbanshee:

    Thanks!

  25. Joe in Canada says:

    I intend to say what is printed. But I have to admit that under the influence of neo-citran, I twice said “taught by divine command and formed by the word of God, we are emboldened to pray”. A year ago when I said that I was retrograde: now I’d be a rebel!

  26. jhayes says:

    Andy Milam, in the GIRM, the priest presides and the Eucharistic Prayer is one of the “presidential” prayers listed in GIRM 30, which says:

    “30…These prayers are addressed to God by the Priest who presides over the assembly in the person of Christ, in the name of the entire holy people and of all present”

    In the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest and the people jointly offer the sacrifice to God. The people signify their participation by saying “Amen” at the end of the prayer.

    “95. In the celebration of Mass the faithful form a holy people, a people of God’s own possession and a royal Priesthood, so that they may give thanks to God and offer the unblemished sacrificial Victim not only by means of the hands of the Priest but also together with him….”

  27. jhayes says:

    Blaise, you have a different version of GIRM 31. The one posted on the USCCB website reads:

    31. Likewise it is also for the Priest, in the exercise of his office of presiding over the gathered assembly, to offer certain explanations that are foreseen in the rite itself. Where this is laid down by the rubrics, the celebrant is permitted to adapt them somewhat so that they correspond to the capacity for understanding of those participating. However, the Priest should always take care to keep to the sense of the explanatory text given in the Missal and to express it in just a few words. It is also for the presiding Priest to regulate the Word of God and to impart the final blessing. He is permitted, furthermore, in a very few words, to give the faithful an introduction to the Mass of the day (after the initial Greeting and before the Penitential Act), to the Liturgy of the Word (before the readings), and to the Eucharistic Prayer (before the Preface), though never during
    before the Dismissal.

    It’s arguable that “this” in the second sentence refers to “to offer certain explanations that are foreseen in the rite itself”

  28. jhayes says:

    It isn’t relevant to this discussion, but the ending of 31 reads

    though never during the Eucharistic Prayer itself; he may also make concluding comments regarding the entire sacred action before the Dismissal.

    Part of that got lost in the copy-and-paste

  29. Andy Milam says:

    @jhayes…

    And you don’t see that as a change in the theological position of the priest with regard to the Mass? I know what he does now, as opposed to what he does in the TLM.

    My question remains, if the priest presides over, but does not offer the sacrifice how is he fulfilling his priestly role? At no time in history, prior to 1969 has this ever been the theological position of the priest. The argument can be made from a historical point of view that this has never been the role of any priest of any pagan, Jewish or otherwise.

    The whole point of the priesthood is to offer the sacrifice of the lamb. According to what you just posted from the GIRM, he doesn’t do that. He presides over the faithful who offer the sacrifice. That is a Protestant view. Plain and simple! It eviscerates the priesthood and diminishes it to a purely pastoral role, wherein the priest is simply one of the many celebrants, and he merely presides….

    This is a HUGE issue!

  30. jhayes says:

    Andy Millam asks “if the priest presides over, but does not offer the sacrifice”

    The priest does offer the sacrifice. The people offer the sacrifice along with him. They cannot offer the sacrifice wihout him.

    GIRM 254 requires that “except for a just and reasonable cause” Mass should not be celebrated wihout at least one person other than the priest present.

  31. Andy Milam says:

    @ Fr. Fox,

    Do we necessarily need a “do-over?” I’m not so sure. I think that in looking at Sacrosanctum Concilium, there was nothing which dictated a reform on the scale by which it was done. I think that the biggest reform was to mandate some (just a very little) vernacular in the liturgical action, mainly encompassing the readings…outside of that, I don’t think that any of the other reforms were necessary.

    That being said, I wonder if just suppressing the Novus Ordo is out of line? Bear with me. I’m not saying that it’s not valid, but I am saying that the premise is wrong. So, if the premise of reform isn’t right, why should it continue?

    I think that the leaders of the Church (with the exception of the SSPX/FSSP and it’s outgrowths) are not willing to admit entirely that the problem with the Novus Ordo is as serious as it is. I think that PP. Benedict understands the problem, but I don’t think that he’s prepared to move it from the hypothetical/theoretical to the proof. It can be seen in his writings…he is ready to admit that the problems with the Novus Ordo are substantial. It is ruptured, there is error associated with it, there are rampant abuses, but he isn’t willing to simply pull the plug, even though it is clear that is the end position of his writings.

    I think that PP. Benedict is hoping that by liberalizing the TLM, he would facilitate a flip in ecclesiology whereby the the TLM becomes the OF and the Novus Ordo becomes the EF and simply declines. I don’t necessarily disagree with this, but it can’t happen until two other things happen first:

    1. The ecclesiology of the Sacramental action has to change. There must be a clear departure from the modern understanding of the priesthood in favor of the traditional understanding. In short, the idea of sacrifice must be returned to the priest and removed from the faithful.

    2. The practice of the Sacramental action has to be held to a rule of law. Because the abuse is sooooooo rampant, there has to be some sort of consequence for abusing the liturgical action. Every time the presiding priest abuses the Mass, he reduces the amount of grace a person can receive. And that is a true travesty.

    If those two things happen in the overall life of the Church, then something may actually happen to the good. Until then, it will just be random applications by orthodox preists who are on the margins. There is a reason why priests such as our illustrious host, Fr. Robert Altier, the late Mons. Richard Schuler, Fr. Robert Skeris, and many others are demonized. Because they understand the two principles and properly apply them, they will not be part of the mainstream until that time where the ecclesiology and the liturgical action are restored.

    So, while I understand the sentiment and the softer application of the title “reform of the reform,” what we’re really talking about is a liturgical revolt which took place, starting in 1948 culminating in 1970. And we’re talking about an evisceration of the priesthood to a degree which has never been seen in history. So, Hitchcock’s title is more apt….it should be a “recovery of the sacred” and it should be a suppression of the revolt, as completed by the Consilium…(ie. Bugnini, et. al.)

  32. Andy Milam says:

    @jhayes,

    How are the faithful able to offer the sacrifice of the Mass? If they are able to do so, what makes the priest any different? If there is no real difference in ecclesiology, is the priests role absolutely necessary? Is the priestly role that to offer the sacrifice or is the role of the priest to simply preside over the faithful who offer the sacrifice? If it is a joint venture, what is the point of a ministerial and ordained preisthood?

    The idea of a ministerial priesthood who does not specifically and uniquely offer the sacrifice is a theological and ecclesiological change in the life of the Church. One that is so toxic that the diminishing of the priesthood has happened on a scale which has never been seen in the 2000 year history of the Church.

    So, I’m not convinced that the priest does offer the sacrifice. I think that it goes beyond what is written in the GIRM. I think it has also to be applied to the life of the Church. Plus, the GIRM isn’t law, it is an instruction.

  33. jhayes says:

    Andy Millam, perhaps Lumen Gentium 10 will answer the question:

    10. Christ the Lord, High Priest taken from among men,(100) made the new people “a kingdom and priests to God the Father”.(101) The baptized, by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated as a spiritual house and a holy priesthood,….

    Though they differ from one another in essence and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless interrelated: each of them in its own special way is a participation in the one priesthood of Christ. The ministerial priest, by the sacred power he enjoys, teaches and rules the priestly people; acting in the person of Christ, he makes present the Eucharistic sacrifice, and offers it to God in the name of all the people. But the faithful, in virtue of their royal priesthood, join in the offering of the Eucharist….

  34. Andy:

    No worries, I am not shocked by your suggestion about suppressing the “Novus Ordo.”

    My point about a “do-over” is to say that the Second Vatican Council legitimately called for reform of the liturgy. It was badly executed. Were the new form of the Mass to be suppressed, then the task still remains to carry out the reforms called for. So let’s follow this through: what happens if the holy father does those things?

    I think he (and all of us) have huge problems.

    We have a huge rebellion from those who are attached to the new form of the Mass. I mean a schism of significant proportions.

    We have a lot of work to do where the older form of the Mass can be offered in most parishes.

    And…after all that, I strongly suspect there will be those attached to the older form who will be very resistant to any changes whatsoever; they don’t like the idea of “reform,” for understandable reasons. So if we were to start over, we’d still have some rebellion from those ranks as well.

    Well, I can understand the holy father not wanting to take that road.

    I don’t know whether you are right or wrong about the holy father’s intentions; however, assuming you are correct, the path he’s chosen would still make sense as less traumatic to the Church. I know it sounds alarmist to speak of whole dioceses and countries going into schism to hold onto the newer Mass, but more sober people than I have speculated about schism in our day.

    If I may interject on the subject of “celebrant” v. “presider” and the unique sacrificial action of the priest, vis-a-vis the laity, I think the actual theology the Church presents on this, including in the Mass, is clear enough. The problem lies in meaning that is imputed. It’s a lot like how people are convinced Vatican II called for turning around the altars and taking out statues and altar rails and so forth–because that’s what they were told, by people who told themselves that is what it all really meant. There is a series of videos online that parody this; and then you visit the Fishwrap’s site, and the commenters genuinely say these things!

    In short, the faithful do not offer the sacrifice of the Mass in the way a priest does, but they do bring their offerings to Mass (I don’t mean money especially, but that’s included), and they join themselves to the priest’s sacrifice. That’s how I understand the priest’s prayer: “…that my sacrifice and yours…” and the language in the Roman Canon that is hard to translate, about the offering by the priest, and then “or they offer it by themselves….”

  35. Andy Milam says:

    @ jhayes..

    That clears up nothing. There is nothing in Lumen Gentium which is authoritative on this issue. Because they are interrelated on some sort of level, that doesn’t mean that they are related in action or in function.

    The faithful share in the royal priesthood of Christ. True story. But the faithful does not share in the ministerial priesthood at all. This is the great lie of the modern ecclesiology. I can no more celebrate the Mass than a pagan or a Jew. What I can do is unite my mind, heart and soul to that action which takes place on the altar. But that is a completely different form of participation and it has nothing to do with confecting the Sacrament. That is a role resevered exclusively to the ordained priest. The lie is that I can somehow hold the same form of participation as the priest.

    But, Lumen Gentium makes no statement to support that or discredit that at all…Lumen Gentium, ultimately is a non-starter…it is a pastoral document full of flowery language, but really says nothing earth shattering …

  36. jhayes says:

    Andy Milam, one of the differences between the EF and the OF is that in the EF the Canon is silent but in the OF it must be spoken in a “loud and clear voice”

    The GIRM explains that is because the priest is not praying privately but in the name of the people present and the whole church

    32. The nature of the “presidential” parts requires that they be spoken in a loud and clear voice and that everyone listen to them attentively.[44] Therefore, while the Priest is pronouncing them, there should be no other prayers or singing, and the organ or other musical instruments should be silent.

    33. For the Priest, as the one who presides, expresses prayers in the name of the Church and of the assembled community;

    That goes on to explain that he may pray quietly when he prays only in his own name:

    but at times he prays only in his own name, asking that he may exercise his ministry with greater attention and devotion. Prayers of this kind, which occur before the reading of the Gospel, at the Preparation of the Gifts, and also before and after the Communion of the Priest, are said quietly.

  37. Andy Milam says:

    Fr. Fox,

    I don’t know if I am or not either, regarding the Holy Father’s intentions, but by following what he says and how he acts….it is a fairly safe assumption.

    Ok, so if Sacrosanctum Concilium called for a reform of the Liturgy, what are the specifics of that reform? That becomes the problem. There isn’t anything concrete and I believe that was by design. Looking at what Bugnini and his cohorts have said, I can’t see how it is an authentic outpouring of the Magisterium of Vatican Council II, as opposed to steerage from the Consilium. And that, for me is a big issue. From everything I’ve read about the mechanisms of the Council, the reforms were NEVER to be to the extremes by which they were subjected to. I guess that is where my problem lies, that the Magisterium was not followed with regard to the Mass.

    I think that the TLM crowd will have an issue only if the reforms continue to be inauthentic. I’m not talking about the rad-traddys, but rather I’m talking about the mainstream….the reason for the pushback is because reforms were sooooo bad. I think that 99% of the dubia regarding Vatican Council II comes from this. Had the Magisterium been allowed to be authentic, as opposed to being “hi-jacked” then I think that the reforms would have been a non-issue.

    As far as the celebrant v presider issue, I know what the truth is. But the truth has been obscured and that is my point. It has been obscured to the point where the theology and ecclesiology which rules the day is changing the intent of the liturgical action.

    Also, Christ promised there would always be a Church, not that the Church would always be large. If the Church shrinks because people leave due to flawed theology, then it happens. I’m not willing to change the teaching of the Church over 2000 years, in favor of a “nouveau” theology which is 40 years old. If it comes to that, well, the Church will survive…it survived the Arian heresy….it will survive this controversy too. I’m not saying that is what is happening, but I will stand firm, just like St. Athanasius…I’m not saying I am Athanasius, but I will use him as my model….

    PP. Benedict is saying the right things…we just need him to act. I think he has to a degree, but I also think that he has pulled punches. So, we praise the good and we hope for a stoppage of the pulled punches going forward. It will take bishops like Slattery, Sample, and Vasa. I think that bishops such as your Ordinary, Schnurr are good men, doing what they can…but they need to stop fearing the machine which is the chancery. Schnurr is a doing great work though…it is good to see the changes he has made….he is from my home diocese and I have a lot of respect for him. I also think that the bishop of Sioux City is doing great work too, but I also think that he has a very hard road….it just takes the conviction to look past the roadblocks….bishops have “cattle catchers” they just need to realize it and start using them.

    We’re not on different pages Father. I commend you for doing the right thing. I wish there were more priests like you.

  38. Andy Milam says:

    @jhayes,

    We have a fundamental disconnect.

    I do not believe that the priest presides. That is the role of a bishop who sits at the throne during the Mass.

    The priest offers the sacrifice on the behalf of the faithful. The faithful place their offerings, petitions and prayers at the foot of the altar and the priest then offers them on behalf of the people. Your argument that there needs to be a vocal canon means absolutely nothing. The prayers of the priest are his own, and they are an offering he makes to God, not an offering that we, as a community make. It is irrelevant if I hear what the priest says. While it is noble that I unite myself to the words of the priest, it is not necessary. If I choose to unite my mind, heart and soul to the action by reflecting upon the mysteries of the rosary, or reflecting on the stations of the cross, or by reflecting on the PDR, then I participate fully, actively and consciously.

    The faithful participate, not only the doing, but in the internalizing the Mass. And the internalizing comes first. As long as my offering is offered, it means very little to hear the words of the priest. This however does NOT mean that the priest should offer the Mass in whatever way he sees fit. He has a formula and that formula should be celebrated with zero deviation, but that formula is not incumbent upon my aural senses.

    What goes on at the altar is of great consequence to me. How it happens is of little consequence, unless it is illicit, at which point it starts to effect the graces available and that is unacceptable.

  39. Andy:

    “…more priests like you.”

    Well thanks; but if I were your pastor, you might have more complaints! :-)

    There are more priests coming who are taking a different approach. It won’t happen overnight and the seminary doesn’t have a cookie-cutter approach, for good and/or ill.

    As far as what an authentic implementation of Vatican II’s call for liturgical reform might look like?

    Well, as you know (but readers may not), there is quite a lot on that subject. Here I’ll offer my thoughts (my comments will betray my inadequate familiarity with the older form of the Mass):

    > Restore the prayers at the foot of the altar, but encouraging either the faithful to join in, or else continue to have, in a sung Mass, a chant sung at this point–but perhaps have more congruity between the chant and what the priest is praying. (I.e., as I understand it, in the extraordinary form, the prayers at the foot of the altar are invariable, but suggest some original connection to the chant that is sung, when it’s sung.)

    > Restore ad orientem as the norm.

    > Restore Latin as the norm, with some allowance of vernacular both for the ordinary of the Mass, as well as readings and propers.

    > Keep the reforms that located sacred action at the chair–i.e., the leadership of the first part of the Mass.

    > Keep the reform of the readings being proclaimed from the pulpit, and allow it in the vernacular.

    > Keep the reform of added readings on Sunday and the expanded lectionary. I’d be open to hearing more on why a two- or three-year cycle is bad, but I see a lot of good to it.

    > Keep the reform of the lay faithful proclaiming the readings (apart from the Gospel), in the absence those minor orders traditionally associated with them.

    > Keep the reform of allowing petitions after the Gospel (they are not required and they can be omitted without any violence to the rubrics). These should be proclaimed by a deacon if present, otherwise the reader.

    > Restore the offertory prayers from the older form. (Something I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pope Benedict attempt–perhaps to suggest them as an “option.” If he did, I suspect more and more priests would move to them. Or he could mandate them for the Roman Canon, because of how they connect to it.)

    > Set aside most of the added Eucharistic prayers, but keep one or two added ones, and be more specific about their use. (I think the 2nd prayer is vastly better newly translated, and there are times when a shorter canon is helpful.) I would also restore the option of praying the canon silently, which also helps with a situation where the full Roman Canon is too time-consuming or tiring for those attending Mass. As a sop, if one is needed, the pope could say, OK, you can use the “Swiss Prayers” once a year, on the fifth Tuesday of a month, in Ordinary Time…

    > Restore a good deal of the ceremonial to the priest’s actions at the altar–Vatican II did call for some revision of this, but “sweep away” is too much “revision.”

    > Keep the reform of having the prayers aloud and the people welcome to respond, but I would make explicit the option of an old-style low Mass where everything is rather silent. As a pastor, I could imagine having one Mass on Sunday and several Masses during the week being this way, and I think, in the long run, most of the faithful would be completely fine with it. But, for those who want to give the responses–and I think that’s commendable–there would be other Masses with that practice.

    > In the words of our genial host, make concelebration much rarer.

    > Greatly restrict the norms about extraordinary ministers of holy communion.

    > Make it much more explicit that the Precious Blood is distributed–if at all by the laity–under very restricted circumstances. If it can be distributed by clergy, then more permission. In theory, I think if you always had only clergy distributing the Eucharist, having both species is fine; in practice, that would rarely be possible, so in practice, the valuable point that the whole Christ is present under one species is reiterated. I.e., the constant distribution of both species does occasion some misunderstanding on this point, which Vatican II acknowledged, keying off Trent.

    > If extraordinary ministers of holy communion do assist, they do not enter the sanctuary; not because they aren’t worthy (I’m not worthy, and I am more likely to go to hell than members of my parishes.); but because, except in rare circumstances, it cannot be done with decorum. (Too many of the ideas emanating from Vatican II were well intentioned but wildly impractical–such as the hope that the faithful would receive the Eucharist consecrated at that same Mass. I’ll describe my travails, in trying to actually do that, another time; along with the consequences of trying to have bread that seems bread-y.)

    > Restore kneeling for communion, and communion on the tongue as the norm. Communion will go much more quickly.

    > I don’t feel strongly about some of the duplication of prayers–i.e., the priest and the people say the Confiteor separately, nor do I feel strongly about the prayers that conclude Mass, including the reading of the Last Gospel. Could they be optional even in this theorized reformed Mass?

    > A much clearer delineation of what is and is not suitable as sacred music. I’d suggest mandating the texts of the chants must be used; or else the bishop must specify the music that can be substituted. In principle, I’m not totally opposed to non-chant being used at Mass, and my understanding is that the singing of hymns by the laity, while the proper chants were quietly prayed by the clergy and servers, was a longstanding practice before the Council? In that case, the mandate of the Council reforms was, actually, to move away from this, but that hasn’t happened obviously.

    > Finally, the calendar has to be worked out. There must be give-and-take, no one will get everything s/he wants.

    None of the foregoing is original with me, but is offered to answer your question of what a true, Vatican II-inspired reform might look like.

  40. jhayes says:

    Fr. Martin Fox said: ” and the language in the Roman Canon that is hard to translate, about the offering by the priest, and then “or they offer it by themselves….”

    “Memento, Domine, famulorum, famularumque tuarum N. et N. et omnium circumstantium, quorum tibi fides cognita est, et nota devotio, pro quibus tibi offerimus: vel qui tibi offerunt hoc sacrificium laudis, pro se, suisque omnibus: pro redemptione animarum suarum, pro spe salutis et incolumitatis suae: tibique reddunt vota sua aeterno Deo, vivo et vero”

    I believe the general offering is by the priest and people rather than by the priest alone (“pro quibus tibi offerimus”) but, in addition, individuals (“omnium circumstantium”) may be making personal offerings (“vel qui tibi offerunt”)

    “Remember, Lord, your servants (Name) and (Name) and all gathered here, whose faith and devotion are known to you. For them, we offer you this sacrifice of praise or they offer it for themselves and all who are dear to them, for the redemption of their souls, in hope of health and well-being, and paying their homage to you, the eternal God, living and true”

    The Eucharistic Prayer and the other “presidential” prayers are written throughout to use “we” rather than “I”

  41. Andy:

    You raise a question I spend very little time on: “presiding” at Mass. (One little change I made when I become pastor was to extirpate, wherever I could, all references to “presider.” As far as I know…barely a ripple, but it serves to buttress an important point, albeit in a subtle way.)

    So, in the absence of the bishop, is there no sense in which the priest-celebrant also presides? I.e., I avoid the term not because I think it’s absolutely wrong, but it emphasizes a point not worth emphasizing. Even if I am the “president” in some sense, why stress that to the faithful? What we need is someone to be a priest!

    Forgive my ignorance, but…is there no precedent, or would there be no legitimacy, for a priest to preside, yet not celebrate? I.e., a pastor in choir while another priest offers the Mass? (As you know, but many do not, a priest can be “in choir” at a Mass, attending and participating in a priestly way, yet not offering the Sacrifice. This continues to be true in the newer form, although it’s seldom seen at the local level.)

    It occurs to me your argument–if I understand you correctly–explains the presence of a bishop’s cathedra in parish churches, which were left empty; the priest did not sit there. This is true in our cathedral; in these benighted days I do not know if this is universal. I.e., the bishop is the true “president” whenever the Mass is offered, even if his cathedra is empty. That makes sense to me.

    Even granting that, is there no basis for speaking of the celebrant as a kind of “presider” insofar as he exercises a role, as the vicar of the bishop, at certain points? Or else they are omitted. I think of how the Gospel book is brought to the bishop to venerate when he’s there; but the deacon kisses it in his absence; he doesn’t bring it to the priest; and the priest does it, acting as a deacon, in the absence of the deacon. I cannot think of other relevant examples at the moment.

    Anyway, I don’t mean to be tendentious, because I don’t much care for the breezy use of “presider”; but getting down to the real meat of the subject, I’m willing to grant there may be some validity to the term which has, obviously, been distorted.

  42. Jhayes:

    Well, the reason I said it was hard to translate is all about that word “vel”; if I recall correctly, translating it “or” is not quite right. The idea seems to be (I am not a Latinist) that the priest offers it definitively, but the people, in a different but closely related way, also “offer.” No doubt our genial host has addressed this on this very site at some point? (I tried a few searches but caught way too many fish in my net, as it were.) I wonder if the idea isn’t something like this:

    For them, we [referring to the celebrant] offer you this sacrifice of praise; and yet, in their own way, they join in offering it for themselves and all who are dear to them, for the redemption of their souls, in hope of health and well-being, and paying their homage to you, the eternal God, living and true”.

    In all candor, that is one of the parts of the new translation I find awkward, but the pope, for reasons unfathomable, did not choose me to be in charge of the project. So I go with what they came up with.

    This idea thus informs the “we”; while the priest does indeed speak for the assembly in one sense, yet he also speaks in a unique voice. I.e., the priest offering the Mass and the laity assisting (in the old-fashioned sense) are a “we” but not an undifferentiated “we.”

    Sadly, one can barely have this conversation without devolving into folks’ insecurities. It isn’t a put down to say that a priest has a unique identity in offering the Mass; any more than I’m denigrating myself when I recognize, as I happily do, that the bishop has something I have not. He has the fullness of holy orders, and a priest, in a way hard to explain, draws on, and depends on, that fullness. Hence when I offer Mass–as discussed above–the bishop has a role, even in his absence. Hence the joy when the bishop actually comes to the parish. (I realize this, in turn, raises a disputed point from Vatican II….)

  43. Andy Milam says:

    @ Fr. Fox…

    I would like to repsond to your point about presiding, first…I want to give some serious thought to your hypothetical before I respond, so I will defer that until later today.

    The idea of presiding happens anytime a greater prelate sits either sits in choir or at the throne, wherein he is coped and mitred. He doesn’t celebrate the Mass, but rather he presides over the Mass, which is celebrated by either a lesser prelate or a priest. There are prayers and actions which are proper to the presider, but they in no way are confused with the offering of Holy Mass.

    I think that a pastor can preside, informally at a Mass that the curate celebrates. He would sit in choir and he would not concelebrate. When I lived at St. Agnes, there would be times when our illustrious host would celebrate a Sung Mass (mainly during either Advent or Lent) wherein Monsignor Schuler would sit in choir. As pastor, Monsignor was informally presiding over Mass, because he was in presence without celebrating Holy Mass.

    This idea though, is not absolutely proper and there is no real precedence for the pastor to ever preside, properly. If the bishop were to come to your parish and not celebrate the Mass, he would preside. But that is what presiding is really all about isn’t it? Because the bishop is a greater cleric, he would be in a position of authority and the Church has made accommodation for that, when he is not celebrating the Mass.

    But that is not the role of the priest. The priest always celebrates the Mass. When he doesn’t, he is not of a greater rank than another priest, so he doesn’t properly preside, he simply assists in choir. But this is very rare today, because of the proliferation of concelebration…much to my chagrin (personal foible).

    So, I don’t think there is a precedent for a priest to preside, because he is not a greater priest than another.

    The argument isn’t incumbent upon each parish church having a cathedra, but rather that each parish church has a place set apart for the bishop when he presides. So it may be a choir stall which is separate, or it is a chair set up with attendants, or some such. As long as it is not a faldstool. Again, this is very rare today, because a Pontifical Mass isn’t hard ceremonially to pull off. The Mass has been so simplified, that the bishop will celebrate Mass much more often in the parish than previously.

    The term presider is missaplied and the way that it is used, it is abusive to the role of the priest. The priest doesn’t preside over an assembly of celebrants. He celebrates where the faithful worship.

    I am sure that I am not 100% clear. So, if our illustrious host would like to interject and clean up what I’ve said, I would be eternally grateful.

    I will reflect a little on what you’ve said about the reform and I will respond shortly.

    AMDG+

  44. Andy Milam says:

    @ Fr. Fox…

    “As far as what an authentic implementation of Vatican II’s call for liturgical reform might look like?”
    —Hmmmm….good question. I would like to think that by simply following the documents of Vatican Council II we could do that pretty judiciously.

    “> Restore the prayers at the foot of the altar, but encouraging either the faithful to join in, or else continue to have, in a sung Mass, a chant sung at this point–but perhaps have more congruity between the chant and what the priest is praying. (I.e., as I understand it, in the extraordinary form, the prayers at the foot of the altar are invariable, but suggest some original connection to the chant that is sung, when it’s sung.)”
    —I can see where you’re going with this, but honestly, the faithful don’t approach the altar in that manner. I think that Psalm 42 is most appropriate though, so I think that the restoration is right.

    “> Restore ad orientem as the norm.”
    —This is imperative. More than any other change. I think that the change to making this universally normative, without any exception is paramount. The priest in a symbolic sense leads those who are worshipping on the journey, which is the liturgical action…he can’t do that when he is facing the people…also it is a change in theology, with regard to vertical v. horizontal theology.

    “> Restore Latin as the norm, with some allowance of vernacular both for the ordinary of the Mass, as well as readings and propers. ”
    —I would limit it to the readings only.

    “> Keep the reforms that located sacred action at the chair–i.e., the leadership of the first part of the Mass.”
    —Here is where we disagree 100%. This assumes a presidential posture as opposed to a leadership of the sacrificial action. I think that outside of a prolonged singing of the Ordinary, the priest should be at the altar 100% of the Mass, with the exception of preaching and proclaiming the Word.

    “> Keep the reform of the readings being proclaimed from the pulpit, and allow it in the vernacular.”
    —Agree. However, I would say that it should be the priest proclaiming the readings, not a layman. To allow a layman to proclaim the readings allows the layman to celebrate the Liturgy of the Word, while the priest presides over it. I cannot abide that.

    “> Keep the reform of added readings on Sunday and the expanded lectionary. I’d be open to hearing more on why a two- or three-year cycle is bad, but I see a lot of good to it.”
    —I’d be open to a second reading, but I think that if the Mass was to be made more simple, the current set up of the lectionary isn’t it. A three year cycle and a two year cycle, but they don’t apply to each other, except that they do…No, I don’t buy it. I don’t know exactly how to apply this though…I think that the readings as they existed prior to the reforms was the simplest…and it certainly was noble.

    “> Keep the reform of the lay faithful proclaiming the readings (apart from the Gospel), in the absence those minor orders traditionally associated with them.”
    —2nd departure 100%. See above. Caveat, if you have installed/ordained lectors and acolytes, then they should proclaim the readings…they should be sought out and utilized. It is a permanent disposition and those men should embrace that ministry.

    “> Keep the reform of allowing petitions after the Gospel (they are not required and they can be omitted without any violence to the rubrics). These should be proclaimed by a deacon if present, otherwise the reader.”
    —OK

    “> Restore the offertory prayers from the older form. (Something I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pope Benedict attempt–perhaps to suggest them as an “option.” If he did, I suspect more and more priests would move to them. Or he could mandate them for the Roman Canon, because of how they connect to it.)”
    —Agree 100,000%.

    “> Set aside most of the added Eucharistic prayers, but keep one or two added ones, and be more specific about their use. (I think the 2nd prayer is vastly better newly translated, and there are times when a shorter canon is helpful.) I would also restore the option of praying the canon silently, which also helps with a situation where the full Roman Canon is too time-consuming or tiring for those attending Mass. As a sop, if one is needed, the pope could say, OK, you can use the “Swiss Prayers” once a year, on the fifth Tuesday of a month, in Ordinary Time…”
    —I think that all but the Roman Canon should be abolished. The 3+ other prayers are invented and have very poor theological application. Heck, the 2nd EP was based upon the views of a heretic.

    “> Restore a good deal of the ceremonial to the priest’s actions at the altar–Vatican II did call for some revision of this, but “sweep away” is too much “revision.” ”
    —This is somewhat contradictory to your position about having prayers at the chair….I would like to see your expanded view on this. I agree 100% with it, but I’d like to see where you’re going with it.

    “> Keep the reform of having the prayers aloud and the people welcome to respond, but I would make explicit the option of an old-style low Mass where everything is rather silent. As a pastor, I could imagine having one Mass on Sunday and several Masses during the week being this way, and I think, in the long run, most of the faithful would be completely fine with it. But, for those who want to give the responses–and I think that’s commendable–there would be other Masses with that practice.”
    —I could live with that, if the Mass were sung. If it is spoken, it should be silent. This restores a sense of High v. Low Mass.

    “> In the words of our genial host, make concelebration much rarer.”
    —Such as ONLY at the Chrism Mass? Sounds good to me….our genial host is a genius!

    “> Greatly restrict the norms about extraordinary ministers of holy communion. ”
    —Or eliminate. If the parish is utilizing those installed acolytes and lectors, and if the parish has a deacon, there would be no need for EMHCs, because those who are properly disposed would already be fulfilling their ministries and the extraordinary ministries, when necessary, would be best applied to them.

    “> Make it much more explicit that the Precious Blood is distributed–if at all by the laity–under very restricted circumstances. If it can be distributed by clergy, then more permission. In theory, I think if you always had only clergy distributing the Eucharist, having both species is fine; in practice, that would rarely be possible, so in practice, the valuable point that the whole Christ is present under one species is reiterated. I.e., the constant distribution of both species does occasion some misunderstanding on this point, which Vatican II acknowledged, keying off Trent.”
    —Or just not at all. We receive the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in the Sacred Host. There is no precedence in the Roman Rite to do this…we agree.

    “> If extraordinary ministers of holy communion do assist, they do not enter the sanctuary; not because they aren’t worthy (I’m not worthy, and I am more likely to go to hell than members of my parishes.); but because, except in rare circumstances, it cannot be done with decorum. (Too many of the ideas emanating from Vatican II were well intentioned but wildly impractical–such as the hope that the faithful would receive the Eucharist consecrated at that same Mass. I’ll describe my travails, in trying to actually do that, another time; along with the consequences of trying to have bread that seems bread-y.)”
    —There is no right for the laity to ever enter the sanctuary. So we agree. Logistically, I’m not sure how this would happen.

    “> Restore kneeling for communion, and communion on the tongue as the norm. Communion will go much more quickly.”
    —Then there would really be no need for EMHCs. If a parish isn’t large enough for a curate, there is no need for an EMHC. Just sayin’…

    “> I don’t feel strongly about some of the duplication of prayers–i.e., the priest and the people say the Confiteor separately, nor do I feel strongly about the prayers that conclude Mass, including the reading of the Last Gospel. Could they be optional even in this theorized reformed Mass?”
    —We agree 100% However, I think that all of the post communion prayers should be restored.

    “> A much clearer delineation of what is and is not suitable as sacred music. I’d suggest mandating the texts of the chants must be used; or else the bishop must specify the music that can be substituted. In principle, I’m not totally opposed to non-chant being used at Mass, and my understanding is that the singing of hymns by the laity, while the proper chants were quietly prayed by the clergy and servers, was a longstanding practice before the Council? In that case, the mandate of the Council reforms was, actually, to move away from this, but that hasn’t happened obviously. ”
    —I can go on for days, but we basically agree. First, the propers MUST be chanted, according to accepted Gregorian Chant. It has pride of place. The ordinaries can be sung, but they must either be accepted settings from antiquity or more modern settings which are truly apt for use in the liturgy. Hymnody must be abolished 100%. There is no basis for that type of music at Mass. The Mass has it’s own music and it must be used.

    “> Finally, the calendar has to be worked out. There must be give-and-take, no one will get everything s/he wants.”
    —There must be a restoration of the old calendar, with all of it’s accoutrements…however, the saints since the Council should be worked in. This would work hand in hand with the lectionary issue mentioned above.

    Obviously, there would be tweakings and ammendments, it really isn’t this easy, but this is a general idea. I think that by and large we’re close to one another…I wonder if an online roundtable wouldn’t be called for, with say….some astute laity, clergy and religious. BTW, this is how it started in 1948. Why can’t it start anew?

    Some members of the New Consilium for your consideration:

    Fr. Z
    Fr. Fox
    Fr. Chris Smith
    Fr. Robert Pasely
    Fr. Ramil Fajardo
    Fr. Uwe Michael Lang
    Rev. Mr. Alcuin Reid
    Yours truly
    Shawn Tribe
    Jeffrey Tucker
    Virginia Schubert
    B. Allen Young
    fra. David M Spencer

    It could be interesting if we could start something, but again, this is just a hypothetical….

  45. jhayes says:

    Fr. Fox, regarding “vel”, here’s the translation as it appears in the Missal:

    “Remember, Lord, your servants N. and N.
    The Priest joins his hands and prays briefly for those for whom he intends to pray.
    Then, with hands extended, he continues:

    and all gathered here,
    whose faith and devotion are known to you.
    For them, we offer you this sacrifice of praise
    or they offer it for themselves
    and all who are dear to them:
    for the redemption of their souls,
    in hope of health and well-being,
    and paying their homage to you,
    the eternal God, living and true.”

    Regarding “we”, while the Pope does sometimes use the Imperial “we” in referring to himself, I believe it is generally agreed that “we” in the Missal refers to the priest plus the people.

    I don’t think there should be any confusion between the roles of the priest and the people. GIRM 93 is clear that only a priest can offer sacrifice “in the person of Christ”

    “93. A Priest, also, who possesses within the Church the sacred power of Orders to offer sacrifice in the person of Christ,[80] presides by this fact over the faithful people gathered here and now, presides over their prayer, proclaims to them the message of salvation, associates the people with himself in the offering of sacrifice through Christ in the Holy Spirit to God the Father, and gives his brothers and sisters the Bread of eternal life and partakes of it with them. Therefore, when he celebrates the Eucharist, he must serve God and the people with dignity and humility, and by his bearing and by the way he pronounces the divine words he must convey to the faithful the living presence of Christ.”

  46. Andy Milam says:

    @ jhayes…

    Again, the GIRM speaks to a position which is vague at best. Does the priest preside? Does the priest celebrate? Does the priest do both? If the priest does both, then we’re back into an issue of both/and…and that is a huge issue, because it continues to blur the line between the role of the priest and the faithful.

    Do the faithful celebrate the Mass or just parts of it? Where does it say that the faithful are ever able to celebrate the Mass? Where is the historical proof for this, showing that it is not an innovation of the Consilium thrust upon the Church, but rather a truth from Tradition?

    Bottom line, the deliberate blurring of the lines of the priesthood has caused the discussion we’re having. But I am no more a priest than a Muslim. I have a share in the royal priesthood of Christ, but that doesn’t make me a priest. Insofar as I am NOT a priest, I cannot offer anything to God, other than my personal prayer. My public responsibility is to worship whilst the priests of God offer the lamb on our behalf.

    Go ahead and use “we.” Use “I,” it doesn’t matter…the priest is praying on our behalf, so it’s not inappropriate for him to say “we.” But it is erroneous for us to assume that because he says “we” that we are actually celebrating the Mass with him. We are not. He is offering the Mass ON OUR BEHALF.

  47. jhayes says:

    Andy Milam, the GIRM uses both “preside” and “celebrate”, as here:

    “27. At Mass or the Lord’s Supper the People of God is called together, with a Priest presiding and acting in the person of Christ, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord or Eucharistic Sacrifice.”

    The people cannot celebrate Mass without a priest. The most they can do is hold a “Service in the Absence of a Priest” using pre-consecrated hosts.

  48. jhayes says:

    That was my third try at that posting. The others disappeared as I clicked the button. If they reappear, please ignore them.

  49. Andy:

    Thanks for your interesting comments. Be advised, mine were largely off-the-cuff, although like many, I have thought about this a lot.

    I’m honored to be included in that list, but not sure I belong. I have very little expertise in this area. I’d like to be more expert, but parish duties being what they are, I do what I can.

    When you talked about this “new consilium,” I immediately thought of the silly little project our friends at the National (so-called) Catholic Reporter keep harping on: the American Catholic Council or some such thing. I had the wicked thought we should call it that, and say we’re trying to carry out “the Spirit of Vatican II.” (With lots of cassocks and birettas! And maniples! Lots of maniples!) It may be venially sinful for me to enjoy the thought of the reaction that results.

  50. jhayes says:

    Fr. Fox, they are waiting for you over there:

    http://americancatholiccouncil.org/

  51. Jhayes:

    OK! Let me suit up in my cassock and biretta!

  52. Andy Milam says:

    @ jhayes…

    “The people cannot celebrate Mass without a priest. The most they can do is hold a “Service in the Absence of a Priest” using pre-consecrated hosts.”

    And here is where we diverge…and it is the fundamental problem with our conversation…

    You accept the idea that the faithful can celebrate the Mass; albeit only with a priest.

    I deny that ecclesiology. It is my contention that “the people” cannot ever, under any circumstance celebrate the Mass. We don’t have the faculty to do so and we don’t have the disposition to do so. To assume that is correct liturgical theology is to assume an understanding of our share in the royal priesthood which is erroneous. Our share in Christ’s priesthood (ie. the royal priesthood) is not ministerial. We have no right to assume that we do anything other than worship. It falls on those who are ordained to do that which is proper to them. That thing is to offer the sacrifice of the lamb. “The people” are not ordained to do that.

    This is one of the top 3 major issues with the “new ecclesiology” which emerged after Vatican Council II. It is a HUGE theological error.

  53. Andy Milam says:

    @ Fr. Fox;

    You are a priest. You have the expertise. If your role is first to say Mass, then your views are important enough to be brought into any conversation.

    I think that your “off the cuff” comments were very interesting and certainly thought provoking…I would love to see them developed more…

    BTW, since I’m an installed acolyte, I’ll grab my cassock, surplice (Belgian lace…just to be difficult) and biretta (yes, I own one) and we’ll crash that party together…

    I think that there should be more maniples than priests…deacons need them too! ;)

  54. jhayes says:

    Andy, I’m not sure what more I can say that would be useful.

    Since we have been discussing liturgy, I have mostly quoted from the 2011 GIRM.

    However, if the basic question is ecclesiology, the theological discussion of that is in Lumen Gentium, which is classed as a “Dogmatic Constitution of the Church” and which was promulgated by Paul VI in 1964.

  55. jhayes says:

    “of”= “on” in the title of Lumen Gentium.

  56. Andy Milam says:

    @ jhayes;

    There is more to Sacramental theology than just the documents of Vatican Council II. I have no problem discussing Lumen Gentium or any other document, but it must be looked at in light of 2000 years of Sacramental history. If we are to look at the TLM and the Novus Ordo in the same theological light, because they are two expressions of the same rite, then there is no way to reconcile modern ecclesiology with the Tradition of the Church. It is a clear rupture.

    Also, to assume that Lumen Gentium is somehow “dogmatic” is false. It is not. It is merely a pastoral document. Sorry to disappoint. There are many sources which support that, so I shall not post them here, but a quick google will get you what I am speaking of.

    Bottom line, the ecclesiology is flawed. And this is a big part of the hermeneutic of rupture. So, until you’re willing to discuss beyond 1964, then the conversation will be apples and oranges, because your premise is completely different. And isn’t that a sad thing for one Catholic to say to another when supposedly talking about the same topic.

  57. jhayes says:

    Andy Milam,

    Pope Benedict has been debating with the SSPX about that for years, so I’ll leave it to him to sort out.

  58. Andy Milam says:

    This isn’t an issue of the SSPX. This is an issue of the hermeneutic of rupture.

    They are interrelated, but they can be discussed on their own merits…

    The hermeneutic of rupture is real; we should thank the SSPX for bringing this to our attention. We should not however, thank the SSPX for being disobedient to the will of the Holy Father, but I suspect they feel a slight bit different about the obedience issue.