Card. Burke on concelebration, priests ad-libbing and saying Mass in the state of mortal sin

As you know, I think concelebration should be safe, legal and rare.  I also think that priests should stick to the words in the books and do what the rubrics say.  I, moreover, think that priests who continue to commit liturgical abuses should be brought back to their senses through censures.

At CNA there is an article about Cardinal Burke opines about these very things!

My cuts and emphases and comments

Cardinal Burke cautions against over-use of concelebration
By David Kerr

Cork, Ireland, Jul 10, 2012 / 01:42 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Raymond L. Burke believes that the “excessive” use of concelebration – the practice of priests saying Mass collectively – can result in their unique role in the sacred liturgy being obscured.

“I don’t think there should be an excessive encouragement of concelebration because the norm is for the individual priest to offer the holy sacrifice of the Mass,” the head of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura told CNA July 9.

“If it is repeated too frequently, it can develop within him a sense of being another one of the participants instead of actually being the priest who is offering the Mass.” [Do I hear an "Amen!"?]

[...]

The former Archbishop of St. Louis worried that, whereas the priest’s action is distinct, he “can seem to be participating in the Mass in the same manner as the congregation” if he concelebrates too often. “That’s the danger I see in excessive concelebration,” he said.

The cardinal’s words of caution echo comments made recently by the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares. He told a gathering at Rome’s University of the Holy Cross on March 5 that that the “widening of the faculty to concelebrate needs to be moderated, as we can see when we read the (Second Vatican) Council texts.”

Cardinal Cañizares explained that concelebration “is an extraordinary, solemn and public rite, normally presided over by the bishop or his delegate,” surrounded by his priests and the entire community. But “the daily concelebrations of priests only, which are practiced ‘privately’…do not form part of the Latin liturgical tradition,” he said. [Do I hear another "Amen!"?]

In a wide-ranging interview, Cardinal Burke also outlined the reasons why a priest should not ad-lib his own words or prayers during Mass, since he “is the servant of the rite” and “not the protagonist – Christ is.”

“So it is absolutely wrong for the priest to think, ‘how can I make this more interesting?’ or ‘how can I make this better?’” he said.

CLICK TO BUY

He also noted with approval how the 1917 Code of Canon Law – since superseded by a new code promulgated in 1983 – explicitly stated that a priest should “accurately and devoutly observe the rubrics of his liturgical books to beware lest he add other ceremonies or prayers according to his own judgment.”  [SAY THE BLACK - DO THE RED?]

“What kind of thinking is it on our part for me to think that I can improve on the liturgy that has been handed on in the Church down the centuries? This is absurd,” Cardinal Burke stated.

Similarly, the cardinal commended the 1917 Code for its clear stipulation that a priest in the state of mortal sin should refrain from celebrating Mass “without first availing himself of sacramental confession” or as soon as possible “in the absence of a confessor,” when the Mass is “a case of necessity” and he has “made an act of perfect contrition.”

“Well, simply that canon that was in the 1917 code was eliminated and I think it should be reintroduced, because the idea of worthiness pertains in a preeminent way to the priest who is offering the sacrifice,” he said.

The 64-year-old from Wisconsin now resides in Rome, where he is a close collaborator of Pope Benedict XVI. Like the present pontiff, Cardinal Burke also believes that any reform of the sacred liturgy “has to be rooted in the teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council” and “properly connected to the tradition” of the Church.

That means avoiding or removing various innovations, including the regular use of “communion services” led by a layperson or religious whenever a parish is without a priest to offer Sunday Mass. [Would that include receiving Communion in the hand, while standing?  I think so.]

“It is not good for people to participate repeatedly in these kinds of services on a Sunday because they lose the sense that the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Communion comes from the sacrifice,” he explained.

[...]

The Church’s chief justice also believes that there is a direct correlation between “the hesitation” in applying canonical penalties in recent decades and “the abuses and the violation of Church law” that have occurred in liturgical areas.  [Yet another "Amen!" brothers and sister!]
Such penalties, he explained, are “firstly medicinal,” aimed at “getting a person’s attention to the gravity of what he is doing and to call him back.”

“The penalties are needed,” he said.

“If in 20 centuries of the life of the Church there was always the need for sanctions, why in our century should we suddenly think they are not necessary? This is also absurd.”

WDTPRS kudos to Card. Burke.

And if the liberals don’t like the idea of penalties, let’s call them taxes!

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Brick by Brick, Fr. Z KUDOS, Just Too Cool, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, Priests and Priesthood, The Drill and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Card. Burke on concelebration, priests ad-libbing and saying Mass in the state of mortal sin

  1. jasoncpetty says:

    Incidentally, if you are a priest who loves law and irony you can concelebrate with Card. Burke if you sign up for the canon law conference linked on Father Z’s sidebar.

  2. lizaanne says:

    “And if the liberals don’t like the idea of penalties, let’s call them taxes!”

    LOL!!! Fr. Z, you rock!!!

  3. Volanges says:

    That means avoiding or removing various innovations, including the regular use of “communion services” led by a layperson or religious whenever a parish is without a priest to offer Sunday Mass.
    “It is not good for people to participate repeatedly in these kinds of services on a Sunday because they lose the sense that the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Communion comes from the sacrifice,” he explained.

    He is absolutely right.

    My parish has been without a Pastor since last August. The Administrator is also responsible for three other parishes, two of which can only be reached by air, so we have had Sunday Liturgy of the Word with Communion more often than we should (as recently as the last two Sundays, in fact). I’ve started to lose count of how often I’ve heard “It’s so much better than Mass when so many people can be involved” :o(

    I even had someone say, “See, we don’t really need a priest. The laity can do just as well.” In their eyes, it seems, Fr. is nothing but a dispenser of Hosts. As long as someone else can do that they think everything is hunky-dory.

    Interesting to note that for more than a decade we had concelebration at almost every daily Mass. Now we have a hard time even getting Sunday Mass.

  4. acardnal says:

    “See, we don’t really need a priest. The laity can do just as well.”

    If I had heard someone say such an ignorant statement I would remark, “No priest, no Mass. No Mass, no Eucharist.” Mass is THE representation of the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Only a priest can offer sacrifice. Perhaps an adult catechism class should be started at that parish.

  5. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Father Augustine Thompson, OP, if you’re out there, is there any chance of lifting the requirement in the Dominican constitutions that priory masses always be concelebrated?

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_MNL2CyNYaVs/S7QTdNCS7dI/AAAAAAAAAIc/7AldJL2OlUA/s1600/DSC_0400+70.jpg

    Please God, let it happen.

  6. pbewig says:

    We just today have a case in Illinois, in the St Louis suburbs, of a priest whose faculties were removed for obstinate failure to “say the black and do the red.” Fr Z discussed the case previously.

  7. Marlon says:

    I was out of my home parish this past Sunday and went to a local Catholic church for Mass. The priest preached twice, the first time just before the first reading and the second time right after communion. When he finished reading the Gospel, he went right into the Creed.

    I have never been in a Catholic church and seen this. In the rubrics, is there a definite place for the preaching? Would what this priest did be considered an abuse?

  8. jbas says:

    The question, “If in 20 centuries of the life of the Church there was always the need for sanctions, why in our century should we suddenly think they are not necessary?” irritates me a little, coming from a Vatican cardinal. The clergy, religious and faithful once assumed there would be trouble for teaching error or breaking rules, but it was the Vatican that almost completely stopped taking disciplinary action. And if a bishop fails to maintain proper discipline, who but the Vatican can correct him?

  9. OrthodoxChick says:

    Here’s your “Amen”, Fr. Z: AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Now how do we get word to Cardinal Burke (et al) that this needs to happen sooner rather than later. I would love the EF to become the accepted and prefered norm within my lifetime. Please, Dear Lord, let it be.

  10. “What kind of thinking is it on our part for me to think that I can improve on the liturgy that has been handed on in the Church down the centuries? This is absurd,” Cardinal Burke stated.

    Of course, the liturgy we’ve had for the past 40+ years has been an artificial creation and NOT the liturgy that has been handed on in the Church down the centuries. No wonder priests have felt free to do with it as they please.

  11. heway says:

    Cardinal Burke must have a lot priests around him – enough to concelebrate. We are lucky to have one priest! How can you have a communion service for repeated Sundays without the intervention of a priest? Where do the consecrated breads come from? Out of heaven ?
    I hope someday to have this problem. We need more priests serving communities.

  12. dominicop says:

    I am a religious priest and have worked closely with Cardinal Burke in the past. He is a man whom I personally admire and with whom I often agree. Although I’m with him in spirit here, however, I wonder if he hasn’t generalized too broadly, or at least if the reporter hasn’t too selectively interpreted the cardinal’s words.

    I understand the worry around concelebration. I have lived with priests who concelebrate so often, or better celebrate themselves so infrequently that they seem to barely know how to say Mass. This is awkward and embarrassing for everyone involved. At the same time I have lived in houses where regular concelebration was the norm and it actually served to foster both priestly identity and religious fraternity (there are both priests and brothers in my community). I think that a great deal of the effects of concelebration have to do with the manner in which it is carried out. I have not found, either as a layman or as a priest, that the practice of having ordained and concelebrating religious scattered throughout choir stalls with non-concelebrating religious and laity to be particularly helpful. At the same time, having a place for the ordained to sit and to perform their sacred functions during the celebration of Holy Mass, while retaining their places in choir for Office, Meditation, and other observances can strengthen the priestly identity of the individual priest, help to form those clerical students still pining for ordination, and foster fraternity and mutual respect between the ordained and non-ordained members of the community. And I’ve heard the very same from some of those non-ordained members of the community. The point is that concelebration, even regular concelebration in the context of a religious community need not result in poor priestly identity or disjointed fraternity.

    I found this statement of the Cardinal’s telling: “What kind of thinking is it on our part for me to think that I can improve on the liturgy that has been handed on in the Church down the centuries? This is absurd,” Of course he’s right, but in fairness to the priests who fell into ab-libbing mode and still live there, an awful lot of what was given in the reformed rites was not handed on in the Church down the centuries. I mean, when you can actually walk up and talk to people who wrote a Eucharistic Prayer which made it into the Missal then how can you fall back on an argument from tradition for not thinking that you have something as good if not better to share? It’s the reason, for all their beauty, the alternative Eucharistic Prayers are in some ways problematic. It’s also the reason that the ars celebrandi of each priest should represent, as best as is now able, a hermeneutic of continuity. But the sense of rupture didn’t just arise from Fr. Dumbo at St. Silly in the Field. In fact, it only rose up in places like that because they were first given poor direction from above.

    As to the last I would simply add this word of caution. I’ve recently been assisting in some of the cardinal’s own stomping grounds in the rural Midwest. There are good priests out here who work very hard, but they struggle with sin like everyone else. Of course priests shouldn’t be saying Mass in a state of mortal sin, but excepting those priests who don’t even believe in mortal sin anymore I’ve never met any who thought they should. They just have a hard time with the same things everybody else does: food, booze, porn, relationships, fidelity, temper, and all the rest. They also, especially the young ones, can tend towards scrupulosity. I don’t know that the best way to help a young priest covering five parishes in four counties who has a drinking problem or a porn addiction overcome his vice is to pound him with a moral theology he already knows and agonizes over. Rather, I think people really, really, really need to work on being kind to their priests, I think that people and bishops alike need to have more realistic expectations of their pastors, and I think that their brother priests need to be much more intentional about providing fraternity and support for one another. You don’t have to worry nearly as much about worthiness when your spiritual life is vital enough to situate you in a constant state of readiness.

  13. Jenice says:

    I have been Catholic now for 9 years, and during that time, my expectations of priests have considerably declined. Forget personal holiness, forget accessibility, forget friendliness and concern for parishioners, forget good homilies. All I ask for now is that he say the Mass according to the rubrics, no additions or changes, and administer the sacraments correctly. But even that is too much. We left one parish because the priest makes up him communion prayer; “May the Body of Christ bring us all to everlasting life,” to which the now-ill-formed congregation replies with a hearty “Amen.” Not only is this wrong, it presents false sacramental theology to the parishioners. It seems to me based on the Protestant “universal priesthood of all believers,” not understanding that Father’s priesthood is way different from mine.

    The priest at our new parish says the words to the Mass correctly, thankfully, but he puts so much of himself into the Mass, giving little asides and comments, and thanking everyone for everything, and soliciting applause, etc. Generally acting like an MC at an event.

    So, will the good Cardinal’s words change either of these priests? I doubt it. I don’t understand why they are this way. It is so much easier just to do it the right way rather than make stuff up. I would think laziness would encourage following the rubrics, but it doesn’t seem to. I’m discouraged.

  14. BaedaBenedictus says:

    “Of course, the liturgy we’ve had for the past 40+ years has been an artificial creation and NOT the liturgy that has been handed on in the Church down the centuries. No wonder priests have felt free to do with it as they please.”

    I think you have your finger on it. It seems to be difficult to get most priests to take seriously the celebration of a liturgy that a bureaucracy of “experts” fabricated around the same time as when historic neighborhoods were being demolished and replaced by Brutalist concrete towers in cities everywhere.

    Neither by nature has that sense of givenness, of being passed down, of being an organic creature. Rather both are the artificial and iconoclastic products of a hubristic age that gave itself the authority to rubbish all that came before and impose its ugly, rationalistic and inhuman theories on everyone and everything.

    Le Corbusier and Annibale Bugnini were men cut from the same breathtakingly arrogant cloth.

  15. Clinton R. says:

    “What kind of thinking is it on our part for me to think that I can improve on the liturgy that has been handed on in the Church down the centuries? This is absurd,” Cardinal Burke stated.

    If only Bugnini had thought this way, we wouldn’t be saddled with his Frankenstein creation today. May Our Lord bless us with the restoration of the Mass of All Time. +JMJ+

  16. FWguy says:

    Does this mean His Eminence would like to revisit GIRM 114? Please? The PPF (116) quotes this to practically mandate (should…insofar as possible) concelebration by priest faculty at the conventual Mass of a seminary.

    GIRM 114:
    114. Moreover, among those Masses celebrated by some communities, a particular place belongs
    to the Conventual Mass, which is a part of the daily Office, or the “community” Mass. Although
    such Masses do not involve any special form of celebration, it is nevertheless most fitting that
    they be
    celebrated with singing, especially with the full participation of all members of the community,
    whether of religious or of canons. Therefore, in these Masses all should exercise their function
    according to the Order or ministry they have received. Hence, it is desirable that all the Priests
    who are not obliged to celebrate individually for the pastoral benefit of the faithful concelebrate
    in so far as possible at the conventual or community Mass. In addition, all Priests belonging to
    the community who are obliged, as a matter of duty, to celebrate individually for the pastoral
    benefit of the faithful may also on the same day concelebrate at the conventual or community
    Mass.[93] For it is preferable that Priests who are present at a celebration of the Eucharist, unless
    excused for a just reason, should usually exercise the function proper to their Order and hence
    take part as concelebrants, wearing sacred vestments. Otherwise, they wear their proper choir
    dress or a surplice over a cassock.

  17. David in T.O. says:

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz,

    Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum;
    habemus Papam:
    Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum,
    Dominum Raimundus
    Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Burke
    qui sibi nomen imposuit Pius XIII

    Oh…sorry, I must have been dreaming…

  18. Volanges says:

    I guess GIRM 114 explains why we had concelebration in our parish for so long.

  19. dnicoll says:

    Well said David in T.O. More Bishops with Cardinal Burke’s approach please… Papa Z?

  20. FWguy, I doubt that Cardinal Burke was thinking of the conventual Mass in a monastery as a part of the daily Office. It was long the traditional practice for priest-monks to celebrate separately their individual early morning Masses, then gather for the conventual Mass mid- to late-morning.

    Perhaps he was thinking of concelebrated Masses not in addition to, but rather instead of, individual Masses. For example, two priests on vacation together, concelebrating rather than each serving the other’s individual Mass. Or two priests in a parish routinely concelebrating a single weekday Mass, rather than both celebrating individual Masses.

  21. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Personally, I think His Eminence is absolutely on the money.
    I honestly don’t think he really had monastic concelebrations in mind – the daily Conventual Mass has a worthy tradition in the Church’s monastic orders, and monasteries have only become accessible to the laity in recent years. He was surely thinking much more about parishes and cathedrals where a deanery supper meeting or diocesan conference is the occasion for a pre-supper on-altar gathering, where half the clergy forget or stumble through their lines during the Canon. Not very edifying, and so predictable.

    Please, no more ad-libbing before the Confiteor, or in the preamble to the Pater Noster. No more theologically dodgy riffing on the ‘Ecce qui tollis’ prayer. And spare us the sermon-time protests against the ‘Pope’s apparently misled decisions’ and the ‘new prayers that nobody can read out or understand’ – aka the new ICEL translation. (Although I realize the fuller and more accurate translations of the Roman Rite must come as a shock to many older priests who were glad to be rid of the ‘difficult stuff’ and have forgotten it ever existed.)

    Nor do we want – most incredibly – the Gloria and even Credo to be omitted at Sunday Mass after Easter and Christmas. After a couple of years in one parish I had the temerity to ask the PP ‘Why?’ and was told smilingly ‘I’m afraid Fr X often misses bits out. Ah well, it doesn’t really matter.’

  22. Jack Regan says:

    In the UK where I am, concelebration is already very rare. In fact, it’s only really used at special events: Parish anniversaries, special celebrations, Chrism Mass etc etc. Other than that, it’s quite unusual. Gone are the days when all of the priests in the parish would concelebrate one Mass together each weekend.