Why don’t priests follow rubrics? Fr. Z cheerfully rants.

My friend Fr. Ray Blake, distinguished p.p. of St. Mary Magdalen in Brighton, has a post sure to prick the consciences of some not yet liberally heart-hardened priests and bishops.

He starts off with a comment about the lack of liturgical continuity from one place to another and that many priests ignore liturgical laws as they please.  He raises the question of whether liturgical renewal is possible.   That is an important question to me, of course.  In my view, no initiative in the Church toward a “new evangelization” or anything else is possible to sustain without a revitalization of our liturgical worship.

That said, Fr. Blake then posts this, in turn from Fr. Gary Dickson… well into his blog entry.  Read the rest there, but… my emphases and comments:

We have spent fifty years ‘advising and encouraging’ clergy at all levels -from Cardinals down to associate pastors and deacons- to follow liturgical norms, but we have had very little success with such exhortations. Why? [I have my own idea.  Let's see where he goes...] I think because if we were to follow even the norms that are in place now for the Missanormativa of Paul VI, we would have a very different kind of liturgy than we currently have in most parishes. [Aaaaaand...?] Some questions we can ask ourselves about the liturgy in our own parish to see if we are following norms or not are the following.  All of these questions should be responded to with a ‘Yes’ if we are following norms; a negative response means we are not following the norms (according to the General Instruction and Redemptionis Sacramentum).

  • Do we ever use Latin for the Ordinary of the Mass? (cf. RS #112; GIRM #41)
  • Do we retain use of the Communion Plate? (cf. RS #93)
  • Do we use Extraordinary Ministers only in exceptional circumstances? (cf. RS #151)
  • Does the celebrant stay within the sanctuary at the Sign of Peace? (cf. RS #72)
  • Do we omit the chalice if the greater proportion of the congregation does not receive from it? (cf. RS #102)
  • Do we allow/encourage Communion kneeling and on the tongue? (cf. RS #92)
  • Do we keep the Church and adjoining rooms quiet before and after Mass? (cf. GIRM #45)
  • Do we omit hymn singing to have an organ voluntary at the end of Mass? (cf. Celebrating the Mass, Bishops Conference of England & Wales, #225)

These may seem paltry things to some, but if they are so paltry, why refuse to follow them? [Getting back to the question, ut supra...] It takes so little to put them into place, other than a sense of humility and obedience.

[...]

I return to a long-stated opinion here: if the Novus Ordo were celebrated exactly in accord with the Missal as provided by Pope Paul VI in 1970 in accord with liturgical continuity and the actual decrees of Vatican II, ie., altar-facing (rubric 133) with Latin (Sacrosactum concilium of Vatican II #54,116) and Communion on the tongue while kneeling (1970 GIRM 247) we would see significantly less hostility to the Church’s ancient form of Mass.

Okay.  Let’s drill.

First, one of the reasons why priests and bishops don’t follow the norms is because with the Novus Ordo, there was no longer in the norms published in the missal itself, in the forward or praenotanda, the stern reminder that certain serious faults and flaws in celebration of Mass were mortal sins.

Rubrics and their implications are a matter of moral theology.  The older, pre-Conciliar missal is clear that when a priest violates some points of the rubrics, he commits a sin.

When sin was detached from observance of the norms, priests and bishops – who often have pride problems like everyone else – were off the leash.

I am not talking about slips or momentary lapses. I do not include in this, before someone adds it, genuflecting to the Eucharistic Lord in a tabernacle when passing before it. I am not talking about tiny variations.  I am talking about serious things, such as changing prayers or the form of consecration, purposeful disregard for important points.  I am also talking about seriously confusing the roles of lay people and the ordained.  I am talking about things that can risk profanation of the Eucharist.

The rubrics of the older Mass are a powerful leash indeed.  When a priest obeys the rubrics of the older form of Mass, he is kept under tight control.  He cannot impose too much of himself on the Mass and on the congregation.

On top of that, the mania of turning altars around – in no way asked for or required by the Council – poured gasoline on already fired up priestly pride.  No sin, no leash, plus look at me!  At best, Father felt the huge psychological pressure of all those eyes on him all the time and – even when well-motivated – caved into the suggestion implicit within the new “versus populum” arrangement, that he personally had to take charge or entertain.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the Council.   We now have really bad liturgical habits far and wide.  Many older priests are set in their ways and won’t change, even though over the last decade or so there have been clarifications and deeper discussions about liturgy.  These guys know they are violating the rubrics as written and they just don’t give a damn. They know better than the “official” Church!

I fear men like that will go to hell.

Another point about that suggestion, above, that were we to celebrate the Novus Ordo in conformity to the norms then resistance to the older form of Mass might fade.

This raises a question.  If the Novus Ordo – the “normative” Mass? – is all the better the more it is faithful to the Roman Rite as it has developed over the centuries, then why don’t we just use the older form?  Perhaps the older form is the true norm, in a broader view.  Rubrics and fidelity to norms are supposed to protect continuity with what we have always done, no?  Except when they don’t, some traddies will point out.

Since I am ranting, …. on my planet,

  • the concept of sin for violation of rubrics would be reintroduced in the praenotanda of even the Novus Ordo
  • De Benedictionibus would never have existed
  • all seminarians would be required to be able to use the older books before I would ordain them (would there even be any newer books on my planet? – a connundrum!)
  • all fortune cookies would have an actual fortune in them instead of a stupid platitude
  • all priests would need to participate in continuing education to learn the older forms if they didn’t know them already  (again, Star Trek like space-time paradoxes enter in)
  • heck, so would bishops for that matter
  • players would have to pay to play for the New York Yankees instead of getting paid
  • Communion in the hand would be banned under pain of suspension a divinis for deacons and priests and, heck, bishops too (remember – this is my planet we are on)
  • there would be latae sententiae excommunication for answering a mobile phone during Mass
  • ad orientem worship would be restored as the norm – allowances made for some few historic Roman churches or odd circumstances
  • etc. according to my whim

We must reconnect in the heads of priests that one day they will die and go to their judgment.  Since the celebration of Mass is perhaps the most important thing priests do,  how they celebrated Mass during life will be part of their judgment.

Fathers, consistently violating important rubrics is sinful.  Your priestly state in life requires that you know the rubrics.  You cannot claim inculpable ignorance.

If you are sincerely a little fuzzy on the rubrics, I implore you to review them and make some changes.  If you are purposely violating important norms, for the love of all that’s holy knock it off.

Have a beautiful rest of your day.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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71 Responses to Why don’t priests follow rubrics? Fr. Z cheerfully rants.

  1. thefeds says:

    Amen! When we start to view the Sacred Liturgy as the property of the Body of Christ, rather than our own private chattel, we find many things in our Church improving!

  2. jameeka says:

    maybe your planet is kinda like Heaven?

    [Like in the movie? "Is this heaven?" BTW ... we won't have Mass in heaven. Mass is for this world.]

  3. fvhale says:

    I think that honest statistics would show that priests who follow the rubrics are about as common as Catholics who follow the Church’s moral teachings. Which comes first? Real, living faith? Liturgical and Sacramental life? Moral life? Spiritual life?
    If the folks in the pews do not now their faith, and do not practice it, it is highly doubtful that they will object if Father invites a “highly educated” woman to reflect as homily, then inserts a monologue worthy of the Oprah Show into the middle of the Eucharistic Prayer (for pastoral reasons, of course), followed by a rousing “Praise and Worship” number with electric guitars and percussion after communion. In fact, such folks in the pews probably want this rather than a word of Latin, or the priest turning their back to them and praying to God, and all that other “Phrasaical” rubric stuff.

    People get the priests they want, in large part. I more and more think of the Golden Calf situation in Exodus 32. The people wanted a gods to lead them. And Aaron, the high priest, went along with them. And out came the Golden Calf.

    It takes a very strong priest to lead such a community back into the reality of what we are doing here, both in liturgy and in the individual life of each member of the parish. There will be complaints to the bishop. People will scream, yell insults, subvert, and leave (“and I’m taking my money with me”). So many now think it is about “I do this good thing or that good thing (e.g. help care for the poor)” and everything is good with God, right? Matthew 25:31-46 is all that matters. “I donate to Catholic Charities…so stay out of my life, and give me what I want at church! Or else.”

    Pray for the Church.
    Pray for strong and faithful pastors.
    Pray that more Catholics could experience the Forma Ordinaria as it is written, not as it has been so often distorted. Indeed, they will realize that the Forma Extraordinaria is not “from another planet.”
    Pray that more Catholics would have a real spiritual life (a Catholic one, not a Protestant or Buddhist one), and realize their call to holiness (a big part of V2′s Lumen Gentium).

  4. Lepidus says:

    Absolutely! I’m moving to you’re planet! What really gets me is the fact the we got a corrected translation and the priests still can’t do it right. I could almost understand how little things might slip in over time and a priest might not even realize that he is doing something incorrect, but when the Church comes out and says “here is the current correct translation” and the priest refuses to use the words of either the new OR the old, you know he’s just being stubborn…hence Fr. Z’s bullet point #1.

  5. jhayes says:

    Regarding use of the communion plate, the only place that is mentioned in the current (2011) GIRM is in connection with Communion by Intinction

    “287. If Communion from the chalice is carried out by intinction, each communicant, holding a Communion-plate under the mouth, approaches the Priest who holds a vessel with the sacred particles, with a minister standing at his side and holding the chalice. The Priest takes a host, intincts it partly in the chalice and, showing it, says, The Body and Blood of Christ. The communicant replies, Amen, receives the Sacrament in the mouth from the Priest, and then withdraws.”

    It is not mentioned in connection with the distribution of hosts or drinking from the chalice (#160, #161, and #286 )

    in the 1975 GIRM, the use of a communion plate was required for the distribution of hosts but this was dropped from the current (2011) GIRM.

    1975 #117

    “117. He then takes the paten or a ciborium and goes to the communicants. If communion is given only under the form of bread, he raises the eucharistic bread slightly and shows it to each one, saying: The body of Christ. The communicants reply: Amen and, holding the communion plate under their chin receive the sacrament. ”

    The corresponding article in the 2011 GIRM is # 160

    160. The Priest then takes the paten or ciborium and approaches the communicants, who usually come up in procession….

    With no mention of a communion plate

  6. Charles E Flynn says:

    Captain, long-range scanners have detected a Class M planet with a most peculiar set of characteristics, which are being broadcast on a sub-space channel from the planet itself, in Latin.

  7. frjim4321 says:

    It depends on how one sees rubrics. I’ve always seen them less as a straight jacket and more as dancing shoes.

  8. rcg says:

    Fr. you had a sentence, “I fear these men will go to hell”. THat sums up the entire fear I have with all of this. I fear for the people misled who are now convinced of their own superiority. My only quibble with your statement is that you should capitalize ‘Hell’, because it is real and people had better respect it.

  9. jhayes says:

    Here’s what RS #92 says about receiving Communion in the hand or on the tongue. I don’t see how Fr. Dickson gets from this to saying that there is a norm that a priest must encourage people to receive kneeling and on the tongue (he must allow that, of course, if they wish).

    .”[92.] Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice,[178] if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her. However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.[179]”

    Related parts of RS are:

    [90.] “The faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing, as the Conference of Bishops will have determined”, with its acts having received the recognitio of the Apostolic See. “However, if they receive Communion standing, it is recommended that they give due reverence before the reception of the Sacrament, as set forth in the same norms”.[176]

    [91.] In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”.[177] Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing.

    In the United States, the USCCB has determined in accordance ith RS #90:

    The Conference of Bishops of the United States has determined that in this country Communion will be received standing and that a bow will be the act of reverence made by those receiving.

    Those who receive Communion may receive either in the hand or on the tongue, and the decision should be that of the individual receiving, not of the person distributing Communion.

  10. wmeyer says:

    The continuing abuse of the words of the Mass is disturbing, yet more easily understood that the horde of EMHCs in almost every parish, despite the rubrics clearly stating that their use is reserved to extraordinary circumstances. Apparently to some, extraordinary means simply at every Mass. In my archdiocese, there is even an archdiocesan norm which reaffirms that they are to be used only in extraordinary circumstances, and yet, they trot out in multitudes in almost every parish. I have seen 8 EMHCs step up when there are only about 100 in the pews.

    Now, what’s that about obstinately persisting in sin?

  11. fvhale: “Which comes first?”

    On page 90 of Hitchcock’s splendid new history of the Church:

    “During this period, the Church adopted the maxim lex orandi lex credendi (literally, “The law of prayer is the law of belief.”) meaning that the authentic teachings of the Church are found first of all in her liturgy, which is prior to dogma both temporally and in importance.”

    Followed by examples of belief and spirituality that developed out of the liturgy.

  12. wmeyer says:

    jhayes, it is worth remebering:

    “I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish.”
    St. John Chrysostom

  13. Supertradmum says:

    Rant away, Fr. Z. I think of all the college and university chaplains who change the rubrics and priests in parishes here in England and in Ireland who are doing their own thing. The laity are so tired of all of this and it weakens the Church to have sloppy liturgies which do not honor God. Bad liturgies are a sin against the First Commandment.

    I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

  14. maryh says:

    @fvhale
    Actually, I’m more optimistic. The younger generations aren’t actively opposed to priests following the rubrics. They just don’t know or understand what the fuss is about. But they can be taught, and I sometimes think that it is primarily the laity that will be/is the main impetus for the Liturgical reform.

    It’s no coincidence that Bishop Sample first learned to say the Latin Mass at the request of a layperson.

    Some clergy and theologians used the excuse of Vatican 2 to force their own experiments on the people. Many of the people left, and most, I think, of the ones that are reverting or the families contributing faithful Catholics want the NO celebrated in conformity to the rubrics or the TLM.

  15. yatzer says:

    I am told by a priest who would like to celebrate “facing east” that this is the thing that fires up the most opposition, complaints, and threats of retribution from the general population of Mass-goers. I don’t understand why, but apparently that is the way it is.

  16. Bea says:

    quote:
    “A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the Council.”

    Perhaps part of the problem is that the water that passed under the bridge was “Holy Water” and we were left with just “Blessed Water”. Consider that the NO rubrics for blessing water was changed as were the rubrics for the NO ordination of priests and we were left with weakened Sacraments to protect us all. They no longer have the power of exorcism on these prayers.

    Question: anybody???
    Our pastor begins Mass with “Good morning” /”Good afternoon” It drives me crazy! Our first focus should be on us, right? I believe he considers that at this point Mass has not yet begun. I have been trying to gather my focus on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that is to begin and that focus is shattered with the untimely greeting.
    Is this allowable?
    Fr Z?

  17. Sandy says:

    @Bea, that bothers me also because it brings the supernatural down to the natural level. It is in either “Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite” or James Akins’ “Mass Confusion” that this is addressed, and it is NOT to be done as far as I can tell.

    Great Post, Father! Can you hear us cheering?!

  18. jhayes says:

    wmeyer, I grew up receiving Communion on the tongue while kneeling at an altar rail – and with an altar boy holding a paten. I don’t have any objection to a priest trying to convince his parishioners to try it and see if it is more meaningful for them – as long as he is clear that it is their choice.

    I did feel he was giving an incorrect impression that it is a norm – and that a priest would be at fault if he didn’t encourage his parishioners to do that.

  19. jhayes says:

    “Do we omit the chalice if the greater proportion of the congregation does not receive from it? (cf. RS #102)”

    RS #102 makes clear that this is not an issue of numbers but whether “the sign of unity would in some sense be negated.” which is a prudential judgment of the pastor.

    [102.] The chalice should not be ministered to lay members of Christ’s faithful…where a notable part of the people continues to prefer not to approach the chalice for various reasons, so that the sign of unity would in some sense be negated.

  20. acardnal says:

    jhayes wrote, “I did feel he was giving an incorrect impression that it is a norm – and that a priest would be at fault if he didn’t encourage his parishioners to do that.”

    Fr. Dickson said,
    “Do we allow/encourage Communion kneeling and on the tongue? (cf. RS #92)”

    Fr. Dickson was simply asking the question of priests do they “allow” reception while kneeling? This is good because some priests do not allow it even though it is permitted.

    Fr. Dickson was also asking if priests “encourage” reception while kneeling and on the tongue. Nothing wrong with encouraging this behavior; he did not give any indication that he was prohibiting standing/or in-the-hand reception.

    Personally, I hope and pray that Pope Benedict will change the rubric to make it mandatory to receive Holy Communion on the tongue. He is already setting the example for those who receive from the Holy Father’s own consecrated hands. I think there is a real likelihood this could happen.

  21. acardnal says:

    Would have been clearer of me to have written, “Personally, I hope and pray that Pope Benedict will change the rubric and make it mandatory to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.”

  22. acardnal says:

    jhayes wrote, “RS #102 makes clear that this is not an issue of numbers but whether “the sign of unity would in some sense be negated.” which is a prudential judgment of the pastor.”"

    Actually I believe it’s the “prudential judgment” of the bishop who is the chief liturgist of the diocese.

    In my diocese, the bishop has put a stop to the routine reception from the chalice because of sacrilegious abuses that occur with the Precious Blood. God bless our bishop.

  23. jameeka says:

    Father Z: Hmm, I now see you have a podcast 2007 on the topic of no Mass in Heaven, so I will listen and learn, thank you.

  24. Trad Catholic Girl says:

    I’m not sure if Catholic Bible Study ever includes the Old Testament but I think it would be beneficial to focus on the second half of Exodus to remind us of the reverence expected by God during Mass. I would also encourage our Parish priests to participate in the discussion.

  25. anilwang says:

    According to Vatican insider, it’s worse and even the words aren’t followed since “they’re too hard”:
    http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/world-news/detail/articolo/the-tablet-messale-inglese-utilizzo-22103/

    I’m not sure how accurate it is since it quotes Anthony Ruff, but if true, the reform of the reform will take take longer than I hoped.

    I think in addition to what Fr Z mentions, two other factors that are more common in the average priest:
    * laziness/entropy – without vigilance and discipline, things tend to degrade on their own.
    * peer and popular pressure – all of us want to be liked and hate rocking the boat.

    The pain of mortal sin if the rubrics are not followed counteracts both these tendencies. But I’m not sure its enough now given than it would force many priest to admit that they’ve been sinning mortally their entire lives in “good conscious”. Such admissions are extremely hard for any man to accept and there are too many forces reinforcing the thought that adapting the liturgy is a good thing and being meticulous is being insensitive or being a robot. So popular wisdom is backwards. In this way, the issue of liturgical abuse is a lot like the issue of contraception.

  26. acardnal says:

    I have heard lame excuses from American Catholics about standing to receive Communion (although I’ve observed some “take” Communion, too, which is wrong in itself.) To stand, they say, indicates respect. After all, one stands for the National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, when the President or the commanding officer enters the room. And well we should – out of respect. But I kneel before God Almighty.

    We all would do well to remember in our humility and sinfulness some scripture:
    Philippians 2:9-11

    9 “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

    And the preceding is just referring to the mere mention of Our Lord’s name and not even His Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament!

  27. Ted says:

    It might be a hard sell to introduce the concept of sin for not following the rubrics of a Mass that was fabricated by a committee and introduced novelties resulting from erroneous historical scholarship.

  28. Shamrock says:

    Father I wonder why you say ” we won’t have mass in heaven”? It is my understanding what we
    are doing at mass is what is happening in heaven….as in the book of Revelation? As Scott Hahn explains so beautifully in his book SUPPER OF THE LAMB….that in Heaven we have an eternal mass or liturgy where we, along with the saints, martyrs and angels, continuosly give honor and glory to God, as we do here on earth when at mass. Please explain if you would more fully your
    statement.

  29. jhayes says:

    acardnal wrote: “Fr. Dickson was simply asking the question of priests do they “allow” reception while kneeling? This is good because some priests do not allow it even though it is permitted.

    Fr. Dickson was also asking if priests “encourage” reception while kneeling and on the tongue. Nothing wrong with encouraging this behavior; he did not give any indication that he was prohibiting standing/or in-the-hand reception.”

    I agree (as I said in an earlier post)

    BUT – according to Fr. dickson’s blurb above the list

    “All of these questions should be responded to with a ‘Yes’ if we are following norms; a negative response means we are not following the norms (according to the General Instruction and Redemptionis Sacramentum).”

    There is a norm to “allow” reception while kneeling and on the tongue

    There is not a norm to “encourage” reception while kneeling and on the tongue

    According to his blurb, if a priest doen’t “encourage” reception while kneeling and on the tongue he is not following the norms.

    It’s not so.

    That’s what I have been pointing out in my several posts. His list includes things that are not required by any norms.

  30. e.e. says:

    I’d settle for having the Gloria included at Sunday Masses during Ordinary Time. My geographical parish skips it every single week — the pastor believes that the Gloria is optional. It breaks my heart to have this beautiful prayer purposefully omitted from the Mass. (This is part of the reason why we typically attend Mass elsewhere, sigh…)

  31. wmeyer says:

    Ted said: It might be a hard sell to introduce the concept of sin for not following the rubrics of a Mass that was fabricated by a committee and introduced novelties resulting from erroneous historical scholarship.

    The origins of the NO Mass are less than pleasing, but the Mass itself was approved by the Holy See, and subsequent to that, the pedigree is less a concern. What is certainly of concern is whether a priest is following the approved forms–as presented in the rubrics–or riding off into cowboy territory, improvising in opposition to Rome. The latter is a concern not only of Rome, but of every parishioner.

  32. acardnal says:

    Shamrock,
    Here is Fr. Z’s podcazt from 2007 where he addresses your query about Mass in heaven. It starts at the 19:oo mark.
    http://www.wdtprs.com/podcazt/07_06_09.mp3

  33. acardnal says:

    GIRM warfare.

    The GIRM prescribes it does not proscribe. If it did, it would probably be 1000 pages in length! Proscriptions to the GIRM typically come from the Holy See.

  34. Joseph-Mary says:

    Well our parochial vicar bailed out early so our large parish has one priest pastor. And some retired priests have been asked to help out. But I think of these retired priests as “Fr. Ad-lib” because they add, subtract, and change things in the Mass. The altar servers are confused as to when to ring the bells because of the changes. The people do not understand or recognize that Father is making changes for the most part. I do. It bothers me a LOT. I am paying close attention to hear that the proper words of consecration are said. The ad-libs distract my prayers at Mass. I wish these priest would not play fast and loose with the holy Mass.

  35. iPadre says:

    Excellent post!

    I would add to your list: Required classes in Latin for seminarians AND priests, until they are fluent in the Language of the Church. I and a number of priest friends feel cheated by the Church for not giving us the Language of the Church. We are poorer for it!

  36. maryh says:

    A note on “encouraging” reception on the tongue, or anything else.

    There are at least two different ways you can look at this.
    1. Encourage people who otherwise aren’t interested in it.
    2. Encourage people who are interested, but have been made to feel there is something wrong with it, or that they will be showing disunity, or who are just shy.

    I remember it took me a while to work up the courage to receive on the tongue again, even though I very much wanted to. I still feel uncomfortable and as if I’m making a spectacle of myself.

    In the second sense, I think it perfectly correct to say the rubrics require the priest to encourage receiving on the tongue.

  37. acardnal says:

    Fr. Z wrote, “The Consilium’s liturgical engineers under Annibale Bugnini and others eliminated these pre-Lent Sundays, much to our detriment.”

    Whenever I hear or read the name “Bugnini” I remember it in the same way Seinfeld used to pronounce the postal worker’s name “Newman!”

  38. JKnott says:

    This really is an excellent post!
    I wonder how much the giving up of prayer, both personal and liturgical in the Hours, may have to do with this rampant abomination of pride and disobedience to the rubrics at the Mass.
    Is the Alter Christus at the altar emulating Jesus in the Agony in the Garden by ad -libbing?
    “Father not My will be done but Thine” “And falling down in agony He prayed the more earnestly and His sweat became as drops of blood falling to the ground.”

  39. norancor says:

    I fear men like that will go to hell.

    How many souls have been led astray, or out of the Church altogether, by these kind of men? Should the man that leads souls astray, that ravenous wolf, not be held to task by God, and sent to Hell for it?

    Indeed, I fear men like that will go to Hell.

  40. Therese says:

    “Perhaps the older form is the true norm, in a broader view.”

    The manner in which Mass is offered now certainly reinforces this idea. Great post, Father.

  41. Gail F says:

    I don’t know what bishops actually say to priests, but the impression I get is that most priests nobody is really serious about any of that except certain scrupulous nutcases — just as laypeople think that no one is really serious about birth control, or confession, or Mary, or the saints, or whatever seems to all intents and purposes to have become completely optional. It seems clear to me that almost the only priests who care about that sort of thing are young ones, so it’s a new sort of spirit. And I really can’t blame older priests who were taught to be “creative” and sent to endless workshops and formation sessions, etc., in which there was a new fad every few years, for thinking this is just another new fad — and none of the people they know (who are all their age, natch) care about it so why should they?

    It is like the situation with schools. In the USA, millions of people now homeschool, and millions more send their kids to charter schools. Instead of saying, “Huh. What does that tell us about the state of our schools and our professions?” teachers and administrators say, “Wow, there sure are a lot of nuts in the world these days. Whatever.” (Or, as a teacher I know says, “Any parent who sends children to anything but a public school is selfish and robbing schools of money that they are entitled to, making things worse for everyone.”) It is far too easy, it seems, to ignore signs that things are not well when doing so would mean that you have to change in some way.

  42. PhilipNeri says:

    I’m a Do the Red/Say the Black kinda priest. . .however, please keep in mind, that quite a few of us work as parochial vicars/campus ministers and have only limited control over how the liturgical customs of a parish are carried out. If a PV lands in a parish with Fr. Hollywood as pastor, he will have to tolerate all sorts of liturgical nonsense. . .even in the Masses where he’s the celebrant. Customs like: duct-taping paper banners to the marble altar; Martha Stewart Liturgical Decoration of the sanctuary during secular holidays; allowing alternative “gifts” to be placed on the altar at the Offertory; encouraging the “Heil Hitler” blessing at every possible moment; allowing altar servers to wear flip-flops, filthy sneakers, neon blue/green/orange boots, etc. So, please don’t assume that every liturgical crime is being willingly committed!

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  43. PA mom says:

    Latin

    Why do the Mass cards contain three different possibilities, but no Latin? Since we have the pew cards it would be so easy to include it as a choice at least.

    Doesn’t show much support from above (hierarchy).

  44. eyeclinic says:

    Fr. Jim4321,
    Dancing shoes are fine as long as you’re dancing the same dance as others in the ballroom.
    But if your dancing shoes allow you to dance AROUND the rubrics,then that seems to be another, more serious issue.

  45. Pingback: Why don’t priests follow rubrics? Fr. Z cheerfully rants. | Knights of Divine Mercy

  46. Deacon Don says:

    I have been surprised at how many priests I have worked with over the past years have never, and I mean that “never”, ever read the GIRM or even RS. When you mention the GIRM you are looked at as as some form of zealot.

    Please, come on to the altar and listen to the prayers from the old Sacramentary. Even the local Bishop uses the old text when blessing the Deacon before the Gospel. I hear, on a daily basis, all of the old texts during the quiet prayers at the altar and witness “Revenge of the Sacramentary” moments as chalices become cups and on and on as a result.

    What about the priests who simply do their best to limit or eliminate any forms of singing within the liturgy? Priests who don’t purify vessels, or who intentionally celebrate “Mass without a Deacon with a Deacon” – relegating the Deacon to less that an altar server while the seminarian gives yet another homily. (Can’t count the number of times I have been told that the celebrant would be reading the Gospel today since he is preaching.)

    I spent my career in education, being required to change curriculae and approaches literally overnight. Why? Because I was monitored and held accountable. It did not take my administration one year, let alone 50 years, to implement a plan. In terms of a corporate model the contemporary Catholic Church deserves failing grades. (And don’t give me the “paid job” argument because according to our parish financial report the current priest takes home far more that I ever did teaching … and has a house keeper paid for by the parish as well!)

    One final thought, why is it that the pastor who has it together in terms of the liturgical teaching of the Church, is the one who is openly chagrined and looked at sceptically even by his fellow priests? Their congregations readily attack them because “Fr. Xxxxx doesn’t do that!” or “Fr. Yyyyy allows his people to …” “Mass will continue as soon as Father gets back to the altar. He is somewhere in the middle of the church exchanging the Sign of Peace. It’s too bad we can get Fr. Wwwww to do that as well.”

  47. jesusthroughmary says:

    jhayes wrote, “RS #102 makes clear that this is not an issue of numbers but whether “the sign of unity would in some sense be negated.” which is a prudential judgment of the pastor.””

    It is clear that the very fact that “a notable part of the people continues to prefer not to approach the chalice for various reasons” is what causes the “sign of unity” to be negated.

    Would that the Church would banish all this Protestant experimentation from the Holy Mass with a stroke of a pen. It has clearly been a failure and has caused spiritual and moral confusion throughout the Church.

  48. DavidR says:

    Dear frjim:

    “It depends on how one sees rubrics. I’ve always seen them less as a straight jacket and more as dancing shoes.”

    It’s not about you.

  49. wmeyer says:

    To stand, they say, indicates respect. After all, one stands for the National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, when the President or the commanding officer enters the room.

    We kneel before our Lord, and not before secular authority. One can only wonder what motivates them to reduce the respect for our Lord to that level granted to the secular.

  50. Gail F says:

    “To stand, they say, indicates respect. After all, one stands for the National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, when the President or the commanding officer enters the room.”

    That’s what they say but I do’nt believe the people who say it. The Orthodox stand for respect, it’s part of their culture. The Jews don’t kneel. But in our culture, we think of kneeling as something done before kings, when being knighted, etc., when asking a woman to marry, when begging for mercy, etc. The popularity of medieval-themed movies and television programs show that the idea of royalty and kingship is still a part of our popular imagination. I think the people who insist on standing in the Latin rite think that kneeling is servile. They don’t want to kneel because they don’t want to submit, they want to graciously agree. We stand out of respect and attentiveness when the Gospel is read, but we kneel before our King. At least that is the impression I get from the people I know — they want to be pals with God and do their part when he asks them nicely. They don’t want to obey.

  51. acardnal says:

    PhilipNeri wrote, “I’m a Do the Red/Say the Black kinda priest. . .however, please keep in mind, that quite a few of us work as parochial vicars/campus ministers and have only limited control over how the liturgical customs of a parish are carried out.”

    I believe you are a “Do the Red/Say the Black” kinda Father but why can’t you celebrate Mass according to the mind of the Church, i.e. correctly? Is it because the pastor and/or the bishop don’t permit you to? I do not like the phrase “we do it because it is a custom at this parish.”

  52. jhayes says:

    We kneel before our Lord, and not before secular authority. One can only wonder what motivates them to reduce the respect for our Lord to that level granted to the secular.

    The decision as to whether to kneel or stand during the Eucharistic Prayer and while receiving the Eucharist was delegated to the bishops conference of each country

    Unlike most countries I have been in, the USCCB decided we should kneel rather than stand during the Eucharistic Prayer.

    They established standing as the norm for receiving communion but permitted those who prefered kneeling to do so. Whether to receive on the tongue or in the hand is up to each person.

    Here’s their explanation:

    “Standing is a sign of respect and honor, so we stand as the celebrant who represents Christ enters and leaves the assembly. This posture, from the earliest days of the Church, has been understood as the stance of those who are risen with Christ and seek the things that are above. When we stand for prayer we assume our full stature before God, not in pride, but in humble gratitude for the marvelous thing God has done in creating and redeeming each one of us. By Baptism we have been given a share in the life of God, and the posture of standing is an acknowledgment of this wonderful gift. We stand for the Gospel, the pinnacle of revelation, the words and deeds of the Lord, and the bishops of the United States have chosen standing as the posture to be observed in this country for the reception of Communion, the sacrament which unites us in the most profound way possible with Christ who, now gloriously risen from the dead, is the cause of our salvation.

    The posture of kneeling signified penance in the early Church: the awareness of sin casts us to the ground! So thoroughly was kneeling identified with penance that the early Christians were forbidden to kneel on Sundays and during the Easter Season when the prevailing spirit of the liturgy was that of joy and thanksgiving. In the Middle Ages kneeling came to signify the homage of a vassal to his lord, and more recently this posture has come to signify adoration. It is for this reason that the bishops of this country have chosen the posture of kneeling for the entire Eucharistic Prayer.

    Sitting is the posture of listening and meditation, so the congregation sits for the pre-Gospel readings and may also sit for the period of meditation following Communion.

    http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/the-mass/postures-and-gestures-at-mass.cfm

  53. wmeyer says:

    jhayes:

    They established standing as the norm for receiving communion but permitted those who prefered kneeling to do so. Whether to receive on the tongue or in the hand is up to each person.

    Actually, the bishops do not “permit” kneeling; the Canons give the right to each of us, and that cannot be denied by any national council.

    I’ve read the explanation, and it is purely revisionist. I was in high school during Vatican II. We knelt at Mass, and there was no doubt why. To declare that the cultural norms made a change necessary is simply untrue. What is more likely is that it was a sop to ecumenism, in the hope of bringing Protestants back to the fold. At any event, to deny history does not alter it. Catholics in this country assuredly knelt in worship and respect, even as now we kneel at the prescribed times in the Mass. Moreover, if the explanation were even logically consistent, we’d not be kneeling at any point in the Mass, but standing, as the show of respect they declare it to be.

    I may be old, but I am not so old as to have forgotten what once was the norm, nor what was destroyed and taken from us.

  54. PhilipNeri says:

    acardnal, basically, you have ask yourself at every liturgical turn, “Is this the rubric I’m willing to die for?” When you challenge a parochial custom that’s been in place for decades, you’d better be prepared to fight a war. At one parish I suggested to the DRE that it was inappropriate to hang paper banners on the altar for the “CYO Mass.” She looked at me like I had three heads. Her response, “Frs. X, Y, and Z had no problem with it. We’ve been doing it for 25 yrs.” Meaning: why are you being difficult, Fr. Philip? I brought this practice up with the pastor. His response: “Get used to it.” When I tried to push a little harder on the rubrics, he said–this time a little louder–”Get used to it!” How hard do I push? Am I willing to alienate the CYO folks? The pastor?

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  55. sirlouis says:

    “3. Sacerdos, vel diaconus vel alius minister idoneus, potest brevissimis verbis introducere fideles in Missam illius diei.” … “Aliae formulae salutationis et actus paenitentialis ad libitum inveniuntur in Appendice.”

    When the Order of Mass itself invites variations as to who does what and as to what is said and what is done, then it is scarcely surprising that celebrants will wander all over the reservation and sometimes off it. This also opens the opportunity for liturgy committees, because there is naturally a prideful impetus to impose one’s own order where there is some lack of specific design. I fear that we will not get things in order until the Order of Mass itself is frankly rigid.

  56. wmeyer says:

    How hard do I push? Am I willing to alienate the CYO folks? The pastor?

    Heartbreaking. I do what I can each week to give spiritual support to my favorite local priest, who has lost some battles, but continues to deliver strong teachings in his homilies. He needs to know that not all in the parish are of the hootenanny Mass persuasion. We must not only pray for our priests and bishops, but must also be ready to stand with them to do what is right and needful.

  57. acardnal says:

    PhilipNeri, thank you for your response, Father.

    I suppose as a former military man I am inclined to do as you did and to follow the pastor – my supervisor – against my will. I understand a parochial vicar does not have the freedom to do what he should but is subordinate to the pastor. Your hands are tied so some extent. You have to pick your battles.

    On the hand, I would have used the opportunity to educate the DRE and CYO folks on the altar, the Mass, the sanctuary, and so forth. (Perhaps you did.) After all, if she is the DRE she should know better or be replaced. I definitely would not permit it if I was the pastor. The altar is where we re-present the unbloody sacrifice our our Lord. But you know that. Retorts like “why are you being difficult” shouldn’t bother you. It’s an opportunity to catechize the ignorant. Speak the Truth in charity. If folks don’t like it, too bad. If the collection suffers, too bad. It is not the primary purpose of the priest to “be liked”. A lot of people didn’t – and still don’t – like what Jesus said either.

    As it is, you are not the pastor so it is what it is . . . until one day you are pastor. ;-)

    As wmeyer said above, “We must not only pray for our priests and bishops, but must also be ready to stand with them to do what is right and needful.” I would stand by you, Father, when you do the right thing which is to follow the mind of the Church not the crowd.

  58. Gail F says:

    Fr. Philip Neri: I know exactly what you mean. People who think you should do it differently have not been in your shoes! Visiting priests have some leeway but mostly the parish does what it always does and the priest says Mass. I heard a hilarious story once from a priest who found that the parish he was visiting only had two chasubles, one for one of the liturgical seasons and the other made out of an old sheet printed with cartoon characters for “children’s Mass.” The pastor didn’t like wearing a chasuble. Visiting priests see a little bit of everything, sounds like… more than the bishop does. There are certain things people will do for their bishop to show off, which I’m sure is immensely annoying, but mostly they stick to the rubrics that they know when he’s around.

  59. acardnal says:

    The explanation for standing given by the USCCB and quoted above by jhayes at 11:11 am is horrific! This phrasing is particularly troubling:

    “When we stand for prayer we assume our full stature before God, not in pride, but in humble gratitude for the marvelous thing God has done in creating and redeeming each one of us. By Baptism we have been given a share in the life of God, and the posture of standing is an acknowledgment of this wonderful gift. ”

    Nonsense. It’s the USCCB’s way of rationalizing standing before Our Lord instead of kneeling in humility, deference and contrition before our loving Creator. All part of the liberalization of the liturgy that started in the 60s by bishops until the illicit behaviors they fostered became so widespread that eventually the Church officially approved them. Consequently, the reverence and understanding for the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Mass deteriorated. It’s “just a banquet” after all. Hopefully, Pope BXVI will change things.

    I can only repeat what I said above on 9 Feb, 4:59 pm:
    I kneel before God Almighty, truly Present in the Blessed Sacrament. We all would do well to remember in our humility and sinfulness some scripture:
    Philippians 2:9-11
    9 “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

    And the preceding is just referring to the mere mention of Our Lord’s name and not even His Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament!

    These episcopal conferences are laughable at times.

  60. Bea says:

    Thank you, Sandy
    I found the “good morning, etc” issue in :

    CEREMONIES OF THE ROMAN RITE by Peter J Elliott (now Bishop Peter Elliott in Australia)
    Page 92 deals with the
    ENTRANCE PROCESSION
    ending on page 93 with: “The celebrant and book bearer go to the chair”.

    page 93
    INTRODUCTORY RITES
    article 251
    quote:
    251. Standing at the chair, the celebrant makes the sign of the cross, saying “In the name of the Father…”, and then joins his hands. He greets the people, opening his hands for the liturgical greeting and closing them at the end of the chosen formula. He does not say “Good Morning”, etc., as the sacred greeting obviously includes all human sentiments of goodwill. He introduces the Mass briefly. This is neither a homily nor an explanation to the readings—although he may indicate the central theme of the readings or use some key words from them. ________”
    unquote

    Thanks again, Sandy
    This also explains to me why another associate pastor gives the introduction of the Mass (although not too briefly). I always wondered why he did that and if it was correct. It WAS correct and now I know.
    Thanks

  61. VexillaRegis says:

    PhilipNeri 10 Feb 11.52,

    Frs. X, Y and Z had no problems with paper banners on the altar? Hmm, are you sure? I think Fr. Z would contemplate bringing a paper shredder into the sanctuary ;-)

  62. VexillaRegis says:

    or a flame thower :-P

  63. VexillaRegis says:

    sorry, flame thrower!

  64. PhilipNeri says:

    acardnal, I am grateful that the current pastor I am working with is a fairly by the book sort. However, even his hands are tied by certain unalterable parochial customs. I’ve never had a pastor or supervisor interfere with my preaching. That would be a hill I’d be willing to die on. Of course, all the pastors I’ve worked with have been Dominicans and they know they will have to live with me for a few more decades at least! There have been occasions when I’ve objected to liturgical abuses and the pastor relented, e.g. the WalMart wine glasses we were using for Mass. But if the custom is truly embedded in the parish, it’s very difficult to budge.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  65. jhayes says:

    acardnal, here’s the Latin original wihout the adaptation for the US. Under this, you stand from the Orate Fratres to the end of the Mass. This is the custom in European churches I have attended:you receive Communion standing or kneeling, as the bishops decide.

    “43. Fideles stent ab initio cantus ad introitum, vel dum sacerdos accedit ad altare, usque ad collectam inclusive; ad cantum Allelúia ante Evangelium; dum ipsum Evangelium proclamatur; dum professio fidei et oratio universalis fiunt; necnon ab invitatione Oráte fratres ante orationem super oblata usque ad finem Missæ, præter ea quæ infra dicuntur.
    160. Sacerdos deinde accipit patenam vel pyxidem, et accedit ad communicandos, qui de more processionaliter appropinquant.
    Non licet ipsis fidelibus panem consecratum neque calicem sacrum per semetipsos accipere eo minus de manu in manum inter se transmittere. Fideles communicant genuflexi vel stantes, prout Conferentia Episcoporum statuerit.
    Cum autem stantes communicant, commendatur ut debitam reverentiam, ab iisdem normis statuendam, ante susceptionem Sacramenti faciant.
    161. Si Communio sub specie tantum panis fit, sacerdos hostiam parum elevatam unicuique ostendit dicens: Corpus Christi. Communicandus respondet: Amen, et Sacramentum recipit, ore vel, ubi concessum sit, manu, pro libitu suo. Communicandus statim ac sacram hostiam recipit, eam ex integro consumit.
    Si vero Communio fit sub utraque specie, servetur ritus suo loco descriptus (cf. nn. 284-287).

    http://www.eucharistiefeier.de/docs/igmr2002.htm

  66. chantgirl says:

    Something constructive the laity can do is to pray for priests that God will give them the wisdom, strength, gentleness and prudence to offer good liturgies. A few ideas can be found here:
    http://www.opusangelorum.org/crusade/Spiritualadoption.html

    A priest trying to change the way that Mass is celebrated in a parish or diocese that has deviated from the rubrics is like a parent suddenly trying to discipline a teenager who has been allowed free reign for an extended time. Pastors are fathers that have a heavy responsibility to their children and will have to answer to God for their souls. That’s a huge burden and those of us in the pews should pray for our priests and be their silent support. Also, we should speak up to thank our priests and go out of our way to write letters to the chancery when they take brave steps to reform the way the liturgy is celebrated. The complainers will send their nasty letters downtown, so we should try to send good letters to counteract the venom.

    Finally, those of us lay faithful who want to see priests bring the liturgy into compliance with rubrics need to try the gentle, charitable “honey” approach. If we get no traction, we can take that bitterness to Jesus in prayer as a sacrifice. Jesus will hear.

  67. wmeyer says:

    Nonsense. It’s the USCCB’s way of rationalizing standing before Our Lord instead of kneeling in humility, deference and contrition before our loving Creator.

    Well said, and I wish I had said it! But I certainly agree, with all my heart.

  68. Skeinster says:

    This has to be the single most puzzling thing the laity sees. Is it that there are too many choices? Did that signal to priests that in addition to all the alternatives in the “red”, they could work their own little changes, as they liked? In the plethora of choices, who would notice?
    We the laity have to follow directions every day of our lives. How hard can it be for priests to do the same?

    Dr. Taylor Marshall posted something similar last week on the Catholic Migration and why people were leaving their parishes for more orthodox ones. I must admit I was a little shocked at the clergy replies, which had a “blame the laity” tone I did not expect. We’re not the ones in charge of the liturgy- the priest is. We have no ultimate control over what happens on the altar, however much we might admonish, plead, or praise. It is not our responsibility and to suggest that it is is a serious lapse of clerical accountability.

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  70. Sixupman says:

    What has been created is a Church of England manque: Low, Middle, High and, if not stamped upon, Higher Church Catholicism, with the parishes becoming presbyterial. This has come about with the connivance of bishops’ conferences and their “qualified” liturgists and not all of them clerics.

    More senior parish priests who plough the orthodox furrow manage to get away with it, but God help more junior clergy if they try it. Indeed, there are well recorded instances where such less senior clergy have been driven-out by the local ordinary, directly or under pressure from his curia and priestly association [those who seek a different Church].

    Mother Church is being brought to her knees by an ‘enemy within’.

  71. As far as “ad orientum” / “ad populum” I think that the distinction Ratzinger makes in the Spirit of the liturgy is helpful as it goes beyond one or the other. He says the mass is always celebrated “ad crucem.” You may note that whenever he, as Pope, celebrates “ad populum” there is a crucifix on the altar and that gets his focus, not the 100 or 2 million people on the other side of it.

    Those who have a regular mass have no excuse, sometimes when a priest is travelling, we just have to “put up” with some things: no communion plate, silence, etc.