QUAERITUR: Biformal priests and the gravitational pull

I am guessing that this might freak out a few people, but here goes.   I received this from a regular reader via e-mail. 

My emphases.

A priest who regularly celebrates both forms of the Roman rite — and while celebrating the newer form sometimes finds himself through force of habit inserting gestures from the older form — forwarded to me the following question (regarding the particular GIRM 2002 norms appended below…):

"Given that Paul VI presumably did not foresee the regular celebration by priests of both the newer order of Mass and the traditional order, and given that Pope Benedict XVI sometimes appears to follow the older rubrics in ways not clearly consistent with the new rubrics — e.g., in regard to the gestures specified in No. 148 for the dialog before the Preface — how ought a ‘bi-formal’ priest interpret No. 42 of the IGMR 2002 as he attempts to celebrate faithfully both forms of the Roman rite, given a natural tendency for one form of celebration to influence the other over time?"

He has also mentioned Pope Benedict’s insertion of extra signs of the cross, e.g., before the priest’s communion. More generally, how is "the traditional practice of the Roman rite" to be interpreted, now that the Roman rite juridically has two equally valid forms

I myself wonder whether Pope Benedict might actual hope that some such "mutual enrichment" will occur.

GIRM 2002
Movements and Posture

42. The gestures and posture of the priest, the deacon, and the ministers, as well as those of the people, ought to contribute to making the entire celebration resplendent with beauty and noble simplicity, so that the true and full meaning of the different parts of the celebration is evident and that the participation of all is fostered. Therefore, attention should be paid to what is determined by this General Instruction and the traditional practice of the Roman Rite and to what serves the common spiritual good of the People of God, rather than private inclination or arbitrary choice.

"Bi-formal"…. what a term!

This raises good questions.

My own opinion is that Pope Benedict foresees that this "mutual enrichment" will take place over time.  It must.  I use the image of "gravitational pull", because I think that the newer form will be drawn more closely to the older form, and not the other way around.  I suspect that is what the Pope had in mind as well, namely, that the older should influence the newer, more than the newer would influence the older.  

Eventually, over who knows how long, perhaps there might be a kind of tertium quid which emerges organically from the dynamic of the the two forms in one Roman Rite.

However it may go, as the ’60-’80’s crowd of priests goes to dust, the younger men – lacking the baggage of that previous generation – will carry the project forward.

But the priest who wrote the notes above puts his finger on something: in celebration of the Novus Ordo, a man accustomed to the older form, will very naturally tend to adjust the Novus Ordo in the direction of the traditional form.  But in his style, or ars celebrandi, and in certain gestures, he will "trad" the Novus Ordo.  Last night, for example, in a parish Mass – Novus Ordo/English/versus populum – I quite automatically kissed the altar at "we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice from this altar…", and I quite automatically genuflected before receiving from the chalice.  An "oops" ran through my head, but… I admit not with very much regret.  Those things were not exactly "doing the red", after all.  They were mistakes.  But are they perhaps mistakes – I don’t know – in the direction things are supposed to go?  They were mistakes … but… from the Roman Rite!

The 2002MR has the return of the oratio super populum for Masses during Lent.  It has, for example, a Vigil of Ascension (Thursday, of course).  So, in the formularies and calendar, there have been adjustments back toward Roman elements even before Papa Ratzinger was elected.

Benedict XVI, Papa Ratzinger, did not implement Summorum Pontificum so that he could create discontinuity between two separate forms of the Roman Rite.  Think about it.

Based on what I remember of my conversations with him about this very topic years ago, he foresees that this will jump start the organic process of a living liturgical develop which was so brutally interrupted by the artificial/academic pasting together and then imposition of the Novus Ordo in Advent 1969.

The question remains: Is living, organic development in the Church’s liturgical life possible without violations of the codified rubrics? 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    I suspect that only in relatively recent liturgical times did scrupulous fidelity to the rubrics become for some a veritable badge of orthodoxy. Indeed, liturgical development — organic or otherwise — is hardly possible if we must codify every single breath the ministers take in the liturgy.

  2. Mark says:

    agreed, too much liturgical bureaucracy and Roman hyper-centralization after Trent are what got us into this problem, eventually, in the first place. I mean, organic development is hardly possibly with an ossified legalistic rubricism. At the same time, that can only happen in a culture (at least an intra-institutional clerical culture) that is fully orthodox (and aesthetically of good taste). The rubrics serve their purpose in preventing deformation in such a situation, but also prevent organic development. So I think the first thing we need is a clergy fully formed in the mind of the church, and then we can start allowing them to make organic local alterations and variations. Of course, if a priest is ahead of the curve when it comes to tradition and thinking with the mind of the church…I really dont think he should feel any guilt shaking things up a little if it is in the direction of additions, restorations, adding reverences, etc…the neo-con textualist obsession with “the rubrics” (sadly mimicked by many “tridentine” trads, just with a different Text)…needs to go. But only in contexts where it is safe and will not expose the liturgy to external negative influences as opposed to organic growth.

  3. Brian Day says:

    Is living, organic development in the Church’s liturgical life possible without violations of the codified rubrics?

    I think that it depends upon whether organic development is a top-down or bottom-up process. If the Pope or the CDWDS were to insert gestures/wording into the rubrics due to prayerful reflection, then yes. If unapproved “abuses” start at the parish and/or diocesan level and the rubrics change to “cover” the abuses, then the answer is no.

    Of course the Concilium (sp?)was a properly instituted committee and look how that turned out. So what do I know?

  4. Corleone says:

    MARK – some would argue that it was indeed too many organic and local alterations which brought about Trent to begin with.

  5. TJM says:

    I hope one of the liturgical historians who post here can give a concrete example of
    organic development. My assumption is that if a bishop or priest introduced a new prayer or new rubric in the Liturgy, let’s say in the year 1350, that at some point legitimate Church authority must have given approbation. Otherwise, wouldn’t the Rite have become unstable and the praxis chaoatic? How would one distinguish organic development from what often occurs in the typical Novus Ordo Mass today where a priest changes words or rubrics based on his personal whims. I think it would be helpful if someone could provide an example of organic development that occured in the past. Thanks much, Tom

  6. Bob K. says:

    Why can’t they just take the Tridentine Mass replace it with the vernacular from the missals and call it the Ordinary Form. And when said in Latin called it the Extra-Ordinary Form. Why is it so hard!?. The same thing the Orthodox did with the Divine Liturgies. The Liturgies were not changed. Just put into vernacular.

  7. Thomas says:

    Great question, TJM. I’ve often wondered what some CONCRETE examples of organic development have been. Or does organic development indicate a development so gradual and subtle that we can’t easily pinpoint such an example?

  8. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:


    I’m a medievalist, not a liturgical scholar, but a few things of interest c.1350 that could affect organic development:

    1. In a manuscript culture there was no guarantee that rubrics were uniform from missal to missal. For the Use of York, I’ve seen, in original manuscripts, several different rubrics. For instance, some direct the priest to kiss the altar at the beginning of the Canon and some do not. [Good point! You brought to mind the rather menacing language St. Pope Pius V put into his bull for the promulgation of the first edition of the Roman Missale to prevent illicit printings or versions that don’t correspond to the authentic text. The printing press changed the dynamic.]

    2. Most clerical training was by “apprenticeship” rather than seminary. So liturgy was learned locally. The precedence of custom helped to preserve local usage but might contribute, slowly, to organic change as priests moved around. I have a suspicion that memorisation played a big part as well – this of course could lead to all sorts of “organic development”.

    3. Training might also depend on who trained the priest because several Uses might be current in a given area (i.e. Use of York, Cistercian Use, Benedictine Use, etc.).

    4. Bishops did give orders to check the liturgical books on visitations. In fact they sometimes criticised the monasteries who palmed off damaged or outdated manuscripts on parish priests [those darn Benedictines again ;-) ]. How much this mattered, however, we can’t know for certain.

    So liturgy probably did develop quite organically through slowly changing local custom and manuscript instability for missals. There’s an interesting doctoral dissertation waiting to happen somewhere in there. It’s only today, with central capability and modern communications, that organic development seems quite difficult.

    If you haven’t come across it already, do check out Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite (Missarum Sollemnia), 2 vols.

  9. Athelstane says:

    I suspect that only in relatively recent liturgical times did scrupulous fidelity to the rubrics become for some a veritable badge of orthodoxy.

    But likewise, only in relatively recent liturgical times did such radical and extensive improvisation away from the missal take place.

  10. Franzjosf says:

    Now, I don’t know how often this priest celebrates in each form, but I do know a priest who experienced the same thing, i.e., he found himself using TLM gestures in the NO, but he celebrated the TLM far less often than the NO. Interesting. For him, at least, the pull of the TLM magnet, if you will, was stronger.

  11. TJM says:

    Andrew, thankyou for your insights, which make a great deal of sense. THanks for the reference to the Jungmann work. Tom

  12. Interesting. We’ve had bi-ritual priests for, well, a long time, so would a priest who performed Novus Ordo, Traditional Latin Mass, and the Divine Liturgy be a tri-ritual priest?

  13. “We’ve had bi-ritual priests for, well, a long time, so would a priest who performed Novus Ordo, Traditional Latin Mass, and the Divine Liturgy be a tri-ritual priest?”

    No, he’d just be a biritual priest. The TLM and the Novus Ordo are canonically considered two forms of the same rite. Consequently all active incardinated priests in the Latin Church are entitled to celebrate both forms. The Divine Liturgy is a seperate rite in itself. A Latin Church priest must get special permission to celebrate it. Were he also to get permission to celebrate for example the Holy Qurbana (not likely!) then he’d be a triritual priest

  14. Merriweather says:

    I have a problem with this. I don’t want to see the TLM novus-ordoized and I’m not as optimistic that the gravitational pull will be in one direction.

    I’ve seen priests who typically celebrate the novus ordo forget important actions—and they have to be a big deal for me to notice.

  15. TerryC says:

    As someone intimately involved with physics I think that Fr. Z\’s term of gravitational pull is an extremely apt one. That is also why, though gravitational pull is always in both directions, I have little fear for the TLM. Sticking to the gravitational model the TML is Jupiter and the N.O. is Mars. Gravity from Jupiter will have a much greater effect on Mars than gravity from Mars will have on Jupiter.

  16. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:


    Gravity only works one way, so no worries. :-)

  17. Simon Platt says:

    That was unfortunate timing, Andrew – gravity works both ways, as TerryC and IsaacN both say.

  18. JaneC says:

    I have to say, this is something I’ve often wondered about–how organic development could take place if we all must adhere rigidly to the instructions on the page. My husband and I have had many late-night discussions about this. Are any violations of the rubrics acceptable, and if so, when? On what scale? How do you know?

    I have seen many things done by folks of a more traditional bent that are technically violations, some less noticeable/significant such as out-of-place crossings or genuflections, some VERY significant like putting the Kiss of Peace before the Offertory (this in a parish with a chanted Latin OF where the choir is directed by a well-respected liturgical music scholar).

    Where do we draw the line?

  19. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    Simon: “IsaacN” [LOL],

    Yes, just my luck that I hit “submit” as the physicist jumps in.

  20. Deogratias says:

    The suggestion that the gravitational pull should be one way, seems to suggest that the novus ordo has nothing to offer the Mass of Pius V. Can someone enlighten me?

  21. xathar says:

    “Is living, organic development in the Church’s liturgical life possible without violations of the codified rubrics?”

    This is an excellent question, IMHO. I would answer it thusly:

    If the codified rubrics allow for “the traditional practice of the Roman Rite” to be followed when the GIRM is silent, as does GIRM 42, then one can simultaneously follow the rubrics and still be a part of the organic development of the liturgy. For example, Fr. Z notes, what he terms, some “mistaken” gestures in a recent celebration of the NO. I would argue that while the GIRM doesn’t necessarily foresee the kissing of the altar during the Canon or genuflecting before receiving the chalice, these gestures are nevertheless in the tradition of the Roman Rite, and thus do not necessarily violate the rubrics, in light of GIRM 42.

    BTW, paragraph 42 in the GIRM is a new addition to the third typical edition. It is not present in the earlier versions of the GIRM. [Very good point! Thanks for adding that.]

  22. Deogratias says:

    “Where do we draw the line?”

    Two suggestions:
    1. Do what the rubrics say (much thought has been put into them by those responsible for the Church).
    2. Make an exception to rule no. 1, only when the salvation of souls calls for it.

  23. Mark says:

    Possible without violation of the rubrics? No. But, are the rubrics there binding under pain of mortal sin anymore anyway??

    The difference between medieval organic development and Novus Ordo improv, is that the former tended to add things, make it more Catholic, whereas the latter tends to change things in a heretical way.

    But I would be totally fine if a priest added the prayers at the foot of the altar, or the Last Gospel, or the extra offertory prayers to the Novus Ordo as “private devotions” (what they originally started as in the TLM anyway). Or even at the TLM, if a priest started throwing in other genuflections and crossings, etc…well, if it werent for those ossified rubrics, why not? Anything that is an evolution and not a devolution, I’m theoretically fine with. The canonical legalisms are not for me to worry about, that’s the priest’s problem.

  24. Antiquarian says:

    My question is what did His Holiness mean by “mutual enrichment”? Some seem to feel that any influence of the OF on the EF is to be avoided– but then what was the Holy Father’s intent in saying the two forms would mutually enrich each other?

    I have found that he is a man of his word, albeit a subtle one. While he may hope that the main enrichment flows from the TLM to the NO, that is clearly not all he intends, if we are to believe what he says. And yet some, here and elsewhere, express an undying opposition to any such development. Is that not also a denial of Summorum Pontificum’s intended outcome as stated?

  25. Merriweather says:

    Fr. Z said: “…I quite automatically genuflected before receiving from the chalice. ”

    This brings up an interesting point…if it is the traditional practice to genuflect beforehand…why was that taken out of the rubrics for the new mass?

  26. Origen Adamantius says:

    Respect should be given to both forms. If a priest accidentally adds something to the Liturgy because of habit, fine. Mistakes happen. However, to deliberately incorporate things of change prayers because of preference does an injustice to the particular form celebrated (unless there has been a proscribed change by proper authority) and the celbrant is setting himself up as his own Pope.

  27. pjsandstrom says:

    Father Z — what does the gist of this discussion do to your famous mantra: “Say the Black, Do the Red”? Your implied and explicit stricture should not work in only one direction (allowing ‘borrowing from the EF) — that is not fair, and it is also revealingly hypocritical. [People usually flash out the word “hypocritical” when they don’t have much to contribute to the conservation. As my top entry indicates, I really don’t know what this discussion does to “Say the Red, Do he Black”. I suppose the basic influence is going to be one of ars celebrandi before it involves other changes.]

  28. xathar says:

    Read GIRM 42 again. The EF is the embodiment of the Roman Tradition as it has developed until 1962. Thus, when the GIRM says that, where the OF is silent, the “tradition of the Roman Rite” may be followed, it is referring, implicitly, to the EF. Thus, with respect to gesture and posture, it would seem that the mutual influence DOES only “go in one direction”: from the EF to the OF.

  29. brian says:

    It is not mutual enrichment. It is an asymmetrical relationship, a one way street so to speak.
    The TLM brings good things, actions, practices. prayers which can enrich the Novus Ordo.

    I can’t think of any significant enriching practice which could be transferred to the TLM. [I think the good way which we see TLMs being celebrated today is in part due to some of the things we have learned during the years of having mainly only the Novus Ordo.]

  30. xathar says:

    The new Prefaces, perhaps?

  31. Cory says:

    Dr. King has always said that an unjust law is a law that is allowed to be broken. Segregation was codified in the South but because it is unjust, it had to be broken. In the Novus Ordo, I’m not sure if there are some gestures or phrases that are unjust, however we do have mobility in implementing some features of the EF into the OF, such as ad orientem worship. The 2002MR allows for that.

    Keep in mind that if you were to introduce some elements of the EF into the OF, such as genuflecting before receiving from the chalice, you could fall into the same camp as the liturgical innovators do, and that is to bring in gestures that you personally would like to do that aren’t necessarily allowed. The liturgical innovators would exclaim that they are doing things the way it used to be done waaay back in the past. Just because it has antique value doesn’t mean it applies today. Just be careful on how far you go in introducing these elements is my advice.

  32. xathar says:

    Again, I would say that the GIRM doesn’t envision the extra genuflections, etc. However, because of GIRM #42, it cannot be said that such gestures are necessarily in violation of the rubrics, per se. It’s a middle ground: they’re not envisioned, but not a violation of the rubrics either (unlike the aberrations we’ve seen over the last 40 years which are NOT in line with the tradition of the Roman Rite).

  33. Mila says:

    At the risk of dragging this down a rabbithole, I’d like to ask a question. Fr. Z. has mentioned several times that the ” 2002MR has the return of the oratio super populum for Masses during Lent”. Yet I have never heard them prayed anywhere. Even “Magnificat” does not have them. Can you explain?

  34. Dino says:

    Am seeing this from a priest of four years from a seminary that is decidedly NO.

    He, and the deacon when there is one, stop at the foot of the altar, and facing it and the Blessed Sacramemt, begin Mass at the foot of the altar, just like the Traditional Latin Mass.

    The older priest, and a second young priest proceed to the chairs between the altar and the tabernacle for the beginning of their NO Masses.

    We have only NO Masses in this parish, English and Spanish. Latin has not been used since the altar railings were removed some 30 years ago.

    Far from being offended and playing Rubrics Cop, I like this young priest’s approach not so much as traditional but as logical.

    Now if the people in the pews would stop going into the orans position for every response…

  35. “BTW, paragraph 42 in the GIRM is a new addition to the third typical edition. It is not present in the earlier versions of the GIRM.”

    Not only is it a good point, but it appears to anticipate (and therefore, answer) most of the questions raised here. It also lends credence to the role of custom as the best interpreter of law. This applies where the present law is silent, of course. The reformed liturgy is supposed to take place at the chair. It does not appear to leave one to falling back on the earlier practice. The “prayers at the foot of the altar” were (and are) a private preparation of the priest and his attendants, whereas the reformed liturgy codifies a greeting of the people in its place.

  36. Dave says:

    Regarding “mutual enrichment” and the question of what the OF can contribute to the EF:

    Some claim that prior to Vatican II, people didn’t participate in the Mass; they just sat there, praying their rosaries, oblivious to what was going on until the bells rang to wake them up. I was born in the 80’s, so I don’t know to what extent such claims are true. But since we’ve had the idea of “active participation” pounded into our heads for so long, perhaps that is why, at the few times I’ve attended Mass in the EF, the external participation of the congregation was excellent; they sang the Ordinary and all the sung responses with the choir. To me, it looked like exactly what the Council asked for. I don’t know if that’s the case everywhere, but perhaps an increase in external participation in the EF can be attributed to the gravitational pull of the OF.

  37. JBS says:

    The critical question here is drawn from the fact that the Holy Father follows some of the traditional rubrics, even when this practice appears clearly in opposition to the newer ones (e.g. the gestures for the Preface Dialogue). So, what does the Holy Father’s practice in this regard mean for the newer form of the Roman Mass? He is patriarch of the Latin Rite, so it must mean something.

  38. Fr. A says:

    I am a priest that has only celebrated the Holy Mass in the OF (in fact, I have never even participated in an EF-though I do plan to). I am grateful for SP since I believe the OF will benefit from the “gravitational pull” of the EF. To that end, I would like to ask if it is licit for a priest to function as a deacon in the OF or if priests functioning in other orders (sub-orders) is licit only in the EF.
    I ask this because sometimes for solemn celebrations I assist the celebrant as a deacon but a visiting priest challenged me on the appropriatness of this liturgical practice, stating that the Vatican II liturgical reform made it clear that priests were to no longer function in different orders in the NO as the priests used to do in TLM.

  39. Antiquarian says:

    brian said– “I can’t think of any significant enriching practice which could be transferred to the TLM.”

    Then my question remains unanswered: what did the Holy Father mean when he spoke of the two forms’ mutual enrichment? Was he employing some subterfuge, quite unlike his wonted practice, to hide his genuine intent? Or, more typically, does he mean something more difficult to face– in other words, exactly what he says?

  40. L. Bernhard says:

    I wonder if perhaps the Holy Father means that he wishes to have a briefer Latin Mass as an ordinary form, and the regular Latin Mass will remain as the extraordinary.

  41. “Then my question remains unanswered: what did the Holy Father mean when he spoke of the two forms’ mutual enrichment?”

    He may have been referring to those changes that were implemented, which the Second Vatican Council actually did intend; the use of the vernacular during the readings, the restoration of the catechumate, the “prayer of the faithful” (which is not a defense of how it is applied), and so on.

    I would invite you, if you really want to find out, to read the text of Sacrosanctum Concilium…


    …before drawing any conclusions from within this forum. My own comments included.

  42. athanasius says:

    The rite of Mass and the Missal are what are understood by Tradition to be “Monuments”. When a monument is handed down from continuous existence, and something new is brought in to replace it the new is always judged in light of the old. It does not work the other way, and to do so is somewhat blasphemous since it presumes the saints who brought these monuments into being did not have the grace of the Holy Ghost since they would have been in error about the thing. Thus even if the Traditional Roman Rite (God forbid) should be suppressed, fall into disuse, and not a priest was found to say it, the new rite would still be judged on the basis of the old irrespective of what modern theologians think.

    So it is perfectly natural that a priest celebrating the new would be tempted to celebrate more according to the form of the old, I daresay he might feel bound by the Tradition to do so.

    Then my question remains unanswered: what did the Holy Father mean when he spoke of the two forms’ mutual enrichment? Was he employing some subterfuge, quite unlike his wonted practice, to hide his genuine intent? Or, more typically, does he mean something more difficult to face—in other words, exactly what he says?

    No subterfuge is employed, the Holy Father truly believes the old rite can benefit from certain elements of the New, such as the prefaces (which he stated in some earlier books) or the new lectionary or certain rubrical changes.

    I used to believe that in some form, until I attended the old rite exclusively. Now I can’t think of one thing from the New which might enrich the old in any way. I can think of particular things which might enrich the old, like more readings proper to certain saints, but that is really it. The prefaces served the Church for over 1,000 years, there is nothing Bugnini made which can offer anything to tradition. End of story.

  43. Giovanni says:

    I tend to disagree with Athanasius, I belive the new order does have something good to offer to the old. However only in the light in which the new can change. It may seem complicated but let me explain.

    I my self attend an FSSP parish in San Diego and it is difficult to contemplate the NO as it is presented in most parishes. The Mass in the Tridentine style is simply a superior form of the Roman Rite. That is to say it simply is a better Liturgy.

    That is not to say that the Tridentine is perfect, it is not. Nothing made by men in order to please God ever could be and that includes the liturgy. It it was then there would not be need for reform and renewal.

    It is my believe that the Tridentine could benefit from vernicular Scripture readings. I know many would say simply read the Missal or just read the bulletin however it is by oral reading of the Scriptures by which the word of God is given to the faithful.

    A second suggestion in reform of the Tridentine would simply be saying the prayer of consecration of the elements out loud as the NO.

    Other suggestions would be in borrowing from other older rites in which the priest extends his arms and pleads to God. That one is a minor one but I think it is nescessary.

    The congregation praying the Lord’s Prayer rather than just the priest I think was a good idea as well.

    However there is always the two key points that would make a world of difference to the NO as we know it and that is Ad Orientem, that alone can change the perception of what the Liturgy is suppose to be almost a 180 degrees. Re intruduction of truely sacred music, Chant and Polyphoney.

  44. athanasius says:

    I belive the new order does have something good to offer to the old…It is my believe that the Tridentine could benefit from vernicular Scripture readings

    What does this have to do with the NO since that was done in the 1964 missal. Moreover the SSPX started saying the missal with vernacular readings and today we still find some SSPX priests doing that.

    Other suggestions would be in borrowing from other older rites in which the priest extends his arms and pleads to God. That one is a minor one but I think it is nescessary

    Again, this has nothing to do with the NO. Moreover why is it necessary that the Roman Rite, with its own tradition of organic development, take on something from other rites? Since this is present even in other western rites it is safe to make the assumption that the Holy Ghost had a sufficient reason for not including it in the Roman rite. If we do not understand the reason it is not done, why on earth do we want to change it? The priest can plead to God just fine with his hands folded and nothing is lost from it. Furthermore the Roman Rite is a more sober rite and does not have extra expressions of piety which are unnecessary. Let the gallicans and the byzantines do as they will in their own rite or approved variations and leave the Roman rite alone.

    A second suggestion in reform of the Tridentine would simply be saying the prayer of consecration of the elements out loud as the NO….The congregation praying the Lord’s Prayer rather than just the priest I think was a good idea as well.

    These at least have a grounding in the New Missal. Firstly, why is it necessary to undo over 1,000 years of tradition? In the second instance why is it a good idea to undo 1600 years of Tradition?

    In the first instance we are talking about something that helps order our interior life. The biggest hurdle for people coming from the NO to the Traditional Mass is the silence. At the NO one is constantly jabbering (much as the Church is constantly talking with meetings, endless discussion and little action, lex oriandi lex credendi) while at the Traditional liturgy there is the opportunity to enter into the mystery internally. This helps order our senses and our faculties to our ultimate end, which is more beneficial than satisfying our senses, as St. Thomas teaches concerning this sacrament in the office for Corpus Christi, sensus deficit

    In the second case, Pope St. Gregory the great instituted the practice of the priest leading the entire Pater Noster but for the last verse. If 1600 years of tradition is not enough to convince one of the value of the thing what is? Concretely that means that in the Roman Rite 4/5ths of the usage has had only the priest leading the Pater Noster. Moreover the context in which it occurs, namely at Mass, we have the priest as alter Christus addressing God the Father directly, and in that it seems more fitting to have the priest read it. As Franzlein writes in Tractatus de divina traditione et scriptura a monument is only corrupted or destroyed when something superior replaces it. If we are going to say that the whole congregation is going to say the Pater Noster, why is that superior to what the Church has done for a majority of its existence? It would appear to me to be presumptuous (as in the proposition is not that you are per se) to suggest that we know better than 1600 years of Tradition when no proportionate reason exists other than this is what is done in other rites or by Protestants.

  45. Phil Steinacker says:

    Dave: “Some claim that prior to Vatican II, people didn’t participate in the Mass; they just sat there, praying their rosaries, oblivious to what was going on until the bells rang to wake them up. I was born in the 80’s, so I don’t know to what extent such claims are true.”

    Thanks for mentioning that canard again, Dave. I want to address it, because I was a little stunned the first few times I heard or read that kind of statement made about the TLM as practiced before VII.

    The most common charges I’ve heard leveled against the actual practice of the TLM back then was the little old ladies who said their rosaries during Mass instead of engaging in interior prayer, and its constant companion, the notion that priests routinely flew through saying the TLM in 15 minutes flat.

    By the time I left the Church at age 22 (sad, but true) I had attended countless Masses at my own parish, 4 different Catholic grade schools, my own Catholic high school and college, and the parishes of many high school and college friends. Also, I attended many Masses preceding events held at various Catholic high schools and colleges, and at my first and last parish as an adult I was the leader of a folk guitar group at a very liberal Catholic Church where they used to applaud after every Mass according to how well we performed (again, sad but true).

    I itemize that history to establish my bona fides for the position I’m going to take about the veracity of the two refrains I cited above.

    Surely, there seemed to always be some little old ladies praying the rosary during the Mass, although I recall most of them praying it before and after Mass as well. However, I find it very curious that those who raise this point as a criticism repeatedly take it upon themselves to judge others. Liberals are always preaching that we should not judge others, don’t they?

    Deploying one of my most favorite liberal word games, who are they to say these ladies didn’t say their rosaries before and/or after Mass, but merely continued to hold onto their rosaries during Mass out of their singular devotion to Our Lady and her Son? I know from personal experience it only takes 20-25 minutes to say the rosary at a slow pace, so they had more than enough time to get it done outside of Mass itself.

    Who’s to say the interior prayer life of these ladies wasn’t, in fact, superior to those around them who sat there like bumps on a log instead of participating in the Mass? Of course, it might be said I am judging the interior prayer life of the others attending the TLM back then, since how could I know they weren’t participating interiorly?

    Exactly! How could anyone of these modern critics assure us that these little old ladies weren’t participating in the TLM in an interior manner undetected by even their astute observational skills? Besides, there were never that many of them, so the question of the interior participation (that is, true participation) in the TLM by the congregation at large certainly does NOT hinge on whether these ladies are accomplished saints.

    In response to the often snide accusation that priests typically said the Latin prayers so fast they blew through the TLM in 15 minutes, I must laugh. I NEVER saw any priest do that until I attended the daily MO Mass at the Church of the Nativity in Baltimore. I arrived very late my first day attending (Dec 8) but I failed to account for rush hour traffic. As I walked in about 13 minutes late I realized the last communicants were walking back to their pews. I couldn’t believe it, and quickly learned over the next week that 1 15 minute OF is routine for that priest.

    In the 50s and 60s I NEVER saw a TLM celebrated that quickly – anywhere. I always experienced the TLM as taking 45-50 minutes to be properly celebrated. Is it possible that some modern TLM critics actually had such experiences? I concede the possibility there might have been an occasional priest back then who did so, but I never saw it or anything like it – and I had repeated exposure to many available opportunities to have encountered it.

    While it can reasonably be assumed there is some variation in experience among Catholics across the Country, actual liturgical practices were so much more uniform back then. I reject any attempt to suggest that these two oft-repeated accusations provide an understanding of anything resembling the norm for the day.

    In fact, I must say that these ideas are simply canards. I don’t want to call anyone a self-serving liar when such nonsense is peddled to those born too late to be able to refute it, but I must draw the line here and insist that these accusations are simply a load of pelosi.

    But then again, what do you expect from Church liberals as they watch Benedict roll back their attempts to detour the faith?

  46. Mark says:

    The Novus Ordo lectionary would not be a good idea, if only because it is on a three-year/two-year cycle and the liturgy should be self-contained in the one Year. But restoring a third Lesson (even daily) from the Old Testament, and perhaps having ferial readings every day somehow (I’ve seen numerous interesting proposals), without touching the traditional Sunday (and Lenten ferial) cycle or the major feasts…could be good.

    I dont think the extra Novus Ordo prefaces are all that great, but encouraging (or requiring) the use of the so-called “Gallican” prefaces that Baronius gives in their Missal for example seems a good idea, as it was indeed odd that there was no separate preface for Advent, the Saints, etc.

    As for Scripture readings in the vernacular, lots of people may jump on me here, but I say that if we do that, why not all the propers in the vernacular?

    To me it makes no sense that people can be expected to read the antiphons and collects in a hand missal, but for some reason the Lessons it is assumed they cant. In reality, even at the Novus Ordo, it seems people read along very often in the missalette even when the reading is being done in the vernacular. Which is another thought: missalettes prepared yearly and provided in the pews might also be a good idea for the Old Rite, as a hand missal takes some learning (and even though I am skilled at it, it can still be unwieldy especially with multiple commemorations) and missalettes with everything already laid out daily/weekly might encourage people for whom flipping through the multiple ribbons of a hand missal would be too intimidating or inconvenient.

    But having just the readings in the vernacular (especially by a reader not dressed in any sort of clerical garb) gives the protestant sense that the Bible is a particularly “lay” part of the Mass, some sort of lay direct-access to God, and also that it is for some reason more important than, for example, the Collects.

    At the very least, I’d like to see readers (like servers) limited to men, and required to wear an alb or cassock-and-surplice (and sit in the sanctuary) to make it clear that (even if a lay substitute) they are fulfilling an essentially clerical role (like servers), that there is not really any “lay function” publicly at Mass except to attend.

    If we are going to be consistent, all the Propers should be in the vernacular, with the Ordinary still in Latin of course, that is how they do it in many of the Eastern Rites.

    I think the Canon itself should surely remain silent, and the Secret (hence its name, duh) and probably the Libera Nos and fractioning (ideally, the curtains would be shut around the baldichino at these times even, except for the elevations)…but I think making the Offertory and Communion prayers out loud (even if they were once private devotions) could help encourage the growth of the TLM. Silence is good…but perhaps for modern man there is a little too much in the Old Rite, and this would be a good balance.

    Bidding Prayers, if restored, would have to take a traditional form (like good friday, etc; set petitions, etc) not the ad libbed “lay” sense one gets from them now, but pre-composed formulas from the Missal with set rules about what to pray and how.

    So I could definitely see lots of places for mutual enrichment, but really not any TEXTS directly drawn from the new missal, lol, except the propers for new Saints. But some of the ideas, vaguely, sure.

  47. William Young says:

    As a celebrant of both uses, I have experienced the “gravitational pull”. This is particularly noticeable in EP1 of the newer use, in Latin, where the temptation is very strong to make the gestures, etc., which fit in so well with the older use. Over the last 10 years, or so, I have been very strict to keep the sets of rubrics separate, e.g. only crossing the thumbs at the imposition of hands in the older use. This was necessary in order to learn the older rubrics accurately. Mistakes are, of course, always possible. It is like keeping two languages separate in mind and use.
    However, the two uses of the Roman Rite are really only dialects related by a recent and turbulent period of development. One cannot dismiss the official reforms. Liturgy has to develop. It cannot be freeze-dried in its 1962 manifestation.
    On the other hand, there are areas of the new which are crying out for a fresh start. Off the top of my head, I would mention the following as being needed in the new: a more stately and gradual approach to the altar – it should be permitted (perhaps it already is) to use the 1965 prayers before the altar; optional use of the old offertory prayers; genuflections before and after the elevations at the consecration and at the great amen; kissing the altar whenever one turns away from it; the Silent Canon. Other things would need official explicit sanction, for instance the priest’s prayers before Communion. I am happy for only one to be said aloud, but how good it would be if the priest could be heard and hear himself praying: “Look not on MY sins but on the faith of your Church”. We do need new official books! But until then, I feel strongly that we need the promised “GUIDELINES”. Otherwise, even if I make changes which are in some sense approvable, it will seem as though I am actually only doing my own thing, which would be entirely counterproductive.
    I hope that we will not have to wait too much longer for official indications about how enrichment may be achieved.

  48. “In the second case, Pope St. Gregory the great instituted the practice of the priest leading the entire Pater Noster but for the last verse. If 1600 years of tradition is not enough to convince one of the value of the thing what is?”

    I’d like to know where this is documented, and I don’t doubt that it is. But the practice is unique to the West, as in the East everyone prays the Lord’s Prayer.

  49. xathar says:

    Gregory the Great, Epistle 9:12 (PL 77, 957): the Pater Noster is to be said “a solo sacerdote.”

    And yes, the Eastern Rites have usually said the Our Father out loud. However, the choir often substitutes for the people.

    However, I fail to see why the practice of the Eastern Rites should influence the Roman Rite in this regard.

  50. JBS: So, what does the Holy Father’s practice in this regard mean for the newer form of the Roman Mass?

    It seems to me that this — rather than what this or that current rubric means — is the critical question. That is, what is our Supreme Pontiff and Legislator teaching by his own example as to what he intends “mutual enrichment” to mean?

  51. Paul Haley says:

    Could it be that the phrase “organic development” is only used because the rubrics were tampered with in the first place? In my view when one changes rubrics that have been in place or hundreds of years, one enters the realm of change on top of change and chaos or confusion result therefrom. It is also my view that the Holy Father realizes this fact and is trying to draw back to what is holy and sacred for previous generations – i.e., that the older form enriches the new.

  52. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    David and xathar re: Lord’s Prayer

    Your examples, perhaps, give us exactly what organic development means. St Gregory the Great said this but then it developed by the Middle Ages so that the laity, at least in England, were required to known the Creed, Angelic Salutation, and Lord’s Prayer. For instance, from the Statutes of Lincoln, 1239? “…sacerdotes parochiales ut pueri parochiarum suarum diligenter doceantur et sciant Orationem Dominicam, et Symbolum, et Salutationem Beate Virginis, et crucis signaculo se recte consignare.” (Cheney, ed., Councils & Synods, 2:269)

    Now, I don’t doubt that within the Mass it continued to be said solo sacerdote but, if everyone was required to know it then it doesn’t seem too outrageous to suggest that some people joined in. Even today at the TLM I do, quietly, because I just can’t help it. In fact, the Good Friday service (1962) still directs all the people to join in with the Lord’s Prayer. Perhaps this is what is meant by organic development. Changes over time, always within the purpose of the Mass. The paucity of rubrics in the OF leaves lots of room for organic development of this sort.

  53. athanasius says:

    It seems to me that this—rather than what this or that current rubric means—is the critical question. That is, what is our Supreme Pontiff and Legislator teaching by his own example as to what he intends “mutual enrichment” to mean?

    The problem is that simply wouldn’t be traditional. The Pope has the prerogative to order his Masses the way he sees fit, and his particular use does not concede a change in the law for the universal Church, unless he himself grants such a confession via indult or a positive change in the law.

    These things cut both ways. There are some who might think the frankly ridiculous papal liturgies of the late Pope ought to be the norm based on his personal example. This however is not the case.

  54. Giovanni says:

    Athanasius you are asking why should we change things that have been there for a thousand years? Because that is organic development it happens for the benefit of the laity and I am of the believe that doing those things would benefit them in their faith.

    Once again you seem to want to encapsulate the Tridentine in stone devoid of change.

    Speaking of the Novus Ordo let us at least agree that we need to repeal certain indults that were given to it, such as the use of lay lectors, extraordinary ministers, Versus Populum orientation, and certain vernicular responses.

  55. “Comment by xathar — 16 March 2009 @ 7:58 am”

    I don’t see why the practice of the East should influence that of the West. Then again, I don’t see why it should not. One has had an influence on the other in the past, or the Latin text of the Mass would never retain any Greek. The reason for something done a particular way (beyond “because somebody said so”) would be of interest to me. There are two defenses commonly given for retaining traditional practice. One is that the priest simulates Christ in teaching us how to pray. The other is that the chant is a sacradotal tone, one not ideally suited to the congregation. FWIW, I have belonged to a Byzantine Rite parish for many years, and have assisted at Divine Liturgy in countless others. In only one, have I ever heard the choir substitute completely for congregational responses, and that was a wedding.

    “Comment by Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada — 16 March 2009 @ 8:38 am”

    It’s at times like this that I wish my Latin were better.

    “Comment by athanasius — 16 March 2009 @ 12:48 am”

    Sixteen centuries of continuous practice poses a considerable burden on an innovator, but not an insurmountable one.

  56. irishgirl says:

    There’s a priest in my Upstate NY diocese who does both forms of the Mass.

    When he says the NO, he always incorporates gestures and words from the TLM-it’s second nature to him.

    He doesn’t have a parish right now, so he’s at the FSSP’s St. Gregory’s Academy in PA, doing teaching and chaplain work. Since we don’t have the FSSP coming up here anymore, he comes on the two Sundays of the month that the Fraternity priests used to come.

    And he was taught to do the TLM by an SSPX priest!

  57. Henry Edwards says:

    Athanasius: What was wrong with those “frankly ridiculous papal liturgies” is that they were wrong. Why pretend that properly intentioned people cannot tell the difference between right and wrong liturgical practices?

    Is it logical or convincing to point to nontraditional papal practices as an argument against traditional papal practices that may be inconsistent with current nontraditional norms? Why pretend that properly informed people cannot tell the difference between traditional and nontraditional liturgical practices?

    I heard yesterday of an OF Mass celebrated by a visiting priest vested only in alb and stole (no chasuble), who broke the host just before the consecration, laughed and joked through the Mass, adlibbed the Eucharistic Prayer, plus assorted other violations of the OF norms and/or Redemptionis Sacramentum.

    But would anyone say that — just because there are such cases that cry to heaven for “Say the Black, Do the Red” — application of this dictum is equally important in the case of Father Z’s extra genuflection or altar kiss?

  58. Bill says:

    My biggest concern about “organic” development is that it is liable to confuse people very badly at Mass. The people in the pews do notice what the priest does, and might wonder about the changes that weren’t there last week or that are at variance with what they see in their missal(ette)s. Especially those of us who have been worried by NO celebrants in the past who, it turned out, were extemporizing their own version of the Mass. The faithful have enough to worry about these days, without worrying about whether the Mass they just attended was valid or not.

    If someone has already raised this point, I apologize for repeating it. I’m squeezing in my blog reading this morning, and so hastened past a lot of the discussion.

  59. “Comment by Bill — 16 March 2009 @ 11:15 am”

    You raise a good point, one which I don’t believe has yet been raised. A parish has an obligation toward the continuing catechesis of the faithful. A series on “Benedict XVI and the Sacred Liturgy” has been conducted in more than one parish here in Arlington. You’d be surprised how little even supposedly educated people know.

    At some point, hopefully, they know not to worry. If they still do, then maybe they aren’t paying attention, don’t want to be educated, or just love worrying. “Oh, Father just had the choir do a Latin hymn. There’s a crucifix in the center of the altar. He’s turning the clock back. All is lost…”

  60. dominic1962 says:

    I don’t think too many people actually want to “freeze” the Mass in 1962. I can say personally at least that it would be nice to get back to 1962 in order to come to a point of sanity with the intention of studying all of the Bugnini-ite reforms of both the Mass and the Breviary (including the ’62 rubrics and the reformed Holy Week) with the possibility of repealing them as well. I’d love to have the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified again, among other things.

    This would not be trying to freeze it pre-’55 either. Rather, sometimes when you make a wrong turn, in order to get to where you want to go you simply have to backtrack.

    As to what the NO has to offer for mutual enrichment, I’d say that it is pretty limited to accidental things that have taught us just what we’ve lost. All the specifically NO things seem to be innovations that are promoted in a sense of “active participation”.

    If we want vernacular readings, they should be done before the homily. All of the Latin ritual and chant that go along with the Latin readings needs to be maintained. Speaking at people is not as important as encouraging an appreciation of the ritual.

    An expanded lectionary is also a bad idea. If you want more Scripture, go read your own Bible. Our traditional Roman lectionary is one of the oldest (if not the) and the value of the constancy and rhythm provided by a basically unchanging one year lectionary is much greater than throwing in obscure OT readings for a greater quantity of Scripture.

    Why do the laity need to say/chant the Pater? If you want to do so, say it quietly to yourself while the priest does it.

    The Canon or the Consecration out loud? Absolutely not. Silence is veiling, and veiling is revealing. One thing that stuck with me that I read in one of the recent popular books written as an apology for the TLM was the account of a non-Catholic who, upon going to a Mass (back in the day)asked specifically about the part when the priest was “speaking to God” (the Canon). This leaves an impressing, even if people don’t “like” it right off but I think deep down we recognize the silence of the Canon as a setting aside as especially sacred.

    We need to get away from this idea that Mass should be primarily a re-creation of the Last Supper (much like Luther thought of it as) and see it with more acknowledgement of some more of the OT prefigurements.

  61. Mark says:

    “All of the Latin ritual and chant that go along with the Latin readings needs to be maintained.”

    Why? There are settings that basically adapt (nicely translated) English translations to the Gregorian melodies.

    If we had something like High Church Anglicans have…I wouldnt be upset in the slightest. And if the Ordinary could be maintained in the Latin, then we’d pretty much have the vernacular-propers model that many of the Eastern Churches have. Latin is the biggest barrier to the restoration of the Traditional Mass, and yet is something of a red herring and distraction to the real issues which are the content of the text and actions themselves.

  62. Origen Adamantius says:

    “throwing in obscure OT readings”

    The words explain the problem. Obscurity means lack of familiarity, which according to the Fathers on down means not knowing Christ. BTW the expansion of the lectionary also means the use of Mark’s Gospel whose appearance was limited primarily to the passion narrative.

  63. A cross-cultural note, which may support Fr. Z’s point about “gravitational pull”: We Lutherans take a very different approach to worship, and especially toward rubrics. For us, they absolutely lack the force of law, and even our directive rubrics are ultimately permissive, since they are subject to the needs and norms of the community. Furthermore, our rubrics are often vestigial — we don’t offer much instruction, on the tacit understanding that people will “fill in the blanks.”

    This leads to many very poorly executed liturgies, as you can imagine. The “needs of the community” often boil down to the prejudices of the presider, and the rubrical “blanks” are occasionally filled in with well-intentioned monstrosities.

    But here’s the interesting thing: it often *doesn’t* work out badly at all. Despite the frequent abuse of our rubrical liberty, there is an even-more-frequent tendency for the service to be conducted in a respectful and orderly fashion. And most curious is that there are many customs — gestures in particular — which are not addressed by any rubrics at all, but which continue from generation to generation, entirely independent of the new “official” service-books which are published every few years. It seems that the internal logic of the service itself demands these observances, at least if the ministers are at all concerned about handing on a tradition. Hence, the “pull” is felt, even in the absence of written rubrics

  64. My thoughts are the following:

    1. Stick to the rubrics, and where it’s not clear interpret with mind to continuity. And where the rubrics are not clear, they should be made so, as long as the development is in line with the Tradition of the Church and not say an abuse that’s gone on for many years too long.

    2. The expanded lectionary as promulgated was a bad idea. Not that I’m against reading more Scripture in the Mass or anything, but rather, instead of having 2 readings and a Gospel on Sunday, what they should have done was make is make it so that you don’t end up with a situation where you hear the same reading over and over again, as is the case in the Traditional calender a few times a year. (I hope that sentence made sense)

    3. I believe that Latin should be maintained, it does not take that long to read the Scriptures in the vernacular before the homily…

    4. My solution for prayers of the faithful is simple…If the Liturgy of the Hours is prayed in public, there should NOT be prayers of the Faithful during Mass…otherwise it’s fine.

  65. athanasius says:

    Athanasius: What was wrong with those “frankly ridiculous papal liturgies” is that they were wrong. Why pretend that properly intentioned people cannot tell the difference between right and wrong liturgical practices?

    I never argued that they were right. Don’t forget, I have the “mai santo” banner on my website. I argued that the Pope’s prerogative to make changes in his liturgies does not make a norm or even a permission to do the same for the rest of the Church. I think they were a scandal.

  66. Bill says:

    dominic1962, can you give me an example (or examples) of what you mean when you refer to “obscure OT” readings?

    Maybe I’m lucky to be in a parish where the priest takes the time and the trouble to explain the readings and how they relate to each other, but personally I find that every reading always has something to teach me. I haven’t heard any of the readings that seemed “obscure” to me. Not intending to be argumentative, I just don’t understand what qualifies as obscure. And yes, I’m one of those odd ducks who grew up in the 40’s through the 60’s with what everyone here seems to refer to as the “TLM” or the “EF”, who loves the Tridentine and Latin and would go to an EF Mass if one were available, prays the Liturgy of the Hours, and who still sees great value in having two readings, a Psalm, and a Gospel as part of the OF (I would miss them if they went away).

  67. TJM says:

    Rev. Church, I liked your phrase “prejudice of the presider.” My pastor is prejudiced all right. If it’s in the rubrics he’s prejudiced against it it. Tom

  68. “Why? There are settings that basically adapt (nicely translated) English translations to the Gregorian melodies.”

    I once witnessed an Orthodox Divine Liturgy of St Gregory (very similar to our Tridentine Mass). It was all translated into Elizabethean English. The priest chanted the Sanctus &tc; it didn’t sound right at all in English. I think it could work with a Romance language though.

  69. Correction: not translated; the Mass was celebrated in English.

  70. athanasius says:

    Once again you seem to want to encapsulate the Tridentine in stone devoid of change.

    We seem to have very different notions of liturgy. First off, I acknowledged where the Traditional rite could be developed, namely in writing propers and selecting scriptures befitting of some saints in the calendar who currently have Mass propers from a common. Moreover, I think it should be updated with new saints. I do not think the liturgy needs to be encapsulated in 1962 but I do think that changes with no proportionate reason other than what we “feel” would help us ought to be rejected on their face, precisely because they appeal to what people feel emotionally. That is the first mark of dated liturgy. The 70s is based on the same concept. This will help the laity, this will help them feel like they’re getting something out of it.

    When we base liturgical changes on what will benefit the laity we are setting ourselves up for mischief, because we do not always know what we need. The Church is but a servant of the Tradition handed down, and the Missal is such a thing. Organic development happens in relation to a need in the Church. The Last Gospel was added because of the Albigensian crisis, it required all the faithful to assent to the incarnation. Trinitarian doxologies were multiplied and increased because of the Arian crisis.

    Furthermore I don’t think it helps the faithful at all to have the Canon said out loud. The silent canon gives one the chance for recollection at the most sacred moment in the liturgy. It allows you to stop being Martha for 10 seconds and try to be Mary, unlike the endless noise of a Latin Novus Ordo.

    Speaking of the Novus Ordo let us at least agree that we need to repeal certain indults that were given to it, such as the use of lay lectors, extraordinary ministers, Versus Populum orientation, and certain vernicular responses.

    I stopped caring about the Novus Ordo years ago. I can agree that if reverence is brought back it is a good thing, but in my estimation it is only a bridge to bring people back to Tradition and away from the Novus Ordo.

  71. Giovanni says:

    You just made my Athanasius the Church changed the liturgy due to nescessity. Which were brought up due to controversy and hence the liturgy reforms were made to help the laity.

    I did not say because they will make them “feel” part of it, but rather because it will help them “know” the faith.

  72. dominic1962 says:


    Having the words of the chants translated into English and then set to Gregorian tones does not make them exactly like the original ones. The melodies of the chants themselves are an important part of our liturgical patrimony and while having nice English translations set to Gregorian tones would be better than what we have now, it would still be a break with the tradition.

    Sure, I agree with you that many people who are against the TLM use the vernacular “problem” as one of their main arguments against it. I also agree, the more pressing problem is the seemingly (well, I’d say pretty apparent) divergence in the theology of the Mass TLM vs. NO. That said, I don’t see why there needs to be a compromise on this. Read the readings in English if we must before the homily. Encourage people to actually get a missal and read the readings before Mass. Meditate on the reading during the recitation or chanting of the epistle and gospel in Latin-I’ve found this very fruitful, and you get to learning some Latin in the process.

    Origen Adamatius-

    Unfortunately, I cannot remember my specific examples of odd OT readings. I should not have started the discussion of the issue from the perspective of obscurity. Mea culpa. I should have instead said that the this idea that we need more quantity of Scripture in the readings is silly. Mass isn’t a Bible study. The Church found it completely acceptable for however many centuries to have the lectionary basically as it was in the 1962 MR without any thinking that the Faithful were getting shortchanged. Do the Easterners get shortchanged because they don’t have the NO lectionary?

    The Mass of the Catechumens is an offering of the word of God back to God-the TLM puts much more emphasis on sacrifice and offering everything to God. The didactic nature of the readings are secondary/tertiary. That said, having a constant and unchanging lectionary will be more effective in ingraining the Scriptures into the people.

    Here’s a good article by Peter Kwasniewski discussing the new lectionary and the sanctoral cycle-

  73. Maynardus says:

    Re: O.T. readings, obscure or otherwise:

    For quite a while I’ve thought that given the repeated calls for ‘more Scripture’ contained in “Sacrosanctum Concilium” AND the egalitarian notion that someone, somewhere should discover a way that the O.F. can positively influence the E.F.; it might be useful to consider adding certain appropriate O.T. readings for specific Sundays and feasts – but as the *exception* rather than the rule.

    It is my theory that having the extra reading as the norm, and the fact that many of the O.T. readings in the O.F. Lectionary are in fact ‘obscure’ or really unrelated to the other readings, diminishes the impression of all three; but when the O.T. reading truly relates to the ‘theme’ of the day’s Epistle and Gospel the “exception” of the extra reading will in itself call the attention of the faithful to the message of the Scriptures.

    I’d also concur with Mark who noted that a good selection of Scripture might also be employed on Ferias as an alternative to multiple repetitions of the previous Sunday’s propers.

    All of this could have been done as part of a sensible and traditionally-minded ‘reform’ of the liturgy as opposed to the radical ‘re-forming’ which we actually got.

  74. Bill says:

    Well, no, Mass is not a Bible study. However, the first part of the Mass was once known as the “Mass of the Catechumens” and apparently it served to indoctrinate those who were preparing for Baptism. Given the poor quality catechesis inflicted on Catholics for the last 40 years or so, it may be that we have a lot of people in the pews listening to the readings who may never know much about the Scriptural foundations of the sacraments and the Mass. They are effectively catechumens, even if they are already baptized. That’s a lot of why I value the two readings, the Psalm, and the Gospel. It is true that I can read them for myself (and do), and that there are always Bible study groups going on in the parish. But for most people, I think, Mass is the only time that they at least hear the whole story (assuming they go to Mass every Sunday for three complete cycles).

    I could be all wet here. This is “thinking out loud” not lobbying. If I’m wrong, I’m listening. I appreciate your helping me learn. And I apologize if I am trying anyone’s patience.

  75. Prester says:

    I propose the term “bimorphic” instead of “bi-formal” and, like Doctor Chasuble, I do so with a scholar’s shudder.

  76. Mark says:

    Hmm, in Rome and the Romance speaking world, I dunno, maybe not. But in the Anglophone world, our paradigm is just different. I’ve heard High Church Anglicans chant Compline based on the Roman (same melodies and everything) it was beautiful and traditional (they didnt have an ICEL translation for one, lol).

    I’m not talking about setting English to “chant tones”…I mean setting the words to the melodies themselves, with little or no alteration, just spreading out (or contracting) the syllables melismatically as need be. Not quite perfect as (allegedly, though I’ve never really seen it) the exact meaning of the word certain notes occurs on is “meaningful” in the Latin…but I’ve heard Anglicans do this, and it was fine.

    As for Western Rite Orthodoxy, I too have experience there, and I thought it was just fine. Maybe you though it “just didnt sound right” because you are too used to the Latin. If it was always done that way, it would be fine. Latin is a distraction to true traditionalism, which is not about any particular externals like that, but about an attitude.

  77. athanasius says:

    They are effectively catechumens, even if they are already baptized. That’s a lot of why I value the two readings, the Psalm, and the Gospel.

    Here is my thought on that. There has only been one epistle since the early centuries not only in the Roman Rite but also in the Eastern Rites. At some point the Church universally decided to drop the extra reading. This is even as early as St. Jerome. My thought is if we don’t understand why the Church did this, we should probably leave it alone. We don’t walk up to cars and start messing around with the wiring because we don’t understand it and figure we could do it better. If people could seriously pay attention to the one reading of St. Paul they would gain more profit than if there were 2, 10 or 50 readings.

    Furthermore the breviary very often contains an old testament reading, and many missals bring this point out. It wouldn’t be hard for the priest to bring it out on his sermon.

  78. athanasius says:

    I did not say because they will make them “feel” part of it, but rather because it will help them “know” the faith.

    I don\’t understand your reasoning here. If the priest reads it aloud it will still be in Latin, which means most people will have to read it in the missal anyway (which they currently do now), how is it going to help anyone to know anything by messing with a 1,000 year old tradition? I don\’t see the justification for overturning the tradition.

    Truthfully, because our approach to liturgy, and the culture we live in, is so modern and disconnected from the Tradition, I would think that it might be prudent to simply not touch the Missal at all for at least a generation. Personally I\’d like to roll it back pre-1955 and not touch it just to get rid of the Bugnini flavor, but the 62 is fine. Let\’s just leave it alone until the faithful can experience it for a generation, recover the Traditional liturgical praxis and orientation, and then let organic changes take root which are truly for the benefit of the faithful. Of course, that depends on us getting past 2012[sic].

  79. Giovanni says:

    Athanasius you are absolutly right about the 62 Missal it would be best to leave it alone for at least a generation and let it settle in the regular use in the Church before any changes are to made to it.

    My thoughts on where the improvement of the Tridentine were rather looking at it long term very long term.

    That is of course during this time there will be a revamp in the way in which Catholics are educated at which we should look at teaching at least basic Latin.

    The Tridentine is a gift to the faithful to change it now would not benefit anyone.

    Saying it out loud makes a difference athanasius when I was growing up I fell out of the Church when I was 13 during those years that I considered my self agnostic there was always something I remember about Church and those were the words of Concecration of the Elements and “through him, with him, in him.”

    One kept me from ever completely rejecting the Lord and the other one from falling in the pit of protestantism. So even if it is in Latin I think it matters.

  80. Cal says:

    I have been in favor for some time for a 6 year Novus Ordo Sunday Lectionary, encompassing only a first reading and the gospel. Yes, during Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter “seasons” choices would have to be made but in Ordinary Time:
    Year A would be an OT reading and Matthew.
    Year B would be a NT epistle and Mark.
    Year C would be an OT reading and Luke.
    Year D would be a NT epistle and Matthew.
    Year E would be an OT reading and Mark.
    Year F would be a NT epistle and Luke.
    I think in doing this the mandate of Vatican II to widen exposure to Scriptures at Mass would be accomplished better. The intrinsic link between the Gospels and the other Scriptures would be highlighted. More preaching on St. Paul and the other NT epistles would be encouraged. And the more “2 reading” tradition would be respected.
    It’s also interesting how in just 30 years of vernacular readings the 3 year cycle has become familiar. Maybe too familiar.

  81. athanasius says:

    Athanasius you are absolutly right about the 62 Missal it would be best to leave it alone for at least a generation and let it settle in the regular use in the Church before any changes are to made to it.

    I’m glad we can agree :D

    When we look at the nature of organic development in the Traditional Mass, and the history of these various traditions and monuments, I have a hard time seeing how it is wrong to employ them in the Novus Ordo.

    From a juridical standpoint I can, in the way of that 1970 direction which makes clear the de facto rupture between the TLM and the NO, namely that one should not assume the Traditional Rubrics. The Cong. of Rites had the jurisdiction to lay that down, and I’m not sure it has been undone.

    Yet as a matter of justice, it can’t be wrong to employ the traditions underpinning those very same elements of the liturgy which are found in the NO (such as the signs of the cross and the benedictions, genuflecting first, the rite of incensation, etc.) especially when they were in use just a few years before the thing was promulgated. Secondarily because they were custom for thousands of years, and thirdly they tend towards piety.

  82. Matt says:

    Having read all of the posts above it seems everyone has a slightly different idea of how to “improve” the TLM. I think that this was the reason for Trent in the first place. Pius the V did say that this was the mass for all time and anyone who dares change it should be anathama.

    Organic development is enrichment through revealed truth. No enhancement for the betterment of man. The Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of calvary. We are all witnesses and to some extent responsible to putting Christ on the cross. Mass is there for us to please and appease God. Any focus on “helping” or “improving” should be MAN focused but, GOD focused. Organic development is inclusion of new saints, POSSIBLY new prefaces for said great saints or local special doctors of the Church.

    I would argue that the development over the last 100 years has REMOVED many God focused elements from both the TLM and the NO. Lets examine Ash Wednesday for example. The extra prefaces, collects and secrets for the Intercession of the Saints, For the living and the Dead, For Gods Holy Church, For the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, etc. are all supressed in the 1962 missal. Was this an organic development? They take about 3 minutes tops to pray, but think of the power for the faithful in the priest asking for their intercession. Think of the power to release souls from purgatory when a priest and all the faithful present pray for them. Is the removal of these prefaces an organic develpment? Was their removal simply to speed up the Mass?

    What about the spression of the extra confetior and general absolution before communion? The reasoning I have heard is that they duplicate the earlier recitation of the same so they are redundant. However I always thought them to be a wonderful reminder (right before communion) that we are sinners, profess are sorry for our sins and then receive a general absolution of venial sin. We can now receive Christ into a shining white, clean soul. How edifying an image in my mind it always created. Was this supression an organic development? How does it help the faithful? Does it’s supression please God? We don’t know. I would like to see it returned.

    We need to be very careful about what is termed “organic” development and what is considered innovation. Organic changes in the environment happen extermely slowly and tend to be geared towards helping a species better perfect itself. Many of the most beautiful flowers we see today took thousands of years to develop the traits that make them beautiful, strong, resistant to disease, etc. Man can sometimes help this process by creating hybrids, which if done slowly over time can breed a superior product. When we try to cut corners and do things quickly we might be a flower with bigger petals, but the stem flops over becuase it can’t support the weight of new bigger petals.

    The church needs to change VERY slowly over many hundreds or thousands of years. Incorporating small changes as we more fully understand revealed truth. To say the Mass of previous saints and faithful was somehow lacking would seem to say that the Mass of their time was somehow inferior.

  83. athanasius says:

    I think it is a good general rubric, with the rare exception of St. Gregory the Great, that whenever a Pope touches the liturgy it is an unqualified disaster. The 1955 reforms and the 62 are the greatest evidences of that to me.

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