QUAERITUR: What do you mean by “liturgy” in need of “reform”?

From a reader:

On your take on notredame you kept refering to the "liturgy". In the present catholic church there are 2 different liturgies: the novus ordo and the tridentine. What liturgy are you refering to that needs reforming. The old latin mass doeesn’t need, never did. The novus ordo mass, is that the one that you refer to as needing reforming?

By "liturgy" I and most everyone else understands the rites of Holy Church public worship of God.

Holy Church has many more "liturgies" than two!  The Church has many liturgical Rites.  We must not think that we Latins, or Roman Catholics are alone in the unity of the Catholic Church.

The Church is always in need of reform, not because the divine dimension is in any way flawed or lacking but because we are.  Times and circumstances change and many aspects of the Church – including her worship – also must change.  An Ecumenical Council saw the need for a reform of the older form of the liturgy of the Latin Church.  So, the writer above is apparently wrong.  It did need reform.  Tragically, the reform the Council ordered is not the reform we got.  The Latin Church’s worship was changed by force artificially, creating a rupture.

Pope Benedict is trying to restart the organic development which liturgy requires, the slow discerning and changes which occur by a more natural process.

So… the Novus Ordo very definitely needs reforming… but reforming with an eye to the past, to our Tradition.

The older form of Mass will be reformed along the way as well.   That is what happens over time.

Some of the proponents of worship as "fly in amber" never-to-be-changed, will attempt to drag this entry into their "feverish swamp", as a friend JH recently described it. 

Therefore – some fair warning: My time is rather limited right now and I am also slightly annoyed by a bunch of things.  It will probably be easier for me simply to delete your comments and lock you out if you get weird or go all trad-postal.  And consider that I get to decide what that is, no matter if you think you are being reasonable.  o{]:¬)

This is a good topic to revisit once in a while, but I have no desire to revisit Fever Swamp, and neither do 99% of WDTPRSers.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Fr. Lane says:

    You are very correct about the old form of the Mass; a council determined that it needed reform. As a priest who says both forms, I understand the council in a new light especially in regards to the reform of the liturgy. I love the old form, but there are some things I would like to see change.

  2. Matt says:

    Off topic- I offered a special prayer for you today, Father. Sounds like you could use it.

  3. Sylvia says:

    Rock on, Fr. Z! Sorry, this is not a particularly thoughtful post, I just wanted to provide some words of affirmation because I liked your answer here. While loving the extraordinary form of the Mass, I do occasionally feel a phobia of contracting the “fly in amber” virus. I’m learning, however, that we can love the liturgy of our Church, in its most traditional forms, while at the same time experiencing its dynamism. To worship is human, to love is divine. :)

  4. Jim says:


    It always surprises me how oblivious most ROMAN Catholics are to the existence of other forms of worship within the CATHOLIC church, particularly the Eastern liturgical tradition. Thanks for your reminder that there are many liturgical rites, not just the NO and the TLM.

    More importantly, the liturgy is organic and apostolic at its source. It evolves over time. It is reformed from time to time, to keep up with the times. The problem with the Novus Ordo is not that it is in the vernacular (many Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches celebrate in the vernacular), but that it often is celebrated in such a way that it symbolizes a rupture with tradition handed down over the centuries from the Apostles and Fathers of the Church.

    The liturgy is not a museum piece. It represents the participation of the Faithful in the Heavenly Kingdom. It is our opportunity to enter into the realm of eternity as members of the Body of Christ. As our priest pointed out this Ascension Thursday, we as faithful Christians participate in the ascension of the Lord, now, not some time in the future.

    On an unrelated point, I believe that translation of major feasts such as the Ascension to the nearest Sunday do not further the Church’s efforts toward unity with our Orthodox brethren. The Ascension occurred 40 days after the Resurrection, not on the closes Sunday after the actual ascension.

  5. Mark Llamas says:

    Love your site and listen to the podcasts. I have great respect for you and your knowledge but,… no one ever seems to LIST what needed reforming of the preconciliar mass. The limited reading I have done only points to the manner of which some of the masses were being celebrated and that “modernism” was already encroaching on the liturgy prior to VII. What was so wrong with the liturgy that the church needed to make it more worldly and thus only made it more”Protestant”?

  6. -“The old latin mass doeesn’t need, never did.”-

    This is a remarkable statement.

  7. Southern Orders says:

    As a priest who celebrates both and loves both when done properly, I would like to see us get back to a unified approach to the Liturgy with different levels of solemnity. I still believe that the Roman Missal of 1965 that had minor alterations but a good amount of vernacular is the one that should prevail. I believe the current lectionary is very good and should be used and our current calendar is good but needs some tweeking. I believe that there should be a mix of Latin and vernacular, vernacular for that which changes, Latin for that which stays the same, although the canon in the Vernacular has been very much appreciated. Ad orientem would take the focus off the priest and place it where it should be although Pope Benedict’s solution is good too. Music needs to be addressed although I recognize the need for diversity in this regard.

  8. FrGregACCA says:

    Well said, Father! I look forward to attending a Mass of the Extraordinary Form, celebrated primarily in English, at a Roman Catholic – not Anglican, not Old Catholic – Church.

  9. AnPiobaire says:

    “The older form of Mass will be reformed along the way as well. That is what happens over time.”

    Indeed. We did that and you didn’t like it. I’m confused: should we reform the the old form that we did reform that you didn’t want reformed or should we reform the reform of the reform?

  10. michigancatholic says:

    In the Latin rite:

    The mass of 1962 will always be the mass of 1962 and that’s fine. BUT there was supposed to be a mass of 196x, that had the priest facing the altar, and had some organic changes to help the congregation and the priest understand better. It probably was supposed to have classical music and chant. It was supposed to drop some of the bad hymns & habits picked up in the errant 19th & early 20th centuries and be more dynamic but in a thoroughly organic way, attached to the past but yet of the present, which could have happened. It should have been in Latin.

    It never happened correctly, because of a revolution that took place and robbed us of it. It is time to come out of the rabbit hole of the 60s, make that reform happen, and get that mass in place now so that we, once again, have continuity because that is what is required for many reasons, especially theological reasons.

  11. FrGregACCA says:

    Someone asked about specific changes desirable in the Extraordinary Form: besides the possibility of celebrating in the vernacular, two immediately come to mind. The first would remedy the fact that the Holy Spirit is not mentioned at all in the Roman Canon, outside the final doxology, not even in “Quam oblationem,” where one could reasonably expect to find an invocation of the Holy Spirit. It is pretty clear that this absence was noticed in the past, given that “Veni, Sanctificator omnipotens” was inserted into the offertory. The other problem is that the Second Coming of Christ is not mentioned in “Unde et memores”.

  12. mpm says:

    “Pope Benedict is trying to restart the organic development which liturgy requires, the slow discerning and changes which occur by a more natural process.” (Fr. Z)

    Thanks for this teaser of a definition of “organic development”. Believe it or not, though the phrase is somewhat self-explanatory, I haven’t been able to find a definition of it. I suppose that if it is completely self-evident, no definition is necessary.

    I myself wonder how organic any development can be in a world with so much “instant rehash”.

  13. Aaron says:

    Last night I attended my first Novus Ordo Mass in several months, for my niece’s Confirmation. I won’t detail all the things that made me grind my teeth, except to say that nothing had changed since I was last in this church a couple years ago. (One exception: there was no applause, which I completely expected.)

    Which, along with this post, makes me wonder: who would actually be more resistant to change: traditionalists facing organic changes to the Extraordinary Form, or Ordinary Form attendees when told to stop holding hands? There seems to be a pretty strong “fly in amber” attitude about the new Form as well, at least toward any restriction of local variations that have sprung up, or any change that feels like going “back” to a previous way of doing things.

    I too would like to know what that Ecumenical Council saw as the problems with the Roman Rite that called for reform, if they released those specifics. It seems like all we were ever taught (if anything) was that priests then were bossy meanies and the people in the pews didn’t know what was going on (which, sadly, seems to have been true for many older people I’ve talked to), so it all had to be torn down and redone from scratch.

  14. Kat says:

    Could someone knowledgeable tell me what changes were made, and when, to the EF BEFORE Vatican II, let’s say from 1800-1950? Just curious.

  15. FrGregACCA says:

    Oh, and dropping “Filioque” from the Creed, but that raises a whole lot of other issues… ;-)

  16. FrGregACCA mentions two problems in the Roman Canon that require changes, but respectfully, I disagree. In liturgical prayers, it is usually the case that the more detailed, more explicit language is the more recent. The Roman Canon is one of the oldest, if not the oldest canon from the early church still in use.

    Think of the prayers in the Didache, for example. They are not like any other Eucharistic prayers that are used by the Church. But they are very like the berakoth used by the Jews for Passover and other feasts. They don’t include the words of institution (although, as one writer I recently read pointed out, when Jesus spoke them they were spoken of words of administration, not as words of consecration).

    Writers on liturgical matters in the 19th and early to mid-20th centuries often found fault with the Roman Canon, but I think modern studies and comparison with some of the older liturgical prayers such as the Didache and prayer of Addis and Mari show how ancient it truly is. After all, the 2nd Eucharistic prayer of the Novus Ordo has the elements Fr. Greg thinks are needed, and would anyone really argue that it is superior to the Roman Canon (except those who want to get things done fast : )?

  17. Deacon Nathan Allen says:

    At my parish (the justly famous St Agnes in St Paul, Minnesota), we celebrate both the Novus Ordo in Latin ad orientem, with two deacons, choir and orchestra; and also the Usus Antiquior (Missa Cantata for now, until we can all get up to speed for a solemn high Mass). As a 44-year-old convert, I never had any experience with the Usus Antiquior until we started offering it at St Agnes on the First Sunday of Advent this year. Because we have always celebrated the Novus Ordo in Latin ad orientem, the change to the ancient use has not been so very jarring as it might be in most parishes. Even the silent Canon has not seemed strange because we’ve always had the celebrant go on with the Roman Canon while the choir and orchestra sing and play the Sanctus. However, one thing I’ve wondered, and I’d like your opinion, Father, on this: what do you think of the celebrant chanting the consecration from the “Qui pridie” on aloud in the ancient use? Absolute silence when the words of Our Lord are being said always strikes me as odd, and I wonder if that might not have been one of the ‘reforms’ of the traditional rite which we would have seen. [Good question: I think that would be a violation of important principles inhering in the older form, as well as a violation of its rubrics. That, of all moments, was to be spoken quietly. I cannot see how the Catholic people have really benefited from a loudly spoken consecration. As a matter of fact, the ars celebrandi of the newer form, that sort of thing has been dealt a real blow at the spoken Eucharistic Prayer, since human tendency over time prompts priests to do rather odd things when declaiming. I think I would have to take a very strong stand against that.]

  18. Kat,

    off hand, the holy week rites were changed substantially in the 1950s (see the New Liturgical Movement site for a very detailed analysis of these changes); Pope John XXIII inserted the name of St. Joseph into the Roman Canon. There were other changes as well in the 1962 Missal from what came before (e.g., the elimination of the third confiteor).

    The insertion of St. Joseph’s name in the Canon is a wonderful example of organic change. Devotion to St. Joseph has grown markedly for the past 500 years, and his name’s insertion into the Canon is a reflection of that, particularly after he was named patron of the Universal Church.

  19. Mark says:

    Do you think that with the reform of the reform, along with reform of the older rite, that eventually the two will once again be one? In other words, will they both be reformed towards eachother until they are identical? [Whatever happens, I doubt will happen in our lifetime.]

  20. Mark says:

    Certainly I can think of changes to the Old Rite that could have been made without its total destruction.

    Many would have been restorations of things that went vestigial.

    Certainly restoring a Third Lesson (ie, a Prophecy) would have made sense.

    And an expanded lectionary could be desirable, with the caveat that it should have remained a One Year cycle, and shouldnt have touched the traditional Sunday cycle (or Lenten, or Ember days, or First Class feasts, etc) except inasmuch as adding a Third Lesson.

    But reducing which feasts used the Commons and somehow working proper “Ferial” readings into it could have expanded the cycle without the whole 3-year thing, which isnt natural. One Year is a natural rhythm, and tradition is based around natural life rhythms. The lectionary in the East is one year, it is why they can say “The Sunday of…” and name the Gospel. “Three-Years on Sundays and Two on Weekdays” simply isnt a natural life-rhythm and creates a 6 year interlocking cycle that simply is never going to be internalized by anyone in a traditional way.

    But, for example, they could have restored Psalm verses to the Proper antiphons (instead of the “responsorial psalm”).

    They could have restored some sort of Bidding Prayers after the Oremus-followed-by-no-prayer…though they’d have to be formalized, like on Good Friday, and the prayers should be set or chosen from a selection of pre-written invocations (ala the Votive Collects) instead of the ad libbed or parish-committee-written things we see now.

    An Offertory procession could actually occur during the Offertory chant, but it shouldnt involve lay people walking up with the gifts. Rather, it should be at Solemn Mass only, and involve the deacon (and subdeacon) leaving the sanctuary, with acolytes preceding him, going to the sacristy (if it is in the back of the church as in a cathedral, otherwise if it is right off the sanctuary…perhaps something could be pre-set-up in the vestibule) and taking the chalice and cruets THEN, instead of setting it up all before Mass as in a Low Mass.

    I agree with adding references to the Holy Spirit to the Canon. It would be as simple as saying, “which offering do thou, O God, SEND THY SPIRIT, to bless, consecrate, etc” at the

  21. Mark says:


    …at the Quam Oblationem, and add “…thine altar on high, in the sight of Thy divine majesty, AND SEND THY HOLY SPIRIT so that as many of us as at this altar shall partake…” at the Supplices te rogamus.

    Again, if churches started being built in the Cathedral ideal again (with the sacristy in the back of the church instead of right off the sanctuary. Actually using the Last Gospel as a recessional rite, as was originally, instead of doing it at the altar (at High Masses) might make sense.

    Anyone for also adding St. Joseph to the Suscipe Sancta Trinitas and Libera Nos? Even the Confiteor?!

    I think the Canon should be silent, but the Offertory and Communion prayers could be made audible.

    And, of course, it could be done in the vernacular. I’d be fine with that as long as it was Hieratic English (ie, Shakespearean like) instead of the Standard English, the everyday mundane English, that ICEL gives us (even in the new translation). I’d like to see the Ordinary, or at least the familiar sung parts (the Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, Pater Noster, Agnus Dei, and Dismissal) remain in Latin, as well as the “Dominus Vobiscum”s…remain in Latin (maybe the other unchanging parts, like the prayers at the foot of the altar, could be gradually introduced in Latin again as people become familiar with them). But vernacular propers would be fine.

  22. michigancatholic says:

    Before the 1962 missal there were a large number of other official versions, of course. Each time, we moved from the older to the newer books. Therefore, I can’t imagine that won’t happen now.

    The mass of 1962, as it currently is, will be preserved, but I think at some point no longer used by the Roman Rite as it is. The same will occur for the OF, both 1970 & latest missals, for exactly the same reasons.

    What we will have to do, I believe, is go back to the 1962 mass and organically supplement that one (in a manner similar to the St. Joseph addition talked about above) to write down the next missal, which will be used by the entire Roman Rite as the normative form.

    It may be that the organic supplements will come out of balanced theological insights; it may be that they come out of changes in devotion (ala St. Joseph’s insertion into the canon); it may be that they are practices which are theologically correct, coherent with the faith and useful to the mass. It probably won’t be that supplements are merely teaching devices or moments designed primarly to please some ideological faction (because that’s not organic!) (Or it they do/are, they’ll drop out naturally by the next missal; this fiasco has given us new skills in terms of the ability to discern; it’s not been all bad).

    A new calendar should also appear, starting with the old one, and adding as needed to represent the stream of organic growth in sainthood over time. Also a much better edition of the Liturgy of the Hours is needed.

    Along those same lines, I think Mercy Sunday is also an interesting example of organic development and one that is very modern, while retaining central theological and traditional values. I expect to see “organic” looking like that.

  23. michigancatholic says:

    As far as language goes, I think that Latin should have pride of place, but since there will again be different “levels” of mass (like there are now, let’s be honest–ie. high holiday, Sunday, daily, ordinary time, etc), some of the masses might have more or less of other languages in them. And just like we have in the TLM both Greek and Latin, we might have in the new missal both Latin & the vernacular.

    [Music needs a drastic reform too. I can’t take happy hour at the bowling alley much longer.]

  24. Mark says:

    All that being said, one must ultimately ask of the so-called “Reform of the Reform”…why?

    If we “dress up” the Novus Ordo so that it looks just like the Old Rite…do it in Latin, ad orientem, with incense, chant, nice vestments and architecture, use of the Roman Canon (“Eucharistic Prayer #1”), add the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and Last Gospel as “private devotions” before and after the Mass, use the rubrics from the EF to “fill in the gaps” that arent specified in the New…that’s all fine and dandy.

    But the question is, at that point, why not just go back to the EF? Because, at that point, the only differences are things like fewer genuflections, the pruning of lists of saints (in, for example, the confiteor), shortening the kyrie from 9 to 6 verses, etc.

    So, at that point, why keep the NO texts? Like I said, I can see wanting to expand the lectionary, add a third lesson, see many of the things I mentioned above…but that could have been (and could be) purely done in the context of the Old.

    Otherwise, if we’re going to dress it up like the Old anyway…why not just use the Old as our starting point? It seems only to let some stubborn old men save face over their pet project.

    The truth is, there is no particular preference among Catholics for the Novus Ordo text considered objectively. The people in the pews dont care if the priest is wearing a maniple or not, or that there are multiple eucharistic prayers, or that the Collects were all newly cobbled together.

    Their “preference” for the Novus Ordo is largely just a preference for the vernacular, not the new text that has been bootstrapped to it. Perhaps (among some, especially of the older) for versus populum and non-liturgical Hymnody instead of the Propers.

    If, for example, the EF was “restored” with those elements, I doubt they’d care about the EF offertory. Many might not even notice or could be convinced it was just the “new translation”.

    Dressing up the NO like the Old Rite is the worst of both worlds. It’s the Latin the unwashed masses hate, with a text that is unsatisfying to trads.

    Translating the Old Rite (into a hieratic english, and hopefully with Latin maintained in the familiar parts of the Ordinary) would make a lot more sense than putting the OF in Latin, which is a compromise that puts together the element hated by each side: the “irrelevant” latin with the “untraditional” text.

    So when the bishops compare “demand” for the New Mass to the Old…it means nothing, because they are comparing Apples and Oranges. The “preference” Catholics have for the New (and, if you did a poll, I admit you would find it preferred) is not really for the New at all, but merely for the vernacular. They couldnt care less whether, say, the traditional collects were used or whether St Michael was mentioned in the confiteor or not.

    I’d like to see a hieratic English Old Rite Mass approved somewhere in some dioceses on an experimental basis and THEN see what people “prefer”.

  25. Jeff Pinyan says:

    “The old latin mass doeesn’t need, never did.”

    Which version of the “old latin mass” [sic] never needed reform? The one from 1961 before Bl. Pope John XXIII added Saint Joseph’s name to the Canon? The one from the 1950’s before the Holy Week revisions? Maybe one from the 1940’s or 1930’s? Maybe the one from Pius V himself?

    Dom Alcuin Reid’s “The Organic Development of the Liturgy” shows that the traditional liturgy of the Roman Rite is not some insect trapped in amber, but a living liturgy that did change organically over the course of the centuries. To claim that the Mass in, say, 1962, needed no reform doesn’t seem to hold water.

  26. Ricky Vines says:

    Renewal is more accurate in describing the changes in the liturgy. It was rediscovering
    the breaking of the bread of the early Christian communities and adapting that same spirit
    to the times. The Latin Mass was fine but back then (1960’s) it was seen as not addressing
    the needs of the Church. However the renewed liturgy has been deformed by abuses and the sense
    of thesacred was dissipated if not negated as in the case of people’s masses (back in liberation
    theology times) So, some revive the Latin Mass that emphasizes the sacrificial aspect of the
    Mass and has a decorum that is much more reverent. Others keep the renewed liturgy from
    falling into abuse by keeping the liturgical dancers and clowns at bay.

  27. John says:

    Western / Eastern Catholic Churches.

    There are 21 Churches that Comprise the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict is the Supreme Pontiff of all Catholics.

    The Roman Church and its various forms is the largest, with ove a Billion members.The liturgical forms of the West are the Roman Ordinary – Extraordinary – Anglican Usage in the USA – Neocatechumenal. The Ambrosian rite of Milan, Italy. The Mozarabic rite of Toledo, Spain, The Bragan Usage of the Mozarabic rite of Portugal along with several Rites of Relegious Orders.

    The Eastern Churches comprise the other 21 Churches with a combined 17 million members.

    Armenian / *Chaldean / Coptic / *Maronite / Melkite / *Syrian / *Syro-Malabar / Syro-Malankars / Ethiopian.

    The Byzantines are Albanian / Belarussian / Czech / Croatian / Greek / Hungarian / Italo-Albian / Ruthenian / Slovakian / *Ukrainian.

    Assyrian Catholic are Under the Chaldean Patriarch. The Russian Byzantine Catholic are directly under the supervision of the Pope.

    * Indicates that there is a Cardinal of that Rite.

  28. michigancatholic says:

    I agree with your assessment of “apples & oranges,” Mark. When people talk about the new mass vs. the old, even in groups of people who prefer the old, the subject of language always comes up right away. Now, even though I think that’s subject to some unfortunate things, even errors, I have to say that having some English is some parts of the mass in a new missal wouldn’t be entirely bad simply because some ideas are probably expressed better for liturgical reasons in Latin and some in the vernacular. (Something like that is what I imagine the reason to be for the fact that the Kyrie is still in Greek.)

    The basis for the preference of the OF mass is, I think, as you say, the English language. Not the translation, not the theology, not the form or the bad grammar (although most people don’t know any grammar anyway & don’t notice that) or even the handshaking. Like I said before, I believe there are some errors mixed with truths there, but okay, language is the basis for peoples’ strongest feelings, I believe.

    The present situation has also hardened that preference and made people intolerant of other languages, I fear.

    And there is preference for the OF based on peoples’ habits and understandings of life, which shouldn’t be frozen in the 19th century. Ie. farm people in 1850 dressed up to go to Church; people who dress up everyday for work do what then to go to Church??? Those things don’t have the same meaning they did before.

    It is true what you say about maniples. Most people wouldn’t recognize one if it bit them on the nose.

  29. michigancatholic says:

    Jeff, correct. The problem was the hermeneutic of rupture, not the organic changes which take place in the mass and have always taken place.

    The upheaval of the 20th century has had some very negative consequences for some people though, making them distrustful of any change, and who can blame them? The firestorm after Vatican II was terrible and should never have happened.

  30. Michael J says:


    If I grant your premise of the two needed reforms, do you expect me to accept that implementing these reforms required total abandomnet of the old Rite and creation of an entirely new one?
    On a related note, does the new form (I honestly do not know) contain these two important elements?

    Fr. Lane :

    Would you mind citing where “a council determined that it needed reform.”. I cannot find it in any of the documents of the Vatican II council, but there are a lot of them so may have missed it.

    Ricky Vines:

    Is the Mass truly intended to “address the needs of the Church” or should it do so only indirectly by offering God His due?

  31. michigancatholic says:

    I think it’s necessary to make a careful distinction, as long as we’re talking about this. This is not about conservative vs. liberal; it’s not about 19th-20th century style idealogy in any way. Rather, it’s about traditional. It’s possible to be traditional and still have organic changes which flow through time from a liturgical point of view (forget pedagogical and all that here for now–another set of issues). The point being worship and recognition of the realities the liturgy makes present in time and across time.

  32. Edward Martin says:

    “or go all trad-postal”

    Forgive me Father but what Rite is that?

  33. Henry Edwards says:

    Would all agree that, if every OF Mass looked like the one we watched this morning telecast from Westminster Cathedral, then no one would be talking much about any need for a reform of the reform?

    Sure, most anyone can find something about any Mass he personally would change. But, then, it’s not really about pleasing us, is it? I doubt anyone could sensibly argue that anything about this Mass was less than pleasing to God.

  34. michigancatholic says:

    Yes, Henry, but you have to realize, that one’s not going to be frozen in time either. This is going to be a big shock to some people.

  35. Mark says:

    “Would all agree that, if every OF Mass looked like the one we watched this morning telecast from Westminster Cathedral, then no one would be talking much about any need for a reform of the reform?”

    Probably. But the “reform of the reform” strikes me as a parallel project to traditionalism anyway.

    That would probably satisfy the “reform of the reform” people who are all about simply having more impressive externals, but there’d still be lots of people, like me, complaining, because of the text and ceremonial specifics themselves.

    Why the non-hieratic translation? Why not ad orientem? Why leave the Saints out of the confiteor? Why the Jewish table blessing instead of the old Offertory? Why the reduction in specific gestures involving the paten, the fractioning, the sign of the cross, genuflections, etc? Why communion on the hand!?!

    The fact is, if you compare the Novus Ordo to both the TLM and the Lutheran Liturgy side by side…it is much closer to the latter. I’m not exaggerating; get a copy of something like the Lutheran Service Book and you’ll see. The only real difference is at the Anaphora.

    That’s scary. Maybe in a historical vacuum what we saw at Westminster would be okay, if that’s how it had naturally developed. Objectively it was fine. But tradition is always subjective and with reference to what has gone before, and that they iconoclastically disregarded that and deconstructed it…is the real heart of the problem.

  36. Mark says:


    Yes. Exactly. It is language that is the basis of people’s strongest feelings…at least on the Novus Ordo side.

    Trads…I think it’s mixed. Some of us, like me, would be fine with a hieratic vernacular translation of the Old Mass, hopefully the familiar sung ordinary parts could still be in Latin.

    Others, however, I fear would go into an uproar if that were allowed. Sadly, I think they LIKE the “barrier to entry” that the Latin creates, as it allows them to have their own little world and keeps out those who might be intimidated (or, as they’d interpret it, arent dedicated enough to just accept it).

    They like that the idea of saying Mass in some ancient “incomprehensible” (not really, a little effort with a hand missal makes it fine, but…) language scandalizes and confuses the world. I think they like contradicting the notion that liturgy is about understanding or participation.

    In otherwords, I think a lot of trads sadly put up resistance to the idea of the Old Rite in the vernacular out of a DEFIANT spirit.

    Now, some attitudes certainly do need to be defied. We do need to fight the idea that the vernacular is “better” (it’s different, neither is really better or worse). Or that the Old Rite was useless or meaningless just because of a lack of literal textual comprehension. Or that ritualistic mystery has no place unless all the symbolism is utterly transparent. Or that the Old Rite as it currently stands is just an empty rote ceremony unless you are a learned initiate.

    But at a certain point you have to put down the defiance and just admit you can have both: you can put it in English sometimes, say, without thus conceding that in Latin it was/is useless or worse. We could have both. But I fear the Holy See wont allow that for a long time because of the uproar Rad Trads would cause.

  37. Ricky Vines says:

    Michael J \”Is the Mass truly intended to “address the needs of the Church” or should it do so
    only indirectly by offering God His due?\”

    It depends. If the need is to fulfill the command to keep the memorial of the last supper, then
    wouldn\’t they be one and the same? If the need is to become more community aware, then that should
    take a back seat to the worship aspect.

  38. Mark says:

    In other words, allowing the vernacular in the Old Rite wouldnt have to be a “concession to the World” or “giving into modernist ideas”…even if that is, in large part, what it represents in the Novus Ordo.

    The fact that the vernacular does seem to represent democratizing, populist, rationalizing, anti-medievalist, and even profane-izing tendencies in the New Rite…doesnt mean it would have to if allowed in the Old.

    One way I could see to make the distinction is to use hieratic English. Something Early Modern. Thees and Thous and Vouchsafes. Leave the Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, and Pater Noster untranslated, people are already familiar with those in Latin in many parishes (where they are often used during Advent and Lent, though inconsistently).

    Many High Church Anglican groups, the Orthodox, and certain traditionalist Old Catholic groups…all have a good balance where the vernacular does not seem to represent democratizing or populist revolutionary tendencies as it does in the Novus Ordo. We could take them as a model.

  39. Eoin Suibhne says:

    “go all trad-postal”

    That is classic.

  40. michigancatholic says:

    Mark, the uproar is on both sides, and I personally believe from what I’ve seen that the worst of it is on the OF side. There’s a lot of name-calling that’s come from there and it hasn’t let up. I attend both forms and am not “trad-postal,” by any stretch of the imagination, but I have eyes and ears.

    The point is that both sides are going to have to realize that this is not about “sides.” The mass naturally changes a bit through time but the changes must always be organic. We can’t have a wholesale rupture from the stream of liturgy coming through the centuries. This doesn’t favor any party–it favors the truth the Church has always taught. Parts of the last 40 years have been a departure, on both sides, and we have to fix that.

    Moreover, no single missal is going to last forever as the accepted current liturgy: not the OF as it’s seen now, not the EF as it’s seen now. There are going to be changes. There will be a new missal by and by. That’s just how this works.

  41. michigancatholic says:

    We have to do something more comprehensive than take someone else as a model, and it’s really NOT about composing something else entirely different, for the same reason it shouldn’t have been about writing up some trendy thing and then choosing up sides in the first place.

    What has to happen is that the liturgy itself must be allowed to come through from where we left off, and then everything must be developed consonant with that. The things in the mass should pertain properly to the mass. And in this, language is no different than anything else. There have to be reasons why a phrase is in this or that language–traditional, theological or linguistic reasons.

    Look, these things are theological scholarly matters. This isn’t like building a garage in a weekend with 25 guys. That might be fun but it’s not what we’re about. We will get there, but not by ad-libbing stuff. That’s how we got here.

  42. Nathan says:

    “go all trad-postal:” I hope Vincenzo gets some inspiration here, a photoshop seems in order to me.

    I’m wondering if the translation/ars celebrandi/options issues associated with the Novus Ordo (in particular, in the apparent heavy-handed implementation of the Novus Ordo) is going to have the effect of galvanizing opposition to any organic development of the TLM in the near future.

    It seems that at least some of the “fly-in-amber” response to any liturgical change in the TLM is based in lingering distrust of the liturgical authorities (perceived as trying to introduce modernism into the TLM) rather than reasoned substantive criticism on the particular points.

    In Christ,

  43. MAJ Tony says:

    Sometimes I think the “Quo Primum” propounding ultra-trads that will accept nothing but the 1962 or before with nothing but Latin for both ordinary and propers (except for the re-reading in the local language before a homily) are the Catholic version of the evangelical protestant “King James Only” crowd. They THINK they know what they’re talking about.

  44. Mark,

    First, I must admit that I’m a pre-1962 type, regret keenly the loss of octaves, maybe pretty close to the dreaded fly-in-amber types. But let me take your questions one at a time.

    Why the non-hieratic translation?

    The new translation OF English looks pretty good to me, maybe in the pews by Advent 2010.

    Why not ad orientem?

    This was the greatest loss of sacrality. Plainly, Benedict wants to fix it.

    Why leave the Saints out of the confiteor?

    Whatever kind of Mass I’m at, I say the “2nd confiteor” in traditional form on my way to communion.

    Why the Jewish table blessing instead of the old Offertory?

    Ditto. I have a prayer book with the old offertory prayers that I use at Novus Ordo Mass.

    Why the reduction in specific gestures involving the paten, the fractioning, the sign of the cross, genuflections, etc?

    Believe me, the reason wasn’t good.

    Why communion on the hand?

    Let’s not even go there.

    The only real difference is at the Anaphora.

    Which is the difference that makes it a Mass instead of a Protestant communion service.

    Fixing the above matters (and a couple of other obvious ones) will take the OF about 90% of the way toward the EF, which is where I think Benedict has this headed for convergence of the forms.

    And what’s the 10% of the way that the EF is fated to go? I’d say increased use of the vernacular, maybe for the propers and readings, but retaining the Ordinary and Canon in Latin.

  45. Kat says:

    I think one reason for my question, which no one has posted an answer to yet, was how much organic deveopment was done in the Mass from say,1800-1950.I am aware of the changes in 1950 and beyond; just looking for what happened before then.

    Many speak of the need to change the EF to add English,etc. But one wonderful thing about Latin is that it truly adds a sacredness to the Mass; Latin, not being used daily by many anymore, is much more unchanging in its meanings than English,even if you go back to “old English”. If you go to an EF Mass anywhere in the world, no matter what YOUR language is, you can attend and follow the Mass, with a missal with your own language’s translations. The Latin makes it much more of a universal Mass, don’t you think? If the EF gets organically changed to add more vernacular, then that effect will be gone.

  46. michigancatholic says:

    It applies to both sides, Tony.

    I remember the Catholic parish I first saw when I was a teenager (yes, I’m old). Catholicism used to be much different, but it was neither what the OF crowd thinks it has improved, nor what the EF crowd thinks they have preserved. It was much more robust in every way. Perhaps that’s why I still attend both forms. The fact that neither one is all right but neither one is all wrong makes me extremely sad sometimes.

    There are partial truths everywhere on the surface of it. But make no mistake, this is not only about surface appearances.

    What gives me hope is that meantime, the Catholic Church herself, underneath it all, hasn’t changed one bit, because she can’t and be true to herself, the spouse of Christ. We will manage to get it straightened out again because we are Catholics and some of us simply aren’t leaving by any route, at any speed. The resolution of this may happen after I’m long dead and gone on, but it will happen.

  47. Rams says:

    What I\’m afraid of in this respect is that as usual, the EF will be changed slowly but surely in a organic manner, but then the OF folks will refuse to go through with the re-infusion of tradition in the OF. This seems very plausible to me. The EF will be compatible with an organic development and so the changes will come as natural, but since as we probably all know, the new form has been called a \”fabrication, or on-the-spot-product\” , it is not an organic entity and will not be fertile ground for an organic development, and what is natural for it is its own static inanimate nature. That would be one reason why a “fly-in-amber” mentality would be taken by proponents of the OF. This could be a problem….

    Another scenario to consider as also possible is that, the EF is a different kind of creature than the OF. If we examine the natural development of the EF through the centuries, and compare them to the few \”natural\” developments that have occurred in the OF thus far, we will come to see that they are things that would have never happened in the EF… things like;

    Communion in the hand, altar girls, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist … etc…

    What has been \”natural\” for the OF is unthinkable to the EF. What I\’m getting at is that if the OF is in fact something organic in the same sense as the EF it is a different creature and a re-infusion of tradition in the OF may trigger an immune response and cause a hostile confrontation between tradition and novelty… What then?!? What if we have to choose between one or the other… I personally, and I hope we can agree to this, will choose the organically developing EF over a static OF, or an OF hostile to tradition- any day of the week…..

  48. Kat: I think one reason for my question, which no one has posted an answer to yet, was how much organic deveopment was done in the Mass from say,1800-1950.

    At various times I\’ve read all or most of the standard English-language sources on the history of the Mass, and don\’t get the impression that there were any changes at all, organic of otherwise, in the Mass itself, in the period you mention. Only changes in the calendar as new saints were inserted, etc.

    For instance, it\’s a standard remark that not a single word was changed in the Latin Canon between 600 AD (Gregory I) and 1960 when John XXIII inserted St. Joseph in the communicantes.

  49. michigancatholic says:

    I’m not sure what will happen. Perhaps there will need to be 2 threads of missals for a while. Maybe that’s what the new translations of the OF are for–perhaps unwittingly we’ve started the move. It will be interesting to see how the new translations work because it’s going to be a change for the OF, and one that some have mightily resisted. We’ll see if they are “flies in amber.”

  50. MAJ Tony says:

    It applies to both sides, Tony.

    I remember the Catholic parish I first saw when I was a teenager (yes, I’m old). Catholicism used to be much different, but it was neither what the OF crowd thinks it has improved, nor what the EF crowd thinks they have preserved. It was much more robust in every way. Perhaps that’s why I still attend both forms. The fact that neither one is all right but neither one is all wrong makes me extremely sad sometimes.

    There are partial truths everywhere on the surface of it. But make no mistake, this is not only about surface appearances.

    What gives me hope is that meantime, the Catholic Church herself, underneath it all, hasn’t changed one bit, because she can’t and be true to herself, the spouse of Christ. We will manage to get it straightened out again because we are Catholics and some of us simply aren’t leaving by any route, at any speed. The resolution of this may happen after I’m long dead and gone on, but it will happen.

    Oh, your preachin’ to the choir. I’ve been attending EF since 2002, nearly exclusively. About the only time I don’t is if I’m at my parents or other family. I actually hate to go home sometimes because of the lack of awe that I have at my home parish. I can overcome that, as the Mass is reverent, and aside from the option of communion in the hand and versus populum, is not subject to abuses other than the mundane things like holding hands and the “handshake of peace”. The WORST thing about going home is the nasty “Jesus-on-LSD” mural above our high altar reredos that a few parishioners (read amateur artists) thought would be a good idea to paint, without any parish discussion. This, in the parish that sits partially on ground that was donated by my Great-great Grandfather in the late 1800s, after immigrating from Germany. Other than that, it’s a beautiful, rather ornate, site-fired-brick church typical of the SW Indiana German farm communities. We still (thankfully) have an organist. I WANT to go home and be a part of my parish if I can get a job in the area, but that’s tough right now. The only thing that would cause me to give up on that is a call to the priesthood, for obvious reasons.

  51. Mark says:

    The “universalism” of the Latin is a red herring too, Kat.

    Rites are inherently local. Latin was used because it was the language of Rome and this was the Roman Rite. Greek was used at Constantinople, Slavonic among the Slavs, etc.

    The Roman Rite was never meant to be the “international rite”. That was/is a historical anomaly. The ideal of Catholic Liturgy is definitely NOT the ideal of McDonald’s; some sort of globalized mass-produced interchangeable standardized product. It’s why the “TLM in Moscow” makes me cringe a bit. Russia is clearly the territory of the Byzantine Rite.

    The period of true Catholic hegemony, the Middle Ages, saw a diversity of local rites. Each diocese practically had it’s own usage (in Latin, indeed). This is to be taken as the true fruit of organic development.

    Which, in answer to the other question, can in many ways be said to have (for better or worse) stopped with the codification at Trent which centralized control of the liturgy, and in many ways did make it a “fly in amber”…crystalization leads to ossification. The rubrics, meant to protect organically grown tradition from protestantizing deformations…came to be treated legalistically as an end in themselves, etc.

    The changes between 1800 and 1950 were numerous, but inorganic (being mandated from the Top down) and largely touched the Office, not the Mass. Starting with Pius X’s total revamping of the psalter in 1911 (which, if you ask me, was needed but went too far)…and all the changes of the 1950’s to the Office. The Mass was touched little after Trent.

  52. Mark says:

    [bold]Look, these things are theological scholarly matters. This isn’t like building a garage in a weekend with 25 guys. That might be fun but it’s not what we’re about. We will get there, but not by ad-libbing stuff. That’s how we got here.[/bold]

    On this point, I couldnt disagree more. It is SCHOLARS, academic liturgists, who got us here. Organic development does happen through ad-libbing and experimenting, not through ivory tower top-down pronouncements filled with all sorts of “theory” behind them.

    It is an art, not a science, and certainly not some sort of academic exercise. It takes good aesthetic sense, informed by orthodoxy, popular piety, history, and the practices of the other rites…not a theology degree or, God forbid, a liturgy degree!

  53. Aaron says:

    “Fixing the above matters (and a couple of other obvious ones) will take the OF about 90% of the way toward the EF, which is where I think Benedict has this headed for convergence of the forms.” — Henry Edwards

    That sounds wonderful, but is it likely at all? Most of the clergy and laity (at least in the USA) are perfectly happy with the OF–not the reverent OF that I’m always hearing about, either, but the standard one they’re used to. Where my family goes, they and a few other people refuse to do the hand-holding “wave” thing that’s become popular during the Our Father. So now the people who are into it seem to do it even more dramatically, as if to try to peer-pressure everyone into doing it.

    It’s going to be a struggle just to get these people to say “and with your spirit.” Good luck telling them they can keep English for part of the Mass, but the rest will be in Latin, and they’re going to kneel a lot more and lose their altar girls, random responsorial songs, two-minute Consecration, visiting time at the Sign of Peace, priest facing them, etc, etc. Catholics in the 1960s were far more obedient, and millions of them bolted when their Mass was taken away. Even more will now.

    If Pope Benedict’s plans are that ambitious, then I love him for it and he has my prayers. He’ll need all he can get, because if you put most of the Church in charge of coming up with a “compromise” Mass, it seems far more likely you’d get 90% OF with a few cosmetics touches from the EF.

  54. Mark says:

    If such a thing would cause them to leave, then havent they already left in their hearts?

  55. Aaron says:


    Yes, I agree, and I think the loss of the tradition-averse could easily be balanced by the increased faithfulness that solid liturgy could create in those who stay. But as a practical matter, I wonder how you get bishops and priests to implement something that will create empty pews, even temporarily.

    There’s such an emphasis on numbers (and polls) these days. Just one NYT poll saying 65% of Catholics hate the “new” Mass would be enough to stop it many places.

  56. Reform of the Reform!

    Lord, spare us from the cult of the 50s.

  57. Mark says:

    Which is why I think they are reluctantly to try a vernacular Old Rite mass anywhere, even experimentally. The numbers might soon reflect a preference for it.

  58. Henry Edwards says:

    Mark: Which is why I think they are reluctantly to try a vernacular Old Rite mass anywhere, even experimentally. The numbers might soon reflect a preference for it.

    I believe a very common type of bishop — the ones we’re most concerned about in this discussion — is mainly interested in two numbers, the pew head count and the basket dollar count.

    They simply are not liturgical enough to have the predispositions we commonly assume. They’re pragmatists rather than liturgists.

    So if and when these numbers indicated a preference for a vernacular older Mass, what would be the problem?

  59. Aaron says:

    By the cult of the 50s, do you mean the one that was packing the pews and seminaries?

    I’m not trying to be facetious; I know there were already problems then. For there to be hundreds of dissenting theologians by the time Humanae Vitae came out in 1968, clearly things were going off the rails in the seminaries well before that. But I think the reform we got became an extension of those problems rather than a solution to them.

    I wasn’t there, but the criticism I’ve heard of the Church during the 50s has mostly been the word clericalism thrown around a lot, and I think you can make the case that we still have plenty of that, just directed differently. Again, I get a general sense that priests were on too high a pedestal and the laity didn’t know the Faith very well (although surely better than now?). But those seem like problems with administration and catechesis, not the form of the Mass. Why would the Mass of the ages have suddenly been specifically responsible for problems arising in 1950?

  60. Mark says:

    There’d be a problem because they have more invested in the New Mass than just numbers. They like it’s low church Lutheran flavor. Helps with false “ecumenism,” helps them win the worldly respect (they think) of politicians and academics.

    They are embarrassed by the ritualism and, you know, SUBSTANCE of the Old Mass…I mean, we’re big grown-up Americans now, after all, we can’t be running around with those old superstitious kids games. There are more important things than doctrine and mystery now, like democracy and capitalist productivity. Religion is meant, at most, as a tool for making people complacent in Civil Society, not a contact with the dangerous psychological phenomenon of the “transcendent” which can cause people to do all sorts of crazy things. It’s meant to help the Almighty Economy and All-Knowing State neutralize the ambivalence towards the World, the pesky little cognitive dissonance that forms because Progress forces people to stretch beyond their comfort zones…not to positively foment it!

    I’m being sarcastic, of course. The point is, they dont want to introduce an option that people might prefer to the NO, because they like to be able to say people prefer the NO, so that they can keep feeding people the NO, and people will keep viewing religion as, you know…a hackneyed, cornball thing you do on Sunday because that’s just what good patriotic Americans do.

    So they, in an ironic similarity to Rad Trads…hide behind the Latin of the Old Rite. Use it as a barrier to entry to keep it the province of an esoteric little group. Unleash it in the vernacular, and it ruins their whole anti-medieval agenda.

    Well, I think they’re getting on the Modern boat a little late. 500 years ago, at the dawn of the era would have made more sense. Now…the Modern seems like it could end any day. The Neo-Medieval is coming and NOW they decide to get behind modernity? Silly timing, it seems to me.

  61. “By the cult of the 50s, do you mean the one that was packing the pews and seminaries?”

    Yes. We in Ireland had virtually 100% attendance in the 50s. That was not all we had.

    My point? Just because there was high Mass attendance does not necessarily mean that the Church was in a healthy state.

  62. Mitchell NY says:

    ANd now we have the reverse, the laity thinks they know everything and that Priests do not know anything about the liturgy…A world turned on its’ head. ALso there is mention of Benedict’s “plan”..Many say things will not change greatly in our lifetimes..I do not follow how Benedict can execute his plan or even get it off the ground without a little more effort while being in his upper years..Wouldn’t some definitive literature or official documents about how to implement this plan be wise…What is to say the next Pontificate would be interested in Pope Benedict’s plan any more than their own..Or they could shelve it completely..Am I incorrect? Couldn’t a future Pope decide it has further divided the Church and scrap the whole thing once again? I guess the question is what would it take to get the reforms on the right track that can not be de railed for future decades? Agendas for each Pontificate change drastically as we have seen in most recent memory. And since this is now becoming more and more clear (the rupture), shouldn’t it be top priority in regards to things going on in the Vatican..And really I can think of no better Pope than Our Present Holy Father to do this, but also as many have stated things are at a snails pace..That leaves the danger of the reforms or small doses of implementation being washed away by a simple rise in the tides..So what would be the biggest thing that could be mandated and have the biggest effect and yet cause the least shock? Is it a Latin Ordinary? A vernacular 1962 Missal. Restoring half the suppressed prayers? Returning to the fine English used in the interim 65 Missal? Ad orientem…I say pick one and make it known that this is the way it will be done from now on and make it almost impossible to overturn in the next Pontificate..The parish will absorb it, and pick your next reform and implement in 10 years. and so on and so on..But start, a substantial thing to awaken the senses but not shock them out the door..It can work this way..It will push the snowball down the hill with a slightly less slope (angle) than before…People can absorb that and with proper cathechis surrounding the one change for several years will solidify it…But changing too much at once with no cathechis will do no good..It will not take root….One thing, But Big……All aboard..

  63. o.h. says:

    Lots of people are talking about “the vernacular” in a way that’s clearly for them synonymous with “English.” But many of us live in parts of the country where the increase in the Catholic population is primarily Spanish-speaking. If a reform of the EF involved putting the changeable parts into the vernacular, it would be hard to argue against the proposition that the vernacular in question should be Spanish.

    Our parish, like many in the southwest, is made up of two communities, divided by langugage and rarely interacting. In the EF, though, we have speakers of many different languages, including Spanish and English, all praying together. The moment the EF became partly or wholly vernacular, there would either have to be two EFs (thus contributing to the parish division), or the EF would suddenly have to “belong” to either the English-speaking community or the Spanish-speaking community.

  64. Aaron says:

    Mitchell NY, that sounds good, but where do you get the proper catechesis? If that were available (or allowed) in many parishes these days, we might not have reached such a low point in the first place. We’re certainly not going to get proper catechesis (especially about something as retrograde as ad orientem or a Latin Ordinary) from the generation that’s running things in most dioceses now. Maybe in 20-30 years, when that generation has been replaced by the more orthodox one that’s coming up through some seminaries now…

  65. dcs says:

    At various times I’ve read all or most of the standard English-language sources on the history of the Mass, and don’t get the impression that there were any changes at all, organic of otherwise, in the Mass itself, in the period you mention. Only changes in the calendar as new saints were inserted, etc.

    Some Prefaces were added in the first half of the XXth century – for example, Benedict XV added a proper Preface for the Feast of St. Joseph. When Fr. Fortescue was first writing his history of the Mass, there were 11 Prefaces, ten of which can be found in the Gregorian Sacramentary (which we know dates to at least the late VIIIth century) and one of which was added by Urban II in 1094. Now there are how many Prefaces in the 1962 Missal? Seventeen? Nineteen? Something like that.

    I agree that the 1962 Missal is in need of reform (of the St. Pius V sort – roll it back a few centuries), but not until the current generation of liturgical tinkerers passes away.

  66. michigancatholic says:

    No, organic development does NOT happen by dreaming up deviations and inserting them in the mass. I cannot make an organic development happen by simply deciding to wear my clown suit to mass. Or dance the polka wearing orange paisley. NO. Not even if I talk all my buddies into it and put on a big demonstration. NO.

    Organic developments can take place from the top, and usually will do so as a recognition that something is needed in addition to or instead of something already present. The addition of St. Joseph to the canon, spoken of above, is an excellent example of this. Another example might be the change from one piece of scripture to another in order to more fully capture a new understanding of theology affecting a particular moment of the mass. Another example might be improving grammar or wording or language usage in a particular part of mass to more correctly express something in the context of the prayer of mass, or improving the “red” to make an accommodation to current settings available to a wide variety of priests across the world.

    The changes would probably be, from a casual layperson’s point of view, considered technical. But this is Catholicism, not some storefront operation in the sticks. Some people crave a sort of picnic atmosphere where you make it up as you go along. Catholicism isn’t that sort of thing.

  67. Henry Edwards says:

    dcs: I do not regard the addition of a preface here or a collect there for a new saint or observance as a change “in the Mass itself”; these are included in what I meant by changes in the calendar. On a day when no newer saint or observance is involved, the Mass remains unchanged.

  68. Melody says:

    When my roommate asked “Why Latin?” I easily explained “It’s like sub vs. dub.”

    She got all the implications mentioned here immediately because we are both anime fans. It is a very good metaphor for the trouble of the Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo. Kindly humor me for trying to inject a little humor into this serious subject.

    Allow me to explain:
    Anime is a form of film from Japan. When brought here to the US, ignorant companies dub it into English with very little skill, bad enough to render it mostly unwatchable. (Imagine The Count of Monte Cristo being acted out by stars of a Disney cartoon). Most of the general public never gets into anime because television only shows dubs. At worst, anime is sanitized and names are changed to remove all reference to its country of origin.
    However, there are about half a dozen anime, out of thousands, which are quite worth watching in English. No dedicated fan prefers dubs unless he or she suffers from reading disabilities and cannot keep up with subtitles. However, every young newbie defends the dub until he later realizes his foolishness.

    The problem with dubs are not inherently dubbing itself, but the shoddy work being done about it. Although the sub will always carry a certain authenticity the dub will never possess, with the right care and respect to the original work the dub can be nearly its equal in telling the story.

    In this metaphor, anime is the mass, the sub is the TLM, while the dub is the Novus Ordo.

    The Novus Ordo can never be quite like the TLM, but I hope one day it can at least properly carry on the Catholic faith to those without the ability to appreciate the richness of Latin.

  69. FrGregACCA says:

    Just to be clear, what I write here is based primarily on theological considerations and questions of comparative liturgy, less so historical ones. Pius XII had a good point about “liturgical archeology”.

    Further, I am not writing to defend the Novus Ordo (although I do not see it as “a completely new rite”. It is a revision.) The prayers found in the Didache are more in the line of post-communion thanksgiving prayers, not an anaphora, and the Anaphora of Addai and Mari is unique. (The East Syrian Rite also has two other “hallowings”, both of which are clearly related to St. James – see below, and one of which is very closely related to the Anaphora of St. John Chrysostom, the most-often used anaphora in the Byzantine Rite.)

    However, as it stands, the Roman Canon, while in some ways unique itself, clearly has a significant relationship to other extant Anaphorae, whether or not still in use. I think of St. James, the Apostolic Constitutions, the Byzantine and Armenian Anaphorae, and those of the Alexandrian Rite, especially its prototype, St. Mark. All of these, and the Roman canon, are structured similarly and yes, they all mention the second coming, sometimes at great length, in the equivalent of the “Unde et memores” section and contain an invocation of the Holy Spirit. This is theologically significant. These Anaphorae are trinitarian, containing praise to the Father culminating in the Sanctus, a longer or shorter recitation of the coming of Christ, ending in the Words of Insitution, a section of commemoration and offering (including a mention of the Second Coming, the culmination of Christ’s work), an Epiklesis, the invocation of the Holy Spirit, and intercessions. As someone pointed out, making these changes to the Roman Canon would be relatively easy; they certainly would make the Roman Canon more theologically explicit.

  70. FrGregACCA says:

    Forgot to copy and paste the following:

    Regarding the NO, EP’s II-IV all contain epikleses. EP’s III and IV mention the Second Coming where they should. EP II does not.

  71. Maureen says:

    Re: not one word changed in the Roman Canon between AD 600 and 1950 —

    Clearly, this is not true. Not one word changed officially? Perhaps. Not one word changed in common, non-abusive use? Uh-uh. That’s why Trent was collating all those books together, and telling people not to use their own old books after they got the new one (unless the changed were over 200 years old or whatever the figure was).

    Also, it’s fairly clear that the Roman Canon changed into certain other related Uses and Rites while merrily going on its own course. I mean, you can’t seriously believe that people set out to produce X Rite or Y Use. They were just saying Mass the way they said Mass, and one day everybody looked up and realized Mass was sung a lot differently between here and there.

    I believe I’m right in saying that there were changes between editions of Trent stuff, also.

    It’s silly to oversell the EF’s case. It doesn’t need to be any more historical than it really is, and people are skeptical enough about religion these days without religious people seeming to lie to them. “Nigh changeless” is more than good enough.

  72. Henry Edwards says:

    Maureen: Re: not one word changed in the Roman Canon between AD 600 and 1950

    Indeed, I understand this is, indeed, precisely the case. Perhaps you don’t realize that by “the Roman Canon” is meant the Canon of the Mass — the “Eucharistic Prayer” of the Mass — as it was said in Rome itself.

    Could you really believe that any student of the history of the Mass would be unaware of the regional usages — e.g., the Sarum rite in parts of England — that were proliferating at the time of the reformation? (Which chaos, not altogether unlike that of the 1960’s in our own time, is what precisely what Trent sought to counteract with a single standard missal.)

    In any event, you appear to be under the misimpression that Trent was collating pieces of these disparate usages to construct the Missal of Pope Pius V. To the contrary, the Council of Trent did nothing of the sort. Nor did Pius V himself (acting under the instructions of the Council).

    What Pope Pius did to was to standardize the whole western church — with the afore-mentioned 200-year exception (which was very little employed, as it turned out) — upon the usage as it had remained virtually unchanged in Rome itself for a long time. Indeed, I understand that the so-called “Missal of Pius V” was a re-issue of the circa-1460 Roman missal edition of more than a century earlier.

  73. ssoldie says:

    If we have the ‘Ambrosian Rite’ , the ‘Mozerabic Rite’, and the ‘Gregorian Rite’ (there’s that word again) which are all over 200 yrs old, will the reform of the N.O.M., when ‘reformed’ be then called the ‘Roman Rite’ or maybe the ‘New Roman Rite’or the ‘Now Reformed Rite’. Will all the other Rites be abrogated? Will they be surpessed? Will they be allowed to be prayed along with the New Reformed Rite? What then of the F.F.S.P.? Ahh yes fruits, chaos / confusion thy name is Satan. I will not live long enough to see the next ‘forty’.

  74. Mark says:

    “No, organic development does NOT happen by dreaming up deviations and inserting them in the mass.”

    Not “dreaming up deviations”. But, for example, inserting private devotions (the origin of the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, Priest’s Offertory and Communion Prayers, and Last Gospel, as well as the Franciscan innovation of genuflection in the 13th century) that start as silent things for the priest or as technically “before” Mass but then come to be seen as integral parts of it.

    Or, for example, starting to do something for a practical reason (like wearing a cloth, later the maniple, to wipe your forehead, or mixing the wine with some water so it wouldnt be so strong as was the common practice in the Mediterranean world, or bells to warn people of various parts of Mass, or the pall to keep flies out).

    Or, perhaps, someone does from the top-down implement a good symbolic idea (like the Pope sending particles of his eucharist to all the parish churches…which idea didnt require a technical knowledge, just a good sense of symbolism) that then is imitated elsewhere in a symbolic form even when the original ideal becomes impractical (the origin of the co-mingling and the subdeacon holding the paten, abbreviated further, to slipping it under the corporal, at Low Mass).

    Or someone makes a mistake, maybe a manuscript has a scribal error, and then it becomes traditional even after the mistake is corrected (the origin, possibly, of some of the “multiplied” signs of the cross). A sort of Talmudic “obsession” (but not a bad thing) wherein both are then done or something is repeated (3 times usually) “just in case” and then both come to be seen as traditional and mandatory.

    Or an extra-liturgical song is sung or motet played to fill up the time while some other action is going on, and it comes to be seen as integral to the liturgy (the origin of the proper Antiphons at mass).

    Etc, etc, etc. Combine that with the fact that Bishops did used to be able to simply alter or write-up the local rites at will (local dioceses still had their own Rituale very late in history) and you can see how organic change is not all top-down “technical” adjustments.

    “The changes would probably be, from a casual layperson’s point of view, considered technical. But this is Catholicism, not some storefront operation in the sticks. Some people crave a sort of picnic atmosphere where you make it up as you go along. Catholicism isn’t that sort of thing.”

    That simply isnt how all the various Rites developed. If you are waiting for an evolution driven by millions of accumulated mutations…that takes millions of years.

    Liturgy is like language, and its organic development should be viewed as analogous. It is also true that the introduction of mass literacy, the printing press, textualism…etc, makes the evolution very different (and, it is debated, much slower) than in an oral culture. Especially in religions, which are traditionally very conservative about their rites and texts once a certain point has been reached.

    The Roman probably is the most organic of rites. Gregory codified it, but it had developed gradually over the first five centuries. Some of the Eastern liturgies were just written up by famous Sainted bishops and patriarchs, building on ceremonies going back to apostolic times indeed, but with a much more unilateral Authorship attributable to them (for example, St. Basil).

  75. Mark says:

    All that being said, this is where I think liturgical scholars can come in.

    Not in actually applying the theory (which is almost always tainted by the self-consciousness of applying a theory deliberately)…but in studying history (in a role equivalent to linguists) and seeing by what methods and in what contexts organic evolution does happen, and then working with the hierarchy to make such environments possible and most favorable to true growth.

    Just as languages (even when used still in a formalistic setting like liturgy) can “die” inasmuch as they stop changing/growing…liturgies can be “dead” too (though that certainly doesnt mean they arent valuable or dont still convey meaning, though). Some religions just accept such ossification (think Orthodox Judaism). We did for quite some time after Trent. But the goal of the liturgical movement (sadly cut-short by the revolutionary radicalism of the Novus Ordo) was to go back to more of an Eastern Orthodox balance, which seems to me a very good synthesis of conservatism of tradition combined with nevertheless a continued organic evolution.

    Part of this may be related to the fact of their greater use of the vernacular or liturgical languages still mostly comprehensible to the people, even if hieratic in form. This is where I think the use of Latin may have had a very real effect, mentally, on the liturgy. Language shapes how you think. But Latin is a dead language, and that’s bound to have it’s effect on liturgies celebrated in it. Up through the Middle Ages it was still somewhat “alive” among the educated and clerical class. But when even the clergy were no longer truly fluent, and liturgy and Vatican decrees became the only thing still using Latin…that was bound to have an effect on the spirit behind them.

    So, in some ways, a historical moment has passed. Even if we start training seminarians in Latin again…I think near-fluency among the clergy (wherein, for example, they could teach a class in spoken latin) simply isnt a realistic goal anymore. Combine that with mass-communication and we’re dealing with a different beast today when it comes to the evolution of both language and liturgy.

    Nevertheless, environments could be created as “incubators” wherein the old sort of evolution could still happen. Closed-communities like monasteries come to mind. I have been to benedictine monasteries (whose Office is no longer standardized) and a definite “evolution” is happening over the years, and towards a “better” model than the extremely flimsy foundation they were given in 1970 (though still pales in comparison with what they could have had they stuck to the millennium-old foundation they used to have).

    Heresy in the Church is a problem, as well as self-consciously theoretical changes. Admittedly, we cant really trust your average parish to make orthodox, aesthetically correct organic changes. We cant trust them with that freedom yet, probably not for some time. We’ve seen what happens. Though I doubt it is only possibly in a totally hegemonic Christendom (given the development in the early Christian communities). But I believe, ironically, the groups most likely to stick to the rubrics when it is required…would also, within their communities, present an environment that, if it were allowed, could foster true organic development and change if things were loosened and de-fossilized a bit.

  76. Henry Edwards says:

    Mark: But I believe, ironically, the groups most likely to stick to the rubrics when it is required…would also, within their communities, present an environment that, if it were allowed, could foster true organic development and change if things were loosened and de-fossilized a bit.

    As is now happening (with the encouragement of the PECD). For instance, the people singing the Pater Noster along with the celebrant at high Mass, and the priest reading the Epistle and Gospel in the vernacular at the altar at a low Mass when there will be no sermon (at which the scriptures read in in Latin at the altar would ordinarily be repeated in the vernacular from the pulpit before the sermon).

    My initial inclination was negative upon seeing either of these, but it’s obvious that — in times and places where most of our growth in the older rite is from people coming “back” from the newer rite — these are positive organic developments.

    As probably would be (though I haven’t seen them) use of some of the excellent Novus Ordo prefaces. — like the dozen or two included in the new Ignatius Press missalette for the “Mass of Blessed John XXIII”. (Excellent in the Latin, of course, not in the old-ICEL translations.)

  77. Michael J says:


    “… the need is to fulfill the command to keep the memorial of the last supper”?

    I hope this is simply awkward phrasing as it seems to deny (or at least ignore) the sacrificial aspect of the Mass.

  78. RBrown says:

    Oh, and dropping “Filioque” from the Creed, but that raises a whole lot of other issues… ;-)
    Comment by FrGregACCA

    Actually, I think the Eastern Churches should add the Filioque. It is the most crystalline expression of the Apostolic life.

  79. michigancatholic says:

    Fr Greg, the NO may not be a new rite, but it’s a completely new version, pulled completely out of somebody’s hat–somebody who apparently had derision for the old version because you can see the way the new version is “sanitized” and heavily supplemented with non-traditional items (items which inherently are not Christian and which apparently have only a superficial or temporal meaning relative to 1970).

    ssoldie, the Ambrosian, the Sarum and so on will be kept, as will the TLM because of their venerable character (ie more than 200 years in use). The NO has no such venerable character. It’s been in use for only approximately 39 years (since 1970). If the changes toward a new version are accomplished any time in the next 200-39 = 161 years, then the NO will be discarded as a temporary rite, never to be officially used again in the RC Rite, if I understand this law correctly. I certainly hope this is the case.

    Mark, since Trent what you say is simply not the case. At that time, the Mass was codified because of the Church’s realization that it could be “used” for other ends by inserting things of dubious origin and by changing definitions to further protestant ends. There were plenty of examples in the Reformation period–including Luther. I used to be a Lutheran.
    Seat-of-the-pants insertions and alterations are not sufficient or proper modifications of mass. They have to make sense and not contradict previous understandings of liturgy, and those changes must be supported by existing information from somewhere. You can’t just dream up extraneous crap to include.
    (We’re getting powerfully close to other discussions we’ve had about the meanings of successive ecumenical councils here, and for good reason. As we worship, so we believe. To wit, a later council may further explain a previous one, but it cannot a) contradict an earlier council, or b) just make stuff up for the heck of it. Why? Because all councils get their validity from the Holy Spirit and He neither contradicts things, nor makes up extraneous stuff for the heck of it. The liturgy is exactly the same way.)

  80. michigancatholic says:

    Mark, reference “the analogy of faith,” in the CC (CC, 114), which holds for both ecumenical councils & the liturgy because of “lex orandi, lex credendi” (CC, 1124).

    Although revelation never essentially changes (the truth is what it is), and revelation is closed, the Church does develop technical insights on revelation as time passes. This is the origin of new developments in theology and must be the origin of the new developments in liturgy coming from theology & tradition (the say the black part), which are both dependent on revelation.

    There is also an element of natural law, which in conjunction with tradition, determines what physical things are included (the do the red part). Going overboard with the physical parts–what we’ve been subjected to–isn’t appropriate, especially when it disregards natural law, as the NO sometimes does, &/or defies tradition, which the NO also sometimes does.

    So. You can’t just make stuff up to make yourself happy with it; that would be protestant. That’s what I saw in the Lutheran hymnal. They didn’t like it, so they edited it, pure and simple. Don’t get me wrong, Lutheran services are very pretty and fine for Lutherans but they’re not Catholic. They do, however, resemble the NO in an astonishing fashion–almost word for word, motion for motion in some parishes, in fact. Lutherans do a much better job with music and planning, however. And their outreach is much, much better–part of the confusion about what belongs to the people and what doesn’t, which is no less profound than the same thing in the Catholic church, which takes the opposite approach and has lousy outreach. But after all, this was the centerpiece of popular revolt during the Reformation, wasn’t it?

  81. Mark says:

    Depends what you mean by “extraneous crap”. The Offertory prayers of the Old Rite were composed by priests in Gaul at some point in the early middle ages, as private devotions, but came to be popular and included in manuscripts, and soon enough found their way to Rome and eventually were considered integral to the Mass.

  82. Mark says:

    As for the Novus Ordo Prefaces…I dunno about many of them. There has to be a logic to it. The so-called “Gallican Prefaces” allowed in the 50’s for occasions that previously didnt have a proper Preface (like Advent) in the Old Rite…strike me as very good indeed.

    But the Novus Ordo has, apparently, like 50 prefaces, many of which can just be used “optionally” without any rhyme or reason at the option of the celebrant.

    That is chaos, not organic development. The Eastern liturgies may have several anaphoras, for example, but it is nothing like the “at the option of the celebrant” chaos in the West. In the Byzantine, for example, there are specific days specified for each Liturgical form. St Basil’s on the Sundays of Lent, St James on his feast and once after Christmas, St John Chrysostom the other times. It isnt just the priest’s arbitrary choice.

    I dont like the idea of suddenly adding new anaphoras to the Roman Rite given the fixed nature of the one Roman Canon for 1600 years at least…but if they were going to do it, it should have specified the occasions when each was to be used. Like…#1 on Sundays and Solemnities, #3 on ferias, 2 for private/votive Masses only, 4 for Memorials, etc. It still would have been bad/untraditional, but at least it would have a logical structure to it.

    Organic development would be like…a priest composing a Preface of Virgin Martyrs, based on the general formulaic structure of prefaces, and using it, consistently, on all the feasts of Virgin Martyrs throughout the year. Or perhaps something more like a monk composing it and the abbot approving its use in the conventual liturgy. If a monastery did that…well, I’d be fine with it regardless of what the rubrics-police said.

    The Novus Ordo “variety” has, on the other hand, several Easter prefaces for the Paschal season that the celebrant can use, apparently, at will…the traditional (altered, for whatever reason), and then all these others with flowery language about “sons of light” and “celestial halls” that may be pretty and all…but the succinct logic of the traditional preface format has been replaced with all sorts of optional New Agey (even if thoroughly orthodox) poetry: http://athanasiuscm.blogspot.com/2009/04/forget-icel-part-iiia-easter-prefaces.html

    More prefaces (perhaps, for example, for each of the different categories of Saints from the Commons) might indeed be good. Random optional “variety” prefaces for varieties-own-sake…not so much.

  83. michigancatholic says:

    If those offertory prayers were completely consonant with revelation as judged by those in charge of the liturgy in Rome, then they constituted valid references for Mass, in the same way that valid developments in theology based solidly on revelation can. It sounds as if that was determined to be the case and then they were inserted into the mass in the appropriate method. Fine.

    The fact is that the Holy Spirit can inspire these prayers which are expressions of revelation. The saints are expressions of revelation, for pete’s sake. That’s one of the reasons (coupled with what tradition says about their regard for us) their names are place in the liturgy.

    It’s just that you can’t just make up stuff and insert it without that determination being made by the proper authority. See the difference??

  84. michigancatholic says:

    “As for the Novus Ordo Prefaces…I dunno about many of them. There has to be a logic to it.”

    Yeah, but you may not want to know what it is.

    “Organic development would be like…a priest composing a Preface of Virgin Martyrs, based on the general formulaic structure of prefaces, and using it, consistently, on all the feasts of Virgin Martyrs throughout the year. Or perhaps something more like a monk composing it and the abbot approving its use in the conventual liturgy. If a monastery did that…well, I’d be fine with it regardless of what the rubrics-police said.”

    NO, NO, NO. Because that would be like me coming up with my very own theology and insisting that anyone who was in my power had to listen to it because I thought it was right. (shades of Luther)

    Individual people, even very good people in holy places, can make subtle but profound mistakes when they compose things, even with the best intentions. It’s a thing that people are heir to–hearing the Holy Spirit partially. Some of those things can have deep or pervasive theological errors which can drive things to happen in people who routinely ingest them. Most of the time, not much comes of it, but they can be disastrous, and occasionally are. This is where, for instance, some of this new age garbage comes from, in subtle steps.

    This is similar to the whole thing about the writing of saints & doctors. They get examined to see if they are worthy of veneration, etc. Doctors can be thoroughly read and studied because their works are all solid, not contradicting revelation in any way. Understand?

  85. Mark says:

    The problem is the “proper authority” has changed. Rome was not always micromanaging the local liturgies. That trend began only at Trent. Previously, subsidiarity was followed and the local bishop had that ultimate authority, and in the Monastic early middle ages, it was often happening in monasteries under the authority of abbots.

    Your view of how the liturgy developed as a text is simply not consonant with what we know historically. The Gallican offertory was being used all over Gaul until, I believe, a Holy Roman Emperor’s clergy introduced it to Rome on a trip, and a Pope inserted it there, and then mission territories which got books from Rome also had it, but there was no notion of an “official insertion” at any given point, nor on imposing or mandating it for anywhere else. It was a natural and gradual diffusion.

  86. michigancatholic says:

    And, Mark, you’re making a distinction between innovations which may contain subtle errors (your monk etc) and goofy innovations (your link). This is fine, but that’s your opinion, not based on technical examination and authority. Some other layperson’s opinion might be different. What then? This isn’t how the Catholic Church works. It’s not even how the Lutheran church works (NOW). It’s how the Evangelical storefront outfit down the street works. We aren’t them.

  87. Ricky Vines says:

    Re: I hope this is simply awkward phrasing as it seems to deny (or at least ignore) the sacrificial aspect of the Mass.

    Awkward maybe “… the need is to fulfill the command to keep the memorial of the last supper”? The memorial of the last supper is
    also the new paschal sacrifice that has the lamb of God as offering. So there is no denial or negation of the sacrificial aspect because it is part and parcel of that memorial.

  88. michigancatholic says:

    But (and I referred to it but maybe you missed it), it is the case that although the truth remains the truth (revelation doesn’t change and it’s closed), that the Church develops the ideas from it and learns.

    And just like the fact that we had to have more than one ecumenical council to fully explain revelation, we have to have more than one liturgical formula. As time passes, the church develops theology, always from revelation & tradition, and the church develops liturgically. They go hand in hand (CC, 1124). They are both components of the analogy of faith (CC, 114).

    Up until the terrible onslaught of the Reformation, the attempt to pervert liturgy in order to pervert belief was not a serious threat (redefinition of the Eucharist, priesthood, etc). As soon as the threat was identified, and it took decades, moves were made to contain it via the anathemas of Trent and other moves. It wasn’t done very well, but it was done. Since Trent, it has been a continuous issue.

    In the intervening centuries there have been problems too diverse and numerous to list here, but you see all the carnage and all the protestant denominations and various claims & counterclaims.

    That brings us up to the present. If anything, in the 20th century this threat was stepped up 100-fold with the changes in how people communicate. AT Trent this was recognized. The Church learned. We have not yet applied this to the 20th century properly. IF Trent is any guide, it will take many years to sort it all out, but it will come out right.

  89. Henry Edwards says:

    Ricky: The memorial of the last supper is also the new paschal sacrifice that has the lamb of God as offering.

    This has been hashed out here at WDTPRS too many times to leave anything for any of us to say. Nor did Pope John Paul II leave anything to say in his 2003 encyclical

    Ecclesia de Eucharistia

    the Church’s definitive statement of eucharistic doctrine to date.

    You might like to read Chapter 1 — The Mystery of Faith, just 10 paragraphs (no. 11-20). It might be interesting to search this definitive doctrinal chapter for words like “memorial”, “supper”, etc. and see whether you can find anything about the Mass as a “memorial of the last supper” (as opposed to, or even complementing) the Mass as a memorial of the sacrifice of the Cross.

    (Don’t bother to tell me what you find. I’ve read it many times, as have most of the other commenters on this subject here.)

  90. Ricky Vines says:

    Henry Edwards: I was responding to Michael J. Is that alright? [Wow. Leave that stuff at the door!]

  91. Ricky Vines says:

    I don’t mean to be contentious. But I was wondering if this topic has been rehashed in the past, why did Fr. Z bring it up again? Perhaps, he wanted the new folks to weigh in.

    First of all, I appreciate the Latin Mass – after having many years of Latin, I can understand it. And I admire the people who want to promote it. I see them as wanting to give God the proper reverence and offer Him a worthy sacrifice. So, I think it needs to be made available for those who benefit from it.

    However, IMHO, I do not think that the renewed liturgy needs to be canned. There have been abuses but one does not need to throw the baby out with the bath water or Fever Swamp and go trad-postal.

  92. Mark says:

    But even without the abuses, Ricky, the question remains…why? Without the abuses…the New Rite is basically a watered-down Old Rite. With the almost sole exception of the expanded lectionary…they didnt ADD anything, just took away. It was mainly a massive pruning of content. Even without abuses…why have New Coke when you can have Coke Classic?

  93. Mark says:

    “Up until the terrible onslaught of the Reformation, the attempt to pervert liturgy in order to pervert belief was not a serious threat”

    This simply isnt true. A hegemonic Christendom is not necessary for allowing development to occur as I describe as long as the community is internally cohesive and pure.

    The fact is…the Liturgy developed in the first place, in the first centuries, in a pagan world, with judaizers and gnostics and various christological and trinitarian heresies abounding everywhere, and even within the stream of Christian thought that would become cathodoxy…things were not particularly precisely formulated or defined yet.

    And yet…the early Christian local churches all developed liturgy in a way that did not require some massive Vatican bureaucratic apparatus to put them all under the microscope or under the scrutiny of the Inquisition.

    They made liturgy in the first place, in the earliest centuries, basically by making it up as they went along. Relying on Scripture (which is always orthodox by definition) was the major source. But how exactly they were going to divide it up into services, sing the songs, insert the prayers, etc…they basically just picked as made sense for their needs, building on synagogue practice but adapting in many diverse ways.

    Which is another point: the bureaucratization of canonizations is also a second millennium phenomenon. So saints were not always examined with a fine-toothed comb before they were approved. In fact, in some ways, obsession over that shows a lack of trust in the Spirit. Truthfully, unless he is going to pronounce on it ex cathedra (which I dont think has ever happened)…the Pope is really just as trustworthy to approve a Preface of Virgin Martyrs as a faithful monk and abbot. It’s really not that hard; orthodoxy is not rocket science.

    Things indeed used to be a lot freer in these regards in a way I think makes modern textualist control-freaks extremely uncomfortable.

  94. Mark says:

    Your post-Tridentine idea of how liturgy develops is simply refuted by many demonstrable historical examples.

    Take the Offertory prayers:
    “For a long time these prayers were considered a private devotion of the priest, like the preparation at the foot of the altar. They are a Northern (late Gallican) addition, not part of the old Roman Rite, and were at first not written in missals. Micrologus says: ‘The Roman order appointed no prayer after the Offertory before the Secret’ (cxi, P.L., CLI, 984). He mentions the later Offertory prayers as a ‘Gallican order’ and says that they occur ‘not from any law but as an ecclesiastical custom’. The medieval Offertory prayers vary considerably.” (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11217a.htm)

    See!? NOT FROM ANY LAW! Because that’s how liturgical development used to work. And with considerable variation. It was a rich time liturgically, even if the fluidity of it all makes control-freak Moderns uncomfortable. Get past bureaucratic thinking.

    Or the multiplication of collects (as in the practice, pre-62, of saying at least 3 votive collects):
    “Amalarius of Metz (d. 857) says (De officiis eccl., in P.L., CV, 985 sqq.) that in his time some priests began to say more than one collect, but that at Rome only one was used. Micrologus [De eccl. observ., probably by Bernold of Constance (d.1100), in P.L., CLI, 973 sqq.] defends the old custom and says that ‘one Prayer should be said, as one Epistle and one Gospel’. However, the number of collects was multiplied till gradually our present rule was evolved.”

    Priests just started saying more than one collect devotionally. The world didnt end. They didnt need to petition Rome for special permission. It just happened, and voila!

    This article (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09306a.htm) on the origin of the liturgy says:
    “With regard to the first question it must be said that an Apostolic Liturgy in the sense of an arrangement of prayers and ceremonies, like our present ritual of the Mass, did not exist. For some time the Eucharistic Service was in many details fluid and variable. It was not all written down and read from fixed forms, but in part composed by the officiating bishop. As for ceremonies, at first they were not elaborated as now. All ceremonial evolves gradually out of certain obvious actions done at first with no idea of ritual, but simply because they had to be done for convenience. The bread and wine were brought to the altar when they were wanted, the lessons were read from a place where they could best be heard, hands were washed because they were soiled. Out of these obvious actions ceremony developed, just as our vestments developed out of the dress of the first Christians. It follows then of course that, when there was no fixed Liturgy at all, there could be no question of absolute uniformity among the different Churches.”

    And the local bishop had much improvisational role, but in the vein of an Oral culture, not a literate one:
    “There was certainly no set form of prayers and ceremonies such as we see in our present Missals and Euchologia; still less was anything written down and read from a book. The celebrating bishop spoke freely, his prayers being to some extent improvised. And yet this improvising was bound by certain rules. In the first place, no one who speaks continually on the same subjects says new things each time. Modern sermons and modern ex tempore prayers show how easily a speaker falls into set forms, how constantly he repeats what come to be, at least for him, fixed formulæ. Moreover, the dialogue form of prayer that we find in use in the earliest monuments necessarily supposes some constant arrangement. The people answer and echo what the celebrant and the deacons say with suitable exclamations. They could not do so unless they heard more or less the same prayers each time. They heard from the altar such phrases as: “The Lord be with you”, or “Lift up your hearts”, and it was because they recognized these forms, had heard them often before, that they could answer at once in the way expected.”

  95. Ricky Vines says:

    Sorry Fr. Z & Henry Edwards: Didn’t mean to sound like Luca Brazi and didn’t intend to either. So much is lost in the keyboard.

    Mark: “the question remains…why?” Not to be facetious but why not? If the investigation turned out a simpler ritual then it is at least more faithful to the original. Just as so much is lost in the translation, so much can be lost in the embellishments. Some would value doing the Eucharist as close to how the Lord and the Apostles did it. There is more continuity and authenticity that way.

    Then one can argue that a simpler liturgy eases the pastoral activities in places with limited resources. One can consider the practical impacts in the missions as well as in youth ministry. But liturgy is not my major, so these are just my opinions.

  96. Mark says:

    I’m not saying we return to total improvisation, far from it. Because we dont need to. We have a body of texts to draw from now, and religions are (the healthy ones, at least) naturally conservative with their texts and ceremonies once they are created.

    But that doesnt mean things have to be totally fossilized. If a local bishops sees a devotional need for a Preface of Virgin Martyrs…I say it is his right as local sovereign of his diocese to compose one. The Vatican should take their nose out of his business. And other local bishops might like it and adopt it, maybe adapt it a little. Maybe someone on the other side of the world will compose one independently, etc.

    That’s how it happened in the first place. Someone obviously sat down at some point and composed a foundational Sacramentary of collects, based likely on the traditional oral-formulaic themes that had developed. That in Rome it was likely a Pope sometime in the century leading up to Gregory does not prove that this is necessarily a task reserved for the Universal authority, but is only the case because the Pope is local bishop at Rome and so of course had authority of compiling his local liturgy.

    Local bishops all over the world around that time were probably compiling collections of prayers or lectionary-schemas all on their own based on their own local traditions, more or less affected by cross-pollinization with other local churches and influences from the major sees. We just dont have as much evidence of what they might have been like because of the gradual hegemony of the Roman Rite over the West and the loss of older manuscripts. But things like the Gelasian Sacramentary show just a glint of the variation that could have been.

    This article is also very good (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13155a.htm) and makes an interesting point I think is both damning for the Novus Ordo and for the “Latin Rite as universal rite” triumphalist trads: “Like all others, the Roman Rite bears clear marks of its local origin. Wherever it may be used, it is still Roman in the local sense, obviously composed for use in Rome. Our Missal marks the Roman stations, contains the Roman saints in the Canon, honours with special solemnity the Roman martyrs and popes. Our feasts are constantly anniversaries of local Roman events, of the dedication of Roman churches….This is quite right and fitting; it agrees with all liturgical history. NO RITE HAS EVER BEEN COMPOSED CONSCIOUSLY FOR GENERAL USE. In the East there are still stronger examples of the same thing. The Orthodox all over the world use a rite full of local allusions to the city of Constantinople.”

    Sadly, I think the Novus Ordo WAS indeed composed consciously for general use, and it contains all the generic globalizing vagueries one would expect from such a thing. And, sadly, I think this flowed quite seamlessly from the

    Another interesting point when it comes to the language question, about the switch at Rome from Greek to Latin: “No doubt the use of Latin was a factor in the Roman tendency to shorten the prayers, leave out whatever seemed redundant in formulas, and abridge the whole service. Latin is naturally terse, compared with the rhetorical abundance of Greek. This difference is one of the most obvious distinctions between the Roman and the Eastern Rites.”

  97. Mark says:

    “Not to be facetious but why not?”

    Because novelty is what needs to justify itself, not tradition. At least in our Faith. The old way gets the benefit of the doubt. It doesnt have to justify itself to us…it was here before we were. Who are we to question it?

    “If the investigation turned out a simpler ritual then it is at least more faithful to the original. Just as so much is lost in the translation, so much can be lost in the embellishments. Some would value doing the Eucharist as close to how the Lord and the Apostles did it. There is more continuity and authenticity that way.”

    Except it isnt continuity if, after 1700 years, you are returning to an early embryonic form of it. But, in fact, that is impossible. At best you can ape a “primivitist” form (which is all they did)…but which is in fact anything but. If they want to allow a primitive form…then the priest should improvise all the collects. The Lessons should be chosen likewise. There should be a Love-Feast preceding communion, and a place where people come up to testify in tongues!

    In reality, all they did was cut content, and then hide behind the archeologist idea of “early church” when what they really produced would be unrecognizable to the apostolic fathers as much as to the medievals, and is still filled with an inherently modern bureaucratic spirit.

    It is “ancient” only inasmuch as a Sandals-and-Swords technicolor film is “ancient”. In otherwords, Disney-kitsch sanitized-reconstructionist “ancient”.

  98. RBrown says:

    My point? Just because there was high Mass attendance does not necessarily mean that the Church was in a healthy state.
    Comment by Shane O’Neill

    A few points:

    1. It was commonly acknowledged that there was a need for the Council. The By the Numbers approach of the Counter Reformation Church had run out of steam. How well VatII addressed such a need is another question. And of course, there is the further problem of whether the implementation of the Council was hijacked by Ecu-maniacs who distorted the Conciliar documents.

    2. It is a mistake to assume the situation in Ireland was indicative of the rest of the Church in the West. (Ditto the US, which has been heavily influenced by Protestantism.) For all the well known Irish fidelity to the Church, it was nevertheless a society with some serious social problems–unemployment and alcoholism–that affected clerical and religious life.

  99. michigancatholic says:

    There is a sort of primitivism that was one of the results of V2, which has created a large number of errors in both liturgy and theology. Just because a thing is old alone doesn’t mean it’s the best, Mark. If it were, you’d be living in the ground and wearing a fur blanket, and only a fur blanket.

    IF a modern attempt to be “primitive” (ie go back to the sources) strips away positive and correct learnings gained from authentic developments of theology & liturgy, and does so in order to obtain another set of outcomes, for another set of reasons, it’s wrong.

    It was also under the guise of such a primitivism that the protestant reformers eviscerated the church during the reformation, stripping the altars and the priesthood.

  100. Mark says:


    I think you misunderstand me. I totally agree.

    My post about primitivism AGREES with you there. A sanitized bureaucratic reconstruction of some theoretical embryonic form…is a joke. A mass-produced technicolor “Sparticus” dream that is going to end up evoking the feeling of the decade in which it was produced (a particularly tasteless decade at that) much more than the period it allegedly tries to ape.

    And when you arbitrarily include some medieval additions and not others, or add things that were never there in the first place (like more than one anaphora)…any last shred of intellectual credibility they might have had goes out the window.

    And, as you say, it can be downright evil when the agenda behind stripping those things away was motivated by a desire to strip away the doctrinal or even just institutional development they represent.

    So I agree with you about primitivism. It’s as foolish as…well, as setting up a little village and dressing people up in old clothes and then trying to claim with a straight face that you are authentically re-implementing the way of life in that period. At best you produce a caricature, at worse you totally mislead people. But some people cant tell the difference between the genuine and kitsch. The Amish are genuine, a Renaissance Faire is not (and speaking of the Amish, they too seem to have a good model of allowing progress in a conservative non-revolutionary way).

    But if Novus Ordo ivory-tower liturgists make this error…I think trads do too in their Fifties-ist aping. I happen to know from my experience in that community…that a greater percent than the general population have taken to wearing fedoras to church, shaving with straight-razors, smoking pipes, drinking absinthe, using sealing wax…and all sorts of other weird affected stuff. It’s clear to me that to them it’s just a sort of esoteric romanticization of a given period (whether it’s the 50’s or the Victorian or the 1600’s, etc).

    The Old Rite can and should be subject to local organic development again. For too long, perhaps, it wasnt. And it should move along the path I’ve described with the freedoms and safe-guards I’ve described. That’s how it always happened. That is how continuity was paced. That is how new accretions happen. Some stick, some dont. Some old stuff goes vestigial, sometimes it is restored or re-expanded.

    It is a process like linguistic evolution. Meaning is never broken. Mutual comprehensibility is maintained from generation to generation, and regions only drift apart into separate dialects slowly (though factors like isolation or mixing of different groups can greatly speed the process).

    It is certainly not trying to misguidedly go back to the days of the Love-Feast and ending up just creating a guise for liberalism to slip-in under the radar in the name of “early christian love-zeal and charisma”…

  101. Thank you for pointing out that the Catholic Church in full unity is much greater than just the Latin rite :)

    With regards to the Latin Rite and the two forms, though, it’s easy to understand why when we talk about reform we think we are only talking about the Novus Ordo. The difference between the reforms we might desire for the EF and the OF is that with the EF, any reform we discuss in today’s Church environment (I phrase it like that because I have no experience of the celebration of the Mass in practice pre-Vatican II, but I imagine it’s not as glorified and abuse free as some today would have us believe) regarding the Extraordinary Form would typically be relating strictly to the form of the Mass itself – perhaps a revision of a prayer here and there (e.g. Pope Benedict’s revision of the Good Friday prayer regarding the conversion of the Jews), or some other such arrangement. But there isn’t much of a problem with the fidelity to the rubrics and the manner in which the Mass itself is celebrated in the EF. In the Novus Ordo, while there may be reforms about which to speak in the actual rubrics of the Mass, prayers, the form itself, we can hardly even begin to get to that discussion until we drastically reform the actual practice of the celebration. For whatever reason, and you can shed light on this Father in a way that I am simply unable, it is the manner in which the Novus Ordo is typically celebrated that needs the greatest reform. However it is that this developed, what is celebrated in most churches today is not the Novus Ordo at all, but rather some gross deformity of the Novus Ordo, and so we are not given the kind of ample experience of a pure Novus Ordo that is the experience the Church of the Second Vatican Council, and the Holy Spirit guiding that council, wished us to have. Without a consistent experience of the NO celebrated properly, most of us, myself included, can hardly even begin to speak of actual reforms to the form itself, since we’re still waiting for the true form to be celebrated with consistency.

  102. Ricky Vines says:

    Mark: Per SC, the goal of liturgical reform was for the Church to “be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebration which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy and to which the Christian people … have a right and an obligation by reason of their baptism.” So, that need called for primitivism not only in the sense of historical revisionism, but also in keeping the basic elements – the “primitives” in its quest for congregational participation. The return to the sources was a guide not a rule, a means to a pastoral goal.

  103. Mark says:

    “we are not given the kind of ample experience of a pure Novus Ordo that is the experience the Church of the Second Vatican Council, and the Holy Spirit guiding that council, wished us to have.”

    I think this is the point that needs to be addressed (and which I hope the doctrinal talks with the SSPX will address) before anything else can happen.

    The Holy Spirit didnt “guide” the council in any special way or “inspire” the documents or “wish” anything particularly regarding the Novus Ordo.

    Infallibility is a negative protection only. It would prevent a council from promulgating any heresy as dogma. That’s it. That’s pretty much the extent of it. It is just as limited for a council as for a Pope. And since Vatican II didnt even intend to promulgate any dogmas like that…

    The fact is, God didnt specifically “intend” the Novus Ordo except int he broadest sense in which everything is intended in the plan of Providence. But that includes earthquakes and disasters too.

    Council documents are written by men. They have the aid of grace, if the accept it (but even that doesnt guarantee well-meaning efforts wont be disasters), and are divinely protected from promulgating heresy.

    Otherwise, it is not some sort of oracle. Men set the agenda, men write the documents, and it could be a total disaster, and the next Pope could totally ignore it or scrap it if he wanted. A council is not new revelation nor some sort of charismatic divining of God’s will for the present Church.

    And until people admit that (and there is no question theologically)…we wont have made any progress.

    Maybe, in the end, “interpreting” the documents “in the light of tradition” with a “hermeneutic of continuity” is the most prudent way to explain-away what happened and get the whole mess of the last few decades behind us. But they must also admit that we dont HAVE to take that approach. That totally scrapping it is also a very real option, even while admitting the council was a valid one (I mean, we’ve basically scrapped every other council at this point in all but the dogmatic decrees strictly so called, so…)

    The documents are not Scripture. There is ultimately no need to “figure out” how they “reconcile” with past teaching as if we must assume, a priori, that they dont contradict and then puzzle-out how to fit that square peg into the round hole.

    Maybe they do contradict! Not on any dogmatic issue, obviously, the council was at least protected from teaching heresy (talk about damning with faint praise, however) but then again V-II didnt even attempt to promulgate dogmas. Yet in discipline and “attitude” towards the world, other religions, etc…there may well have been a 180-degree turn or revolutionary break in past discipline and prudential teachings. And on issues that are not dogmatic, that isnt precluded or impossible.

    But if it happened, they should admit it, and then discuss whether the new policies have helped or hurt us, and admit that “going back” is indeed an option, even if not the one we ultimately take.

    There is no need for this endless reading of the tea-leaves wherein people shift through the wordy Vatican II documents trying to find the “real” meaning of the council. But it isnt Scripture! There is no “real” meaning except the intended meaning of the authors. And, remember, the generation of the council fathers was also the generation implementing the council…so to separate the “spirit” from the documents themselves…is silly. The documents were written by a complex bureaucratic process…but many of the bishops involved clearly had the “spirit of Vatican II” intent in mind when they wrote the documents…because that is how they implemented it when they returned to their dioceses!

    Remember, a council is not an oracle of the Spirit. It’s not like these men when to the council and received a plan authored by God, and then “didnt interpret it correctly” and that’s where the mess comes from. They wrote the documents…I find it hard to believe they misinterpreted their own words, or that there is some “intent of the council” collectively that somehow each individual bishop making up that council missed.

  104. FrGregACCA says:

    “Without a consistent experience of the NO celebrated properly, most of us, myself included, can hardly even begin to speak of actual reforms to the form itself, since we’re still waiting for the true form to be celebrated with consistency.”

    Watching Mass in the OF on EWTN would be a good place to start…

  105. MichaelJ says:


    You seem to be advocating (“The Old Rite can and should be subject to local organic development again.”) authentic organic development of the liturgy, but have not touched the trust issue. Many traditionalists (like me) have a “fly in amber” attitude not because they think that the old ways are superior by virtue of their age, but because the rapid rate of change has frankly been a disaster. The old ways are superior simply because they have not been broken by modernist meddling.

    Sorry, I have seen the results of “local organic development”, and it is ugly. Recognizing that I have no authority or input on the matter, I would still object strenuously to any changes to the old Rite until it can be demonstrated that the change is orthodox and that the benefit of making the change outweighs the negative side effects.

  106. RBrown says:


    1. Dom Gueranger, the acknowledged father of the liturgical movement, was not interested in making the Latin mass more like Eastern Orthodox liturgies. Neither did he see liturgical reform being used as a tool by the Ecu-maniacs.

    2. Although there are benefits of an expanded Lectionary, monks from Fontgombault have told me that the Gregorian Rite makes it easier to memorize Scripture.

    3. Vernacular liturgy, even if done well, does not strengthen the relationship between the parish and Rome (cf Veterum Sapientia).

    4. Latin was not adopted because it was the vernacular of Rome but because it was the language of Empire–of govt and commerce.

    5. The study of Latin grammar is a superb preparation for the study of philosophy. Further, pre-philosophic study must include the study of Literature, which introduces students to the human condition and the important questions of life, both of which are constant threads in Latin literature.

  107. Mark says:


    The “trust issue” is an issue, but the fact is that the Old Rite is not (or at least no longer is) the exclusive province of Trads anymore. It is the property of the whole Latin Church, and that some trads have “trust issues” is a point to consider pastorally for them, but the concern is frankly of a rather small group. The Old Rite isnt just here anymore to appease trads.

    The fact is, the model I propose would leave trad groups free to be as conservative as they wanted with the Old Rite in their own parishes. As well as free, for example, to decide to use the pre-’55 books, or elements re-added therefrom, if they wanted. Nothing would be universally imposed by the Vatican bureaucratic apparatus when it came to development…that’s my whole point.

    Sadly, I think trads still feel like they “own” the Old Rite, and many of their attitudes seem designed to maintain barriers to entry so that it can remain their little isolationist “remnant” enclave. That simply isnt the attitude needed anymore. The days of the “resistance” are over.

    Local organic development has been ugly in the Novus Ordo. But in many ways I suspect that is because of the rotten-ness of the foundation it is built on (ie, the NO text and spirit itself)…not because of local organic development in itself.

    As I said, the loosening I propose might pose a threat in the wrong hands (and the role of authority is to keep it out of those hands), but it would also allow trads to re-adopt pre-’55 elements if we wanted for Holy Week, the Office, etc. What I imagine would mainly involve adding prayers, gestures, etc…not cutting them.

  108. Mark: The documents were written by a complex bureaucratic process…but many of the bishops involved clearly had the “spirit of Vatican II” intent in mind when they wrote the documents…because that is how they implemented it when they returned to their dioceses!

    You appear to have a good grasp of several areas where I have more questions than answers. So perhaps you can fit together coherently several issues and observations regarding Vatican II documents:

    Regarding Sacrosanctum Concilium, in particular, it’s my impression that the constitution on the sacred liturgy was not written by bishops at the council, but largely by “experts” (including the ubiquitous Bugnini) in advance of the Council.

    That it was not discussed on the floor in sufficient detail for the bishops to know what they were approving, few of them having read it themselves. As per a couple of oft-repeated anecdotes … That Ab. Lefebvre’s perititus told him it wouldn’t do much, was harmless, so go ahead and vote for it, which he did. … That when one bishop warned that the provisions of the document could be so interpreted as to result in an all-vernacular liturgy, the assembled Council fathers roared in laughter, not being able to take seriously such an outlandish suggestion.

    Then I recall a statement in one of Cardinal Ratzinger’s books — which I hope someone can identify — to the effect that reform of the liturgy was not a high priority among the Council bishops, since few of them then perceived any pressing problems with the liturgy.

    Then, in the Fontgombault volume, Card. Ratzinger explains what happened to the liturgy after the council in terms of the bishops having lost control of the post-conciliar process to liturgical committees and commissions operating outside the normal episcopal chain of command.

    Which reminds of the allegation that most bishops understood the 1965 Order of Mass — a modest streamlining of the traditional Mass, paring the opening prayers at the foot of the altar and the final Gospel and allowing for the vernacular — to be the final liturgical fruit of Vatican II, and were unaware that a consilium including Bugnini was continuing to work thereafter on some New Order, witness Cardinal Heenan’s apparent shock when the Novus Ordo Mass was exhibited to the 1968 Synod of Bishops, who rejected it, although as we all know now it refused to die.

    And speaking of the Novus Ordo — to which I myself am just about equally devoted along with the EF, attending a daily OF Mass that warrants little complaint and a Sunday EF Mass that is attended pretty exclusively by “bi-formal” types like me (and by none of the weird sorts you’ve mentioned previously), just as enamored with the Westminster installation Mass this week as with the last solemn EF Mass telecast on EWTN, just as interested in the forthcoming OF translation as with any current EF issue, … — I find no really New Order of Mass envisioned when I study SC. Only a minimal revision along 1965 lines, directed mostly at finally achieving the actual (interior) participation that Pius X and other early 20th century popes had urged (and which in my observation is much more fully in evidence today at an EF Sunday Mass than at a OF Sunday Mass).

    So …. How to assemble disparate pieces like these into a reasonably coherent picture?

  109. Mark says:

    “Dom Gueranger, the acknowledged father of the liturgical movement, was not interested in making the Latin mass more like Eastern Orthodox liturgies.”

    It depends what you mean. In terms of the objective externals, of course not, it is its own rite after all. But in terms of restoring the fullness of symbolism and living spirit that the Latin Rite had up through the Late Middle Ages…I think very much so. Restoring that which had fallen into vestigiality through repeated abbreviations and cutting of corners until we had the “low mass mentality” pervasive by the 19th century.

    “Neither did he see liturgical reform being used as a tool by the Ecu-maniacs.”

    And neither do I. Certainly, I think if it was going to have any ecumenical benefit at all, the Novus Ordo set its sights naively on the wrong group (ie, the Protestants instead of the Orthodox). It remains a fact that the Orthodox prefer traditional liturgy, and that they are also the only group with which we have any chance of reuniting whatsoever. It just isnt going to happen with the Protestants, which makes the protestantization implicit in the Novus Ordo all the more frustrating.

    “Although there are benefits of an expanded Lectionary, monks from Fontgombault have told me that the Gregorian Rite makes it easier to memorize Scripture.”

    Which is why I insisted on maintaining only a One Year cycle. One Year is a natural life-rhythm that can be internalized. The Three-On-Sundays-Two-On-Weekdays cycle we have now is indeed inorganic and makes it hard to really internalize any “tradition” when it comes to the readings.

    But even the One Year cycle did used to be much expanded, even for some time after Pope Gregory. The lectionary cycle we have now (at Matins and Mass, mind you) is evidently the remnant of an expanded plan with both: A) longer readings and B) more readings (in the form of a disappeared third lesson, definitely, and in some places there were ferial lessons in the form of Wednesday and Friday readings).

    “Vernacular liturgy, even if done well, does not strengthen the relationship between the parish and Rome”

    Good. I’m no fan of Roman hyper-centralization. This “direct relationship with the Pope” Catholics have nowadays is unsubsidiary and nothing like the first millennium.

    “Latin was not adopted because it was the vernacular of Rome but because it was the language of Empire—of govt and commerce.”

    Simply not true. Greek was the lingua franca, which is why it was originally used. Latin was adopted because it was the vernacular at Rome itself. There were no imperialist pretensions in the pre-Constantinian Christians.

    “The study of Latin grammar is a superb preparation for the study of philosophy. Further, pre-philosophic study must include the study of Literature, which introduces students to the human condition and the important questions of life, both of which are constant threads in Latin literature.”

    The liturgy cannot be burdened with such practical side-effects. If they happen, good, but they cannot be maintained as a raison d’etre for a given liturgical practice. It’s like the argument about altar boys leading to vocations. If they do, great. But we cant maintain their use (as in, opposed to using the ideal of true Acolytes) just for that side-effect.

  110. Mark says:

    “So …. How to assemble disparate pieces like these into a reasonably coherent picture?”

    I dont think there is a need to. We dont need to find or create some internally consistent meta-narrative because…different people had and have different ideas, do actions opposed to each other, even contradict themselves.

    It is impossible to ascribe personal “intent” to a group, which was really a collection of thousands of individuals with often contradictory intents. It is only if we admit something along the lines of scriptural inspiration that we could try to read an “authorial intent” into the texts. But they arent inspired scripture. They are the product of compromise, many different authors and revisions, and several possibly incompatible streams of thought coming together into a bunch of words on paper whose meaning is, in a very real sense, ambiguous, meaning somewhat different things to each person who contributed (and there were hundreds). It is a patchwork, not a seamless garment.

    The “authoritative” interpretation is thus by definition the one the authorities in the Church gave us and give us by their actions with reference to it. There is no “authentic meaning” hidden in the text yet to be unlocked or discovered, as that implies a personal intent or agency behind the text that a collective group simply doesnt have. But the way people speak, sloppily, it seems they attribute that personal intent to the Holy Spirit…when really these documents are not scripture. And especially not on non-dogmatic questions.

    I think the idea that the council fathers totally didnt intend the Novus Ordo and that the committee somehow “used” SC to hijack things…is silly. They had to get their authority somewhere. The Pope ultimately gave them delegation to create a new Mass, and then he and the bishops approved and accepted it when they did. So they were clearly complicit. Conspiratorial theories trying to put the blame on some scapegoat or mere comedy of errors make no sense. Of course, speaking of what “the council” or “council fathers” intended collectively is nonsense, as there is no collective intent. Each was an individual person with his own understanding and intent, and there were different “camps” among them with very different intents indeed.

    So even if they didnt all intend the Novus Ordo when writing SC (and, again, remember…it is impossible to ascribe personal “intent” to a group, which is really a collection of thousands of individual and often contradictory intents)…there is still no reason why the Church today should feel bound by it. It was the product of an almost dead generation, that could be totally discarded or ignored (like the unfulfilled plan for a new crusade promulgated by the Council of Vienne) by a Pope today who decided it wasnt helpful or useful.

    It is certainly not some sort of mandate from the Holy Spirit to change the liturgy in some uncertain way that we need to “figure out”. When God speaks, I’d hope it is more clearly than that!

  111. Mark,

    You of course are free to believe that SC provided no specific mandate that needs to be understood better, and to some extent I might like to agree.

    However, our Holy Father evidently thinks differently, the major theme of his papacy (as I understand it) being a more faithful implementation of the Council, surely including specifically in regard to the liturgy.

    So he apparently thinks it meant something then that’s worth doing now. Not understanding this precisely myself (and not being in a position to ask HH directly) I had thought you showed signs of being able to provide some elucidation.

    Ok. I’ll save the question for the next WDTPRS newcomer who shows some hint of promise.

  112. stigmatized says:

    how easy it would be to revise the novus ordo so that it flowed smoothly and in a reverent manner. it is just a matter of simplification. daily mass in the novus ordo should begin in silence without opening greetings by a lay person,protestant hymn and then meaningless opening remarks of priest. that is all so silly, and on a daily basis it becomes insane. the first thing one sees at mass is the performers being introduced…when really there should be silence to reflect on what one is about to do. the novus ordo mass should begin with the ministers kneeling at the foot of the altar in silence and all the rest of the people kneeling. this would be the penitential time. no words are necessary. the priest would then go to the altar and read the opening collect. the reading would be read from the midst of the people facing the altar and the psalm also, not from some box right next to the altar. the the priest would go to the same spot and, facing the people, read the gospel. then he would return to the altar and offer the gifts and say the eucharistic prayer facing eastward. at the end of the prayer the people would say amen and then he would break the bread in silence and turn and say the ecce agnus dei and the people would respond and then approach the altar to receive. the priest would then return to the altar and finally recite the closing prayer, turn to bless the people and then leave. there would be no opening or closing song allowed in the daily mass, and no remarks or homily of any kind. it would be kept as simple as possible. what is happening in churches everywhere is a daily spectacle unheard of in past times and still growing out of proportion with every microphone adjustment.

  113. stigmatized says:

    the novus ordo mass should be allowed to do what it was supposedly meant to do…to return the church to the earliest spirit of her worship…not to be a means by which priests and those they empower tower above others and express themselves endlessly while others watch in dismay. if it is not to be ‘allowed’ to do this then it is obvious that this wasn’t the intention of the 1970 reforms after all.

  114. TLH says:

    Mark said:
    “I think trads do too in their Fifties-ist aping. I happen to know from my experience in that community…that a greater percent than the general population have taken to wearing fedoras to church, shaving with straight-razors, smoking pipes, drinking absinthe, using sealing wax…and all sorts of other weird affected stuff.”

    What rubbish!

    Come to my parish and talk like that to some of the men here, some of whom, by the way, wear fedoras, shave with straight razors and smoke pipes, and tell them that they’re affected and see what you get…a re-arranged face I would bet. Some advice…get off your cloud!

  115. Mark says:

    “However, our Holy Father evidently thinks differently, the major theme of his papacy (as I understand it) being a more faithful implementation of the Council, surely including specifically in regard to the liturgy.”

    Fr. Ratzinger was at the council and surely had/has his own understanding of what it means. Lefebvre was there, and had his understanding. Bugnini had his. Ottiavani had his. Paul VI had his. Some of these were different, some downright contradictory to each other. See what I mean? There is no single “intent” ascribable to the documents that we need to de-code. The “true implementation of the council” is rainbow to be chased, but can never be arrived at.

    This Pope will do what he wants, future popes will do what they want…with or without invoking the name of the Council, which is really just a hermeneutical tactic anyway, not an objective reality. All texts are what we make of them. Especially when there is no single author who’s intentions can be invoked.

    “So he apparently thinks it meant something then that’s worth doing now.”

    Yes, he clearly does. And the next Pope might not.

    But trying to read things into the text itself as if we can discern the liturgical particulars it imagined when it didnt list many particulars…is ridiculous, as “it” doesnt exist beyond what’s written, and there was no single authorial intent…there were hundreds, some quite surely contradictory.

    Lefebvre imagined the TLM with maybe some vernacular propers. Ottiavani imagined something like the Mass of 1965. Bugnini imagined the Novus Ordo. Maybe at the time Ratzinger imagined something else, and now as Pope Benedict is trying to implement that.

    But to try to spin any of that as being the “true” or “real” meaning of the text…when texts dont have intents and there were hundreds of contributors each probably imagining something slightly (or not so slightly) different…is silly. Bugnini read the text, and saw a mandate for the Novus Ordo. Ratzinger saw something different. The only reason the latter’s is more authoritative is because he is now Pope and so can do what he wants…but at the time, Bugnini was empowered by Paul VI to make the authentic interpretation for that time.

    So you see how imagining some sort of “true meaning” of SC as if it intended some specific liturgy that we need to figure out…is honestly a ridiculous exercise.

    At most we could try to apply some of its stated principles. But as we have seen, no one can even agree on what that would look like. And we cant go back and ask the author because there wasnt one. There were many, and they (and their heirs) are the ones currently disagreeing! Heck, if Lefebvre had been elected Pope he could have “interpretted” SC as meaning just the TLM. Paul VI seemed to allow that it was the Novus Ordo. Benedict seems to see in it something like “the reform of the reform”.

    They all invoke the text, but that is a political move, a hermeneutic attempting to co-opt its perceived “authority”. Really it is what it is. There is no “real meaning” as if it was inspired by the Holy Ghost with something specific in mind. And the Pope, as Cardinal, admitted as much about councils.

    He clearly does see value in what HE thought the text SHOULD mean. But to argue that that is what it objectively “supposed to” mean…begs the question of who was doing the supposing! For the Pope himself, of course it’s what he is going to try to implement. But the next Pope might feel differently. And we are certainly free to disagree with the Pope’s decisions on this prudential matter (though not disobey). It is not like it is a De Fide issue. SC is not some utterance from the Oracle of Delphi that has a true meaning intended by God that we must figure out. It will mean whatever the Church in each pontificate interprets it as meaning until one of them (or a new council) finally sees no need any longer to invoke its authority to justify their liturgical decisions.

  116. Mark says:

    It’s like the US Constitution. It’s words on paper, written by a bunch of men together who probably didnt agree on it’s interpretation even in the first place but could nevertheless agree on an objective text because of the inherent ambiguity of language and how they, personally, viewed it or hoped it would be used…and all those men are dead now anyway so we cant ask them.

    Nevertheless, a group of officials is recognized as having authority to implement that text. Within this group there is much disagreement. Even on the Supreme Court, interpretation of the Constitution has changed over time and is split on the court even today.

    No one, strictly speaking, not even textualists…claim that they are really implementing anything like “authorial intent” because there was more than one author (and they may have disagreed) and because some interpretations are useful even if none at the original Constitutional Convention likely had it in mind (like the vast powers the federal government has taken under the “interstate commerce” clause). Others go totally all-out and read into it “implicitly” things like allowing abortion.

    It’s really all a great political word-game. How much of a fable are people willing to accept when generating new text from the markings on the paper? What is authoritative can only be based on action; using its own newly generated texts, what can the court convince people to DO by invoking the authority (a sociological/psychological phenomenon) of the original text of the Constitution. And that is the Law at the given time, whether we think it is good or bad.

    Sometimes there is much disagreement, because there is no “one true meaning” of a text, especially one with multiple (or dead) authors. It is only with Scripture, whose author is eternal and One, whom we can really say anything like that.

    For example, a law may be passed by a Congress. The courts may interpret it a certain way. Congress may accept that, or may issue a revised law to clarify if they believe (ie, a majority believes) that it should be being implemented differently. Or maybe this congress is fine with how the courts are putting it in practice, but then a new congress is elected and issues a clarification or just revokes the law entirely.

    Similar situation with Council documents and the Church. It is an interaction of texts in a complex textual system. The authoritative “interpretation” of a text at any given moment is the one that successfully invokes the authority of the original text to get people to concretely DO things.

  117. michigancatholic says:

    Mark, it’s not political. It’s not conservative nor is it progressive. The mass is led by the Holy Spirit, which leads through the Catholic Church. We made big mistakes because we weren’t listening clearly. (In fact, I will even go so far as to say, part of the time we weren’t listening to the Holy Spirit at all, but instead the zeitgeist. That’s run its course now. Now we have to, once again, listen to the Holy Spirit as He speaks through the Catholic Church.)

  118. Mark says:

    “The Holy Spirit speaks through the Church” is a truism and a thought-stopping-cliche that must be carefully theologically qualified.

    It’s like many Catholics who seem to be under the impression that the Holy Spirit picks the Pope in a conclave. But as Ratzinger himself said, “I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the pope…. I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined. There are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit would obviously not have picked.”

    Same thing with Councils and what they say. They can’t promulgate heresy. And of course everything ever is included in the plan of Providence. But otherwise, much of what the Pope and bishops say, they say as men. Men informed by grace, hopefully, and entrusted with passing on Revelation…but Revelation is over, and it is NOT to be thought that the Holy Spirit is directly setting the agenda for the Church or designing the liturgy at any given time, council or not.

    As the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Infallibility says:
    “It would be out of place to speak of infallibility in connection the opportuneness or the administration of necessarily changing disciplinary laws although, of course, Catholics believe that the Church receives appropriate Divine guidance in this and in similar matters where practical spiritual wisdom is required.” Which is to say, the guidance of grace, which can be ignored, as you point out. This would be given (and ignored) before the composing of any document. The document itself cannot be considered to be authored by the Holy Spirit, especially on matters not of faith and morals. Even in documents touching on faith and morals, “It need only be added here that not everything in a conciliar or papal pronouncement, in which some doctrine is defined, is to be treated as definitive and infallible. For example, in the lengthy Bull of Pius IX defining the Immaculate Conception the strictly definitive and infallible portion is comprised in a sentence or two; and the same is true in many cases in regard to conciliar decisions. The merely argumentative and justificatory statements embodied in definitive judgments, however true and authoritative they may be, are not covered by the guarantee of infallibility which attaches to the strictly definitive sentences — unless, indeed, their infallibility has been previously or subsequently established by an independent decision.” http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07790a.htm

    Sacrosanctum Consilium COULD BE totally thrown out by the Pope. Now, there may be use to keeping it, that’s for the Pope to decide. But it is not some inspiration of the Holy Spirit that we have to find the “true meaning” of and do manditorily.

  119. MichaelJ says:


    Your characterization of the motives to traditionalists is without merit, and is rather insulting.

  120. Ricky Vines says:

    For now we have SC even if it were written by Bruno Tattaglia; the conciliar fathers signed off to it – even if they were caught unawares. But I doubt that. So, second guessing that do mean squat. That’s the rule of the land – for now. We can have the LM available and we can have the JM too, afterall liturgy is a living entity. Cf. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWKZEGsfZZY

  121. Ricky Vines says:

    correction: don’t mean squat not do mean.

  122. Mark says:

    It does mean something though.

    It means we ARE allowed to imagine, hope for, pray for, work for, etc…a world where a Pope stops framing his agenda with reference to SC and Vatican II.

    And contrary to the neocon teacher’s-pet scrupulosity…we dont have to feel guilty about saying that. It isnt disobedience. It isnt “questioning the Spirit”. It isnt “being more Catholic than the Pope”. It is opposing the evils of bureaucratic insipidity when they can and should be opposed.

    Benedict can talk all he wants about a “hermeneutic of continuity”…but the fact is his whole outlook very much takes Vatican II (and the John Paul papacy) as its main point of reference, rather than the entire 2000 year history of the Church. The Middle Ages are treated as an “Other Time” that we can look at dispassionately, apologize for even, they arent “us” anymore…but the past 50 years are for some reason still a “Now” that we for some reason must be personally invested in.

    Well, perhaps that’s inevitable because that was the period of his own life and career, and Moderns seem to inevitably impose their own personal narrative on their whole philosophy of the world. But as someone born largely after all that madness, and who does try to take an objective view of history, that seems very petty and needless. The long labyrinthine thought-processes of a man who has lived his whole life in a bureaucracy. A mind Institutional to its core.

    If you read Church documents up to Vatican II, there is a remarkable timelessness. On the other hand, most of what has been produced in the past 50 years is already dated as soon as it left the press, but has created a huge entanglement of texts that all reference each other. Take a look at the Catechism. Some sections (on long resolved issues like Trinitarian theology and Christology)…do reference a wonderful spread of sources from throughout the centuries, though even there a disproportionate number of sources from the past century can be noticed. But then take a look at the footnotes on, say, the section about Ecclesiology. They’re almost all Vatican II!! That shouldnt just be left unquestioned, as if Vatican II is so definitive a vision of Church that it outweighs so massively all that went before.

    We ARE allowed to fight for a world where the destruction wrought by that war-traumatized generation and their insane spoiled children is allowed to slip into the past. Where people stop chasing the cognitively meaningless “real interpretation” of the text.

    What the Pope DOES in SC’s name may be the law of the land for now, but the text itself is not inasmuch as it does not require us individually to do anything, and certainly it cannot bind the Pope. If he wanted to ignore or discard, for example, the clause (one of the few specifics, and a horribly objectionable one at that) that says “The Hour of Prime is to be abolished”…he could. And I am saying (just in my humble opinion) he should.

    He can try to implement liturgical reforms by invoking the psychological authority SC carries, or he could openly over-turn it and try to implement reforms that way. I fear that he chooses the former instead of the latter because he himself is too thoroughly inculcated with that particular web of texts, with the Newspeak. That is his “thought-space” and he is going to play the game within it (a problem with Curial popes). I dont think he could even begin to imagine stepping outside it.

    Well, that is his decision and we shouldnt do anything to directly disobey that. But we certainly do not have to embrace that enthusiastically or act like Vatican II is some sort of divine game-plan for some indefinite era of time. You do not need to prove your loyalty by fatalistically getting on board, “drinking the kool-aid” as is said around here, even when your best instinct tells you something isnt right.

  123. Henry Edwards says:

    Mark: We ARE allowed to fight for a world where the destruction wrought by that war-traumatized generation and their insane spoiled children is allowed to slip into the past.

    A good indication of why forces for destruction of faith and worship — which have been with us always — gained the upper hand in the years following Vatican II.

    But I wonder if you might characterize yourself as a “Vatican II denier”. Not that you deny that Vatican II happened, but that it did anything good. So that the Church might be better off today if it had not happened?

  124. Mark says:

    Might the Church be better off today? Certainly it might be. We cant really know what the Popes would have done (or even which Popes would have been elected) had it not happened. But assuming that “Vatican II not happening” would have meant a continuation of, say, Pius XII style presentation…I think it very much would be better off.

    Which is not the same as saying it did “nothing” good, but that the good does not outweigh the bad. Certainly I think there must be some good in there. I dunno…the re-emphasis of the Eastern Churches (though that had been happening for some time already and didnt necessarily need a council). The rapproachment with the Orthodox (as long as someone, soon, starts hammering out actual semantical clarifications instead of endless dialogue wherein we still appear to disagree). Stuff about modern means of communication maybe (though, again, did we really need a council to say that?).

    So, yes, the Church might have been better off. But I might feel the same way about, say, the Fifth Lateran Council which was really quite an unsavory affair also.

    And there is nothing wrong with that.

  125. RBrown says:


    Sorry for the delay. I have been very busy.

    1. The mass of the late Middle Ages was not influenced by Eastern liturgy. And so any concept of reform by Dom Gueranger was not oriented toward the East but rather toward restoring what was truly Western.

    High mass at Fontgombault is replete with symbols, gestures, etc., but none of them are present because of any Eastern liturgy.

    2. It is of course true that the Greg Rite is closer to Eastern Rites than to anything in Protestantism, but that doesn’t mean that the Greg Rite was influenced by Eastern Rites.

    3. A one year cycle would be an improvement, but in the Greg Rite the Sunday Gospel is repeated on any succeeding Ferial day, thus re-enforcing it in one‘s memory.

    4. Actually, the use of Latin liturgy provides a platform for a relationship with the Holy See than is not hyper-centralized (which is by and large juridical). This is because the relationship depends less on law and is thus more organic.

    In fact, the more vernacular the liturgy, the more juridical the relationship with Rome has to be.

    5. Subsidiarity (I prefer St Thomas’ phrase “negative governance“) existed very comfortably in the 13th century ith Latin liturgy. During the Counter Reformation the papacy took a more active role in the governance of dioceses.

    BTW, I see you mention Pius XII favorably. I don\’t know of any pope in history who was so prone to hyper-centralization.

    Greek was the lingua franca, which is why it was originally used. Latin was adopted because it was the vernacular at Rome itself.

    If Latin had been the vernacular in Rome, then there would have been no need of a lingua franca, which is a language that lets people of different vernacular tongues communicate (e.g., English in international aviation). In fact, Greek was spoken only by the Roman aristocracy–the great example being Suetonius\’ account of the assassination of Caesar.

    Further, the switch made from Greek to Latin in the 3rd century was more than just a matter of the language in Rome. As I noted earlier, it was the language of Empire-and that includes present day France, Spain, and certain parts of Germany.

    7. The consequences of Latin liturgy are not “side effects”. The priest (and every believer) is called to a life whose source transcends time and place. The study of philosophy, even though it operates under the limits of reason, is ordered toward that same source. The same can be said for the study of literature, which sometimes operates under the limits of reason.

    The study of literature and philosophy is useful to the study of theology simply because they are Liberal (free–studied for their own sake) rather than Servile arts (useful–studied for the sake of something else).

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