NYT Op-Ed on 40 years of the Novus Ordo

From the op-ed page of Hell’s Bible comes this from a name that some of you will recognize



Published: November 29, 2009


WALKING into church 40 years ago on this first Sunday of Advent, many Roman Catholics might have wondered where they were. The priest not only spoke English rather than Latin, but he faced the congregation instead of the tabernacle; laymen took on duties previously reserved for priests; folk music filled the air. The great changes of Vatican II had hit home.

All this was a radical break [Some might say "rupture".] from the traditional Latin Mass, codified in the 16th century at the Council of Trent. For centuries, that Mass served as a structured sacrifice with directives, called "rubrics," that were not optional. This is how it is done, said the book. As recently as 1947, Pope Pius XII had issued an encyclical on liturgy that scoffed at modernization; he said that the idea of changes to the traditional Latin Mass "pained" him "grievously."

Paradoxically, however, it was Pius himself who was largely responsible for the momentous changes of 1969. It was he who appointed the chief architect of the new Mass, Annibale Bugnini, to the Vatican’s liturgical commission in 1948.

Bugnini was born in 1912 and ordained a Vincentian priest in 1936. Though Bugnini had barely a decade of parish work, Pius XII made him secretary to the Commission for Liturgical Reform. In the 1950s, Bugnini led a major revision of the liturgies of Holy Week. As a result, on Good Friday of 1955, congregations for the first time joined the priest in reciting the Pater Noster, and the priest faced the congregation for some of the liturgy.

The next pope, John XXIII, named Bugnini secretary to the Preparatory Commission for the Liturgy of Vatican II, in which position he worked with Catholic clergymen and, surprisingly, some Protestant ministers on liturgical reforms. In 1962 he wrote what would eventually become the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the document that gave the form of the new Mass.

Many of Bugnini’s reforms were aimed at appeasing non-Catholics, and changes emulating Protestant services were made, including placing altars to face the people instead of a sacrifice toward the liturgical east. As he put it, "We must strip from our … Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren, that is, for the Protestants." (Paradoxically, the Anglicans who will join the Catholic Church as a result of the current pope’s outreach will use a liturgy that often features the priest facing in the same direction as the congregation.)

How was Bugnini able to make such sweeping changes? In part because none of the popes he served were liturgists. Bugnini changed so many things that John’s successor, Paul VI, sometimes did not know the latest directives. The pope once questioned the vestments set out for him by his staff, saying they were the wrong color, only to be told he had eliminated the week-long celebration of Pentecost and could not wear the corresponding red garments for Mass. The pope’s master of ceremonies then witnessed Paul VI break down in tears.  [I am the one who brought that story to the internet.  I heard this story from a priest, one of the papal MC’s, who was an eye-witness to the event. Second hand, granted, but also from someone who wasn’t a fan of Ecclesia Dei and a resurgence of the older form of Mass either.]

Bugnini fell from grace in the 1970s. Rumors spread in the Italian press that he was a Freemason, which if true would have merited excommunication.  The Vatican never denied the claims, and in 1976 Bugnini, by then an archbishop, was exiled to a ceremonial post in Iran. He died, largely forgotten, in 1982.

But his legacy lived on. Pope John Paul II continued the liberalizations of Mass, allowing females to serve in place of altar boys and to permit unordained men and women to distribute communion in the hands of standing recipients. Even conservative organizations like Opus Dei adopted the liberal liturgical reforms.

But Bugnini may have finally met his match in Benedict XVI, a noted liturgist himself who is no fan of the past 40 years of change. Chanting Latin, wearing antique vestments and distributing communion only on the tongues (rather than into the hands) of kneeling Catholics, Benedict has slowly reversed the innovations of his predecessors. And the Latin Mass is back, at least on a limited basis, in places like Arlington, Va., where one in five parishes offer the old liturgy.

Benedict understands that his younger priests and seminarians – most born after Vatican II – are helping lead a counterrevolution. They value the beauty of the solemn high Mass and its accompanying chant, incense and ceremony. Priests in cassocks and sisters in habits are again common; traditionalist societies like the Institute of Christ the King are expanding.

At the beginning of this decade, Benedict (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) wrote: "The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is closed in on itself." He was right: 40 years of the new Mass have brought chaos and banality into the most visible and outward sign of the church. Benedict XVI wants a return to order and meaning. So, it seems, does the next generation of Catholics.

Kenneth J. Wolfe writes frequently for traditionalist Roman Catholic publications.

I am surprised that NYT published this.

I can easily imagine the vitriolic responses that people will send.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Wow! What a beautifully written piece. And I hope not very offensive to those who would be “vitriolic” in response.

    Likewise, thank you again, Father Z, for the 3 podcasts on the 40th Anniversary. I listened to them last night, and thought they were beautiful.

    What impressed me most is the fact that you (like Wolfe above) simply lay out the facts and leave the judgment to the listener.

  2. Dear Father:
    Thank you for bringing this article to my attention. You have “made” my Thanksgiving weekend. I lived as an adult through this entire period and my wife and I raised our seven children during the ’70s and ’80s. We were considered pariahs and fools by “friends”, and priests and others in our parish experiences. I am glad that Mr. Wolfe also mentions the liberalizing influences of John Paul II (just read about Assisi I and Assisi II in other articles and realize he is being considered for sainthood). On the positive side, our Catholicism today is deeper and stronger because we had to read and study it, meet with informed Catholics who thought as we did, and generally TO FIGHT FOR OUR FAITH.

  3. KAS says:

    I enjoyed this!

  4. Melania says:

    This article provides a nice synopsis of some history I was unaware of. Quite enlightening. I am amazed this was printed in the NY Times. Thank you for pointing it out.

  5. Sandy says:

    What an amazing article and printed in the NYT of all places! Yes, it is a good synopsis. Let us hope that those who would be apoplectic about an article such as this are disappearing.

  6. Doc Angelicus says:

    Good synopsis but for a few imprecise points. I was living in the NY archdiocese in the peri-Novus-Ordo period. Prior to the Missal of Paul VI, Mass was already being celebrated in English, in gymnasia, with guitar music, and strange practices, such as having all the Holy Communion kids (I was one in 1967) gathered around the altar to sing “Sons of God.” I remember one young lady with a guitar looking amazingly like Janis Joplin, same kind of hair and attire. So, when the new Missal was finally issued, we were already indoctrinated with the finer points of the liturgical dispositions of those who craved that sort of thing.

    It’s interesting how they anticipated the changes and implemented them far ahead of it becoming officially permissible to do so, and resist now any attempt to familiarize their people with the new translation. Those who embrace the new translation would do well to learn from history and start training people now.

    Speaking of which, I remember in the transitional period that the new disposable holy books (missalettes) had the Creed saying “I (We) believe in one God…” and then later one had “We (I) believe in one God…” and then finally “We believe in one God…”

    I also remember the regular cans of tunafish being 8 oz and slowly became 7 7/8 oz, 7 3/4 oz and so on down to the present 5 oz, all while the price remained the same or even increased. And the regular can of coffee was 16 oz, now they’re down to 10.

    A coincidence? I don’t know, I think the same sorts of folks are behind these slow transitions. It’s a conspiracy I tell you!

  7. M J Ryan says:

    I have made the decision to no longer attend the ordinary form of the mass. I can go to a 6pm in Waterbury (over an hour away) or I can go to an SSPX chapel in Ridgefield about 30 minutes away.

    Why? The Hartford dio. no longer allow communion on the tongue, it has to be in the hand due to swine flu. But of course, the pastor shakes hands with everyone aw we come in and hugs and kisses his favorite parishiners. (Samething on the way out too.) But I can’t receive on the tongue because I am the leaper. Good bye and good ridence.

    The pastor is well over 70 and I doubt he will stay once the new prayers are enacted. The biological solution will set in because he has generated zero vocations in his 12 years at my former parish.

    I am sorry if this is a rant but my real point is the attack on the Church continues. And I don’t know what the solution is.

  8. FrCharles says:

    I shall now add “counter-revolutionary” to be favorite self-attributions.

  9. Fr_Sotelo says:

    MJ Ryan:

    I don’t think you are ranting. You have a right to be upset. I am sorry to hear that the local clergy are not allowing the option of traditional Communion as they should.

    However, it would still be a good idea to inform the pastor and the archdiocese of the letter which Fr. Z published from the Vatican to that person who asked about Communion on the tongue. There must be others who feel the same as you do and would benefit if the powers that be would take precautions in the liturgy the correct way.

  10. Fr_Sotelo says:


    In Spanish, that would make you a “contra” as in the folks who fought the Sandinistas in Nicaragua LOL.

  11. Supertradmom says:

    Because of ill health of two members of our family, we have not been able to travel to the Latin Mass for several months. We have been regularly to the Novus Ordo, which is very painful for me. I do have one question. Is there any way that the Vatican can reverse the decision on “altar babes”? The Mass we attend always has girls instead of boys serving. They wear silver shoes and little silver head bands and look like Christmas angels in a Nativity pageant. I guess that is slightly better than old tennis shoes. I cannot imagine the confusion this innovation has caused, as girls grow up thinking somehow that they can “serve at the altar”. I cannot talk about this in my parish, as the people love it and a local priest who tried to ban the girls was verbally crucified by his congregation and those in the nearly towns.

    Was this a Bugnini idea, or a John Paul II idea? The rupture in the lower levels of priestly formation-acolyte, etc., should not have been changed.

  12. Supertradmom says:

    Wow, I have a mismodification-the rupture should be changed-the lower rites should not have been changed-sorry.

  13. Rellis says:

    I am Facebook friends with Ken. Here is what I wrote on his wall:

    I enjoyed the piece, and it’s great that it got in the NY Times. However, a couple of observations/criticisms:

    1. Vernacular and ad orientem did not magically pop up in Advent of 1969. They were gradually introduced from Inter Oecumenici on. I suppose this could be poetic license…. See More

    2. You imply that the NOM does not have rubrics. They do–they’re simply observed in the breach.

    3. I think it overstates things to say that Bugnini “wrote” Sacrosanctum Concilium. Also, it’s paradoxical to say that the Consilium went beyond S.C., and that S.C. was written by Bugnini. One or the other has to be true.

    4. Rather than shadowy accusations of freemasonry, I think we can use Ockham’s Razor on Bugnini’s exile: the forces of Tradition finally got their feet under them, and began the slow counter-revolution that we’re finally beginning to enjoy widely. Also, the fact that an accusation was not denied is not proof the accusation is true. I could accuse you of being a Smurf, but that doesn’t make you one if you fail to deny it.

    5. You assume ad orientem is normative in the NOM rubrics. I know this is normative in practice, but someone who didn’t know any better might think it’s a mandatory feature from your op-ed. Ditto for Latin, communion on the tongue, old vestments, etc.

  14. Prof. Basto says:

    I find it painful to read this.

    It is all true, of course, and it is good that the record be set straight, but still, it is painful to review those facts, to see how easily the Church of Rome embarked on this huge mistake, that cost so much.

    The harm that was done to the authority of the Church as a teacher to the Catholic people was immense: the Liturgy of centuries had changed, and even doctrine was appearing to change (that’s what the promoters of an hermeneutic of rupture made the Christian people believe: that because the Council had decided this and that, old doctrines were abandoned and replaced with new ones).

    If everything is subject to change, if everything depends only on legal positivism – on the command of the lawful authority – that decides the form of the Liturgy, and even, as it then appeared, the beliefs that make up Catholic docrine, then everything was mundane, there was nothing transcendental about it. The Church of Rome itself seemed to display its total lack of reverence for a form of worship that had developed over the ages and had been treated with reverence in the past.

    Given that atmosphere, it is easy to understand why and how so many were confounded and left the Holy Church, and how, for a multitude of others, the Magisterium of the Church was no longer something of great importance: after all, it seemed that, at least in matters not touching a few nuclear points, the magisterium was not unchangeable or Divinely inspired, but resulted from changeable decisions, such as the recent ones promulgated by the latest Council, as interpreted with the lens of an hermeneutic of rupture.

    Liturgy itself seemed not to be of great importance, given the wide variety of experiments that were conducted, and the fact that the Church herself seemed to want to distance herself from the “misticism” of the past. There was, and there still remains, in the majority of places, an atmosphere of less reverence, compared to the paradigm of centuries old Catholic tradition, and also compared to the tradition of the Eastern Churches.

    Of course, any true Catholic knows that the Church cannot self destruct. The gates of Hell shall not prevail.

    But the Church indeed seemed to be on the course of destruction, on the road to becoming like a protestant community. Now we see the begginings of a restoration of Catholic tradition under good Pope Benedict. But grave and serious damage has been done. The reconstruction will be difficult.

    The gates of Hell? Well, they haven’t prevailed, and we knew in advance that they wouldn’t. The Lord Himself gave us that assurance. But we cannot forget that those 40 years of confusion, in which the Church seemed to kneel before the world did an immense harm to the fundamental principle of the Church’s mission in this Earth: the salvation of souls.

    Many souls were confounded. Many countries and communities were in the pre-Vatican II days Catholic devotion and piety were at the center of life are now faced with indifferentism towards religion, or, at least, with an weakened Faith.

    That is why the recollection of this anniversary is so bitter. It was one of the biggest disciplinary mistakes in the History of the Church, and the Church’s supreme ecclesiastical authority itself is to blame, for the careless and reckless way with which it dealt with the great patrimony it was supposed to safeguard to future generations: Catholic tradition.

  15. Oleksander says:

    New York Times!? wow, credit to them

  16. Doubtful Thomas says:

    M J: Check out St. Mary’s in Norwalk. From what you post, it seems that it might be at a reasonable distance for you.

  17. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    I was a child then, but I had made my First Communion two years earlier. I remember my Grandmothers crying when their churches were “modernized” and one of my grandfathers telling me it was like a Protestant church now!.

    It took a long time to register with me. What do children do, we do as we are told, (back then at least we did). My younger sister and brother DO NOT SHARE the same faith as I do. Missing Mass on Sunday or Holy Days is a mortal sin, for them, an inconvenience. I at the age of 50 still tremble at confession, no idea of whether my siblings have gone since their marriages.

    Oh, my parents tried to instill in them, what had taken root in me… but in our new parish, everything “old” was discarded. Only the retired Monseigneur prevented many “treasures” from being discarded. He kept many of them in his rooms at the Rectory.

    When he finally died, and the priests and staff had rotated once or twice, these treasures were brought out, and are being used once more in the enlarged church, that is slowing reverting back into being a Catholic appearing Church once more.

    No, Advent of 1969, was not a MAJOR change, as the reporting in the NYT might lead some to believe. It still took many, many more years for all the changes to occur, and even then, you could still find parishes that “did not go with the flow.”

  18. shane says:

    The ‘quote’ from Bugnini is grossly distorted from the original:


  19. vox borealis says:

    I’m not sure why anyone is surprised this made it into the NYT. Rather, this story is perfectly in keeping with their (and their readership’s) view of the Catholic church:

    1. It is run by a bunch of old, out of touch popes.
    2. Vatican II was really about change and rupture
    3. Vatican II was really about changing the mass
    4. John Paul II furthered change (read: “good change”) by allowing altar girls, etc
    5. Pope Benedict is a conservative reactionary trying to turn back the clock

    Sure, the author sees the change as “bad” and Benedict as a hero, which the Times/Times readers will not agree with. But the basic narrative and message fits their perception: there is no continuity between pre-1969 and post-1969, 1969-2006 was an era of change (and “hope” and “progress”), Benedict is against change (and thus against hope and progress and love and forgiveness and women and the real message of Jesus and…), and papal infallibility is silly (because the popes don’t even know what their own liturgical celebrations entail).

  20. Mitchell NY says:

    Returning to ad orientem posture for all Masses would greatly eliminate many of the other issues always being discussed. This one simple act would prevent the “personality” of the Priest from coming to the forefront of every Mass. Perhaps then they will give up trying to entertain us. This is the only time I will reference a Priest having “his back to us” as a way to avoid looking at his frontal, and expressions on his face as he addresses the congregation during prayer. If this can occur then yes I would prefer to look at this back, then over his head, ultimately toward the Lord and Eastward direction. This is the single most needed change that can be mandated almost immediately with some Cathechis. The rest will follow. Disengaging the Priest from the people during the liturgical action will allow the perceprtion to build that it is the Church’s perogative on how Mass is said and not lay peoples’. When we feel too connected to the Priest, we feel compelled to tell him our opinions or even blatantly order him to do such and such. It is not a healthy dialogue or relationship. I am curious, what page in the NYT did this appear? Will readers get there before their next subway stop?

  21. Gabriella says:

    Good article, but Wolfe writes: ‘Rumors spread in the Italian press that he was a Freemason, which if true would have merited excommunication. The Vatican never denied the claims …’

    True, a few groups considered this claim to be without foundation and the Vatican newspaper ‘Osservatore Romano’ did deny this claim on October 10, 1976. However, it was later confirmed that Bugnini was a Freemason. His name appears in Mino Pecorelli’s register of Massonic members – application date: April 23, 1963 – member code number: 1365/75, code name: BUAN.

  22. Re: altar girls

    I keep telling you folks that this was not new, and in fact, I believe that “custom” was cited in JPII’s permission for the practice.

    My mother went to an all-girl’s Catholic school before Vatican II was even a gleam in anyone’s eye, and she was an altar girl back then. Whenever the boys from the boys’ school didn’t show up, the girl sacristans had to be acolytes at the girls’ school Mass. There were many girls’ schools where they almost never had boy servers, I believe.

    So quit blaming JPII, and start blaming Pius or Leo or whoever really did start it. Or better yet, blame the boy acolytes who kept sloughing off and made the practice seem like a good idea.

  23. James Locke says:

    Third ot last paragraph, my Church is one of those Churches in Arlington VA that offers the old mass every sunday! WOOOOT I love my diocese.

  24. robtbrown says:


    Pecorelli was assassinated in 1979


  25. I suppose frequent communion could be what’s to blame for girl acolytes before Vatican II. If the priest only had to communicate himself, he wouldn’t have needed an acolyte at a school or convent Mass, because he wouldn’t have needed anybody to hold a paten.

    Bad frequent communion! Bad! Bad!

    Seriously, though, it goes to show that even good liturgical practices which are helpful to souls can have unintended consequences. Change works, but you have to put thought into it and you have to train people on how to deal with the other issues that become involved.

  26. JonM says:

    This is a solid article.

    I agree with others that one point of improvement might be the slide that was occurring prior to the new mass, however it is unclear to me how prevalent abuses were (i.e., were abuses typically only in cities or had the spirit of innovation infected the countryside as well?).

    While this piece made it into print mostly likely due to vox borealis’s theory (that Times readers can sip their $8 high fructose corn syrup drink while scoffing at Pope Benedict), I don’t see Mr. Wolfe sharing in this condescension. Indeed, I see him if anything lamenting the loss in authentic Catholic culture.

    Since it came up, I suppose I will add my opinion. It was a mistake to allow for altar girls especially because Pope John Paul II had closed the argument on female ordination. Telling girls that they can be servers confuses the point and also muddles the dual role of altar serving (ehem, everyone…VOCATIONS). If you are a 14 year old boy and serve with a 14 year old girl, the way biological clocks work make it such that the boy can become very distracted and quickly lose interest in celibacy, even if it is in the most holy service possible.

    That girls were serving before John Paul II’s allowance is besides the fact. Such would have been insubordinate and could (should) have been punished. But lest a reader think that I am party to any bash fest of John Paul II, let me clear say that I am not taking jabs at the late pope. In my opinion (and we know those three words can be dangerous), he was a great man who inherited a near anarchy. With that said, I think at times he let the world guide his decision making (Assisi, the constant cow towing to a certain other religion were mistakes) and discipline was lost in some places. I think there should be a long wait before pushing for his canonization.

  27. Athelstan says:

    A fine column, and remarkable to see it in the Times. They must have had a momentary lapse of (un)reason.

    I do agree with Rellis on one quibble: “In 1962 he wrote what would eventually become the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the document that gave the form of the new Mass.” Bugnini had input, but much of what he wanted did not make it into SC.

  28. JonM says:

    I want to add something.

    The story of Pope Paul VI crying after understanding of just how far the spirit of change was going (eliminating Pentecost week and its vestments) reminds us that he was a very tragic figure; one who truly envisioned bringing together all of Christianity and a world at peace erred along the way.

    For some reason, this story is especially poignant to me and evokes great sympathy for the man. I think he is very worthy of our prayers.

  29. Athelstan says:

    “Bad frequent communion! Bad! Bad!”

    Take it up with St. Pius X.

  30. Joker Phinn says:

    “(Paradoxically, the Anglicans who will join the Catholic Church as a result of the current pope’s outreach will use a liturgy that often features the priest facing in the same direction as the congregation.)”

    Actually, the Anglicans likeliest to enter the Catholic Church do not use a liturgy where the priest faces the congregation. High church Anglo-Catholics face away from the congregation. The reason is that they did not imbibe the ecumenism of the Vatican II misery. Especially in England, where the Roman Catholics will endure hand-wringing as these Anglo-Catholics have been insular, and have retained older forms of the liturgy.

  31. Tradster says:

    Returning to ad orientem would be the immediate death knell for womynpriests. The inability to face and perform to their “audiences” would remove their incentive to be up there, and they would cease clamoring and agitating for female ordination.

  32. Oneros says:

    Paul VI apparently said on the introduction of the Novus Ordo: “we lose the discourse of the Christian centuries, we become almost intruders and desecrators [intrusi e profani] in the literary space of sacred expression, and we will thus lose a great portion of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual fact that is the Gregorian Chant. We will thus have, indeed, reason for being sad, and almost for feeling lost: with what will we replace this angelic language? It is a sacrifice of inestimable price.”

    But he went ahead with it anyway, because he was apparently under the impression that Vatican II, even in it’s purely disciplinary and prudential decrees, was Inspired by the Holy Spirit like some sort of oracle, when really, infallibility for both Pope and Council is merely a negative protection (ie, heresy cannot be positively taught), not a positive guarantee that anything valuable will be said or that the disciplinary decrees will be prudent, etc.

    As Cardinal Ratzinger said:
    “Not every valid council in the history of the Church has been a fruitful one; in the last analysis many of them have been just a waste of time”

    But the post-conciliar Popes apparently feel “bound” by the Council, though they arent. They have just as much power to overturn any of it’s documents or results as another Council would.

    There seems to be a superstitious attitude surrounding the authority of The-Most-Recent-Council vis a vis subsequent Popes, or else an unnecessarily Democratic attitude…

    There is no other way to explain men like Paul VI and Benedict XVI, who clearly regret many of the changes…defending them and moving ahead with them so fatalistically…

  33. becket1 says:

    M J Ryan, don’t feel like your the only one. I usually now go to an Orthodox Church for Vesper service and an Eastern Catholic, UGCC, for the Divine Liturgy. Today was an exception I went to a Novus Ordo Mass with my Mom, since she is an EMHC, and of the spirit of Vatican 2 generation. Well they had three altar girls, no altar boys. I forgot they are now called “Altar Servers”, can’t be sexist. Not to familiar music (catholic contemporary), no bells or smells at all. I should have bought my replica liberty bell so I could ring it at the proper times when the body and blood are raised. The altar girls seemed to be lost through most of the Mass. The priest had to get their attention several times. I guess priests don’t do the altar boy, sorry server, training anymore like in the past. A lay person had to come up an light the Advent Wreath, since the altar girls were confused. We had some nice guys collecting money, one was wearing sweat pants and a t-shirt, and most of the others wearing jeans. Pretty much 99.9% of the parishinors received in the hand, because my mother ,who is a EMHC, told me that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, prefers communion in the hand vs tongue do to the H1N1 virus. The priests may get saliva on his finger tips. This pandemic may be permanent, since no one is sure when it will end (sounds like Lucifer’s work to me). But the best part was the Mass couldn’t start on time, because the altar girls, sorry servers, there I go again, were late. All brought to me by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC parish). Look them up when you get a chance.

  34. Mike says:

    I thought the article was a good one. However, “even conservative organizations like Opus Dei adopted the liberal reforms.”

    This is a confused statement. While I have heard that the Founder of OD received permisson to say the Tridentine Mass until his death in ’75, the rest of the Work adopted the reforms with a traditional bias, ie, follow the rubrics, no Father Johnny Carson, thanks. Lots of Latin. Intense interior life is at the core of their spirituality. I guess if you see being faithful to the Holy Father as priority, the rest follows.

    BTW, yes, we have altar girls in our parish too. Yes, they are clueless. While that has nothing to do with their being girls, might it have something to do with the careless spirit of what many priests allow in their parishes?

    God Bless Benedict XVI!!

  35. Henry Edwards says:

    Rellis: I think it overstates things to say that Bugnini “wrote” Sacrosanctum Concilium. Also, it’s paradoxical to say that the Consilium went beyond S.C., and that S.C. was written by Bugnini. One or the other has to be true.

    Actually, there’s no contradiction between

    — the assumption that Bugnini and his associates II drafted in advance of Vatican II the document that the Council Fathers approved as Sacrosanctum Concilium, and

    — the fact that he and his associates as members of the Consilium found that in the changed climate following Vatican II it was possible to go much further in reforming the liturgy than they had hoped or dared to suggest in writing the document.

  36. dcs says:

    Whenever the boys from the boys’ school didn’t show up, the girl sacristans had to be acolytes at the girls’ school Mass. There were many girls’ schools where they almost never had boy servers, I believe.

    They should not have been serving at the altar – women were allowed to give the responses if necessary, but from the nave and not from the sanctuary.

  37. chonak says:

    @Joker Phinn: The article agrees with you. Facing “in the same direction as the congregation” means that the priest and the congregation face toward the same direction: that is, ad orientem.

  38. For the last several years, I have often had the chance to visit a defunct seminary and to peruse the contents of its library. The place is full of treasures (breviaries, antiphonaries, altar missals, books on canon law, etc.) that have not been touched in thirty or forty years. Most of them saved by people who knew that they were valuable and shouldn’t be thrown away and were donated to whatever local trad group was around.

    Whenever I page through these ancient tomes, I often see reminders of what once was: a holy card, a spiritual bouquet. Those things remind me of what we have lost and what are we now slowly regaining. The article is right in saying that the Novus Ordo Missae was a radical departure, but it was only the end of the line for what had been a series of reforms thath ad been taking place since the late 1950s and the reign of Pope Pius XII.

    The current restoration in the Church is something that is sorely needed. After forty years of whole sale destruction, it is time tob irng out those treasured tomes and to restore what should never have been lost in the m name of religious renewal.

  39. I really wish that “quote” from Bugnini would be accurately translated and cited!

    Gli studiosi penseranno a mettere in luce le fonti bibliche e liturgiche da cui derivano o alle quali sdi ispirano i nuovi testi, elaborati col cesello dai Gruppi di studio del “Consilium”. E diciamo pure che non di rado il lavoro è proceduto “cum timore et tremore” nel dover sacrificare espressioni e concetti tanto cari, e ormai per la lunga consuetudine familiari. Come non rimpiangere per esempio quel “ad sanctam matrem Ecclesiam catholicam atque apostolicam revocare dignetur” della settima orazione?

    E tuttavia l’amore delle anime e il desiderio di agevolare in ogni modo il cammino dell’unione ai fratelli separati, rimovendo pietra che possa costituire pur lontamente un inciampo o motivo di disagio, hanno indotto la Chiesa anche a quei penosi sacrifici.

    The last part is translated better as: “Love for souls and the desire to facilitate in every way the road to union with our separated brothers, by removing anything that could possibly constitute an impediment or make them feel ill at ease, has induced the Church to make even these painful sacrifices.” The change being referred to was the change in language of the Good Friday prayers, which (as the 1962 liturgy attests to) uses the terms “heretics” and “schismatics”.

  40. Maltese says:

    Apart from a nearly two-thousand year liturgical tradition (with parts of it deriving from Apostolic times) being placed in the waste basket, along with its commensurate artistic heritage (how many Mazarts or Palestrinas have been generated from the Novus Ordo, btw?) The most horrible aspect–the most revolting and heart-wrenching aspect, is that millions of souls have been lost for all eternity due to the hubris of a passel of modernists who wrought these changes.

    I am also skeptical with the impression the writer leaves that Paul VI was somehow tormented by certain liturgical changes. Paul VI himself said he wanted to assimilate as much of protestant worship into the new liturgy (cf. http://www.latinmassmagazine.com/stickler.asp ) and allowed six protestant “observers” to help concoct the new mass.

  41. Norah says:

    I am surprised that NYT published this.

    I can easily imagine the vitriolic responses that people will send.

    Perhaps that’s why they published it.

  42. EnoughRope says:

    becket1 : I know some great(AWESOME) Irish M.S.C.’s What is your problem with the order?

  43. becket1 says:




    Do Roman Catholic priests normally bow down in front of a table of food. Looks like a little Buddhism mixed in.

    Never seen that altar arrangement when I was an altar boy in an MSC parish back in the early seventies.

    Ask your friends if they will ever offer the extra-ordinary form of the Holy Mass.

    Then you will see fully my problem with this order!. They are all Novus Ordo, spirit of Vatican 2, with not a strip of traditional Catholicism left in their worship, or preaching, like they were in the past. More Lutheran style than Roman Catholic.

  44. becket1 says:

    Now compare the MSC with the Institute of Christ the King and there Masses in the missions. No Buddhism incorperated. Just the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.


  45. Kate says:

    M J Ryan –

    Even though the Hartford Archdiocese has stated that the faithful should receive in the hand to avoid H1N1 transmission, I continue to receive on the tongue (and I’m feeling stronger about it now since the post on Fr. Z’s website about this issue). I go to many churches in the Harford area, and I have only had a problem once, with an extra-ordinary minister of the Eucharist. One other problem happened to my daughter; at one Mass, the Eucharist was forced into her hand with the words, “We do it this way now!” Again, I believe that was an extra-ordinary minister of the Eucharist or a deacon, not a priest.

    My point is simply this: It is possible to recieve on the tongue in the Archdiocese of Hartford. You may encounter a some resistance, but if you want to stay “at home”, you should be able to do so.

    Also, depending on where you live, St. Mary’s in New Britain has a Latin Mass at 4:00 on Sundays.

  46. “I find it painful to read this.”

    Me too. I heard from two priests yesterday alone about the NYT piece, one of them a well-credentialed writer and lecturer, and we all had the same concerns.

    The writer overstates the role of Bugnini in liturgical reform before the Council. It is true that he was in a key position of influence during the Holy Week reforms of Pius XII, but the effect of that influence was minimal compared to later years. The reforms in the 1950s were driven more by Pius himself, not to mention such scholars as Dom Cabrol, and the great liturgical centers such as Maria Laach, than by a relative newcomer to the scene. Bugnini was virtually unknown before the late 1940s, by which time the Liturgical Movement had already gained considerable momentum.

    As to what happened after the Council, with the ascension of Paul VI to the Throne of Peter, that’s another matter.

  47. Gail F says:

    Many people are forgetting something important here — THEOLOGY changed, not just the form of the mass. Of course, the mass reflects theology, and vice versa. But there is no reason that NO masses (according to the rubrics) can’t be reverent and centered on God rather than on “the assembly.” The reason they’re that was is theologians who wanted to make them all about the assembly. I know, I’ve read the theology, I’ve studied with professors who teach it and who are alarmed at things like Eucharistic adoration exactly because it takes away from concentration on the assembly. It’s all part of a whole, and while addressing the mass would go a long way toward fixing the whole, the theology MUST be addressed as well.

  48. EnoughRope says:

    becket1 : If those priests are practicing Buddhism then shame on them. Second of all, I’m fairly sure you have never met all of the MSC priests, so lets try not to generalize an order based on some bad experiences. Third of all, priests are not required to celebrate the extraordinary form. I know of one MSC who occasionally does. If they were and they didn’t, I would agree it was wrong. Third of all, in regards to the picture of the priest bowing before the food. Check your Augustine on this one in regards to the honoring of cultures in light of Christianity. But, I think it is important to note that a protestant will look at a picture of Catholics kneeling before the Blessed Mother and assume worship. You are tossing around the word worship in exactly the same fashion for which we chastise Protestants. One or two wacky priests doesn’t make a bad order. Hell 5 or 6 doesn’t make a bad order. Take a chill pill and realize that sometimes the “us against them mentality” may be a little out of place to describe all MSC priests.

  49. robtbrown says:

    The story of Pope Paul VI crying after understanding of just how far the spirit of change was going (eliminating Pentecost week and its vestments) reminds us that he was a very tragic figure; one who truly envisioned bringing together all of Christianity and a world at peace erred along the way..
    Comment by JonM

    No doubt that Paul VI fancied himself a 20th cent St Paul, an Apostle to non Catholics, but the road to ruin is paved with good intentions. Saul of Tarsus was anything but a dreamy liberal.

    I have no doubt that Papa Montini was under a lot of pressure from his liberal buddies to make liturgical changes. IMHO, his most virulent mistake–and one that cannot be blamed on that pressure–was the active persecution of those who favored Latin and/or the 1962 Missal. That permitted those saying the Novus Ordo to take every goofy off ramp they saw.

    It will take years to recover from the mistakes of the Montini papacy.

  50. james says:

    On the gutting of our churches, of the removal of statues,
    sacramentals, and almost anything and everything that would
    remind one of the past… The mdoernization of the nave, the
    sacntuary, the Mass, and so forth. It reminds one of what
    happened in Ukraine when Stalin tried to force Ukrainian
    Catholics to dump their traditional Faith for the “Orthodox”
    church of the Soviet State. The photos and video images of
    churches being gutted, icons, statuary, and so forth taken
    away… and so on…

    Did Vatican II and the modern/realtivistic/liberal influences
    of the new church (removal of any denounciation of Communism
    seems to make sense these days)… not force the same on most
    Roman Catholics?

  51. robtbrown says:

    Gail F,

    I agree about the ical problems. To a great extent that theology has already been addressed in the Catechism and in Ecclesia de Eucharistia.

    I think, however, that the very brief and dialogic Novus Ordo Offertory can be seen as a reflection of the flawed theology that you think must be addressed.

  52. robtbrown says:

    Should be “agree about the theological problems”.

  53. ALL: The digression on “MSC priests” is a rabbit hole. And it is hereby closed.

  54. moon1234 says:

    “heretics” and “schismatics”.

    Which is exactly what they are. I don’t understand why we have to dance around the PC language, especially in the church. As Catholics we try to convet the heretics and athiests, return to union with the schismatics and spread the word of God. Changing the terms does not change their status.

  55. becket1 says:

    Sorry for the ranting on the MSC priests. It wasn’t their fault!.


    This used to be on their seminary grounds in Geneva Illinois until it was closed down in 1972. My brother was a seminarian. But gave it up do to all the changes.


  56. Clare says:

    The Truth. In the New York Times, of all places.

    “[W]ith God, all things are possible.”

  57. eewanco says:

    If Benedict has “reversed the innovations of his predecessors” it’s news to me. It may be true that one in five parishes in the most conservative diocese in the country they offer the extraordinary form of the Mass, but once you look at the whole country, virtually nothing has changed. Even the extraordinary form of the Mass was an idea reintroduced by John Paul, not Benedict. While it’s possible there has been a modest tidying up of conformance to existing laws, in terms of changes to liturgical law, as far as I can tell there is zero or nearly zero impact on the average Catholic in the pew. Possible exception: The translation of the Mass of John Paul II, which won’t be implemented for another two years, was likely influenced substantially by Benedict. But that is then, this is now.

    To be honest, when I first read this article, I thought a liberal wrote it to make the Catholic church look backwards and retrograde. I was astonished when I learned it was written by a traditionalist. It did make sense after re-reading it, but my point is that I think he’s unwittingly serving the liberal agenda of the NYT.

  58. ssoldie says:

    T.L.M.= what was sacred then, is still sacred.

    N.O.= What was fabricated then, is still fabricated.

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