Liturgical wrangling in Scotland

There is some tension in Scotland over the upcoming visit of Benedict XVI and the inevitable committee designed mega-Mass which must ensue.

I wonder if there would be, could be, so much tension and, surely, animosity, were the older form of the Roman Rite used instead of the Novus Ordo?   It would sure give people something more edifying to watch.  NB: I did not say entertaining

In my e-mail inbox this morning I found the following provocative comment about the arrangements presently debated in Scotland:

More Novus Ordo stuff, the usual and expected endless wrangling over which language to use at which point during the various Novus Ordo celebrations during the Holy Father’s upcoming visit.

This sort of thing will continue, ie., the Novus Ordo will continue to be a sign of division, and contradiction until the Church finally rids itself of its Babelesque curse and liturgical tradition wins out over crackpot innovation.

In the end the Novus Ordo will fall because the Church cannot live with it and cannot die.

Three points.

First, the Novus Ordo has so many built in options that it becomes difficult to choose between them.  If we start including all sorts of languages in the mix, the opportunities to offend by exclusion multiply.

Secondly, we are still in a period of adjustment and experimentation as far as liturgical worship is concerned.  The Novus Ordo seems still to be "proving itself".

Thirdly, it may be that the use of the older form of Holy Mass is not growing as fast as its enthusiasts may desire, but it is indeed growing.   Furthermore, demographics are going to shift fairly quickly fairly soon. 

I’m just askin’, but is it possible that – even under the influence of the corrected translation of the Novus Ordo, it will in the future … fail?

The email writer, above, argues that, since the Church is indefectible, and since the Novus Ordo cannot provide for the unity which is part and parcel of our Catholic Church, therefore the disunity provoking Novus Ordo will go by the wayside because the Church herself cannot.

I am sure that some of you will have a different view.

Returning to a point above, imagine the dust up that would ensue were it determined that the older form of the Roman Rite would be used for a Papal Mass in Scotland. 

Then we would probably be treated to the endless wrangling of different groups of people on the more traditional side of things each with their own wrinkle of opinion about how it should be done.   There would still be, for example, musical choices to make.  Some would say that only Gregorian chant could be used.  Some would want a Mozart Mass.  The first group would object that there shouldn’t be instruments and that orchestras were forbidden by a document.  Another group would want to have polyphony.  Another would want to commission a Mass in a modern idiom. …

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  1. TJerome says:

    The Novus Ordo should be reformed by eliminating a myriad of options for the Liturgy of the Word and the suppression of all but the Roman Canon and perhaps one other.

  2. dans0622 says:

    Does the “Novus Ordo” have inherent opportunities for division and contradiction? I suppose so, because of the many options. But, if the priests or “liturgists” or people in the pews do not respect the Rite, whichever Rite or form of the Rite is used, there will always be division and contradiction. If the same people do not respect the Pope and his liturgical desires, the same, deplorable results will ensue.

    There are many who do not want to say the black and do the red. If the N.O. “fails,” will everyone then want to say the black and do the red? I doubt it. If a person looks at the N.O. as an opening of Pandora’s box–letting out liturgical disobedience, pride, do-it-yourself-ism, etc., well, the box is wide open and if the lid falls shut (the failure of the N.O.), will that solve those problems? Again, I doubt it.


  3. Brian K says:

    Dr. Robert Moynihan made an interesting remark in the May 2010 issue of Inside The Vatican magazine, in an article entitled “The Return of the Latin Mass”:

    “At least one Vatican official I talked to recently told me he believes the future of the Church’s liturgical life will be a type of fusion between the old Mass and the new Mass of Paul VI.

    This is the view of many.

    But at least one Vatican official I talked to, also in the past month, told me he believes the future is solely and exclusively in a return to the old rite.

    “The old rite is our past, and it will be our future, ” he told me. “The new Mass is a passing phase. In 50 years, that will be entirely clear.”

  4. Choirmaster says:

    Yes, Father, there would indeed be wrangling among traditionalists about the music and other things for a Papal TLM, or any other TLM, as it ever has. But this wrangling has never proven to be a sign of disunity. Discord, dissonance, and disagreement, maybe, but it doesn’t cut to the heart like Novus Ordo wrangling.

    Arguments about TLM implementations are based upon disagreements concerning the externals, in my opinion, whereas the wrangling over the Novus Ordo Papal Mass in Scottland (and all Novus Ordo celebrations) reach down through the external to the internal, to the foundations of the Christian cult. That is what the Novus Ordo was admittedly designed to do, and has ever done. That is what is unique and novel about it.

    I believe that this is not another example of “no matter what you do people will complain.” This is a unique position in which the Church has placed herself willfully, and it is bearing its fruit in due season (as the saying goes).

  5. Fr_Sotelo says:

    I don’t think the Novus Ordo itself is the source of the wrangling, but rather liturgists who have been permitted to slug it out over the minute details. Put someone firmly in charge, with veto power, in any major celebration, and most of this wrangling goes by the wayside.

    Although the options of the Novus Ordo do make it less of a unifier than the usus antiquior, it does have the advantage of being adaptable for more traditional purposes as well. It can be tweaked by liberals, but conservatives as well (pardon me for those terms). The clergy, being great afficionados of something which is adaptable to their tastes, will not give up the Novus Ordo, ever. Period.

  6. Bornacatholic says:

    I’m just askin’, but is it possible that – even under the influence of the corrected translation of the Novus Ordo, it will in the future … fail?

    End it, don’t mend it.

    It has been an execrable failure and its fetid existence as a revolutionary ecclesiastical act is the stench that can not be disguised or eliminated no matter how many putative sweet words are drafted to justify its existence.

    The Hierarchy is solely responsible for this lamentable debacle and it is the Hierarchy alone which must confess its prudential error and restore the Mass to its rightful Glory and prominence as normative.

    The Hierarchy has confessed the prior sins of dead Christians, repeatedly, but it does not seem to possess the humility to confess it erred re the revolutionary act of imposing this new rite on a billion faithful Christians who gave no indication they wanted their worship whacked by weirdos.

    I do not apologise for my anger at what has been stolen from me. If I ever become inured to the revolutionary injustice inflicted upon me I would be ashamed of myself.

  7. TJerome says:

    Fr. Sotelo, that is precisely the problem. The liturgy belongs to the Church, including the laity, and not just the clergy.Hence it should not be “adaptable to their tastes.” Sounds like better seminary formation is the answer.

  8. Is this necessarily a question of the Novus Ordo against the Extraordinary Form – that one is worthy and the other is a failure?

    I’ve always considered it a question of implementation, not rite. If we are critiquing the rite itself, aren’t we then critiquing Vatican II itself – and by extension, whether it was truly led by God? The implications of pitting the two forms against each seem much deeper than we’re acknowledging here.

    Were there no good reasons for the reform of the liturgy at Vatican II? And does the failure of proper implementation of that reform necessitate giving up the reform altogether?

  9. Nathan says:

    Fr Z: The email writer, above, argues that, since the Church is indefectible, and since the Novus Ordo cannot provide for the unity which is part and parcel of our Catholic Church, therefore the disunity provoking Novus Ordo will go by the wayside because the Church herself cannot.

    This is a fascinating question and discussion. Good Fr. Sotelo is correct in stating that if you put someone firmly in charge, the wrangling goes by the wayside.

    I’m also not inclined to support the argument that “multiple liturgical options are inherently an obstacle to unity” completely. Consider the variety of historical rites that legitimately have their place in the Church and have not detracted from her unity–the Gallican, Byzantine, Alexandrine, and other rites have not, in the past, ever seemed to be an obstacle to unity. Liturgical options, in the sense of the specific rites of various religious orders, seem also to apply.

    The problem of the Novus Ordo seems to me to be one more of the jarring options within the rite itself and their effects upon both belief and stability for people (especially the laity) than an assault upon unity per se. It is truly disconcerting to go to a NO Mass and, for no apparent reason, hear one of the Eucharistic Prayers for children or for reconciliation; or to have a different penitential rite in the same church at the same Mass at the same time on different consecutive days.

    Perhaps the most subtle problem in the number of options within the NO itself is trying to reconcile them with the Church’s teaching that the Sacrifice of the Mass is the same Sacrifice as the Cross–“Oh, which version of Calvary are we going to do today?” seems to me to have a negative impact on lay belief in practical terms.

    Martin Mosebach really hit on something when he said that the liturgical changes of the post-Concilar period took a Mass that was passed down and accepted as a treasure from earlier generations of Catholics (as would be the other historical rites) and forced the layman in the pews to become a liturgy critic. Could that perhaps be what the email writer was alluding to in mentioning unity?

    In Christ,

  10. Legisperitus says:

    Father Maurer,

    I would submit respectfully that a Council’s being “led by God” can mean many different things. It can mean anything from “the very words of the Council documents were written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost” (which is clearly untrue except where Sacred Scripture is directly quoted), to “the Council was prevented by God from using the note of infallibility to define an error” (which is clearly true).

    I don’t know why we can’t either question the prudence of a purely pastoral decision which was based on a judgment about what was appropriate for 1962, or consider whether the exact opposite might not be pastorally appropriate for 2010.

  11. Brian K says:

    If we are critiquing the rite itself, aren’t we then critiquing Vatican II itself

    Only if the Novus Ordo is indeed the proper end result of the institution of the VII documents. But the Novus Ordo mass as 98% of Catholics experience it was never envisioned by VII.

    It has taken 40 years just to correct a small handful of the most glaring problems of the Novus Ordo, which may or may not take effect at Advent 2011 (Canada is already talking about delaying its implementation). At this rate, it will take centuries of “reform of the reform” before the Novus Ordo resembles anything even remotely resembling that which the actual documents of VII recommended.

    A future Pope, one not beholden to VII, will likely realize the futility of this “reform of the reform” and the abject failure of the post-VII liturgy itself, and put an end to the experiment.

  12. skellmeyer says:

    Apropos of nothing, does anyone remember Photius?

    He was a layman consecrated by an excommunicated bishop to be the Patriarch of Constantinople at a time when that particular see’s chair was already occupied by a true bishop.

    Due to his political influence, Photius managed to get recognized by nearly all the Eastern bishops as the true patriarch of Constantinople. Rome objected, and an ecumenical council, the Fourth Council of Constantinople, was held to deal with the question.

    The council ended by decreeing that Photius was stripped of all ecclesial dignity and was nevermore to hold a see.

    Within ten years, due to more political machinations, Photius was again Patriarch of Constantinople, this time with Rome’s blessings.

    The findings and decrees of an ecumenical council of the Church were completely ignored.

    I see a lot of correspondences between Fourth Constantinople and Second Vatican.
    It may take a little longer to resolve itself, but in a couple of centuries, Vatican II will (rightly) be considered one of the least important councils of the Church. No sign of her havoc will any longer be rippling the face of the waters.

  13. Luke says:

    Fr_Sotelo: You are forgiven for using “conservative” and “liberal”. Why not orthodox and dissenter though?

    I see a great deal of truth in the unity versus Novus Ordo argument. While I still love a well said Novus Ordo Mass, I abhor the unfortunate truth that it can be so changed as to become a different animal almost completely. We were at a TLM this weekend and as a result are beginning to favor its beauty over what the Novus Ordo offers to us. While I favor the vernacular because I am no aficionado of the Latin language, I am leaning toward the older Rite of Mass for the periods of silence that it offers and for many other reasons as well.

    It’s sad that wrangling can happen at all over the Mass. May God enlighten the hearts of those involved to better understand our Lord’s invitation to follow after him.

  14. Tradster says:

    Would there be a similar amount of posturing and arguing if it were a TLM? Well, no. Not about whether to have candles on the table or, if so, how many. Or whether to have EMHCs or priests dispense Holy Communion. Or (and this seems to go to the heart of the Scotland matter) what externals can they get away with so as to demonstrate their liberal opposition to the Pope? None of those would have been able to occur in the EF.

    While granted that it was certainly not of equivalent scale or importance, I heard of no such bickering about the high-visibility Pontifical High Mass earlier this year in the Basilica Shrine in Washington, DC. And the result was a breath-taking event. A papal Mass would be ever so much more beautiful and closer to a glimpse of Heaven itself. Like Simeon, I pray to live long enough to witness it.

  15. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Bornacatholic: *End it, don’t mend it.* Fantasy.

    Brian K.: *A future Pope… will… put an end to the experiment.* More fantasy.

    skellmeyer: *Vatican II…No sign of her havoc will any longer be rippling the face of the waters.* Even more fantasy.

    We might as well speculate that there will be a nuclear war, but the bombs will be specially designed to vaporize all those who support Vatican II, while those who reject it will be spared so that after the war a beautiful new world can be constructed where people will happily live as if Vatican II never happened.

    Now, in the real world, it is actually the opposite that is happening. Easily 99% of Catholics have ever heard of Nicea, Trent, or Vatican I, and could care less about dogma. It is the more dogmatic councils which are in danger of being “wiped out” in the Church’s memory. And quite frankly, not only has the Tridentine Mass and chant not experienced the glorious return and acclamation we all thought would have happened, but there are still numerous forces that work to impede even a reform of the Novus Ordo.

    We need to put our feet on solid ground, realize that Vatican II and the Novus Ordo are large and in charge for all practical purposes, and strive for the return of things traditional within that framework.

    Vatican II has much within it that argues for the continuity of the ages, but people and clergy will not listen to that if they hear wishful thinking that Vatican II or the Novus Ordo should just disappear. Keep up that talk and the rest of the Church will think we are the wacko aunt who needs to be lured back up into the attic and locked in for her own good.

  16. SonofMonica says:

    “Only if the Novus Ordo is indeed the proper end result of the institution of the VII documents. But the Novus Ordo mass as 98% of Catholics experience it was never envisioned by VII.”

    I think this sounds good, but I have heard the argument that it was the same bishops who were at VII who implemented the Novus Ordo. Your position seems to be that it was a different cadre of Bishops who came along and implemented the new Mass, misinterpreting VII (I’m not saying you’re wrong…) But what of the argument that it was the same group of bishops, with the same intent? What would you say to such a charge?

  17. Tantum Ergo says:

    In a TLM, (obviously done by those of the conservative persuasion) there would be soooo much less of a fuss, because squabbling is liberals’ native tongue.

  18. NewmanSTL says:

    Given the nature of global Catholicism, I find it highly doubtful that the Novus Ordo will disappear (anytime soon). In the grand scheme of things, the TLM is a small blip on the liturgical radar. Nevertheless, I do think that over time the celebration of the Novus Ordo in most places will gravitate towards a closer conformity with Catholic tradition. I could even envision a future Pope enacting canonical reforms of the Novus Ordo, such that its rubrics more closely resemble the TLM’s. Right now, any such reform would be touchy, b/c many veteran hierarchs are still committed to the “spirit” of the Council. Also, the graying Catholics in Europe and the U.S. would throw an absolute fit in reaction to what they saw as “turning back the clock”/overturning the reforms of V2.

    Perhaps the most important point Fr. Z brings up in this post, though, is the whole issue of demographics. As anyone who has been to both forms of the Latin rite knows, regular attendees of the TLM simply have more children than other Catholics. Over time, as the Catholic Church in the West begins to face more direct persecution, many nominal Catholics will fall away, while the progressive vanguard of the 60s/70s will die off. As a result of these demographic trends, the ratio of those who attend the TLM and those who attend the Novus Ordo will shift dramatically. Thus, even though the Novus Ordo still has a long shelf-life ahead of it, I do see the TLM assuming a much more visible place in Catholic life over the next few hundred years. Perhaps, if the TLM ever becomes the “ordinary form” (in terms of regularity of practice), the curia will re-assess the 20th century liturgical reform, the shortcomings of which are already quite evident to those who are familiar with Church history.

  19. dominic1955 says:

    Fr. Maurer-

    That is a completely valid position to hold-the critique of Vatican II. Msg. Gherardini (among others) do a marvelous job with it. Yes, a critique of the New Mass is a critique of the whole of the post-Conciliar program and I for one think its high time for this.

    We can claim “bad implementation” until we are blue in the face but its much more than just poor planning or rushed introduction. The whole NO is a messy committee job, the defects in it are far beyond mere poor implementation.

    Brian K-

    “Only if the Novus Ordo is indeed the proper end result of the institution of the VII documents. But the Novus Ordo mass as 98% of Catholics experience it was never envisioned by VII.”

    Of course, who really knows the answer to this. If you look at the sequence, the ’50’s Holy Week reforms and the restructuring of the rubrics in ’61, then again in the successive tweaks from ’64 on were test grounds for the actual big deal to come. These days, every Fr. Tom, Fr. Dick, and Fr. Harry has his own “reform of the reform” idea-with the result of having the “Fr. Tom Rite”, the “Fr. Dick Rite” and the “Fr. Harry Rite”. We know what Bugnini intended if you read his tome, and the same bishops who laughed at the idea that Latin would disappear were the same ones shoving this nonsense down the throats of their dioceses so who really knows what they intended though it would seem safe to think that if they hadn’t been shaken from their inertia by the European Alliance they’d have just gone back to their dioceses and carried out business as usual.

  20. dominic1955 says:

    “We need to put our feet on solid ground, realize that Vatican II and the Novus Ordo are large and in charge for all practical purposes, and strive for the return of things traditional within that framework.

    Vatican II has much within it that argues for the continuity of the ages, but people and clergy will not listen to that if they hear wishful thinking that Vatican II or the Novus Ordo should just disappear. Keep up that talk and the rest of the Church will think we are the wacko aunt who needs to be lured back up into the attic and locked in for her own good.”

    With all due respect Fr_Sotelo, while this is all very pragmatic, it also sounds very defeatist. Let’s just all be good chaps and get along, right? Last time I checked, the right thing to do didn’t depend on angling for human respect.

    I know Dom Gueranger is up for beatification, and what a fitting patron saint he would be for the times we are in! He went toe to toe with the liturgical establishment of Neo-Gallican France and they blinked-no working for a “reform of the reform” for him.

    While there isn’t a one to one correlation, what we have now is basically a Rite that out Neo-Gallicans the Neo-Gallicans.

    Of course, these days, I’d be overwhelmed with joy to have an old Neo-Gallican Rite rather than what one usually gets at your average parish. It might be contrived, but at least its purdy…

  21. TJerome says:

    I could see a collapse in the usage of the Novus Ordo. I attend both EF and OF Masses and I am always struck by the fact that the younger families with lots of kids are at the EF in stark contrast to the OF. It’s not difficult to envision that the EF could displace the OF in time given that Mass attendence in the US went into freefall since the “reforms” (Pre-reform, 82% of American Catholics attended Sunday Mass, with the “new and improved” Mass about 23-24% do).

  22. I don’t think most traditional folks have internalized one obvious fact — that if the EF becomes universal and totally normal again, you’ll have all the annoying people fiddling around with the EF again. And anybody who thinks that there wasn’t a bunch of liturgical fiddling, padiddling, and whittling going on before Vatican II, and indeed before Vatican I, is someone who hasn’t read a lot of contemporary historical documents.

    (And this is of course why it’s tempting for some to scoot off in some sedevacantist corner. If you only know twenty people are faithful in the whole world, and you can excommunicate those twenty at any time, you never have to deal with anybody’s weird ideas except your own. These people are schismatic to a drastic degree, but at least on some level they understand that there’s no absolutely pure group of worshippers in this world.)

    Come the revolution (assuming it does), the traditionally minded folks are going to have to be prepared to be shocked by people digging out liturgical options from obscure documents, or making up crup that’s based on perfectly sound principles found in Fortescue. They’re going to have to face people who loved Haas and Haugen suddenly being holier than thou about chant or polyphony, and doing horrible radical things with proses and sequences, and organ interludes that last longer than Seventies rock guitar solos.

    That’s just how people are. Especially liturgists. People want to do something different and better, and it gets out of hand.

  23. Sliwka says:

    What I think is interesting, and has been noted before, is the incredible variation within the Ordinary Form of the Mass. There are three options for many parts that should be the most recognizable part of the Mass. It often requires the faithful to memorize more (not that memorization is hard) and makes hymnals a must (How many different hymns can be found within, gulp, Breaking Bread? How many can you sing be heart?). As someone who is the son of an Orthodox man (was not baptized Orthodox, but few years ago was baptized in a the Roman Rites, o I am unsure of my Rite status) the Eastern liturgy has very little (almost none) of the variation with the exception of the propers the readings and antiphons et cetera). Would there be more unity in the Church if the Ordinary form of the Mass was simplified?

    Brain K: It is not that the CCCB has purposefully delayed the introduction of the revised translation, but that they have not received the recognito for the specifics for the Canadian Church (those feasts that are more Canadian than American, or British, or… amongst other things). I read this in a press release I received from the CCCB yesterday. Unless the Vatican gives that soon, we may be looking at a 2012 implementation. What would that do for unity in the Church where two countries in such close proximity are using two different translations in the same language.

    On the same point, what does it mean that different English speaking countries rely on different Scriptural translations? How catholic (lower case ‘c’ intentional) is that?

  24. Andy Milam says:

    Fr. Z, you ask, “I’m just askin’, but is it possible that – even under the influence of the corrected translation of the Novus Ordo, it will in the future … fail?”

    I respond to that in this manner. I think that until the Novus Ordo is codified and the rubrics are enforced the same way that the EF is, then yes, it will fail. There have been to many innovations and too many liberties taken with this form of the Mass to survive the way that we see it today.

    Had the leaders of the Church been more forceful in the PROPER implementation of the Novus Ordo, then I think that it would not be destined to fail. As it is, it most likely will go down in history as being the “great experiment” that didn’t work. And as we’re seeing Archbishop Bugnini and his cohorts are being judged for it. I hate to say it about a form of the Mass, but ultimately it is just a form of worship and one that can (and in my opinion, should) fall by the wayside. With the EF being liberalized, what will happen, is that the EF will simply dominate and take over. Sure, there might be pockets here and there, but by and large, the faithful can see the Novus Ordo for what it is…a pig with lipstick.

    Honestly, I think that most everyone, liberals included, are waiting with baited breath for the Holy Father to offer the EF in the full pontificalia. I see the issue being that very few people are still living that have enough expertise to pull it off properly. I would think that Mons. Marini and his crew are probably studying how to do this effectively, properly and with enough expertise to make it a laudable action. Once they have these things down with precision, I think that the Holy Father will move forward with the celebration of said Mass. The bigger issue is that I see the Holy Father running out of time. He’s not getting any younger and the motu proprio has been out for almost 3 years now.

    Finally, I would say this, I think that the “wrangling” for the EF is just that. The issues are much easier to deal with because they are clearly defined; as opposed to the Novus Ordo, which is the very definition of ambiguity.

  25. Jack Hughes says:


    Hmm it is tempting isn’t it? for example I am a radical insofar as I want to go back to the 1954 books with perhaps leaving St joseph in the Cannon, but as for people with preferances for 20 minuite organ interludes and backbighting on whether Verdi or Mozart’s requium is best I’ll hapilly take that over desires to introduce rock music and yogi bear into the sanctuary.

  26. Henry Edwards says:

    SonofMonica: But what of the argument that it was the same group of bishops, with the same intent? What would you say to such a charge?

    In his summary article in the Proceedings of the 2001 Fontgombault Liturgical Conference, Cardinal Ratzinger explains that the bishops lost control of the situation, that instead of episcopal authority, power was now exercised by national and international networks of liturgical experts and activists. His words:

    “After the Council there was a new situation, because the liturgists had acquired a de facto authority: all the time, the [hierarchical] authority of the Church was accorded less recognition, and it was now the expert who became the authority. This transfer of authority to the experts transformed everything, and these experts in turn were the victims of an exegesis profoundly influenced by the opinions of Protestantism.”

    In short, what happened under the influence of these “liturgical experts” did not necessarily accord with the bishops’ wishes or their understanding of what had happened at the Council.

  27. Luke says:

    Fr_Sotelo: I’m with you in that we should be careful to criticize the Second Vatican Council. The problem seems to lie elsewhere. When one goes to a Novus Ordo Mass that is poorly said the problems are not to be found in what is printed in the Roman Missal but in what has been left out of the text or added to it. Many have lost the sense for the sacredness of liturgical action or have never had the privilege seeing its beauty.

    While many see only the challenges posed to us by language and it’s correct usage or translation, the real problem seems to be one of divergent theologies. The dissenters seem to make the Mass their personal vehicle for the expression of heretical thought. There will always be a Judas among us.

  28. “The whole NO is a messy committee job, the defects in it are far beyond mere poor implementation.”


    How far beyond? So far beyond as to be invalid? So far beyond as to be a break from the Church into a new church? This is the crux of what I hope to highlight by my comments here.

    Take as an example the idea that the Novus Ordo needs to be cleaned up. That seems to imply an acknowledgement that it is in continuity with the teaching & tradition of the Church – and a distinction between what was intended by the council and what was actually done by those who implemented its writings.

    On the other hand we might hold the idea that the Novus Ordo needs to be abolished. That seems to imply an assertion that it is not in continuity. The implications seem to lead down the same road as those who broke from the Church after the council (ie, CMRI, SSPX, et cetera) – and an eventual condemnation of anything coming from the council… a return to 1962.

  29. Andy Milam says:

    Hi Luke,

    I am confused by a statement that you make, “When one goes to a Novus Ordo Mass that is poorly said the problems are not to be found in what is printed in the Roman Missal but in what has been left out of the text or added to it.”

    That sentence seems nonsensicle to me. If the Roman Missal is not to blame then that which is contained within it cannot be to blame either. However, you assess blame to that which has been added to or left out of the Roman Missal. Your reasoning is circular. If you could develop your thought a little further, I am sure we’d appreciate it.

  30. Andy Milam says:

    Hi Luke,

    My apologies, I misread your quote and inserted properly as opposed to poorly. I’ve got a sinus infection and I am sure that my drugs caused me to misread….mea culpa ;0)

  31. Re: the “catholicity” of different Scripture translations

    Nova Vulgata is tooooootally different in vocabulary from the Clementine Vulgate, and yet most traditional-minded people spend a lot of energy totally ignoring Nova Vulgata. How catholic is that?

    Oh, wait. It only counts if it’s different _vernacular_ translations. My mistake.

  32. dominic1955 says:


    Its valid and licit, but no matter of “proper implementation” will make up for the fact that the myriads of options (just one instance) lay the groundwork to have any manner of breaks from liturgical tradition. A priest can say the NO almost like the TLM and the next priest can have all sorts of hoopla and lay “ministers” going on-and both are completely legitimate per the post-Conciliar legislation. There is no way to “properly implement” a beast like the NO, its like nailing jello to the wall.

    As to continuity, I’d say the old Neo-Gallican Rites were “in continuity” with teaching and tradition of the Church taken loosely. They used the venerable Roman Canon unabridged (which is one big mark for them over the NO) and even served as an (unfortunate and ineffectual) preserver of legitimate and venerable local customs in some cases.

    Still, they were rightly abolished as they should never have been introduced. They destroyed real local liturgies (like that of Lyon) and they were just contrived on the spot even if they weren’t heretical or out of continuity.

    Likewise with the NO-its a mish-mash of the old, the contrived, new, etc. that can certainly be said to be “in continuity” (which is itself a contorted concept) with the tradition and teaching of the Church. Its not heretical, but neither does it enshrine Catholic belief near as well as the TLM. Regardless, what the NO replaced need not be measured as being “in continuity” with the tradition-it WAS the tradition!

    The whole fiasco reminds me of that video Fr. Z posts a little while ago. We had a perfectly good stop sign, but busybodies and litniks armed with copious hubris and a need to make their mark in the history books gave us that committee production “stop sign”.

    A return to 1962? Other than the fact that time travel is impossible, a naive claim of whole-hog “turning back the clock” is not and has never been the desire of any “Traddy” even sedevacantists. The problems that led to what we have today would not be solved by repeating history. We have learned from the past the errors of the liturgists and the proponents of the Nouvele Theologie, and I’d venture to say that even in the pastoral realm, the only places where the “reforms of Vatican II” have really taken any solid root are amongst the TLM crowd.

  33. Luke says:

    Andy Milam: What I mean, in a simple way, is just that either the rubrics are not followed as they are laid out in red letters, or the words are changed or additions are to the words. Regarding the rubrics, I would say by way of example that I have seen a Priest run down fro the altar to hold hands with those in the front pews for the recitation of the Our Father. Clearly the rubrics don;t call for him the leave the altar. In this case the Priest is imposing his theological considerations onto those attending his Parish. And how often do we attend a Novus Ordo Mass where we find the Priest adding his own words or skipping the text almost completely to make up his own “inspired”–and altogether too “enthusiastic”–prayers. If the texts of the Roman Missal are followed, and the correct places in the sanctuary are used for their respected liturgical actions, then you have an appropriate Mass. I might add a Mass MINUS the numerous phrases that were left out of our present translation because the American Church was considered too dumb to understand, for instance, what the dew of the Holy Spirit referred to. I have never been to a Novus Ordo Mass where Christ was to be the focus of the Mass instead of the community that I was unhappy with. Regarding whether the Priest faces East, or with the people, or toward the people, there seems to be a biblical foundation for both. There is a reference in the Book of Revelation to an altar facing the people.

    I am excited to hear the new and more literal translation that is expected in Advent 2011. But even a different translation will allow room for Priests to oppress their congregation with empty theology, with a theology that seeks self rather than making room for Chirst to be the center of our lives. In this regard you are correct, Andy, to assert that the Novus Ordo will continue to suffer until its rubrics are enforced in a simliar manner as those of the EF.

  34. Henry Edwards says:


    Not for lack of trying, I have been unable to find any evidence that Pope Benedict intended with Summorum Pontificum for the EF to play any role other than as a guidepost for the reform of the OF. His public celebration of the EF would provide such evidence, but I have no expectation of ever seeing it. Because I see no reason to doubt that he expects the OF to remain the Mass of the great mass of Catholics for the foreseeable future. If so, then the reform of the reform surely would have to be his main agenda as Pope, and it probably would be weakened by his public celebration of the TLM.

    This morning, I had a choice between an EF and an OF Mass, celebrated an hour apart by the same priest. I attended the OF, and its reverence and spirituality were (for me, a TLM advocate) no less intense than the EF would have been. Such an OF celebration would have been exceedingly rare a decade ago, but in my experience it’s not unusual for priests ordained within that decade. From the current seminarians I know, I expect it to be the norm with them when they’re ordained.

    The real problem in recent decades has been with a several generations of ill-formed priests who are still in charge in many or most rectories and chanceries, but are beginning to move pretty rapidly toward the end of the pipeline. Their liturgical foibles have certainly been encouraged by the optionitis of the current Missale Romanum that Cardinal Ratzinger himself has criticized, but I’d be surprised if preparations for MR 4 are not already underway.

    Ironically, I expect that the increased sacrality and verticality of the OF encouraged indirectly or partly by the EF (as well as by the new English translation) to decrease the necessity of the EF as a refuge from the horizontal and banal OF celebrations that have heretofore been the norm for most Catholics. And even after those ill-formed generations of priests are through the pipeline, I cannot see the pristine Latin EF (that some of us are so fond of) ever attracting more than a small minority of future Catholics.

  35. Bornacatholic says:

    If we are critiquing the rite itself, aren’t we then critiquing Vatican II itself – and by extension, whether it was truly led by God?

    I am very much an unsophisticated layman who has always argued that Vatican Two was indeed an infallible Council – as are all Ecumenical Councils by their nature – and that the evidence Vatican Two was under the influence of The Holy Ghost was that no Dogmatic Decisions were taken that command the adherence of we laymen.

    There were a number of Bishops present and voting at the Council – as I recall the number was close to 30 – who voted to reject one, or several, of the Documents of Vatican Two and they were allowed to leave the Council totally in Union with the Holy Father.

    Errors abound when individuals conflate the Council and the Normative Rite.

    Bornacatholic: End it, don’t mend it. Fantasy.

    Nobody expected the revolutionary nightmare of the new mass so desiring its death, to me at least, means a return to consciousness and the normal 2000 year ecclesiastical processes of organic growth and change – and, yes, I can see why such a desire seems a fantasy because we live in a revolutionary epoch.

  36. Dominic,

    Its heartening to read you say that it is valid & licit. I’ve been discouraged in the last couple of days by commentators in several places online disparaging the Novus Ordo as inherently illicit or invalid.

    I agree that one priest can say the Novus Ordo as reverently and well as the Extraordinary Form and another so poorly that it resembles a service from another denomination – or religion. I would contest heartily, however, that these are both completely legitimate according to Conciliar or post-conciliar legislation. There is no dearth of guidelines against lay ‘ministers’ – or of properly implementing the Novus Ordo. A lot of ink spilled specifically for this purpose.

    I think the comparison between the Neo-Gallican rites and the Novus Ordos isn’t entirely accurate. Please understand that I am not well-versed in the history of the Gallican or Neo-Gallican rites, but if my cursory look-up of those rites indicates that they were created by a locality, not a council. That the Novus Ordo was formulated out of an ecumenical council puts it on a much different level than the (Neo-)Gallican rites.

    It is my hope that folks don’t want to return to 1962 (obviously not literally), but what isn’t much acknowledged it that there was a need for a reform in the liturgy. We haven’t accomplished this even after Vatican II (sadly, the pendulum has swung to the far left), but to return to the liturgy of before the council does mean a sort of a turning back of the clock – at least with regards to the liturgy.

    Maybe part of the problem is that in the face of the innovations of the Novus Ordo as it is celebrated today, we don’t remember the stagnancy of the extraordinary form as it was celebrated before there was a Novus Ordo.

  37. Bornacatholic says:

    A return to 1962? Other than the fact that time travel is impossible, a naive claim of whole-hog “turning back the clock” is not and has never been the desire of any “Traddy

    It has always been my desire – and the desire of self-identified traddies I know – to return to the past before the liturgical revolution.

    To say it can not be done is to concretise many of the gains of the revolution and deriding as “naive” those who struggle against the revolution is, very much, a tactic of the left.

    To admit a revolution occurred and to let that revolution stand is to encourage further revolution. To me it seems to grant revolutionary processes unnecessary grace within the ecclesiastical structures.

    Apparently, there can never be a correction and a return to a time prior to any revolution because that would cause too many problems, etc.

    IOW, revolutions never fail – and that has always been Satan’s present to the present – no mater what time the present is.

  38. Supertradmum says:

    Judging from some of the blogs and commentaries I have read on the Scottish Papal Mass, it seems that many who are attending are more “traditional” or “conservative” Catholics. Perhaps the old, “liberal” guard is not as interested in Rome anymore and are yielding the field.

  39. Mr. Edwards,

    Brilliant comment!

    In this post-Summorum Pontificum era, it seems increasingly clear, that it is the celebrant and not the missal who causes banal and/or abusive liturgy. I am reminded of the adage that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

    I have no doubt that the priests (mostly older now) who celebrate horizontal, ad-libbed filled liturgies, would also celebrate poor EF liturgies were they forced to use only the EF missal. In the same way, priests who celebrate the EF properly and solemnly, also tend to celebrate the OF properly and solemnly.

    Our Holy Father is on the right track, let’s make sure we follow!

  40. Henry Edwards says:

    we don’t remember the stagnancy of the extraordinary form as it was celebrated before there was a Novus Ordo.

    Actually, Fr. Maurer, I doubt that anyone really remembers that alleged “stagnancy”, which in several parishes in several dioceses in several regions of the country, I did not experience back then. I suspect most people who make such remarks only remember comments by others who (perhaps with an agenda) say they remember it.

    That said, there is no doubt that the glorious Missa Cantata that is the Sunday EF norm now was not always the majority EF experience. Not for nothing is the quip that Vatican II has done more good for the EF than the OF. So even as a seriously devoted EF advocate, I certainly have no desire to “go back”.

    But the real point is not what was, but what is. Or, in the case of the Novus Ordo, what can be — and which, I for one, think can be, though it is not now.

  41. dominic1955 says:


    We must admit though that the documents do not solidly come down on the side of the conservative/traditionalist side. The use of EMHC itself is offensive to pious ears. Laymen in our history were never to even touch the chalice or ciborium let alone the Host except in dire circumstances the deacon was the “extraordinary minister” but now pretty much any schlep and his scantily clad wife can dole out the Eucharist. Altar girls are common, even though it is *recommended* that the “venerable, and blah, blah…” tradition of altar boys be maintained when before women did not come up into the sanctuary during any liturgy-period. The condemnations were from the Patristic era right up until it was for some weird reason all of a sudden allowed. The use of something like the chalice veil is *recommended*. So, you can trad it up as much as you want but the next guy can go bear bones and still be legitimate.

    You see though, a proper liturgy is more than smells and bells or externals or even who gets to do what. Those above things are fairly minor, though still nothing to sneeze at. The rite itself, however, it the main problem. The Offertory replaced by some litnik’s pet project of introducing the berakah into Catholicism, senselessly messing with the words of Consecration again because of some litnik’s pet theory about the “Mysterium Fidei” being out somewhere else in left field, and the list can go on. Minor things like needlessly incising the prayers at the foot of the altar and the Leonine prayers to the decrease of the emphasis on sacrifice and butchering the Roman Canon (not to mention adding numerous other ones practically plucked out of thin air!) which no Pope would have touched had a gun been put to his head.

    So, no amount of chasing the women out of the sanctuary, adding bells and incense and Latin and silk damask is going to fix even one iota of the above. Like I have been saying for some time, lipstick on a pig.

    Yes, the Neo-Gallican rites were invented in the dioceses of France, most notably in Paris which then became the model for many of the other ones. However, of course, that is nothing new. Local rites were de rigueur at one time.

    The authority which created them is not the point because I’m not using an analogy but a comparison of the rites themselves. Whether a Neo-Gallican rite is promulgated by Archbishop de Vintimille or Pope Paul VI, its still an invented rite. That Vatican II wanted things “revised” doesn’t lend some sort of super-authority to the NO. If you look at the transitional missals/sacramentaries/lectionaries/inserts (it was a mess!) that would have been much closer to what is actually put down in SC even though it is just more of the same yet bolder of the Bugnini revolution. They were just increments to boil the frog.

    As to a reform, what exactly was really “needed”? Sounds like if anything there needed to be a reform in the training of priests and of laymen. Priests needed to look on the Mass as not just a recipe that if you did the bare minimum of what your rubrics professor taught you, you’ll “get’em in and out” and everybody is happy. The ritual itself was fine, actually if any “reform” was needed in the ritual itself it would be to throw out all the Bugnini “reforms” of Holy Week and 1962 and go back to the older forms, especially the Mass.

    As to the stagnancy of the TLM, well, everyone has their own subjective experience. Some people just loved the old days and hated the changes. They tell enchanting stories of their childhood and the real and lived faith of their family and parish and how glorious the old Mass was and how easy it was to follow along and how it formed them with its intricate and captivating rituals. Then, some people talk about how they hated the old days because it was all about keeping your nose clean, following stupid rules, watching a 15 min. Low Mass on Sunday said by a drunk priest who preached a sweltering fire ‘n brimstone semi-Jansenist homily, yelled at people in the box and slapped an altar boy all within that 15 min.

    Considering the massive propaganda campaign to get everyone (clerics and laics) to hate the old days, I’m inclined to think that many of the horror stories are a bit yellowed and/or highly provincial yet universalized.

    Regardless, sloppy Low Masses are no reason to destroy the liturgical patrimony of the Roman Church.

  42. Henry: Vatican II has done more good for the EF than the OF

    I agree. And I have gotten into trouble with some members of trad-nation by suggesting that the intervening years taught us a great deal about how to use the older form of our Catholic liturgical worship.

    Fodder for another entry, to be sure.

  43. dominic1955 says:


    I meant in the literal sense. None of us want to return to a time when people actually though Rahner, Schillebeecx, Kung and Co. were the bee’s knees.

    No, I’m all for going back to the pre-Bugnini Holy Week reforms, burying the Pian psalter once for all, looking at the Breviary from before Pius X, ditching Urban VIII’s hymnody, etc. etc.

  44. Widukind says:

    I agree with what Henry Edwards has stated above, and as well with the earlier comments of Fr. Sotelo.
    I respect the EF Liturgy and commend those who spport it and pray it, but the time is not opportune to implace it as the only liturgy for the entire Church. As well-meaning as the enthusiasts are about the EF Liturgy being supreme, etal. I do think they are looking only at the goose who lays the golden egg and do not see or smell the barnyard it has its home in.
    To paraphrase some famous philosopher, the II-Vatican-intended liturgy has not been tried and found wanting, it has never been tried! The Missal of 1962 is not the same as the II-Vatican-intended liturgy. It was that very same liturgy that the council intended to “reform”, but was that certified reform ever truely carried out? I really do not think so. What we got was something far beyond what was intended, but what is still in some way continuous with what had been. Is the OF liturgy of today then the II-Vatican-intended liturgy? It is yes and it is no. The liturgical shakers and movers of the implimentation of the Vatican II decree killed the golden goose and served it up for sandwiches. The picnic went amok and there was no one who put an assertive foot down to say enough is enough, as they did not understand the menu set forth by the council.
    Seriously, I believe it is time to take a look at what was intended and what is the present reality. In other words, the council and the OF happened. No wishful thinking will sweep it away. What do we do now to improve and shape it into what was intended and has yet to be tried? Will there be Latin? Yes. Will there be the vernacular? Yes.
    What will be needed is for our bishops to first of all be schooled in the proper celebration of the liturgy so that they may teach by example. Secondly, there needs to be a plethora of air pumped into the OF liturgy – of doing everything we possible can do and no longer the emaciated bare bones minimums. We need to be affirmingly told that incense, chant, Latin, this or that, or whatever, is just fine and dandy, and that the pleasure of these things is not a perversion. (What we do not need, is for the uptight nostalgitists to get worked up about it, as if they had some intimate moment with themselves, frothing at the mouth, screaming – “Father did this, used that, etc…how wonderful, its about time, its here to stay…” – all the while piddling in their pants. Its just too superficial.) Thirdly, there needs to be consistent authortive teaching on what can and cannot be done in the liturgy and that there will be consequences if something is done or not done, and that it be carried out. Someone needs to show that business is meant.
    In comparing the EF and the OF, as with the Latin, I am surprised to see how much correspondence there is between the two. I am also disappointed by what was excised, changed, redeveloped from the EF to the OF, but I can see how the OF can be open to the reinsertion of these rites and prayers for the enhancement of the OF. The reform of the reform has to be done on the inside – internally, organically, authentically. There can be no wholesale importation of chunks of the EF without discernment. Having recently observed an EF liturgy, there was much that edified and there was things that just fell flat, but which the OF does good with. There needs to be a judicious pruning of repetitious prayers, along with a thorough reform of what type of celebration is permitted – “is it to be a recited Mass, a sung Mass, a pontifical Mass, oops we can’t, its not the right day, etc. Or, is this day a double feast of the third degree, or is it a toss up between triple second cousin on first base or an obligatory memorial of the third kind?” Sorry, I let myself get carried away, but you get my point. These discusssions can and do get quite hairy and the participants quite huffy — disunity anyone? As well, EF liturgies have been atrociously celebrated, such disregard is not the sole possession of the OF.
    I have prattled on long enough, and could offer some more of my thoughts. In the end, the OF is here and will remain, but a dilgent and internal reform or reconstruction is its remedy. Then will come the blossoming of the liturgy the council hoped for, because we too will be diligently and internally prepared and apt for its celebration.

  45. JPK says:

    I personally grew tired of this issue about 5 years ago. In rare cases I’ve witnessed the NO Mass done with reverence, good taste, and proper decorum. In most cases, however, the NO Mass had more of a Low Church Protestant feel to it. And from what I’ve read it is obvious that too many people (especially “professional” Lay Catholics) have too much invested in the NO. That is just one of the manifestations of the clericalization of the laity. It’s something I don’t like, but I live with it just the same.

    And no, I don’t have any emotional ties to the Pre-Vatican II TLM. But, I do have very unfound memories, of guitar masses, the felt banners (that replaced the statuary), and the total lack of reverence for the Eucharist. The NO I am told was suppose to usher in a new Golden Age for Catholics.

    Anymore, the only Mass that I find appealing is the sunrise Mass at more local parish. Besides my family, there are just a few elderly Belgium and German couples who attend. The Mass is quiet (no music), full of reverence, and even my 2 year old remains quiet (a miracle in and of itself).

  46. Brian K says:

    In Revue Theologisches, Vol. 20, Feb. 1990, pgs. 103-104, then Cardinal Ratzinger stated:

    The liturgical reform, in its concrete realization, has distanced itself even more from its origin. The result has not been a reanimation, but devastation. In place of the liturgy, fruit of a continual development, they have placed a fabricated liturgy. They have deserted a vital process of growth and becoming in order to substitute a fabrication.They did not want to continue the development, the organic maturing of something living through the centuries, and they replaced it, in the manner of technical production, by a fabrication, a banal product of the moment.

    In the preface to the French translation of Monsignor Klaus Gamber’s most famous book, Die Reform der römischen Liturgie (The Reform of the Roman Rite) then Cardinal Ratzinger stated:

    What happened after the Council was altogether different: instead of a liturgy fruit of continuous development, a fabricated liturgy was put in its place. A living growing process was abandoned and the fabrication started. There was no further wish to continue the organic evolution and maturation of the living being throughout the centuries and they were replaced — as if in a technical production — by a fabrication, a banal product of the moment. Gamber, with the vigilance of a true visionary and with the fearlessness of a true witness, opposed this falsification and tirelessly taught us the living fullness of a true liturgy, thanks to his incredibly rich knowledge of the sources. As a man who knew and who loved history, he showed us the multiple forms of the evolution and of the path of the liturgy; as a man who saw history from the inside, he saw in this development and in the fruit of this development the intangible reflection of the eternal liturgy, which is not the object of our action, but which may marvelously continue to blossom and to ripen, if we join its mystery intimately.

    I pointed out these excerpts recently to a fairly well known Catholic commentator who was criticizing those who criticize the Novus Ordo. His response?

    “…his comments at that period were a little overheated—though one does see his very legitimate concern for organic development. After all the Novus Ordo is more like a Catholic Mass than it is like anything else; along with its deficiencies, it has all the parts of the Mass, better organized, stripped of distracting accretions, more simply expressed, and in the language of those who gather to participate at Mass. In spite of its flaws, many deeply committed Catholics prefer it to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (which also, like any liturgy, has flaws), and that these people are not to be denigrated by implication as being less Catholic than those who prefer the Extraordinary Form…His election as Pope, by the way, does not validate every opinion he expressed previous to that time, though as a matter of scholarly note, I think his concerns about the attitudes with which some approached liturgical reform in the 1960’s, and his concern about organic development, are well-taken, even if he vented his spleen a little too much in the quotes you cite.”

    Obviously, its going to take a while for this debate to be settled.

  47. dominic1955 says:


    “To paraphrase some famous philosopher, the II-Vatican-intended liturgy has not been tried and found wanting, it has never been tried!”

    What, praytell, is this “II-Vatican-intended liturgy”? The ever increasingly butchered pseudo-TLMs of the ’64-’67 era? The plethora “reform of the reform” rites/usages of every neo-conservative priest and his brother?

    Its fun to play the “guess their intentions” game, but if you really want to know read “The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975”, “The Rhine Flows into the Tiber”, etc. and you will see-and it is no “reform of the reform” fantasy.

    Again, what is the point of “reforming” the NO to the point where it resembles a malnourished version of the TLM?

    Like von Hildebrand once said, is “modern man” even capable of liturgical thinking? At times like these, we need to conserve what we have always had because its a whole lot easier to destroy something like the Roman liturgy than it is to come around and clean up after the barbarians that have entered the sanctuary. There have been (and are) too many pragmatist dilettantes cutting and pasting up storms without any real appreciation of the need to hand on what we have received.

  48. Mitchell NY says:

    I have always thought that its’ inheent flaw is the built in options. And what Priests do with them. It has destroyed the unity of the Catholic Church as far as liturgical worship goes. How can one talk of unity with all the different Masses that come out of the Pauline Missal? It may indeed one day be its’ downfall. Even long after the options are gone, the tainted attitude attached to its’ name will forever haunt it. In my opinion.

  49. Mitchell NY says:

    Sometimes the only continuity that can be found is the Priest, and Transubstaniation. Let’s all call it what it is. The NO as we see it in MOST, not all places is a break with the past. You may be able to pull a few yards of vestment fabrics from both, but overall, different words, different vestments, different language, different gestures, different responses, different participation, different theology, different Sanctuaries, and the list goes on. It is more difficult and less in number to pull together the similarities, even for simple lay people as myself. Just because one can pull a handful of things together from both forms does not make it in continuity. And that is taking the best of the NO out there into the equation. I often try to imagine it this way; I can see Pope Leo XIII, or Pius IX, or even Alexander V celebrating the previous Missal editions from what we can pull together up until 1970. Illustrations and the such. But for the life of me I can not picture them celebrating the NO Mass and saying nothing as it is all too often celebrated today. ANd I do not mean only the NO as celebrated by the Holy Father in Rome, but what is done in the rest of the Church. And the people and Priests are the Church. There would probably be outrage from pre 1965 Popes and that speaks for itself. Nuff said.

  50. Henry Edwards says:

    To broaden your question a bit, dominic:

    Again, what is the point of “reforming” the NO to the point where it resembles a slightly simplified version of the TLM, but with vernacular options and some flexibility in degrees of solemnity?

    To meet the spiritual needs of the majority of Catholics who are not well served by the NO currently available to them, and who cannot be attracted to the TLM. (Saying the latter with the guess that no one lurking here has devoted more effort to attracting mainstream Catholics to the TLM.)

    In short, because the Novus Ordo is here to stay for the vast majority, so the choice is to fix it, or endure it as is.

  51. dominic1955 says:

    If they are not attracted to the TLM as it is, why would they be attracted to a “tradded up” NO? In my own experience, most people who have any inkling to things traditional are usually held up from going over to the TLM by temporal issues (i.e. the parish they are at has a school, can’t cart the kids all the way across town every Sunday, etc.) and I don’t begrudge them for it. I currently am fortunate enough to be able to go to the local FSSP parish whenever I want to so I can’t really speak on that.

    Those who don’t want to go over for other reasons seem to have that odd opinion that abandoning the NO would be “betraying VII” or some such nonsense. They’d rather grit their teeth at all the foolishness than just come over to the “dark side” or even worse, seem to be True Believing sycophants who would rather keep telling the emperor how fabulous he looks in his new “clothes” than call a spade a spade.

    As to the option of “fixing it” or enduring it as it is, I’m torn. On one hand, I applaud priests trying to make it bearable and even decent. On the other hand, I cannot see these “fixes” (which usually just amount to more smells and bells or Latin) as anything more than the Dutch boy with his thumb in the dam. None of this stuff really gets to the root of the problem.

    Beside, the more and more we “fix” the NO, the more that enables people to put up with the “good enough” and never get the essential stuff addressed. Even amongst self-described “Traddies”, far too many boil down the liturgical problems in the Church to what amounts to an issue of externals. This is simply not good enough. Sometimes I just wish the NO was beyond the pale of what it turned out to be (i.e. Bugnini pretty much just having his way with the whole thing) so that no one could kid themselves about what we’re dealing with and there would be no way to delude ourselves with a few externals bones thrown here and there.

  52. Francis Xavier says:

    At least two of the Masses that the Holy Father celebrated in the United States did not have the Benedictine arrangement on the altar. He also wore hideous vestments during that same visit.
    I don’t think that anyone from the US should be casting doubt on the upcoming UK visit. I’ve read the missal for the visit and it very dignified.

  53. TJerome says:

    Father Maurer, when you mention the “stagnancy” of the EF before the Council, I wonder if you were even around then or if you are just parroting left-wing progressive bias you might have picked up from the National Anti-Catholic Reporter? I was around then and my experience was radically different. You see I belonged to a parish where the Liturgical Movement was taken seriously. The parish had a Missa Cantata, daily, we sang the Ordinary and the Propers. I could sing 5 Latin ordinaries by heart by the time I was 10. We were doing everything that Sacrosanctum Concilium stated years later. That’s why it was a profound shock to folks like me when the liturgical destruction of the 1960s occured. It was not reformation, but deformation, from which we are only beginning to recover from now, thanks to dedicated, fervent, Catholic young priests and laity. You could pull a generation out of the hat and get a better one then the one that brought us “liturgical reform.” The reform we got was not the one promised by the Council. Why? Because the inmates took over the asylum.

  54. Widukind says:

    Well said Henry.
    This is the reality. This is where we are at this day! No amount of wishful thinking will change that concrete reality. I keep looking at my parish. The liturgy before was like an express meal from the burger joint. We have raised it up to the level of a Bob Evans. To impose a 4-star menu at this point would be disasterous. I am sorry for those who live in their own vacuums. But this is where the good Lord has put me, and this were I must serve. The people need to be met where they are at so that they can then be raised up. If not, they never will be raised. You cannot go fishing with a perfect tied fly and expect to make a catch, when the fish are only hungry for worms!!
    What we need is a robust liturgy – a masculine liturgy if you will.
    My understanding of the optimal liturgy of the Roman rite would be very similar to the experience of an Eastern rite liturgy – sung dialogue with priest and people – with strong simple chant – ad orientem for sure, gradually uplifting everyone into an energizing joy, of adoration, at its ineffable climax. Liturgy should be apocalyptic!!! Quite a bit, or in some parishes, the whole of it, never approaches this – it is all too sappy, sacchrinated, and effeminate. And on the converse, the same is true as well. Pristine, rail-thin, egg-heads, prancing about in liturgical high-heals and holding their toity in little plastic bags, just does not cut it either. A simple throw-back is not enough. Any one of my farmers would gag and never show their face again. The liturgy has to speak to the human gut – it has to touch what is authentically right and good in us and grab our attention. (The liturgy already has its own rationale and dynamic. This is the beauty of its goodness. We do not need to monkey with it.) Once it has done this, then the gracefilled workings of the Holy Spirit can begin to stir, enlighten, and enflame the soul, raising us from the dead! The liturgy must in a sense have that Chestertonian lustiness.
    I am very much in favor in preserving and handing on what is our Christian civilzation’s patrimony. But, that patrimony grew out of lived reality and not an erudite sterility. The genius of western civilzation – Christendom – came from a forging of the Christian faith, classical philosophy, and the kinship society of the Germans. These are three quite different experiences, but Carl the Great made an honest, if feeble, attempt, and low and behold, with a little Benedictine elbow grease, it eventually began to fly. At our point in time, this civilzation is in some manner of disintegration, if not already accomplished. That is the fact. Who will put it back together? Only we ourselves. But this building cannot be clunky – a chunk here or block there – and cobbled together. Taking what is authentic, integral, organic – the best of what the past has to offer us and cherishing it deeply – we must, relying on our wits, our faith, and our creativity, labor to bring about a new synthesis of what our Christian civilzation is all about. There has to be a vision of hope. Is this not what we pray to the Holy Spirit for? – to renew the face of the earth? It will not happen if we are not committed. I am sorry to say, for some of you, this is where the liturgy is now, today. Wake up! It needs the messy job of revitalization, and not the imposition of a done deal, if it is to spring eternal for our salvation. I am afraid, that there is a much dirtier job that needs to be done than some of you realize. Remember what the great reformer of education, Fr. Overberg, stated:
    “only that which comes from the heart can reach the heart”. The work of liturgical reform must be a work of the heart or it is nothing.

  55. dominic1955 says:

    Well, in Catholicland, its all about the both/and. We make everything “from the heart” and we’ll be going right back to the fleshpots of ’60s Stupidity. We also have to be careful trying to harness any sort of populist sense of religion. Many dutiful Catholics followed Fr. Flapjack and Sr. Lapelpin thinking they knew best and now after 40 years of this formation (brainwashing)-you ask them what they want and its the fleshpot.

    There is nothing more masculine than the traditional Roman Rite (or any traditional rite for that matter). No Ikea tables and Pier 1 import decor with a sanctuary chock full of women there. Also, nothing “hits one in the gut” more than the TLM. Before I even hardly knew a thing about it, after going once I knew I was coming home-a familiar place I’d never been before but where dozens of generations of ancestral feet had trod. Like Dom Gueranger related about his experience with the Roman Mass, it fairly reeked of antiquity. Many a pilgrim, saint and sinner had traveled this route before. There is nothing essential of “erudite sterility” it in, but there is that aplenty in the Neo-Gallican Mass of Dom Gueranger’s time and the NO of our own.

    At least where I come from, the farmers would welcome back the “blessed mutter of the Mass” with its lived cycles of Rogation Days, Ember Days, constant readings tied to certain feasts and Sundays. There is nothing more earthy and organic than that. Which, of course, hearkens back to my point that its not about damask, bells, or some Latin thrown in here and there which pretty much encompasses the “Reform of the Reform”. The very structure of the “reform” eviscerated the faith life of all Catholics. The splayed out lectionary, jacking around with feast days, etc. Add to this things like getting rid of Friday abstinence, black Requiems, and all the other distinctive, earthy marks of Catholic culture that got ditched after Vatican II and you’ve lost the culture.

  56. PaterAugustinus says:

    I think the first poster hints at the heart of the matter. The main problem is not the different languages per se, it is the numerous different options for the Novus Ordo.

    In the Orthodox Church, it is a point of pride in the Paschal season to declaim and chant things in as many languages as possible (including Latin), even if nobody in the Temple belongs to that linguistic tradition. We don’t simply have multiple vernaculars, we even have multiple Sacred Tongues (Greek, Slavonic and Arabic). The Agape Vespers and the Paschal Liturgy strive to include many tongues for the lessons, at least. Most Orthodox in cosmopolitan locales can sing at least the Trisagion and Doxology in Greek, Slavonic, Arabic (maybe Romanian) and their local vernacular. We don’t feel that a multiplicity of languages inherently brings confusion or quibbling. It is quite joyful, for us.

    But even where the faithful only know the Liturgy they grew up with, and the priest is doing well to read the Koine (to say nothing of Slavonic or Latin), the fact is that a Greek man from the village could find himself in Smolensk, and he would know almost exactly what is happening most Sundays of the year, despite the Slavonic, because there is one and the same Liturgy in both places. He knows the Liturgy, he knows what is being done, and he can even quickly learn phrases in other languages because he knows the Liturgy so well, that he can tell when they are saying “Thine own of Thine own,” or “It is truly meet,” or “Bless the Lord, O my Soul,” without knowing a word of the language. He knows exactly when these phrases are supposed to come, and lo! – they do! Within an half-hour, he’ll have learned how to say the Doxology in Slavonic!

    That’s the rub; make the Mass’ flow more plain to the people by removing all the optional bits and sticking to the Canon. What on earth was the need for multiple Eucharistic prayers, anyway? Celebrate an occasional Byzantine or Jacobean Liturgy if you want to occasionaly taste an “exotic and different” flavour of the Anaphora, don’t introduce four entirely different Eucharistic prayers into one Rite. Anyway, whether people are used to hearing Mass in the vernacular or in Latin, they will better know what is going on when they hear Mass in other places (whether in the vernacular or in Latin), if they know what is happening on account of an intimate familiarity with a (mostly) unchanging structure of the Mass.

    To be clear, I’m strongly in favour of Sacred Tongues in Liturgy – Greek, Latin, Slavonic – albeit not utterly discouraging of the vernacular. I wasn’t saying that we should be ambivalent about language, just that a unified form of Mass would provide clarity on this point.

  57. TJerome,

    I suppose its fair to ask if I was around before the council – and the answer is a solid ‘no’. I wasn’t a glimmer in my parents eyes, much less around.

    The bias I am parroting, if you will, are the sentiments of then-bishop Ratzinger at the various sessions of Vatican II. I don’t have the book on hand, but Commonweal offers a smattering of his comments at the time (

    The Novus Ordo came about because these concerns were not just the isolated opinion of a young bishop, but shared by the whole council. Is what we see today reflective of those concerns? I don’t think so. Is what we see today the intent of the council – or even faithful to what the council laid out? Definitely not.

    I don’t contest that the inmates took over the asylum – much of what was written from Vatican II is still ignored by those who want to twist the Novus Ordo to their own ends. We need to remove that influence, not the Novus Ordo itself. If that happened and the Novus Ordo was celebrated as intended, I am convinced that we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  58. SonofMonica says:

    Henry – just wanted to thank you for the response – 8 September 2010 @ 12:29 pm

    Exactly what I was looking for! Perfect quote.

  59. SonofMonica says:

    “At least where I come from, the farmers would welcome back the “blessed mutter of the Mass” with its lived cycles of Rogation Days, Ember Days, constant readings tied to certain feasts and Sundays. There is nothing more earthy and organic than that. Which, of course, hearkens back to my point that its not about damask, bells, or some Latin thrown in here and there which pretty much encompasses the “Reform of the Reform”. The very structure of the “reform” eviscerated the faith life of all Catholics. The splayed out lectionary, jacking around with feast days, etc. Add to this things like getting rid of Friday abstinence, black Requiems, and all the other distinctive, earthy marks of Catholic culture that got ditched after Vatican II and you’ve lost the culture.”

    Spot on! Kudos to you.

  60. TJerome says:

    Father Maurer, Benedict XVI’s views on liturgy have matured and changed considerably since the Council. He was actually considered a liberal in those days and I’m not sure he was a bishop then but a peritus and university professor. However, he is clearly now in favor of ad orientem celebration, Latin, chant, sacred polyphony, etc. If you’re reading Commonweal then you’re being fed liberal, unorthodox pablum. The problem I have with the Novus Ordo has nothing to do with its validity (it is valid) but the myriad of options. The very presence of those options has created the distinct, indisputable impression (at least for the sentient amongst us) that the Mass is something to be customized to suit the whims and fancy of the individual priest and the congregation. The myriad of options must be suppressed if we are to ever achieve a stable rite that is recognizable no matter where one attends Holy Mass. The Council never envisioned the Bugnini Committee special. But by the time the Novus Ordo was promulgated the Church was in such chaos, with convents and seminaries emptying, people fleeing the pews in record numbers, etc., the Bishops were too cowed and spineless to point out the obvious, that the Novus Ordo was NOT what the Council intended, at all. So we would still be having this discussion in light of what the Council actually said about the reform of the sacred liturgy.

  61. Widukind says:

    Father Maurer – excellent ending observation.

    Dominic – I am unsure if you are understanding the point I am trying to make. I sense that your passion is also with an admixture of anger, certainly of betrayal, and even perhaps of a bit of hatred.

    Yes, we have all been betrayed in some manner by the results of the council. Something precious was stolen from us, and we demand restitution. But, I am afraid that that restitution, if it is to be made to the whole of the people, and not just certain individuals, can now be made only with a bona fide replacement. The actual article, irreplacable as it is, is now broken. The pieces can only be used to forge a replacement that is worthy of everyone.

    Dominic, you seem to have a great disgust for the OF or NO, as if it somehow embodies everything you loathe about the present state of the Church, liturgy, etc. I think you misunderstand me if you think that I too forsee the banality of Fr. Flapjack’s liturgical sense of burlap banners and hootenanny chants is to be continued in the reform of the reform. I do not want it, nor do so many others. I do not consider this at all as the liturgy intended by the council. This is Fr. Maurer’s point above, and also of my earlier observation that it is has not been tried and found wanting, but that it has never been tried. But perhaps by your insistance that it is part of it, you will still have legitimacy in your condemnation of the council and its liturgy.

    I am sorry for my criticality of SOME of those who hold the EF dear, but these people are their own worst enemies. Each has their own sense of what the EF of the golden era should be and if some thing is just not up to snuff, then its sniffy-snappy time and with a contemptuous stare. There seems to be so little humility and a big dose of demanding “my rights.” The folks of this ilk are the ones whom I deem as “sterile erudites”. They can be as dogmatic as any hodgy-podgy tie-dyed lit-nit of the 70’s could be. They are just converses of each other. They as well don’t want to dirty their hands. Let’s go to Ground Zero (the parish). A plague (liturgical malaise) is raging and needs to be stemmed. It is quite evident that the home remedy(the subtrefuged OF)is of little value. An old doctor pulls out the time-honored medicine (the EF)and orders it to be given to everyone. It had worked before, so it should work now. But it doesn’t. Some are still dying. The old doctor insists that the medicine is perfectly fine and that the problem lies somewhere else -maybe they have been living in the wrong type of house and its their fault then they are dying. The old doctor said the situation at Ground Zero is hopeless, and that he be better suited for a far-off state-of-the-art hospital. He abandons the dying. However,the plague is of a different strain. Something has changed in its make up. What can be done? Will there be a courageous doctor(P.Ben.XVI)coming to the fore who sees the dilemna and understands that a different, but similar, medicine would do the trick. Where is the new medicine to be found? The wise doctor will take the time-honored medicine, as it has some effect, and work with it so that a better, more effective medicine, will result and the plague can cease. He will do it in the trenches at Ground Zero, with the plague still swirling. The courageous doctor at Ground Zero cannot develop the improved medicine alone – he needs staff, nurses, orderlies, etc. This is where we come in.

    The very ones who could make a difference in their parish are the ones who trot off to some faraway church where they have found the perfect EF of their dreams. Their problem has been solved, but the one back home still festers. It is unheroic and uncharitable to take off. It is much better to stay at Ground Zero, dig into the trenches, and fight the good fight. This is the time that building brick by brick will pay off. Our pastors need support. He needs people who understand. He needs people who are courageous and will see things through.

    One further comment. The idea that the EF is a monolithic unchanging entity birthed at Trent, and is good for everything that ails you, is to me a bit of a misconception. Between Trent and Vatican II the liturgy did change. There were continous revisions of the Office, there were a multitude of local diocesan uses, there was a shifting of the calendar at the beginning of the 1900’s, and as well Pius X’s motu proprio on liturgical choirs. I know the argument – none of these shifted the theology of the liturgy as the last council did – but did they?

    I am done arguing, although I have a few more points. In the end I see this – there is a problem at the parish level, it needs to be dealt with, but how? One solution is a wholesale emplacement of the EF. I at one time thought that this was the better of solutions. But not any longer. The illness we have is a fundamental one, it has done damage, and needs to be attacked aggressively. The OF is a reality, it is what we have, it is here to stay (so get over it), but it needs assistance. Its not just our Church, but it is the Lord’s Church. What does He want for it? He has given us Benedict, and Benedict has set forth a plan of action, the Reform of the Reform. Is our second guessing really of importance? Let us get down to business and dirty our hands, for there is much to do.

  62. dominic1955 says:

    I know what you are saying, but we are basically talking past each other.

    Again, its not primarily about externals. Yes, I know the “Reform of the Reform” people do not advocate the continuance of burlap and whatnot. However, they are trying to do the impossible task of turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse by replacing one set of externals with another, albeit better, but its still just a change in accidentals.

    No matter what we do with the NO, no matter if we really give it the ol’ college try for real this time around, its still a contrived rite. I’ve been to all sorts of “Reform of the Reform” NO Masses and that’s why I call them “Fr. So-and-So’s Rite” because nothing is constant. I can’t go to on Fr’s “Solemn High” NO in one parish and then go to someone else’s and really expect to see the same thing. The options are absolutely insane (and inane for that matter).

    Regardless of the particular ritual peculiarities between the myriad RotR rites, no matter how “nice” they are is the Offertory still that berakah? Yep. Is the Canon still said/sung out loud? Yep. Is that ponderous lectionary still in use, along with its Ordinary Time? Yep. The problems are still there writ large no matter how much “better” it is done or if it is really “tried”.

    The whole premise of the “Reform of the Reform” is to make the NO as much like the TLM as possible. We, reasonably enough it would seem, simply wonder why not just quit screwing around and do the TLM?

    As to the parish, I’ve been in the trenches thank you very much. However, I know very well how things work. Any real fix to this situation needs to come from the top-both at Rome and from the Chancery of the dioceses.

    One thing we also must understand is that no matter what happens we are never going to “get” everybody. There will always be apathy, people who are all gung ho about the liturgical stupidity and “Spirit of Vatican II” and that was one of the beautiful things about Mass (at least in the Western world) just being a given. That’s the way it is, you get out of it what you bring to it and there were no need to squabble over these things because if your Catholic you go to Mass and this is what it is and has been for time immemorial (at least to the average parishoner). Now the toothpaste is out of the tube, there is no putting it back in but we’ll make the best of it.

    It is not “unheroic” (or uncharitable) to trot off to the Trad parish. First of all, let’s not romanticize this whole thing. Rationally thinking, the layman really cannot do much about the problems in the majority of parishes let alone the NO itself. I’ve lived in the schizophrenic shadow world between the NO and the TLM for long enough. I see TLM people’s and priest’s job as throwing out the life line to anyone that’s looking for it. To provide a living example of what real liturgy and parish life (which is getting better and better since traditional parishes have been becoming more than just Mass centers in the last few years) is like and, well, just what it is to be Catholic. Muck around all you want, but someone has to keep their eyes on the prize and make sure that this will continue for future generations.

    Concerning the history of liturgy, since we weren’t speaking on this subject, you assume to much. I am very well aware of the history of the Roman Rite (before and after Trent) and the other Western Rites as well as the deviations of the Neo-Gallicans, Josephists, Jansenists etc. Going to the ’62 books is just a move to get to sanity, after that, we need to look at all these “reforms” (even of Pius X!) and just what they did.

    “Dirtying one’s hands” is just an exercise in futility if there is not a very clear game plan with very definite lines of command. Hauling off all full of spark and spunk is just like the parable of the men who haul off to built a tower without actually taking account of if they have the wherewithal to actually do it right. We do not have this clear game plan or teeth to back it up, we have musings about “reform of the reform” and “continuity”. The real reform will begin in seed form from the TLM groups.

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