QUAERITUR: using old Mass rubrics in the new Mass

From a reader:

Recently, our apostolate targeted priests to say the Ordinary Form properly as well, and even encourage the use of the rubrics of the Extraordinary Form, in the Novus Ordo. Nonetheless, one of our priest consultants (who is very, very supportive of Summorum Pontificum, and the proper celebration of the Liturgy) told me that according to Canon Law (and some of his Canon Lawyer friends) that it is forbidden to do so. And that the priest celebrant must only do exactly what is written in the rubrics of the Ordinary Form. I guess my question was, is this is indeed the case? And would you consider the Ordinary Form celebrated in the rubrics of the Extraordinary a liturgical abuse?

Technically, there is not to be a mixing of the rites or forms.   I would consider the Novus Ordo celebrated more like the TLM to be an improvement.  BUT!… BUT… there is at this point to be no mixing of the forms.

On the other hand, the Pope says that there should be a mutual enrichment.

Mutual enrichment will certainly be easier to figure out in the case of a priest’s ars celebrandi and with music, and with perhaps issues of the calendar and the addition of new feasts, etc.

Mutual enrichment will eventually have to occur with rubrics as well.  That is the point of “organic growth” over time.  I don’t know how that will work out or when.  I suspect it will take a long time.  First, use the older Mass is increasing.  Also, younger priests are celebrating the newer form of Mass with fewer abuses than their older brethren.  There are also those priests who say the Novus Ordo having learned also the older form.   Then there will be the factor of the shrinking of congregations attending the Novus Ordo and the slow increase of those going to the older Mass.

For now I would say that the older form of Mass should be celebrated as it is in the book.

I think the Novus Ordo should be celebrated as the book says, just saying the black and doing the red… but in close continuity with our many centuries of tradition, and under the clear influence of the older Mass.  In some ways the Novus Ordo hasn’t had a chance yet, since it has been so abused by so many for so long.  Yes, we must admit that the very structure of it and the use of vernacular and the dreadful table altars have opened the Novus Ordo up to far more abuse.   But the Novus Ordo has to be given a chance.

Lastly, it is said by some (by me) that the more the Novus Ordo is celebrated like the older form, the better it is.  If that is the case… if the older form is truly the paradigm, doesn’t that raise a question?

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  1. Those who are enthusiastic about using EF rubrics to dress up the celebration of the OF should stop first and think how they would react to OF rubrics being imported into the EF. No, let each be what it is until and unless the Holy See directs otherwise.

    That having been said, there are many things from our storehouse that are not specific to the EF and not forbidden in the OF, just not commonly used, and these things, I suspect, are part of what the Holy Father hopes will enrich the EF. For example: ad orientem celebration, the restriction of service at the altar to males, the end of the use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at Mass, a gradual end to Holy Communion in the hand, the return of kneeling to receive Holy Communion, the use of music that is truly sacred and well suited to the Roman Rite (i.e. plainchant and polyphony), etc.

    And in anticipation of the new Roman Missal coming next Advent (Quamdiu, Domine!?!), here is an interesting possibility: Sacrosanctum Concilium says that the faithful should be able to say or sing their parts of the Mass in Latin, and we need to prepare them to forget the old English translation in the service of making the move to the new translation less bumpy. How better to do both than to start using the Gloria, Credo, Pater Noster, etc in Latin from here to the coming of the new translation?

    These sorts of changes in the typical parish celebration of the OF would be far more fruitful than raising the celebrant’s chasuble or having the thurifer kiss his hand or asking the priest to make multiple signs of the Cross. Let each Form of the Roman Rite be true to its own form, and change the things that can be changed while respecting the integrity of each Form.

  2. Jon says:


    “But the Novus Ordo has to be given a chance.”

    In heaven’s name, Father, why should this “banal, on the spot product,” whose creator’s stated intention of its invention was the “urgency of the moment to raze the bastions of the Faith,” be “given a chance?”

    If tomorrow the People of God were granted the Traditional Mass in the vernacular, 98.99% of them wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between it and the Novus Ordo as celebrated per Father Scott’s description.

    No, an encyclical on the Sacred Liturgy, abrogating what in some quarters I’ll grant you, was a well-intentioned experiment, should be the subject of our agitation.

    Novus Ordo delenda est.

  3. TJerome says:

    I agree. Therefore, every priest who celebrates the OF should follow the rubrics and celebrate ad orientem. Otherwise, they will be turning to face the tabernacle when they should be facing the congregation.

  4. Andy Milam says:

    IF and it is a big IF…..the Novus Ordo is celebrated properly and directly according to the rubrics as laid out in the book, there are only a few major departures from the TLM. The departures are:

    1. No prayers at the foot
    2. Repositioning of the Asperges (although the Asperges would only happen at High Mass)
    3. Where the readings are read
    4. The simplification of the Offertory (which is HUGE)
    5. The reordering of the Communion Rite (which is big, although the average Catholic wouldn’t notice too much), especially the insertion of glad handing.

    Outside of that IF the Mass is celebrated strictly according to the rubrics, Holy Communion is distributed at the rail, and the ministers are ordinary ministers rather than extraordinary, then it isn’t so bad.

  5. sacerdos97 says:

    I have to preface my remarks with the statement that I would never deliberately overlook the rubrics of the OF. Having said that I think it is fair to say that the rubrics of the OF are fairly vague in comparison to the rubrics of the EF. Personally, saying the EF has helped me tremendously in saying the OF. By that I mean that where the OF is vague or silent I do what I would do at the EF. I am thinking specifically of the placement of hands during certain actions and whether or not they are inside or outside of the corporal. Also, since my ordination over 13 years ago I have always used a chalice veil and burse and I find that visiting priests who do not use them tend to fumble them. In my own estimation and experience saying the EF has helped me to say the OF with greater dignity and grace and this has not gone unnoticed by my parishioners. You don’t have to change the rubrics, but you can let the experience of the EF have a meaningful effect on the the way you say the OF.

    I think that when we get bogged down with keeping the two forms “absolutely” separate, as if the OF is as directive as the EF, then we leave the door open to personal preference. I am thinking of the OF’s use of the words “may,” or “these or similar words.” Even the use of the chalice veil is called “praise worthy,” but not required. I do not want suggestions on how Mass should be said, I want to be told, down to the last detail. Why? The Mass has been untrusted to me, it is not something “I” give the Church or my parish.

    I think if we look at this honestly, there are many, many really fine priests out there who want to do the right thing, but in the final analysis, at least as I have witnessed, there is still a lot of personal preference shinning through the Church’s Liturgy. As I tell many of our men in formation, a priest cannot be considered worth his salt in liturgical studies, nor should he presume to say the OF without first obtaining some degree of mastery of the older forms.

    That’s my take.

  6. sacerdos97 says:

    PS. Forgot to add. Daily Mass in my parish is said in the chapel where ad orientem is the only option. I have yet to have anyone bat an eye lash.

  7. A wise priest, well known for urging caution and patience in liturgical reform, gives us a prescription for how to proceed: Brick by brick.

    Taking up a cudgel with the unhinged and idiotic slogan “Novus Ordo delenda est” is precisely the wrong way to advance any genuine progress in these matters, and if you say such things in public, you give both the bishops and the guild of professional liturgists who are unsympathetic to the project of Benedict XVI the perfect opportunity to say, “See, we told you so.”

  8. lacrossecath says:

    My priest always instructs to not ring the bells thrice at elevation for this reason. Thanks for commenting on mutual enrichment Father. I’ve been confused by it since obviously they can’t really at a parish level beyond maybe ad orientem. We also at certain times use Missa de Angelis where the music director has created accompanying music for the Mysterium fidei and the Amen, and then just lopped off the extra Kyries… No Gloria or Credo though which is too bad.

  9. TJerome says:

    Father Newman, I agree with your approach. As a survivor of the liturgical wars of the 60s, I am thrilled we have come as far as we have. By the way, I attended an EF in a Chicago parish this week, where we had two language groups in the congregation, English and Spanish. It was really nice being able to participate together, rather than the usual balkanized approach we generally find. I guess John XXIII was right when he said “Latin is the language which joins the Church of today. Best, Tom

  10. Titus says:

    That having been said, there are many things from our storehouse that are not specific to the EF and not forbidden in the OF

    Well, without looking at the books themselves, my memory is that the OF contains fewer rubrics: where the EF says “do X in precisely Y way,” the OF might merely says “do X.” There was some pressure, I’ve heard, for priests not to use the Y methodology, even though no substitute was proscribed.

    But it seems like this is precisely the area where there can be enrichment of the OF soonest: if the missal or the GIRM does not prescribe a pattern for swinging the thurible when incensing the altar, why not use the pattern from the 1962 rubrics? If there isn’t an instruction, have recourse to tradition.

  11. br.david says:

    Titus, I completely agree with you. If you notice the Holy Father, while not incensing using a particular pattern, appears to recite the old prayer that accompanied the incensation of the Oblata and the altar…..

    I would further add to the list of things that could enhance the OF: The use of the signs of the cross during the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, as well as the appropriate bows of the head…..

  12. Moscatelli says:

    Prayers and symbols were discarded in the reform because they were not meant to be there; Abp Bugnini made introduce changes to the Canon because he found it deficient (see his own account of the work that lead to the reform). The NO has its own system, meant to be as it is. If we find that this is a problem, needing to be corrected by looking at the EF, hadn’t we better draw the conclusion that there was a problem in the very conception of the NO? Nowhere was it imposed to turn the altars, but altars were almost universally turned to permit celebration facing the people, celebrations ad orientem becoming tabu. Why? Because it is in the logic of the NO. The chalice veil is still a requirement, a priest told me. In Italy you never see it. But that is also in the logic of the NO: “here, look, we show you everything, we tell you everything in your own language and without any strange symbols, the action is right in front of you, at your disposal, please participate actively”. And the “adult catholic” (as they are called in Italy), seeing the change from the old to the new, reacted by saying: “Yes, now I see everything. And there is nothing to be seen”.

  13. asperges says:

    (Moscatelli): In short: the Emperor’s New Clothes…

    I can see the merits of “making do and mend” with the New Rite since we are stuck with it for the time being, but I see nothing wrong with acknowledging that it is inferior aesthetically to the old or indeed wishing it was not there.

    Clearly the Holy Father in his wisdom most certainly does want elements of the Old Mass to influence or infiltrate the new rite. How exactly has yet to crystalise. Had the NO not been so poorly put together with such woolly rubrics and choices we would not be where we are today with such terrible damage done to the Roman Rite.

    At the end of the day it will not be the NO unammended that will save the day, however long we need to wait for its repair or replacement. It is and was fundamental in the liturgical revolution and we should not forget that.

  14. Tina in Ashburn says:

    This is a question that has confused me too.

    I would love to see priests be allowed to hold the thumb and forefinger together after consecrating the Host in the OF, and be allowed to genuflect, and cross himself more frequently. It doesn’t make a helluva lotta sense to me when pious acts, typical to the EF, are discouraged when saying the OF.

    Of course I understand that the two forms are very different…but if there were the opportunity of integrating certain actions from the EF, it could add reverence to the OF.

    I do hope that the EF can be allowed to enrich the OF.

  15. luiz says:

    Sad to say, but unfortunately it’s not the reality in Brazil.

  16. The multiple signs of the Cross and genuflections would be a major improvement for the NO

  17. priest up north says:

    Tina in Ashburn:
    Your sentiment about the comparison of the EF and OF have been mine since 07 – 07- 07: Why in the world would we have two forms of the rite that accomplish the same goal, one with a high demand for reverence and attentiveness to detail (leading to profound awareness of the Most Holy and Blessed Sacrament) and the other filled with minimalism and a seeming attitude of “get it done in a simple fashion, and that’s good enough,” at the expense of any sense of encounter with Christ. Admittedly, I find my Latin too weak to offer the EF; and am too lazy to get motivated to learn it. On the other hand, I do not shy away seeking a more reverent approach to the OF – including how I hold my fingers after the consecration. To me, I think what others have said about organic development and the EF influencing the OF are spot on – and we should Say the Black and Do the Red, but with continuity – hence, allowing for the gestures of the EF (as are fitting) to be employed in the OF, when the OF rubrics are silent on the issue…

  18. TJerome says:

    priest up north, we’ll pray for you to get the motivation you need to learn enough Latin to celebrate Mass (OF or EF) in that language. After all, canon law and Vatican II require it.

  19. dspecht says:

    I can not imagine how a priest can hold the fingers together after Consecr. in the TLM and not doing so in the NO [I can not imagine how that works – over a long time – both psychologically and practially…].

  20. dspecht says:

    Andy Milam:

    No, there are more *important* changings:

    – There is the [possibility of the] awkward 2. Canon (and also the 3. and 4. and some more!!)

    – The Consecratory Rite is changed deeply (not only the wrong translation in the vernaculars, but also the ommision (and re-allocation, together with a new-interpretation) of the “mysterium fidei” [cf. what F. Z. said re this some days ago…!], the ommison of the altering of voice and manner of speaking the Consecr. Words, the omission of the bowing down, the renaming of the Consecartion into “Words of institution” in the rubrics,…!!!)

    – The changings to/of the embolism, the omission of the invocation of the Most Blessed Virgin and all the Saints therein

    – The ommison of some other prayers that had an invocation of the Saints or mentioning of their merits — with the result that you can celebrate the NOM (saying the black, doing the red)without mentioning the merits of the Saints and without invocation of the Mother Mary and the Saints at all!!! (It´s possible to celebrate the NOM without one single invocation of the Saints! – so an “authenctic” Catholic Rite without any invocations of the Saints – would you have imagined this?!

    – The Confiteor (at the beginning) is only an alternative, ad libidum – it can be replaced by some kyrie-invocations or some song!

    – The “pray brethern” is also only an option, it can be replaced by other invitations of prayer (in the vernacular)

    – The prayer on Good Friday for the Jews is changed in such a way that (at least in the German vernacular) it is heretic or nearly – very next to – heretic!

    – ETC.!!! [Many omissions and changings in the readings, the prayers (Collect, Postcommunio, …), …]

  21. luiz says:

    In my very archdiocese… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBAe2atfyYk&feature=player_embedded

    I wonder if there were six candles on the altar…

    (I don’t know if I can post links here, but here it goes…)

  22. ikseret says:

    To counsel following the Novus Ordo rubrics isn’t saying much since there are so few.
    For that reason, it is necessary to have knowledge of the Extraordinary Form. Otherwise, priests will fill the vacuum with arbitrary gestures.
    For example, the Novus Ordo does not explain how to purify the vessels. Why not adopt the Traditional Method (even if wine is not used)?
    Or how about bowing one’s head at the name of Jesus?
    Or how about the priest keeping his fingers closed after Communion?
    Or why can’t the priest can raise his eyes and “pull down” the blessing?

    What is troubling is that the CDW of the 70’s specifically forbade certain things that were required in the TLM, but left unspecified in the NO. For example, in the TLM the priest prepares for Communion with hands folded and the tips of the fingers touching the altar. The CDW for some bizarre reason said that is no longer to be done. But, apparently priests can do almost anything else.
    The traditional rubric says to keep hands joined before the breast for the “Lord be with you” before the Gospel. The Novus Ordo neglects to instruct this – except in the pontifical!!!
    Just look at how many priests and deacons use the Novus Ordo innovation of separating hands before the Gospel.

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