A priest’s first time out as deacon for a Solemn TLM

On the blog Called By Name we have the description from Fr. Kyle Schnippel, Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, about his first time as deacon for a Solemn TLM.  My emphases and comments:

Introibo ad Altari Dei…Last night, I had the opportunity, for the first time, to attend/assist/celebrate a Traditional Latin Mass for the first time in public. (While on retreat after Christmas, I said a daily TLM in private, which is much preferable, to me, than saying the NO in private, but I’ll get to that in a later post, hopefully.)

Those following my twitter feed (@fatherschnippel) noticed the following yesterday, late morning: “Message to Cinci folk: TLM at OSM, 7:00 PM, tonight, Epiphany Solemn Mass, urs truly as Deacon”

Yep, first time: Deacon at a Solemn High Mass! A bit of training from a very good MC, and off we went. To say it is different than the NO Mass is, umm, selling it a bit short. I am still trying to get my head around the experience.

First thought: strangely, it is much harder to ‘pray’ this Mass than the NO as a priest. [This notion of “praying” the Mass as a sacred minister needs some attention.   The fact that you are doing it reverently is itself a kind of prayer.  There are different ways to pray, after all.  It is great to pray with meditation, but paying attention to what you are doing is also a good thing.  Liturgical action has, for the sacred minister, also a practical issue: being workman-like.  You can’t pray as a sacred minister as if you were attending Mass, or you were celebrating privately with leisure.  Also… how is it you pray during the Novus Ordo?] At least these initial run throughs (with rusty Latin), I am so concerned with the Rubrics, the hand positions, the genuflections, the kissing the altar, hand, etc., I’m trying to get through it rather than ‘pray’ it. [That’s okay.  Pray later.  You’ll get used to doing this and, when it is more comfortable, you’ll also have some space to pray.  But first and foremost, your role as deacon is pretty busy: you have a job to do.] In TLM, it is not about the priest, it is about the ritual, the ceremony, the prayers; entering into a timelessness, almost. The prayers are beautiful in their wording, if sometimes wordy, even in the Latin (which can really get me tongue tied!)

Another thought, from a friend who was attending her first TLM: Afterwards, as we were digesting the experience over sandwiches at Cinci’s oldest bar, her comment was: ‘It seemed, ummm…, more masculine.’ The guys at the table agreed: if NO Masses were celebrated like that, there would be more vocations. [Do I hear an ‘Amen!’?] (leading a participant to quip this morning in a note: “Father, have you told your boss and your other priest friends that a very orthodox mass (even NO) with a very rigorous/demanding altar server program would help encourage vocations?” Well, we know it, harder to implement.

The chants (and the choir was really great last night!) all reflect that timelessness. Certainly, in TLM, there is not a notion of ‘I don’t get anything out of Mass,’ even the laity have to work to pray along.

Another buddy, also attending his first TLM, tried to follow along at first, but dropped the little red hand missal and just decided to soak it in. I think he was still trying to put it into words, too. (I really hope he was joking with the ‘needed more “active participation”!’ line!) [He needs, perhaps, a deeper understanding of “active participation”?]

Anyway, there is another chance to see me ply the trade of the deacon tonight, for the monthly ‘First Friday’ Mass at Old St. Mary’s in Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine. Hopefully, I won’t be quite as lost, be able to enter the prayer a bit more and ultimately, soon, be able to step up to the top step of the altar and bat leadoff for the Solemn High Mass.

As a contrast, since I hadn’t had my own Mass yet, I then celebrated a Low Mass at the same altar, with just two servers and maybe a few others at first in the Church. At least there, I was mostly getting the hang of things.


WDTPRS KUDOS to Fr. Schnippel.

I am struck by the contrast between this diocesan Vocations Director, and those who were in my home diocese back in the day.  They were either trying to keep me out seminary or, once I was in, were actively trying to get me out.  What fond memories I have of the vocations director who, having trashed me during my reviews, later came out of the closet in the pulpit of a church, wrote a nasty editor about the Church for the local paper, and then left the active priesthood… only to be welcomed back later with no requirement that he recant his publicly contumacious editorial.

Times have changed, of course.  Slowly but surely things are changing.


I think I fixed the combox.

Have at!

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  1. Okay… fixed. Sorry, comments weren’t posting.

  2. TJerome says:

    I am amazed by this wonderful news of a , GASP, vocations director of a diocese being involved in the EF! Mirabile dictu sed difficule factu! Brick by brick!

  3. MAJ Tony says:

    I believe in my Catholic heart that the EF is the fix for the OF “problem” though not in the way that some Ultra-trads would have us believe (and I’m a person who prefers a Latin EF). Here we see that evidenced quite naturally. How it will play out in the long term, I can only trust in Divine Providence (per my pastor, IT never fails). Ad Orientem may be a relatively easy fix (perhaps a good starting point as a result) compared to trying to correct course away from the “Four Hymn Sandwich” back to the Gradual. That will require a consistent catechesis on the true meaning of participatio actuosa. Of course, first thing’s first, we need to deal with some of the abuses such as overuse of EMHCs and reconsidering the “communion in the hand” indult, itself the result of an abuse. Brick by brick.

  4. Clinton says:

    Kudos to Fr. Schnippel, may there be many, many more such Masses in his future.

    Great things are happening in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for the TLM community.
    Recently the Archbishop of Cincinnati, the Most Rev. Dennis Schnurr, gave St. Mark’s, a
    beautiful old church that had been scheduled to be closed, to found a parish dedicated to
    the EF.

    Looking at the Archdiocesan websites, I notice that in the past two years the number of college
    seminarians there has almost tripled. The Archbishop and his Vocations Director, the good
    Fr. Schnippel, seem to be doing many things right.

  5. paulbailes says:

    Re ‘It [the TLM] seemed, ummm…, more masculine.’ … presumably compared to the NOM.

    Does that mean the NOM is relatively effeminate compared to the TLM?

    Does that mean anything for anything else going on [wrong] with the Church since VII?

    Just joining the dots …


    PS bravo Fr. Schnippel

  6. TJerome says:

    I don’t know if the OF is relatively effeminate but it is extremely “celebrant centered” rather than God centered!

  7. Mike says:

    Just got back from morning NO Mass at my parish. The pastor says “thank you” after we say “And also with you”, other prayers are switched to “our” instead of “my”, he constantly steps over our lines in the liturgy with a folks tone. Yes, when said this way, the NO becomes squishy with personal sentiment, middle class niceness.

    When my sons and I go to St. John’s in VA, wow…their solemn noon TLM is a different–more self-effacing, which is of course something feminine as well as masculine–world.

  8. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    ‘It seemed, ummm…, more masculine.’ The guys at the table agreed: if NO Masses were celebrated like that, there would be more vocations. [Do I hear an ‘Amen!’?] –> ABSOLUTELY!!!!!! and probably more women/girls would be drawn to it too.

    (leading a participant to quip this morning in a note: “Father, have you told your boss and your other priest friends that a very orthodox mass (even NO) with a very rigorous/demanding altar server program would help encourage vocations?” –> The only one I’ve seen across the internet seems to be this one called “Knights of the Altar” that has graduations which require spiritual and mass readings, and memorization of the parts of the Latin mass. You graduate from being in a minor role in Mass to being able to serve the highest mass and say all server responses. Problem is you need the TLM for this program. This won’t work for Novus Ordo.

  9. WBBritton says:

    I tell anyone who is going to Mass in the extraordinary form for the first time to put down the hand missal and unite themselves with the divine action. They can then go back and read their missal on their own time to solidify the experience. I have almost exclusively attended the extraordinary form for over 3 years now, and I still do not “follow along” in a hand missal. The real action is going on at the altar and the hand missal simply becomes a distraction from what truly matters.

  10. TNCath says:

    I like very much the concept of praying the Mass as “work,” whether you are the celebrant, deacon, server, or person in the pew. The Mass should be a challenge to anyone present and not an entertainment diversion like watching TV, going to a circus, or playing video games. I think part of the problem we have with those who “don’t get anything out of the Mass” is the fact that they don’t put much into it in the first place, often because they were either poorly catechized about what the Mass is all about or have become so accustomed to going to poorly celebrated Masses that appeal to their emotions rather than their intellects and souls.

    The way I see it, the number one problem with the Novus Ordo is not necessarily the simplified ceremonies or even the use of the vernacular at times but, rather, the position and focus of the celebrant during the liturgy. It is strangely ironic that in efforts to increase participation of the laity in the liturgical life of the Church since Vatican II, the focus of the liturgy in the Novus Ordo has been exclusively on the priest not only as the celebrant/presider but also as “host” of the Mass in a manner that creates a Johnny Carson/David Letterman/Jay Leno persona and only enhances the Mass as “entertainment” rather than prayer. The now-routine ad libs of liturgical texts, glib stories, and para-liturgical extras that take place during the Mass put the priest as the “star of the show.” Were the Novus Ordo celebrated exclusively ad orientem (and where ad orientem, as in St. Peter’s Basilica, St. John Lateran, and other places are truly “facing east, using the Benedictine arrangement), faithful to the texts prescribed, with music that was truly befitting the transcendental nature of the Mass, perhaps people would actually realize that assisting at Mass is indeed “work,” and, from the fruits of this “labor,” might actually “get something out of” the Mass.

  11. Liz says:

    I like the whole “more masculine” phrase. It’s true. It straightforward and too the point. I love that only males are up on the altar. I love that my boys have manly priests for role models. (I feel a bit of discomfort going up there to clean or decorate for Christmas!) On the other hand, nothing moves me more that the Old Liturgy. It’s so beautiful. I never felt emotion like that in the OF. Never. There’s nothing like Te Deum or Ave Verum Corpus or an amazing Solemn High mass or even a low mass for that matter.

  12. AnAmericanMother says:

    I’ve got to differ a bit.

    The EF certainly encourages all these positive things. And the OF does leave more opportunity for abuse. But two points:

    1. The EF, standing alone, is not a cure-all. A major factor is that those who take the trouble to learn, celebrate, and attend the EF are taking the trouble – they are devoted, attentive, dedicated Catholics. When the lazy, slackers, gossips, lukewarm parishioners and lazy or self-centered or wrongheaded priests had to say the Latin Mass, there were abuses then too. Not as easy to do, but it was there. All the crises that followed VCII didn’t just spring out of thin air.

    2. The OF, standing alone, is neither a disaster nor does it make it impossible to worship ‘in spirit and in truth’. Our OF parish is reverent and orthodox. Even our oldest priest, who has already been through one whiplash experience with the aftermath of VCII, is not a happy-clappy nitwit. He gives solid, orthodox homilies with a touch of dry wit, no crazy emcee stuff, and his reverence at the altar is a model. He’s not real keen on the EF (that whiplash thing), but he has instituted “Latin Sunday” on First Sundays, the ordinary is all chanted and at the beginning of Mass he encourages the congregation to pick up the chant folders in the pews and chant along.

    Our younger priests have a Benedictine arrangement set up in the little chapel for daily Mass, they are all interested in Latin and are introducing more and more of it – when they handle Latin Sunday all the prefaces, the Doxology, and so forth are suddenly Latinized (and the choir has all the responses ready, thank you very much). Our choir employs chant regularly, we often chant the proper Introit as a prelude, we sing medieval and Renaissance polyphony and various choral Masses on feast days. We can’t get rid of the notorious four hymn sandwich all at once, but we’re working on it. Our altar server program is not a “Knights of the Altar” but is similar – organized along military lines, with rank and promotion, memorization and exams, with the oldest and most committed altar servers as team leaders. The frankly military nature of the program tends to keep ‘girly girls’ away.

    We do attend the EF occasionally, and we have a wonderful Latin Mass parish here. But my family is committed to our parish, which has been and continues to be incredibly welcoming to a bunch of former Episcopalian renegades. I really feel that our calling is here.

  13. TJerome says:

    AnAmericanMother, you’re very fortunate to have a parish and priests like that. I hope they become the rule rather than the exception.

  14. Girgadis says:

    Naturally, the expectations for a deacon are very different than they are for a lay person like myself.

    I have the advantage of being able to set the missal down next to me and “soak in” what’s taking place at the altar. And therein lies the one difficulty (if it can be called that) with the TLM: when I follow the prayers in the missal, I’m not able to watch the gestures, etc. that take place at the altar. For instance, the MC walking away briefly at two points during the Canon of the Mass, one when the priest prays for the living and the other when he prays for the dead. I never knew the priest slides the Consecrated Host onto a corporal, not on a paten. Is it essential that I see these things? Certainly not, but they do add to the richness and beauty of the liturgy. Right or wrong, sometimes I follow along in my missal, and others, I don’t.

    I know my pastor would love to celebrate the Novus Ordo ad orientem, and sometimes, he does, but never on Sunday. Unfortunately, he has two churches and two entirely different mindsets to contend with. Priests need our prayers every day. We really don’t know all that they have to deal with so every bit of support helps.

  15. Ben Trovato says:

    Interestingly, Cardinal Heenan (Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, England at the time the NO was introduced) made the same observation: that the NO was feminised and that men would stop coming to Mass. See Waugh’s ‘A Bitter Trial’ for details.

  16. The guys at the table agreed: if NO Masses were celebrated like that, there would be more vocations. [Do I hear an ‘Amen!’?] (leading a participant to quip this morning in a note: “Father, have you told your boss and your other priest friends that a very orthodox mass (even NO) with a very rigorous/demanding altar server program would help encourage vocations?” Well, we know it, harder to implement.

    All I have to do to highlight this fact is compare the vocation rate in TLM parishes with NO parishes . Our tiny 175 family FSSP parish in Virginia has 4 current vocations to the priesthood, while the entire state of Maine (a uber-lefty diocese) has a grand total of 5.

  17. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Glory to Jesus Christ/Slava Isusu Christu!
    Christ is born/Christos Rhozhdiehtsya!

    I had the great honor and privilege of knowing Fr. Kyle personally when I was the chef for the Roman Cathedral in Cincinnati for almost six years. I will never forget when he wore his cassock to an official dinner in honor of the feast day of all priests(I’m Orthodox and thus do not know in the Latin Rite the official day this is). To an Orthodox Christian layman, which I was at that time, it overjoyed my soul to see a priest I cared for and respected doing the right thing and wearing his cassock when no one else was in theirs (So many forget the cassock is the garment of salvation for the cleric). Now to see him do this brings it all back home! There is not shortage of good things to say about this Priest of God! He is a genuine and heartfelt man of conviction for our Lord without any negative clerical pretense. From the time I spent with him in the garage to the kitchen I always saw a man who only wanted to bring vocations into the Church with realness and humility. He is a truly amazing priest who sincerely influenced my vocation into the Orthodox priesthood of Jesus Christ. He introduced to me recordings of Fr. Corapi and another young priest who were sinners in boldness at one time. Those tapes he gave me encouraged me to move on and pursue what I thought was impossible; the Priesthood of Jesus Christ!
    As a “baby” priest in the Byzantine Rite I know how hard it can be to serve in an ornate liturgy. Especially considering the fact that our parish has no deacon and I must take all his roles from litanies and incensations, while simultaneously doing all the private priestly prayers prayers and gestures. Do I make mistakes, yes. Am I serving in a language not used in most of our parishes which I’m still studying, yes (slavonic). However, brick by brick I’m doing what I must do to serve God and his Royal Priesthood. I would not be where I am today without the Priest of Christ Fr. Kyle. May God grant him many years of service to our Church, and salvation! This man is solid to the core, and may the Church utilize the wisdom of this Priest to the Glory of God, and for the salvation of all mankind! It is an honor to know him.

    Fr. Joseph

  18. James Joseph says:

    Isn’t deliberate obedience to rubrics a prayer?

  19. aquinasdad says:

    I must agree with others, above; as a long-time member of an FSSP parish – let the Mass wash over you the first few times while you maintain a prayerful attitude. After the 3rd or 4th time the hand missal won’t distract you as much. And after a while you don’t need it except for the daily readings, etc.

  20. robtbrown says:

    First thought: strangely, it is much harder to ‘pray’ this Mass than the NO as a priest.

    I think it’s true that his first time as deacon he would be concerned with doing the right thing.

    On the other hand, I wonder how many times he’s said mass alone.

    The guys at the table agreed: if NO Masses were celebrated like that, there would be more vocations.

    I have a very good friend who’s a Swiss priest. For years he has said that in order to celebrate the NO well, the celebrant has to pretend he’s using the 1962 Missal.

    (leading a participant to quip this morning in a note: “Father, have you told your boss and your other priest friends that a very orthodox mass (even NO) with a very rigorous/demanding altar server program would help encourage vocations?”

    I wonder whether a rigorous altar server program is even ossible with the NO. The truth is there’s not much for altar servers to do.

  21. Emilio III says:

    (While on retreat after Christmas, I said a daily TLM in private, which is much preferable, to me, than saying the NO in private, but I’ll get to that in a later post, hopefully.)

    I hope he does get to that in a later post. I can imagine a few reasons (nobody bitching about the Spirit of Vatican II, not having to see my ugly face in the front pew, etc.) but not being a priest I’m curious about his reasons.

  22. VivaIlPapa says:

    To add to the comment about the Extraordinary Form being more masculine, I concur! But it should not be misconstrued as a masculine v. feminine thing really. It seems more about having command and control at mass or even at the parish-wide level. I’ve attended only a few TLMs and what I notice is how the Priest “takes charge.” How he knows what he is doing, does it with appropriateness, piety, and direction.

    In the NO, it seems the celebrant is looking left or right while a Deacon goes one way, a “minister” of sorts goes another way, and I even see father suffer as he cannot follow along the Gloria in English because the musicians are clueless. In short, at the various NO parishes I end up visiting, Father doesn’t seem to be in charge or to even take charge.

    In a sense, it points to a deeper concern on a sort of deconstructed parish where Father passes on the duties to some other secretary or minister (in mass or outside of mass) and we wonder where our Catechesis is going (i.e. Generations of Faith…) and why liturgical abuses abound.

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