Card. Koch on Pope Benedict’s long term plan for the Roman Rite

For a long time I have thought that Joseph Ratzinger’s view was that side-by-side use of the older form of the Roman Rite and the newer Novus Ordo would eventually produce a tertium quid.  I wrote about that in the early 90’s.  I have written about it in the 10’s.  The reason I though this is because I actually had conversations with Card. Ratzinger about this.  I think, however, that his thought has shifted over time, though it runs along the same line.

Note: Don’t imagine for a moment that Benedict wants or thinks this will happen quickly.  It is going to happen, one way or another and whether we want it to or not.  For the good of the Church it has to happen over time.  I don’t think I will see it in my lifetime, frankly, and I am fine with that.  But I think it is going to happen.  And, if such a thing is going to produce something good, it MUST be guided with the strong influence of the Extraordinary Form.  More the Extraordinary Form than the Ordinary, in my opinion.

In any event, I saw today a story on CNS by fellow-Minnesotan John Thavis which deals with this question.  I mentioned the other day the talk given By. Card. Koch at the conference in Rome.  It was the talk I did not translate from the pages of L’Osservatore Romano.  My emphases and comments.

Pope’s ‘reform of the reform’ in liturgy to continue, cardinal says

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI’s easing of restrictions on use of the 1962 Roman Missal, known as the Tridentine rite, is just the first step in a “reform of the reform” in liturgy, the Vatican’s top ecumenist said.  [A renewal of our identity through a renewal of our worship is also a dimension of ecumenical dialogue with separated Christians, especially the Orthodox.  Ecumenism goes in two directions.  They have to see that we are getting serious about our worship.]

The pope’s long-term aim is not simply to allow the old and new rites to coexist, but to move toward a “common rite” that is shaped by the mutual enrichment of the two Mass forms, Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said May 14.

In effect, the pope is launching a new liturgical reform movement, [Something he called for years ago in his Spirit of the Liturgy.] the cardinal said. Those who resist it, including “rigid” progressives, mistakenly view the Second Vatican Council as a rupture with the church’s liturgical tradition, he said.

Cardinal Koch made the remarks at a Rome conference on “Summorum Pontificum,” Pope Benedict’s 2007 apostolic letter that offered wider latitude for use of the Tridentine rite. The cardinal’s text was published the same day by L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.

Cardinal Koch said Pope Benedict thinks the post-Vatican II liturgical changes have brought “many positive fruits” [It would be good to list those.] but also problems, including a focus on purely practical matters and a neglect of the paschal mystery in the Eucharistic celebration. [I believe that some writer for the SSPX attacked the “paschal mystery” focus that emerged after the Council.  If I remember correctly.] The cardinal said it was legitimate to ask whether liturgical innovators had intentionally gone beyond the council’s stated intentions[The answer is, of course, yes – they did.]

He said this explains why Pope Benedict has introduced a new reform movement, beginning with “Summorum Pontificum.” [I call it part of his “Marshall Plan”.] The aim, he said, is to revisit Vatican II’s teachings in liturgy and strengthen certain elements, including the Christological and sacrificial dimensions of the Mass.

Cardinal Koch said “Summorum Pontificum” is “only the beginning of this new liturgical movement.” [Quite right.]

“In fact, Pope Benedict knows well that, in the long term, we cannot stop at a coexistence between the ordinary form and the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, but that in the future the church naturally will once again need a common rite,” he said.  [I think we could stop with that.  But I don’t think it will stop with that.]

“However, because a new liturgical reform cannot be decided theoretically, [Exactly what was tried during after the Council.  Disaster ensued.] but requires a process of growth and purification, the pope for the moment is underlining above all that the two forms of the Roman rite can and should enrich each other,” he said.

Cardinal Koch said those who oppose this new reform movement and see it as a step back from Vatican II lack a proper understanding of the post-Vatican II liturgical changes. As the pope has emphasized, Vatican II was not a break or rupture with tradition but part of an organic process of growth, he said.  [Not all will agree.  But Curial cardinals are not going to say something like this without including also the party line.]

On the final day of the conference, participants attended a Mass celebrated according to the Tridentine rite at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica. Cardinal Walter Brandmuller presided over the liturgy. It was the first time in several decades that the old rite was celebrated at the altar.  [And may it happen far more frequently.  Perhaps the next time coram Romano Pontifice?]

After the devastation WWII the USA helped to rebuild Europe in order to foster trade and support a bulwark against Communism.  In the wake of the devastation caused by a hermeneutic of discontinuity after the Second Vatican Council, Pope Benedict is trying to revitalize our Catholic identity as a bulwark against the dictatorship of relativism.

The renewal of our Catholic identity requires a realigning of the Roman Rite.  This realigning requires the Extraordinary Form.  There is no way around it.  We have to renew our liturgical worship in order to be who we are within Holy Church, so that we can have an impact, as Catholic disciples of the Lord, on the world around us.  If we don’t know who we are, no one will pay attention to us or what we might have to offer.

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  1. Brooklyn says:

    For a long time I have thought that Joseph Ratzinger’s view was that side-by-side use of the older form of the Roman Rite and the newer Novus Ordo would eventually produce a tertium quid.

    A “tertium quid” would seem to me to mean a compromise, a “middle of the road” Mass. [Not in my mind, it doesn’t.] As I have heard Rush Limbaugh say many times, those who stand in the middle of the road tend to get run over. Traditionalists will never accept a compromise, and I doubt very much that those who are wedded to the Novus Ordo will accept a compromise. Just see how much ruckus there has been because of the corrected translations that are coming. [I suppose some flexibility of mind is required and the willingness not always to see things in a negative light. ]

    I have never heard a good explanation as to why those at Vatican II, and more specifically, Pope Paul VI, felt a need to “redo” the Mass, which had existed for so many, many centuries and had brought so many people to sainthood. In the past, the reason for something as momentous as changing the Mass was because some heresy had crept in. There is no heresy of any kind in the TLM. It seems to me that the only apparent reason for changing the Mass was because the reformers didn’t like the Mass and wanted to get rid of it. That would also account for the fact that the TLM was so suppressed, and those who supported the TLM were dismissed as Latin Mass loonies.

    The fruit of changing the Mass has been the steep decline in Mass attendance, which in the US alone was around 75% in the 1950’s, and is now around 20% to 30%. Less and less Catholics believe in the Real Presence, less and less Catholics go to confession. The fruit of changing the Mass has not been good. I don’t see how creating a “tertium quid” is going to resolve anything. When you try to please everybody, you usually end up pleasing no one. [See above.]

  2. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Fr. Z: I know who the “Romano Pontifice” is, but who is the “Pomano Pontifice?” LOL. I think you need to correct that, or let Benedict XVI know you have conferred upon him a new title! [Everyone’s a comedian. The only title I would really like to have is either Prefect for the Sacred Congregation of the Internet or, that lacking, Inquisitor Universalis. On reflection, I would also go for Plenipotentiary of North America. I am not holding my breath.]

  3. SonofMonica says:

    Brooklyn —

    Regardless of the motivations of those involved with Sacrosanctum Concilium, the document did call for liturgical reform. This article is about Pope Benedict XVI’s motivations. Both traditionalists and progressives should be aware that Pope Benedict XVI does not want to “turn back the clock.” In the first place, such talk presumes that a substantial period of time has lapsed since the Council. It hasn’t. It also assumes that a definitive time has now been reached–that the object of having a “reformed liturgy” in compliance with S.C. has been accomplished. It hasn’t. Pope Benedict XVI wants the Roman liturgy to be reformed as S.C. mandated, but he wants it to be done in a more authentic manner than the attempts which have been made thus far. A reminder of the Council’s wishes:

    “[H]oly Mother Church desires to undertake with great care a general restoration of the liturgy itself… In this restoration, both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify; the Christian people, so far as possible, should be enabled to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively, and as befits a community.”

    Contrary to the meme of the progressives, it is the Novus Ordo, as we know it today, that is the real the attempt to “turn back the clock”–not Pope Benedict XVI’s New Liturgical Movement. S.C. itself says that by “restoration,” it means that the rites should “express more clearly the holy things which they signify.” It does not mean going back to the way that a group of experts think that the liturgy used to be in the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. I think Pope Benedict XVI is aware of this. He wants the Council’s mandated liturgical reform to begin with the liturgy as it existed in 1962, not with a cobbled-together hypothetical liturgy from dubious archaeological digging. I believe that the Pope wishes to start at the Missale Romanum 1962 and move forward with the directives of Sacrosanctum Concilium firmly in hand.

    Call me crazy, but I take Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger at his word: when he called for a New Liturgical Movement, he wasn’t kidding, he meant a New Liturgical Movement, not a Counter-Liturgical Movement. We presently have a Novus Ordo rite, and it does fulfill some of the directives of S.C. Thus, to call for a Tertium Quid is not to call for a compromise with pure evil. The Novus Ordo is not the enemy, and thus we have nothing to lose by recognizing its successes. To call for a Tertium Quid is to be willing to recognize those elements of the first attempt at post-conciliar liturgical reform which were successful and which can serve as a common point of reference as we make the second attempt.

  4. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Brooklyn: It is not a question of “creating” a tertium quid, but of allowing the Holy Spirit to move the Church towards a liturgical form which gives glory to God and inculcates liturgical piety in the faithful. This form can and must be altered with the passing of time, the particular needs of the faithful, and within the boundaries which Catholic Tradition imposes upon the sacred liturgy.

    The “TLM” was not the only form that helped people become saints. Saints were raised up with the Byzantine liturgy, the Coptic, the Syro-Malabar, the Armenian, the Melkite, etc. Within the Roman Church, the centuries before St. Gregory the Great saw many saints and martyrs nourished at the liturgy which was far different than the “TLM” form, such as the liturgy which St. Hippolytus describes.

    The Council of Trent, speaking against the Protestants who accused the Church of altering the form of the liturgy from its pristine condition in the Apostolic Age, said the the Church possesses the full commission and authority of God to alter any of her rites: “this power has ever been in the Church, that, in the dispensation of the sacraments, their substance being untouched, it may ordain, or change, what things soever it may judge most expedient, for the profit of those who receive, or for the veneration of the said sacraments, according to the difference of circumstances, times, and places (Session XI, Chapter 2).

  5. cyrillist says:

    Of course, such a New Liturgical Movement could very well result in the TLM, unchanged, as the Tertium Quid (hereafter, “TQ” – yet another liturgical acronym, oh joy…). If we’re seriously looking for the best of both, there’s no reason to assume that anything from either absolutely has to be included (“just to be fair”). I’ve been trying to “recognize the successes” of the Novus Ordo for some time, and while I once believed that the expanded Lectionary and the restored Prayers of the Faithful qualified as such, I’ve since concluded that the TLM has the edge in those cases as well.

    Sorry to paraphrase +Williamson, but the TQ between 2+2=4 and 2+2=6 is 2+2=4.

  6. dominic1955 says:

    I too fail to see why the NO needs to be some sort of foundation for any subsequent liturgical reform. It should be ditched and consigned to the historical outer darkness just like the Quinones breviary.

  7. Brooklyn says:

    SonofMonica and Fr_Sotelo – Neither of you have answered my question – why was the Mass “reformed” in the first place back with Vactican II and then more radically under Pope Paul VI? What was it that needed reforming?

    SonofMonica, you quoted the Council: ““[H]oly Mother Church desires to undertake with great care a general restoration of the liturgy itself… In this restoration, both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify; the Christian people, so far as possible, should be enabled to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively, and as befits a community.” What was it that the Council saw as needing reforming? I was only a little girl in grade school in the 60’s, but I remember following the Mass in my St. Joseph’s Missal, and pretty much understanding everything that was happening. I even use to do the responses in Latin. So if I as a little girl could understand, why did the Council think that adults couldn’t understand?

    Fr Sotelo: You wrote: “The “TLM” was not the only form that helped people become saints.” That is absolutely true, but as I initially posted, there was nothing wrong with the TLM, and under the TLM, the Church seemed to flourish. So why was it deemed necessary to create a new rite and suppress the TLM? I was gone from the Church from 1969, having left shortly before the NO was implemented, until 2007, when the TLM was allowed back in without restriction. (I did not leave because of the Mass. I left because I got caught up in the craziness of the 60’s, and it certainly wasn’t the NO Mass that brought me back). So I missed a lot, and therefore I will grant that I don’t have complete understanding on this subject. Maybe someone could enlighten me? It seems to me that if there had not been a “reform” back in the 60’s, we most likely would not be experiencing many of the current problems in the Church.

    Sometimes the old cliche is true: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Unfortunately, a whole lot seems “broke” now. But is a tertium quid the answer? I kind of like cyrillist’s answer.

  8. cyrillist says:

    Not necessarily, dominic1955. Let the NO and TLM co-exist, on a genuinely level playing field. The NO may do the outer darkness thing all by itself. Maybe that’s actually the idea.

    Now, as to how to get that playing field level, boy, that’s a tough one… Brick by agonizing brick. :-)

  9. edwardswyco says:

    It kind of reminds me of when they were replacing our US dollars with Federal Reserve Notes in the early 20th Century. For several years, both dollars (released by the US Treasury) and FRN were circulated side-by-side. In the currency scenario, things ended with the traditional US dollar being completely replaced. I’m not saying that’s what I think will happen (a tertium quid seems to make sense); I just can’t help but notice the wisdom of letting the Forms exist side-by-side. We saw the heartache when the post-Conciliar reform was rammed through – we are still recovering from that. There has been too much malformation of faith through faulty catechises to abruptly hit the reset button; a slower, gentler ‘reform of the reform’ is probably necessary in some circles (although we’re very anxious for it to be done overnight).

  10. Personally, I would not be unhappy to see the Novus Ordo eventually just fall into disuse. Meanwhile, I’d be ecstatic if I just had the option of attending the Extraordinary Form exclusively, even if I had to get up at 5 in the morning to do it. (Which I’d hate, but I’d still do it.)

    As for creating the level playing field, I think Universae ecclesiae has done at least that much. It seems pretty clear from the instruction that the Extraordinary Form is to be re-introduced into the mainstream of Catholic life. Of course there are still those who will resist this, but they have neither the law nor the mind of the Church on their side. That is huge.

  11. SonofMonica says:

    What was it that the Council saw as needing reforming?


    Please look to Section III.C. of Sacrosanctum Concilium for the Council’s answer to that question:

    I was not alive, and thus could not tell you whether your experience was typical, nor whether it was broken and in need of fixing. But apparently the things in III.C. were the things that the Council deemed necessary to do.



  12. Athelstan says:

    Re-reading Sacrosanctum Concilium again not long ago, I was struck by two things:

    1) It is remarkable how far the novus ordo goes beyond it, both in ignoring many of its clear assertions (such as the retention of some Latin and of chant) and in changing a great many aspects of the mass never mentioned by the Council;

    2) That Sacrosanctum Concilium still outlines a very remarkable program of liturgical reform which, if adhered to closely, would still result in an overhaul of the liturgy that would have gone well beyond anything done by St. Pius V, let along anything done since.

    The latter realization was later in coming to me. But it is there just the same. And I think that while Papa Ratzinger’s thought on this subject has evolved (in a more conservative direction), his beau ideal is still something pretty close to what the Council Fathers called for, explicitly, in SC. And that is something which most traditionalists will still find hard to take; the 1955 Holy Week reforms, or at least the bulk of them, are hard enough to take as it is.

    For the time being the Council remains a high ground that both the Pope and his progressive foes wish to claim. While the Pope’s belief in the Council is surely sincere, it is also perhaps not an imprudent tactic to adopt at this point, even when it results in a certain amount of juridical creativity (i.e., that the EF and OF really are forms of the same Roman Rite). It secures a greater legitimacy for this unfolding reform project that Fr. Z has rightly identified, and buys it time while the ground shifts and momentum builds for the kind of “reform of the reform” he has in mind. But once the generations of the Council are gone in a generation or two, the project may take on new forms, and even the Council’s own thinking may be subjected to more critical examination.

    The vernacular cat may be out of the bag, for most Catholics. But the rest of the reforms may be another story – perhaps even ones expressly called for by the Council.

  13. Brooklyn says:

    SonofMonica – Thanks for the link. I have read this document before and I think the very first paragraph is very telling:

    “This sacred Council has several aims in view: it desires to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful; to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change; to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ; to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church. The Council therefore sees particularly cogent reasons for undertaking the reform and promotion of the liturgy. “

    As you can see, a big reason for “reforming” the Mass was to try to reach out to other religions. The Council obviously felt that the TLM was too divisive, dare I say too “Catholic” and caused divisions with other religions. I think it’s pretty safe to say that not only has the reform of the Mass failed to “promote union among all who believe in Christ” but in fact, has failed to promote union in the Church itself.

    However, in all fairness to the Council, if those who reformed the Mass had been more cognizant of the following paragraph from this document, things may well have been very different:

    Lastly, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way. The Council also desires that, where necessary, the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet the circumstances and needs of modern times.

    The Church has obviously fallen down on the job in this regard, and it seems to be what our Holy Father is trying to do now.

    As far as my experience with the TLM back before the reform, I can tell you that the altar servers were all young boys who knew the Latin backwards and forwards, along with all the rubrics of the Mass. Again, if it was possible for young children to understand this, it only seems likely that adults, who had grown up with the Mass, understood what was happening as well.

  14. Frankly i don’t see why the NO came into existence; the Post V!! Missal of 1965 seem to envision what the council thought of liturgy. Frankly, I think Pope Paul V! was sold a “pig in a poke.”

  15. Mundabor says:

    I have some questions here:

    1) How can Pope Benedict influence the shape of the Mass for generations to come? The next Pope (or the one after him; of the one thereafter) could simply decide that in future the Tridentine will be the only rite, and that’s that. [I don’t think he is trying to “shape” so much as “spark”. He is trying, I think, to get the ball rolling, set up the conditions for a more natural and healthier process to take place in years to come. That is why he is placing the Extraordinary Form and Ordinary From side by side.]

    2) By all the good that he is doing, Pope Benedict XVI is a man of the Council and you can’t, therefore, bring the Council out of his liturgical reflections. But it seems to me not improbable at all that his successors will not feel any allegiance to the Council, nor will they have any interest in trying to “salvare il salvabile” (save what can be saved) from it. Methinks, it is rather more probable that they’ll decide to put everything quietly in the freezer, and keep it there.

    3) If any Tertium Quid will ever be born, in my eyes it will be rather the good Tridentine Mass with the slow, careful, “organic” adjustments we have seen in the last centuries; in this natural process of slow adjustments, there might some slight changes fruit of the experience of the Novus Ordo and this will, of course, be the result of the fact that life is green and not even the Tridentine Mass has remained absolutely unchanged since the Council of Trent. But it seems to me that to think that the Tridentine will be widely shaped from the Novus ordo is like thinking that the steamroller is shaped by the small stones it finds along the way. As I have written today, in my eyes the Tridentine is Rome, the Novus Ordo is Avignon: a temporary aberration destined to be undone when the following generations grasp the extent of the damage.


  16. asophist says:

    Cardinal Koch said Pope Benedict thinks the post-Vatican II liturgical changes have brought “many positive fruits” [It would be good to list those.]

    Fr Z’s “It would be good to list those” was a lot milder than what I said to myself: “Name one!”

  17. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Brooklyn: The Pope and bishops at Vatican II could not have considered the Mass to be too divisive or too Catholic, because it was the only Mass they knew, it was the Mass which fostered their vocation to the priesthood, and it was the only Mass offered during the Vatican II sessions from 1962 to 1965. Yes, there was a desire for the liturgy to be more comprehensible for non-Catholics, but certainly not to grovel at their feet and let non-Catholics dictate the liturgy.

    But most bishops, from a European perspective, saw a decrease in Mass attendance even before Vatican II. Some parts of the world, like the U.S., had very healthy Mass attendance, but in Europe, even before the Council, there were steady decreases. So, a reform of the liturgy meant a desire to 1) simplify the rites, 2) engage the people with the vernacular in those parts of Mass suited to the people’s participation, and 3) allow for the Scripture lessons and overall liturgical calendar to clearly communicate the theme of the life of Christ and the mysteries of His life, death, resurrection, and glorification.

    The bishops could see that the 1960’s were bringing a revolution on many levels, and the liturgy had to be such that it engaged the people and nourished their liturgical piety to be able to withstand the onslaught of the changes in culture and society. Paul VI felt that the reform he proposed would be received by most positively.

    As a matter of fact, studies from 1966, 1967, and 1968, showed that changes in the Church were well received by Catholics, who continued to hold steady in the practice of their faith. The walls came crashing down, in fact, in 1968, before the Novus Ordo was even promulgated. And the cause of droves of people heading out the door was not the new liturgy, but the birth control teaching of Paul VI, promulgated in the summer of 1968.

    This is the connection that people fail to make. The revolution of dissent and experimentation poured into the liturgy from the flood of revolution caused by Humanae Vitae. The encyclical and the storm of rebellion which it unleashed was like a theological Hurricane Katrina. The waters of this flood then broke down the levees of the liturgy, causing the New Orleans disaster of the Novus Ordo experimentation and free for all.

    Once priests saw that authority had broken down completely in the Church, and no one enforced anything or attempted to quell the dissent from birth control, it was only the logical next step for them to turn to the liturgy and make it a free for all also. Read the Gallup poll studies after the birth control teaching, and you will see this verified. Catholics started to drop like flies because of dissent to Church teaching at the end of the 1960’s–not because of the Novus Ordo. Now, Pope Paul was a great prophet for speaking truth to power about birth control and abortion, and standing up to the population myths, and I commend him for that. But that prophetic courage needed to be backed up with authority, and instead, it was a crisis of authority that followed in the Church.

  18. shane says:

    Discussions on what the Second Vatican Council “really intended” concerning liturgy are always interesting but it does suggest the question: “why does it matter?” Given that many of the theories that were so popular in liturgical circles back then are now being reassessed and would not stand up to modern scrutiny Sacrosanctum Concilium itself may be regarded as well past its sell by date. It’s worth remembering that almost all the bishops who implemented the reforms participated at the Council itself, and voted overwhelmingly for its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (which if I’m not mistake was mostly drafted by Bugnini?).

    We need to move away from the very notion of ‘Committee Liturgy’. The liturgical rites belong to the entire worshipping communitee. At most popes should be trustees of the liturgical tradition and not superior to it. If a New Liturgical Movement champions traditional liturgy on the basis of what the pope says, does that not make it very vulernable? What happens if one of Pope Benedict’s successors decides to repeal Summorum Pontificum? What would we do then?

  19. rtmp723 says:

    the answer for a common rite is easy: Use the 65 missal and bring over some of the prefaces from the NO, and revise the new lectionary a bit. I really don’t think the people in the pews would mind the 65 Mass.

  20. shane says:

    Discussions on what the Second Vatican Council “really intended” concerning liturgy are always interesting but it does suggest the question: “why does it matter?” Given that many of the theories that were so popular in liturgical circles back then are now being reassessed and would not stand up to modern scrutiny we cannot make Sacrosanctum Concilium the be all and end all guide for liturgical reform in the Church today. The world of 1962 is enormously different from the world of today and it would be a very grave to assume that the pastoral needs of Catholics are the same now as they were 50 years ago. It’s worth remembering that almost all the bishops who implemented the reforms participated at the Council itself, and voted overwhelmingly for its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (which if I’m not mistaken was largely drafted by Bugnini?).

    We need to move away from the very notion of ‘Committee Liturgy’. Yes the Novus Ordo is a travesty — anything created by a committee of intellectuals usually is. But the solution will not be found in more bureaucratic tinkering. The liturgical rites belong to the Church as a whole. The liturgy does NOT belong to the individual priest, nor does it belong to the bishop — much less to some bookish curiacrat in Rome. At most popes should be seen as trustees and guardians of the liturgical tradition and not superior to it. If a New Liturgical Movement champions traditional liturgy on the basis of what the pope says, does that not make it very vulnerable? “What the king gives, the king may take away.” What happens if one of Pope Benedict’s successors decides to repeal Summorum Pontificum? What would we do then? Immemorial/centennial custom and tradition must be the basis for a New Liturgical Movement not legal positivism.

  21. albizzi says:

    Everyone may google “Louis Bouyer”, “Paul VI”, & “Bugnini”.
    So Fr Louis Bouyer explains how Paul VI and Bugnini plotted to deceive those whom the Pope appointed to reform the liturgy and enforce the NO.

    “Cardinal Koch said Pope Benedict thinks the post-Vatican II liturgical changes have brought “many positive fruits” [It would be good to list those] (comment in red of Fr Z.)
    Dear Fr Zuhlsdorf, I suspect that in your opinion “these positive fruits” may be very few if not existing only in the Cardinal’s mind.

  22. shane says:

    The worst feature of the Novus Ordo, in my opinion, is the expanded lectionary. The attention span of an average adult is shorter now than it was in the 50s. Only a handful of people at the Novus Ordo actually remember the readings they hear. For most people they go in one ear and out the other. The readings should be kept ‘short and sweet’ to facilitate maximum absorption. Announcing interminable reams of decontextualized readings to the average person will almost certainly cause his mind to wander. This is what happens at the average Novus Ordo. IMHO the NO would be enormously enriched if it adopted the old lectionary.

    I’d like to see it made mandatory in both the NO and the EF for the readings to be in Latin. The Jerusalem Bible and the New American Bible may be acceptable for private study but the prose in both is so unspeakably grotesque that they are in no way appropriate for liturgical use. If you want to promote knowledge of the scriptures then set up a bible study club.

    If the Tridentine Mass (which is after all a drastically cut down curial version of the Roman rite) is to be ‘enriched’ it should be from pre-Tridentine medieval usages. I fail to see why the Novus Ordo should be the yardstick. As for the NO, it should be either abolished or retained as a reminder of how NOT to do liturgy.

  23. Thank you Fr. Sotelo, for your ever-erudite and commonsense approach.
    If you read ‘Sacrosanct concilium,’ really read it, you will find absolutely NO call for what we presently have as the ‘forma ordinaria’. As someone said on another post, the Ordo of ’65 truly reflected what the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council called for.
    If there is a “third option”…somehow melding the ’62 Missal with the ’70 Missal, I’m all for it.
    With conditions: Sacred Tradition must be upheld (as it was NOT in the ’70 Missal, validity notwithstanding); the “fruits” (yes, there have been some good things that have developed with the new Missal: congregational participation, maybe a further development of the Lectionary during weekdays, new Saints and Prefaces) should never be overlooked.
    I don’t want to sound like a raving liberal here (anybody who knows me would fall down laughing at that one).
    But can authentic organic development please be considered here…locking the ’62 Missal into a “time warp” is NOT going to further anything.

  24. The new lectionary has plenty of context; and given even a modicum of serious homily instruction on how to interpret the readings, they fit together with great power and beauty and tend to be very pointed. As witness my mother’s catechetical elbow pokes. :) Heck, you can draw deep meaningful relevant applicable lessons from the Sunday Mass readings (or even the daily Mass readings) for your favorite fictional characters on TV shows, much less yourself, your relations, your friends, and whatever theology you just read about in your Catholic books. Pointed, yuppers.

    The problem is that a lot of people don’t get sermons with points to ’em that point out these points, don’t have catechetical elbows among their nearest and dearest, and somehow manage not to be clear on the concept that “readings come from the Bible, and there’s a psalm and a Gospel every time”. (Probably this was also true of the uncatechized back in the day, but back then the uncatechized had to work pretty darned hard to avoid getting catechized.)

    Re : why, I thought everybody was clear about how everybody in the Sixties thought they were about to die in a ball of nuclear flame, or conversely, get magically saved into a utopia of supercool fast spaceships and/or marijuana. The Church tried to “get tough” and “be proactive”, and this is what happened.

  25. ttucker says:

    Bravo Fr. Sotelo! I think you are exactly right. I have long thought that the Novus Ordo actually kept things from getting worse in the Church than would otherwise have been the case, given the setting of the extreme societal changes of the 60’s and 70’s.
    You are correct that by and large the Mass changes were well-received, and I think those who question why the Mass needed reform need to answer why that is the case, as well as answer why 99% of current Catholics vote with their feet to attend a NOM rather than a TLM when the choice exists. Furthermore, there are many Catholics still alive from those days who have described why the Mass needed reform.
    It has been documented that the supposed large Mass attendances of the 40’s and 50’s are very suspect, and are probably inflated.
    Those who link the Council with the subsequent declines in Catholic life are, IMHO, making a big post hoc ergo propter hoc mistake.

  26. JKnott says:

    Shane said: “If you want to promote knowledge of the scriptures then set up a bible study club.” and:, “I fail to see why the Novus Ordo should be the yardstick. As for the NO, it should be either abolished or retained as a reminder of how NOT to do liturgy.”
    I strongly agree on both points.
    That God can use anything to make saints is true, but the NO is a concrete impediment to holiness in the average Catholic and it always will be. What is so complicaterd about that?

  27. Bender says:

    Yes ttucker and Fr. Sotelo — the Holy Spirit knew what He was doing when He guided the Pope and bishops at Vatican II.

    And either folks believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Church or they don’t.

  28. Bender says:

    And need I remind some people here, reject or deny the validity or legitimacy of the Ordinary Form and you disqualify yourself under UE 19.

  29. edm says:

    There is much talk about the possibility of “mutual enrichment” happening as the result of the co-existence of the EF and NO. Does anyone really believe that traditionalists are open to “enrichment” of the Tridentine Mass from the Novus Ordo?

  30. Dave N. says:

    Extremely interesting article and analysis. My question would be: how many of the bishops really grasp that this is the program? Or more importantly, how many cardinals? This will undoubtedly take several generations.

  31. shane says:

    edm, it would probably cause a schism. If the EF Mass is to be ‘enriched’ it should be from the pre-Tridentine forms, not the (disastrous) Novus Ordo. Consider the following by Fr Anthony Chadwick, an Anglican priest who lives in northern France. He celebrates the Use of Sarum and suggests making it normative for the Ordinariate:

    This notion of local and spiritual identity is what motivates my choice for the Use of Sarum. It is a pre-Tridentine rite that is characterised by a rare beauty and harmony, but which is quite “untidy” is other ways. The basic structure of the Mass is remarkably similar to the Dominican rite and some of the French diocesan uses of before their mutilation at the hands of Jansenist or Gallican bishops of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The fact that Sarum became obsolete preserved it from tampering hands at that time. The full ceremonial is very ornate and reminiscent of Byzantine splendour, with the use of flabellae and scores of men and boys apparelled in copes and dalmatics. That kind of liturgical life, of which I witnessed some of the dying embers in Normandy in the early 1980’s, is quite a contrast from the Counter-Reformation sobriety of the Roman rite in its extraordinary form.

    […]The more I study liturgical issues, the more I am convinced that liturgical use needs to depend less on legislation and codification than on use in the Church and organic development.

  32. Maltese says:

    “The reading of this document manifests clearly, we believe,
    that the “theology of the Paschal mystery,” to which the door was
    left open at the occasion of Vatican II, is the soul of the liturgical
    reform. Because it minimizes the mystery of the Redemption, be-
    cause it considers the sacrament only in its relation with the “mys-
    tery,” and because the conception that it makes of the “memorial”
    alters the sacrificial dimension of the Mass, this “theology of the
    Paschal mystery” renders the post-conciliar liturgy dangerously
    distant from Catholic doctrine, to which, however, the Christian
    conscience remains bound forever.”

    You can read the document (booklet) for free, here:

  33. Maltese says:

    Btw: here is some great news (scroll down for story and photos of the first Vetus Ordo Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in decades):

    In may take 100 years, but eventually the Novus Ordo will dissolve into the sands of time, as an experiment gone terribly wrong, without influencing one iota the Vetus Ordo. Perhaps a new rite will emerge, as rites do through time, but the Vetus Ordo will always be what it is, perhaps with some natural progression.

  34. paulbailes says:

    When will the authorities, from the HF down, stop tormenting us with threats of more Revolution?

    (And as long as they keep telling us that ‘the post-Vatican II liturgical changes have brought “many positive fruits”’, people like me won’t trust them.)

  35. Henry Edwards says:

    I have spent as much time as most here looking backwards–at what the liturgy was or was not like in the 1950s, what people or did not accept in the 1960s, whether the old Mass did or not need reform, what the Council Fathers did or did not intend, whether the Novus Ordo did or did not go beyond their intent, etc. And have my own answers to all of these fascinating questions.

    However, I’ve come to believe that they’re irrelevant at the present time. The only relevant question is how we go forward, from where the liturgy is, right now, with two coexisting forms of the Roman rite, the result (for better or for worse) of all the water under the bridge. And I’m convinced that Pope Benedict has the answer to this question, and has in fact laid it out pretty well.

  36. Ave Maria!

    Fr. Sotelo, I think that you make an interesting point. In the end, we are not God. We do not have all the answers as to what happened preceding the Council. If one wants, one can find whatever one wants regarding which position to take in this current crisis. However, how can the Catholic be sure that he is on the right path?

    Since Christ founded His Church on the sure foundation, which is the rock who is Peter, it is with Peter, by following his lead, his guidance, his will, his directives that we as Catholics are safe.

  37. My theory is that the in the not-too-distant future that the NO will die out. The teens who are forced to go to Mass by their parents will move out and not set foot in church again and their baby boomer parents will soon be too infirm to attend. The TLM, on the other hand, is full of vibrant, larger-than usual families who LIVE the Catholic faith and have vocations. So, let us pretend we are in 2040 and see who is left praying.

  38. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Katherine: It’s no secret that I think that predictions of the death of the Novus Ordo are a combination of fantasy, wishful thinking, misplaced anger, and comedy.

    I’ve been a priest for 20 years and have pastored five parishes where people have had plenty of babies who are now attending the Novus Ordo and have no sign of going away. My first altar boys I trained are married now with their own babies, baptized and attending Mass in the Novus Ordo as well. My parishioners increase, not decrease, in the Novus Ordo, and that goes for increased Novus Ordo sacraments which must be conferred as well (and increased work in CCD to keep up educating these folks).

    I can assure you, if I am around in 2040, and working still, I will be exhausted at the rate I see things going. If I want to see fewer numbers, smaller parishes, and less work, I’ll go and join the FSSP and work exclusively in the Extraordinary Form.

    But instead of pretending we are in 2040 and fantasizing about the death of the Novus Ordo, why don’t we actually pray right now in the year 2011, with a humble and positive outlook, that God will permit the two forms of the Roman Rite to mutually enrich each other, according to the mind of our present Holy Father?

  39. Legisperitus says:

    God will provide for His Church in His time. We won’t live to see the final outcome, and neither will the Holy Father. I personally doubt whether a tertium quid (at least such as we could imagine today) will ever emerge. But if the Holy Father’s vision during his lifetime is of a tertium quid, so be it, as long as that vision sets the Church on the path of freeing and propagating the Extraordinary Form. God can do the rest through the graces of the Mass.

  40. Woodlawn says:

    Dear Fr. Sotelo,

    If you really wanted to be busy you could go to work for one of those Evangelical mega-churches. The real question is the appropriateness of this: “So, a reform of the liturgy meant a desire to 1) simplify the rites, 2) engage the people with the vernacular in those parts of Mass suited to the people’s participation, and 3) allow for the Scripture lessons and overall liturgical calendar to clearly communicate the theme of the life of Christ and the mysteries of His life, death, resurrection, and glorification. The bishops could see that the 1960?s were bringing a revolution on many levels, and the liturgy had to be such that it engaged the people and nourished their liturgical piety to be able to withstand the onslaught of the changes in culture and society.” An adaptation of the most sacred rites of the Church to the spirit of the age. How did that work out for those European bishops?

    You are correct that the rebellion began before the introduction of a new rite of Mass. Just when we needed bulwarks to preserve Catholic identity, practice, and belief we were given a rite that allowed us to abandon our traditions and heritage and become more like the non-Catholics down the street.

    In the history of the Church every true spiritual renewal has been accompanied by a return to the ancient ways, to the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and to ancient practice and belief. That is exactly what is needed now. My money is on the FSSP, ICRSS, and other such traditional orders to lead the way.

  41. JohnRoss says:

    The post-Tridentine emphasis on rigid liturgical uniformity partly created this mess because it created the mentality that everyone has to do things the same way. Before Trent you had the Nidaros Use. the Cologne Use, the Upsala Use, Sarum Use, York Use and so forth.

    As a Byzantine Catholic I find the Western preoccupation with uniformity puzzling because every particular church of our tradition has its own usage. The Russians do things differently than the Greeks who do things differently from the Ruthenians and so forth.

    For crying out lout, the various Byzantine Catholic jurisdictions in the U.S. don’t even have the same translations of the Divine Liturgy and the other service books.

    Perhaps, the older existing variants of the Roman rite such as the Carthusian Use could be looked to for inspiration for reforming the Novus Ordo because it is simpler than the Extraordinary Form yet as solemn.

  42. Woodlawn says:

    Dear JohnRoss,

    It was the abandonment of post-Tridentine rigid liturgical uniformity, as you term it, that created the post-Vatican II liturgical deformity. A self inflicted liturgical revolution unprecedented in Church history.

  43. ttucker says:

    Agree firmly with Henry Edwards about where we should go from here- that is, forwards rather than looking backwards. I know Mr. Edwards and I disagree about the questions that are now, as he pointed out, irrelevant. So, let’s put all that behind us and look forwards, as he suggested.

  44. JohnRoss says:

    I think the point I was getting at was that the post-Vatican II “reformers” latched onto the idea that everyone had to pray the same way to destroy the traditional rite of Mass. I would also say what happened might not have had uniformity never been imposed because the post-Vatican II changes were a reaction against that uniformity.

    I feel grateful that the Byzantine rite has retained its diversity and has never subjected its liturgy to the whims of canon lawyers the way the West has because we have been spared the chaos that followed Vatican II in in the West..

    he irony of Vatican II is that it has contributed to making our liturgies more traditional while the opposite has been true in the West.

  45. kallman says:

    As long as it is permitted without any modifications or tampering or further sabotage the TLM will win out over the Novus Ordo

  46. Gaz says:

    The difference between the calendars is a problem.

  47. Corinne says:

    I am quite happy to read that there will eventually be only one Latin rite. I understand and sympathize with those who desire the TLM and the older sacraments because of its aesthetic beauty and history but I still contend that allowing two separate rites and sacraments breeds a separatist mind set among the members of the church. That is not the intention of the Holy Father and I don’t believe it is truly the intention of those who initially attend the TLM, nevertheless it is a byproduct, particularly at those parishes that are set up as exclusive Latin Mass parishes. It is unfortunate but the TLM has a lot of “subjective baggage” (Fr. Z mentioned some of it in a recent post in particular Jansenism that seemed to be prevalent in the past before Vatican II) from the past for many people and even carries “baggage” from today (The radical sedevacantist have hijacked it with their warped views). People take their subjective experiences of the Church of their recent or distant past and apply that objectively to the Mass. Our perspective shapes our experience whether we realize it or not. It’s just how the human mind works.

    As for the Novus Ordo, it is not going anywhere. I am glad it is not going anywhere and I think I share the opinion of alot of people, if not the majority, even young people. Consider this, the majority of the young people answering the call to the religious life today attend the Novus Ordo and are joining orders that celebrate the Novus Ordo (Mother Assumpta’s Dominican Sisters are one such order bursting at the seams). So this Mass is doing something right. I would love to see it done much more reverently and consistently and look forward to the new translations. I think this Advent will be the “advent” of our Holy Father’s “reform of the reform.”

  48. Andrew says:


    I am quite happy to read that there will eventually be only one Latin rite.

    There are various Latin rite liturgies in the Catholic Church such as the Ambrosian rite, the Mozarabic, the Braga, Carthusian, Carmelite, Dominican and off course the Roman. No one is suggesting that all of these Latin rites will merge into one.

  49. Corinne says:

    You are right. I should have said “Roman” rite. I happy that there will be only one Roman rite in local parishes.

  50. jfm says:

    I think one goal of Vatican II was to have a basic Latin rite liturgy that would have its form generally set, but it would vary in its language.
    I think one goal of Pope Benedict XVI is to acknowledge that there are several valid Latin rites, just as there are several valid non-Latin rites, and that each rite should be liturgically strict, but they would be different rites.

    I am not saying this well, so I will use a shopping analogy.
    I think Vatican II said that everyone can buy a shirt, but the shirt should be the same pattern, but you could pick your colors.
    Now, Pope Benedict XVI is saying that there are several acceptable shirt pattern, not just one basic pattern, but that each shirt must be exquisitely well-made and the color selection is limited (for this blog, for example all shirts should be Red and Black.)
    The liturgical follies of the past 40 years have resulted in not different-colored versions of the same pattern of shirt, bur rather different-colored versions of many different degradations of the original pattern.

    Think about it – with Pope Benedict XVI, we now have the gorgeous Anglican rite liturgy said in Roman Catholic Churches in his personal ordinariate. We have a flourshing of the EF. There is a greater appreciation and acceptance of other Latin-rite liturgies.

    For someone thought to be so orthodox, Pope Benedict XVI is actually more progressive-thinking than the reformers in Vatican II. His third way might be that the Eucharist is so special that there are several valid ways of celebrating it. And that these different ways should be tightly monitored by us as we are stewards of God’s creation. These different liturgies are to be treasured.

    It is a very strong challenge to anyone who believes, deep in their hearts, that the EF is the only true liturgy.

  51. spock says:

    I’ve been going to the Tridentine Mass for a little while; a little over a year. One thing that surprises me is the number of people who go who don’t know very much latin. (or that is the claim at least, humility notwithstanding) I would have expected more people to know latin; not that they should be scholars, but know more than is claimed. And also not much stated interest in learning it. To me, that is strange. For the people above who believe the TLM will ultimately squish the NO out of existence, I would posit that people not knowing latin will be a problem for “popularizing” the rite at least in educated first world nations. But that requires an effort. One that I am slowly pursuing.

    On a frivolous note, when I first saw the picture of His Eminence, Cardinal Koch, I thought it was Bill Gates (of Microsoft Fame) in a collar. :)

  52. Gulielmus says:

    Brooklyn said–

    The fruit of changing the Mass has been the steep decline in Mass attendance, which in the US alone was around 75% in the 1950?s, and is now around 20% to 30%.

    While there are many other factors to consider, this overlooks an uncomfortable fact– the steepest decline in Mass attendance (in the US, at least) took place between 1957 and 1965.

    The end of the Council saw a levelling-off in the decline , and those years include the defections connected with protest over Humanae Vitae. Most surprisingly, the introduction of the Novus Ordo led to seven years or so of stability in attendance.

    None of this is to argue for or against one form, but to point out that ascribing the problems to the Council alone doesn’t quite fit the reality, and that a need for some action was in evidence before the Council itself began.

  53. shane says:

    Corinne, Jansenism in the preconciliar American Church? While it was once widely claimed (I don’t know how accurately) that the Church in Quebec was Jansenist, I don’t think the Church in the US suffered from it. Even if it did (and I suspect it didn’t) that would be no reason against the TLM. Jansenists were are at the forefront of the 18th century liturgical reforms and many of the prominent post-conciliar liturgists paid tribute to the Synod of Pistoia.

  54. abasham says:

    In the discussion of mutual enrichment, why does the Missal of 1965 always seem to be forgotten. I would be rather happy had that remained the proper way to celebrate mass, rather than the NO which came out a few years later.

    And I donMt know if I buy the argument that this should be a gradual process. If tomorrow the Vatican were to completely scrap the NO, permit some vernacular in the TLM, and have the congregation say the server responses, I think that would be perfect. It would make our liturgy more closely resemble the Orthodox liturgies, for one. And sure, it would make some people leave the Church, but only the ones who have already left in their hearts anyway.

  55. Centristian says:

    “While there are many other factors to consider, this overlooks an uncomfortable fact– the steepest decline in Mass attendance (in the US, at least) took place between 1957 and 1965.”

    That’s interesting data. I’ve seen similar Mass attendance charts that show a peak at around 1950-1955 with attendance dramatically plummetting thereafter, dropping from about 75% in the early 1950s to about 55% in 1970…all this decline occuring before the current “Novus Ordo” was universally ensconced.

    I think it needs to be borne in mind, however, that statistics also show that those underwhelming percentages obtained prior to the Second World War. As the US heads into WWII, attendance suddenly spikes and we get up into those high percentages for the first time in a long time. The War years are the peak years on these statistical attendance charts. After the Korean War concludes and post-war comfort and prosperity begin to dominate American life (Sundays are for leisure, again), US Mass attendance begins to drop again, back to pre-war averages.

    I think that, when using the statistics to gauge the effect on Mass attendance of one form of Mass as opposed to the other, the War era spike and post-War decline has to be looked at for what it really means, and that factors apart from the form of Mass offered must be taken into consideration.

  56. dominic1955 says:

    I personally do not see the NO dying out on its own, I think it needs to be ended from the top. Of course, I don’t hold my breath. As to the NO doing “something right” because one sees people living their faith in NO churches and joining NO orders, I’d say that is simply because God is not vindictive. I bet plenty of Frenchmen from the 18th century lived lives of holiness going to Mass and the other Sacraments according to Neo-Gallican Missals and Rituals with priests praying their Neo-Gallican breviaries. Grace continues to flow despite the roadblocks that are thrown in the way.

  57. moon1234 says:

    why 99% of current Catholics vote with their feet to attend a NOM rather than a TLM when the choice exists.

    That is easy to answer. Most Catholics would find that having to actually “participate” in Mass vs. uttering responses is too much work. Imagine having to READ from a misaal while at Mass, listen to a Sermon that is not about the football, baseball or basketball team, actually unite their prayers with the Priest instead of thinking about staring AT him.

    When my parish received more traditional Priests, some of the current parishoners left. I work with one of them. I asked her why she left. She said “They are too traditional” and “We don’t subscribe to the whole “no artifical birth control” they preach. I asked where she attends now. She said they are going to the ultra liberal parish 15 miles away that NEVER preaches about sin, has altar girls almost exclusively, 15 (yes 15) EMOC EVERY Sunday.

    So you see, it is not hard to see why most “Catholics” vote with their feet. If you don’t know your faith, or don’t want to live it, you go to “Mass” where there are the least amount of “restrictions” on your personal lifestyle. This is what the N.O. allows due to the way most Masses are facilitated by the local presbyter.

  58. moon1234 says:

    There is much talk about the possibility of “mutual enrichment” happening as the result of the co-existence of the EF and NO. Does anyone really believe that traditionalists are open to “enrichment” of the Tridentine Mass from the Novus Ordo?

    No. From the EF to NO yes, the other way around no. I personally would like to see us go back to 1954, but include the additional saints and holy days. The changes to Holy Week make absolutely no sense when you study what they were and what they are now. The wholesale chucking of numerous readings and ceremonies just makes no sense at all. When you look for the theological reasons for the changes there really are very few. What you WILL find is the common mantra “Simplify and make shorter”.

    Ask youself WHY the Pontificale Romanum needed to be reformed? What was deficient? REALLY READ the old text. Then look for WHY certain prayers were dropped. You will find that MOST of the dropped prayers referred to consecrating, blessing, defining a priest as consecrator, etc. ALL of these references are minimized or wholesale eliminated. Prayers asking for the intercession of the Holy Ghost, etc. have also mostly been dropped.

    MANY traditional Catholics today have actually STUDIED the texts and their eyes are opened. Changes to the EF that most traditionalists would be opened to? I can think of no problems with new saints being added. Everything else would need EXACTING theological reasons WHY a change is being made. The NO is truely just fabricated. A few prayers here, change this there, etc. No organic development, very little direct link to the liturgy of the past 2000 years.

    What the EF forces is prayerful sacrifice of self to God. This is NOT EASY to “liberated” free thinking “It’s about me” that most “free people” think of themselves today. Ask ANYONE who attends a N.O. service what active participation means. In almost 100% of the responses you will hear “Say the responses”, “Sing the Songs”, be an EMHC, “Be a Reader”, etc. ALL outward signs that are NO necessary at Mass.

    So you see the true problem is that most “Catholics” today have no idea what being Catholic really means other than it being a label and part of a “Community”. The whole “Community” aspect is a serious problem today. The “Community” is NOT what be Catholic is. The “Community” should be ALL Catholics, everywhere. You should be able to go ANYWHERE in the world to Mass and be part of the “Community”. Most people today associate “Community” with their local neighbors who think like them and act like them.

    I also think that you will find most Trads are very comfortable where they are at with the EF. They don’t want the angst that comes with tinkering with the EF AGAIN. I am sure these “changes” that are mentioned UE will cause rifts in SSPX, etc. How will SSPX look at this? Will they reject the changes, take some of them, etc?

    My PERSONAL suggestion is to go back to 1954. Before Bugnini started tinkering with the Mass for no real good reason. Start there, add saints to calendar (bring back the “dumped” saints) and THEN start with organic changes from there.

    I am sorry, but 1962 is just the LAST missal of the EF. It is in no way the ideal (in my opinion). It had been tinkerd with so much since 1954.

    Vernacular is not necessary if Priests took seriously the charge to teach their parishoners SOME latin and what it means. Lack of education does not a smart man make.

  59. albinus1 says:

    One thing that surprises me is the number of people who go who don’t know very much latin. (or that is the claim at least, humility notwithstanding) I would have expected more people to know latin; not that they should be scholars, but know more than is claimed. And also not much stated interest in learning it. To me, that is strange.

    I had a similar experience when I started attending the traditional Mass over 15 years ago. I teach Latin and Greek, and my first interest in Latin was awakened by looking at my parents’ old missals as a child and teaching myself some of the older hymns and chants. I was drawn to the traditional Mass for historical and esthetic reasons as much as for any other, and I expected to find others like me. But there were very few; in my experience, many people drawn to the traditional Mass don’t know Latin from Arabic or Chinese, and don’t really care. They are drawn to the spirituality and theology of the liturgy, as well as by the sense of the sacred that it inculcates. If given the choice between the EF in the vernacular and the NO in Latin, they would choose the former without a moment of hesitation.

  60. Andrew says:

    spock and albinus1:

    It is very rare to read comments such as yours. Generally, anyone bringing up this issue will be dismissed, ignored, treated as an invisible person by everyone from the hard core ‘traditionalist’ to the extreme ‘liberal’. You identified the elephant in the room: now let’s pretend that he isn’t there.

  61. Supertradmum says:

    TThe radical changes of the Mass were direct results of the Protestantizing of Biblical New Criticsm adopted in Catholic seminaries and theogians as early as the 1920s. Many priests assumed that the Church would reflect such movements in order to be ecumenical. French clergy took the lead but the American hierarchy infected with Americanism and Modernism were not behind. Mass changes were a logical result.

  62. Centristian says:

    “I believe that the Pope wishes to start at the Missale Romanum 1962 and move forward with the directives of Sacrosanctum Concilium firmly in hand.”

    We haven’t seen any evidence of that, to date, however. The Pope has never once since the beginning of his pontificate celebrated Mass in the Extraordinary Form in public. If the Holy Father truly imagines that the “reform of the reform” begins by returning to the 1962 Missal and moving forward from that point, I would expect that he would do just that and lead by example.

    The fact of the matter is that, as loathe as some traditionalists are to see it, the Ordinary Form of Mass is ubiquitous whereas public celebrations of the Extraordinary Form of Mass are relatively scarce. The Tridentine Mass is not “coming back” in leaps and bounds. It’s hardly there at all, when you think about it. In the minds of most Catholics, it amounts to a lovely and charming historical curiosity that they’ve heard of but have never experienced. It is the Ordinary Form of Mass that prevails, by an enormous margin.

    It is also true, however, that disappointing celebrations of the Ordinary Form of Mass are nearly as ubiquitous as the form of Mass, itself. The liturgical and ceremonial arts have suffered to the point where, in many cases, the typical Sunday Mass celebrated in any given parish ends up being anywhere from lame to insipid to appalling. I think we almost all agree on that. I do not believe I have ever attended a Mass in the Ordinary Form that I thought was just as “Catholic” or as beautiful or as traditional as a Mass in the Extraordinary Form. I’m not even sure I can recall any Mass I have attended in the Ordinary Form that has even come close to offering what Mass in the Extraordinary Form offers.

    That having been acknowledged, I know that Masses in the Ordinary Form are ABLE to be celebrated with as much beauty and dignity and reverence and tradition as Masses celebrated in the Extraordinary Form. I have never been to such a Mass, because as rare as celebrations of the Extraordinary Form are, such celebrations of the Ordinary Form are much, much rarer. One can usually find at least one “Tridentine” Mass offered in any given diocese. Try finding a “Novus Ordo” Mass celebrated properly and beautifully, however. That’s a much more daunting challenge.

    Were it not for the magic of the internet, and for Pope Benedict XVI via TV, I might never have realized how like the Extraordinary Form of Mass the Ordinary Form can be…and ought to be. Getting back to the Pope, however, it speaks volumes to me that the Holy Father has never celebrated the Extraordinary Form of Mass in public as Pope. He always celebrates Holy Mass in the Ordinary Form. As we all know, however, when he does celebrate Mass, he lavishes the “old school” ars celebrandi upon it.

    The Pope is setting an example, it seems to me, for the overwhelming majority of priests in the world who do not find the term “Extraordinary Form” in their lexicons (and who never will) and who haven’t got a 1962 Missal in their libraries (and who never will). It is the Ordinary Form of Mass that is celebrated by all of those priests, around the world, not the Extraordinary Form. Consequently, it is the Ordinary Form of Mass that suffers abuse and deformity, not the Extraordinary Form.

    The prevalent form of Mass is the most abused thing in the Church, due to a deformed ecclesiastical culture. So many priests don’t seem to know what priesthood means any more, nor do they comprehend the value of the Church’s liturgy. This is reflected in the lacklustre-to-horrifying ways they celebrate Mass.

    Priests who celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form do so well, with respect for the liturgy they are celebrating. In every case. They don’t need an example put before them. It’s the rest of the clergy that require an example…a consistent and very public example, right from the top. They need to be shown how to say Mass again. They need the Pope to show the whole world how the Mass that THEY actually celebrate every day is supposed to be celebrated.

    Hopefully, once they see that Mass can be celebrated a better way, some of them, at least, will wake up and smell the incense. I’m sure that there must be a number of priests (and seminarians) today who must be observing what Pope Benedict is doing with the “Novus Ordo” and who are saying to themselves, “oh…I never knew. I never knew we could celebrate it like that. I assumed that was all strictly pre-Vatican II. I was told we weren’t supposed to do this or that any longer, or to wear those types of vestments, or to use Latin. But the Pope is doing it. Not once or twice but consistently. Interesting.”

    As more and more priests of upright heart and intention begin to watch and to read and to learn and to catch on to the fact that Catholic tradition in the liturgy is the ideal of every age and not a relic of the past, the more and more a better and more traditional celebration of the Ordinary Form of Mass will emerge and become typical, as opposed to almost unheard of.

    As that happens, of course, more and more Catholics going to Sunday Mass at their own parishes (like me) will go to find a reverently and properly celebrated liturgy, perhaps even in Latin, perhaps even ad orientem, accompanied by traditional and beautiful external elements: vestments, appointments, music, &c. This transformation needs to happen. It is begging to unfold. It demands realization. The Mass that the overwhelming majority of Roman Catholics attend cannot be a deformed train wreck week after week, year after year, decade after decade. It has to get better. THAT Mass has to be rescued. The prime focus should be put on rescuing the Mass that most Catholics attend, not on celebrating the Mass that only a handful of Catholics attend.

    Alas, it seems that so many priests or bishops who get a whiff of tradition immediately jump over the Ordinary Form of Mass and right into the 1962 Missal. It seems to happen all the time; it’s an either/or: either the deformed “Novus Ordo” or the “Traditional Latin Mass”. It never seems to dawn on them that the Ordinary Form of Mass can be celebrated as a “traditional Latin Mass”, too.

    The process of “reforming the reform” would happen alot faster, I think, if Pope Benedict XVI had more help and cooperation in setting a good example for the clergy of the world as regards how to say their Mass…the prevalent form of Mass. The Pope is allowing the ars celebrandi of the Extraordinary Form to transform the celebration of the Ordinary Form, while never celebrating the Extraordinary Form. It might be helpful if the traditionally-oriented amongst the ranks of the clergy didn’t always seem to default to the 1962 Missal when desiring to project the traditional Catholic liturgy. It might be helpful, too, if traditional Catholic laity did not so frequently insist upon the Extraordinary Form as the only possible expression of the Catholic Mass. The “reform of the reform” means just that. It doesn’t mean, “the outright ditching of the reform”.

    What I fear could end up happening is that the traditional art of celebrating Mass will be identified as something for the “Tridentine” Mass, exclusively, and that the Ordinary Form will always be imagined as something to be celebrated in a contemporary or mundane way. All the glory of the Roman liturgy will be thought of as something for “traddies”, something for old nostalgics, something for Lefebvrists.

    I suspect that the Pope is worried about that as well. That may be why he never celebrates the Extraordinary Form of Mass, but why he now always celebrates the Ordinary Form of Mass in very nearly the same “way” that the Extraordinary Form is celebrated. He clearly wants the Ordinary Form of Mass to share in the traditional ars celebrandi of the Extraordinary Form, and not to be excluded from it. He seems not to want the Extraordinary Form to “hog” tradition all to itself, leaving the Ordinary Form with the scraps. He wants Mass to seem like Mass, no matter which Missal is used at the altar.

    Universae Ecclesiae may state that the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form stand together as two expressions of the same Rite…but we all know which form prevails. We all know which form can be found in almost every church in the Catholic world. We also know which form of Mass is the form that needs rescuing. The Pope seems to be showing us the way. Let’s watch and listen. Let not contemporary clergy be afraid of tradition al liturgy any longer, and let not traditionalists be so afraid of the Ordinary Form that they imagine the Extraordinary Form to be the Church’s only hope for liturgical reform.

    It may be that the Extraordinary Form of Mass will end up being the saviour of the Ordinary Form, but it will be the “saved” Ordinary Form that rescues the Church from her liturgical misery. That’s the form that is celebrated in every church today, and so it is of greater urgency and necessity that it be reformed than it is that the Extraordinary Form be promoted.

  63. cyrillist says:

    Andrew: Trads not knowing Latin as the elephant in the room? The rabbit in the room, maybe – a bit odd at first glance, but actually not that big a deal. Latin had been a non-vernacular language for centuries before Vatican II, and the Church did fine without most Catholics having to be fluent in the language. Latin knowledge is a great thing to have, but if you don’t, there’s always that well-thumbed Missal.

  64. cyrillist says:


    Pope Innocent XV, year 2111 A.D.: “Well, we’ve done it. It took over a century of non-coercive perseverance, good example, patience, and just plain hard work, but we can finally say that the level of reverence and piety displayed in an average celebration of the Ordinary Form fully matches that of a typical celebration of the Extraordinary Form, circa 1945. All by the simple means of celebrating the OF as if it were the EF! Mission accomplished, nunc dimittis… Okay, good, this means that we can finally ditch that watered-down (but valid!) NOM once and for all, and reinstate the TLM, pronto. By now, hardly anybody will even notice the change. I tell you, that Papa Ratzinger was a genius…”

  65. MichaelJ says:

    I still do not get it. Why is the automatic presumption that “different = bad”?
    There are good and faithful Catholics who have their spiritual needs met at a Maronite Mass, or Ambrosian, or Dominican, or any other number of Catholic rites. Nobody suggests that these individuals modify the rite that they cherish in order to be more like the Novus Ordo. There is not a second thought given to disunity or balkanization or seperatism because the existence of different rites does not lead to these things.

    Why is the Tridentine Rite different? If a Dominican Rite can coexist with a “Roman” rite, without causing disunity, by what logic is it thought that it would not be able to with two “Roman” rites?

    Does the difficulty all boil down to His Holiness’ juridical identification of “Two forms of the same rite”? Would it have been better had he not done so?

  66. spock says:


    I would believe that your correct that most people did not know latin. Also the use of personal missals is I believe a comparatively more recent invention. Is there such a thing as a 200+ year old personal missal that was available to the ordinary middle-class layperson?

    But what I think is forgotten here is that society at large has become much more educated. That’s the concrete difference between earlier times and now. And an educated person will and perhaps should have LESS patience listening to something he doesn’t understand whatever it is. And the way to quell this “lack of patience”, unjust or no, is to learn the language at least well enough to decipher what is said. High intelligence is not a requirement but also ignorance is not a sacrament. It is the consequence of the fact that the society in general has become more educated that education in the language becomes more of a requirement for modern people and some sort of infrastructure needs to be there to accommodate that in my opinion.

  67. MichaelJ says:

    There is a grain of Truth in a charismatic’s fondness for “speaking in tongues”. When I asked whether it was a problem that the “prayers” sounded like so much gibberish, I was told rather bluntly that “God knows what I am saying, and I am talking to Him, so it does not matter if you or anyone else understands”
    I think we would do well to remember this and to recognize that the prayers said at Mass are directed at God and are primarily for His benefit, not ours.

  68. Fr_Sotelo says:


    Just wanted to say that your post above (May 18, 11:04am) is, for me personally, the best comment on this subject, and I completely agree with it.

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