Remember: Father isn’t talking to you.

I was once accosted in St. Peter’s Basilica after my daily Mass by an angry modernist visiting American pants-suit, hair-do and lapel-pin sister … I guess angry was redundant, wasn’t it… who griped at me that she couldn’t hear the Eucharistic Prayer.  She had not been there from the beginning of Mass, and so maybe wasn’t tracking well.  I said that I was using the 1962 Missale Romanum and that the Eucharistic Prayer was silent.  She persisted that everyone should hear it.  I continued that raising our voices disturbed the other Masses nearby.  She continued with her harpy upbraiding, braying about the right of all to hear everything.  I explained, before I returned to the sacristy and a more pleasant day, even at the hands of the liberal-nazi sacristans of those times, that when I was reading the Eucharistic Prayer, I wasn’t talking to her.

Here is something I just sent in for my And With Your Spirit column for The Catholic Herald, the UK’s best Catholic weekly.

I wrote this week about the beginning of the Roman Canon.  Toward the end:

Unless you are attending Mass in the Extraordinary Form, you now hear pretty much everything the priest says.  For centuries, however, the Roman Canon was pronounced nearly silently.  When you hear Eucharist Prayers at Mass, remember this: the priest is not talking to you.  He is addressing God the Father on your behalf in the way that only an ordained priest can.

Even when the Eucharistic prayer is spoken aloud, priests should remember to whom it is addressed and reflect this understanding in their manner of speech.  It is no surprise that the tenor and style of Mass devolved over the last decades in English speaking countries.  The language we have been using is neither solemnly humble nor courteously confident.

A change of the texts of Mass won’t by itself accomplish everything we hope for in a reform of our liturgical worship. Nonetheless, the content and the tone of the new translation will help reorient congregations with their priests and guide them back to being a manifestly worshipping people.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Made worse in celebration of the OF, in my opinion, by the priest who ignores the red text instructing as follows: “he places a small piece in the chalice, saying inaudibly,” “then the priest joins his hands and says inaudibly,” “facing the altar, the priest say inaudibly,” and “then he takes the chalice and says inaudibly.”

    I have heard my pastor explain that he does not follow these red-letter instructions because he wants everyone to hear what he is saying. I suspect that he and the lapel-pin sister are roughly the same age.

  2. Rachel says:

    It sounds like the woman’s pride was offended by her inability to hear. I think the point deserves exploration. We also hear so much about how using Latin, or just long English words, is bad because people can’t understand. And we know some people get really *angry* about the Extraordinary Form. Could it be that the whiners are really protecting their own fragile egos from any kind of challenge? Maybe they go to church because they want to be flattered and soothed. Certainly that was the effect of the wishy-washy sermons I heard around L.A. before I located the good parishes. I’ve wondered why people go to hear such lame preaching, and I’d assumed they just couldn’t find anything better, but maybe it’s exactly what they want.

  3. JKnott says:

    “The language we have been using is neither solemnly humble nor courteously confident.
    That sums it up perfectly. Sigh

  4. Joe Magarac says:

    A silent canon is a powerful canon. I can vividly remember my first Extraordinary Form Mass, which I stumbled across and attended out of curiosity, knowing nothing about what to expect (I was born after VII). What impressed me most was not just the silence, but the fact that it was a prayerful and not an empty silence. I attend an OF Mass at my parish, which is said reverently and with moments of silence, but I’ve never attended any Mass that contained prayerful silence so well as one with a silent canon.

    I would like to know if the canon was always said silently pre-VII and if so, why. I remember reading “The Heliand” – an attempt to explain the Gospels to pagan Saxons by writing them in an epic poem in old Saxon – in which the translators’ notes explained that the Saxons believed in secret spells which had to be said almost silently lest they be taken and misused by others. I wonder if a medieval belief in “secret spells” caused priests to start saying the canon silently, or if the custom of a silent goes back even further. I’ve never read anything definitive one way or the other.

  5. John Nolan says:

    About ten years ago there was a televised Christmas Midnight Mass where the cameras focussed on the nubile girl altar-servers and the priest prayed the Eucharistic Prayer to the congregation with the usual eye-balling and exaggerated gestures. To me this was not a valid Mass but presumably a lot of thought had gone into it. How long, O Lord, how long?

  6. Thomas S says:

    This problem is exaccerbated by the versus populum orientation. My pastor is good about still keeping the canon directed toward God, but how many priests offer the prayer deliberately looking around at the people in the pews and adding oh-so-meaningful inflection to their voices? When I get such a priest now, I simply keep my head bowed until the great Amen. It would be bizarre and rude to speak to one person while looking at another. Why do we treat God this way then? And I’m convinced that there has been a subtle and insidious effect over the past 40 years on the faithful. We are essentially being spoken to as if we are God. Is it any wonder the liturgy, theology, and preaching have become so “me”-centered?

    What a necessary medicine ad orientem posture and a quieter canon are.

  7. Fr Martin Fox says:

    The Catholic Music Association of America, which is dedicated to reviving chant and polyphony in the Roman Rite, whether in the ordinary or extraordinary form, has an annual sacred music colloquium; I haven’t been able to attend the past two or three years, but when I last attended, we had a Mass offered in the ordinary form, but with a silent Roman Canon. In addition, a polyphonic setting of the Sanctus and the Benedictus was included which–in the manner of the extraordinary form–“overlaid” part of the canon.

    You will have to ask the folks who are involved in the CMAA for their reading of the rubrics on this. The holy father himself–prior to his election–mused on the virtues of a silent canon. This is a subject I believe will come back around at some point.

  8. St. Rafael says:

    It is my understanding that a silent canon is out of the question in the current Missal of Paul VI because every word must be spoken. Not sure if that is the case though. If the canon must be spoken in the Novus Ordo, at least the priest can lower his voice. I attended a Novus Ordo Mass where the priest recited the canon in a whisper. Technically, the canon was spoken as required, but done reverently with a lowered voice that spoke to the dialogue going on with God.

  9. guatadopt says:

    To this day, my former pastor at the church where I grew up and served mass as kid can recall a comment I made to him probably 20 years ago when I was 10 or 11 years old…I asked him in the sacristy one day: “Father, it must be really awkward for you offering prayers to God the Father while facing all of us.” His reponse: “You have no idea!”. When my parish got special permission to start offering the EF a few years later, I got to serve in the role of a subdeacon several times and even chant the readings. :)

  10. APX says:

    @St. Rafael

    It is my understanding that a silent canon is out of the question in the current Missal of Paul VI because every word must be spoken. Not sure if that is the case though. If the canon must be spoken in the Novus Ordo, at least the priest can lower his voice. I attended a Novus Ordo Mass where the priest recited the canon in a whisper. Technically, the canon was spoken as required, but done reverently with a lowered voice that spoke to the dialogue going on with God.

    Isn’t this what’s done during the EF Mass already? I could hear the priest saying something inaudibly during the Canon because the church was so small the altar wasn’t that far away from the congregation and the church’s acoustics are so good, you could hear the priest’s knees popping and cracking when he genuflected after the first elevation.

  11. Elizabeth D says:

    The church I attend was wreckovated circa 1970 so that the altar was moved to the center of the nave and facing sideways in the church (which happens to mean facing east), so that the priest is facing neither toward or away from the people, but perpendicular to us. It is like a strange compromise between ad orientam and versus populum. Anyway we recently had a priest visit who is a liturgy expert (for the Ordinary Form). And at the Per Ipsum (okay this was in English, the “Through Him, with Him” etc) he couldn’t help turning slightly toward the congregation while holding up the chalice and the Host. I thought that was so strange, the priest and the people together with him are offering Christ to the Father, and he’s turning toward US at that moment? That is also what made me 100% sure he didn’t celebrate the EF.

  12. Papabile says:

    Ironically, I believe the English translation of the rubrics actually allows for a silent canon, though the latin doesn’t seem to suggest it.

    In the rubric immediately following the Sanctus, we find:

    “In omnibus Missis licet sacerdoti celebranti illas partes Precis eucharisticæ cantare, quæ in Missis concelebratix cantari possunt.”

    The latin is pretty clear, thought the english rubric translation is somewhat interesting:

    “In all Masses the priest may say the eucharistic prayer in an audible voice. In sung Masses he may sing those parts of the eucharistic prayer which may be sung ina concelebrated Mass.”

    The word “may” permissive and does not have the same restrictive interpretation the word “shall” would have.

    I’m just sayin’…….

  13. danphunter1 says:

    I have been to a Novus Ordo Mass which is offered versus populem yet he says the Canon extremely “Sotto Voce”.
    You can barely hear him. Its wonderful.

  14. danphunter1 says:

    By “He”, I mean the priest.
    Sorry about this.

  15. jflare says:

    I’ll admit to being rather troubled by this.
    I would’ve thought that..if there were parts of the Mass that the Church considered the laity incapable of offering in any way, shape, or form, or even understanding..the Church would never have allowed anything past the Homily, but before Communion, to be said audibly. Yet even in my copy of the FSSP DVD, there are parts of the Mass besides Communion that the lay faithful can hear. I’ve never heard a good explanation for this.

    Nor have I ever heard any explanation for why the lay faithful should not be enabled to offer some part of the Mass. We cannot consecrate the species, sure, but there’s a great deal of prayer before and after the consecration that appears to me as though I should be capable of praying along.

    For my purposes, it makes little sense to say that Mass is our highest form of worship, yet the laity shouldn’t expect to even know what’s going on outside of the Sanctus, Agnus Dei, or other portions.

    I don’t “actively participate” in an opera or a concert by walking on stage, but I’m being foolish if I don’t keep track of what place we’ve reached in the narrative. Especially if I’ve seen the opera/concert/play before. Yes, I know, the Mass isn’t the same thing as those, but it makes little sense to me to start praying something entirely different–like a Rosary, for example–during the canon of the Mass. If I’m there to worship God, who’s now present at the altar, or will be in a few moments, seems to me I ought to be paying pretty close heed to what His priest is doing right now.

    When I can’t see through you, nor hear what’s going on…..I can’t very well participate in prayer.

    I’d like to see something like what the Holy Father suggested: Offer the first line of the prayer audibly, so I can keep track and pray along, such as I’m able. It’ll be imperfect, sure. Better to pray imperfectly than not at all. Otherwise, I’m primarily looking at the priest’s back for close to 10 minutes.
    I can pray a Divine Mercy chaplet more quickly than a Rosary..but not THAT quick!

  16. Springkeeper says:

    I just attended my first Latin High Mass last night and completely didn’t expect the whole section of silence that occurs. As a recent convert (2011), I was thankful for the notes in the Missal that explained what was going on. I was also intently aware of a spiritual trancendence that seemed to occur- I was part of the Mass but it wasn’t about me at all and that was wonderful. I wonder what the individuals who want everything to be about them all the time are going to do in heaven when nothing will be about us (of course, that may actually not be something they have to worry about).

  17. Fr Martin Fox says:


    Could you give the paragraph number for that citation? I haven’t been able to find it.

  18. @Springkeeper

    Welcome home! I’m glad you’ve been so quick to discover and appreciate the EF. Yes, the silent Canon is quite moving. I also attended a Solemn High Mass (not my first though) last night, at Assumption Grotto in Detroit for their annual Assumption Day. It was a huge outdoor Mass with probably close to 1000 in attendance. And yet one could still hear a pin drop throughout most of the Canon (notwithstanding an occasional siren–it IS Detroit, after all..) Truly incredible!

    God bless you as you continue to experience the richness of the Faith…

  19. Tina in Ashburn says:


    Note that Father Z says “Father isn’t talking to you”. LOL. I really think he means that the Mass is not addressed to you and you really don’t need to hear it. Years ago, going to Mass was also called “hearing Mass” which can give the impression that one heard every little thing.

    Strictly speaking, we don’t need to HEAR the Mass, the priest is talking to God the Father. The yearly Jewish sacrifice was done behind the curtain, and today’s Byzantines still say the canon behind the screen. In both cases the people are outside praying, paying attention. We are expected to unite our hearts with the prayers of the priest and can even help pray for the efficacy of the Sacrifice.

    I kinda look at the Mass this way: I imagine two close friends speaking to each other in a foreign language. I can tell that one is earnestly pleading and bowing to the other in a very serious manner, although the words are not clear to me. Knowing that this person is begging for things that are for my benefit, I quietly pray that this person succeed in their requests addressed to the important person. If I want, I can look for help in translating these foreign words spoken in the language of the important person, a private conversation that I’m overhearing. I wouldn’t dare to interrupt either! The priest is the one begging, and the important person is God the Father. The priest does act as Jesus Christ, so the Sacrifice is always efficacious. However the sanctity and worthiness of the priest can magnify the benefits of the Mass. Hope my analogy doesn’t sound too dopey.

    Actually, the laity does have a part in “offering up”. During the Offertory we “lift up our hearts”. That’s the part of the Mass where we are supposed to offer ourselves and our sufferings in union with the Mass. Also, don’t forget the Orate Fratres and the congregants’ response to “…pray that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable…”

    Following the silent parts of the Mass becomes easier the more you attend. I can always figure out where we are in the Mass by watching the servers, hearing bells, watching subtle movements of the priest [he leans, places a hand, makes a crossing motion, turns, etc]. It’ll come to you eventually, don’t despair. Use the missal.

    Saying the Rosary during Mass isn’t really far-fetched. Before everything got all busted up in the 60s, one could see how the Rosary is related to the Mass. The Rosary’s 150 Hail Marys represent the 150 psalms, all of which used to be sung every day in the Office. Now the ‘new’ Office is reduced and spread out over a week. The Rosary is one method of uniting ourselves to the Daily Office. The Office reflected the prayers of the Mass of the day. Today’s newer Mass seems more like a race to get through the Scriptures in 3 years, rather than reflect the Liturgical Year and the saint/observance of the day. It used to be all one integral fabric. To say the Rosary unites us to the Mass and the Office and Psalms. “Our Lady’s Psalter” is another name for the Rosary.

    The more I attend the Tridentine Mass, the less patience I have for the more barren New Mass – I continue to see so much more richness, fullness, and symbolism in every detail of the old Mass. I hope everyone will too. I pray that we are all able to return to the fullness of the practice of our Faith.

  20. mrsmontoya says:

    We have a priest from Africa who is staying with our parish for his vacation. There are times during the Eucharistic Prayer where, even though he is facing us and we can hear what he says, it is clear from his face and manner that he is engaged in a private conversation. It is a most beautiful and awesome sight – God feels much more present.

  21. jflare says:

    Good Evening, Tina,
    As I read through your comments, I begin to think I didn’t express the problem nearly as well as I thought, so let me try again.
    For the record, I can’t remember any time I’ve ever thought the priest intended to address me with any of the prayers. I gather some seem to have missed that point, but I’ve always understood the prayers to be aimed at God.
    Addressing me vs addressing God has never been the issue for me. What DOES give me problems is the idea of defining active participation and/or how I ought be praying myself.
    I have generally understood that the Church offers the Mass as our highest form of worship of God. If that’s true, I would think we’d want to be celebrating Our Lord’s pending arrival quite loudly. Seems rather anti-climactic to greet Him with barely even a whimper or whisper. I know He’s not human, but I can’t imagine why greeting Him vigorously would undermine His majesty.

    I have attended the EF in the high Mass a few times (well before the motu prorprio in 2007) and could follow that to a fair degree because of the choir and the actions of the servers and other in the sanctuary. I agree, once you become acquainted with it, it’s not tough.
    Problem is, Low Mass doesn’t give you those options. I bought a missal both several years before 2007, and in 2007, thinking there might be important differences.
    I can generally keep track of the Mass up through the Homily; I don’t yet understand Latin, but when the priest moves from one side of the altar to the other, or moves up to the ambo/podium/whatever for the homily, you’d need to be blind to miss these.

    Low Mass doesn’t offer those visual or audio cues.
    I bought a copy of the FSSP instructional DVD intending to learn the priest’s gestures, especially during the canon. If I couldn’t hear what part of the Mass we’ve reached, I could at least tell by gestures. Unfortunately, when I tried attending Mass at the local FSSP parish, I discovered that didn’t work well either. Sitting in the front-most pew as far to the right as possible should offer as good a view as you’ll find. ..I still couldn’t see anything.
    I don’t necessarily need to hear EVERY single word the priest says, but it’d be helpful to me if I could at least discern which prayer he’s offering. It’s much easier to offer up my own prayers if I know which prayer makes sense in the context of what’s happening on the altar. I haven’t heard any teaching yet that declares that I, as a layman, can’t be offering various portions of the Mass too, not precisely in collaboration with the priest exactly, but at the same time.
    In particular, I read in my missal some prayers that deal with graces for the Church, for the world, and so forth. I should think I’d want to be offering those too. It’s not ONLY for the priest. ..Or if it IS, it’s news to me!

    I understand your analogy about the priest begging Our Lord to grace us with His presence. Certainly there’s a great case there. ..And, for what it’s worth, we could argue that we’re risking being presumptuous if we say that we know the Lord will be there when the bread and wine are consecrated, transubstantiated into the Body and Blood. But if we know that the Church has been doing precisely that since the time of St Peter, with the exact same intent every time, it seems to me that we’d be foolish to assume differently.

    I have heard some discussions about how the laity ought to participate. I’m not all that happy with the idea of a Rosary or other devotion during Mass. I think Rosaries and devotions are great and we should pray them often. But not during Mass!
    If we believe that Our Lord will be arriving, literally in the flesh, within ten to fifteen minutes or so… We have the Main Event, so to speak, right in front of us. I don’t understand why we’d focus on something different. Seems to me it’d be much akin to writing a letter to the governor of some state of the union about whatever while we wait for the President to walk out of Air Force One.

    I’ve also read some discussion about the Mass readings. Honestly, I find both sides of the argument have plenty of merit. If we focus on a particular group of readings year after year, we become well acquainted with Christ’s teaching about some very critical points. I fully acknowledge that. I also understand the virtue of honoring saints.
    I DO see a problem though: I came to understand the imperative behind some of the Church’s hearing the readings at Mass. I also learned many ideas by following the Mass readings from day to day, following the three year cycle. For all that I think there’s merit to remembering saints, I also think there’s merit to following a group of verses through a week. If you constantly interrupt a cycle of readings to honor various saints, you make it more difficult to comprehend what the cycle of the readings meant to convey.

    Ultimately, we can’t do it both ways. We must pick one.
    Considering how Vatican II taught that we need to know the Bible more thoroughly, I’d think the 3-year cycle makes more sense.

  22. MissOH says:

    It is a good reminder and one that can be a challenge to remember during the OF at times. I am blessed that we can attend the EF on Sundays. 4 days a week the daily mass I attend it at a parish that also celebrates the EF and earlier this year began using the Benedictine altar arrangement for all OF masses. Deo gratias, I am certain it helps our priests remember the focus is not on our beaming faces. There are so many who grew up being taught the “mass as meal” theology so “of course” we need to hear most of what father says and he has to be looking at us as we look at him.,,

  23. benedetta says:

    Maybe at this point it would be a good idea, at least until we are clear that we as laity aren’t concelebrating whether we loudly say, “through Him, with Him…” or not.

  24. John Nolan says:

    @ benedetta

    The ‘Per ipsum’ is reserved to the priest. There was a custom in Ireland some years ago where the congregation joined in (and it cannot have started before 1967 as previous to that it was prayed silently) but it was subsequently reprobated and now counts as a liturgical abuse.

  25. Father G says:

    @John Nolan
    Having female altar servers and a priest eyeballing the congregation during the EP did not make the Mass invalid.

    @St. Rafael
    In the Order of Mass found in the current Sacramentary (Roman Missal), the canon/EP may be said inaudibly. Papabile cited the correct rubric. This rubric will not be present in the 3rd Roman Missal come November.

    @Fr. Martin Fox
    Father, you can find the rubric in the Order of Mass section of the current Sacramentary underneath the Sanctus (in the Sacramentary published by Catholic Book Publishing, it is found on page 373)

  26. Papabile says:

    Father G…. you are right that this rubric is found in the second editio typica translation of the Miassl, but the third translation won’t have it. Additionally, paragraph 34 of the IGMR seems to indicate that everything must be spoken loudly unless otherwise stated.

    It’s ironic though that the IGMR says this is part of the “nature” of the “presidential prayers”….. I guess the Church did not understand the “nature” of these prayers for thousands of years….. or maybe, just maybe, there really is a hermeneutic of rupture at work.

  27. Mrs. M says:

    The number one reason why I don’t attend the EF Form of the Mass is that I cannot hear the Eucharistic prayer. No, I’m not a “pantsuit pin wearing nun”. Nor am I some ultra left wing person who thinks the Mass is about me. I have been told by friends who attend the EF Mass that I can read the prayer. I refuse to do that because the prayer is not mine to read. This is a prayer for the priest to speak to God. The second reason I want to hear it proclaimed is that this beautiful prayer helps me focus on God and on why I’m there. I love to hear these prayers proclaimed by the priest. These prayers enrich me and help me draw closer to God. Fr. Z, if I were there I would have agreed with the nun, perhaps not for the same reasons. These are beautiful prayers, they should be proclaimed for all to hear.

  28. Tina in Ashburn says:

    jflare, good and thoughtful response. I too fail to verbalize as well as others here, and get misunderstood. Or sometimes I’m just wrong. LOL.

    You aren’t alone in trying to define active participation at Mass. I’m confused too. I read a bunch of experts, then I find out that they are missing the point too. I have learned that by going back …waaaay back, like to the 1880s, I get a better grasp of how to attend Mass. It seems that the 40s and 50s were already adulterated with a misguided mindset in the Church.
    Recently my understanding has again been re-set after hearing the admonishments of a very educated and experienced abbot. After my years of practicing a rather introverted method of hearing Mass, he tells me that making the responses throughout Mass is the original intent of the Church. The Latin-riters tend to be more introverted and stiff, while the Byzantines are more gregarious and loose. What I mean is that there is a root to the practice of constant ‘talking’ by the congregation, in spite of some traditional movements to not ‘participate’ so loudly and keep quiet. This root goes back to the Jewish practice: while the sacrifice went on behind the curtain, unseen by unworthy eyes, those outside the curtain repeated prayers and songs, reflecting the actions in the Sanctuary, and repeating some of the same words. Today, this is what the Byzantines in the Mass of St John Chrysostom do too. All the while keeping the interior prayer alive and making a clear distinction from the role of the priest.

    So when you say “I can’t imagine why greeting Him vigorously would undermine His majesty” isn’t off the mark at all. That the Canon might have silent parts doesn’t mean we the laity don’t know what is going on and can’t sing and pray. Except that isn’t exactly what Latin-riters do presently. I hope you can attend a Byzantine Divine Liturgy. Nearby we have a very wonderful Melkite parish, full of life and faithfulness. This parish is the epitome of Eastern mystical thought, devotion, and approach. The congregation, lead by Deacons, never stop singing throughout the Liturgy. The parishioners are charitable and friendly, and there is always food afterwards! Even though the congregation is never quiet, these people have a grasp of the interior life and message.

    I don’t mean to nitpick about how exactly to attend Mass. As you observe, the Rosary during the Mass is not for you. I rarely say the Rosary during Mass myself – though I used to depend on it when a Novus Ordo Mass was particularly upsetting. Everyone has a individual preference and this changes over time. I grew up with a thin missal that has what used to be called “the Dialogue Mass”, put out by the Confraternity of the Precious Blood, copyrighted in 1938, revised 1941. This missal is very descriptive of every priestly move, with pictures, explanations, footnotes, and directions. I memorized all the responses and the entire Canon as a child because of this wonderful missal. At the time, there was a push in the Church to educate the laity about the Mass and promote lay participation in the responses and understanding. I was lucky…I always knew the four purposes of Mass from early on for instance. It is hard for me to comprehend not being able to follow the Mass, as it is now second-nature. Anyway, now I focus more on the Propers, and try to get my nose out of the missal. I leave the priest to say the effective prayers, while I add my own – or just am still and wait in silence to hear the whispers of God in my soul. At the Consecration, I put everything down and consider how the Trinity is on that altar, near my puny humanity and before the court of heaven. The missal or verbalization just doesn’t fit for me at that moment, y’know?

    You say “I haven’t heard any teaching yet that declares that I, as a layman, can’t be offering various portions of the Mass too, not precisely in collaboration with the priest exactly, but at the same time.” I can’t argue with that – we are supposed to ‘pray the Mass’. There is however, confusion by most Catholics on the separation of roles by the clergy and the laity – and in this forum it is hard to decipher the distinction in comments. This would be better discussed in person to clarify points of difference, if even there is any. A beer would help too. LOL.

    What many Catholics and our Calvinist environment promotes is the over-emphasis of the power of the laity. We CAN pray as the priest prays, its just that we have to be clear that the power of the priest is necessary. We pray through Jesus Christ. [I realize you understand that, just clarifying]. Surely you are aware that some laity falsely believe that the Mass needs them for It to be effective, or that the Mass is less effective without a congregation?

    As far as following the Bible with the Mass, keep in mind that the Mass is not a Bible-study. Perhaps if you go back to some older sources on explanations of the Mass, you might see a different perspective and get a better feel about what the Liturgical Year represents. The old Liturgical Year is really a sacred cycle with deep symbolism, that we have almost completely lost today. Also, the Novus Ordo drops some scripture that used to exist in the old Mass – in reality there is LESS Scripture in the Novus Ordo! Catholics who read the daily Propers get a lot more exposure to the Scripture than is realized. Plus, these Scriptures in each Mass are in context and combined to create a specific teaching or theme. This does not occur when racing through chronological readings just to get to the end of a Book.

    I don’t know if you have read the Ottaviani Intervention? The differences between the two Masses are very apparent in this succinct document. What I did was go sentence by sentence, as each one is very compact, put it in a spreadsheet, and review each statement in both the old and new Masses. I created columns of comparison and did a lot of research. It takes a long time, but after studying it for months I came away with an understanding of why Cardinal Ottaviani apparently died of a broken heart. The understanding that Ottaviani expresses is being lost every day – only 80 and 90 year olds really ‘get’ what we have lost because they have this depth of experience that none of us can even imagine. We must work hard at recovering that Church, while getting back to the original objective of real Reform that was the purpose [derailed] of Vatican II.

  29. amsjj1002 says:

    I remember the first EF Mass I saw. I was struck by the moment when the celebrant said the Secret. I saw him lift up his hands, turn to the altar, and his month opened, and *I couldn’t hear a thing*. And after a moment, it hit me, for the first time in all the Masses I’ve attended all my life: He’s talking to God.

    I mean before then I know that’s what Father did. But that was the moment where it really sunk in.

    He’s talking to God.

    Even now, I am struck by those words.

  30. John Nolan says:


    I take your point. Going from an OF Mass to a Missa Lecta in the EF must be an odd experience, since the sung Latin form of the OF, especially when celebrated ad orientem, is much closer to the Tridentine. I found it rather bizarre that the almost universal adoption of versus populum in the 1960s was accompanied by the abolition of most of the celebrant’s ritual gestures. I began serving the mass at the age of eight in 1959, when the server made all the responses, and this does give you a different perspective on Low Mass; all the same, I don’t remember congregations complaining about being ‘excluded’. I think in those days people had a more grown-up attitude to liturgy.

    @Father G

    The extent to which liturgical abuses render a mass invalid is somewhat academic, since I would have walked out long before the end. I also recall a televised Christmas Mass that featured Johnny Mathis’s ‘A child is born’. The wretched woman who was in charge of the choir was obviously oblivious to the lyrics, which are not in fact Christian. Faced with such horrors any remnant of charitable feeling deserts me and I vote with my feet. Do the people who organize these things know how many people they have driven away? I suspect they probably don’t care.

  31. Supertradmum says:

    “It’s all about me.” The swan-song of the liberals….I wonder how the new missal will effect these people. God bless you, Father, for your excellent statement.

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