My idea of concelebration

Here’s my idea of “concelebration”.

The other kind should be safe, legal and rare.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Ever stomp on your biretta doing this?

  2. Legisperitus says:

    Imagine the graces pouring out of that small space!

  3. Father K says:

    No servers in sight. Although Canon Law preserves the right of a priest to celebrate Mass alone, and even on occasion, if there is no alternative, to celebrate without a server, I really fail to see how the celebrations in the above picture can be reconciled with Sacrosanctum Concilium and the developments of liturgical and sacramental theology. Having recently read ‘Eucharistic Concelebration: From Symbol to Reality’ by Guillaume Derville, with an Introduction by Cardinal Canizares, I don’t see how a case for concelebration to be ‘safe, legal and rare’ can be made.

  4. Father K: I really fail to see how … I don’t see how …

    Keep working on it. You’ll figure it out eventually.

  5. dominic1955 says:

    Simple-immemorial custom, all things to the contrary notwithstanding.

  6. Phil_NL says:

    Frankly, given the current priest shortage, I’d rather see this type of concelebration to be ‘safe, legal and rare’ as well. Ten to one that there are parishes without a daily Mass (without a priest even, most likely) a few stone’s throws away. Yes, there will always be unplannable situations, but three altars lined up in such a way suggests that there has actually gone some planning into this.

  7. greasemonkey says:

    10 to 1: a church with no daily mass would opt for a communion service led by a Lutheran minister rather than have one of the 3 priests in the picture offer mass there!

  8. discerningguy says:

    Love seeing this.

  9. Papabile says:

    Universae Ecclesiae specifically states:

    28 – Praeterea, cum sane de lege speciali agitur, quoad materiam propriam, Litterae Apostolicae Summorum Pontificum derogant omnibus legibus liturgicis, sacrorum rituum propriis, exinde ab anno 1962 promulgatis, et cum rubricis librorum liturgicorum anni 1962 non congruentibus.

    My understanding of this is, very basically, the 1917 code would apply in the regulation of the liturgy.

    Meanwhile, the 1917 CIC 813.1 states:

    Can. 813. § 1. Sacerdos Missam ne celebret sine ministro qui eidem inserviat et respondeat.

    So in this case, isn’t that a violation of the Holy Father’s intent re: the offering of Mass under the extraordinary form?

    This is an honest question.

    (I will note that I have seen pictures of Priests prior to the Council doing the same, though I am not sure where permission came from. I just honestly do not know.)

  10. Allan S. says:

    I’m with Legisperitus…my first thought was “what I wouldn’t give to sit quietly on a small stool in the middle of that room!”

  11. Less of that other kind, more of this and or priests assisting in choir.

  12. acardnal says:

    A beautiful example of how EACH single Mass has infinite value and merit before God. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if instead of multiple priests concelebrating one Mass, there were multiple priests celebrating multiple Masses? Oh, what graces would flow down upon us!
    (And it also demonstrates that a congregation is not necessary for a priest to celebrate Mass.)

  13. dominic1955 says:

    Having a server (1917 CIC 813 and the De Defectionibus) is dependent upon actually having a server. Basically, it would/could/should be read as “If at all possible…” there should be someone making the responses. In the case of private Masses (and a picture does not tell us much, mind you), priests will often serve for each other or might enlist the help of a random layman or woman that happened to be around to just at least make the responses from the pew.

    As to the priest shortage, I think we got what we deserve. That doesn’t justify turning priests into sacrament factories that continuously ride the circuit just to churn out parish services. That is the same thing the modernists complain about, that the priest shortage will deprive people of the Eucharist. The danger heretics put themselves in by unworthily receiving the Eucharist notwithstanding, there is more to the priesthood, the Mass, etc. than just providing a service for people who almost mechanically show up to a particular building on Sunday but believe whatever they please.

  14. Geoffrey says:

    As much as I love Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, this looks a little silly. Does it not border along the line of superstition? I am thinking along the lines of why Canon Law forbids receiving Holy Communion more than twice a day… to prevent “Communion collectors”…

  15. No, Geoffrey, the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for peace and well-being of the Church by every individual Priest every day would be for our greatest spiritual good. Holy Mass is a Sacrifice that makes satisfaction for our sins which we daily commit and is as valuable as the death of Christ on the Cross, as St. Thomas Aquinas says, because it is His death being made present. It is not necessary to receive Holy Communion in order for the Mass to be beneficial and for our spiritual good, so I don’t really see how you could compare apples to oranges there.

    This is an example of what should be going on in all our seminaries and everywhere else, whether they are in the same room or not is irrelevant. But, again, Catholic theology teaches us that every celebration of Holy Mass is the action of Christ offering Himself to the Father in the Holy Ghost, for the sake of the forgiveness of sin and the spiritual good of His Bride, the Holy Catholic Church.

  16. FrJLP says:

    @Fr. Z: Your reply to Father K’s legitimate observations seemed a bit snarky and, perhaps, unbecoming towards a brother priest making a valid inquiry. I mean no disrespect; this is, after all, your blogspot. But, ubi caritas…..

  17. Phil_NL says:

    @greasemonkey : that’s mightily big on assumptions. Sure, some bishops may not like it, pantsuit sisters if they’re still around may scream, but frankly there are enough areas – certainly here in Europe – where any Mass would be seen as a welcome improvement. And those who disagree are free to stay at home, or drive a bit longer if its a day of obligation.

    @acardnal : people may not be needed, true. But if there are lay faithful, wouldn’t it be sad to see them go without a Mass, or make life more difficult on them?

    @dominic1955 : I always thought that the prime concern of priests is getting souls into Heaven. Having Masses the faithful can attend helps with that, right? Also, again, big assumption that people receive unworthily and believe whatever they please. Sure, many do, but not all. I see no reason why those that don’t should suffer with them. And if just one soul is saved because if it, it would be worth it. More masses, especially well celebrated ones, can do that, but it generally requires that the person in question attends that Mass.

    Unless in a cloistered situation, or a pinch, I see no reason why these Masses would be said in a small room, without any apparent chance of faithful attending. Say them in a nearby Church, and if possible, advertise them. I fail to see any downside to that, and plenty of upside.

  18. lucy says:

    This could be a photo taken at one of the traditional seminaries, where many professors need to say their Mass, but don’t necessarily have a parish to go to.

    This is also my idea of concelebration!

    I once attended a diocesan funeral Mass for a priest. All the priests of the diocese were up there together around the altar. When the moment came to throw out their hand toward the altar, it was a ba-da-bum moment. I thought I was in Vegas. It was almost comical. I thought then that one priest celebrating the Mass for the good father would have been less distracting.

  19. APX says:

    Maybe I’m just ignorant about these things (which I usually am), but I fail to see the issue here. At first I just assumed this was some sort of a retreat for priests or some sort of gathering of priests for which they’re simply offering their daily Mass. I see no issue here.

  20. RuralVirologist says:

    On a retreat I went to, there were two priests. Each one said Mass, with the other serving. Only one altar available, though.

    @acardnal – the Eastern Rites are somewhat fussy about congregations, particularly the Orthodox. No congregation, no Divine Liturgy, minimum congregation size = 1, very often the priest’s wife.

    I agree with the EF having no concelebration (except the bishop saying Mass with his priests on Holy Thursday?) and I agree with the OF having concelebration. I do, however, “fail to see” the qualitative difference between 3 priests saying Mass separately in the same room vs 3 priests concelebrating. The sacrifice at the Cross was infinite. The Mass brings to us and offers us that infinite grace. It doesn’t get more infinite either way. It’s a different situation with saying Mass once on Monday and once on Tuesday and once on Wednesday – any prayer repeated 3x is 3 prayers, so offering Mass for intention X three times is 3 Masses for intention X, and the Mass becomes perpetualised by it being said at all times and in all places. But I don’t see why 3 separate Masses = 3x the grace and efficacy while 1 concelebrated Mass is only 1x the grace and efficacy. What is offered to us is infinite, what we accept is limited by us.

  21. Soukup says:

    This photo includes three priests from the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest during their recent retreat for the American Province held in St. Louis. I am rather shocked that some find this offensive, seeing as how it is the most sublime worship which we may render to God in thanksgiving, adoration and supplication. Maybe others may prefer the good canons together in choir or assisting the Reverend Monsignor Gilles Wach at Mass. In the particular circumstances of the national retreat, I imagine that the canons were simply trying to fulfill their duties to God by celebrating Mass, though practical constraints (time, resources, etc.) enabled them to worship God in private Masses away from the permanent main altars.

  22. Giuseppe says:

    In the ‘misinformation’ file: I was on a tour of the Stephansdom Cathedral in Vienna, when the tour guide mentioned the numerous altars throughout the church (not just side altars, but altars in the center as you enter the church). She said they were there so that priests could celebrate multiple masses all day long to make more $$. I wondered aloud, “Did they say a lot of masses because mass is beautiful?” “No, it wasn’t done for beauty or grace, it was for the cash.” Nonetheless, she was actually a pretty good guide. She knew a lot about the various altars. Knowing she was against cash in cathedrals, I opted not to tip her. Instead I prayed for her at one of those cash-cow altars.

  23. Suburbanbanshee says:

    None of these priests seem to be at the same point in Mass. Obviously they all have their own schedules, and they are therefore saying their own Masses. That’s a perfectly good reason. Priests say Masses at all kinds of altars at St. Peter’s, starting at different times but all at the same time, and nobody says a word. Why does it make a difference if it’s a huge basilica with hundreds of priests saying Mass a day on different schedules, or a tiny chapel with three priests on different schedules?

    Seriously, I don’t see why people are so easily freaked out by something like this. People let all kinds of crud go by without a word, and then they suddenly get all looky-looky critical, mind-reader-sure of evil intent, about something reasonable.

  24. dominic1955 says:


    Yes, that is a primary concern. However, like I said, a picture does not tell us much. Knowing what I know, priests do not just get together for funsies and celebrate Low Mass purposefully without the Faithful. This was probably at a traditional Seminary, a traditional order conference or chapter meeting, etc. etc. Having the regular kind of public Mass is of course more ideal, but there are tons of situations in which this is not possible and in those situations, multiple private celebrations of Mass like this are much preferable to a single concelebrated Mass or certainly much better than not saying Mass at all.

    I highlighted the modernists complaint about their “faithful” not having access to the Sacraments to illustrate a point, not to advocate depriving regular Catholics of anything. The modernists have it in their mind that they have a “right” to the Eucharist, which they don’t. We know that receiving the Eucharist is a privilege that one has to be rightly disposed towards. We also know that we have to foster the right kind of environment in which people properly appreciate the Sacraments and actual priestly vocations can grow. I see this sort of thing (individual Masses over concelebrated) as a step towards building that proper Catholic culture in which we might be able to actually have a priest at every parish, maybe two!

    Considering the state the Church is in now (local and universal), I think we deserve this “interdict” of sorts from On High.

  25. Joe in Canada says:

    Suburbanshee: maybe it was to enable the photographer to attend Mass in just a few minutes. Blaise Pascal has the Jesuits addressing this over 300 years ago.

    “I might also mention that it has been decided by several of our doctors to be lawful ‘to hear the two halves of a mass at the same time, from the lips of two different priests, one of whom is commencing the mass, while the other is at the elevation; it being quite possible to attend to both parties at once, and two halves of a mass making a whole- duae medietates unam missam constituunt.’ ‘From all which,’ says Escobar, ‘I conclude, that you may hear mass in a very short period of time; if, for example, you should happen to hear four masses going on at the same time, so arranged that when the first is at the commencement, the second is at the gospel, the third at the consecration, and the last at the communion.'”

    Pascal, Provincial Letters, letter 8

  26. Dionysius says:

    To sort out the confusion as to the circumstance and location of this particular photo, I believe I have the answer. This is taken at St. Francis De Sales Oratory during this year’s community retreat for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. So to anyone complaining about them not running out to the neighboring parishes, I say they must have had conferences scheduled right after and this was the most convenient time to celebrate Mass. Also to those complaining about the lack of servers I’m pretty sure this was a retreat for only the canons, so I doubt the presence of seminarians and perhaps the oblates were occupied elsewhere.

  27. Spaniard says:

    Fr. Z, I really don’t understand the reason why concelebration is not a good option. There is a benedictine monastery nearby (traditional, orthodox, and really beautiful). For Sunday masses, all the monks concelebrate together, and the Consecration is absolutely amazing.
    Here are some photos:
    Could you explain (or redirect to explanation) what is wrong with it?

  28. Allan S. says:

    To those tut-tutting about this practice…did you ever wonder what all those side-altars scattered around the naves of our finest churches were for?

    Exactly…for local and visiting priests to say their daily mass in satisfaction of the intentions for which they are under obligation (e.g. stipends, direction from religious superior, requests, etc.).

    Honestly folks…where is the harm here?

  29. MPSchneiderLC says:

    Does “safe, legal, and rare” mean you want it as much as Clinton wanted abortion???

    Honestly, I think both forms are great in the right circumstances – both happen in my community: this kind (but ordinary form) most days, and a concelebration on sollemnities and similar situtations.

    Say the Black, do the Red – but the red says concelebration is a good idea from time to time and required for midnight mass, Holy Thursday, and the Easter Vigil.

  30. discerningguy says:

    Allan, what is wrong with it is that it is not part of the Roman tradition. It was artificially introduced after Vatican II after not having been part of the Roman Rite for centuries upon centuries. When it is done, it is almost always very cheesy and tacky looking.

  31. chantgirl says:

    Dionysius- you are right. This was a priestly retreat. These priests are worked pretty hard and it was lovely for them to have a quiet retreat. Knowing that the chapel is up there and that a priest could be saying Mass at any time is a beautiful thought in an otherwise pretty rough and sad-looking neighborhood.

  32. tealady24 says:

    Haven’t seen this in a long -g-g-g- time. Simply sublime.

  33. Kypapist says:

    I attend a daily Mass (6:00 a.m.) at a downtown Jesuit Church. The latest Pastor, the youngest and most energetic they have ever had (also the most modern), decided that the priests needed a day off, and they would no longer celebrate daily. So the daily schedule changed over the years: 5 priests, 4 masses; 4 priests, 3 masses; we now have 3 priests and two masses; on public holidays, only 1 mass. But the “off-duty” priest still says his Mass privately in their Chapel. We know this because the Chapel is visible from the front steps of the Church. I guess that’s okay after Vatican II. The Father feeds himself and not his children.
    In the back of the Church there is a statue of St. Isaac Jogues, with his skull split and some of his fingers in bloody stubs. Sometimes I wonder which day of the week he took off.
    But everyday I light 2 candles at his statue and pray: St. Isaac Jogues and all the Holy Jesuit Saints and Martyrs, especially Fr. John Hardon and Fr. Alfred Delp, please pray and interceed ardently for the Jesuits of today, that they may become holy and zealous priests of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and faithful sons of our Holy Father. Amen.

  34. Sixupman says:

    I am always uplifted when I see a priest Celebrating Mass at a side altar and I am far from enamoured with the laziness engendered in the clergy by virtue of Concelebrations. I suppose my feelings are a hangover from what I was taught in childhood.

  35. dominic1955 says:

    Concelebration “could” be done well, I’ve never really seen it personally though. Also, there is the issue of which is better-one Mass celebrated by multiple priests or multiple Masses celebrated by multiple priests? According to our traditional theology, the answer is simple.

    As to aesthetic issues, almost all concelebrations I’ve witnessed are, instead of a sign of priestly unity and whatnot, a microcosm of what’s “wrong” with the priesthood in an aesthetic sense. All of the diocesan chasubles I’ve seen are horrid to mediocre polyester horse blankets. Priests show up in anything from waist-lace (which looks funny under the polyester) to things that might be bath robes or whitish smoking jackets for all we know. Cramming up into a sanctuary is ugly, the sticking the hand out gesture makes it look hocus-pocus-y (gestures in Mass should never do this considering the root of that nonsense word…) etc. etc. A proper Pontifical Mass with bishop decked out in full pontificals, with properly vested Sacred Ministers and servers and the presbyterate (and permanent deacons for that matter) in their proper choir dress would look much better and be a much more dignified treatment of the Holy Mysteries.

  36. frjim4321 says:

    Different strokes, I guess. Seems sad and somewhat banal to me.

  37. Andrew says:



    For each and every Mass is not something private, even if a priest celebrates it privately; instead, it is an act of Christ and of the Church. In offering this sacrifice, the Church learns to offer herself as a sacrifice for all and she applies the unique and infinite redemptive power of the sacrifice of the Cross to the salvation of the whole world. For every Mass that is celebrated is being offered not just for the salvation of certain people, but also for the salvation of the whole world. (Pope Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, no. 32)

  38. Andrew says:

    Giving examples of some “disturbing opinions”:

    “it is not permissible to extol the so-called “community” Mass in such a way as to detract from Masses that are celebrated privately” (Pope Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, no. 11)

  39. acardnal says:

    “Some in fact disapprove altogether of those Masses which are offered privately and without congregation . . . . They are mistaken . . . for as often as a priest repeats what the Divine Redeemer did at the Last Supper, the Sacrifice is really completed. This is undoubtedly so, whether the faithful are present – as we desire and comment them to do in great numbers and with devotion – or are not present, since it is in no wise required that the people ratify what the Sacred Minister has done.”

    Mediator Dei, Pope Pius XII, November 20, 1947, paragraph 96

  40. acardnal says:

    Correction: “comment” should read “commend”. Where’s my copy editor?

  41. NoTambourines says:

    But they all have their backs turned! That must mean they don’t like each other. Or anybody.

    (I kid, I kid! That’s more or less the attitude with which the priest facing the altar was described when I was in grade school.)

  42. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The whole point of having options is that priests have choices. Different, equally valid choices for different situations and needs. If you can’t trust a priest’s judgment on what format he uses to say Mass, I guess you don’t trust him to cross the street or buy candy from a gumball machine.

    Kypapist — What you need are some cute kids who cry easily. Yup, the nuclear option. :)

    Seriously, though… there might be a lot going on. They may be hard-pressed to fulfill all their obligations, or to pay the bills for the church’s electric, heating, and A/C. They may have been asked to cover other parishes or do other time-consuming duties. They also live in community, and even Jesuits (who don’t have to do a lot of the usual religious order stuff) have to do certain stuff for their rule and community.

    Of course, if you can see the chapel, you can attend from outside. And if you bring along the aforesaid cute kids who cry easily, you can solve the whole problem pretty quickly. Passive/aggressive or nuclear, choose your poison…. :)

  43. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    The Novus Ordo succeeded in large part because of the idea that priests in this situation should not concelebrate. The mentality that supports the practice depicted in this picture is indicative of a hyper-clericalism that led to the changes of Vatican II being so widely, swiftly and universally accepted in the ’60s and 70s. Specifically, the notion that liturgy is primarily – if not completely – the domain of the ordained, and that the clerical state is a higher state of grace than any other. Thus, when the ancient Roman Rite was discarded by those clerics, there were painfully few laity to object, as they had had their rightful sense of ownership of the liturgy drummed out of them through the course of the second millennium. Why, I would even bet that in the first millennium, it was normative for priests to concelebrate, or at least have one other person there. That would make this picture the innovation and novelty.

  44. Allan S. says:

    @discerningguy – ??? Are you seriously stating that side altars are a post-V2 development, and that priests saying private masses at them is “not part of the Roman tradition”?! And that a priest using a side altar is “cheesy and tacky looking”?

    Or have you simply not read my comment correctly and realized that I was writing in support of the practice being championed here by Fr. Z?

  45. FrJLP says:

    @Kypapist: Do YOU have a day off, my friend? Perhaps you might consider reading Josef Pieper’s “Leisure as the Basis of Culture”, and perhaps you would do well to remember that priests are men.

  46. acardnal says:

    I know and have known holy priests, like the late Fr. Hardon, SJ, who take NO days off. They celebrate Mass everyday. What could be more important? Fr. Hardon used to day if a priest doesn’t go to bed worn out every night, then he hasn’t done enough for the Lord and His Church. Priests offer sacrifice for our sins. The Mass is the highest form of propitiation. When you miss a day celebrating Mass, you miss an opportunity to release a soul from Purgatory, or to offer reparation. Say Mass and then go play golf if you must.

  47. Centristian says:

    I think this sort of scenario is one of the reasons why Vatican II needed to be called (the fact that its implementation went off the rails is immaterial).

    Were these priests to be concelebrating at a single altar, together, it would be a rather more edifying image that would make much more sense to me. Concelebration can be done in a dignified manner, and when it is, it is altogether more liturgically splendid than three hushed Low Masses said in the same room together by three priests who are oblivious to each other. [What an extraordinary statement. More edifying because the concelebrated Mass would be… what… louder? Because the priests are paying more attention to each other (or to nothing, as in the case of those whose attention drifts and they start looking around and picking their… well. Because it’s more Eastern?]

    Concelebration, when done well, should be a joy to the clergy participating and a source of inspiration and edification to the worshipping community. When done properly, as every liturgy in any form ought to be, concelebration will look something like this… [Fine. But it doesn’t have to be done all the time and no priest should ever be forced or pressured or looked down upon because he wants to say his own Mass.]

    And that concelebrated Mass is, in my estimation, immeasurably more beautiful than what is happening in the image shown above. [What an extraordinary thing to say about Masses being said.] It is safe, it is legal, but it should by no means be rare. [That’s something priests can decide.]

  48. Michelle F says:

    The liturgy (Divine Liturgy/Mass) is indeed completely the domain of the ordained, and specifically those men who are ordained as priests or bishops. No group of laymen, no matter how big or how small, can have a Mass without a priest or a bishop to offer it for them.

    The clerical state possessed by priests and bishops certainly is “a higher state of grace than any other.” Not only are they living the life of the angels and Saints, who are neither married nor given in marriage, while on Earth, they have the privilege of calling God to descend from Heaven and into a little piece of flat bread – and He does what they call on Him to do.

    Priests and bishops should not be envied for their elevated positions, however:

    “Unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required,” and “Be ye not many masters, my brethren, knowing that you receive the greater judgement” (St. Luke 12:48, St. James 3:1).

    I am grateful to these men for having the courage to take on such a serious calling from the Lord, and thankful for being given the grace of “hyper-clericalism,” which is the correct understanding of the supremely privileged and necessary role of the validly ordained priest and bishop.

    I also hope to see more priests celebrating the Mass individually, with or without laymen present. I have seen concelebrations consisting of anywhere from 2 to 100 or so priests, and they look like actors on a stage trying to perform some strangely scripted play. It isn’t worship; it’s a stage show.

  49. FrJLP says:

    @acardinal: Do YOU have a day off, sir? Yes, a priest should say his daily mass. I have no problem with that concept and say Mass every day. But as a priest at a parish with 6,000 families, three major metropolitan hospitals, 12 nursing homes, seven hospices, a primary and high school, responsibility for two university chaplaincies, and only TWO of us priests…I value my day off. And IF I get to bed (on nights I have the hospital emergency beeper, I often don’t), I do go to bed absolutely worn out. I wonder how Fr. Hardon would fair at my parish…. Leave the pontificating for the pope, dear sir.

  50. acardnal says:

    I am pleased to hear you say Mass everyday. Thank you. I know it is not required by Canon Law but it is highly recommended and sadly I have known priests who do not.

  51. Alice says:

    Centristian, +1.

  52. acardnal says:

    Oh, and as for Fr. John Hardon, SJ, Servant of God, I think he would ask “why do you need two priests here?”

  53. FrJLP says:

    @acardinal: It’s one thing for Fr. Hardon (or anyone else, for that matter) to utter fine platitudes…it’s another to live them. ;-) And, yes, there is nothing more beautiful and worthwhile that I can do for humanity than to celebrate Mass. The Mass must ground the rest of the extensive work of the day. As well as that same Mass should give leisure it’s meaning. I am glad I now have your approval. If the beeper doesn’t go off, I’ll sleep all the better tonight.

    But actually to get back to the posts, when I was living at the Casa Santa Maria of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, it was not uncommon to see a scene like the above in our La Nostra Signora dell’Umilta’ Chapel. Most intriguing is that some of us would be celebrating the Ordinary Form and others the Extraordinary Form. It was kind of beautiful, actually…as were our concelebrated Masses on Sunday morning before a fine pranzone!

  54. jhayes says:

    For the OF, the GIRM says:

    “254. Mass should not be celebrated without a minister, or at least one of the faithful, except for a just and reasonable cause. In this case, the greetings, the instructions, and the blessing at the end of Mass are omitted.”

  55. acardnal says:

    Aaaahh, back to concelebrated Masses . . . Not normally allowed in the TLM/EF (which is another reason why we see the photo above) except at an ordination, I believe.

  56. MPSchneiderLC says:

    @jhayes: being in a situation where their are more priests than non-priests in the house (such as at a priestly retreat, a vacation house for priests, or a house of studies [casa santa maria noted above]) is usually considered a just and reasonable cause.

  57. NoraLee9 says:

    I’ve seen this done using side altars in big churches. Every time I see an old side altar in the beautiful European style churches in NYC, I mourn that they are not being used for the purpose for which they were built.  No, the priests are not at the same place in the liturgy. 

    This is beautiful. I hope I live long enough to see the restoration. 

  58. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    Michelle, we know a tree by its fruit. The changes of Vatican II did not drop out of the sky, but were a flow, [Except those that weren’t.] arising from the hyper-clericalism represented in this picture. [piffle One could argue that a priest taking care of himself during his own Mass is the opposite of the sort of clericalism you are talking about.]

  59. NoraLee9 says:

    Hey Cheesesteak:

    Great handle by the way.

    Yeah that Novus Ordo Missae sure did succeed alright. It succeeded in emptying out the rectories, convents and pews!

  60. Christopher remembered pleasantly a morning soon after the beginning of his novitiate when he had been in the church as a set of priests came in and began mass simultaneously; the mystical fancy suggested itself as the hum of voices began that he was in a garden, warm and bright with grace, and that bees were about him making honey – that fragrant sweetness of which it had been said long ago that God should eat -and as the tinkle of the Elevation sounded out here and there, it seemed to him as a signal that the mysterious confection was done, and that every altar sprang into perfume from those silver vessels set with jewel and crystal.

    Robert Hugh Benson, The King’s Achievement

  61. Athelstan says:

    Hello cheesesteak:

    Specifically, the notion that liturgy is primarily – if not completely – the domain of the ordained, and that the clerical state is a higher state of grace than any other.

    Uh . . . but they are.

    Even Lumen Gentium 10 doesn’t say otherwise.

    Why, I would even bet that in the first millennium, it was normative for priests to concelebrate, or at least have one other person there.

    It may have been a little more common, but hardly “normative.”

  62. robtbrown says:

    Father K says:

    No servers in sight. Although Canon Law preserves the right of a priest to celebrate Mass alone, and even on occasion, if there is no alternative, to celebrate without a server, I really fail to see how the celebrations in the above picture can be reconciled with Sacrosanctum Concilium and the developments of liturgical and sacramental theology.

    1. What developments in Sacramental Theology? Either the salvific benefits of the mass should be multiplied via multiple Sacramental Sacrifices, or it doesn’t matter. BTW, the big push for concelebration came from the Doctor Equivocus Karl Rahner, whose (Protestant) concept of One Sacrifice, Many Masses forms the theological foundation.

    2. Do you read the Divine Office in Latin? If not, how do you reconcile that with SC? Does your diocese or religious order require Latin proficiency before the study of theology? If not, how is that reconciled with Vat II (cf. Optatam Totius)?

    Having recently read ‘Eucharistic Concelebration: From Symbol to Reality’ by Guillaume Derville, with an Introduction by Cardinal Canizares, I don’t see how a case for concelebration to be ‘safe, legal and rare’ can be made.

    See above re: the multiplication of the salvific benefits of the mass.

    Interesting that Msgr Derville trumpets his association with St Josemaria Escriva, who, it is well known, had no use for the New Mass.

    BTW, do you know of any religious order in the West (i.e., where economic improvement is not a factor in vocations) that has regular concelebration that is ordaining priests at better than replacement level?

  63. discerningguy says:

    Allan S.

    I thought you were writing in support of concelebration. Sorry. :/

  64. dominic1955 says:

    To those griping about “clericalism”, to some concelebration is seen as a hyper-clericalist circus. I wouldn’t agree with those type of people (they’re usually modernists w/ a feminist bent) but its a damned if you do, damned if you don’t sort of situation.

    We should also note that, along with Paul VI and Pius XII, Pius VI condemned the idea that private Masses were somehow wrong and that Mass needed to be a parish/communal affair in the bull Auctorem Fidei condemning the acta of the Jansenist Synod of Pistoia.

    I do not think anyone is condemning the validity of concelebration, its historical development and use, its Eastern usage, etc. but we have to wonder when one dispariages private Mass in favor of it. Our theology is clear (nutshell-more valid, licit, unabused Masses the better) and the pedigree of looking down on the “private Mass” is to be followed through Protestant, Jansenist and Modernist/Nouvelle Theologie veins. Its always been heretics that were against the “private” Mass! There are certainly practical reasons why the private Mass isn’t the standard, but do we really want to be bedfellows with these guys? Karl Rahner (whose theology is a scourge on the Church) incorrectly described the workings of sacramental grace and now we suffer the consequences of our immediate predecessors asinine worship of that man.

    Also, if you look at the original “rules” for concelebration, one of the main things is WAS NOT supposed to be is a logistics tool, something to be used to get Mass out of the way for the day. It was not supposed to be some crazyfest with hundreds of priests yards away from the elements. They should have just reintroduced the sort of ceremonial concelebrations that some of the non-Roman Western Rites had in which priests and clerics could be vested as sacred ministers and take part in the ceremony but do not confect or just sit in choir for most things or limit it to very specific instances (i.e. at an Ordination and the Chrism Mass alone, maybe).

  65. robtbrown says:

    FrJLP says:

    @Kypapist: Do YOU have a day off, my friend? Perhaps you might consider reading Josef Pieper’s “Leisure as the Basis of Culture”, and perhaps you would do well to remember that priests are men.

    I agree that priests, esp US priests, need a day off, but some don’t even say mass (which would be a leisure activity) on their day off. To me US priests seem too busy. At the Convitto San Tommaso our Spiritual Director, a German Dominican moral theologian, once told me that he thought US diocesan priests are forced to be bureaucrats.

  66. robtbrown says:

    Dominic1955 says,

    Karl Rahner (whose theology is a scourge on the Church) incorrectly described the workings of sacramental grace and now we suffer the consequences of our immediate predecessors asinine worship of that man.

    Von Balthasar said that according to Rahner’s concept of grace, it’s hard to see any difference between Christ and His Mother.

  67. dominic1955 says:

    Yes, these misunderstandings have huge impacts on not just one isolated part of theology, but on the whole of it.

    Its one thing to have theologians musing about this or that subject to each other outside of the public view but when those sorts of views get published in popular formats and widely disseminated. On top of that, its much worse when people get infected with an itch for anything avante garde and “groundbreaking” and just chuck all we had before out the widow, relecklessly embracing the new for the sake of newness.

  68. leonugent2005 says:

    What is going on in this photo is a major obstacle to reunion with the orthodox. [I don’t buy that for a minute. Easterner know that the West has its own ways. They don’t have to be like us and we don’t have to be like them. There are plenty of other things to be in agreement about.] Also as I have pointed out before the only development in sacramental theology involved here is the development shown in the photo. This is something that Vatican 2 changed that needed changing. Perhaps reunion with the orthodox is not important. Benedict XVI is the pope of Christian unity. I have only heard this sentence used wrt the SSPX.

  69. acardnal says:

    Wow! Gorgeous photos. Happy, smiling TLM attendees. Wish I could have been there. Thanks for posting the links.

    @OrthodoxChick: Where are you? You are missing some beautiful photos or what appears to have been a glorious EF Mass.

  70. acardnal says:

    Correction: “of” = “or” above.

  71. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    The issue is not so much priests concelebrating to make more noise, but of each celebrating alone. There’s not two or three gathered, but just one. No laity, not even any other clergy, acolytes, whomever. So you have a picture that is not representative of the entire Church at its main public act. Is this healthy? I submit to you that it is not, and one of the consequences of this “lackness of the whole” was the speed and near universal adoption that the Novus Ordo replaced the older rite.
    So the thought here is to examine the causes behind the incredibly fast and near-universal adoption of the Novus Ordo, whose prime movers – to a man- were clergy formed in the older Roman Rite of yore. If the NO is the apple, they are the tree, including several Popes. When they steamrolled out the reforms, there were precious few laity who could say “whoa, you ain’t messin’ with our liturgy” – even if they wanted to. Which precious few did, or could. Oh, let’s talk scale and real proportion to size, not the half of a half of a half of a percent that found an old-timer to say the Old Mass in the attic, or that you or I still say the rosary or may go to an SSPX chapel or watch Bishop Sheen on you tube. I’m talking census approach, percentages of the whole. It was a wipe out in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.
    It ain’t a pleasant topic, but if this is true, you’re only going to get more innovation by doubling down on the “priests saying the Mass alone” is a good thing approach. That’s the prediction. I honestly hope I’m wrong, but the evidence and flow through time support this thesis a lot more than – oh, what, the nonsense that it was all Bugnini, and Pope Paul VI was duped? Now that’s a myth if ever there was one.

  72. OrthodoxChick says:

    I have read all of the opinions about the above picture that Fr. Z posted in order to figure out how I feel about it (not that my feelings matter, or have any effect whatsoever on what’s happening in the picture). I’m admittedly far less sophisticated than most of you who post here so I have no quotes from papal encyclicals to offer, nor ideas about what Aquinas and Augustine said.

    All I can discuss is what I see in this picture after having attended one EF low Mass. Hopefully, I won’t drag this discussion down too much.

    When I look at the picture above of three ordained priests celebrating the traditional Latin Mass separately yet at the same time, in persona Christi, I see a very solemn, Holy sacrifice. I see countless Grace. I see the Holy Trinity – each member of the Most Holy Trinity is represented by each priest. You could even draw the standard triangle shape and “triangulate” these three priests just like your grade school catechist/nun did when you were young.

    To me, this picture illustrates and brings to life the Kyrie that we pray at Mass. The Mass itself is the priest re-presenting Christ’s Sacrifice on our behalf and we throw ourself on His Mercy, knowing we are wholly unworthy of even a drop of such immeasurable Mercy. So this picture strikes me as each priest, celebrating simultaneously, an entire Mass, one for each distinct member of the Holy Trinity: Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison.

    I think it’s beautiful whether anyone else is in the room with the three priests or not. I can’t find fault with it.

  73. Rachel K says:

    I am a bit confused here; there is a lot of to and fro of opinions and not much clarity.
    What exactly, Fr Z, is your theological objection to concelebration in the Ordinary Form of the Mass please? I understand that it is something that is permitted by the Church and therefore I am obliged to accept that it is legitimate. I assume (but I am not sure from this long discussion) that what is shown in the photo is also permitted and therefore legitimate. The fact that I may have a personal preference for one or the other ( I do, but I’m not telling!) is neither here nor there.
    Rotbrown, I have to question respectfully your assertion that St Josemaria Escriva “had no use for the New Mass”. That is very strong and serious accusation to make of someone who is unable to answer for himself! Above all, he was a man of perfect obedience to the Church and Her Doctrine, but also Her discipline. The Opus Dei Masses I have attended are sometimes ad orientem and sometimes not, depending on the venue. They are all offered with the utmost reverence.
    I would like to read some theological points raised clearly here, rather than the slightly point-scoring approach so far. Thanks.

  74. dominic1955 says:

    I cannot speak for Fr. Z, but the simple theological reason why some of us are not big fans of concelebration is that a concelebration is one Mass said by multiple priests. Each Mass pours grace upon grace into the world, therefore, generally speaking, it would be better if priests would each say their own Mass instead of share in saying one. From an aesthetic view, concelebration is often a circus (though certainly not always). The Easterners manage to do it well, but they also have a different tradition when it comes to the use of their altars so it also makes more sense for them to concelebrate at times.

    As to your other statement, I think we need to parse out “permitted by the Church”, “obliged” and “legitmate”. Something disciplinary can be permitted or taken away by the Church that is wholly illogical. One can recognize something is permitted, yet hold that it should never have been so and choose to abstain from it as much as possible (i.e I never receive Communion in the hand and I think that practice is a travesty but I do recognize it is permitted). To what extent one is “obliged” in something like this is debatable. It could even be cogently (and in an orthodox manner) argued that the Pope/Church really didn’t have the moral authority to permit Communion in the hand in the first place ala it would be a horrible idea and something that should go against every thought and feeling of any orthodox Catholic should a have St. Peter’s torn down and replaced by something akin to the ugly buildings we’ve been afflicted with a “churches” in the ’70s and ’80s. Either way, “obliged” is a needlessly strong word choice in this situation. Same with “legitimate”. Is it valid, licit and permitted by Church authority? Sure. Is it prudent, does its practice really follow the norms set up for it, is it part of our Latin tradition, is it really something that was “restored” or is it just an excercise in antiquarianism mixed with Rahner’s screwy ideas on grace? In these ways, it would be perfectly acceptable to argue that concelebration in this context is illegitimate.

    One can be a true son of the Church and have “no use” for the Novus Ordo, just like true sons of the Church critiqued and eventually got the Quinonez breviary (that was published with papal approbation, FWIW) chucked into the dustbin of history. The kind of blind obedience pushed as a virtue in the Counter-Reformation era by the likes of the Jesuits unwittingly sowed the seeds of the post-Vatican II destruction. We cannot replace real orthodoxy and orthopraxis with ultramontanism-its not the same thing.

  75. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    dominic1955, you really can’t have it both ways, to pick and choose what you like. For Catholics, the Pope IS the arbiter; there is no check – anymore – on the Pope’s authority. If a reigning Pope says the Novus Ordo is normative – or even if he wishes to do away with it – there’s nothing to stop him, and you HAVE to comply to be an intellectually honest Catholic. And if the next Pope reverses course, you gotta follow him too, and so on. That’s why this Pope is so keen on presenting everything in a framework of “continuity”. But maybe Fr Z can tell us if there are checks out there, but the course of the last two hundred years wiped them away as far as I can tell. Catholics have to zig when this Pope zigs, and zag if the next Pope says zag. Right Fr. Z?

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