My preference for concelebration

Every time I post about concelebration and private Masses, interesting discussion evolves.

This was sent by a reader.  From this Pinterest page, these priests are saying their daily Masses during the annual Chartes Pentecost pilgrimage.

On another note, here is a shot of a clandestine Mass during the Cristeros time:

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Love it! Both of the photos. Each Holy Sacrifice of the Mass said by EACH priest pours down an infinite amount of grace upon us. It’s up to us to be properly disposed to make use of it fruitfully for ourselves and others especially those in Purgatory.

  2. Let’s face facts: for sheer beauty and unalloyed awesomeness on a battlefield, or in a fugitive camp, or in hiding in the hills, [or on pilgrimage] the traditional Mass is unbeatable.

  3. kallman says:

    That is not concelebration which is an NO post VII phenomenon (with the exception of that of ordaining bishop and newly ordained priest during ordination Mass in the old rite). These are all individual private offerings of the Holy Sacrifice). How can you call that concelebration?

  4. FriarPreacher says:

    Dear Fr Z,
    I was on the pilgrimage this year coming all the way from Australia. It was truly awesome to have so many masses going on. I am a Dominican and therefore said mass according to the Dominican rite. On one occasion my server was one of the clerical brothers from the Fraternity of St Vincent Ferrer.
    Yes this is what concelebration should be like!!!!!!!

  5. kallman: I see a whole bunch of priests celebrating (Latin celebro) Mass together (Latin cum, con-). Looks like concelebration to me!


  6. DBuote says:

    Well based on simply the word “concelebration” which simply means “to celebrate together” I don’t see how this couldn’t be concelebration. It certainly isn’t concelebration in the way we normally think of it, but I think it is nonetheless!!

  7. Centristian says:

    So, which of them won the blue ribbon? [What an unworthy comment.]

    I’m afraid I have difficulty finding much in the way of edification in the image of an assembly line of priests, [Even more unworthy.] each celebrating his own private Mass, each for a congregation of one teenager in shorts, [I think they are scouts, which is a pretty deal in France in the more traditional Catholic circles.] upon folding card tables set up on the grass within a temporary utilitarian tent…even with the such elegant touches as tea light altar candles and altar cards resting against half-obscured altar crosses. [When there is a pilgrimage going on – and you might want to learn more about the Chartres pilgrimage – there isn’t always a big church nearby.] I’m sorry but I cannot easily see how this scenario so much more adequately respects the dignity of the liturgy of the Latin Church than would a Mass in the Ordinary Form properly concelebrated with due solemnity.[You’ll come around.]

    The liturgical reforms were introduced for a reason. One may disagree with what finally resulted, or with the way that result is so often misrepresented today, but to argue that liturgical fast-food scenarios like this one are not also affronts to the spirit and dignity of the liturgy simply because they are pre-Conciliar in character is a contention that, to be honest, leaves me somewhat mystified. [I have confidence in you.]

  8. leonugent2005 says:

    Father in your previous post you criticized the fact that a Rosary group was not permitted in a church because it’s a private prayer. [It think we know that the Rosary isn’t just private prayer.] Now we have the Holy Sacrifice of the mass declared a private prayer and no congregation is permitted. To me that’s just 2 sides of the same coin. [Who says that the faithful “were not permitted”? Strange. Do you image that the faithful on the annual Chartres pilgrimage were somehow shorted Masses to frequent? ROFL!]

  9. Geoffrey says:

    I agree with Centristian. This just look silly to me. If this is somehow supposed to be the “ideal”, perhaps some catechesis in that regard would be helpful?

    I don’t mind the fact that Mass is being celebrated in a tent with the altar sever in shorts; it is indeed reminiscent of clandestine celebrations of the Mass.

    I too believe that the liturgical reforms were introduced for a reason. However, neither the ordinary form or the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite are what the Council Fathers intended!

  10. acardnal says:

    Centristian, what is your understanding of the Mass? Really.

    If a man has received Holy Orders, uses the approved Missal and Canon and follows the rubrics with the right intention, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass occurs no matter if it is in a Cathedral with 2000 parishioners and a multitude of altar servers or in solitary confinement in Vietnam, China, the Soviet Union or Dachau.

  11. acardnal says:

    Furthermore, the Mass occurs with or without an assembly. The abbot of the Benedictine Monastery of Clear Creek,Oklahoma, USA recently told me that “Out of the 12 Holy Masses said by monks at Clear Creek Abbey each day, 11 are celebrated in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, according to the 1962 Roman Missal without any modification of the rite.” The twelfth is a conventual Mass.

    Twelve Masses everyday of inestimable worth for the living and the dead. Eleven celebrated by a priest and a server.

  12. Clinton says:

    Centristan, which is better– for a lover to tell his beloved “I love you” once, or one
    hundred times? Is it better to offer a sacrifice to one’s God only once, or endlessly?

    I do not wish to put words in your mouth, Centristan, but if we follow your objections
    to their logical end, shouldn’t all parishes shrink their Mass schedules down to one
    (concelebrated) Mass each Sunday? Perhaps, to avoid that liturgical fast-food scenario, that
    Mass should happen but once each year…

  13. acardnal says:

    Clinton, you are on the right track. If only one Mass was necessary or satisfactory, wouldn’t the Holy See schedule one priest per time zone to celebrate one Mass per 24 hour period?

  14. Gail F says:

    Centristian: Wow, did you forget to take your meds today? I have never been to a “mass” mass like this but I don’t see any problem with it. I would like to try it, though, to see what it feels like to be one of the people there. If there are lots of priests and few people, what’s wrong with all the priests saying their own masses? Historically, there was once a problem with having a great many priests, each of whom was expected to say mass every day — hence the many side altars once in cathedrals. But that problem having been fixed, why go to the opposite extreme?

  15. abasham says:

    I really prefer the way concelebration works in the Byzantine Churches. I have no theological issue with concelebration, but when I see those big Masses where 100the priests put on a plain white chasuble, sit behing the altar for an hour, and then extend their hand to “concelebrate” at the consecration doesn’t seem right to me. How can that truly count as their daily Mass?

    I think it would be a good rule if concelebration was limited to the number of priests who can fit around / in front of the altar. And perhaps they should all be required to say at least the ordinary together and each have their own host at the consecration. Maybe thats silly, but I guess thats why I’m not the Pope.

    Father Z, what do you think?

  16. dcs says:

    Centristian writes [and Fr. Z comments]:
    celebrating his own private Mass, each for a congregation of one teenager in shorts, [I think they are scouts, which is a pretty deal in France in the more traditional Catholic circles]

    [My apologies if this is somewhat off-topic, but it is a topic about which I am fairly knowledgeable and it might help some readers to understand.]

    Yes, they are Scouts. I don’t know the association to which they belong (there might be more than one represented; I know that the Scouts d’Europe and the Scouts de Riaumont, at least, participated in the pilgrimage; I don’t know about the Scouts de France). Traditional Scouts (by “traditional” I don’t necessarily mean those who are attached to the traditional Mass but rather those who follow the traditional scouting program) such as those in the photograph wear shorts as part of their uniform in keeping with the rules laid down by our founder, Lord Baden-Powell — which, by the way, have always been approved by the Church. (The Boy Scouts of America, with which most of Fr. Z’s readers are no doubt more familiar, don’t follow the traditional program so you’re more likely to see them in pants.) Scouts have their uniform just as, say, the Knights of Columbus have theirs.

  17. Athelstan says:

    I too believe that the liturgical reforms were introduced for a reason. However, neither the ordinary form or the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite are what the Council Fathers intended!


    Of course, some might suggest that on certain points in SC, what the Council Fathers proposed was not necessarily prudent.

  18. Centristian says:

    Wow, that red “ink” is like blood in the water, isn’t it?

    acardnal, my understanding of the Mass is that the Catholic Church reformed it in such a way as to allow this…

    …to replace what you see in the image above.

    I understand that this was a traditionalist pilgrimage and so naturally what we see in the photo is what was going to happen in lieu of a beautiful concelebrated Mass, but that does not make it, to my way of thinking, any less unedifying a sight. What can I say, I’m not a Tridentinist. I don’t think I’m alone amongst the readership here in that regard.

    Gail, your unworthy comment concerning my meds notwithstanding, I do see a problem with it. So did the liturgical reform movement of the twentieth century, so did the Second Vatican Council and so would any Eastern Rite Catholic. I don’t think it’s impertinent to point out that the Church came up with a better way of doing this.

    If my opening quip was out of place, I apologize.

  19. This is just a general comment, for Centristian, for anyone. Regarding concelebration or anything else, I would not be so sure that the practices of the Catholic Church since about 1970 are prudent, good, or desirable. For instance, I don’t think it’s being very faithful to Roman heritage to reform Latin Liturgy based on the practices of Eastern Rite Catholics or Byzantine Sacred Tradition. Nothing at all against Eastern Catholics, but the Latin way of doing things should not be abolished simply to glorify the Eastern way. Likewise, there can be enormous quantities of criticism levied against the practices of the Church in the last roughly 40 years without being a schismatic; it’s plain to my eyes that many of the practices were imprudent and destructive to Latin Catholic identity, spirit, and practice. Given the damage that has been done to the Latin Rite (which is undeniable – look at the kooks that run seminaries, look at many of our Bishops, look at the over-emphasis on affirmative orthodoxy and niceness at any cost, look at the iconoclasm of traditional Latin architecture and statues, look at the abolishing of Latin customs, mannerisms, genuflections, etc) in my opinion, it is wise and prudent to be as loyal and as supportive of traditional Latin Liturgical practice as one can possibly be, irregardless of one’s personal preference or choice, or what happens to be done now in most Roman Catholic Churches.

    Why not let the centuries of Latin heritage form your opinion, rather than asserting your right to throw your weight behind the horrific debacle that has been the last forty years of Latin identity and worship?

  20. APX says:

    Having spent the weekend attending Masses with concelebration, including one with every priest in the diocese concelebrating, thus every priest having to maneuver through the crowd of priests to get to the missal to read a line from the EP, I’m left scratching my head why anyone would want to concelebrate Mass like that. I don’t see the point.

  21. Pax--tecum says:

    Wow, how much grace must have flowed out of that tent, to sanctify so many people from all over the world! Just beatiful, thank you Father. I can not help but think of all the saints, who in the same way must have said their Masses at side altars in a monastery chapel.
    Those condemning this form of concelebration are exactly those who like to concelebrate a Novus Ordo Mass in the vernacular in St. Peter’s Basilica, while they could have said Masses in Latin, uniting themselves with all those great saints, who lie buried in the Basilica.

  22. Phil_NL says:

    Given the circumstances of a pilgrimage, accomodations would likely had to be made anyway; it looks like there were so many priests that a concelebrated NO would like silly and lack for space in a sanctuary. My default position, that these priests best go out to neighbouring parishes and celebrate a Mass there, obviously wouldn’t be practical in a pilgrimage setting out in the fields. And if there’s a bunch of priests present attached to the older rubrics that simply don’t foresee concelebration of the NO kind, well, this is the logical result. I’m with centristian in that it doesn’t look as dignified as I’d like it to see, but I doubt the alternative would have been any better. One does the best one can. And if some people consider this eye-candy, I won’t begrudge them that.

    As a general point though, I do think some of us are getting a bit too mathemetical about Masses, with the idea that 10 separate Masses would necessarily be 10x as good as one concelebrated Mass with 10 priests. If our Lord worked that way, he would not have needed to create Adam and Eve, but just accountants. In fact, in maths 10x infinity – for the infinite value of even a single mass – equals infinity, just as 1x infinity. More Masses for the mere sake of more Masses is, at least to me, a strange and silly concept. More Masses out of love for God, sure (and a good reason not to go down the silly route of a single Mass each Sunday for the entire planet, as implied above), but the ‘if X than Y attitude’ (and implying ‘if not X, then not Y’) seems to be a severe underestimation of God’s mercy.

  23. Phil_NL says:

    “would look silly”, in the second line, ofc.

  24. jflare says:

    I will admit to being relatively surprised by the nature of some of the comments I’m reading here.
    I understand from my father that, in the town where I grew up, the cathedral’s basement has a room with an arrangement of altars similar to this. Honestly, I’d be interested in seeing this sometime. Why? Because before I knew anything at all about the traditional Mass, I began noticing the old high altars at one church or another. Or, I might spot the altars around the sides. St. Aloysius (Gonzaga U) in Spokane, St. Johns (Creighton U) in Omaha, and various other cathedrals and large churches come to mind. Or, as in my parish and many others, you might notice the smaller, side altars, one on either side of the sanctuary. Before the church I grew up in burned, I had noticed those there as well. I often wondered why they still remained. I didn’t think they were meant as pretty window-dressing, but I never saw them used either. I often thought that quite odd.

    Point is, if we’re startled by these priests being depicted in a tent offering individual Masses, I might wonder if there’re any number MORE priests who might be offering Mass at permanent altars inside a nearby church? One can only hope!

    If I found anything surprising in this picture, perhaps it would be the proximity of the altars to each other. I once read a note in a manual for servers regarding how one should speak loudly enough for the priest one assisted, but softly enough to avoid interfering with others. That seems to me a little tough in this picture. I suspect that, if one would listen at the entrance, one would hear whisper of a hum.

    As to Vatican II, I think we can legitimately challenge the concelebration idea on two grounds: It doesn’t seem terribly organic, which the Council technically required. Perhaps more importantly, I question whether each of 20, 100, or 200 priests will REALLY pray the whole Mass. I think they’d be more likely to follow along with the presiding celebrant. I also wonder whether each individual priest REALLY consecrates the Eucharist from 20 yards away. They may be that far, simply to keep things looking neat. Even if each priest offers the right gesture at the right time, I must wonder whether they each have the impact we declare. ..We only need ONE to do it properly.

    Then too, especially since the Holy Father has encouraged everyone to learn more about the traditional Mass and other, older, practices, I’m quite at a loss to explain why I should not encourage something like what happened in these pictures.
    For all that I’m still not super versed in the older form, I might comment that I find it very distasteful to insist that the “new ways” definitely have more merit.

    Finally, I notice that, even though the clergy are surely gathered in the sanctuary, I find it somewhat difficult to focus on them as a body of priests, all praying the Mass AS PRIESTS. I only see one man actually standing at the altar.

    It almost seems to me that the priests who aren’t standing RIGHT THERE almost become..more like lay faithful for that Mass.

    As an aside, if we have some 300 people gathered for a celebration of a Mass. Couldn’t we as easily arrange for 3 or 4 “smaller” Masses being celebrated all at the same time at 3 or 4 smaller altars as we can arrange for all 300 purportedly focused on one?
    Granted, offering prayerful music might be problematic in this, but..considering the nature of much of the music I’ve heard..I’m not sure that’s a bad idea.

    Or, it might be interesting to see if we can have 4 priests, all skilled with Chant, coordinated well enough to all be chanting all about the same time.
    Probably wouldn’t work on the whole, but I’d love to see it tried.

    Or at least, it’d be nice to see smaller groups able to offer more than one Mass at a time, if only to pray for more than one intention at one time.

  25. Mightnotbeachristiantou says:

    Is this a concelebration? I read it had to be said at the exact same time? They look like they are in different parts of the mass, so this would be a bunch of private masses all in the same place?

    How private are private to be? Why are the English boy scouts there? Can you(not priest) just sit or knee at a private mass?

  26. kallman says:

    Dear Father

    Please don’t pull my leg. We both know these are multiple private Masses. As others have pointed out the priests are all at different points into their Masses, so they are not celebrating all together but rather individually (yet together in physical space and I dare say spirit). I think you are stirring us up on purpose for your amusement as you know from past experience the results from such teasing!).

    [So, lighten up a little!]

  27. jflare says:

    I don’t follow the objection to British Boy Scouts being servers in uniform for Mass at Chartres. Considering that we, here in the ‘States, allow for Scouts Sunday, Blue Masses, and on occasion, we have 4th Degree Knights in their full uniform for particular occasions, it seems to me that uniforms, when used for particular worthwhile reasons, would be routine and laudable.

    As for why they’re at Chartres in particular, the article seems to make pretty clear that they’re there for a particular pilgrimage for Pentecost. Looks like (possibly) an international event.

    As such, beings they ARE in someone else’s country, I should think the uniforms all the more appropriate as a means of providing a GOOD example of pride in one’s own country.
    It’d be nice to see some American Scouts do that.

  28. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The Church didn’t forbid private Masses in this format. There are certain documents which argue for concelebration, just as there are certain documents which argue for private Masses.

    Things that are not forbidden, and which have centuries-long history of being approved, are not something we should be talking down.

    And yes, St. Francis preferred that Franciscan priests should go sit in choir rather than say their own Masses if there was already one Mass, but that was all part of his “don’t stand out, be a lesser brother under other people’s authority” spiritual poverty ideas. Diocesan priests, in contrast, are supposed to have responsibilities on their own shoulders.

    US Boy Scout uniforms do include shorts. They include them in the summer. It is my understanding that there are other uniform options which are presently more common in the summer.

    And if every man who wore shorts to church was wearing a neat uniform, or a Bermuda dress shorts and jacket combo, I wouldn’t have any problem with shorts in church.

  29. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Unfortunately, it seems that the current BSA shorts are not the traditional straight tan khaki ones, but instead are some kind of olive green cargo shorts. There are also olive green convertible pants (zipper on leg allows use as pants or shorts). The shirts are still tan, so goodness only knows why they want people to mix and match with olive green. I guess that these are to wear when you’re not wearing the uniform shirt, but instead are wearing t-shirts.

    Well, I take it back. It would seem that shorts are no longer contemplated as being worn at meetings or the like.

  30. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Nope, nope, they do have tan khaki uniform shorts. You just have to search for them specifically before they show up, unlike the Cub Scout uniform shorts.

    Sigh. That’s not good, for the web store of a national organization.

  31. Athelstan says:

    Hello Jonathan,

    Regarding concelebration or anything else, I would not be so sure that the practices of the Catholic Church since about 1970 are prudent, good, or desirable. For instance, I don’t think it’s being very faithful to Roman heritage to reform Latin Liturgy based on the practices of Eastern Rite Catholics or Byzantine Sacred Tradition.

    Well said. You’ve stolen my thunder.

    The Byzantine and Roman Rites have each their own tradition and sensibility. It does not make one superior to the other, but they *are* different. It’s a diminution of the integrity of both to import key aspects of the other into their respective missals. The Roman Rite is known for its sobriety; the East for its enthusiasm. Concelebration works in its context in the Divine Liturgy, but usually comes off looking quite awkward in the Roman Rite.

    And some of the pitfalls *are* in Sacrosanctum Concilium itself. So much that has been done in the way of abuses or excesses has no foundation in the document, as reform of the reform advocates very rightly point out; but SC is still a call for major changes to Roman Rite, in all of the sacraments. We owe it respect and an assent as a dogmatic constitution of a valid ecumenical council, but the changes that it proposed in the liturgy are open to revision and reconsideration without bringing the faith into question.

  32. dcs says:

    Suburbanbanshee writes:
    US Boy Scout uniforms do include shorts. They include them in the summer. It is my understanding that there are other uniform options which are presently more common in the summer.

    All true. Shorts are an option for the Boy Scouts. But they are not really an “option” for traditional Scouts. We wear shorts unless the weather really prohibits it. Likewise we wear a long-sleeve shirt, perhaps with the sleeves rolled up if necessary.

  33. robtbrown says:

    Centristian says:

    That can I say, I’m not a Tridentinist. I don’t think I’m alone amongst the readership here in that regard.

    That the salvific benefits of the mass must be multiplied (cf the Eucharist as Sacrifice) is a theological principle that long predates the Council of Trent.

    I do see a problem with it. So did the liturgical reform movement of the twentieth century, so did the Second Vatican Council

    Incorrect. The Council extended permission in certain cases. In no way did it see a problem with individual masses simultaneously celebrated.

    and so would any Eastern Rite Catholic.

    Of course, Eastern celebrations happen behind the Iconostasis, so the Congregation can only guess about whether the mass is being concelebrated. BTW, the Eastern Rite Churches were comparative late comers to the principle that the Eucharist is a Sacrifice (c. 600 AD, if memory serves). On the other hand, from the beginning it is found in the Roman Rite.

  34. jaykay says:

    Centristian: What is happening here is that the many chaplains of the Chapters on the pilgrimage are each saying their individual private daily Masses. The boy scouts are not a “congregation”, of course, they are the servers. Please bear in mind that this is taking place at about 5 a.m., the 10,000-odd pilgims and chaplains having walked an average of 25 miles each day, this year in blazing sunshine, and reached the campsite (which is spartan in the extreme) at about 8 p.m. having started off about 8 a.m. that morning with minimal rest breaks en-route. These chaplains have to rise at about 4 a.m. in order to get ready for their Mass. The boy-scout servers will then assist the organisers to dismantle the tents and all the accoutrements and get them ready to be transported to the next site. The daily 25-mile walk will then begin. The fact that we are privileged to have so many chaplains on the pilgrimage each year, who hear confessions and give spiritual advice “en-marche”, is a great blessing.

    C’mon over and try it some time – highly recommended.

  35. acardnal says:

    Centristian: That URL to Bishop Baker’s concelebrated NO/OF Mass is unfortunate in that it is only ONE Mass instead of multiple Masses. How much more sacramental grace would be conveyed for the living and the dead if EACH priest would have celebrated a Mass instead?!

    When I asked you what your understanding of the Holy Mass means to you, I wasn’t referring to the aesthetics but the sacrifice of Christ and sacramental grace.

  36. Rich says:

    Centristian, when you have a bunch of priests in the same locale and they all decide to concelebrate the Mass, Most just don a stall over an alb, and whose most involviing role in the Mass is to raise their hands in blessing over the bread and wine and say the words of consecration during the consecration. Compare that to each priest having to set up his own altar and perform all of the rubrics individually of the Extraoridinary form of the Mass and tell me which which more closely aligns to the “liturgical fast-food” scenario you lament.

  37. Imrahil says:

    Concerning the shorts question, while it may be indecent to attend Holy Mass on a Sunday in such clothing (or some liturgical function, especially if not including liturgical dress), it is, on principle, not indecent on a weekday to jump in from everyday life into a Holy Mass for devotion, with whatever clothes that can legitimately be worn in everyday life. Just saying. (Realizing that it was actually an off-topic.)

  38. TNCath says:

    Having just returned from Rome, where Masses take place at St. Peter’s Basilica beginning around 7 a.m. at a number of side altars, I found it quite gratifying to see priests from all over the world saying Masses all over the Basilica, with impromptu congregations gathering at each altar to attend Mass. Nuns, tour groups, families, and individual travelers were drawn to these Masses either by curiosity or by a fervent desire to attend Mass. Regardless of their reasons, they received the graces and fruits of the Mass, and it certainly will leave an impression on them. In this time in the Church where the “new evangelization” is being touted, I can’t think of any better way to evangelize people than to offer the Mass as often as possible.

  39. leonugent2005 says:

    These masses are not “Private Masses” they are Missa solitaria. If you notice there is a member of the laity present for each one and where ever two or three are gathered….. This photo is indeed concelebration. The photo shows one solution to the problems inherent in any gathering of a large number of priests. I think that the photo Centristian posted was beautiful. Bishop Baker and Mother Angelica are a dynamic duo!

  40. dominic1955 says:

    If concelebration is going to happen, then the picture from EWTN w/ Bishop Baker would be something of how it should look.

    That said, still, overall our Latin tradition is for every priest to say his own Mass daily if possible. I’ve been roundly impressed by these “private” Masses-whether Father saying Mass in the church alone on his off day or the monks of an abbey saying their private Masses or for an event like the one pictured above.

    As far as grace goes, it doesn’t work like “Infinity x 10 = infinity as Infinity x 1 = infinity”. Think about that for a second-if that really is the way it works then why did Jesus establish Mass in the first place? Or, why have Mass maybe more than once a year? Certainly, there would be no point to Mass every day or even just Mass on Sunday. I think of it (granting that all analogies fail in some way) as lines side by side. In this way, you can have multiple “infinities” that are not subsumed into a single “Infinity”. Thus, you can have ten Masses, each one of the ten pours down infinite graces and they are not subsumed into 10 celebrations which merely “plug into” one Infinity. Rahner screwed this up and his theology has been devastating for the Church in the post-Conciliar times for how people view the Sacraments.

    I think we need to go read the article on the Mass in the old Catholic Encyclopedia so we can know what we are all talking about.

  41. Indulgentiam says:

    To quote Saint Leonard; “Treasures, however great and precious, are never appreciated until examined, counted over, and summed up. Hence it is, dear reader, that by many there is formed no due estimate of the Holy and awful sacrifice of the Mass. Though the greatest treasure which glorifies and enriches the Church of God, it is still a hidden treasure, and known to few. Ah, if this jewel of paradise were but known, who would not give up all things to obtain it! No one would then permit to escape from his mouth the scandalous words ” A Mass more or less makes little difference.”(Hidden Treasure by Saint Leonard. Tan books)

    The pictures above are beautifully breathtaking. The dignified reverence of the EF is evident even in the poorest of surroundings. My son is a Boy Scout and he would love and benefit greatly from such a pilgrimage. I wonder if the folks at Chartes would be willing to share their expertise on how to organize this. Who says we can’t have one here in the States?…hmmm i sense a project taking shape. Thank you Father :)

  42. Sixupman says:

    I am always nonplussed at the divergence of understanding as to the nature of Celebration of Mass as taught to my age group and that of post-Vatican II age groups. The old early morning workman’s Mass, with server and a few in the congregation [or none] was as effective as a cathedral full. Concelebration has led to laziness in the clergy and how can clergy concentrate when you have such Masses with a myriad of clergy squeezed onto the altar?

  43. dominic1955 says:

    Plus, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can “hear” as many TLM Masses a day as my state in life and time permits but not so with the NO. I rarely go to more than 1 a day, but on certain days (i.e. All Souls Day) I will maybe stay for 3 or 4. Maybe the NO can be said like a “private Mass” but I’ve never seen it as it seems that when there are even a couple people at a NO “private Mass” it gets turned into a mini-congregational Mass and in so doing makes it tedious and in a weird way, almost ridiculous to think of just doing it all again like they might on All Souls Day.

    With that in mind, the above picture makes perfect sense. When we think of Mass as something in which an assembly is in some way essential or extremely desirable (ala the Pistoians and Aufklarung crowd) does it make sense to decrease infinities and make it more focused on didactics and community.

    The real issue was not to reduce the Mass (and other Sacraments) to merely an excercise of what is valid or not. It is very true that a private Low Mass and a Pontifical High Mass have the same intrinsic value, but there are myriad reasons why we should never reduce the totality of liturgy to private Low Masses. The traditional theology (properly understood and applied) made plenty of room for the infinite value of a private Low Mass as well as for a Pontifical and for the Pontifical added values as well well beyond mere validity.

  44. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    That’s the funny thing about re-constitution or ‘reform of the reform’. How far back do you go without becoming a traditionalist ‘cafeteria Catholic’, picking this from 1962, and that from 1954, or whenever? That concelebration went out of style in the West over 800 years means, what, that in the Extraordinary Form it can never return? Who has the right to say?
    The Pope, of course. So if the next Pope does away with the Extraordinary Form, can one reject that Pope’s wishes and still remain Catholic?

  45. robtbrown says:


    1. Although the grace of the Incarnation/Sacrifice is infinite, its application is to finite objects. For temporal beings, this is Time and Place. That is why the mass must be multiplied. It is like pouring a half gallon of water into a pint jar–quidquid recipitur in modo recipientis recipitur.

    2. Analogies don’t fail–they limp.

    3. Rahner’s theology suppresses distinctions by positing equivocations. Thus his famous line One Sacrifice, many masses neither affirms nor denies the Sacrificial nature of the Eucharist. IMHO, his approach is just a widening of the Semi-Arian method.

  46. robtbrown says:

    Cheesesteak Expert says,

    That concelebration went out of style in the West over 800 years . . .

    Who says that?

  47. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    robtbrown: Catholic Encyclopedia for starters, and lots more. “Concelebration is the rite by which several priests say Mass together, all consecrating the same bread and wine. It was once common in both East and West. As late as the ninth century priests stood around their bishop and “consented to his sacrifice” (Corp. Jur. Can., Decr. Grat., Pars III, dist. I, cap. 59). The rite of Concelebration was modified at Rome (perhaps in the time of Pope Zephyrinus, 202-218) so that each priest should consecrate a separate host (the deacons holding these in patens or corporals); but they all consecrated the same chalice (“Ordo Rom. I”, 48; see also Dechusne, “Liber Pont.”, I, 139 and 246). In the sixth century this rite was observed on all station days; by the eighth century it remained only for the greatest feasts, Easter, Christmas, Whitsunday, and St. Peter (“Ordo Rom. I”, 48; Duchesne, “Origines”, 167). On other days the priests assisted but did not concelebrate. Innocent III (1198-1216) says that in his time the cardinals concelebrate with the pope on certain feasts (De Saer. Altar. Myst. in Migne, P.L., CCXVII, IV, 25). Durandus, who denied the possibility of such a rite (Rationale Div. Off., IV, d. xiii, q. 3) is refuted by Cardinal Bona (Rer. Liturg., I, xviii, 9). St. Thomas defends its theological correctness (Summa Theol., III:82:2).”

  48. dominic1955 says:


    Good points.

    Cheesesteak Expert,

    That is part of the problem-the idea that the will or whim of the Pope supposedly equals liturgical tradition. Only a hyper-ultramontanist fool would say that to oppose the Pope’s whim in destroying his own patriarchal Rite of Mass is binding upon the Faithful such that to “withstand him to his face” would place you outside of the Church. The resourcement people had one thing right, Tradition was not defined by Pius IX’s (blessed is he) silly declaration of being Tradition and the rest of the 19th cent. ultramontanist pope-worship.

  49. Without getting either mathematical or theological (as a mathematician but no theologian) I can at least say that the last time (about 5 years ago) I personally witnessed multiple single-server Masses at once as in that tent photo (though in a magnificent church with multiple side altars), at 10 separate elevations of Sacred Host and Chalice within 10 minutes, I felt the presence of the whole communion of saints and angels around each altar, perhaps as powerfully as ever before or since. No congregation, you say?

  50. St. Epaphras says:

    What Henry said — definitely not alone. It would be interesting to hear what one of the priests who says his private TLM every day would have to say on that subject (IF you could even get him to talk about it). This is just a lay woman’s viewpoint, but I would think that would be an entirely different experience than having to turn around, face a crowd of people and talk, talk, talk back and forth, which would keep pulling you “down” to earth.

  51. Athelstan,

    I agree wholeheartedly; the Second Vatican Council provided the ammo necessary for the disintegration of the Roman Liturgy that we have seen follow in its wake, but the lovely thing is that many of the instructions given were just as dated to its time period as were the instructions in the First Lateran Council, in the 12th century (there are instructions about such outdated things as archery in warfare!) One has to accept as a matter of principle that the will of the Council demanded obedience, but the course that the Church has taken since then is quite a mess and in hindsight, it would be perfectly permissible for any number of future Popes or even, eventually, Councils to reform the reform and move the Roman Liturgy more in line with its Patrimony. I pray that does indeed happen, if not for myself, for my children and their children.

  52. Robtbrown,

    I have to disagree with you on one point that you brought up. The teaching that the Holy Liturgy of the Church, in Her various Rites of worship, is indeed a true Sacrifice has been believed by both East and West since Apostolic times. It is improper and inaccurate to say that the Sacrifice of the Liturgy has only been believed in the East since the A.D. 600’s. Observe:

    “Assemble on the Lord’s Day, and break Bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make Confession of your faults, so that your Sacrifice may be a pure one. Anyone who has a difference with his fellow is not to take part with you until he has been reconciled, so as to avoid any profanation of your Sacrifice [Matt. 5:23–24]. For this is the Sacrifice of which the Lord has said, ‘Everywhere and always bring me a Sacrifice that is undefiled, for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is the wonder of nations’ [Mal. 1:11, 14]” (Didache 14 [A.D. 69]).

    The Didache is from the Middle East in origin, dating to the extremely late Judaic Temple period. Already this concept is well-established in the East.

    “Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist; for there is but one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one Cup of union with his Blood, and one single Altar of Sacrifice—even as there is also but one Bishop, with his Clergy and my own fellow servitors, the Deacons. This will ensure that all your doings are in full accord with the will of God” (Letter to the Philadelphians 4 [A.D. 107]).

    We all know St. Ignatius was Bishop of Antioch, again, in the East, between A.D. 69 and 107. Again, Altar of Sacrifice.

    “Then, having sanctified ourselves by these spiritual hymns, we beseech the merciful God to send forth his Holy Spirit upon the Gifts lying before him, that he may make the Bread the Body of Christ and the Wine the Blood of Christ, for whatsoever the Holy Spirit has touched is surely sanctified and changed. Then, upon the completion of the Spiritual Sacrifice, the bloodless worship, over that propitiatory Victim we call upon God for the common peace of the Churches, for the welfare of the world, for kings, for soldiers and allies, for the sick, for the afflicted; and in summary, we all pray and offer this Sacrifice for all who are in need” (Catechetical Lectures 23:7–8 [A.D. 345]).

    Cyril, Patriarch of Jerusalem, testifies to the Propitiatory Victim that is the Holy Eucharist, made present in the Sacrifice of the Liturgy, in A.D. 345.

    “When you see the Lord Immolated and lying upon the Altar, and the Priest bent over that Sacrifice praying, and all the people empurpled by that precious Blood, can you think that you are still among men and on earth? Or are you not lifted up to heaven?” (The Priesthood 3:4:177 [A.D. 385]).

    John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople, A.D. 385.

    Please don’t talk about the venerable East like that, by giving incorrect information about their heterodoxy.

  53. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    dominic1955: You’re living in a fantasy world. Pope Paul VI authorized the liturgical changes, and POOF! within the blink of an eye 99% of Catholics worldwide – bishops, priests and laity – dumped whatever they were using before and started using what Pope Paul VI said to do. Unless you have evidence that state otherwise, that’s the truth. Catholics ARE hyper-ultramontanists.

  54. dominic1955 says:

    Last time I checked, numbers didn’t determine truth or prudence. I know what happened-more evidence for the decadence we’ve descended into. Besides, didn’t your mother ever give you that line about if your friends all jumped off a bridge?

    It is one thing to adopt a silly position, it is completely asinine to do so in ignorance. Do yourself a favor and read a book like Geoffrey Hull’s, “The Banished Heart” and you just might get what I’m talking about.

  55. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    dominic1955: How then do you distinguish your approach from any other “cafeteria Catholic”, picking and choosing what you like and don’t like? To be Catholic, you pretty much have to toe the line of Papal authority, right? What else could you do without becoming a protestant?

  56. robtbrown says:

    b>Jonathan Catholic says,

    I have to disagree with you on one point that you brought up. The teaching that the Holy Liturgy of the Church, in Her various Rites of worship, is indeed a true Sacrifice has been believed by both East and West since Apostolic times. It is improper and inaccurate to say that the Sacrifice of the Liturgy has only been believed in the East since the A.D. 600?s.

    Please don’t talk about the venerable East like that, by giving incorrect information about their heterodoxy.

    I never mentioned a word that you could have construed as me accusing the Eastern Churches of heterodoxy.

    It is well known that Eastern Eucharistic Rites are more eschatologically oriented, thus the celebration hidden behind the Iconostasis, thus the reference to the Divine Banquet. Further, you no doubt know that Eastern Fathers have a different concept of pre-lapsarian man (more Platonist), with ideas such as coition is a consequence of Original Sin. IMHO, both have consequences in the Eastern understanding of the Eucharist.

    (I do think, however, that since the end of the Middle Ages Western Catholicism has been too much concerned with theologia crucis—contra St Thomas, who has a good Christological balance among the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.)

    Re my previous comment: The last time I was in Rome, I heard a lecture by Prof Gabriele Winkler from Tubingen, who is Eastern Rite and was a visiting professor Orientale (see a mini bio below). I already knew her a bit from the times I went to Sunday mass at the Russicum. Anyway, one component of her lecture was that the Eastern Eucharistic liturgy lacked the notion of Sacrifice for, I think, about 500 years, but the Roman Rite had it from the beginning. Certain priests objected, not with patristic citations but rather with references to the Letter to the Hebrews and Romans. She agreed but insisted she was right.

    Prof. Dr. (em.) Gabriele Winkler, a leading expert of the Languages and Liturgies of the Christian East, completed her studies in Theology, Byzantine Studies, Languages of the Christian East at several European Universities in Italy, Greece, Germany, France (1966-1974), and in Oxford (1974-1977). While being a Professor of Liturgiology in the US and a Visiting Professor at the Oriental Institute, Rome (1977-1992), Chair of Liturgical Studies (from 1992-2005), she participated with her research at International Conferences in many European countries, the United States, Russia, Armenia, the Near East, and Australia. She has published extensively in several languages in a variety of scholarly periodicals and series on the subjects of Liturgy, Patristics, Church History and the development of the Creeds. She was Guest of Honour of the German “Orientalistentag”, Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Berlin, and Guest of the Armenian Accademy of Sciences. In 2000 a “Festschrift” was dedicated to her:
    “Crossroad of Cultures: Studies in Liturgy and Patristics in Honor of Gabriele Winkler” (Orientalia Chr. Analecta 260).  Her latest monographs include (1) the edition of the Armenian manuscript tradition of the Anaphora of Basil, accompanied by an extensive study of the various redactions of this anaphora (2005); (2) The Sanctus (2002); The historical development of the Armenian Creeds: an analysis of the Armenian, Syriac, and Greek vocabulary (2000). Presently she is preparing another book-length study of another Eastern Anaphora, including a detailed investigation of the “Sancta sanctis”-cycle in the various redactions of the Liturgy of Basil and of James (to be published next year).

  57. robtbrown says:

    Should be:

    Jonathan Catholic says,

    I have to disagree with you on one point that you brought up. The teaching that the Holy Liturgy of the Church, in Her various Rites of worship, is indeed a true Sacrifice has been believed by both East and West since Apostolic times. It is improper and inaccurate to say that the Sacrifice of the Liturgy has only been believed in the East since the A.D. 600?s.

    Please don’t talk about the venerable East like that, by giving incorrect information about their heterodoxy.

  58. dominic1955 says:

    Cheesesteak Expert:

    Very simply-show me where I’ve denied any defined teaching of the Church (hint: you won’t be able to) and I’ll show you why I’m not a “cafeteria Catholic” or crypto-Protestant. I fully assent to the definition of Papal infallibility as defined by the First Vatican Council.

    Pal, in all charity, you need to do some more reading.

  59. Mightnotbeachristiantou says:

    It was not an objection. It was a question. I don’t see the shorts as a problem. It is part of a uniform and many ways more formal than slacks and a polo.
    I understand why they were at the pilgrimage.

    My questions has more to do about private Masses. I know very little about them. Do you need a server at a private Mass? What is the etiquette for a private Mass? Someone mentioned being at St. Peter’s Basilica where private Masses were being held. Can you just walk up and sit at them?

  60. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    dominic1955: In one breadth you say you aren’t picking and choosing, and in the next admit that you are in the 1% that does not embrace the changes of a Pope. Hey, I’m all for outliers playing little Athanasius against the world in a Walter Mitty type of way, but that doesn’t make my mean or your mean THE mean. It’s the reigning Pope’s mean, and whether to the left or right of the bell curve, you’re way out there if you’re not in the 99%.

  61. jflare says:

    “Do you need a server at a private Mass? What is the etiquette for a private Mass? Someone mentioned being at St. Peter’s Basilica where private Masses were being held. Can you just walk up and sit at them?”

    Simple answer: I don’t know.
    Complicated answer: Probably not.

    Incidentally, I attended a traditional Mass two mornings ago, first time in some time. I won’t say I succeeded in praying very well, but I DID manage to stay with the priest for most of it. Having the appropriate places pre-marked in my Missal helped a good bit.
    More interestingly though, I saw two Masses conducted at the same time for the first time.
    Our celebrant for the “main Mass” began at the proper time, but then another priest–and server–began a second Mass some 5-10 minutes later. I kept glancing over now and then to see how that progressed, but didn’t pay it very close heed.

    I thought it interesting really: I could JUST hear the priest and server for the “main” Mass, at least for those parts that aren’t silent. I couldn’t hear the priest or the server for the Mass to the side. I think it must take a bit of practice to discern how that works.

  62. dominic1955 says:

    OK, let me make this easy for you-

    “In one breadth you say you aren’t picking and choosing, and in the next admit that you are in the 1% that does not embrace the changes of a Pope. ”

    In order to be a “cafeteria Catholic” (which is a polemical term without much clarity, but we’ll keep it for sake of argument) one would have to pick parts of Catholicism which they like (usually cultural markers) and deny other things (usually doctrinal matters which the Faithful are bound to hold like papal infallibility or EENS). In order to be a heretic or otherwise place your soul in danger of eternal damnation, the “picking and choosing” which would be detrimental would be the kind in which a person thinks they are free to choose to believe something contrary to what the Church teaches infallibly (or authoritatively) in matters of faith and morals or to not believer something that the Church does teach infallibly (or authoritatively).

    In matters of discipline, the popes have no power to bind anyone in conscience other than in being obedient to what one is bound to by the rubrics of liturgies they must say (i.e. priests). I recognize the authority of the Pope to regulate liturgical matters, but no one has to agree with him on how it was done nor do they have to make use of the reformed books to be Catholic. Furthermore, as a layman, I can do whatever I please within some really loose limits when it comes to liturgy. I can assist at any Catholic rite of Mass said by a valid and licitly ordained priest I so choose to. I can go to the TLM to the exclusion of the NO, or I can go to any of the Eastern Catholic rites that I please also to the exclusion of the NO. I can say any breviary I feel like or none at all as I am not bound to the recitation of the Office anyway. So, I can “pick and choose” all I like according to my state in life when it comes to these issues.

    “Hey, I’m all for outliers playing little Athanasius against the world in a Walter Mitty type of way, but that doesn’t make my mean or your mean THE mean. It’s the reigning Pope’s mean, and whether to the left or right of the bell curve, you’re way out there if you’re not in the 99%.”

    Like I said before, you really need to read more and get a more accurate understanding of the relationship of the Popes, the Councils, and the Church to each other. To get you going, read something like Mgr. Gherardini’s book on Vatican II, or Dr. Hull’s book I recommended above, or Michael Davies book “I Am With You Always” about the constitution of the Church.

    You can look back in history and see numerous examples of popes behaving badly, teaching error, not correcting error, trying to mandate their wills as law in contradiction of tradition and legitimate local custom, etc. As of recent, however, people have gotten this silly idea that the Pope is some sort of personification of Tradition itself.

    A knuckle-dragging ultramontanism is what got us into this post-Vatican II mess. More of the same is not going to fix it.

  63. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    d1955:Dude, that is the best I’ve ever read on a blog: “A knuckle-dragging ultramontanism”. And I agree with you totally that that’s what got us into the mess, and to double down on that will only lead to more innovation. That’s what I’ve been saying, not speaking about you specifically, but about how we got into this mess, a level set of where we are and how we got here.
    So how do we get out of this mess???

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